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The Art and Power of Marketing With and Through Partners Fiona O’Connor

Senior Content Marketing Manager

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In our many conversations with partner marketing teams, we’ve seen a wide range of approaches when it comes to marketing with partners and marketing through partners.

For a better understanding of how organizations utilize the two motions to drive success in their partner marketing programs, Michael Latchford, VP of Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing Services, spoke with Partner Marketing executives Helen Kim (Red Hat), Mark Murphy (Cisco), Julie Malloy (Intel). Here are a few highlights from their conversation.

Differentiating marketing with and through partners

Marketing with a partner is when two or more organizations come together promotionally. In this approach, marketing efforts are typically executed as a combined effort, although weighting of tasks can vary significantly among the players.

Helen Kim of Red Hat describes their marketing with partners as a “co-sell, co-market motion” that enables them to “deliver that differentiated value proposition to our customers from a solution-point and answer questions around how to solve our customers’ problems together and building the right GTM capabilities to do that.”

“… we call [marketing with partners] our “better together” story,” says Intel’s Julie Malloy. “And with that with part we’re also sharing a lot more about our direct plans. So what is Intel going to be doing by themselves into the market, what are the partners putting into the market and then how do we take those two separate messages and make sure what we create in the middle is adding even more value than what we were doing separately.”

Marketing through partners is usually substantially less collaborative. In this approach, one partner is typically funded by the other and is expected to complete the promotional activity largely on their own.

Mark Murphy of Cisco, notes that when marketing through partners, although much of the marketing responsibility is removed from his team, they need to ensure that they’re providing the right resources to their partners to be successful. “How do we enable our partners? How do we drive our work through the partner to the end customer?”

Tapping into the potential of a giant partner ecosystem

The clear attraction of marketing with and through partners is the potential these approaches offer for scaling their market impact, both through expanding their core solutions’ marketing reach and relevance via different types of partners and by deepening their sales penetration capabilities via increased numbers of trained selling resources.

And Murphy emphasizes that partners also bring unique insights to the buyers we’re trying to reach and are often in a better position to influence those buyers.

“As we look at that customer journey, there are clearly spots on it where our partner’s voice is more needed, respected and trusted than we would be as an ingredient brand,” says Julie Malloy. “… we really need to lean into these partners in order to figure out what the problem is that the customers are trying to solve – what solutions they need – and that will lead them hopefully to a product that is built on our technologies.”

Evolving approaches to drive partner growth

Unsurprisingly, within these rapidly evolving ecosystems, our panelists highlighted the need for their programs to adapt quickly. They each pointed to the transformations their own organizations are going through in parallel with the market.

For Intel, it involves customizing their programs to diverse partner types. “In the past, it was a one-size fits-all, 50/50 match, put this logo on, here’s your rule book and off they went,” recalls Julie Malloy. “Now as we’re looking into all these kinds of partners … we’re looking at how we put a framework around the investments and messages that we have and co-design it for marketing and the program …”

Helen Kim is embracing the change – her team is in the middle of a partner marketing transformation that’s required a prioritization of partners within their organization and across the entire company. “[We’ve seen a] shift of mindset – from not always fully embracing partners and customers – to going full speed ahead …” she says. “And we’ve now come kind of full circle onto what as a company we want to focus on as far as the success of our three to ten-year strategy, and partners are at the center of that.”

While areas of improvement and transformation will vary from partner program to partner program, flexibility across thinking, your team and your partnerships are critical to continued success.

For more insights from partner marketing experts, watch TechTarget’s Partner Marketing Visionaries webinar series. To learn more about products and services to support your partner marketing efforts, contact Michael Latchford.

alliance marketing, Channel and Alliance Partnerships, channel marketing, partner marketing, partner marketing ecosystems

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Break Through The Black Friday Noise With This Digital Marketing Strategy

How UK retailers can stand out in the Black Friday American crowd

Black Friday is no longer a frenzy that only takes place in North America. British consumers have embraced the phenomenon with open arms, and sales topped a record £5.8 billion over the four days between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2024. This was an increase of 15% on 2024 numbers, and this year numbers are expected to be even bigger.

