How to Build a Twitter Following Organically

October 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Build followers on Twitter

Build followers on Twitter

In my last article, I wrote my biggest Twitter regret was using auto-follow tools to follow a bunch of people I didn’t know. If I had to do it again, I’d rather do it organically. Well, now I have that opportunity! I’ve started a new business and Twitter is a key part of how I’m going to build traffic for the site.

Since I’ve been racing to add all the pieces I want to the site, I haven’t been promoting it very much. However, I have been using Twitter. These are my techniques.

Use keywords – My new site is about starting a business. Its geography is Utah for now. Business startups have their own set of jargon, so I’m using those keywords. For example, my first article was about the minimum viable product. I sent out a tweet and got a follower. I retweeted a different article about growth hacking from my Swaby Media account and got a dozen new followers from it.

Interact with others – The Twitter interface and ecosystem are pretty simple to interact with others. When you publicly interact with an account, that user can see it as well as their followers. Activities like replying, retweeting and favoriting are all of benefit. If people are doing that with your content it’s a good thing. Even without creating content yourself, you can build a following by sharing others’ content.

Following others – If you follow someone, there’s a good chance they will follow you back. Don’t auto-follow otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed. It’s also a terrific idea to put people you follow in lists by subject matter. Those lists can be publicly followed and they’re another good reason people will want to follow you.

Use hashtags – Hashtags are searchable. If your subject matter is popular, it’s a good idea to use a trending hashtag. Be careful that you know what the hashtag is about. Companies have made serious errors with hashtags on Twitter.

Trending topics on Twitter can drive traffic to you if your subject matter is relevant.

Trending topics on Twitter can drive traffic to you if your subject matter is relevant.

Use tools and repeat yourself – On Twitter, it’s ok to repeat yourself. It’s also ok to send out the same content with a different description and different hashtags. Tools like Hootsuite make it easy to shrink URLs, write tweets and schedule them throughout the day.

Place a twitter feed on your website – It’s another way to share content, get indexed by Google and pick up new followers.

Twitter tells you who's interacting with you.

Twitter tells you who’s interacting with you.

Remember that Twitter is a real-time search engine. Except for the portion of users who automate their activity, an activity on Twitter can be significant. If someone follows you and you think they have value, follow back!. Follow people who retweet your content. The whole goal of your Twitter strategy should be to make contact with people who are interested in your subject matter.

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My Biggest Twitter Regret

October 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Non-organic growth will cost you.

Non-organic growth will cost you.

Back in the day, when Twitter was still a hatchling, and before it had wide-spread acceptance, there was only one metric anyone cared about – the number of followers. And, back in the day, before anyone had a clue what Twitter was to become, some very smart people created automatic follow programs.

One of the key tactics to growing followers on Twitter is to simply follow other people. It’s the first step Twitter has people take when they register a new account. It works off the law of reciprocation. If I follow you, you’re likely to follow me. This is especially true if users interact by following, retweeting or favoriting a tweet and Twitter sends an email notification. It’s just easy to follow, particularly if the user’s bio resonates.

Twitter began with an open API and developers quickly made programs that would autofollow users based on any number of criteria. I used some of those programs and it’s my biggest regret. Even though I used a set of keywords to find users I wanted to follow, I still got plenty of people not worth being connected to.

It also screwed up my follow/follower ratio. Twitter and Klout look at that ratio to determine how much influence you actually have. It’s better to have more followers than you’re following. As you can see in the screen grab, I don’t have a good ratio. This is even after spending hours using tools and manually unfollowing every spammer, scammer and network marketer I’d inadvertently followed using software. I’ve given up on getting rid of them and just spend my time providing content which is attracting quality followers.

Twitter caught onto the follow tools, banned users and changed their API so it could never happen again. Unlike Facebook business pages, I haven’t created a lot of Twitter accounts. My personal Twitter account is private, so I don’t care about growth there. I am using Twitter for my newest venture and am enjoying the process of growing a follower base organically. In my next article I’ll tell you how.

