MN Search – Understanding and Leveraging the Language of Your Customers

Fantastic event!  The format of three presentations addressing a topic from the perspective of three different disciplines is absolutely excellent!  My biggest discovery was the application of keyword research to the buyer’s journey – it makes sense.


As we are familiar with defining personas, clarifying the stages of the buyer’s journey for a company, finding the questions that are asked during each stage for each persona, and trying to understand what kind of content will be more appropriate, adding keyword research into the same schema makes so much sense!

Chrissi Reimer pointed out to a MOZ article that explains the switch to this approach from a standard keyword research concentrating at the top of the funnel.


In place of simply “traffic plus conversion”, the value of search becomes “awareness + branding + list building + traffic + conversion + competitive wins + reducing support costs + upsell, cross-sell, and customer success,” justifying both more investment and a much larger organizational impact…

Interesting, at the awareness, or “recognize the problem” in my example, the objective is to bring the audience to the site and entice them to opt into a some form of “permission marketing” that give the company future marketing opportunity.  The email is considered the best, social media is less effective, and re-targeting even less effective.  (Maybe I was not the only one who did not see enough conversion from re-targeting…  but it does not require the prospect to do anything beyond visiting the web site… 🙂 )

Keyword research for a content strategy will be topical, less specific.  However, content calendar will be more specific.  Editorial calendar should have personas, keywords, and URLs.  In some cases, it would make sense to create dedicated landing pages for certain steps of buyer’s journey – based on the keyword research (topics that have high enough volume and low enough competition).

contentAnd now… content.

Keyword is an idea.   Keywords is not something to “sprinkle” on already existing content; keywords are ideas that can be a base for content creation.

Document you idea for the content and determine your content KPI.  You might find too much traffic and not enough conversion at the awareness phase.

Time required to research what content needs to be created can exceed time dedicated to content creation. 

An interesting PPC tip: there could be regional variation in keywords used – even within the US.  For example, Eastern states and Midwestern states can use different terminology for specific consumer items (fresh water terminology for fishing in Midwest, and marine terminology in the East).  This difference can apply to the products or solutions company offers and should be considered in PPC campaigns.


SEO and Mobile Web Search

searchIt was a pleasure to be part of the group with very clear understanding of business objective – the revenue!  SEO to generate “traffic” – what is the point?  Connection of SEO to the revenue – and measuring the success of the effort in the terms of revenue – this is the purpose of it all…. 🙂

Organic traffic is the highest converting traffic from the panel of entrepreneurs’ view – and it could be very profitable.

Interesting: adding a price into the paid ad reduces the number of “tire kickers” – but can also lower the quality score (lower CTR in general…   even if the conversion of the landing page might be higher).

Major retailer’s e-commerce conversion rate is less than 3%. Actually, it is higher than I thought..

black-hatBad news for Black Hats – it is very hard to fake legitimacy now…  so Black Hats are starting to develop legitimate web properties and good quality content.

Very interesting: even in B-to-C, even in the “era of mobile,” the desktop traffic is still more profitable.  I saw it in B-to-B, but did not expect in B-to-C.  Maybe – mobile is more profitable for entertaining content publishers with advertisement business model…  However, those people who click on the ads from mobile devices are less likely to buy.  Mobile phones might just become an “addition” to desktop rather than its possible replacement.

Mobile local traffic for local services converts very well – people are looking for plumbers, hair salons, etc.

Another point of view: engagement might be more important for e-commerce, as over 95% won’t buy initially, and engagement would encourage them to come back.

Appetite for Cookie Law

baked-cookieThough marketers were preoccupied with the European cookie law for some time, it might be that the consumers did not worry about cookie activity enough.  Maybe cookies (and the privacy that they inadvertently violate) are not annoying enough, but rather helpful for consumers.  As consumers, we would be furious to receive SPAM that takes valuable time, but cookies that take us faster to desired information and preserve valuable time, might be just… useful.

The regulator’s own stats show it’s received few reports about cookies – only 43 in the last quarter of last year, versus more than 43,000 complaints for spam and cold callers.  The Guardian

And how about marketers?  European marketers tried to comply.