However, some retailers in the UK have not been as quick to capitalize on the shopping extravaganza, even as sales continue to grow year on year. This has been great news for US ecommerce giant Amazon. The conglomerate sold 7.4m items in the UK last year at the expense of British business and is expected to expand their offerings this year. If UK retailers wish to grab a piece of the pie, they need not be just as good as their American counterparts but even better at attracting and converting visitors.

Knowing how massive Black Friday is becoming for consumers in the UK, you may be wondering what is the best approach to start optimizing your site for this huge event. As you prepare for the impending shopping holiday, the first step is ensuring your company’s website is ready to attract these customers with a basic SEO strategy.

To help you get started, we’ve created the following steps:

Create an exclusive page for Black Friday deals Optimize on-page elements

Additionally, transactional keywords are better suited for ecommerce sites, something worth considering if you are targeting a small town or even a neighbourhood.

For the on-page elements, it’s important to ensure the header tag is properly coded (only one h1 per page) and that it contains the main keyword (the same keyword should be used in the title tag).

Don’t forget about your content

You should aim to have at least 300 words on your Black Friday landing page. The content needs to be unique, informative and relevant to the products being sold.

This is also a good opportunity to include any extra information about your shipping times and rates. And remember that keyword research remains an important SEO element, so targeted keywords should be included in the copy.

The content on this page can be edited and expanded every year, as long as it remains unique.

Avoid indexation and duplication issues

Don’t trust your ecommerce platform to handle all of the optimization for you. While their functionalities may be helpful, it’s important that you take the time to properly configure your site for search engines. If you find existing duplication issues, use canonical tags to direct search engines to the preferred version of a page.

Be careful not to have your automatically generated XML sitemap include URLs you don’t need to be crawled. Configure your sitemap to include only the URLs that you want indexable and ranking to make the most of your Black Friday efforts.

Encourage enthusiasm to increase conversions

Once you have attracted visitors to your website, you need to convert them. The problem here is that some British shoppers are still spectators who hesitate to join the frenzy. This was evident in last year’s numbers.

While visitors to online retail sites grew from 2024, the growth in sales was lower than anticipated because of the under-performing conversion rate. I believe this is solely caused by a poor execution of the user conversion funnel, and not because of British consumers’ lack of enthusiasm.

The following is a list of the top reasons many retailers in the UK fail to convert the additional traffic brought by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and what they can do to change that

Start early

What started as a one-day craze is now a month-long maelstrom. Amazon kicks off their sales on 14 November and some retailers even earlier.

Consumers want to get moving on their holiday shopping during this period, making it a great opportunity to capitalize on deals at the same time. This early spending shift simply can’t be ignored, because you run the risk of losing revenue on both bargain hunters and holiday shoppers.

Added urgency

The natural excitement surrounding these two shopping holidays already adds a sense of urgency. Yet, you can increase it even more by improving your website’s messaging.

For instance, you can implement a countdown clock that reminds consumers of when a deal is ending, or you can highlight the number of products left in your inventory. These are both great ways to transform those indecisive visitors into paying customers.

Plan for traffic spikes

Many shoppers are ditching the crowds and queues for the convenience of online shopping. Yet, those same shoppers often end up running into a different kind of headache: slow-responding websites unprepared for the seasonal traffic spikes

This one issue can turn what can be a very profitable few days into an absolute flop. The time-sensitive nature of the event means you can’t afford for your servers to respond slowly. While some visitors may be forgiving and willing to wait for a slow website to load, most users expect your site to take no more than few seconds.

In fact, according to a KissMetrics report, more than 30% of users will abandon a site if they have to wait up to 10 seconds for it to load.

Prepare for success by getting your site ready for a traffic spike.

Optimize for mobile and tablet

Mobile is king, especially for UK consumers. In 2024, online purchases made on a tablet or mobile device accounted for £25.2 billion, an increase of 25% on the previous year. While a majority of purchases still occur on a tablet device, mobile wasn’t far behind—and it’s quickly making up ground.

