Internet Marketing Masterclass in Lichfield Staffordshire

Posted by Chris on May 21st, 2012

Over the last few months we ( Silicon Crossroads VCT ) have been giving clients and selected friends and business contacts what amounts to an Internet Marketing Masterclass. This graphic here:

buddy media social marketing

which appeared here http://www.businessinsider.com/social-media-marketing-landscape-complicated-2012-5 shows just how complicated social media has become. Actually these are not all the categories or all the companies and products in those categories because I can think of a few more.  If you are trying to keep up with the ever changing world of Internet Marketing and Social Media you have your work cut out.

I always start off my presentations on this topic by saying that our focus on Internet Marketing should NOT be taken to mean that we don’t believe in other forms of marketing ( so called Traditional Marketing ) e.g. Word of Mouth ( WoM ), advertising, mailshots and in particular emailshots. Actually our research has led us to the conclusion that one of the primary objectives of much Internet Marketing is to get someone’s name and email address.  Once a person has ” opted-in ” to your email database you have a friend and a prospect. All you need to do is to send them relevant, interesting, funny etc information so that they STAY on your email list !

When I originally started learning about Internet Marketing it was because I had seen some research that said that about 50% of the people who were researching and buying telephone systems did their initial research online. Today we all use Google and other search engines to research and buy the things that we are interested in or want to buy.

In the Masterclass I ask people to think about something they have researched into and perhaps bought online. You can do this too. Think about ” the process ” that you went through. ( This is the simple version ) You wanted to buy something. You Googled it. Some search results were presented. You clicked on a few. Explored the websites that you were taken to.  Compared the offerings. Made a decision. Bought. OR maybe you found a couple of suppliers you liked but wanted to wait to make the decision to buy so you just bookmarked the site or signed up for emails from the company.

I always like to understand what the ” young people’s ” process is because I think it is often different to the way we use Google. e.g. my son ( age 22 ) is always working on cars and if he doesn’t understand something or wants something he will type the exact question into Google e.g. ” how do you fit a light bulb to the rear quarter light of a Peugeot 105 “. As they say – you can tell someone’s age by the way they type things into a mobile phone – one finger is OLD, one thumb YOUNGER, two thumbs YOUNGER STILL. So different age groups Google ( Internet search ) in different ways.

Some people do not understand ( or believe ) that a website is a waste of time and money if it is not being FOUND ( for relevant search terms – words and phrases ). The objective is not only to be found for the company name ( hopefully that is a given ) but for the PRODUCTS and SERVICES that you provide.

This begs the question ( which not many people ask themselves !! ) – What ARE the products and services that YOU want to be found for ?? This is actually a fundamental question and a cornerstone of everything that you do from Search Engine Optimising ( SEOing ) to putting the correct CONTENT into your website and to your blogging strategy.

You may be surprised at how few companies do this and how difficult it seems to be for them. If I was being cruel ( which I sometimes feel like being ) you would think that they don’t actually know what it is that they are trying to sell and therefore be found for.

For other people it is a relatively easy question. They know what they are trying to sell and therefore promote and therefore be found for.

Once understood ( and played with a little bit because some will be easier to rank for than others ) these are the “terms” that will be woven into ALL new content. ( You may want to go back and review what you have already done on the basis of this review aswell !! ).

N.B. This is an interesting time to be talking about what Google ( and other search engines ) want to see in order to rank your web/blogsite high because Google has recently changed it’s “algorithms” penalising some SEO practices. If you read some of the books about Google you will find that it was originally based upon the practice of ” referencing ” research papers i.e. a paper written on a particular subject ( the topic of interest ) would ” reference ” ( provide links to ) other worthy papers. Google ALWAYS ( and in my mind always will ) tries to provide people with the information or answer they seek – to it’s best ability. Therefore, put simply, if you provide ( good, relevant, interesting, nice to read and look at ) CONTENT you will be FOUND over the long term without any risks of being penalised. I guess some people might call this a ” Content Marketing Strategy “.


Once you have been FOUND the next task is to CONVERT visitors ( to your web or blogsite ) into Prospects and then Customers and then ANALYSE how/why/with what you achieved this success and then REPEAT IT !!!

N.B. I borrowed this Get FOUND, CONVERT,ANALYSE mantra from HubSpot ( http://www.hubspot.com/ ) who came up with a new
” meme ” ( means a completely new area, in this case, Marketing Strategy ) called Inbound Marketing.