A study lead by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) showed that 94% of UK websites feature a banner or some other cookie warning– well above the European average of 74%. However, it also found that British sites place an average of 44 cookies on your first visit, well above the average of 34 across the European countries surveyed. The Guardian

cookieMarketers who might need to comply in the future are lucky –  now, if you have GTM on your site, adding the required functionality would be easy – with the help of Cookie Collective. Lovely site!  I wish I had this link about four years ago, when concerns about cookies first started to materialize…

MIMA – Data + Tech


Nina Hale started the new format of MIMA monthly events with a reminder that our target audience is the same person – not a hypothetical “digital” or “traditional,” but the same person who, on ocasion, might pay attention to different marketing channels.

10 years ago it was possible to “specialize” in a single tactic – SEO or PPC for example.  However, now everything needs to “play together” and there are tools that allows measure this complicated interplay.

  • Research website and keyword searches to learn what they care about
  • Create content to meet that need
  • Use paid to get the content in front of them
    • Sponsor posts to targeted audiences (their engagement also helps your SEO)
    • Programmatic display
    • Paid search
  • Remarket to drop-offs
  • Find look-alike audiences that match your best customers
  • Interesting: programmatic display can be good from the perspective of cost per lead (I have not seen that, but it might differ by industry)

Nina recommended Quantcast – a free tool (and I did not know, how embarrassing!  😉


Another tool is Think with Google – the comparison of assists from different industries is quite interesting (and I did not think about using this tool in this capacity before)


Nina suggested to align messages based on targeting options – this is a great slide to think through the process.


Josh Becerra talked about conversion optimization – a topic dear to every marketer’s heart – and suggested a couple of tools:


CallRail – a call tracking tool

LuckyOrange – form tracking and click mapping tool

Josh’s most insightful point (from my perspective) was: “your site is always in beta…”  do not consider the site “done” for a set period of time – always try to improve and optimize.

Christina Lefebvre’s part of the presentation dived into the known topic of marketing automation and highlighted a few interesting points.

As the sales process 70% complete before the prospect contacts sales… “marketing now needs to do half of the sales job…”  🙂 

An excellent slide showing the “sweet spot” of marketing automation


And a very easy to understand (even for a non-marketer, hopefully) slide with the stages of the sales cycle.  Excellent slide taking into the consideration “skipping” stages and “returning” routs.


Christina mentioned again the industry mantra – marketing automation requires knowledgeable people to be useful, and without adequate resources, it will not be used to its full potential.  And, unfortunately, it is a state of the modern business 🙂


We, as an industry, can do better!  It is a great time to be in marketing – so much improvement is just around the corner 🙂

Event presentation

Coursera – Content Strategy 1: Engaging Audiences for Your Organization

0-contentThe class gives an excellent overview of Content Strategy and a few hints in some controversial areas.  Though I think I still believe that the end objective of content strategy is marketing…  or some business benefit for the organization, the debate on the topic was very interesting 🙂


  • Content Strategy uses credible, trustworthy, transparent media to communicate stories and information to enhance an organization’s strategic goals.
  • Unless organizations can reach people with content that matters to them – where, when, and how they want it – those individuals won’t give their time and attention to engage with the content that is critical to an organization’s success.
  • Organizations must provide engaging, credible, trustworthy and transparent content that enhances their target audiences’ ability to make important decisions in their work and personal lives.
  • Don’t overload people with too many non-strategic messages.
  • Know your organization’s most important, prioritized strategic goals; focus on them.

What the target audience expects from good content?  What should content does from the perspective of the target audience?

  • makes me smarter
  • gives me something to talk about
  • looks out for my interests
  • has an element of surprise/humor
  • inspires me

Stop looking at media as old and new media and start thinking about media that meets people where they are.

(If people are using public transportation, print media will be useful, if they are driving – not so much.)

  • Any content you produce is a product that needs to be marketed.


  • Experiences are how people feel, think and act when they consume your content or use your product.
  • The collective set of experiences that a person has with content creates their overall engagement with the brand.
  • Start with: what is the best media window in your reader’s day to engage with your content?
  • Is your idea best delivered as one type of media content, or should you think about a portfolio strategy?
  • Your audience uses many information devices during the day.  You need to make sure to leverage this information to truly engage your audience with your important stories and content.
  • The term “media” refers to the type of production used to tell a Content Strategy story.  That could be images, audio or text.
  • When we refer to “platform,” we are talking about the content’s destination: mobile, tablet, or wearable media.
  • Multimedia, then, refers to the use of more than one type of content  Multi-platform means you are producing content for multiple destinations. 