With this in mind, make sure your Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are optimized for handheld devices. Here’s a quick checklist to keep in mind:

Product images are legible

Navigation is a breeze regardless of the device being used

Fonts are clear and decipherable smaller screens

Most importantly, input fields are intuitive and easy to use

Highlight key benefits to customers

How you set yourself apart—aside from your product prices, of course—is crucial. While consumers are clearly looking for the best deal, other factors play a significant role in their decision-making.

For example, shipping fees and delivery dates are major deciding factors when it comes to cart abandonment rates and who consumers ultimately purchase from. While most retailers offer free shipping, how and where you present this messaging can have a huge impact on conversion. The same goes for your return policies.

It’s imperative that you look at your site’s messaging and ask yourself, How can I lower consumer anxiety and increase motivation?

Now what?

Hopefully, this post encourages you to start thinking about all the ways you can better optimize your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Just remember that this a two-step process: first, you need to rank, and then you need to convert.

It’s now up to you and your team to see if you are ready for this year’s event.

The Art And Science Of Shareability From The Publisher Of Buzzfeed #Sxswi 2024 Recap

This packed session featured the publisher of BuzzFeed, Dao Nguyen. She gave examples from actual BuzzFeed content (as well as sharing their own data and research) as to why BuzzFeed creates the content they do, and how to create content that resonates with audiences, thus prompting them to share with their social network.

BuzzFeed currently has 200M monthly user visits and over 1 billion monthly video views. Nguyen said they their video division is currently the largest sector of BuzzFeed, and also talked about how they have upped their game with BuzzFeed News, which has begun being used as a source by places like the New York Times.

Why Does Content Resonate?

Nguyen said that focusing on “viral” content works so well because they aren’t trying to con the audience. She states:

“No one can actually trick you into sharing content with someone.”

She then prompted the audience to think about why people actually share content. There are 5 reasons why BuzzFeed’s content works so well:

Content is Identity: “This post is

so me.” BuzzFed writes content to be appreciated by a very small slice of the population. This is why it’s shared so much, because people feel a connection with it.

Content is Emotion: Evoking emotion that inspires a genuine feeling in someone will highly promote them to share.

Content is Conversation: Nguyen gave the example of #TheDress for this reason. Within 12 hours since the piece was published, at least one person in every country in the world had seen it. She speculated this was because it became a point of discussion. People were texting their friends and family about it, sharing it on their screen at bars, and more.

Content is Aspirational: It can inspire people to be a better version of themselves.

Content is Global: It can create a feeling that we are all united; that there are common things that unite us all. BuzzFeed translates some posts into multiple languages and has success, proving that most of us as a whole follow the same trends.

Trends and Insights

Nguyen then went into how and why they create the type of content that they do. They often base their formulas and strategy on basic epidemiology, which is the study of infectious diseases (while joking that they, and us, shouldn’t think of content as a virus). BuzzFeed uses a measurement called Social Lift, which is the multiple of traffic that you get from sharing, to track and predict a post’s overall success.

[pullquote]“We don’t promote popular content. We promote content that will be popular.”[/pullquote]

She also touched on how genders share content. Nguyen stated that,

“On BuzzFeed, and in life, women share 4x as much as men.” 

which made the audience chuckle. But she said that has definitely played a role in their content strategy. They will often do more content or videos slanted toward women so it gets shared more.

Overall, BuzzFeed must be doing something right. They have grown 11 times over since the end of 2012 and have begun applying the same testing they do with written content to video and apps. When it comes to describing what BuzzFeed is, Nguyen stated,

BuzzFeed isn’t a website. It’s a process– people making content, publishing it all over the internet, getting data back about what works, and then doing it over again.

Key Takeaways from Dao Nguyen:

Social content needs both art and science

There is no one [measuring] metric that rules them all

The more we publish, the more we learn. The best machine learning is the human brain.

Data and tech are only as powerful as the company will allow

Photo taken by author.

The Promise And Peril Of Creating Art 365 Days A Year

The creative journey can often be challenging, filled with the endless pursuit of perfection and the pressure to produce work each day. But what if the key to unlocking true artistic growth actually lies in embracing the power of daily practice?

Creating something new every day may sound daunting, but for artists Noah Kalina, Jonathan Mann, and Justin Aversano, it has become a way of life. Each has committed to a daily practice — to an art project that they add to every day of the year. This daily practice has shaped their art as well as their relationship with themselves and their communities.

