Thursday, December 16, 2010

Social Media for PR: Thought Leadership, Conversation and Connection

Kate Schackai, Social Media Director at Crawford PR and author of White Hat PR, just wrote a fantastic article about the difference between marketing and PR in social media. She gives great suggestions on using social media for effective public relations efforts online, but I got a lot of value from her perspective on the way social media is evolving the "sales approach" to more of a conversation and a social experience than just a pitch (whether in marketing or PR). I love watching this evolution happen.

We're seeing this transition occur much more specifically in the B2B space, where the sales and marketing style offline has historically been less about "buy this!" and more about the conversation and the relationship between buyer and seller (referrals, dinners, golf) compared to consumer marketing which is more traditionally about features, price, benefits, etc.

Whether we're talking about marketing or PR, the bottom line for me is that social media permits a brand to demonstrate its skills and build its reputation by shifting the focus from the product or service toward the deeper value the brand can deliver in its thought leadership; how connected the brand is to the industry or space; and how serviceable it is -- how social and supportive it is -- to its customers and to other thought leaders.

Here are my favorite clips from Kate's article:
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Too many devotees are treating the terms “social media PR” and “social media marketing” as interchangeable–when they are anything but. And if you can’t tell which you’re engaged in, the odds are you’re not succeeding in either.
In the great era of one-way messaging, the distinction between marketing and PR was clear: if you were talking to consumers, it was marketing; if you were talking to the press, it was PR.
Marketing sells products. PR builds reputation. And while media matters, social media has opened up a new way to communicate directly, not just that someone should buy what you’re selling, but why.
a constant sales pitch in an area designed for conversation is somewhere beyond annoying; it’s completely tone deaf.
Your online content should comment on industry news, hot stories, trends related to your product/service. This requires that you and your team actually read the news and understand your relevance to it.
If someone replies to you, make sure they are answered and thanked. Quickly. And not just with a link to your product.
Speaking of links… Your PR force should be out there reading and commenting on other people’s content, and not just putting links to your site on theirs.
If you’re looking to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, but your social media content makes you sound like a door-to-door salesman, the first step might be admitting that you have a problem.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Three Goals of Corporate Social Media Strategy in 2011

1) Integrate, 2) Hire Correctly, and 3) Measure using the ROI Pyramid.
These are the three critical elements of approaching social media marketing in 2011 that are top of mind for me right now.

Today I read Forbes columnist and industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang's keynote presentation for LeWeb - the largest European Internet conference. His presentation outlines the results of a study conducted by Altimeter Group, his firm, and then presented Jeremiah's suggestions on what strategies will make a difference for social media marketers throughout the next year. He had many more points than just these three. In fact, he presents 6 ideas for how you should invest in 2011. But I find these three to be the most critical and compelling.

First, Integrate.
The ultimate goal for many organizations is now shifting from simply "having a social presence" (Facebook fan page, Twitter profiles, etc.) to integrating these fully with the existing online corporate presence (corporate website, for example). How can we bring the conversations happening about our brand closer to our brand? How can we attract interested influencers to our site and keep them there? Should that be the goal anyway? What do you think? Comment below.

Second, hire correctly and properly train.  
People I meet in marketing often ask me what it takes to make a great social media marketer. As agencies and client-side marketing managers look to hire specialists to dedicate to social media efforts, they should certainly take note of Jeremiah's tips, such as looking for "early technology adopters." Those whom I know who have been successful in social media marketing and truly have a passion for it are the same folks who had a Geocities personal site in college just to "play around with the technology" and share content and insights.They're the same people who tried out Google Wave and Apple Ping the day they were released. These are the folks who are going to have a larger understanding of all of the media channels and tools that exist, making them better equipped to select the right ones for your business. 

I also love the term "corporate entrepreneur." Many colleagues of mine have started their own businesses and become very successful at them, such as Erin Steinbruegge (@steinburglar) and Chris Reimer (@RizzoTees). Friends in this group have often asked me: "Why don't you just go into business for yourself as a consultant, or start a firm. You could do great work, attract lots of clients and really build something!" I ponder this opportunity, but I have always found myself coming back to feeling a real passion for working on the corporate side. Whatver that itch is, I'm not sure where it comes from, but I think that term "corporate entrepreneur" fits me well because it means that I am a leader within a corporate structure who is focused on creating value. See the end of this post for more on the concept. After reading the below definition of corporate entrepreneurship, you'll likely better understand why talented individuals who fit that description are likely to be most stellar at the social media marketing role, considering the fragmentation and rapid growth we are seeing in this space in particular.

The ROI pyramid
This slide was also one of my favorites because Owyang distills for us his understanding of calculating ROI and value added by social media, but separating that measurement and analysis by role, factoring in only the most relevant metrics and reporting for that level of the organization. I have provided "executive dashboards" for a long time, in which I choose to distill upward only those metrics that allow my executive leaders to best do their job, not weighing them down with the details. They need the big picture. From Jeremiah's recent blog post about the ROI Pyramid in corporate social strategy:
Often, our industry can appear complicated, and yearns for simplicity.  One such technique to glean simplicity is to develop frameworks which the corporate social strategist can then apply to achieve their business goals.

More on "Corporate Entrepreneurship":
I found this article on corporate entrepreneurship, Cultivating Corporate Entrepreneurship by Lanny Herron, and thought I'd share with you the definition he gives:

"Entrepreneurs" are often thought of as persons who start new business ventures, yet most who study the concept come to view this definition as overly restrictive. Economists in particular have defined entrepreneurship in such diverse and general ways as: forming new combinations (Schumpeter, 1934); dealing with disequilibria (Schultz, 1975, 1980); and exercising opportunity awareness (Kirzner, 1985). A thorough study of the subject suggests that the essence of entrepreneurship resides in the reallocation or recombination of resources with intent to create value. ... The creation of value, however, involves both the recognition of an opportunity and the attendant reconfiguration of the resources necessary to achieve that value.