The biggest mistake you can make is to set out to do a video story, or an audio story, or a photo story – without knowing what the story is.  format follows story.  Not the other way around.

  • The key takeaway from a storytelling perspective is to remember to keep the experience appropriate to the platform.
  • It is important to tell a story that fits the devise both narratively and from a design perspective.


3 social media tools were mentioned (what makes complete sense):

Interesting: these are not “brand new” tools – they existed for years.  It was rather pleasant to see some stability in the industry 😉

The “Great Dilemma” of ‘in-house” or “outsource” – and a very interesting aspects I have not heard mentioned before… but completely understandable (particularly from the perspective of large, matrix organizations). It might be easier to control external vendors than internal resources in some aspects.


And – a little “content marketing” nugget:

67% more leads are achieved by the companies with active blogs (…and I assume these companies have proper calls to action 🙂  )

Coursera – International Leadership and Organizational Behavior

FranzVery insightful class with an in-depth analysis of international aspect of leadership.  Despite my work for international companies and bi-lingual – bi-cultural background, the issues raised by the class were eye-opening.  Some aspects of my native culture were also “new” – or rather not consciously examined before.  Highly recommend the class! Notes from the course:

  • International Organizational Behavior allows leaders to identify situations, where cultural differences need to be considered and adjust their own behavior when necessary.  This understanding should help navigate increasingly international business landscape.
  • Culture has been called “Software of the Mind” by Geert Hofstede.  Similar to software, it can be “updated” or it can change over time
  • Culture shapes cognitionculture
    •  individuals with a Chinese cultural mindset vs. a US American cultural mindset will interpret different the image of single fish swimming infront of a group of fish (US American cultural mindset: a fish leading the rest, Chinese cultural mindset: fish being chased by the rest)
  • Culture also shapes emotions

Two approaches to understanding culture

  • Dissecting culture to avoid superficial perception
  • Categorizing cultures to find key differences and make cultures comparable

Dissecting culture: the Onion model. onion Categorizing culture – High/Low context Model

  • High context culture: the meaning of the communication is derived from the context of the situation and relationship (Saudi Arabia, Japan, Italy, England)
  • Low context culture: the meaning of the communication is explicitly communicated (Germany, Switzerland, Scandinavia, USA)

Categorizing culture – Hofstede’s Dimentions culture-comparison (Excellent site with the explanation of the dimensions and an interactive tool for comparison – The Hofstede Center Cultural dimensions models can lead to “sophisticated stereotypes” issue, ignore internal contradiction within the culture and do not take into consideration cultural shifts. EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is not enough; CQ (Cultural Intelligence) is needed Communication barriers in intercultural communications:

  • Language barrier
  • Semantic barrier (understanding of the meaning, which can be different).  More difficult to detect, as there is an impression that the message is understood.

Low context and high context cultures

  • LC person communicating with a HC person: The LC person comes across as rude and too direct.
  • HC person communicating with a LC person: The LC person may miss a lot of the clues from the situation, she may not even know what to pay attention to.
  • If there is someone from HC cultures in the team, you want to use more face-to-face interaction.

You need people with very different, conflicting perspectives to make sense of a situation with very different, conflicting perspectives. This is where an intercultural team with very different cultural backgrounds come in handy.

  • Individualist Countries: The focus of people is to do what needs to be done to succeed (the “technically best solution”).
  • Collectivist Countries: The main focus here is to maintain group harmony and avoid conflict (the “socially best solution”)


None of the existing theories of motivation consistently provide applicable and reliably effective answers for how to motivate people at work, but they do provide an excellent set of guiding questions 🙂

Complexity of motivation is complicated by multicultural environment.

Managing Multicultural Teams



As usually, there are a couple of books to enjoy… I will get to them 🙂


Global Leadership Practices: A Cross-Cultural Management Perspective .