Twitter is the Go To Social Media Channel

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Everyone needs twitter.

Everyone needs twitter.

I started a new twitter account today and I don’t care if you follow me on it. In fact, I don’t care if I get any followers on it…ever. Why open one then? Because Google’s little spider bots will follow me. They’ll follow my tweets. They’ll put my tweets on their little search engine that everyone uses. And they’ll put those tweets on that search engine pretty quickly. Then I’ll get followers…that care about my content.

“Findability precedes usability. In the alphabet and on the Web. You can’t use what you can’t find.” – Ambient Findability by Peter Morville

Over the past few years I’ve been thinking if I were a new business I’d start with a Facebook page. Since I ran my ranking experiment, that thought has changed. I’ve been using Twitter more for this site and business and been getting new followers, retweets and all the signals reflecting my content has traction.

I’ll still create a Facebook page for my startup. But with limited time and resources Twitter brings a marvelous bang for the buck. First of all, my blog posts get published to Twitter automatically. There is no extra time taken to post content.

By displaying my Twitter feed on my blog, I don’t have to write full posts to bring value to my site. Twitter does that for me in 140 characters or less.

When I retweet others, I get the benefit of sharing content I think my audience would find useful, I add relevant subject matter to my website through the Twitter feed and I get the opportunity to grow my followers on Twitter.

Since I’ve returned to creating content on a regular basis here, my followers on Twitter have increased both in number and in engagement. Because Google indexes those tweets which link back to here, I’m improving my search engine optimization as well!

Returning to my original statement, I don’t care if I don’t have followers on Twitter. I know if I post content there it will improve my search rankings which will lead to more qualified followers on Twitter.

Keywords are Everywhere – 5 Things You Don’t Know About Keywords

October 14, 2014 Leave a comment

keywordsSometimes I make the mistake of assuming everyone has the same understanding of basic online marketing concepts I do. I’ll mention a phrase like “key words” and get an affirmative yet questioning nod. That’s when I realize I need to take it down a notch and explain a little better.

Simply stated, keywords are the foundation of everything you do online. They’re that important. In online marketing we say “content is king.” Content is made up of keywords. Even images and videos have keyword tags.

We use keywords every day, but sometimes don’t realize it. Every online search you do is composed of keywords. Everything you write is full of keywords. Resumes are sorted by the keywords stated in the document.

Knowing that keywords are the foundation, I always ask clients if they have a list of keywords. They rarely do. Even if they do, I always do new keyword research and provide that list to them for review.

What is a keyword? 

Let’s explain this first. Keywords are words used to find or categorize content. When you search for a name on Facebook or LinkedIn, those are the keywords. When you search for a product on Amazon, that is your keyword. When you look for an address on Google, those are your keywords or key phrases. Keywords are how visitors find you online.

What gets ignored?

Short words, letters or plurals. A, as, the and all get ignored by the search spiders. I’ll sometimes do keyword research and find an odd phrase with no modifiers. It’s because they have been stripped out. Using word modifiers can spice up headlines while still maintaining keyword focus. For example, the title “How to do Keyword Research” would get indexed as “Keyword Research.”

Root words

I’ll sometimes have business owners tell me they have 500,000 (or some other ridiculous number) keywords they manage. Why? Search engines look at root words. Search spiders look at what comes first in a phrase when establishing what is the root. I focus on core root words for my clients. The long-tail results will follow.

Long tails

Speaking of long tails… What are they? A root keyword phrase could be “real estate.” A long-tail could be “find real estate in salt lake city.” See the difference? Web search has been around long enough that most users are sophisticated enough to add modifiers in their search. Modifiers reveal intent.