This view of entrepreneurship makes it abundantly clear that those who start new businesses and those who alter existing ones have much in common. Indeed, they are virtually identical in the broad classes of actions they must carry out to achieve their ends. Both must gather information, recognize opportunities, acquire a requisite level of control over resources, and formulate and implement methods for reconfiguring these resources.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Value of Conversations over Campaigns

I had lunch today with a colleague in marketing and communications. She is a social media maven and an esteemed professional in media communications and public relations. We had a great conversation about the value that an organization's media relations team can bring to the table when putting together a strategy for a social media marketing campaign. We both agreed that the reason this team adds value is that they are professional communicators who typically have an intimate understanding of how to effectively communicate your company's mission, values, practices and products.

As marketers, when we think about an idea in the framework of a "campaign", we may limit ourselves in thinking about it as a one time, event-specific occurrence. It may last a day or a month, but if we're thinking about it as having a start and and a finish, we may miss the opportunity to focus on the bigger picture - the idea that a solid marketing strategy it truly "integrated" across channels. It also takes advantage of the immediacy and the reach that technology has provided us with social media and email to communicate with our audience continuously and meaningfully, targeting our message by media type and inviting the recipients of that message to engage with us and respond.

I found Brian Carroll's post about Conversations over Campaigns. It has several great points about the "start and stop" nature of a campaign versus the more holistic view of the "conversation" in marketing.
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Marketing is undergoing a remarkable evolution at this moment. The multitude of mediums we can use to speak to our marketplace is revolutionizing how we work. I believe the days of campaigns – where we start-stop-measure-tweak and start all over again – are over. Today, for marketing to effectively drive revenue, it must be a continuous, meaningful conversation. 
The most successful marketers will know how to lead that conversation both internally and externally so they can communicate to their customer the right things in the right way at the right time.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ponder this: What does "productive work" really mean?

"'Productive work' does not mean the unfocused performance of the motions of some job. It means the consciously chosen pursuit of a productive career, in any line of rational endeavor, great or modest, on any level of ability. It is not the degree of a man’s ability nor the scale of his work that is ethically relevant here, but the fullest and most purposeful use of his mind."

- Ayn Rand, novelist, philosopher, playwright, screenwriter

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why social media makes big sense in business marketing

Social media marketing for Business-to-Business (B2B) organizations has a very large and growing impact on things like customer loyalty and advocacy. (Source) This is particularly true for my role running social media for a B2B enterprise technology firm because business technology buyers participate socially more than the average US adult. Forrester surveyed technical and line-of-business decision-makers who buy technology. Socially, this is an extremely active group compared to US adults or many other groups. (The Social Technographics® of Business Buyers, Forrester, Feb. 20, 2009)

My company has built out a significant social media presence designed to increase brand awareness, demonstrate internal thought leadership, and ultimately increase interest from prospective buyers.

Much like business development is fostered via a networking event at a local venue, social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn facilitate introductions, provide profile information, and allow like-minded professionals to connect, converse, and engage with one another ongoing. On social media sites, you will meet individuals you may never have otherwise been introduced to, and their social activity online will allow you to get to know their interests and their needs. 

From a Personal Perspective
Social media marketing requires having a social personality and an interest in meeting new people, learning from them, sharing ideas and discussing concepts and trends. The more I participate on Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites with my personal profile, the better I understand the social dynamics and protocols for how these social networks operate. I can leverage what I learn from my personal profiles to build out awareness and connections for my company's official profiles across social networks. I learn what kind of content is interesting to people, how they prefer to be approached or introduced, and what kind of content is likely to be shared and spread across the network. In the same way that I enjoy a party with friends, a happy hour event with a local marketing group, or a 5K race in my neighborhood, I enjoy spending 5 minutes or 30 minutes on Twitter every couple of hours because I am meeting new people, getting to know their personalities, and learning from them. 

I get to take my personal interests in just "being social" and apply it to helping my company become more social online, and because our target market is also very technologically savvy, the number of people with whom I can connect and share ideas is growing rapidly.

Here are some of my favorite social media related quotes from real experts in the space. I believe these speak to my point about the industry and what it takes to participate and thrive within it:
  • “What’s required is a kind of social media sherpa, who can find you the audience you seek, who can reach to them on the platforms where they are already congregating, and who can help promote in tasteful ways that fit the sensitivities of the networks where your audiences are found.” – Chris Brogan, author of “Trust Agents”
  • “Engaging in an authentic, meaningful conversation with consumers will be the key to marketing success and growth, even if that means acknowledging negative feedback; transparency is paramount.” Ron Blake, president and CEO of Rewards Network
  • As a general principle, the more users share about themselves, the more others in the community will learn about them and identify with them.” Matt Rhodes, writing in Social Media Today
  • “Social Media is about the people! Not about your business. Provide for the people and the people will provide for you.” Matt Goulart    

Thanks to @MirnaBard for the quotes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mashable's love-fest with Starbucks, JetBlue and other big brands

Mashable continues to applaud the same big brands for their social media efforts. About once a month, Starbucks, JetBlue, Dunkin Donuts, The History Channel or Whole Foods are mentioned in one of their articles. That's not to say I disagree that these companies are doing a great job in social media marketing. Each of them, in fact, is doing something somewhat unique - whether it's on FourSquare, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

The challenge, I think, is that in their analysis of these brands, Mashable's "appreciation of engagement, innovation and longevity" relies on each brand having done something "unique" or just simply becoming heavily engaged on a social media site and responding to customers there.

What I'd like to see more of is discussion about results and quantifiable metrics so that the next time we applaud a big brand for their accomplishments, we're doing so because they drove the business forward in a tangible way rather than simply playing in the space in a public way.

For example, take their mention of Starbucks' accomplishments in social media. Is it more important to be the "most liked" brand on Facebook or to have driven X number of incremental coupon downloads and redemptions from your Facebook page? Or to notice that in areas where their Facebook fan-base is higher, they see higher foot traffic in the stores? How are you leveraging your fan-base to get people in the store or to drive sales?