. brain-and-culture

Brain and Culture: Neurobiology, Ideology, and Social Change

Content Strategy Meetup – Web Writing


I guess, the whole meeting could have a slogan “Clear, not clever,” as one more emphasis on the purpose of the web writing – to communicate an idea to the audience in search of the right idea…

General guidelines for the content:

  • best content on the top of the page (fold is still relevant)
  • Clear, not clever
  • Easy to scan
  • Bullets and lists
  • Subheads
  • Strong images

Web page recommendations:

  • 2-4 sentences per paragraph
  • 12 – 20 words line length

In case we want to see examples of bad content…

There is an Onion-type site for …  bad content – ClickHole 😉


A few interesting points:

  • Think about HTML (H1, H2, etc.) as structure elements, rather than design elements.
  • A new (for me) term “listicles” – articles that are technically lists.  The term seem to be around for a while.
  • Canada and UK have excellent government website content (as the initiative is supported by dedicated taxes)
  • Dealing with infinite scroll
    • is it needed?  If requested by the client – what value does it bring?  Good example: “we want to create an infinite scroll to show students that we have many options of the content for them to select”
    • If needed, it is easy to “get lost” in infinite scroll.  In this case, a side bar could be added to explain that this is an infinite scroll, and there are different sorting options of the content
  • Word has readability statistics (which grade level is required to understand the copy?).  However, showing clients readability data of grade level can be cumbersome…  Some companies can say: “Oh, grade level 13?  Great!  All our customers have higher level of education…”
  • From the university professor: “Students are great technology consumers, but not good technology producers.”

Fantastic online style guide for Mail Chimp (internal guide) is available online.  I love the introduction! 🙂  And I loved the point on SEO…


University of Minnesota has an open  and very useful Content Strategy Guide.


Marketing Experiments – Properly Sequenced Subject Lines

emailFantastic data – I did not guess correctly…  have to save the screen shot 🙂

What can we do to make email subject lines more effective?

Winning subject lines have specific and tangible words, rather than vague or “salesy.”

Winning subject lines lead with what the customer would “get” rather than what the customer need to “do.”

Winning subject lines do not initially ask for anything – the asking is implicit, rather than explicit.

“30% off is only valuable if you can connect it to an experience…”

Clear subject lines always outperform creative and clever subject lines.

Do not be afraid of long subject lines.  If you “front-load” the subject line with value, people can decide if they want to read more.








Fantastic clinic!!

MN Search – Mobile Search and Usability

phoneSo…   Google announced that mobile optimization of the web sites is very important.  4.7% made the adjustments.  Should large, multi billion dollar companies be worried?  Maybe not, as their primary competitors are in the same boat 🙂

Though Google is using mobile usability for ranking, does a company have to make sure the site is actually responsive?  It is possible to have a separate mobile site, what will require coding to “tell” google that it is a version of the main, not mobile site.

Images are affecting mobile score – as images increase download time.

Interesting: 90% of people do not know what “hamburger” menu mean…  Yes, even if most of middle-age marketers think they were born with this knowledge 🙂 The best is to use “Menu” together with the hamburger, or just “Menu.”  The world did not stop April 21st 2015.  Google’s objective could have been to make people aware that mobile usability is the ranking factor.  Maybe because the trend was not going into the right direction…


Though the data is overwhelming:

  • Walmart – 1 second faster load, 2% conversion lift
  • Staples – 1 second faster load, 10% conversion lift

Mobile usability

Suggesting a scroll increases scrolling and conversion



Mobile sites need to provide content relevant to the users – for the correct context.  The most popular link on many mobile sites is “view desktop version.”





Many mobile users call the business rather than do anything else.







Full Angie’s slide deck

Eloqua Users Group – Analytics and Visual Click Through

quocity-logoGreat information, as usually.  Particularly, the new release overview was very useful – it is hard to keep up with “everything going on” in online marketing… 🙂

it looks like Oracle might be working on upgrading Eloqua Insights, what would be lovely.  Current version of Insights is not the most easy to use, and comparing to other analytics packages, such as Google Analytics, Litmus, etc. is rather clunky.

Relationship One also has an advanced solution to “upgrade” the analysis experience…  Would Oracle buy Quosity?  Ah – it would be lovely 🙂


Two particularly helpful features of the new release:

Visual click though is back!!  All of us who missed this feature from E9 days and tried the Beta versions of previous years would be happy.  The same limitation applies – the same link need to be tagged to be distinguishable in the report.  Oh, well, everybody who wanted this type of reports over last couple of years are probably tagging experts by now 🙂


Knowing other reports of this type from the years past, I am surprised to see only percentage and no difference in the color bubble.  Maybe it is coming.

It is now also possible to remove tests from the form substitution data.  Though my experience is manipulation of the form submission data in spreadsheet…  I am sure this feature has a fantastic application sometime in the future.