End of The Quarter Thoughts: I’m Excited for the Future!

success_babyI am now a graduate of DigiMark2.3! As I reflect on the past quarter, I cannot help but think about how grateful I will be down the road (I actually already am now) for having learned what I learned. Of all my years of education, I would have to say that these skills, as I have shared in my posts thus far, will set me, and anyone else who takes care to lean them far beyond our peers as we dive deeper into the 21st century. Out of everything I learned this quarter, I was most excited to gain a new-found understanding on inbound marketing, and of course the digital marketing trifecta of paid, earned, and owned media.

As far as inbound marketing goes, it was learning how to build an audience with an effective content marketing strategy that really blew me away. Content marketing is not only vitally important to business, but it is something anyone can practice and measure. This very blog is a result of me practicing my content marketing skills! I’ve stated this in my earlier blogs that inbound is not the be-all-end-all and should complement your outbound strategies, but the idea of customer coming to you fascinates me. The idea of a potential customer browsing their computer, tablet, or smart phone in their own free time, and discovering something I have created as part of a sales funnel, and actually enjoying the experience is really cool!  We learned a methodical approach  to building a target audience, and them implementing a 5-step agile marketing strategy to deliver to them, which will, in turn, attract them to you. You can create a culture of raving fans of what you have to offer, simply by offering value to the right people!

As for Paid, owned, and earned media, understanding this trio goes hand in hand with content marketing because they contain both inbound and outbound techniques. There is a dwindling boundary between earned, and owned media our social connectivity rapidly increases, and companies start to utilize crowd-sourcing and co-creation in their marketing strategies. As marketing is becoming more and more about interaction and engaging the user, customers are participating more and more on what used to be a business’s owned media platform.

It is also crazy to think about how versatile this subject matter is. The content you are reading on my blog or any current published work could be a little bit outdated a year from now. As it is important to be consistently improving your branding and marketing strategy, keeping up to date and staying current with changes in technology will definitely keep you on your toes.

I’m really excited for my future. After really diving into digital marketing, I have realized the opportunity that this knowledge can create for one’s self. Proficiency in these skills will make anyone extremely hire-able. You may be asked to teach your new boss a thing or two! You can also take a more entrepreneurial route. You can continue to really hone in your digital marketing skills and open up your own firm! Many are going that route and there’s nothing stopping you! If the start-up capital or the liability makes you nervous, try your hand at an affiliate platform. Amazon Associates, Vemma, LinkShare, and many other are out there for you test your skills at marketing someone else’s products. How ever you choose to use these skills, get excited, because a new realm of possibilities has just opened up!

Here are some of my stats for the quarter:

Total words for the quarter: 9,718

Here is a summary of the traffic my blog received:

wordpressstats

 

Here is my certificate for passing the Google Aanalytics IQ Exam:googleiqcert

 

 

Co-Creation: The Consumer Partnership

Digital marketing gurus and social media experts, as I’m sure you have read or hear by now, continuously stress the importance of adding value to people’s lives if you would like so much as a faint chance in them buying from you. I have alluded to this in my earlier posts. As a marketing professional, you should always be asking yourself “how can I add value” and constantly be looking for new ways to do it. I have also alluded to what should by now be a commonly known fact that we are the most connected human beings to ever walk the earth. Everybody all of a sudden has a voice that can be heard by masses on a global scale, and we are only getting louder. Everybody loves to have their opinion heard, and the digital realm makes an excellent tool gather valuable intelligence, but by providing a little structure and direction to the opinions of the masses, one can really enjoy the full benefits of such a phenomenal resource, opening up all kinds of avenues for start-ups to thrive in millions of niches.co-creation

Co-creation, by definition, is “a collaborative new product development activity in which consumers actively contribute and select various elements of a new product offering” according to the Journal of Service Research. It is important to keep in mind, that these consumers providing input and not just anyone. These are people with specific knowledge of the product or niche, they are passionate about what they have to bring to the table, and therefore offer incredibly valuable insight to product development. Typically these consumers are lead users, market mavens, innovators, or emergent consumers.