Search intent

The most popular search term for real estate in Utah is “Utah real estate.” No surprises there. But that doesn’t tell us anything about the searchers intent. People search for two reasons; to purchase or to research. “Utah real estate statistics” reveals a much different goal than “Utah real estate for sale.” The more specific a search is, the more likely a consumer is ready to buy. A search like “Holladay townhouses for sale 84124″ is very insightful.

Summary

All of these are considerations when I perform keyword research and they’re very helpful in weeding out non-relevant terms. It’s even more critical when running paid search campaigns. Keyword research provides market research as well. Google’s keyword research tool tells me how many searches are made each month, what the competition pays for those keywords and how competitive that keyword is in the marketplace.

Research needs to be updated as searches change depending on season, product life cycle and market trends. Keyword research helps determine your site structure and content. That research translates to offline marketing as well. Keyword research tells you what your videos, brochures, Facebook posts, white papers, tweets and blog posts need to be about. Because that’s what people are searching for. That is what interests your prospects and customers. Provide the content they seek and sales will follow.

Marketing Analytics and Tracking – Do It Now!

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

marketing trackingThough I shouldn’t be surprised, I still am when I talk to a business about their marketing tracking. John Wanamaker is credited with saying “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” With online marketing, that problem can be easily solved, yet many businesses don’t do it.

I learned early on with this business how critical tracking is. What I do is intangible until it produces results. That doesn’t mean I’m not working and doing things. Reporting gives my clients something tangible to see while the effects of my work build.

A huge challenge I keep running in to is the lack of existing tracking. Every thing you do online can be tracked, yet so many businesses don’t take advantage of it. You can track web traffic, keywords, search rankings. You can track traffic from social media. You can track phone calls. All of this is practically automatic! A little prep work and maybe a little money is all you need. Then you won’t waste half your advertising.

Now I’m going to share three tracking methods you should have in place right now.

Analytics

Analytics track everything that goes on with your website. From the number of visitors, to the pages visited, analytics tracking software will tell you everything about your website. Google Analytics is robust, easy to install and free. If you don’t have it, get it now.

Some businesses need better software than Google and it’s out there. The most used premium analytics package is Adobe’s SiteCatalyst.

Tracking Links

People often ask me how social media can be tracked. Using analytics is one way. You can see which social media channels are providing traffic. The tools within each channel are another way. Likes, comments, re-tweets and follows are all signals of engagement. But if you want to be more specific, you’ll want tracking links. I provided a pretty solid tutorial here.

A tracking link doesn’t even have to go to a page. It can go to an image or a file. You can place specific tracking links for each ad campaign you run. Tracking links are even usable for offline advertising! Do you have any print advertising or billboards? Use a specific URL like http://www.yourdomain/adchannel or a URL shortener that’s customized. You can track every bit of advertising you have!

What about phone calls? I’m glad you asked.

Tracking Phone Numbers

Phone intensive industries should have tracking numbers on all campaigns. If you have a phone number on your website, it should be unique so you know where that call came from. Dynamic Interactive offers customized 800 and local phone numbers for tracking. Their interactive menu allows you to track calls, record calls, offer voice mail and mark inbound calls so even the smallest of businesses can answer professionally. Any advertising you do with a phone number should be tracked in this manner.

Sales Tracking

Once you have marketing tracking in place, you must have a system to track leads. Otherwise true return on investment can never be calculated. It’s also helpful to figure out if you’re missing sales opportunities due to poor follow-up of leads.

A business really doesn’t know how its marketing is doing unless proper tracking is in place. Website tracking analytics, tracking links, tracking phone numbers and sales tracking are the foundation of measuring your marketing and advertising. You’ll never have to wonder what part of your advertising is being wasted if you prepare with tracking.

Email Marketing Tactics – Other Factors

October 13, 2014 Leave a comment

email-marketing-tacticsIn the past two articles, I’ve covered two aspects of email marketing; open rates and click-through rates. Today, I’m going to discuss some other factors including bounce rates and opt-outs.

There are so many variables in an email marketing campaign and so many ways to optimize. The key to success is to keep testing and keep sending campaigns.