Through Kalina’s Everyday series, Mann’s Song a Day project, and Aversano’s Every Day is a Gift collection, these artists have learned valuable lessons that can be applied to every artist’s creative endeavor and daily life. We spoke with them to learn more about these lessons and the struggles and rewards they’ve faced since committing to these ongoing projects.

Noah Kalina‘s Everyday

Noah Kalina is a photographer and artist who is best known for Everyday, a self-portrait series that spans decades. Kalina began taking a daily photo of himself when he turned 19, on January 10, 2000. Now 42, his collection includes over 8,400 self-portraits.

Kalina first shared these images in a timelapse on YouTube six years after he began, on July 31, 2006. Since that time, he has shared three other videos. All-in-all, these pieces have more than 45.7 million views.

But growth doesn’t happen overnight, and it can take a long time to see the results of a daily practice.

Credit: Noah Kalina

For Kalina, it took years of dedicated work before the world responded. “Years before I put the YouTube video up, in 2006, a friend suggested I should make it a timelapse, and I thought: ‘that’s so dumb,’ he told nft now. “When I did post it, nothing happened for a week. Then it went viral. I had hundreds of emails, my website was down from the traffic, I was fielding calls from Oprah and Ellen, and The Simpsons even made a Homer version.”

Kalina says that he credits the project’s popularity to both his own dedication and the work’s relatability. “Doing something over and over again is inherently fascinating to others. When the idea is so simple, and all it takes is commitment, it’s easy for the viewer to put themself into the shoes of the artist and reflect upon their own life,” he explained. In this respect, Kalina argues that his commitment and persistence paid off.

On January 10, 2023, Kalina added a new dimension to the project with the launch of everyday.photo, an interactive gallery of his Everyday project. The site, an evolving capsule of Noah’s life, offers a new way to explore time’s subtle yet profound impact. Each day is tagged with identifying traits, such as Kalina’s location, clothing, accessories, and beard length. Visitors to the gallery can mint each self-portrait as an NFT.

Regarding what’s next for the Everyday project, Kalina shows no signs of stopping. In fact, it sounds like he’s in it until the very end. “There’s always the question with projects like this of ‘when does it end?’” he tells nft now. “I’m not really obsessed with doing it, and I’m not obsessed with myself. I just started it, and at this point, it makes no sense to stop. And I think we all know how this ultimately ends.”

Jonathan Mann’s Song a Day

Jonathan Mann is a singer-songwriter and internet sensation known for his 14-year commitment to daily work. He rose to prominence with his Song a Day project, for which he writes and records a new original song each and every day. The song is then minted as NFT, paired with an accompanying illustration, and auctioned over the following 24 hours.

Credit: Jonathan Mann

This unwavering dedication to his craft has earned Mann tens of thousands of followers and established him as a leading voice when it comes to daily practice and artistic self-expression. But Mann doesn’t believe his work and practice are necessarily unique. “Most people I know, who are artists of all kinds, have some kind of daily practice. It’s never as structured as my ‘One Song a Day,’ but everyone I know works on some piece of a project every day. I think it’s just what artists do,” he tells nft now.

While Mann’s consistency and commitment gave rise to his popularity, he partially credits his success to embracing the imperfections — to letting go and allowing the work to be whatever it will be. “You never know what will happen when you sit down to make something. But the key is giving myself leeway, giving myself space to just let the song be whatever it needs to be that day. Whatever there is room for. Not putting too much pressure on myself. There’s not really anything more to it,” he explains.

While others may see Mann entirely through the lens of this project, he tells nft now that it’s important for him to remember that what is is known for is not the same as what he is.

“It’s pretty much the only thing I’m known for, so I’d say that, in a wider sense, it defines me entirely. But also, I like to regularly remind myself, in a Ram Dass kind of way, that we are only ever playing a part. All the ambition, and creativity, and even our relationships, it’s all just stories we tell ourselves and each other,” he said. “If you strip everything away, somewhere in there is the true ‘me,’ and that has nothing to do with being a father, a son, a husband, a song-a-day guy, an NFT bro, a musician, a Bob Dylan fan, etc. The things we do define us only inasmuch as we live in a society. But there’s a deeper thing going on, and I try to remember that.”