So, you get FOUND ( because you have built your web/blogsite to be found for the things that you want to be found for ) then you CONVERT ( via the fact that you had the right ” Landing Pages “ ( more on this another time ) and ” Calls to Action ” then you track who found you, who they are, what they did when they went onto your web/blogsite and where they came from. e.g. Was it a Twitter/Twylah post that you made that led someone to your website who then emailed/phoned you or subscribed to your email database ?

For those familear with the term we are talking ” Sales Funnels ” here like :

funnel1

from http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/16759/3-Tips-For-Better-Lead-Management.aspx

It is probably useful to remind ourselves of ” How to create a high ranking web/blogsite ” ( in simple terms ). A web/blog/domain will rank high on Google ( and other Search Engines )  IF:

  • The CONTENT is relevant to the search ( and regularly updated with “rich” new content )
  • The ON PAGE SEO has been done ( Titles, tags etc ) and it is ” easy to be seen and spidered “.
  • There are LINKS back to your your website/domain from other ” high ranking ” websites/domains
  • It is based on a ” powerful platform ” ( like WordPress or HubSpot )
  • The website itself and the hosting environment are ” High Performance

Once we understand all of this this we can understand why we must create what I call an ” Internet Marketing Ecosystem “.

Similar to

which was created by http://davefleet.com/2010/01/2010-social-media-marketing-ecosystem/

In my Internet Marketing Ecosystem I typically advise to have :

  • A web/blogsite based on something like WordPress or HubSpot. ( You are on Mine )
  • A Twylah page. Here’s mine  http://www.twylah.com/cwindley
  • Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Linkedin accounts ( as a base ) N.B. I have all of these and more but not all in M&A Rainmaker.
  • Other accounts where you can post url’s on high ranking websites e.g. digg.com

and then you can establish an ecosystem that grows in power with every blog post and Twitter Tweet !!



Some people are not afraid to use HubSpot Marketing Grader!

Posted by Chris on May 17th, 2012

A year or two ago I started using HubSpot’s Website Grader to evaluate the performance of client’s and suppliers ( potential and actual ) websites. HubSpot’s Website Grader has since evolved into Marketing Grader which looks at the wider picture of a companies Internet Marketing efforts including it’s website, blogsite and social networks, automation software, analytics and internet influence ( Klout ).

Having put quite a few websites and internet marketing efforts through the HubSpot Grader I now know that there are a lot of companies in the 30/40 out of a 100 range, quite a few in the 50/60 range and only a few in the 70/80 range.

Nikki Pilkington ( who designed this blogsite ) has a grade of 85/100. see  http://www.nikkipilkington.com/ and http://marketing.grader.com/site/www.nikkipilkington.com. This is a very rare score. Nikki’s website is based on WordPress and she has large networks on e.g. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest. She blog’s regularly.

Nikki’s Marketing efforts are a great implementation of what I call an “Internet Marketing Ecosystem “.

One of the companies that has most impressed me is Staffordshire IT.  http://www.staffordshireit.co.uk/ . The reason that I am impressed is because often, when I show people the HubSpot Marketing Grade, they go into denial. Many of them have not heard of HubSpot ( which I am not totally surprised at but you would think that Internet Marketing professionals would be aware of a company that has created a whole new way of looking at Internet Marketing – known as Inbound Marketing ) and whether they have or have not they often have a ” who are they to grade my internet marketing efforts ” ? sort of attitude. John Bryan, M.D. of Staffordshire I.T. was not like that – he took the report in his stride and actually grasped the points that were highlighted in the report and worked on them. http://marketing.grader.com/site/www.staffordshireit.co.uk .

When I first met John his score was around 75/100, Since he has worked on it he has reached 84/100 and has a stated ambition of reaching 90/100 which would be an amazing achievement.

Staffordshire I.T.’s website is also based on WordPress and they have a blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts and use Google Analytics.

Some sceptics say that the only way that you can get a high score with HubSpot’s grader is when you use HubSpot software for your website. This is clearly not the case as we have two website’s in this example that are WordPress based and which have high scores.

I wish I could write blogs like that !!

Posted by Chris on May 11th, 2012

When someone said that to me the other day I thought well, everyone can’t can they !! As I responded – I can do it because I am a
” published writer ” !!  I have not written a book and had it published but I have written a number of articles, stories and blogs – some of which have been published.

I feel like I have a book or two in me but there’s a bit of distance between now and something I can open and thumb through.

