Friday, June 23, 2017

P&G Launches Charmin Van-GO, A Traveling Bathroom in NYC

Procter & Gamble is one of the world’s biggest advertisers—as a result, their products fill households around the world–Downy, Tide, Bounce, Charmin and Crest. Yet they’re a big brand with a big heart and a conscience, and I’ve written a couple of articles about their video ads that have gone a long way towards supporting big causes. These days, we’re seeing a lot of this, and ya gotta love a big brand that’s not afraid to step up and do the right thing. P&G’s #LikeaGirl video a year ago was viewed by more than 38M people, and #WeSeeEqual video three months ago by 46K.
But now it’s June. It’s blistering hot with no end in sight. Like everyone else, I want to be on vacation. Lying somewhere with my feet propped up with nothing to think about but where I’m going to have dinner. Yet I’ve got work to do and deadlines to meet.
But I love this story. P&G has a new innovation that takes off from where its more rudimentary household products left off. P&G is now offering Bathroom Service in New York City!

It’s cleverly called Charmin Van-GO

And it’s bringing personalized bathroom service to select New York neighborhoods. The pilot is scheduled for just two days in June. According to the Associate Brand Director, “We’re always looking to bring people the best bathroom experience, both at home with our tissue and in new and unexpected ways.” It’s literally a bathroom delivered right to your footsteps. People on the go can avoid those random, frantic coffee-shop stops with Charmin Van-GO.

Traveling through NYC’s busiest—and now neediest–neighborhoods

With black-ish star Anthony Anderson onboard, Charmin Van-GO will travel through some of NYC’s busiest neighborhoods to bring bathrooms to those in need, while surprising and delighting people with bathroom humor along the route.

So my question is . . .

Is P&G serious about this or are they just having a little summer fun? Or is this something that could take off and start serving other neighborhoods, other cities? God knows the need is there. There’s no mention of the cost to use Charmin Van-GO or if there’s more than one van or plans for the future. There’s likely a place to wash your hands, using that old P&G classic, Ivory. I’m captivated by this. Most of all, I’m wondering if P&G is doing this as a whimsical summer fling or if they’re serious. A traveling potty. They could get an app . . .
Do you need help with your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mobilegeddon 2017: What You Need to Know

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know about Google’s heavy-handed 2015 algorithm change that assigned preferential search results for mobile sites. While Google rolls out something like 500 algorithm changes/year, this was a big one with important consequences for business owners and their (mobile) websites. What this really meant was that Google assigned favored results for mobile sites, punishing those whose websites didn’t translate to mobile devices. (I know—it doesn’t really seem fair that someone should have this much power, but that’s another discussion!)

How do you know if a site is mobile friendly?

If you find yourself having to scroll, click and fool around trying to read a site on your phone, it’s not mobile-friendly. That site is not meeting the design specs for universal, or responsive design, which means that a site will adapt to all devices—desktop, tablet and phone. All of this is, of course, in response to the overwhelming growth of users who access everything from their phones, which is now more than 60%.

A scramble to become mobile-friendly

The result? A mad scrambling to convert sites to mobile. In many cases, businesses are able to do some workarounds rather than having to create a whole new website, which is always a major undertaking. I’ve worked on quite a few WordPress conversion projects where we were able to salvage the old site to make it mobile-friendly rather than start from scratch and build a whole new website. A big savings in terms of time and money.

So what’s been going on since 2015’s Mobilegeddon? 

Google is rolling out a mobile-first index that’s being called Mobilegeddon 2017. As was the case with the first Mobilegeddon, your site effectiveness and search results will be affected unless you are prepared.

Look out for Mobilegeddon 2017: A mobile-first strategy

Mobilegeddon 2017 is Google’s new mobile-first index . Google is changing their index of web pages from desktop pages to mobile pages. No longer will a user get served up two different experiences.

Why does Mobilegeddon 2017 matter?

As with the algorithm change in 2015, If you don’t optimize your website for mobile, your audience won’t find you unless they stay on their mobile devices. The organic traffic on your website will nosedive. Your site will not show up in search results as well as on those that are optimized for mobile.

Adapting to or preparing for Mobilegeddon 2017

So. Does your website meet Google’s ever-changing algorithms? Copy and paste your url into Google’s Mobile Testing Tool website for a quick analysis. You’ll get three ratings: one for overall mobile-friendliness, one for the loading speed on mobile and one for desktop. While the mobile-friendly ranking is most important, the loading-speed time is important as well. Users these days are impatient, with short attention spans. If your site takes too long to load, your audience well may give up and go elsewhere.

Failed the Mobile-Friendly Test?

If you failed the test, it’s time for a new website that meets the global standards for responsive design—a website that translates across devices. For many business owners, this may finally be the impetus they need to stop procrastinating and create a new website.