That's what this article is missing.

Many companies may not be comfortable releasing internal numbers, but marketing leaders often share them at conferences, so it's not unheard of. As marketers who are interested in the world of "social media marketing", we ought to allow ourselves to be as critical as possible of our peers who are managing social media for other brands - and also to be as critical of ourselves and how we're gauging success in what we do. It is certainly honorable of them to be investing in social media, but you'll convince me and others that social media is worth that time and money if you show us that it's getting results. And the big brands, especially the ones mentioned here, are the ones in the spotlight - the ones with the biggest chance to help shift the conversation toward the numbers and the money and not just highlight the glitz and glam of "most followers" and "most fans."

Do you have a link to a case study about a "big brand" in social media that includes metrics and quantified results? Does your company talk in these terms internally whenever it discusses its social media strategy? Share your thoughts here in the comments.

Here are the highlights from Mashable's story, dated today:
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In appreciation of engagement, innovation and longevity, here are five of our top picks for must-follow brands that just know how to use social media.

1. Starbucks

Why Starbucks Rocked This Year: As the most-”Liked” brand on Facebook and one of the top 10 most followed brands on Twitter, Starbucks has proven it’s social media savvy. It has continued to launch new campaigns and engage followers along the way. And it continues to source ideas from its custom social network, My Starbucks Idea.

2. JetBlue

Taking a look at the JetBlue Twitter stream, you see a mass of responses from the airline to inquiring followers — that’s what social is all about. Even with the occasional flight attendant snafu, the company manages to handle the social space well.
We’ve read over and over that one of the top reasons why people follow brands via social media is that they want inside information on promotions and deals. We’re always tuned in to what JetBlue has to say, even if just for the limited offers on All-You-Can-Jet passes that pop up every now and then.

3. The History Channel

Typically, Foursquare tips are used to uncover insider information when you check in to a venue. The History Channel rethought the concept of the tip and began providing unexpected history lessons that were tied to locations.

4. Whole Foods

Whole Foods takes the cake for having one of the most expansive and inclusive social media strategies around, making it one of the top enterprises using social media.
The company encourages individual stores and regional areas to create their own Twitter handles for a more niche customer experience online
At our latest count, the company had nearly 300 niche Twitter accounts.

5. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts focuses on showcasing passionate fans.
Dunkin’ Donuts is all about highlighting its customers via social media. It is always running social media contests, such as last year’s “Keep It Coolatta” sweepstakes, the recent “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest and the current “Ultimate DD Coffee Fan” search.Read more at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why B2B tech marketers have trouble assessing social media ROI

I recently received an email from Adobe (Omniture) promoting a Forrester research report entitled: "How to Assess the Value of Social Media in B2B Marketing Measuring the impact of blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter." The report is written by Forrester's Laura Ramos (on Twitter at @lauraramos) who I admire. She writes frequently about social media ROI and also B2B marketing.

I find it fascinating that Forrester put out a report that directly describes my job function and the space in which I work. Not only do I focus on social media marketing -- using YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media to promote my company's services -- but we also target IT decision makers, roles such as CIOs, Directors of IT, IT Manager, project managers, etc. and this is all under the umbrella of B2B marketing.

Also, good timing, considering just yesterday, my short presentation at the Integrated Marketing Summit here in Saint Louis focused almost exclusively on how exactly you can utilize social media in the B2B space to drive ROI - results.

I downloaded this free report and will share some highlights and my thoughts with you. These are four key ways that B2B marketers are looking at social media marketing and how they are assessing the value of it:

  1. B2B marketers are unsure about how much time and money to invest in social media marketing internally or with agencies. This makes sense, since the ROI is very difficult to calculate. (More on that in a bit).The study quotes a Director of Marketing: "My marketing resources are finite, so every dollar or hour I put into social must come from somewhere else. How do I figure out where all of this fits in my marketing mix and campaign plans?"
  2. Social marketing programs that don’t focus on a specific audience and objective get preoccupied with the tools and fail to connect with customers.Oooh, this is a really good one. It's so true. Too many companies "want to be in social media" or feel like they "have to be on Facebook" or "must try out this Twitter thing" and they end up creating profiles or blogs and turning them into online graveyards. Internal bloggers lose interest and get tied up with work. Most of our competitors, in fact, have blogs live that haven't been published to in months! My boss and I put together a strategy a year ago that included a plan to maintain frequent updates to each of these sites and our blogs, and ideas for putting out compelling content. We've kept to that plan, and when it gets difficult to find the resources to provide relevant, insightful content about enterprise IT, we find a way to get it done.

  3. B2B firms — more than half in a recent Forrester survey — react by spinning up poorly planned ad hoc programs with little organizational structure, process, or governance for support. It's interesting to me that Forrester found so many companies struggling with organizing their social media efforts properly, streamlining accountability, and focusing their strategy. My company decided last year to hire a dedicated Social Media Marketing Manager. Maybe that is what it takes to keep things organized. As a result, I don't feel like we've run into this problem. There aren't too many people stepping on each others' toes here. We do have a lot of experts internally who want to contribute to our social media efforts: See this active portals blog or see these recently homemade videos from one of our architects. When they want to get involved, we embrace it and encourage it, and my job is to facilitate their ability to get it out to our social media channels.
  4. Few marketers say that they can measure the impact of social activity on sales lead productivity or quality and Few gain new leads, or customer advocates, from social pursuits. This is a common concern I hear throughout social media marketing discussions. "...many B2B
    marketers treat social media like an outbound communications channel, and our research highlights the consequences of this choice." 

Social media marketers should be saying to themselves, "Okay, we've engaged in social media, we 'get' Twitter and Facebook, and we know who our audience on these sites is. We are ready to start driving sales and leads now. How are we going to do it?" I am already starting to see the conversation shifting, both internally at my company as we have been heavily engaged on social media sites for over a year now, and also within the space across blogs and Twitter.

