If you search Google for "marketing blog" chances are you'll find Online Marketing Blog in the top spot.
That's valuable real estate -- over 700 searches per month, according to our keyword analysis . The man who currently owns that spot is Lee Odden, a successful online marketer who, in addition to running a his popular blog, is CEO of Top Rank Online Marketing . Lee was kind enough to spend some time earlier this week answering questions about his blog and online marketing.
Q: How long have you been blogging?
A: I started blogging for TopRankMarketing.com in Dec 2003 .
Q: When you're not blogging, you run an internet marketing business -- can you describe what you do?
A: Within our organization my functional responsibilities involve our organization's business strategy, business development, some training and marketing. Most operational duties are handled by my business partner, Susan Misukanis. The marketing portion of my job is to be the public face of our organization speaking at about 15 events a year and being social on the web via TopRankBlog.com, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social channels.
Q. What impact has your blog had on your business?
A. Online Marketing Blog has been instrumental in growing our business. It generates daily new business inquiries, weekly inquiries from the media as well as candidates and marketing partners. Over 5 years we've posted over 2,000 articles on internet marketing topics and have been recognized in many ways for that besides growing revenue, which of course, is what pays the bills.
Q: Could you run your business without your blog?
A: Great question. Running our business in terms of day-to-day operation has little to do with our blog. In terms of marketing and building thought leadership, it would certainly be possible to have a successful marketing program without a blog. It would involve other social media communication channels that allow two-way communications, frequent updates, engaging information sharing, etc - many features of a blog. However, with all that functionality contained right within blog software, I'd prefer to use blog software as a preferred way to create and promote content that inspires the kinds of conversations leading to new business, improved credibility and confidence in the TopRankMarketing.com brand.
Q. In addition to advising companies on business blogging, your company offers search engine and social media marketing services. That's a lot of different things. Do you advise clients to get involved in all of them? Is there one channel that's best? Or most important?
A: Blogging, SEO and social media are all intimately intertwined. I don't see them as completely different marketing channels, although there are distinct metrics for each.
The web has become very social and will continue to do so through technology that enables content sharing and connections. Search engine optimization is at the core of what we do in all our practice areas. Blogging and social media marketing efforts affect SEO and vice versa.
What's important is the mix that will best help the client reach their goals. Marketing on the social web is about helping customers reach their goals. Consumer information discovery increasingly involves more than just search, so involving blogs and social media to some extent is almost always a part of every client engagement.
If we can see opportunities for our clients to reach and engage their customers in specific areas of the web AND it can be measured, then we'll make recommendations accordingly.
Q: What advice would you give to a small business owner or professional marketer who's just starting out with blogging and social media?
A: The first thing to do is "listen" and pay attention to what others are blogging and doing within social communities. It's simply not effective to publish and promote content via blogging and social media without being a participant. Get involved by subscribing to other blogs on and off topic to get an idea of voice, frequency and etiquette. Join social networks and connect with other like-minded people, share opinions, content and interact. Then you'll have a foundation for going forward with your own blogging and social media marketing efforts.
I'd also recommend using an outside consultant that clearly practices what they preach. Getting advice from an experienced blogger/social media participant can save time, embarrassment and money. That's a big part of what TopRank does in our blog and social media marketing practices: serve as a guide to help clients help themselves.
Q: Blogging and social media may work for some technology-focused businesses, but what about businesses in more traditional industries? Do blogging and social media work for everybody?
A: Sometimes blogging and social media do not make sense for reasons other than a specific industry mis-match. If a company doesn't have the resources or appreciation/understanding of how blogging and social media work - tech biz or not - it shouldn't bother. At least not until they make efforts to get up to speed with internal staff and/or via outside resources.
Back to your question. Wherever there are people talking online about a topic, there is an opportunity for blogging and social media. Industry is irrelevant to predicting the viability of incorporating social media into an organization's marketing and communication efforts. It's the customers that matter and if customers or potential customers are involved with and influenced by blogs and social media, then companies that serve those customers should participate. If not, their competition will.
Q: What do you tell your clients when they ask about the ROI of social media, blogging or SEO investments?
A: Measuring the return on any marketing investment starts with setting goals. Knowing the audience, your objectives, a strategy and mix of tactics for reaching those objectives all lead up to the measurement piece. Internet marketing offers amazing metrics, far beyond what many offline marketing and advertising expenditures return.
We identify expectations, business needs and reconcile those with goals for a marketing program. SEO is easier to measure in terms of a direct association with revenue. Blogs can be measured in that way too. Getting ROI measurements out of social media and blogging efforts most often comes from an association with other known channels. For example, if a blog ranks well in search engines, then the cost per click can be identified for those keyword rankings and a valuation can be calculated. If social media or a blog post result in media coverage, then a value for what it would cost to hire a PR firm to earn that coverage can be associated as a return on the social media or blogging effort.
Make no mistake, measuring return on investment for marketing channels that are not direct response takes some creativity. But it is there and definitely measurable.
Q: What are your five favorite blogs? (Other than the HubSpot blog!)
A: We manage a list of over 500 blogs on our BIGLIST so I have a lot more than 5 favorite blogs.
Q: What's the most popular blog post you've ever written?
A: In terms of traffic, "25 Tips for Marketing Your Blog" posted in June 2006 has been the most popular.
Q: What's your favorite blog post that you've ever written? Why?
A: I've written about 1,800 posts over the last 5 years so it's a bit tricky to pick just one.
I like a lot of the
interviews we've done with SEO and social media people
because the majority contain great information and many are entertaining.
A few specific posts that are top of mind:
Direct Marketing vs Social Media Marketing
Digital PR and SEO: Social Media Monitoring
Webinar: Blogging for Business
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