These outside participantsbms in co-creation must be properly motivated, most commonly in the form of monetary compensation. These financial incentives come in the form of direct bonuses, or royalties that are paid on intellectual property (which would get me the most excited personally). Other motivators offered are simply early or exclusive access to the soon to be released product or social appeal. Companies often will recognize their unpaid co-creators by giving them a shout out on social media, their website, or newsletter. A lot of times, in the film industry, unpaid extras volunteer simply to just be in the movie, or in some cases, take part in funding the project for a chance to be anywhere from recognized in the credits, to actually playing a small role in some content creation. If you were a fan of the raunchy TV show on Spike “Blue Mountain State” check out their kickstarter page.

While co-creation is a very powerful tool, it is important to understand its limitation as to not make costly mistakes. Anytime a firm reaches out for consumer input, a considerable amount of transparency is required, and it is important to know exactly what you plan to reveal to the public in trade-off for insight. It is also important to be aware of intellectual property rights and take care not to violate them. Different consumer expect different ownership returns from what they give, from nothing at all to full ownership of the intellectual property they give. Additionally, asking input of the public, while catering to the most suave customers, can still result in information overload if the firm is not equipped to handle all the responses. Once you have received customer input, you must then process it and sift through all the ideas to distinguish the feasible ones from the non-feasible ones.

In the age of technology, there are companies emerging, that are solely based on co-creation. Quirky is a start-up based out of New York that takes thousands of submissions for product concepts every month. After sifting trough all the submissions, Quirky selects the most feasible and meaningful concepts to build upon. Quirky continues to seek insight through their online community that provides feedback throughout the building process. Once a project is complete, the actual manufacturing of the project is outsourced. What really fascinates me about Quirky is the fact that they uses co-creation almost as a research and development substitute. The R&D money goes to inventors, which works out great for both them and Quirky, minimizing overhead.

Mobile Payment: Say Goodbye to Your Wallet

Upon leaving your home for the day, you probably have given yourself the routine pat-down checking that you have your three essential items: Phone, wallet, and keys. While forgetting or losing  just one of these items can cause a major inconvenience, the way technology is advancing, we seem to be doing everything in our power, to reduce and merge our essential items. That is what is currently happening between your phone and your wallet. There will soon come a time when you will no longer have to worry about fumbling through your wallet for your credit/debit card when its time to pay for the item you’ve been shopping for. As I mentioned several times in my previous post about Mobile Marketing, we are pretty much attached to our smartphones, and mobile devices. We use them to manage many aspects of our lives, and that list of functions continues to grow on a monthly basis. Companies like Google (Google Wallet), Square, and LevelUp are working to make that merger easier. venmo

 

The need to carry cash is diminishing with the emergence of applications like Venmo, a social payment app that is designed for personal use. Two individuals can exchange money electronically in exact amounts as opposed to worrying about who has cash and who doesn’t. Users add-on another like any other social network. Profiles are set up with debit/credit card, and bank account information. Users can pay and charge, other users they are connected to on the app. A 3% transaction fee is charged on your primary funding source, while your secondary is free. Users can either fund their own accounts, or pay the Venmo account of a friend directly from their bank account or debit card. The funds are deposited into the profile of the recipient, where they can then, “cash out” and deposit the funds into their own bank account. One cool feature that may account to Venmo’s rising popularity is the $5 credit payout that is given to each new user you refer using your given referral code.

square-pictureLet us now focus on the commercial sector. Take a company like Square that really started the mobile payment movement by offering a product that turned your mobile device into a virtual cash register. Compatible with your devices auxiliary cable, the square device, allows your to swipe your customer’s card and then process it through an app. This has become tremendously popular among small and portable businesses. Square had help numerous small business increase profitability so long as the 2.75% transaction fee is outweighed by the cost of a full-blown cash register. While the fee is quite expensive, the convenience offered has been unmatched for accepting card credit card payments. Recently, in response to the evolution of mobile payment applications and companies like LevelUp and Google Wallet, Square has developed a customer app that allows you to pay in advance and then present the app to the cashier.