Justin Aversano’s Every Day is a Gift

Justin Aversano is a photographer, curator, creative director, and social entrepreneur who is perhaps best known for his Twin Flames collection, the highest-selling photography NFT collection of all time. He also co-founded the digital art curation platform Quantum and the non-profit SaveArtSpace, which aims to bring community art into more public spaces.

Credit: Justin Aversano

In addition to these accolades, Aversano created Every Day is a Gift, a collection of polaroids taken each day over a year that show different people celebrating their birthdays. The pursuit often led to him wandering the streets holding an “Is it your birthday?” sign.

Reflecting on that time, Aversano tells nft now that the project ended up dominating his life and habits. “Every single day, my only focus and goal were to find someone and make art. When that comes before eating, showering, or anything, you become obsessed with the process and obsessed with the project,” he explained.

Ultimately, Aversano noted that the biggest lesson he took from his daily practice is to “learn to live with the things you hate, learn to live with the things you think make you fail, and when you look at them and confront them, that’s actually what makes you better, that’s actually what makes you more diligent in your craft.”

The Dos And Don’ts Of Ringless Voicemail Marketing

Here are the dos and don’ts to keep in mind to maximize your company’s ringless voicemail marketing.

How’s your business doing recently? As a business owner, you want your company to generate as many profits as possible. But of course, that’s not easy to achieve, considering how intense the competition among businesses today is. To gain a considerable edge over your competitors, you have to establish positive and relevant connections with your customers quickly yet effectively. One way that may help you achieve that is through phone calls. However, phone calls alone may not be as powerful as you think in building connections with your customers, especially when it comes to cold calls. For this reason, consider other marketing tools, such as  

Ringless Voicemail Marketing Dos

Ringless voicemail is lauded by business leaders as a useful tool that should be in every entrepreneur’s arsenal. To give ringless voicemail justice, here are some tips you can consider:  

1. Do Use Automated Dialers

An automated dialer, or auto-dialer, is a software solution that can improve the delivery of your voicemail campaigns. It automatically dials and calls multiple numbers, allowing you to save time to focus on other important tasks like customer service. Automated dialers come in three different types: preview, power, and predictive. Each type has a different function and purpose, so be sure to choose one that’s best suited for your business. Here’s how they’re different from each other:  

Preview Dialers

A preview dialer is the simplest type of auto-dialer. It provides key information about the recipient before the dialing begins. With this, you’ll have extra time to prepare and determine the right voicemail to deliver when the line is unattended. Preview dialers may not be ideal for voicemail campaigns, as they’re often used to deal with customers on the bottom part of the marketing funnel. Plus, it’s rarely used to initiate a conversation with potential customers.  

Power Dialers

A power dialer is a type of auto-dialer offered by companies like

Predictive Dialers

2. Do Keep Your Voicemails Short Yet Concise

Most people have a shorter attention span, especially when listening to anything related to sales and marketing. They easily get bored and tend to lose their focus in the process. That’s why it’s ideal for voicemail messages to be short but sweet—well, you know what it means. The duration of a perfectly-crafted voicemail should be within the range of 20 and 30 seconds—not too short and not too long. As you can see, the range seems to be very specific, but why? Most people won’t spend their time listening to an extremely long voicemail, especially from someone they don’t recognize. That said, a voicemail longer than 30 seconds will probably get deleted by the recipient with no hesitations. Further, voicemails shorter than 20 seconds are believed to suffer the same fate. Recipients can determine your voicemail’s duration before they decide to listen to it. If it’s too short, they’ll see it as a waste of time and won’t probably hesitate about deleting it right away. Therefore, always keep your voicemails between 20 to 30 seconds long. It’s the ideal call duration to spark interest and attention without wasting both your and your patrons’ time.  