The reality: A website has a shelf life

Styles have changed—they’re simpler and more streamlined. Chances are your content doesn’t reflect the business as you know it today and your images are outdated. Look at this as an opportunity to create an important new marketing tool for your business.
Are you ready for Mobilegeddon 2017? Talk to Top of Mind Marketing about a new website. We’re writers and internet marketing specialists.

Monday, May 29, 2017

5 Things You Need to Know for Better SEO


1. Optimize metadata

Metadata helps organize and describe information on your site that search engines index your site. Search engine companies send programs called “spiders” out to gather information about your site and determine how to display it in the search results page (SERP). Metadata tells your users and the search engines what your site is about. If your metadata is consistent with the intended theme of your site, it increases your chances of ranking well in the search results and increases the odds of attracting qualified traffic.
There are three kinds of metadata: (1) Meta titles are the titles and subtitles on your landing pages and blogs. They should be identified with H tags—H1, H2, etc. (2) Metadescriptions are the 160 character descriptions that you identify on the backend that encapsulate the message of each landing page. A good way to think about a metadescription is that it’s like a little classified ad. It shows up on your SERP, and it helps promote each webpage. (3) Meta keywords aren’t visible to visitors, but they tell search engine spiders those keywords for which your site is optimized.

2. Page speed

No surprise here. Everybody’s in a hurry these days, and more than 60% of users are accessing everything from their phones, which can be challenging. As a result, web design has adapted and gotten simpler and more streamlined. Simpler code, design and navigation. If your site is taking too long to load, you’re going to lose your audience before they even get a chance to land on your homepage. Google has an easy page speed measurement tool that give you a quick analysis and recommendations for increasing your speed.

3. Duplicate content

Duplicate content is content that appears on the web in multiple locations. It could be content that you’ve repurposed on several pages on your own site—an easy thing to do, after all—the page that’s about the company and the one about you as a business owner could be duplicative in some places. But Google hates this—take the time to modify it.

Duplicate content confuses the search engines

If you’ve stolen content from someone else, that’s another example of duplicate content that Google dislikes. Search engines have to choose one or the other page to return for a query, so they are forced to evaluate which version or form is more credible/meaningful to that user who’s searching. A question comes up about content curation—what if you’re curating, or borrowing great content from another source, giving credit to the author, of course. I’ve begun curating content when I find something that I really like. But I never just copy and paste it into my blog and identify the author. I personalize this with an intro and a conclusion. Explain why this is a great article—the reasons for its insights and relevance.

4. Relevant content

Search engines have become more sophisticated. You can’t fool them anymore by keyword stuffing or filling up a page with nonsense just to create mass. (To rank well in search engines, we recommend landing pages and blogs be 300 words or more.) Google is increasingly intuitive; it seeks out high-quality landing pages, blog articles, videos, infographics, guest articles, forums, etc. Good content has become nonnegotiable.

5. Internal links

Create an internal linking strategy. When you post a blog or new landing page, spend another 10-15 minutes and create internal links—link key words or phrases to related blogs or landing pages. Use one relevant internal link for every 400 words. Internal links help encourage drilldown–people will click on the links and stay longer on your site.

6. Social sharing

If you’re not distributing your blogs and other relevant content across your social media network, you’re missing important opportunities to build your online presence. It just takes a few minutes to log in to your social sites and post a headline or brief description with a link back to your site to drive traffic. Do include an image—the chances of someone’s engaging with your post increases dramatically with a relevant image.
Are you thinking about optimizing your website to increase its SEO value? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re internet marketing experts.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Alt Text: Optimizing Images for Enhanced SEO

You may or may not be using alt tags when you post your images on your website, blog and social media posts. If not, you’re missing opportunities to increase your SEO value and provide valuable information to the reader who may not be able to see the image.

What do alt tags do?

Alt tags help describe the appearance and function of each image that you upload. As you upload an image from your iPhones, stockphoto or other source, you’ll be presented with fields where you can provide a description, caption and alt tag. In general, if there’s a field, fill it out—it’s an opportunity to use your keywords and reiterate the name of your business.

Start by labeling your images

Rather than the default numbers that are automatically attributed to your images, start relabeling them with brief descriptions. My favorite naming convention is to label the image with the name of your company, underscore, brief image description, such as FordMotorCo_2017redSUV.

Why is alt text important?

  1. Never forget that your audience will be reading your blog, post or website on a wide range of devices and sometimes images don’t load. In those cases, alt tags will be displayed to show readers what they would have been viewing. Those who are visually impaired, by using screen readers, will be able to read an alt attribute to better understand the intent of an on-page image.
  2. Image SEO. Alt tags provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.

