Link Building – Effective but Not Necessarily Efficient

A common piece of advice is to build links to other sites to place well in search engines.  While there’s no doubt that quality links to your site will improve your rankings, getting those links can take some significant effort.  Advanced sites looking for slight edges definitely need to build links, however, entry-level sites to SEO likely have more effective uses for their time.

Most site owners receive the automated emails asking for link exchanges.  As you might guess, these tactics are extremely ineffective.  The alternative is segmenting by market or competitors and making inroads into targeted sites.  While that is effective, it takes a lot of time.

There are some automated ways of generating links like directory submissions.  While these are typically not the most relevant sources they will influence your website ranking.

The best tactic for most sites without dedicated SEO resources is link building over time.  Make link building a part of your regular business activity.

  • Talk to current partners about linking to your site.
  • Make sure any chamber or association you belong to has a listing that links to your webpage.
  • Any content or articles created should include a by line link to your site.
  • Link any external listings to individual pages that pertain to the listings topic.

When link building is built into activities that you are already doing, it doesn’t take a lot of extra effort and builds extremely relevant and targeted linking.

Presumptions Can Kill Online Marketing

Never assume you know how you achieved success online.  Theories are fine but every theory that we intend to take action on needs backed up with data.  Running online marketing campaigns on presumptions will lead to erratic results and makes it impossible for consistent gradual improvement.

Recently I was working on an ongoing online marketing campaign to promote events.  One event in particular got a surge of registrants.  The owner of the company was thrilled.  He then declared that the success must have come from the new list of email addresses that had been added to the subscriber list.  These new arrivals were 200 (roughly) people that had opted in to receiving promotions at a trade show.  The event had 40 registrants (roughly) so if they all came from the new list that would represent a 40% conversion.  A phenomenal number!

A problem arose when a follow on promotion was developed and sent there was no response.  All 200 people had suddenly lost interest. In fact 10 unsubscribed, a 5% attrition rate.  How had things gone so poorly?

Upon analyzing the initial email only 1 of the 40 registrants came from the new list of email subscribers.  The other was a mix of people who found the event through internet sources and long-standing email subscribers.  The second email did poorly because it was based on a false presumption.

My theory (haven’t proved it with data) is that the new list responded unfavorably because they got an email and then a quick follow on email presuming they were interested.  Immediately getting two emails and assumptive “sales” language led to a distinctly negative response.  They feared they were opting in to a SPAM list.

It turns out that the email subscribers that registered for the event had, on average, been receiving promotional emails from this company for 3 years.  The spike had more to do with the topic and presentation than a fresh list of names.

Don’t take action on presumptions.  It costs time, money, and future opportunities.  It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so, that can cause the most problems.  Use your email and web data to confirm your theories before acting on them.

Note: These numbers are rounded to easily illustrate the point and provide some anonymity

Graduate to Multimedia

Increasingly email and conversion experts are advocating multimedia.  They point out how video is engaging and can quickly grab a visitor’s attention.  Metrics also support the claim.  Here’s what’s lost in translation.  Doing multimedia takes more time, money, and/or energy.  So while multimedia is advantageous, you need to decide if it’s worth investing in, or whether it’s something you want to graduate into.

For instance doing a video email campaign will likely show improved open and click through rates over a static one.  However if the email campaign is in its infancy and only has 100 subscribers, the extra cost of producing the videos probably isn’t worthwhile.  The key to making a decision on doing multimedia is factoring in the return on your investment.

For instance if the email campaign above has a 20% open rate and of those opens it has a 5% click through rate, then we know that 1 person takes action on every email (as an average).  Let’s pretend research showed that a video email campaign in the same industry and similar business size resulted in click-through rates tripling.  If the average action results in a $5.00 sale, then the subscriber list likely needs to grow significantly to justify the investment into multimedia campaigns.  However, if the average result is a $20,000 sale, then we’d be foolish not to begin a video campaign.

Multimedia has shown to increase conversions in email and on the web fairly consistently.  However, like most business decisions we need to weigh the pros and cons.  Spend some time with your web and email metrics to see if adding multimedia is a worthwhile endeavor.  It’s very possible that you’ll want to graduate into the technology, just make sure the numbers agree.