3. Do Pose Questions You Wouldn’t Include In Emails

Look at your email campaigns and see how they’re similar to your voicemails. If both campaigns share the same thoughts, structure, and questions, don’t expect to receive a lot of responses. That said, you want your voicemails to include some questions not available in your emails. In addition, voicemail questions have to be as specific as possible. For example, if you’re selling accounting services, you might want to ask about the issues your prospects often encounter. Generic questions are often left ignored and unanswered. They become rhetorical at some point, even if they’re not. Specific questions, on the other hand, make recipients feel responsible for getting back to you.  

4. Do Split Your Voicemails Into Two Messages

Splitting voicemails into two different parts is another way to deliver them. Instead of leaving a 30-second voicemail, produce a 20-second message and send it first. Then, follow it up with a 10-second message immediately. For the succeeding audio clip, make sure that it’s focused on the details you forgot to mention in the first part. Here’s an example you may consider:

Second Voicemail: ‘Athena, I didn’t notice that I forgot to leave you my contact details. This is Dorothy Goldsworth from Salespeople Inc. You can call me back at 1-800-121-0081. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.’

Splitting voicemails seems daunting to execute but keep in mind the benefits you can enjoy. First, it helps you sound more human with the errors you encounter along the process. And second, this helps your prospects to remember you more.  

5. Do Create A Sales Script

A

Ringless Voicemail Marketing Don’ts

To carry out a successful ringless voicemail marketing campaign, you and your team need to explore the following tips to steer clear of

1. Don’t Make Your Voicemails Sound Complicated

When crafting your voicemail messages, you want to keep them as simple as possible. Don’t make things complicated by using technical terms or jargon that can make your voicemails difficult to understand. Remember, you’re promoting a brand, not conducting academic research. If you do, the message you’re trying to convey might be misunderstood by your listeners. This will lead to confusion and uncertainties on the recipient’s end, encouraging them to delete your voicemail right away. After all, they’ve no idea what they should do with it. To make your voicemails less complicated, follow these simple tips below:

Don’t use jargon or technical terms—they’re not meant for sales and marketing;

Don’t use long sentences, and pause when needed; and

Use terms familiar to your target audience.

2. Don’t Use An Unnatural Tone

Sales representatives are trained to be as enthusiastic and encouraging as possible when interacting with a customer on the other line. That’s a good idea; nevertheless, too much enthusiasm can result in an unnatural tone of voice. And it might be too late for them to realize it. If your voicemail sounds unnatural, your recipients will find it uncomfortable to listen to. They’ll quickly hang up the phone and delete the voicemail as soon as they hear it. Instead of going overly enthusiastic, imagine yourself talking to a friend to bring out the natural tone of your voice. Sustain that tone for several seconds and gradually lower your pitch. This implies that you’re comfortable in what you’re doing and that the call isn’t something odd. Without the unnatural tone in your voice, your prospects can easily understand the message you’re trying to deliver. This will make them feel that the message is personally crafted for them alone. And that appeal to emotion is what will encourage them to respond. If you need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to

3. Don’t Use Outdated Closing Lines

Outdated and old-fashioned closing lines don’t offer value and something fresh to your prospects. They’re too generic and don’t provide the responsibility that will encourage people to respond. Here are some examples of traditional closing lines you might want to avoid:

‘Have a nice day!’;

‘I’ll call you back.’;

‘Please call back.’; and

‘I’ll call you again on (date).’

Instead, try using these closing lines:

‘I look forward to hearing from you.’;

‘Can’t wait to have more chats with you.’;

‘If you need help, here’s my number.’;

‘Thank you! I know you’re busy, but I’d really appreciate it if you could call me back.’; and the like.

4. Don’t Leave Your Voicemails Any Time Of The Day

Experts believe the best time to deliver voicemails is at the end of the day, around 4:00 to 6:00 PM. This is because of a psychological concept known as the serial position effect. It tells that people often remember the first and last things they see or hear. Therefore, if you want to get the attention of your customers, be sure to be one of the last things they hear. That said, you should schedule the delivery of your voicemails around late afternoon. But what about being one of the ‘first’ things they hear? Sending voicemails as early as 9:00 AM may be a good strategy. But people might have a lot on their plate and listening to your voicemail might seem less of a priority. They can postpone listening to your voicemail later and might probably forget about it. But if you send your voicemails between 4:00 to 6:00 PM, you’ll have better chances of getting responses. Why? Because it’s time for your prospects to wrap up the day. After listening to your voicemail, they’ll probably email you at night or call you back the next morning.  