Digital marketers may argue what the most crucial part of a successful email campaign is. Is it the subject line? Is it the copy in the email? Is it the layout? I suggest it’s the list you’re mailing to. People who know your brand are going to be more likely to respond than those who don’t. That’s why cultivating and maintaining contact lists is so important. Yet I talk to real estate agents and loan officers all the time who don’t do this!

It’s important to have segmented lists and targeted lists. The segments can be whatever you like them to be. For instance past customers or people who got on your list from your website. I’m segmenting my list with people who have clicked the link in the email because now I can follow-up.

All of this list management will improve your email campaign’s success by increasing open and click-through rates. It will also decrease bounce rates.

Bounce Rates

Bounce rates are simply emails that aren’t delivered. There are two types; hard and soft. A hard bounce is a completely non-deliverable email. It could be a bad address, an expired domain or some other reason. That email isn’t good and should be removed from your list. Soft bounces are different. They’re simply not deliverable right now. Again, there are many reasons for that.

Here’s an example of a campaign I re-sent on Saturday:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

When I first sent it last week, there were 328 soft bounces. On Saturday only 78 didn’t go through. When an email is sent impacts open rates and it also impacts deliverability.

Opt outs and Spam

The other way your list will prune itself is through opt outs. Subscribers simply remove themselves from the list. It’s good because you’ll have a cleaner list of people who want to hear from you, but it sometimes makes marketers feel bad. Don’t feel bad! This is a numbers game. Just make sure your emails provide something of value. You can control your opt outs by sending quality emails that have value for your target audience. If you have a lot of unsubscribers, you’ll know you need to make adjustments.

Getting flagged for spam is a little more to be concerned with. You want to minimize this as much as possible. If your spam percentage is too high, your email sending service could freeze or terminate your account. If you’re sending from your domain email (do not do this!!!), your web host could terminate your account.

There are a lot of factors at play in a successful email campaign; open rates, click-through rates, design, copywriting, compiling and segmenting a list, deliverability and getting flagged for spam. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of testing and sending to come up with the right combination to provide a positive return on investment. While some factors seem out of your control, please realize you can have an impact on all of them.

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Email Marketing Tactics – Inciting Action

October 10, 2014 1 comment

emailmarketingrealestateA few days ago, I talked about open rates in email marketing. Certainly that’s a key step in a successful campaign. But then what? You want your target audience to take action! It could be clicking a link. It could be filling out a form. It could be watching a video, making a call or buying a product. How do you get your email list to do that and what factors are involved.

Let’s take a look at the recent campaigns I ran.

My goal was pretty simple; to share a guide that solves a problem to my target audience. There are lots of ways to communicate that in an email. I wanted to be brief and direct and easily share the information. My key points were they needed to see the guide and it was free. So I uploaded the guide to my server as a pdf and sent a brief email for them to view it.

If you remember from the previous article, this campaign had a pretty good open rate of 16.47%. The click-through rate on it…the number of people who clicked the link to see the document was 6.11% or 45 people. I lost 94% of my list! Ouch.

Remember I said I improved my design on the second campaign which had a different recipient list? Its click-through rate did worse! Even though it had a better open rate, the click-through rate was 5.04% or 36 people.

The last campaign was the worst on on opens and clicks. Five people saw my guide in this group. Despite these numbers, I still consider this to be a successful campaign. Why?

With a little effort, not much time and zero cost, I got 86 people to read the information I wanted them to. On each of these campaigns, the email software also shows how many emails were forwarded. I don’t know whether these forwards were for future reminders or sent to different people, but there were 117 forwards between the three campaigns. And someone contacted me from the campaign which is the ultimate goal.

My follow up on this campaign will be to contact the people who clicked the link in another campaign. I’ll also resend using what I learned from the open rates. Things I can tweak in the message include larger links to read the guide and testing the black template which outperformed with the white template.

 

 

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