Now that we all understand how these sites work and how our target audience is choosing to use it to engage with us as brands, we can shift the discussion internally toward how to leverage that audience's attention and turn it into driving more interest in buying products and services. More importantly, as we establish online relationships with our target market, how can we identify their "need" for our services at the right time and introduce our solution in a way that doesn't "push" or "over-sell"? We are beginning to shift our strategic goals for social media marketing from "drive brand awareness" toward "drive leads" and ultimately aim for a positive ROI in the time and energy being spent in this space.

Forrester then presents a basic model to help tech marketers assess social returns:
  1. Think about business value when defining social objectives
  2. Outline costs and expected benefits
  3. Determine risks and possible gains
  4. Decide how social may impact existing marketing methods
  5. Measure activity and engagement
One other element of the report that stood out to me as a best practice is to "Rigorously develop metrics that correspond to each assessment element." We have invested time and effort in monitoring many metrics related to social media marketing - in fact, almost every metric available on each site or in third party tools that gauge quantity of followers, reach, impact, awareness and engagement. 

    How "Anyone Know" search on Twitter turns search marketing on its head

    Last week, I spoke at Integrated Marketing Summit in downtown Saint Louis. I was on a social media marketing panel. One of the key take-aways from my presentation was the "Anyone Know" search concept for, explored and explained by search marketing pro Danny Sullivan many months ago. I shared Danny's ideas from his original post on SearchMarketingLand about it back in May. Here are the key points related to how searching "Anyone Know" and then your product or service can help you prospect leads or potential customers on Twitter. These are highlight clips I have taken from his article:

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    people effectively “search” on Twitter within their actual tweets when they ask for help from their friends and followers. Sometimes they get answers. Sometimes they don’t. But they definitely ask for help — a lot. You can see this by searching for anyone know on Twitter:
    Just as people “broadcast” their desires by doing searches on Google, so they are broadcasting their need for help on Twitter, if you search for the right terms to locate questions. “Anyone know” is just one example of that type of question-related term (can anyone tell me is another example).
    One person wants “legit” pizza — offer them a coupon! Another person wants good pizza places in LA — send them a link to your store locator. Another wants a discount for good grades from a rival chain. Come up with something similar to entice them.
    This type of outreach has to be done right. No one wants reply spam.
    To me, the ability to reach out to an individual via search and answer their question is a revolutionary addition to the usual search marketing.Read more at

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    The Holy Grail of PPC & the Conversion Trinity

    A the Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago this week, Bryan Eisenberg, SES Advisory Board and NYTimes Bestselling Author,, gave some compelling ways of looking at conversion in Pay Per Click advertising. The session, by name, promised to unlock The Secret Formula to Boost Response:

    Amplify’d from
  • The Holy Grail of PPC marketing is achieved when we as marketers align targeting with:

    • The best ad copy

    • A useful landing page

    • And great CTR

  • To reach the Holy Grail, we must be aware of the Conversion trinity:

    • Be relevant

    • Be valuable

    • Make the next action obvious
  •

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    The new role of technology in the Marketing Department

    There is a fantastic post today in AdAge Magazine. "The Case for a Chief Marketing Technologist: If Technology Is Now a Strategic Dimension of Marketing, Who Should Lead It?" by Scott Brinker.

    I agree 100% with Brinker that technology is taking on an increasingly significant role within marketing, but of course, whether there is a "Chief Marketing Technologist" necessary at most organizations is really a case-by-case decision. Regardless of the structure or of titles, from my experience in the past few years as a technologically savvy marketer, I believe marketing leaders who embrace the use of technology in day-to-day analytics and execution of marketing strategy and foster a collaborative environment with the IT department are likely to be more efficient and effective in achieving their goals. Brinker makes many more solid points about the role of technology in marketing, and I've highlighted my favorites here:

    Amplify’d from
    Analytics software shapes your perception of your audience. Automation and optimization software influences the design of your marketing operations. A plethora of new advertising, social media and web technologies directly affect the experiences your customers have with you. These aren't mere implementation details -- increasingly, they're important strategic and brand-positioning choices. Who makes them, and how?

    Simply put, marketing has become deeply entwined with technology. This didn't happen overnight; it's been sneaking up on us for a while. But because technology had been so tangential to marketing management for most of our history, the organizational structure of marketing has been slow to adjust to this new technology-centric reality.

    marketing must officially take ownership of its technology platforms and strategies. And the first step of such ownership is to appoint someone to lead it.
    Enter the chief marketing technologist. This is a senior management position, reporting to the CMO, with three key responsibilities. First: Choreograph all the disparate technologies under marketing's umbrella. Second: Nurture a growing technology subculture within marketing, raising the department's overall technical proficiency. And third: Collaborate with the CMO on strategy, translating the CMO's vision into technology with high fidelity -- while also inspiring the shape of that vision by advocating for what new technology can enable.
    the most important skill they need is the ability to effortlessly map marketing ideas to technical requirements and, vice versa, map new technologies to marketing opportunities.
    This is a marketer whose expertise is leveraging, scaling and governing technology.
    In this Golden Age, not everyone in marketing needs to be a technologist, just as not everyone in marketing needs to be a "creative." But relevant technology expertise must become a native part of marketing's identity and, with a chief marketing technologist, a native part of its leadership.Read more at

    I'll be at Integrated Marketing Summit in St. Louis, Oct 21st

    I've been asked to participate on a panel to discuss social media best practices. It will be moderated by an esteemed colleague of mine, Brad Hogenmiller (@javastl) and I'm participating alongside another great social media maven David Siteman Garland (@TheRisetotheTop). I expect to be asked about using social media for B2B marketing, and we'll probably touch on tools and tricks of the trade.