5. Don’t Forget To Test Your Voicemails Before Sending Them Out

Testing should be done before

Sound: Your voicemail should have proper volume settings so your recipients can understand what you’re saying.

Accuracy: All the information you want to discuss should be fact-checked and accurate. Further, check your contact details—even one wrong digit can ruin your campaign.

Length: As mentioned earlier, keep your voicemails not too short (no less than 20 seconds) and not too long (no more than 30 seconds). Revise your pitch’s length whenever necessary until you’ve hit that sweet spot.

Final Words

The Incredible, Remarkable, And Undeniable Power Of Speed For Seo

Yes, fun times.  The dreaded committee review, which can drag out execution, while also watering down your efforts, is one of the points I brought up in my post about compromise and failure in SEO.  I’ll touch on committees later in this post.

To me, you need to move fast, and at a high level, in order to succeed in today’s SEO environment.  If you don’t, your efforts can creep along, your rankings will suffer, your site will underperform, and your boss will be unhappy (to say the least).  Let’s explore speed for SEO in greater detail below.

The Impact of Speed on SEO

I wanted to begin by displaying a graph that documents the various ways that speed can impact your SEO efforts.  The wedges represent Speed to Audit, Change, Brainstorm, Publish, and Analyze.  I’ll cover each segment in detail below.

Speed to Audit

If you’ve read previous posts of mine, then you know how powerful I believe SEO audits are.  If you are a company that isn’t seeing strong performance from your organic search efforts, then pull the trigger and have a thorough audit completed.  The faster you move to have one completed, the faster you’ll receive a thorough analysis of your current situation.  And the faster you receive a remediation plan based on the audit, the faster you can fix the problems SEO-wise.

For example, do you have 2000 pages on your site, but only 48 indexed?  Are 80% of your pages optimized the same exact way?  Is your site throwing soft 404’s?  Do you even know what that means?  Is your navigation hidden from the search engine bots?  Are you using AJAX extensively, but not ensuring it can be crawled?  Did you recently migrate a site, only to leave thousands of URL’s in limbo?  What happened to your rankings if you did?  All of these problems can be revealed during an audit.  It’s a great way to start any SEO initiative.  And since I’m writing about speed, audits can be completed relatively quickly, depending on the size and complexity of the site at hand.

Speed to Change

Your Speed to Audit is important, but that will only get you so far.   It’s how fast you implement changes based on the audit that will propel you to stronger rankings.  This is where the rubber hits the road.  If you have an audit completed, then a remediation plan is typically provided as part of the final presentation.  The remediation plan contains all recommended changes in priority order, based on the audit results.  The faster you move to implement changes, the faster those changes can take effect SEO-wise.

From an SEO perspective, there are often complex changes that can take a considerable amount of effort to implement.  But, there are also changes that I consider low-hanging fruit that can be implemented relatively quickly.  For example, optimizing core pieces of content, adding a more descriptive navigation, removing 302 redirects, ensuring you have sitemaps in place, fixing 404’s, etc.  And the faster you can make these changes, the faster you can see an impact.  The most successful clients I’ve had implemented changes within weeks of the remediation plan being presented.  Depending on the current power of the site in question, I’ve seen some clients experience a positive impact in less than one month.  Others take longer, as the “speed to results” completely depends on the site at hand.

Speed to Brainstorm (and Approval)

Taking a step back from audits and reactive changes for a second, let’s talk about brainstorming.  When I help clients with content generation and linkbuilding, I often push to have a brainstorming session with key players from my client’s team.  The faster you can set up that meeting, understand the goals of the team, gather the right people (including decision makers), and have your brainstorming session, the more chance you will have of experiencing success.  Imagine having a three hour brainstorming session to determine possible ideas for new content, based on the collective knowledge of your team (including you, your client, and others from the company.)  You might be able to leave that meeting with outstanding ideas, a rough production schedule, as well as approval.  Compare that to several people throwing around random ideas via email for weeks, or worse, months.  The opportunity cost of doing the latter can kill your potential success.  Don’t let that happen. Move fast and get things approved.

Speed to Publish

Similar to the Speed to Change bullet listed earlier, you need to execute and publish the ideas you brainstorm at a fast pace while maintaining high quality.  That means translating ideas into applications, blog posts, infographics, whitepapers, videos, etc.  Don’t let ideas sit.  The longer you let them sit, the more opportunity you have to get them shot down.  One of my mentors (a successful CEO I did a lot of work for earlier in my career) once told me, “Everybody has ideas. I want someone who successfully executes those ideas and generates results.”  I think his quote relates extremely well to SEO.  If you have a great idea, pitch that idea and get it approved.  Do your research, develop your pitch, and then move fast.  Some projects will take longer than others, so prioritize your efforts based on how quickly you can create the end-product and the potential impact it will have.  And when you are ready to move, just move.  Don’t hesitate.

Speed to Analysis and Optimization

If you’ve moved quickly to audit, change, brainstorm, and publish, then you might feel like sitting at your desk with your feet up, drinking a frozen margarita, while listening to your favorite island music.  Well, don’t get too comfortable.  You’re only half way there.  It’s critically important to ensure you are optimizing your SEO efforts based on performance.  That means analyzing your natural search traffic based on various success metrics you have set up.  i.e. conversion goals, event tracking, engagement, etc.  The ongoing refinement of your SEO initiative is extremely important for improving your performance in natural search.  Don’t just sit on high rankings, although that’s a good start.  Close the loop and make sure it’s quality traffic that’s converting.  Note, “conversion” can mean many things, and your analytics strategy might contain several macro and micro-conversions based on the site at hand.

You should analyze the keywords driving traffic, the landing pages from organic search, the links that your new content is building, etc.  For example, imagine your analysis of a certain category of keywords revealed a high bounce rate, low engagement, and a .004% conversion rate.  Why is that happening?  Are those keywords not targeted?  Are your landing pages from natural search not meeting visitor expectations content-wise?  Is there a technical problem with the site?  I’ve seen all of these potential issues be the problem.  And without swift and accurate analysis, your client (or company) would be left staring at a Natural Search Visits Report that could be misleading, to say the least.  Strong rankings and a surge in natural search traffic don’t tell the full story.  Analytics can help you tie traffic and keywords to conversion.  Performance, and not visits, will tell you if your efforts are successful.

Also, once you begin to analyze your SEO efforts, don’t keep the results to yourself.  Move quickly to report on your findings.  Set up meetings, have a voice, and make sure everyone understands the full impact of your efforts (traffic, conversion, engagement, linkbuilding, etc.)  If you’ll need more changes implemented in the future, you’ll need others to know what’s happening.  Speak up.

Some closing tips for moving fast in SEO:

Annihilate committees. They are your nemesis.  Destroy them. During my career of almost 16 years, I’ve seen committees consistently destroy or water down great ideas.  You should streamline the decision making process at your organization.  Committees will not help you or your team succeed.  Avoid them at all costs.

Wear your results until action is taken. If you see poor performance and lack of action, start writing down some of your key metrics on a nametag and slap into on your chest for everyone to see.  I will guarantee that people ask you questions about what the numbers mean. That’s a great opportunity to tell people what the problems are, along with how it’s hurting the company’s performance.  I’ve used this tactic at several organizations.  It works.

Have an SEO audit completed.  Audits provide the biggest bang for your SEO buck. The faster you can move to understand the problems your site has, the faster you can move to make changes.  The faster you can make changes, the faster you can increase your natural search power.  It’s that straightforward…

Perform a competitive analysis.  There’s nothing that gets people moving like seeing your competition winning. Show key players at your organization how the competition is winning in Natural Search.  You can learn a lot from a competitive analysis, and I haven’t met one CEO that doesn’t want to beat the competition. And there’s nothing like seeing a CEO run down the halls of his company with a competitive analysis in his hands.  🙂

Summary: Speed to Results

To revisit the quote I mentioned earlier, don’t simply be the person with great ideas… be the person with great ideas that can actually execute them.  Then you’ll win.

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