I definately don’t consider myself to be a professional writer. However, I have developed a rather unusual ability to write Search Engine Optimised or Content Optimised blogs and articles.

This blog has not been written to rank ( in Google ) for anything. I consider this to be a relaxing piece of writing because I do not have any key words or phrases in my head that I am trying to work into my titles and content.

No, this is completely unoptimised content. I am just writing something.

I was listening to Twylah co-founder Eric Kim recently and he was talking about how Twitter is great for people who can’t string a blog together. All they have to do is to is to think up something that takes up to 140 characters. Anyone can do that right ??

Well, I think that most people could think of something to say but the question is would it be worth reading ?? Leaving aside celebrities there are obviously quite a few people who can write something interesting in 140 characters – judging by the number of followers that they have.

On the other hand when you look at some of the things that people say you wonder why they are doing it and who is reading it. I have to say that I have got a little bored with people that just throw out ” famous quote ” after ” famous quote “. Although it is surprising how many I quite like – and like enough to ReTweet. I do wonder just how many interesting ” quotes ” there are and how many people will  continue to be interested in reading them.

I don’t have much time for ” Life Coach ” type quotes either but again some of them you read and are glad to be reminded of.

I actually write blogs for some people. Most of the time I do this myself but I always ask them to think of topics and if possible, angles themselves. I then create blogs around their ideas that are typically laced with words and phrases that they want to rank for.

You have basically got to have a blog these days. I could explain why but trust me you need one. In simple terms you need to be adding fresh, relevant content to your web/blogsite and domain.

Your blog is part of what I call your ” Internet Marketing Ecosystem “. ( Search on that term here or in Google for more information ).

I have 2 or 3 things at the core of my ” Internet Marketing Ecosystem ” – a web/blogsite and a Twylah page.

Here is my Twylah page - http://www.twylah.com/cwindley .

A Twylah page takes your 140 character Tweets ( usually with links to pictures and videos ) and automatically ( with no effort from yourself ) puts them into a web/blogsite.

So this https://twitter.com/#!/cwindley is reorientated as this http://www.twylah.com/cwindley.

Not only are my Tweets re-presented but they are also sorted into categories. In my case:

Marketing

Social Media

Business

Twitter

and

Startups

are the uppermost categories. ( I can decide which categories I want to appear first ).

The Twylah pages are searchable ( they are like normal web/blog pages ) and thousands of peoples Tweets are pouring into the Twylah website producing rich ( text, pictures and videos ) content for Google to find.

What I am saying is that your Twylah pages are going to rank high in Google for the categories that represent you.

Arguably your Twylah page is a more accurate reflection of your Internet presence than, say, Klout, Kred or PeerIndex.

The main point is this – you don’t have to be able to write blogs – just get a Twylah page and it will write them ( automatically SEO’d ) for you !!

Staffordshire poised for ” Silicon ” label via Broadband and Social Media

Posted by Chris on May 9th, 2012

If you combine Staffordshire’s recent commitment to provide ” Superfast Broadband ” with it’s prowess in the use of social media then I think the seeds of achieving the label of ” Silicon Staffordshire ” are there.

What is most important is that at the highest level within Staffordshire County Council there is the belief that this CAN be achieved.

Staffordshire IS putting it’s money where it’s mouth is; walking the walk not just talking the talk – both in broadband and in social media.

Staffordshire Police’s ACTUAL use of social media to communicate with people is a great example:

http://www.staffordshire.police.uk/about_us/social_media/

Twitter ( particularly ), Facebook, YouTube and eBay ( to sell seized stolen goods !! ) are all being used to great effect.

When I visited Staffordshire County Council’s office’s recently I noticed the Cisco phones on the desks of the ( very smart looking ) receptionists.

As I happen to have spent much of my life working with Cisco I immediately realised that here was a Council that put the correct Information Technology Strategy above short term, price driven solutions.

A Google search revealed this article:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/government-computing-network/2011/jul/18/councils-share-networks-infrastructure

on ” sharing networks ” – something I believe in passionately. CIO Sander Kristel said:

” Staffordshire county council is making good progress towards integration with health partners within a shared network infrastructure. Chief Information Officer Sander Kristel expects its emerging Public Service Network ( PSN ) to save the council £10m.

He believes true shared services may only be achieved through sharing a network infrastructure. “To provide better services to the public it is necessary for us to work much more closely with others,” he says. “To do that it is best to share network infrastructure where it is much easier to share data securely.”

Kristel describes the move to a shared network infrastructure as partly opportunistic. “Our current network contracts were up for renewal, our telephony systems needed replacing and some of the other partners in Staffordshire had similar timelines,” he says.

“We have taken a very pragmatic approach, as the requirements of the PSN were not available when we went ahead with it. However, our supplier Kcom is part of the national PSN group.” The contract is valued at £23m.

Working across multiple public sector agencies, the network has to comply with multiple standards including those for N3 and GCSx, but Kristel is confident that the PSN will be closely aligned to those standards.

Staffordshire is bundling the shared network core into BT exchanges at the moment. “Traditionally local authorities have put comms hubs into their own building, but for partners to trust the PSN we found it necessary to put it in BT exchanges.” At the network edge it is rolling out fibre and also quite a lot of copper, in a pragmatic attempt to create a flexible infrastructure.

The council is also putting in Cisco telephony and contact centre technology, which it plans to share. “The idea is the customer should not really need to understand who does what and where,” Kristel says.

He already has an agreement with South Staffordshire Health that it will join the network, and says: “I understand from the Cabinet Office that we will be one of the first in England who will share with health partners We’re also having conversations with Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

He describes the process of setting up the shared network infrastructure as less complex than first expected: “We share the costs equally and the county council charges a very minimal administration fee to manage the contract.”

I have not met Sander but there are a number of key views expressed in the above article and in this one

http://www.cio.co.uk/article/3339374/cio-profile-sander-kristels-clear-vision-for-staffordshire-council/

that let me know that Staffordshire is on the right course. Just a few quotes from the above article:

Integration is a term Kristel uses a great deal and it clearly describes the vision he and the authority have of how to ensure residents get the quality of service they deserve in return for being taxpayers.”

” Staffordshire is almost a pioneer of the public sector network model now being demanded by the Cabinet Office in Whitehall. “

“We have taken a pragmatic approach, opting for copper not fibre optic. Copper is easier to deploy at smaller sites and we will rationalise our estate again soon; why dig a trench into these buildings?” he asks.

“The network is step one. We can provide services almost like a cloud so that organisations can run their email or document management over it,” he says.

” The network is just one of a range of cost-saving projects Kristel has led at Staffordshire.

A move to Citrix thin client desktop applications on HP hardware gives the authority’s new HQ a desk-to-staff ratio of 7:10, making the building seem like a bank rather than a council office.

Voice over IP has been added and videoconferencing is on the way.

The authority is proud of its new HQ and screens at reception tell you it is saving the council £250,000 a year. Virtualisation has reduced Staffordshire’s datacentre fleet to two and each datacentre has just three racks in it.

Using the new PSN disaster recovery facilities via a reciprocal deal with a neighbouring authority is also being considered.”

” Influence of IT
While Kristel does not have a direct line to the CEO — “I report to the CFO. I used to report to the previous chief executive, but this very much depends on your chief executive” — he is on the wider leadership team and says IT is very much part of the big picture in Staffordshire.

“You have a lot more influence and early warning of what is going to change in the authority,” he says.

Early warning is the most important thing as the European procurement process can take up to a year. ”

I have italicised some of the key words and phrases that I believe should be taken forward into the next phase of broadband and social media development.

Becoming a ” Silicon Valley ” in the U.K. is not a simple process. This video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTC_RxWN_xo

titled ” The Secret History of Silicon Valley ” explains some of the historical factors ( beginning in World War 2 ) that led to Silicon Valley becoming the start-up powerhouse that it is today.

That is not to say that it cannot be done though. It WILL require a number of challenging pieces of a jigsaw to be put in place.

At the end of this video interview with Marc Andreesson ( founder of Netscape and now a Silicon Valley VC ) he explains what he thinks needs to be put in place to recreate another Silicon Valley:

http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2012/05/andreessen-no-tech-bubble/

There are other articles that I have read that further help to understand the components required.



Social ( Media ) Staffordshire leads the way

Posted by Chris on May 8th, 2012

I think it’s time that we started calling Staffordshire ” Social Staffordshire ” ( although I always like to remind people that Social Media is being used for a lot of business applications ) alongside my other description of the A38/A5 crossroads area as
Silicon Crossroads “. Why ?? well in my mind Staffordshire is one of the leading counties in the U.K. in terms of use of Social Media.

Staffordshire Police’s David Bailey presented at the Social Media World Forum earlier this year

http://www.socialmedia-forum.com/europe/agenda/speakers/626-david-bailey-communications-manager-staffordshire-police and they have to be one of the most pro-active police forces in the country in terms of using Social Media. Staffordshire Police has over 11,000 followers on Twitter. Find them:

( @StaffsPolice )

Staffordshire County Council

( @StaffordshireCC )

have over 3000 followers and Staffordshire Fire Brigade

( @StaffsFire )

has around 2,200 followers

Staffordshire University

( Staffordshire Uni

@StaffsUni

Official tweets from Staffordshire University run by Communications Manager Judy O’Brien

Staffordshire, England · http://www.staffs.ac.uk )

has nearly 6,000 followers.



It is not just on Twitter that Staffordshire is active either. Staffordshire C.C. has Facebook, YouTube and Flickr pages aswell. Staffordshire Police are very active users of YouTube e.g. :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9DxvtbEjPY&feature=relmfu

and have a Facebook account aswell.

When you combine this use of Social Media with recent announcements of the investment into ” Superfast Broadband ” it paints a picture of a very forward thinking Council.



Superfast Broadband for Lichfield and Tamworth Staffordshire

Posted by Chris on May 1st, 2012

It is fantastic news that Staffordshire C.C. has decided to invest in Superfast Broadband for the Lichfield and Burntwood area as highlighted in the blog on Lichfield Live here:

http://lichfieldlive.co.uk/2012/04/15/broadband-speed-boost-as-staffordshire-investment-scheme-is-approved/

There’s a good blog here, on Staffordshire IT’s website which describes the sort of improvements that ” Superfast Broadband ” can bring to Internet speeds:

http://www.staffordshireit.co.uk/fibre-broadband/

This whole idea of improving the internet infrastructure complements my own thoughts on the promotion of ” Silicon Crossroads ” ( as I have dubbed it ). ” Silicon Something ” has become a global brandname for a High Tech. area. Probably the most famous is ” Silicon Valley ” in California in the United States. Here in the U.K. we have ” Silicon Roundabout ” ( London ), ” Silicon Fen ” ( Cambridge ) and Silicon Glen ( Scotland ) to name a few. The Irish refer to the whole country as ” Silicon Ireland ” or the ” Silicon Republic “. Well, the Irish are probably one of the most successful European nations to take advantage of the development and expansion of High Tech. companies out of the U.S. and into Europe.

Whilst we hear a lot about High Tech. companies being located in London actually these are mainly relatively small ” sales offices ” and the bulk of the administration and development people are located in Ireland and perhaps Belgium or Luxembourg for “tax” reasons.

One thing is for sure: High Tech. companies in Silicon Valley are beginning to struggle to find the talent that they need. They have to look to other parts of the U.S. and abroad to find that talent. In a recent conversation that I had with a Silicon Valley based C.E.O. of a High Tech. startup he said that he would be looking across the U.S. to where his ” alma mater ” ( his old University ) was based and also to Argentina.

High Tech. startup  http://hootsuite.com/ recently highlighted that what had initially appeared to be a negative factor in their startup profile ( to venture capitalists and angels ) – being based in Vancouver – had turned out to be a blessing in disguise because they were able to find hot local talent at bargain prices and that talent didn’t want to go anywhere else.

Silicon Valley took a long time ( 30-50 years ? ) to get to where it is today. Arguably the preeminent startup location in all the world. Talent runs deep in Silicon Valley as this blog highlights:

http://medriscoll.com/post/9117396231/the-guild-of-silicon-valley

The software engineers that are ACTUALLY building the products that we now know about over here – Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter etc etc are a secretive bunch and their wants and needs are probably different to a lot of people’s.

Internet ( communications ) infrastructure is going to be high up on their list though – from work AND from home AND in between.

According to this blog:

http://www.santaclaraweekly.com/2012/Issue-16/the_right_stuff_santa_clara_infrastructure_foundation_for_todays_stadium.html

The ” Holy Trinity ” that set Santa Clara to be the right location for High Tech. growth was:

“Gillmor calls that infrastructure the city’s “holy trinity of success:” city-owned land and electricity, and strategic use of redevelopment funding.”

More specifically what made Santa Clara such a great location was the road infrastructure; the electrical power strategy and the general utility provision  ( electric transmission, water and sewer lines – to be built in advance of development ). This when combined with a financial strategy ( bonds being sold to finance development which increased in value dramatically after developers built ) led to Silicon Valleys success.

The story of Silicon Valley is a blueprint for success for Silicon Crossroads. Many of the component parts are already in place and Superfast Broadband is another one of those key infrastructure pieces.


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