Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

For more information about the congress, please visit www.interactcongress.eu

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Search engine marketing and social media: conversion is a matter of relevance

In order for your website or other online properties to be found online (inbound marketing), you still need a good search engine optimization strategy.

Defining relevant keywords for your business and, more than ever, for your target groups. Relevance is increasingly becoming important in search. What people find in search engine result pages must lead to online destinations that are relevant for their search queries.

Search engines already take this into account but in the end they remain quite ‘dumb’ and all too often well ranked search engine results still lead to irrelevant web pages and thus content.

You can easily optimize the SEO of your pages with search engine optimized content, the right link building strategies and applying all the rules of professional search engine marketing.

But what’s the use of ranking high in results if the value you provide on your website is low from a visitor viewpoint? Conversion starts with being found online but it happens after the click.

When the relevance is not there, there is no conversion and probably even a negative perception about your brand.

Search engine optimized content requires the help of a professional. SEO copywriters are not always cheap, but they can correctly optimize all your content so it's search engine friendly.

However, that is not enough anymore.

If you want your content to be shared via social media, bookmarked and result in optimal conversion, you need a partner that understands more than keywords and SEO.

He or she needs to be able to write with the needs of the readers in mind, knows how to write a call-to-action, understand what determines if your content will be shared on social media or bookmarked on social bookmarking sites and understands that content is part of a broader exercise where your web site, blog, emails, social media presences and whatever you do, are part of another conversion process.

Not that from content to click and online conversion. But that from lead to loyal customer by offering content as a way of lead nurturing. Content in the context of the customer buying journey.

SEM is part of a broader marketing strategy and that’s why many agencies are extending their offering with social media optimization, conversion strategies, web analytics, online copywriting and sometimes even marketing automation and lead management.

Where social media optimization fits in

The same goes for the skills of an online copywriter: he or she must acquire new skills. This type of online copywriting is something that, according to me, cannot be done in house but must be outsourced to a highly specialized expert, a conversion agency, an SEO firm that has an integrated approach or a communication agency that has that same integrated approach but also a customer-centric look on interactive marketing.

In the end, all that matters in marketing is the bottom-line and the value that is created for the business and the customer. And content is key in every micro-conversion, acquisition effort, lead nurturing step and word-of-mouth conversation. That's also where social media optimization fits in: not search is social but relevance.

Originally posted here: Search engine marketing and social: why SEO and search engine optimized content are not enough

Blogs are the websites of the social media world

Many businesses don't have a blog yet. Too bad since blogs are really social media hubs and more. But there is hope. Since blogs are almost a must for all businesses that want to do "something" with social media.
A little more than a decade ago many companies had no websites. And if they had one, it was often no more than some online brochure. Now, for most businesses their website is a critical part of their daily basis and a hub where various online and offline activities start and come together. In little over ten years the corporate site has become a crucial component of the marketing and communication strategy. Today companies face a new challenge: social media.

Actually, the challenge is not that new but the success of social media and the fact that people continuously want more control over the communication process and tap into their social networks force companies to use social media as well.Social media, including blogs, are so frequently used by people - and thus also by prospects, clients, suppliers, potential employees, competitors, journalists etc. – that you HAVE to follow what is happening in the social sphere and participate in it.

Blogs play a crucial part in this. A blog, as I have been saying for a long time, is a social media hub. In some cases social networks can also be social media hubs and even the corporate website offers various – underused - possibilities regarding social media marketing. But blogs are definitely the main social media hubs. They are the source of social interactions and facilitate dialogues.

Blogs are the online properties to which companies can link their social media presences and where dialogues with clients and prospects also effectively take place. Furthermore, blogs play a crucial role in search engine marketing and a brand’s reputation, amongst many others.

Businesses can blog in various ways. They can setup a separate blog which is more or less separate from the company (website) itself, they can leave the initiative for blogging to persons within the company who have something to say and create their own blog, etc.

But it is also absolutely advisable to have a blog that is setup within the website or connected to it and where different persons within the company can blog.

The benefits are tremendous: a simple integration with web analytics, a more ‘open’ and transparent image, search engine optimization and a rapid real-time interaction with people whereby relevant content is crucial.

Company blogs also open up new doors to strengthen other channels and client aimed actions, even in more outbound activities such as e-mail marketing. And of course they are essential in inbound marketing: people are in need of relevant information they can interact with; using blogs you can provide this much faster and in a conversational way than on a website.

Just as today the website has become a marketing hub, blogs will for a long time be the hubs of social media marketing. Content plays a crucial role in this.

If you don’t have a blog yet, it’s really time to get started.

Inbound marketing: blogs are the websites of the social Web