How to write good alt text

  • Describe the image as specifically as possible.Alt text should provide text explanations of images for those users who are unable to see them.
  • Keep it (relatively) short.The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or fewer.
  • Use your keywords Alt text provides another opportunity to include your target keyword on a page, and another opportunity to signal search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. Google won’t dock you points for poorly written alt text, but you’ll be in trouble if you use your alt text as an opportunity to stuff as many relevant keywords as you can think of into it. Aim for description and context. Be smart. Remember that just as good content has become nonnegotiable, so are good alt tags.
  • Don’t include “image of,” “picture of,” etc. in your alt text. It’s already assumed your alt text is referring to an image, so there’s no need to specify it.
  • Don’t neglect form buttons. If a form on your website uses an image as its “submit” button, give it an alt tag. Nothing surprising here—the button is a graphic and deserves an image label and alt tag in the same way that all of your other images do.
Do you have questions about the importance of images and alt tags in your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and internet marketing experts.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Want Better Response Rates? Write Better Calls to Action!


I’m religious about adding a call to action (CTA) to blog and social media posts. But time for a confession: I’m clearly not doing all that well because I’m not getting much response to my CTAs!

A CTA provides your reader with an actionable task

it generally appears as a button, an in-text link, or an image, and it’s usually at the end of an article or blog—but it doesn’t have to be. Play around with this a bit and try adding this after the first paragraph. I always try to frontload the most important information for lazy readers. Adding a CTA right after that first paragraph makes a lot of sense—don’t expect your reader to read the entire article, no matter how great a writer you are. A CTA provides direction; it should answer the question: “Now what?”
A CTA should help drive business–more clicks, sales and engagement
CTAs are especially useful in the online space because they’re trackable, and switching up a few words or the placement of your CTA can dramatically affect analytics. Get this: When SAP switched their CTA color to orange, it boosted their conversion rate by more than 32.5 percent. But even if you’re not specifically asking your audience to act on something, you do want to be taking action and asking them to engage with your brand further.
Asking your followers to share or reply is an excellent way to find out just how many people are listening and are interested in what you have to say. 

Here are some CTA best practices that will help generate better response to your posts. 

  1. Use action verbs. Discover, find, or explore; it will help draw visitors in and nudge them towards the action you want them to take.
  2. Value proposition. What’s in it for me? You need to make it clear how your audience will benefit.
  3. Consistency. Keep the tone consistent with the rest of your content and your brand.At the end of a great article, you don’t want to jar your audience with a trashy CTA.
  4. Clarity is key. Avoid jargon and be wary of trying to be funny—this can backfire.
  5. Transition. Lead into your CTA with supplementary copy so there’s some context, a smooth transition.
  6. FOMO. Americans suffer from an acute case of FOMO—the fear of missing out–and it can be incredibly powerful. Include expiration dates, offer ending dates. Call right now is better than Call anytime.
  7. Make it mindless. Which is easier: Call today or Fill out this form?
  8. Align with landing page. Align your CTA with landing page content. If you’re sending your reader to a landing page to sign up for something, let them know where they’re going and what the expectation is. Set the expectation to build trust.
  9. Make contacting you easy. Make sure your contact info is clearly visible in multiple places. Transparency and open communication are huge selling points that are often overlooked by brands.
  10. Personalize whenever possible. Grow your profits today vs Grow profits today.

In conclusion 

Take a look at your website. Is it easy to find your contact information or does it take a little gumshoe work to find your phone number and intake form? Most people these days are attuned to looking for the Contact tab on your website—it’s generally the last item on the right if your navigation schematic is on the top of the page, the bottom item if it’s on the left.

But you can do more

You can make the intake form visible on all pages so it’s really easy for people to contact you. I just redid my own website, and I added a Schedule a free consultation button to all pages, but looking at it now, I realize I should move this up to the header area. Now the big test: how does this look on mobile devices? Make sure that you don’t lose your accessibility for mobile users.
Contact Top of Mind Marketing today for a free consultation about your website or content marketing program. We’re writers and content marketing experts.  

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Engaging Your Audience with Content Curation

These days when we’re all marketers, we’re constantly being assaulted with clever, new ways to engage our audiences. But content marketing in all of its manifestations—blogsvideosinfographics, etc.—is labor-intensive. It takes time to come up with good topics, time to fully develop them into well-written articles, time to come up with attention-grabbing headers and it takes time to find really good images that will enhance your blogposts. But let’s face it, you’re taking care of your family, your team and your clients and sometimes you just plain run out of time.

Let someone else engage your audience

If the goal is an engaged audience, why not let someone else’s efforts help you engage your audience? We hear a lot about content curation these days, and it’s an effective way to augment your own great content with quality industry articles and excerpts that can provide another perspective and offer value. Content curation is the act of discovering, compiling, and sharing existing content with your online followers. Something to think about: A full 68% of us rely directly on curated content as part of our overall content marketing effort.