    I attended Integrated Marketing Summit last year when it was also hosted in downtown St. Louis, and I found the entire day to be highly valuable. The networking was indispensable, and the sessions were informative and valuable.

    From the website:
    "IMS is the signature summit for Marketing, Advertising and PR Professionals in both B-to-B and B-to-C markets throughout the U.S. IMS provides actionable insights, expertise and cutting-edge information in a convenient, affordable one-day educational format. And the best continues, with next-day, hands-on workshops presented by leading practitioners."

    I would encourage everybody working in Marketing in St. Louis to attend this one-day summit.

    The cost is $279 for all sessions and keynotes, continental breakfast, lunch, breaks and Happy Hour/Networking.

    Some of the topics, as you can see from the agenda, look very interesting. Here's a link to my speaker bio:

    I hope you will join me!
    Program A - Social Media Best Practices (Panel)

    Whether you are BtoB, BtoC, offering a considered purchase or selling a commodity, this multi speaker presentation will help you create an effective social media strategy that is right for your business.

    Moderated by Brad Hogenmiller,  (St Louis, MO). Speakers Include;

    David Siteman Garland, CEO/Executive Producer/Host, The Rise To The Top℠ (St Louis, MO)

    Erin Eschen, Online and Social Media Marketing Manager, Perficient (Orange County, CA)

    Leigh Mutert, Community Manager, H&R Block (Kansas City, MO)

    Kristy Meyer, Social Media Manager, Sigma Aldrich (St Louis, MO)

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Social Media Most Effective for Branding in B2B: But Can We Do Better?

    What this study shows us primarily is that "In B2B marketing, social media is most effective at achieving branding goals." I agree with that, from my experience working in social media in B2B. But from my perspective, It's unfortunate to see such a drop off between increasing website traffic and generating leads. I'd like to see us as B2B marketers figure out tools or processes for closing that gap. I'd like to see more case studies and articles about those who are effectively generating very quantifiable and qualified leads into their sales pipeline directly from the relationships they are establishing with influencers and decision makers in their target demographic who are active on social media sites.

    Amplify’d from
    Most Effective Use of Social Media In Achieving B2B Branding Goals

    View Chart Online

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Exciting News: We are moving back to Saint Louis, MO

    This past January, my fiancé and I moved to Newport Beach, California. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time here - the weather, the beaches, the people -- everything. I retained my full-time role working remotely from home for the past nine months. Below is a recap of many of the things we've been able to to do since we moved here.

    Very recently, we've decided to move back to St. Louis, MO in order to pursue a unique and exciting career opportunity for Chris! This will also allow us to spend much more time with family and friends. I am happy to say that I will remain in my full-time position and return to the office in West County each day.

    We expect to be living in Clayton, MO for quite some time. Please keep in touch with me as I re-join one of the most active and connected networks of interactive media professionals in the country!

    Some of the things we've enjoyed in Southern California and will never forget:
    • Music Concerts at the Greek Theater, the Hollywood Bowl, the House of Blues Hollywood, the Viper Room and Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine.
    • Fantastic OC restaurants: Javier's in Crystal Cove, Marche Moderne at South Coast Plaza, Andrea at the Pelican Hill, Blue Fin sushi, Napa Rose, The Beachcomber restaurant on the beach, Sapphire and the Rooftop Bar in Laguna Beach, and (of course) In-and-Out Burger ;-)
    • World-class LA restaurants: Osteria Mozza, Bazaar by Jose Andres, Spago, Angelini Osteria, Mastro's and Providence
    • Brunches and dinners at beautiful local resorts like Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis in Dana Point, Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, Ritz Carlton Laguna Beach, and Montage Laguna Beach.
    • Special events like the annual MLB All Star Game in Anaheim, the 2010 MTV Movie Awards and a corporate event at the House of Blues Anaheim
    • Great spots on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, including the historic Chateau Marmont, the Den, the SLS Beverly Hills (Bar Centro), Sky Bar at the Mondrian.
    • Excellent musical artists we've been able to see in California: RUSH, Peter Gabriel, Sammy Hagar, David Gray, Ray LaMontagne, Asia, Night Ranger, Steve Miller Band, the Cult, the Fixx, YES, Peter Frampton, Sting, Green Day, Dave Matthews, the Scorpions, the Kings of Leon, the Eagles, as well as Muse and MGMT at Coachella
    • Miscellaneous good times including bicycling with Chris through Crystal Cove State Park, sun bathing on the beach, running on the beach with my dad, grabbing a shake at the Shake Shack, riding duffy boats around Newport Beach harbor, sailing on the Pacific Ocean down the coast, shopping and dining on Balboa Island with my sister, running in Cedar Grove park with my trail running group, cycling up Newport Coast Drive with my brother, hitting the farmer's market in Corona del Mar, going to a Lakers play-off game, watching surfers tackle 14 foot waves at "The Wedge," seeing the Cardinals play the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium, having many of our closest friends visit us for long weekends, watching the Angels play at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, and running a 5K race overlooking the ocean in Corona del Mar.
    I owe a great deal of the "joie de vivre" that I enjoy daily to Chris.  I can never thank him enough for all he does for me and for our friends and family, and I am very much looking forward to our move back "home." See you soon!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Making Social Media Work for You, a presentation by Erin Steinbruegge of TheLoudFew

    Erin Steinbruegge, my former online marketing partner-in-crime, fellow SEO, and one of my BFFs recently presented to a local St. Louis area group (ISES STL) on using Social Media Marketing to drive business results. I wasn't able to attend, but I was impressed with the presentation she later posted online. It's chock full of "ah ha" tips for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and it clearly maintains Erin's un-failingly fun approach to teaching, training and consulting.

    She now runs TheLoudFew, an interactive marketing agency in St. Louis. 
    Catch highlights from the video of her presenting as well as her recap here.

    Here's the slide show:

    Friday, August 20, 2010

    Is search really "dead?" Why Wired Magazine is wrong

    Today I received our latest issue of Wired in the mail, and the bright orange cover proclaims "The Web is Dead." Along with this assertion, the authors, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, claim that search (i.e. using Google to find what you're looking for) is a part of this death because mass consumers are turning to applications and APIs to use the Internet to get data and information less often than they turn to the Web (websites, accessed largely through search engines) to obtain what they're looking for. Chris Crum of WebProNews provides a nice summary of why Wired thinks so, and why they may be jumping the shark a little bit too soon with this declaration:

    What it boils down to is that people will not stop using search engines, they will just use them less for certain kinds of searches if they have an app that they like for that particular kind of information. This is already happening.

    So essentially, if you think about the fact that you can now get weather from your Weather Channel iPhone app or the native weather app on most smart phones, or that you can get sports scores from your MLB or ESPN app, and news from your AP app -- the list goes on -- then why would you need to go to Google? It's simply not as necessary to turn to Google, Yahoo, or Bing for as much as you used to. They call this "getting."

    Crum quotes the article:
    "Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting."

    While this "getting" may reduce the amount of things many people use search engines to find, from my perspective, it cannot possibly eliminate the need for searching in at least three categories: 1) more obscure, long-tail needs, 2) in-depth research, and 3) to some extent, products they wish to purchase.

    I love one of Crum's final thoughts on this topic:
    If all of your eggs are in the search marketing basket, you better really start thinking about mobile and apps.
    He's right, but don't just create a mobile app to have a mobile app, because particularly in the mobile space, the old mantra "If you build it, they will come," is almost entirely untrue. You have to have a utility for your mobile app - something that people will find useful, not just sales and marketing messages. 

    More importantly -- and especially if you don't sell something that can be logically delivered via a mobile app (which mostly, right now, involves data such as weather, lyrics, scores, news, reports, content) but rather, you sell a tangible product --  look into mobile advertising before you start building an app. See how you might be able to advertise where your target market is already using apps that are relevant to what you offer. Get creative with it, but stay contextually relevant. Here is a great example of a company that's embracing mobile advertising in unique and compelling ways.

    And  while it's true that search engines like Google index and provide links to the "indexable" or "crawlable" Web and cannot crawl content housed within apps (at this time), the concept of searching is at least not near it's death: Let's not forget the power (and necessity) of "searching" as it now exists within apps. Facebook has a search function, and I use mine all the time to find friends, companies, pages, etc. My weather app lets me search for a zip code or city. My Amazon app is all about search. While it recommends products I might like, it doesn't know exactly what kind of shoes I just saw on someone that I now want to buy - unless I search for them. I predict there will never be a time in which we are only "getting" and not "searching" as well.

    Search is still definitely alive, but it is evolving, as are many other aspects of the Web, to adapt to the smart phone revolution. Yesterday's launch of Facebook's Places (currently limited to the Facebook iPhone app) makes a lot of sense at this time. Given the success of FourSquare and GoWalla, it's clear that people want to engage with the places and things they like to do when they're out and about with friends, smart phone in hand.

    What do you think?
    • How can we, as brands, serve them not just our address and venue name, but a rich experience with recommended menu items, favorite products, deals, etc? 
    • Is your team having this conversation internally to see how mobile fits within your overall marketing strategy?  
    • What have you tried that works? 
    • Where are you running into road blocks? Do you agree that search is dying and won't evolve and sustain itself?
    Additional rebuttals against Wired's article:
    Wired Declares The Web Is Dead—Don’t Pull Out The Coffin Just Yet (TechCrunch)
    The Web is Dead: Long Live the Cloud

    No, Wired, the Web is not 'dead' (Washington Post)

    Blowback to Wired's "The Web is Dead" story (FierceCIO)

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    6 Great Social and Digital Media Articles

    Flipboard App - for the iPad
    I've been finding a lot of gems lately when it comes to write-ups about social media and becoming more successful in your digital marketing career. This is largely thanks to Flipboard on the iPad. If you own an iPad and you haven't downloaded this free (and revolutionary) app yet, you're missing out. It's the first visually appealing and immersive way to browse your Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as any RSS feed, article site, or Twitter list (activities I participate in almost hourly). 

    When I discovered each of these articles, I shared them on my Twitter feed @ErinE - you can follow me there. 

    The Inside Scoop on How Intel Manages Its Facebook Page
    How to Write a Great Blog Post in Just 15 Minutes
    eBay Ink Profiles Social Media Sellers
    6 Principles for Success in Your Digital Career

    A 3-month plan for adding social to your marketing mix
    15 Essential Tips for Harnessing Your Creativity

    Do you have another article that became particularly valuable to you lately? What about your blog? What are you writing about? Share it in the comments here.

    Wednesday, June 30, 2010

    How does Google use "conversion data" for organic search rankings?

    A colleague of mine had been reading about the fact that Google uses "conversion data" to help determine quality of a site for ranking it in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for a keyword search. He had some questions about how Google obtains this data. Essentially: How does Google determine that a user is converting after the click? Especially if Google Analytics is not being used by the visited site. I wanted to share my perspective on my blog. This is related to the May Day Google algorithm update.

    His question:

    A quick question on bold text below – how would you interpret this?  “behavior data” - CTR on organic links in SERPs?, time on site?  “conversion data” - what do you think they define as a conversion on a site?  Thanks in advance.
    The problem with long tail keywords are that despite generating some absurd percentage of overall site traffic for well-optimized content, most of the time the quality of traffic isn't good enough to convert.  I would guess a significant percentage of long tail visitors are sent to a website because search engines aren't quite sure whether your content is up to snuff for shorter, highly competitive, generic keywords.

    Maile Ohye all but confirmed the fact Google is moving to user behavior data as a better signal than say keyword density to rank content in the SERPs.  She also hinted at Google using conversion data for organic ranking signals as well, which got me worried yet again about what Google considers a conversion for my websites (heck, I might introduce a quality score all my own to Google on that one!).

    My response:

    From what I've read, there are at least two ways for Google to gauge conversion on your site:

    1. A large percentage of visitors who click on your organic listing do not return quickly or at all to the SERP by clicking back to it or do not return to Google quickly to conduct another same or similar search. Also, if they do not perform the same keyword search or a refined search on the same keyword phrase, they likely found what they were looking for on your site. They can assume amount of time spent on your site by when a visitor returns by clicking back or by when the same user returns to Google to conduct another similar search.

    2.  Another way they can gauge conversion is if you have Google Analytics turned on, and even better: If you have conversion tracking turned on and if you are advertising via Google AdWords. Similar additional ways they gauge conversion: Sites using Google Checkout, people using Google Chrome.... Interesting, although a tad "conspiracy-theory" article on their data collection here.

    SEOMoz is a well-respected SEO source, and they concur:

    First, let me state that I do think they use all the data they collect (or will collect) from search query logs, Google Analytics, Google Adsense, Google Toolbar, browser extensions, Doubleclick, FeedBurner, etc. to improve both their ranking algorithms and ads targeting technology. That is the reason, in my opinion, they offer all of these tools for free.  The data they collect is far more valuable.  It is so valuable that Ask is even considering selling this data.

    and then also this, which confirms my statement above under #1, and speaks to your comment about CTR from the SERP page:
    if we know that people are clicking on the #1 result we’re doing something right, and if they’re hitting next page or reformulating their query, we’re doing something wrong.


    Fascinating, huh? ;)

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    Top 10 Metrics for Email Marketing Success

    In this article, I've listed for you all of the metrics I recommend any email marketer be tracking, recording and analyzing as part of their email marketing campaigns. Too often, companies push messaging out to their subscribers or purchased email lists and don't pay attention to the results in an effective way. Almost every email marketing tool out there provides a majority of these metrics if not all of them, so now is the time to start yourself a good old fashioned Excel spreadsheet (at a minimum) and begin tracking each of these items so that you can make more informed decisions about campaigns to come and make the most of your spend (in time and money).

    What you can do with each of these metrics is:
    1. Try to determine what the industry average is. Look at reports from Forrester or ClickZ or hire individuals to manage your email marketing who have worked in your specific industry.
    2. Look at past stats for your company to set a benchmark for a minimum level of success. You can always be improving.
    3. Set a desired state for each metric at the industry average, twice your existing stat, or whatever feels most comfortable as an aggressive yet attainable goal.

    You should be tracking as many of these metrics as possible by campaign.

    • Sales: Quantity of leads, quantity of sales converted off of an email referred website visitor, or actual revenue generated off of those click-throughs.
    • ROI: Calculate the costs (in both software, tools and time spent) for each email campaign and subtract that from the total revenue generated. You can get pretty complex with ROI calculations beyond this simple formula, but I won't get into that here.
    • Conversion Rates: The % of email referred visitors who convert into a sale or lead.
    • Value of an email subscriber: The number of subscriptions divided by the revenue generated from email marketing.
    • Total number of email subscribers.
    • Unsubscribe Rate: Usually you can get this from the tool you're using to send & manage your email list, provided to you by campaign.
    • Customer frequency: Average number of unique visitors driven by email each month.
    • Open Rate: This is a good guage of how effective your subject line is in grabbing the attention of recipients. Also mixed into this is a value of your brand's awareness or affinity among subscribers - loyal customers may be more inclined to open regardless of the effectiveness of the subject line, eager to find deals and promotions being announced.
    • Click-through Rate: The % of opened emails that generated a click through to your desired URL. Similar to "Open Rate" but this one is a measure of how effective your email's content is in generating enough interest to drive that recipient to become a web-site visitor to get more information.
    • Deliverability: In some tools, you can also find a metric called "Bounce Rate" which will tell you the % of emails sent that came back as "Undeliverable" because either the email address is no longer valid or the email could not be delivered for another reason such as that email service provider's server was down.

    More on deliverability:
    You should learn to cleanse your list based on which emails are reported as undeliverable so that you don't continue sending emails to these over and over. However, more importantly, if the % is high, look at two things:
    1. The source you used for obtaining the email. If you purchase emails from a list and this particular list has a high bounce rate, you'll want to talk to the source to make sure you're getting your money's worth. 
    2. The lead capture form you are using to capture emails from subscribers yourself: 
     If you are obtaining the emails yourself but the bounce rate on deliverability is high, consider putting in an "email verification" process where you provide two fields for entering email and make sure they match (this prevents what's called "fat-fingering": a mistakenly inputted email address) or an email verification link sent to that address after the form is submitted. In the latter case, you plan not to use the email address in marketing campaigns until the link is clicked to verify the address is correct, however this is likely to bring down the likeliness that each person will fully convert into a subscriber since it requires an additional step.

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    A 46-point SEO checklist for any website

    MonsterCommerce SEO team at the Google campus in 2006
    Throughout my career in interactive marketing, I have maintained a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) checklist for my own use. I have updated the best practice guidelines for each item on the list along the way. It's by no means comprehensive, but I still find it extremely helpful as I approach any new project.

    I thought I'd share it with you and see what you might add to this list to help make it more useful. As with any check list, it needs to be broad enough to fit most websites, but most high-level SEO guidelines generally are that broad.

    The other thing to keep in mind with SEO is that the formulas are not definite. Google does not publish the exact formula for title tag length or keyword frequency/density, but throughout years of SEO expert analysis and commentary, these general best practices have come to light and tend to drive top 10 results for medium to long-tail keywords for any business with a relatively "search engine friendly" site. I will tell you that the last few SEO projects I have contributed to or led in the past 12 months have all started to see brand new top 10 rankings for relatively competitive keyword phrases off of these techniques.

    I have also been known to differentiate "search engine friendliness" from "search engine optimized" in the way that I think and talk about SEO. I will elaborate on that further later, but let's summarize it here so that you get the most from this checklist: If your site is "search engine friendly", it means that there is no bulky Flash file or complex JavaScript (or other spider-blocking code) preventing the automated search engine spiders from adequately "crawling" through your site's code to reach the keyword-rich content designed to tell them what your site is all about. If your site is "search engine optimized" then that means that once the spiders do get to the keyword-rich content, the keywords were chosen properly and the content properly optimized (at effective keyword frequency and density levels, in addition to the checklist below) so as to properly differentiate and position the page as an authority on that keyword (topic), thus resulting in higher placement for that keyword query in the search engine.

    I look forward to hearing from you, via the comments section below, regarding what criteria you suggest changing or adding to this list. One additional caveat: These are (mostly) on-site SEO factors, so they do not include off-site factors such as link popularity - which are equally as important in obtaining and maintaining top 10 rankings. I hope to post an entirely separate post on link building strategies soon enough. As a checklist, your goal is to achieve a YES or "Requirement met" for each item.
    1. Title Tag: Keywords in title tag appear at the beginning of the title tag, before company name.
    2. Title Tag: Unique to each page
    3. Title Tag: Relevant to each page's content
    4. Title Tag: Word count is 6-11 words
    5. Meta Description Tag: Unique to each page.
    6. Meta Description Tag: Appears in sentence format, not keyword after keyword
    7. Meta Description Tag: Word count is 12-24 words, maximum 200 characters
    8. Meta Keyword Tag: Unique to each page.
    9. Meta Keyword Tag: Word count is between 0 and 48 keywords, maximum of 2,000 characters
    10. Meta Keyword Tag: Keywords are not repeated
    11. Meta Keyword Tag: Keyword phrases are separated by , and a space
    12. Meta Keyword Tag: Keyword phrases are listed longest to shortest
    13. Images: File names have keywords in them
    14. Images: Images have SEO friendly name and URL
    15. Images: Location shows images are stored in a single directory (e.g.
    16. Images: Have alt attribute with relevant keyword
    17. Page Content: Section/topic titles appear in H tags and should be in order (H1, H2, H3, etc) in the source code
    18. Page Content: Aim for fewer than 100 links on any given page, including navigation and on Sitemaps
    19. Page Content: Homepage static content is keyword rich
    20. Page Content: Homepage static content will change regularly
    21. Page Content: Bread crumb navigation exists for each section
    22. Page Content: Use tag instead of for bold formatting
    23. Page Content: Text navigation exists for any nav options in an image link
    24. Source Code: Javascript and CSS referenced in external files
    25. Source Code: Title and metas are formatted properly (see sheet two of this workbook)
    26. IP address: Site is on dedicated IP address (recommend Bruce Clay's Server Tool)
    27. IP address: Block list check performed and not on any block lists (recommend Bruce Clay's Server Tool)
    28. 404 error: 404 error page exists and contains text links to relevant sections of site
    29. 404 error: 404 page is consistent with site's design
    30. 404 error: Webserver is configured to give a 404 HTTP status code when non-existent
    31. Robots.txt: Is located at the root directory of the site
    32. Robots.txt: Is formatted properly (recommend
    33. URL: www is forced (cannot access a page without the www)
    34. URL: URL uses hyphen between words in a folder and file name
    35. URL: URL should be entirely lower case
    36. URL: Any URL redirects are set up as 301 redirects (recommend Bruce Clay's Server Tool)
    37. URL: URL contains keyword-rich, relevant categories and filenames
    38. URL: URL contains the topic or category
    39. URL: root of each folder in URL goes to a landing page
    40. URL: URL is unique - no multiple URLs can reach the same page
    41. URL: URL is short as possible (75 or fewer characters)
    42. Site Map: HTML sitemap: links are categorized and links appear for all sections
    43. Site Map: XML Sitemap is generated and submitted (recommend
    44. Submission: Site submitted to
    45. Submission: Site submitted to Yahoo! Directory
    46. Link Check: Run a broken link check on the site, (recommend LinkSleuth)

    Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Talking Social Media Engagement at Conversion Conference West 2010

    Conversion Conference West 2010
    Next week, I am presenting at Conversion Conference West: the first conference devoted exclusively to online conversion. It will be held on May 4-5 at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel in San Jose.
    Whether you are looking for the psychology of persuasion, graphic design, copywriting, usability, landing page testing & tools, or best practices for your specific situation, its all here. Enjoy world-class expert sessions, hands-on live critiques, and no-holds-barred open mic panels. Use promo code "CCW560" when registering at to save $250 off of a 2-day full conference pass by May 1st!
    I am presenting on Wednesday morning at 11:10 am, and my topic is "Social Media for Engagement & Conversion." Full Agenda

    I'm putting the finishing touches on my presentation for next week, and thought I'd share with you some highlights in the messaging I plan to use...

    As marketers are forced to look at how to best leverage social media to drive the business, some traditional ways of thinking need to be looked at in a new way. For example, companies that are successfully leveraging social media for B2B marketing are finding that social networking has changed the concept of a "lead" and the ability to connect with and establish relationships with key prospects.
    "The nice thing about social media is that on social networking sites, we have access to contact information and the ability to reach a target contact very quickly and easily."
    What that means for us is that success is now marked by penetrating the noise and establishing a relationship.
    A desired action in social media can involve brand awareness and brand building or a more direct action such as a click through (from Twitter, for example) to a web site where a lead is generated or a purchase is made. On top of all of that, social media can help marketers and sales professionals to continue to foster relationships with existing clients - particularly with high-revenue or high margin services or those with a significant project life-span, leading to repeat business.

    My presentation will include a brief overview of the major social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), a list of metrics to focus on for each, best practices for engagement and calls to action, some case studies, and then tips on metrics, reporting and alerts.

    Don't forget that you can follow me on Twitter at

    You can also follow the conference organizer, Tim Ash, at or follow the hash tag #ConvCon
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