levelup-qr-codeLooking at a company like LevelUp, they offer a service very similar to the program Square created, the difference is that when after payment, when it comes to checkout time, the app displays a QR code that the cashier scans. LevelUp, being a newer company founded in 2010, they have been able to really make a name for themselves in the mobile payment industry by tying their app in with rewards programs of existing companies. The cool thing about LevelUp, is that as they gather information on the purchasing habits of their customers, they can target them with interest specific promotions that will boost the number of repeat buyers. LevelUp also works with clients to customize and set up loyalty programs for their client’s customer helping them boost their own customer retention.

Let’s Talk about Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a cyber currency that has been gaining attention these past few years. Bitcoins are mined by computers using algorithms and they circulate without a central bank. This raises a question of legitimacy for the value. There are no external regulations currently on Bitcoin, which will presumably change in the future, but the currency is claimed to be self-sustaining and secure. While still relatively small, Bitcoin is presumed to be able to help those who live in countries with low-valued currency, hold value. This is happening in Argentina where the citizens are looking to convert their money into a more stable form of currency that their government cannot get their hands on. It is predicted that Bitcoin will continue to grow into a globally accepted and known currency. Recently a Bitcoin ATM was opened in Vancouver, BC. Users have experienced lower transaction fees. Bitcoin was valued at $13 at the beginning of January 2013. By April 2013 it had hit $266. The price has been known to fluctuate quite dramatically but Bitcoin is on a gradual rise in value and will become more common in the future.

 

The Rising Dominance of Mobile Marketing

With today’s marketing strategies being all about gaining participation from your audience, the mobile device is currently the holy grail of consumer engagement. The reason being, is that simply the device where the majority of our attention currently lies. While desktop computers are not mostly associated with business and work, our mobile devices are where we are turning to for entertainment, social connectivity, and to get quick tidbits of information. It is reported, in fact, that a majority of mobile phone users are so personally connected to their device that they will not leave the house with it. This and rising innovative developments like Google Glass are proof that mobile technology it literally becoming part of us. In other words, the consumer is currently “all in” on their mobile device, ready to buy and expecting an engaging experience from their favorite brands. Pairing the current consumer paradigm with data collection through the multiple contact points made available through mobile technology, it’s no wonder that it is predicted that by 2017, mobile ad spending will hit $42 billion.  Two-thirds of advertisers for consumer package goods say they are planning to increase their spending in mobile advertising in the next 12 months according to this survey.mobilemarketing

With all the hype surrounding the rise of mobile marketing, it is important to make sure you are effectively optimizing the mobile experience your customers. One of the biggest no-no’s in mobile marketing is treating your mobile site like a smaller version on your desktop. Nobody wants to be pinching to zoom in and out and swiping all over the place just to be able to read your content. This will take away from what you are truly trying to offer and will kill your mobile presence. It should not be a chore to visit your mobile site and it needs to be delivered in a way that is easy to use and navigate on a smart phone. Building a new website that is transferable across all platforms  can be quite expensive. Luckily there are several DIY tools that will make your website optimization easier and cheaper. If you can edit your own social media sites, then you can go mobile with a DIY tool such as Hubstpot’s content management system.

jimmyjohnsAnother important item to note.If you are going to go into mobile marketing, understand how a mobile website and an app serve different purposes. Mobile browsers are preferred for quick hits and finding small pieces of information while an app is best for immersion, offering better navigation and even offline usage. App immersion has been known to be greater in apps than both mobile web and desktop combined! The app, therefore, is where you build a solid foundation of customer loyalty. The app is generally faster than the web, and it uses device functionality to personalize the user experience, with push notifications, accessing photos, location and other data. Deciding which avenue to use, if not both is ultimately up to the goals of your business or marketing campaign. Apps can be monetized a bit more than the mobile web, since they offer in-app purchasing and paid downloads in addition to advertising. With an app, however, there is a revenue split with the app store and a well done app typically costs more than a mobile website.

If you do decide to utilize apps in your mobile campaign, recognize that there is an app retention epidemic where 90% of users who downloaded an app are gone within 6 months. The standard for keeping the user engages is evidently high and it is important to have a continuous improvement in your interface, while constantly producing quality content and utilizing all the power of app technology. Take into account, user reviews when making updates as there could be some fantastic user-generated meaningfully unique ideas out there.

 

The Database is the Most Important Tool in Your Aresenal

If you have ever noticed banner ads that are oddly related to what you need, or something you have recently bought, you are on the receiving end of an automated database marketing campaign. The “Users also bought” screen you see on Amazon after you make a purchase is probably one of the most common examples of database marketing.

amazonboughtLike I have stated many times in my previous posts, the expectations of the consumer with regards to the quality and relevance of the information they get is higher than ever, and those standards are only expected to get higher. What does this mean? It is becoming ever so important that content, and ads your campaign creates are only visible to those who should see it. By being able to properly sort through the consumer date you have racked up, it is now possible to create simple algorithms to predict buying patterns and determine what your prospect might be searching for. Using database marketing, companies like target have been able to predict when a woman is pregnant, thus getting ahead of the competition that won’t figure that out until the baby is born. The latest Obama campaign was arguably won because of superior usage or data to market to voters than the Romney campaign. You can read more about that here. Using database marketing, you can even price your products depending on who is viewing your page.

Airlines are notorious for doing this. You may have noticed when shopping for airfares, that price of the ticket you were looking at went up in between your visits. To the average consumer, this seems normal, since it clearly states that the prices are subject to change, which makes sense as you get closer and closer to the day of take off. You can read about what they are really doing  here. scumbagairlinesEssentially what is happening is the airline knows you are seriously considering taking that flight, so what they do is raise the price just enough to maybe be a minor inconvenience but not enough so that you do not go with a different airline. And you thought that “save you flight” feature was a nice gesture. Pro tip: use private browsing or “incognito” for chrome until you actually are ready to make your final purchase. Orbitz has been known to do something similar, by offering users who use Apple computers deals for more expensive hotel rooms than PC users. Leveraging the data you collect can be a huge opportunity to get the most out of each customer, but its important to know exactly how this works.

Every time a site is visited, data is being collected on that user. Search, and buying behavior can all be tracked using cookies. Additionally, almost every time you buy online, you are required to fill out your information and make a customer profile along with what you purchased, and how often you shop, visit, and continue to buy. This data can all be collected on your customers which is where SQL comes in. As I stated in my previous post, SQL is used to effectively navigate through a database. Using SQL you can turn raw data, into meaningful information, and with this meaningful information is how you can really personalize the customer experience. By matching certain customer entries together, you can discover correlations, and possible target niches. By offering more personalized promotions and guiding your customer through your site based on previous searches, purchases, and other online behavior, you will not only yield higher email open and click-through rates, but you will enhance your brand loyalty and you will experience a much greater customer retention rate. They will continue to return to your site as long as you are meeting their needs. And you do that by knowing what they are looking for, which you can figure out through the clues that they leave for you in your database.

 

 

Why You Should Learn SQL

We are getting to a point in this major culture shift to digital dependency where there is a diminishing  boundary between the technical skills required by a coder or a developer and the skills required by a marketer. There is so much data now at our finger tips, that those who are smart simply cannot ignore the importance of certain technical skills in the marketing realm. If you have not heard of the term “Growth Hacking” it basically describes the use of creatively using analytically thinking combined with social metrics to gain exposure and sell products. As time goes on, skills like coding are going to become more essential to marketing tactics. The data we can gather from our marketing campaigns is now so vast that we need a way to be able to process it so that we may capitalize on it. Just understand that if you don’t, someone else will and they will beat you.growth-hacker-definition

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a tool that allows us to store, retrieve, and manipulate entries in a database. This is a skill most commonly used by developers, but marketers are coming to realize that we can gain some incredibly valuable intelligence from SQL. Ensuring your content is visible to the right audience and that your outbound methods are reaching your target audience can be done extremely efficiently by running a query through your database of clients with your target parameters. This will make your current and future marketing campaigns much more effective, so if you are in the marketing field and are not at least decently versed at SQL, I implore you to take a few hours and learn the basics.