 Content curation can:

  • Help you establish yourself as a trusted source for quality industry information. You may now be recognized as someone who always generates great content—expand your reach a little and be known as someone who also finds great content.
  • Build your own list of blog topics, speeding up your writing by providing more great blogs.
  • Make reporting on earned media mentions much easier.

Content curation is still dependent on great content

You should be reading industry journals, subscribing to newsletters and publications to stay on top of trends and new technology. Read the articles that your favorite industry writers are publishing, then repurpose them to your own website. Be sure to source them and link back to the site. I like to personalize this—add an intro and a conclusion so you’re contributing something of yourself to the effort. Tell why you this article or excerpt caught your attention; explain why you follow this particular author, etc. Big publishers like HubSpot and Buzzsumo offer content curation services, but these come with a price tag; there are other tools that make it easy to do this yourself.

Content curation: Getting started

Start clipping or saving articles that you like or that inspire you. Choose a post that is relevant, and ask yourself how you can add something of value to the conversation. I found a really great tool that is making it easy to clip articles that I like—Evernote. Just create a profile, then download their little clipping tool that you use to clip articles into the application. You can add images and notes so that when you’re ready to use one of your curated articles, you can scroll through the displayed items, select one and copy and paste it into your blog. I’ve been copying and pasting articles, quotes, and links that I might want to use at a later date into a word doc, but it’s a total mess, making it difficult to really see what I have curated. With Evernote, every article is individually displayed, with notes as separate items. This is a huge productivity enhancer.

So what should curated content look like

On a page from a tech blog, Slashdot. Note the way they identify the longtime reader, Esther Schindler and link to her website. The two indented paragraphs are taken directly from Esther. Below that the author adds a brief commentary or summary.

Curated content: coming up with good content is still a challenge, but sharing it is easier!

Using curated content is still a great way to raise your SEO value and enhance your website with quality content. When you’re busy, curated content can be a huge time-saver. But keep in mind that, just as with your own blogs, coming up with well-written content that meets the needs of your audience can still be a challenge, but sharing it has gotten easier!
Thinking about outsourcing your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Power of Big Brands to Do the Right Thing


When it seems like the whole world has dummied down, when we’ve had our fill of mindless ads, Procter & Gamble, a big, big brand with deep, deep pockets, a company that spends lavishly on advertising, releases an ad that is creative and smart with a message that has important social implications.

P&G steps up for women and gender equality

In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8, P&G released its latest gender equality initiative along with the #WeSeeEqual ad. This ad is a series of scenes showing men, women and children in everyday situations, interspersed with text, such as “Hugs don’t care who give them,” and “Equations don’t care who solve them.” It finishes with a woman telling a younger co-worker “Do it,” with the line “Equal pay doesn’t care who demands it.”
P&G launched its first annual citizenship report in 2016, outlining its aspirations to build “a world free from gender bias,” including initiatives such as “Share the Load” for its Ariel laundry brand in India, where it claims that 70% of men think household chores are women’s work.
At last year’s International Women’s Day, P&G hosted a panel discussion on unconscious bias, where chief brand officer Marc Pritchard stated: “What you have to do is make it conscious. We can’t gloss over it. You’ve got to dig a little deeper if you’re going to address it.”

Taking time out to take a stand

P&G, the company that owns huge consumer brands like Tide and Crest, reaches millions of people all over the world. But P&G just took a timeout from new product launches and merchandise plugs to take a stand on an important social issue, showing that there can be an altruistic side to advertising. P&G has taken on gender equality in the workplace, and they’ve created an ad that has now been viewed more than 50,000 times. This is a powerful ad that will likely receive thousands more views in its endless life on the web.

Not the first time P&G has supported women’s issues

But this isn’t the first time P&G has taken a stand for women’s rights. I wrote another blog about P&G’s #LikeAGirl campaign. The company did a brilliant job of harnessing the Olympic momentum and celebrating women athletes. Unfortunately, a lot of young girls drop out of athletics because they become self-conscience about their bodies or lose their confidence, and it’s a tragedy. Kids who are involved in sports form strong relationships that can last for a lifetime. They learn important life skills—how to be part a team, how to compete, how to win and lose. And of course, as P&G points out, sports help instill confidence in these young female athletes—something they’re going to desperately need as they get older and deal with the world we’re leaving them.

A video of young girls playing nontraditional women’s sports

The video interviews young girls playing sports—particularly those sports that have been traditionally considered suitable for men—weightlifting, boxing and rugby. These young girls clearly think that girls should not only be able to play rugby—a very rough sport—but also be captain of the team!
P&G calls for Olympic athletes and organizing committees to inspire a world where “every girl truly feels that she can play sports and will Keep Playing #LikeAGirl.” Of course this is a plug for Always feminine products, but the message is heartfelt and timely, and it’s never been more relevant.
Thinking about outsourcing  your content marketing program? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts.