Is your SEO Company Getting Coal for Christmas?

seo company getting coal for christmas

While most in the SEO industry are hashing it out over all the doom and gloom related to the latest penguin attack and panda sighting, I thought I’d offer an alternate view on the state of search engine optimization… it just got a whole lot easier!

Why is that you may ask? Well, Google has been running rampant with algorithm updates and sweeping ranking updates – they have taken a renewed aggressive approach to cutting down on spam sites in the search results. For many, this is crushing news, but for us it’s a refreshing sign that maybe the good guys (and gals) will finish first after all…

For years SEO was about getting the maximum links to your site, including keyword rich anchor text, stuffing as many keywords as possible into the content of your pages, and the list goes on. Finally, Google started really cracking down on these tactics. At first it was minor algorithm updates that altered a small percentage of search results. Now they are sweeping updates affecting thousands, if not millions, of sites.

What does this mean for us?

Essentially it’s bringing SEO back to the basics of what it should be – rewarding sites with quality, unique content that do a good job of promoting that content to relevant people. So what are some tactics that work in SEO these days? Develop relationships! You know those other people out there in your industry and complementary industries? Talk to them. Share the work they’re doing with your customers. Tell them about what you’re doing. Chances are, if you are doing anything worthwhile in your industry, there are people out there who are interested in hearing more about it.

So the interesting thing that has happened boils down to this – if you are doing something worthwhile, you have content to produce. The sites that are not doing anything worthwhile and are just getting traffic through SEO trickery will not make it into the search results these days. So not only has Google changed their algorithm to reward people doing what you’re doing, they’ve cut down tremendously on the low-quality competition that used to outrank you despite your best attempts to do the right thing. So quit reading this blog post, write one of your own, and go tell your friends about it!

 

Posted in Search Engine Marketing | 4 Comments

Just a Typical 2012 Wrap-Up

Make no mistake. This is mainly a sneaky ploy to get out of writing a blog post.

But I’ve learned an important lesson in my 5+ years at eBoost Consulting. I’m surrounded by amazing, intelligent, driven, inspiring people and it’s usually best when I get out of the way and let them do their thing.

So when I was tasked with writing an end-of-the-year blog post what else could I do but ask my fellow eBoosters for their thoughts, musings, and wisdom. Dare I say it would be irresponsible of me to deny you the opportunity to read about their incredible accomplishments from the past 12 months and the inspiring future they envision for 2013.

So without further ado, here is what my fellow eBoosters have been up to and what they have planned for next year, in their own words:

(See what I did there? Ha!)

Linh Nguyen, our Director of Possibilities (Pretty cool huh? Does your organization have one of those? Didn’t think so.), learned how to ask the right questions. “You can always get better answers if you ask better questions,” Linh said. “That goes for the internal team and external clients. You have to put yourself in another person’s shoes to get to the bottom of making a connection.”

Hey, wait a second. Was that a subtle hint that I was asking her the wrong questions for this post? Let’s move on.

Spencer Smith ran Leadership Labs which he identified as one of the proudest accomplishments of his life – this coming from a Stanford MBA who has worked at Google and Microsoft and devotes several weeks of free time each summer to developing our nation’s youth.

Bill Snowman, aside from making another great Halloween costume from scratch, built a network of designers and developers to support eBoost Consulting’s Web Development services. Nice going Bill. Now you don’t have to do all the work yourself!

Chris Root learned how to build and manage large scale Facebook ads campaigns and generated big time results for our clients. Don’t believe me? Try this on for size. Chris dropped one client’s CPA (Cost per Acquisition) from $13 to under $2 while increasing volume from 50 new customers per day to a peak of 300 per day. Now that’s impressive!

Of course, it’s all well and good to look back on our accomplishments, reminisce, be proud, and pat ourselves on the back. But let’s be real. We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world. So let’s see what these fine folks have in store for next year.

Allison Heinrich has developed eBoost’s Email Marketing services into a huge revenue generator for our clients. Her graphs always go up and to the right! Next year Allison plans to create even more value for clients by launching email retargeting automation for eCommerce. This will allow us to create campaigns for customers based on purchasing or browsing behavior, therefore better catering toward each user’s unique preferences. It’s a win-win!

Last year Cameron Ripley and Audrianna Talavera transformed the eBoost internship program into a 501c3 non-profit organization called Community Boost Consulting. CBC helps other nonprofits fundraise on a performance basis. They have already helped charities fight violent extremism, save children’s art programs, provide housing for wounded veterans and much more. What does Cameron have in store for an encore? He plans to devote his energies full time to CBC in 2013 and work with a minimum of 15 more nonprofit clients. Learn more about the great work CBC is doing here and if you’re inspired to help them do more, you can do that here.

In 2013 the sky is the limit. We’re building an innovative venture backed startup accelerator called eBoost Ventures (eBV) where we get to be in on the ground floor with some of the most exciting startups in the country. The eBoost ecosystem of eBC, CBC, and eBV has something for everyone!

What else are eBoosters planning for 2013? Linh Nguyen is going to start a new business venture. Jen Morris is going to become masterful at presenting to others. Audrianna Talavera is going to start her own website where she can share her music, thoughts, art, and travel experiences. For a glimpse into Audri’s talent check out the song she wrote and recorded for this eBoost internship video.

Wow, these eBoosters are inspiring. OK I’ll contribute a few of my own. In 2012 I led a team that increased a client’s conversion rate 1400%, helped another client hit record revenues for the 4th consecutive year, and on a personal note I accomplished my goal of taking a larger leadership role in the organization by becoming Director of Client Services.

Well it looks like I outsmarted myself and wrote a lot of this post anyway. That’s another lesson I’ve learned over the years: when you try to take the easy way out you usually end up spending twice as much time in the end. Luckily this time it was worth it.

We’re proud of where we’ve been and excited about what’s to come. Thank you for being a part of it.

eBoost Rockstars

Posted in Team eBoost | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The 12 Days of Boostmas Begins!

‘Tis the season to be…digital marketing experts! The holiday spirit has officially taken over the eBoost headquarters. Over the next 12 days, we will be sharing with you tips and tools to better your digital marketing strategy for the new year. We will be covering topics that will not only make you better marketers, but better web designers and developers too! Check out the infographic below to see what you can expect to learn about during our 12 Days of Boostmas! Happy holidays, everyone.  12 Days of Boostmas Content

Posted in Consulting, Conversion Design, Digital Marketing Trends, Email Marketing, Marketing Tools, mobile marketing, Pay-Per-Click Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Social Advertising, Strategy | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Mobile Ads – A Big Opportunity Just Got BIGGER

As many of you know, mobile advertising is cheap. Really cheap. With so many new apps and mobile web traffic rising daily, ad inventory (supply) is exceeding demand. This makes mobile a great opportunity for advertisers. Now combine the low price of mobile ads with one of the most targeted ad channels, Facebook Ads, and we have a recipe for success.

Facebook started testing mobile ads in March with their sponsored stories ad type. We’ve been testing them for a while now and the performance has been unprecedented. While others are paying $1.00 per fan on a Page Like campaign, we’re seeing Likes at or under $0.10 with mobile sponsored stories. The average CTR on an external URL Facebook ad is 0.03%. We’re seeing upwards of 10% CTR’s on mobile sponsored stories.

Now while results like these are huge for our clients, Facebook just made it even better. This  Wednesday they announced that they’re updating the ad format for mobile page ads to be more visual and show more information about the pages. One look at the new format and I’m sure it’s going to have a huge impact on CTR and ultimately cost per fan. Take a look at the old format on the top vs. the new format below. Which one would you be more likely to engage with?

old fb mobile page ad

New Facebook Mobile Page Ads

So what does this mean for advertisers? I think it can be boiled down into one main point: Brand awareness just got cheaper! The thing I love about this is that whether you’re a brand new startup with very little capital or you’re a Fortune 500 company, you can get the word out about your brand to a very select audience for very little cash.

Want to learn more about how to get started? Leave a comment below and I’ll personally contact you to set up a free consultation and strategy session to see how the new Facebook mobile page ads can work for you.

Posted in Social Advertising | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Mobile User A.D.D. and Why Tiered Personas Matter

Fifty percent of Americans own and use a smart phone. Twenty two percent of Americans own a tablet. You can’t go a day without encountering hundreds of mobile devices. (Try it. It’s impossible unless you live in a cave.) The on-the-go American is the only kind of American you’ll see. Such extroversion and urgency is prized in our startup-obsessed culture that will continue to grow into a more attention drained, divided audience for every business out there.

You developed Jane, your key persona, one year ago and since she’s consistently moved smoothly down your conversion funnel when she’s on her MacBook, but when she’s on her iPad engagement drops to an all-time low. You spent hours researching and understanding her. It’s unfathomable why she loves you on her laptop and hates you on her iPad. You have the perfect persona for her. Your entire team lives and breathes Jane, yet you’re failing to engage her. What gives?

Truth be told, if Jane is on her iPad, it means her son is with her. Double whammy—you’re dealing with mobile A.D.D. of a successful, effective, on the go mompreneur and a four year old. No conversion funnel can combat that…or can it?

Although I detest the phrase, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” my dad drilled this into me as a kid and in this case I agree. If you can’t “beat” the mobile user mentality by changing this behavior to match the slightly less A.D.D. nature of your desktop user, you better start developing tiered personas (that is, personas with multiple plausible user case scenarios) to match Jane when she’s at home on her laptop, Jane when she’s on her iPad and Jane when she’s on the subway using her iPhone. It’s a triple threat that will either take you down or lift you up. Bottom line, you don’t have to combat it by pushing your primary persona in a direction she doesn’t want to go. Instead map out different plausible user case scenarios and build with these varying behaviors in mind.

Dad never let me get away with drama and always said, “What you resist persists.” Immerse yourself in the world of a user who engages differently across devices. This isn’t a hassle, it’s a luxury.  You have an opportunity to engage the same users with multiple touch points and in different manners. The action of “sharing” might be a hard sell on your website, however when on the iPad, Jane might be in a more social mentality and catching her on her “honeymoon period” with your brand while on the iPad might be the perfect sharing opportunity. Bam, you’ve increased virality without ever paying for a new user.

Keep in mind mobile A.D.D. comes in three flavors. Compliments of Eric Korsch (MediaPost.com), we have a simple breakdown of the three kinds behaviors of mobile users:

  1. Multi-Tasking  Jane might be texting her colleague to let her know she’s running five minutes late, looking up the time of her son’s baseball game and accessing your site (it’s her go-to app for her task list).
  2. Saving Time  Jane might be focused solely on your site because she’s in a hurry and trying to get things done fast.
  3. Killing Time And then we have Jane when she’s waiting in the doctor’s office and needs to kill time. She jumps on your site and spends time exploring, something she’d never do in multi-tasking mode.

Simple, right? Break it down for each key user. Whiteboard it out to bring your entire team on the same page as to which Jane you’re really dealing with. Don’t let the era of mobile A.D.D. get the best of you; turn a challenge into a serious competitive advantage and give your users the experience they need to help you succeed.

Sources: MediaPost, Engadget, TechCrunch

 

Posted in Conversion Design, Persona Development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Think Outside the Bulb

Philips launched Hue, a line of app-controlled colored light bulbs, this month and they are bad ass. I can imagine sitting in my office with SimplyNoise on (brown noise only, please) and dropping the hue of the room’s lighting to a deep dark-room red. That’s focus, baby. I’d crank out Excel models like a machine if that were my setup. Cool thing is it’s possible. Philips Hue bulbs are regular bulbs whose color is controlled through an app on your phone. You can change the color of a room’s lighting with the tap of the Hue app. Blue room, red room, warm room, cold room. Magic.

Seeing this new application of technology to a commodity product got me thinking about the depth and breadth of technology’s and digital marketing’s impact on our world today. I often sit around thinking about “What if…” scenarios (this is an eBoost past-time) and living in a world as if my “What if’s” already happened. Yep, I literally talk to myself as if my future “What ifs…” are a reality and in the past. When I’m in this zone, I’ve noticed my mind typically latches on to past experiences with downloadable software, conversion rate optimization, apps, social media, and I build upon things I’ve either done before to make incremental improvements or I come up with totally new ideas born of pain points I’ve experienced. After reading up on Hue, I’ve opening up to more creative applications of tech and marketing to find opportunities to re-invent commodity products. There have been things I’ve wondered in the past and perhaps there’s an opportunity for improvement. Indulge me and check out some “What if…” scenarios.

  1. What if the center cardboard tube of all toilet paper rolls were re-usable, flushable, or marked with inspiring quotes?
  2. What if the paper tabs on tea bags changed color when either the tea has steeped enough or the water is an appropriate temperature for drinking?
  3. What if greeting cards were re-usable? I spend $5 on a clever card and yet most cards are thrown away. Why not re-use it by inserting a post-it note style writing area on the inside?
  4. What if there were an app that allowed me to trace my consumption? I am a water-sucking, paper towel using (I have cut down on this after watching Joe Smith on “How to Use a Paper Towel”) citizen and I would be much more appt (get it? app+t = apt) to change my behavior if I knew just how much of a consumer I really am.
  5. What if pens made a noise when they were about to go dry that way you can get a new one before you run dry? (I imagine myself in a meeting with a new client and my pen starts making a screeching noise as if I’m hiding a cast-away animal in a box under the table. That would be epic. I’d buy only screechy pens for the sheer excitement of not knowing when the invisible animal noise would launch.)
  6. What if the chair I’m sitting in was connected to an app on my computer that alerted me when my posture was poor? Think Lumoback, only it’s built into my chair. (Disclaimer—I met and worked with Lumoback at Innovation Endeavors when we ran a Business Model Scalability Boost Camp with the entire incubator. They’re awesome. Monish and Steffen are kick ass individuals and I highly recommend trying out their product. Help your 80 year old self by getting your posture into shape now.)

Yes, yes, I know my ideas are all 100% genius. Yes, you can steal them as long as I’m one of your first beta users. So while the ever-pressing questions above don’t all lend themselves to an app, I’m now inspired to apply creative concepts to everyday items. I’ll start posting these thoughts—silly, genius, ridiculous, and more—on our Facebook page. Share your ideas too. Who knows, maybe we’ll reach out and get your idea off the ground. YOU can be the first eBooster to launch a product that changes the way people see an everyday item.

Posted in Creativity and Inspiration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dirty Dozen of Effective Communication

In working with others—teammates, clients, vendors—the most successful relationships I’ve had have been those that have evolved beyond responsibilities and outputs and reach down deeper into a friendship based on mutual trust and respect. These are my go-to people. What differentiates these relationships from those that sustain themselves at a healthy functional level (that is, relationships that don’t go beyond surface conversations)? The relationships that have taken a life of their own and move beyond the basics demonstrate a common theme:  effective communication.

I cannot say whether these partners exist on a different wavelength and effective communication therefore comes naturally to our engagements or if we simply caught each other at the right time and in the right place. I can say that these partnerships revolve around deep mutual respect and as a result a willingness to listen, reflect, and engage in conversations at a new level. These conversations move from functioning to creating. Living in the world of creation requires more than hearing; it requires listening which takes the physical experience of sound to a place that is able to forge new territories in work and in partnership.

My curiosity about what does and does not work in communication and in determining how to more quickly move all client, vendor, and teammate relationships into the world of partnership has led me to examine all kinds of materials on effective communication. Over time, I’ll cover various aspects of communication that together will distinguish how functional relationships can more quickly be moved into a world of creative partnership.

In People Skills, by Robert Bolton, the author covers a list of Dirty Dozen communication roadblocks that many of us employ when we converse with others. Aside from demonstrating genuine interest in body language and by making eye contact, how we facilitate conversations with our listening largely depends on how fluidly we place ourselves in the other person’s shoes. If we can sit in the world of the speaker, we can engage in the kind of conversation that produces partnership and unexpected positive results (vs. functional relationships). The 12 tendencies that are most powerful in blocking a relationship from developing into partnership run the gamut and are likely part of every person’s repertoire. If you’re having a hard time imagining these blocks in action, imagine a high stakes or highly emotional situation and how each would be ineffective in moving the relationship towards partnership.

Judging

  1. Criticizing (negative evaluation)
  2. Name calling
  3. Diagnosing or analyzing
  4. Evaluative praise

Sending Solutions

  1. Ordering
  2. Threatening
  3. Moralizing (preaching the “shoulds” and “oughts” as defined by the listener)
  4. Excessive questioning
  5. Advising

Avoiding Other’s Concerns

  1. Diverting
  2. Providing a logical argument
  3. Reassuring (stopping the speaker from experiencing the emotions associated with their words)

For the next two weeks watch how you listen and when you employ any of the Dirty Dozen. In my self-examination, I noticed I lean heavily on two particular road blocks: providing a logical argument and reassuring others. By eliminating these temporarily from my conversational vocabulary, I’ve noticed others sharing more information and ideas with me when typically these conversations would have ended (albeit happily and in good graces) with little shift or transformation from relationship to partnership.

As the Buddha so beautifully described, “[Listening] is very simple. You only have to be mindful of two things: Listen attentively to others when they are talking and even more attentively to yourself when you are talking.”

Posted in Communication, Leadership | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

7 Design Tips to Boost Conversions

When it comes to doing business online, conversion is king – we want to turn our visitors into customers. A conversion occurs when a website visitor takes an action such as signing up for a newsletter, requesting more information, or buying a product. Understanding fundamental design concepts will help you guide your customers to your intended conversion goal. This infographic outlines some basic design principles that can help increase the number of conversions that occur on your site.

Posted in Conversion Design, Email Marketing, Marketing Tools, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Preaching to the Choir

The venue – a space large enough to fit more than 15,000 adoring fans. Guitars, drums, amps and microphones line the stage. Bright lights pulse and move in orchestrated unison. Fade in on center stage. A lone podium stands in a pool of light where rests…the Bible.

Not what you were picturing? Those aforementioned elements (minus the last one) are much more likely to conjure ideas of raging rock concerts, but in recent years they have created the perfect setting for a megachurch’s Sunday service.

While large churches are not a new phenomenon – in fact Charles Haddon Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle services in London in the 19th century became so large that the church had to move to larger premises twice, the last one holding 6,000 people – the idea of preaching to thousands of people at once was paradigm shifting. Small, neighborhood churches that were at their largest 100-200 members had been the norm, and the pastor, priest or minister knew your name, your problems, and maybe even your family’s medical history.

But after the “megachurch movement” began in the United States in the 1950s, large “church” structures and large crowds of worshippers became prevalent, starting in the West and South, but then spreading across the country. The movement has grown to include the multipurpose “campuses” where congregations gathered – built to accommodate such spaces as a school, book store, cafeteria, gymnasium, library, coffee shop, banquet room, and auditorium, as well as the traditional administrative offices and a sanctuary area. The movement was accelerated, first by television in the 1960s, where services could be broadcast for millions, and where donations could be solicited from those millions, and later by the advent of the Internet in the 1990s.

Some argue that megachurches support the idolization of a single spiritual leader who cannot possibly know all of the congregation members, while others insist that these churches offer a needed sense of community in an increasingly hectic world. All criticisms and accolades aside, though, there has been a cultural transformation that has taken place – and the megachurch formula has also been spreading from America to other countries around the globe since the late 2000s.

By now you may be asking yourself “How does this relate to eBoost Consulting or digital marketing?” Well, churches of this nature tend to be innovators – using technology not only to impact their communities, but also to market themselves and their leaders.  For example, common marketing tactics include:

  • The use of current, constantly updated websites
  • “Pastorpreneurs,” who have current, updated websites and who are active on social networking sites (ex. Facebook.com/JoelOsteen or @JoelOsteen)
  • The branding of churches and their leaders
  • The use of church-founded and independently-owned music labels to spread the word and attract followers to their flocks (ex. Mars Hill Music)
  • Books published online (for Nooks, Kindles, etc.) and in print
  • The use of the blogosphere, radio, talk shows and movies
  • Promotional materials (ex. branded products, signed books, self-help guides, etc.)

As you can see, both traditional and digital strategies are being used. But do they need to market themselves so aggressively? Would it be just as effective to rely on word-of-mouth marketing as those in attendance speak to their families and friends? These thought leaders obviously would say no, as they use the media to sell their church to the masses in order to grow their flocks.

Churches and their leaders have been influential throughout history, and in this day and age where ideas move at the speed of a tweet we must pay attention to what they are doing, whether we agree with their teachings or not.

Questions I pose to you, dear readers of the eBoost blog: Is there anything to be learned from how megachurches operate that might benefit other industries? Is there a new vertical out there for affiliate networks to work with? Do all digital marketing services apply here (Pay per Click Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing)?

Posted in Branding in the Digital World, Customer Loyalty, Digital Marketing Trends, Entrepreneurship, What’s the Big Idea? | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boston University Meets Business Model Scalability

Boston University, you better brace yourself.

 

The hard hitting combo of Johnny Chan and Jen “JMo” Morris are jet-setting their way to the cool campus of Boston University as they wrap up their dynamic eBoost Business Model Scalability Bootcamp.

To date, the one-two punch has virtually delivered an intensive, immersive, and experiential series to the Boston University School of Management’s ITEC Summer Camp that will cultivate today in a final in-person module.  Participating start-ups have learned how to properly assess their business model, how to identify their online customer acquisition channels, and how to scale their businesses using scenario planning.

By illustrating examples drawn from their own experience at acquiring millions of customers for their clients and creating over a billion dollars of enterprise value, Johnny Chan and Jen Morris have simplified the complexity of customer acquisition in the eBoost Business Model Scalability Bootcamp.  The mission of the BU Bootcamp is to make sure that when the ITEC start-up teams hop into the ring for their first real fight, they will be able to roll with the punches and pound for pound, dominate their competition.

If your organization, university, or incubator would be interested in working with eBoost Consulting to scale entrepreneurial education please be sure to visit our contact us page.

Regards,

Cameron Ripley

Associate Consultant

 

 

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