Let’s say that you are to run an ad campaign through Facebook to boost your sales for the month. Facebook makes this incredibly easy for you by providing you with a user-friendly ad generator that allows you to target your following and all of their friends, refining the ad-based on basic demographics, and interests. This is a great start, but with SQL, you can take this a step further to really refine your reach which keep your brand loyalty rock solid and yield a better conversion rate. You can run an SQL through your existing client database and sort your customers by more specific qualities like the date of their last purchase, or what they purchased. You can even bring up correlations between certain qualities in your customer entries with and/or operations. With information like this you can target occasional buyers or one-time buyers who may just be waiting around for something from you to catch their eye like another deal per say, all without disturbing your frequent customers, who are loyal to you and do not need you to remind them to buy from you. A quality relationship between business and customer takes time and effort to build but that can all vanish as a result of a few too many “spammy” promotions.  When you can effectively use SQL, you should be able to virtually eliminate this threat.

Amazon_Marketing_Examples

 

Amazon, being the largest e-commerce site in the world does an overwhelmingly superb job at utilizing SQL to get the right advertisements  to the right audience and automate it. Selling everything from A to Z they reach a huge span of customers. It is therefore vital that they use SQL to automate their marketing campaigns base on the behavior of their customers. Someone who shops on Amazon strictly for decorative items like candles would not appreciate an ad like the on the left. Even someone who had already purchased a computer from Amazon may be a little annoyed by seeing something like this ad. A computer shopper who visited the site for a while and the left without making a purchase, on the other hand might really appreciate one of these deals.

Optimizing Your Results with A/B Testing

A well-refined landing page that brings your business results is absolutely vital to the success of your business and marketing strategy. For this to happen your site needs to be compelling to your target market, easy to navigate, and most importantly, easy to make it to the end goal of the website (buy-now button). If you look at a well established website like Apple, you are looking at a cumulative result of constant trial and error. Every item you see on that page is there because of the result of A/B testing. In other words, there were more conversions with that particular item where it is, as opposed to somewhere else. That’s how a user-friendly landing page is developed and optimized.

AB-TestingA/B testing works by comparing two website formats, elements, or button variations against one another. Generally speaking, your A feature is your control, while your B is what you are experimenting with. Minor changes to your site can have various impacts to your conversion rate, so it is recommended to constantly be conducting tests to maximize your success. Continuous improvement is key when optimizing your page, and A/B testing works hand-in-hand to help you make these improvements.

Initially, when conducting your A/B test, is to have your defining element of success clearly defined. Is your aim to convert more visitors? Is your aim to have a higher click-through rate? What ever it may be, your must figure that out before moving on. The next big do and don’t of A/B testing is to only expose to your test new visitors to your website. Your current visitors should be able to enjoy the site they are familiar with before you know which option works better.  This not only helps keep your current audience feeling happy and secure, your experiment will also be unbiased and therefore way more credible.

The evaluation process of your test is simple. It is important, however, to let the test run its course and avoid making a conclusion too early. Once you have sufficient data you should have a clear understanding of which variation worked better. Whichever had a higher conversion rate, or a higher click-through rate, go with that option. It is important not to let personal bias or taste over-rule your results. The option you may think will work best may, in fact, not work as well as you may think. A bright red “buy now” button, while not as pleasing to the eye, may get more clicks than something more subtle.

Speaking of bright red “buy now” buttons, here is a short read about several experiments and findings with A/B testing. These three experiments consisted up simple changes to a certain part of a headline or a call to action. Probably the most interesting finding was that in the particular case of the testers, changing their call to action button from green to red increased their conversion rate by 21%. The writers of this article tried it and experienced an increase of 34%. The one thing these finding do not tell us, is other factors that my have played a role in the success of the different colored buttons. The background color could be such that red just stood out more than green in this particular case. That is where it is up to us to determine the why of an A/B test. The experiment will tell you what works. We have to understand why it works that way.

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To conclude, if you want to remain competitive in the online realm, (with means if you want to remain competitive period) A/B testing is a must. Every high-traffic website uses A/B testing, in fact, that’s probably why they are now generating massive amounts of traffic. A/B Testing allows you to maximize your customer experience and volume, without disrupting the currently successful experience of your current audience. It’s an ongoing trial-and-error process of continuous improvement.

My Two Hour Journey Through the World of Coding

According to the book, Introduction to Computing  there are two reasons why people should study computing:

  1. Nearly all of the most exciting and important technologies, arts, and sciences are being driving by computing.
  2. Understanding computing illuminates deep insights and questions into the nature of our minds, our culture, and our universe.

Check out this short film about coders you may know.

It has also been said that the computing revolution is the most important change in the history of mankind. That being said, if you have not already, I suggest at least familiarizing yourself with coding and the language that computers speak. To get gain some insight on this myself, I took a visit to Code Academy. Code Academy is an educational website that aids the user in learning coding through an interactive, step-by-step tutorial. I went into this with very minimal knowledge in coding and I have to say, I am amazed how much more I understand coding now. This program makes it extremely easy to learn, and explains the how and why when you are developing every feature. There are several options in the lessons you can explore. I decided to spend two hours on the HTML tutorial, since it best fit in with digital marketing. Refer to my previous post about Search Marketing.

I actually learned quite a bit in just the first few activities Code Academy had me do. It was great review to what I had previously learned but was rusty on. This was illustrated to me in a way that was very easy to understand. I began by creating some basic headings and experimenting with text features. I then moved on to creating lists and moved to creating more complicated (to a new coder) features, like a list within a list, and adding links and images. As the content gets more progressive and complicated, Code Academy does a really good job of reinforcing your learning with reviews tasks and offering hints along the way.

By the time I stopped, I was putting multiple page elements together using some harder combinations, as well as using a little bit of my own creativity. It noticed that once I got comfortable with basic tags, my learning curve picked up and I was able to push myself further. I was starting to see how content can come together in an organized, visually appealing way.

I made it through almost three lessons in two hours. How far can you get?

codefinish   codestart

How Paid Media Fits Into Your Marketing Mix

We have talked a lot about creating valuable content that will organically draw attention to you, but what about when you need some immediate action, or just a little boost? Before I go on, we need to be very clear that utilizing paid media, like everything else, fits into your marketing strategy as just one component. You still need to be generating valuable and relevant content, but now you can expand your reach with a very controlled approach.

While it is important to understand the definitions and the differences between the above three types of media, there is a new paradigm shift going on in the digital marketing world where “Owned Media” and “Earned Media” fall into the same category. This slight shift is accounting for the emergence of user-generated content (UGC) in the quest to increase interaction with the customer. As I have mentioned in my previous posts, the expectations of the consumer are much higher with regards to the information they are finding. The rise of social media has given everyone a voice and people want to have that voice heard. Thus customers respond very well to content they can interact with and give their opinion on. The shift is explained in full here. A business will still have their owned media, but with customers now able to post on a business’s wall or participate in activities like crowd-sourcing the barrier between owned earned media is no more. To illustrate this, your business website may have a direct feed set up to your business’s social media pages or even track postings by consumers talking about you. Therefore any content users are putting out, will show up on your owned media. Even though you are controlling this outlet, you are showing UGC making you appear more transparent. You can also see how it would be hard to specifically distinguish owned vs. paid media, so the new term for this outlet is “Shared Media.”

Utilizing paid media can benefit your business whether it be large or small. By using search engines, banner ads, and sponsored ads on social media, you are able to leverage your already established position on certain marketing channels. It is efficient and extremely important to aim your ad campaigns at your target audience, and tools like Google Analytics assists you with just that.

Notice how to post about fashion seems to fit right in.

Notice how to post about fashion seems to fit right in.

Paid media, being a form of traditional advertising can be seen as intrusive if not used correctly. With the current general attitude of the consumer, too many poorly placed ads interfering with someone’s day can quickly land you an undesirable reputation. Luckily, native advertising is emerging as a popular, non-intrusive way to use paid media to reach your target audience. Essentially, you are paying to have your content blend in with a content feed that is relevant to that sites normal visiting audience.

Another term for this is “content sponsorship” This is an excellent way to boost your brand reach and open the door for new prospects. Notice in the picture how someone simply browsing for information on that site might actually be intrigued by the tagline for the ad. Offering intriguing facts if the user takes a look inside, seems to be a great way to gain traffic.

newmarketingsalesfunnel1Refer back to the sales funnel.  The goal of paid media is to simply give a boost to the top two stages: “awareness” and “interest.” Your paid media should be directing traffic to your owned media outlets. There, it is up to you to create content that will make to user want to remain on your owned media source and move to the consideration stage. Without proper implementation of your owned and earned media outlets to follow-up your paid media, you are simply wasting your money because you will not convert.

 

Why do you Need Google Plus

Regardless of Popular Opinion, this is a big deal

Despite what seems to be the common perception that Google Plus is just Google’s desperate attempt at a social media platform, it has risen up the ranks and is now the second largest social media platform behind Facebook. The aim of Google Plus is to consolidate the best features in other platforms such as Facebook, twitter, and instagram into one. Despite the intriguing idea, users do not seem to be making the switch and remaining loyal to their current platforms, yet there are still a billion users on Google Plus. There is quite a bit of criticism regarding Google’s methods to boost their Plus members that you can read about in full here. Essentially, Google has a history finagling users of other sites and services, such as Gmail and YouTube, into making Google Plus accounts just to continue use of the service. Most recently Google is making it so that you as a Google Plus user can send an email to anyone with a Gmail account. If the individual with the Gmail account would not like themselves to be discover-able like that, they must set themselves up with a Google Plus account in order to be able to turn that feature off. Clearly, there are unhappy people with it, calling this just another one of Google’s “schemes” to get people on Google Plus. Regardless of this criticism, however, these moves are paying off for Google. Their strategy is working, and thus creating another huge opportunity for business and marketing professional to capitalize on, or get run over by those that do.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

the-evolution-of-social-networks-google-plus-google-twitter-facebook-myspace-orkut-friendster-li1

Just like with every other social media platform you now use and love, Google Plus is actually awesome, and critics simply have not used it themselves and do not understand it’s power. Google Plus does, in fact, do a really good job at tailoring the content to the liking of the user. You contacts on Google Plus can be organized into circles. Sharing content exclusively to specific circles or to all your followers is very easy. You can choose what you see as well from certain circles. For businesses however, this is where it gets really exciting.

It’s important to understand that if SEO is important to you, then increasing your visibility on Google Plus is a must. It is, in fact, a part of Google, and any content that does will with a lot of engagement on Google Plus, will do well in Google search results. That should be a no-brainer. When people show appreciation on your post by giving you a +1 on your post (equivalent to a “like”) that is a direct popularity ranking signal for SEO.

Google Authorship is being used more and more as a ranking signal for SEO as well.  Authorship lets Google know that content you have created originates from you and links it all across the internet. If you are producing quality content, Google Authorship makes it much more share-able thus increasing your search rank order.

Google Plus Communities offer a great way for businesses to raise brand awareness by creating or participating in conversation with groups of particular interest. This makes identifying needs, trends, and buying patterns of your target market incredibly easy. Creating your own community will allow you to position your self as an authority figure as well as nurturing future relationships.

In conclusion, Google Plus is tool of increasing importance if you are looking to generate more traffic. Having an established Google Plus page, while engaging in communities providing valuable and share-able content will do wonders for your marketing campaigns. By creating trust, through these relationships, your content will get more +1’s and more shares, increasing your visibility and increasing the number of people landing on your page, wanting to know more.