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Sunday, September 2, 2007

How Search Engine Marketing can start an Argument.

This past week I sat in on a lunch hour webinar hosted by Pragmatic Marketing. The speaker was David Merrman Scott who recently published “The New Rules of Marketing and PR.” I read his other work, “The New Rules of PR,” so I was interested in hearing his new marketing pointers.

David used the launch of his book as a case study on effective search engine marketing techniques, specifically how to reach opinion leaders. In his case, the leaders he connected with generated wide coverage for his message which led to an explosion in his site traffic, book downloads and sales.

Merrman Scott is notable because he realized what many small business owners try to do –get attention in a media fragmented world without taking a second mortgage out on the house. His practical tips are useful for the entrepreneur who needs straightforward advice on getting a message out as quickly and cheaply as possible.

No Interruption Required
The era of PR people spamming journalists with story ideas to get product coverage is OVER. In the old days, you had to have significant news before you were allowed to write a press release. It usually included quotes from 3rd parties like customers, analysts or experts. And the only way your buyer would learn about the content was if the media wrote a story about it. Plus one of the only ways to measure ROI was by counting product mentions in press clipping books.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the only form of marketing that does not rely on audience interruption or cajoling an editor to get you attention. The internet has eliminated these practices, giving marketers direct access to buyers, where they scan Google and Yahoo! results pages at will, and consider a product story – in its original, unedited state.

However to appeal to your customers directly, you need to understand them intimately.

Getting to Know You.
To appeal to your buyers directly on the web, you need to understand their motivations, brand experiences and interest level in your product category. To do so, consider developing “buyer personas.” This makes writing content that appeals to a range of customer beliefs, attitudes, shopping needs and vocabulary – much easier.

For example, a big box home electronics store identified three buyer personas –Gordon the UBER GEEK, Harry the home theatre NUBIE, and Louise the “just visiting” casual shopper. In each case, distinct language, tone and content depth were incorporated onto their site to appeal to their user base and ensure product messaging was relevant and understood.

Once you understand your customer archetypes, it’s time to write press releases for them.

1. Write releases with ample keyword copy so your release can be crawled and included on search engine results pages more frequently

2. Understand the words and phrases that buyers understand

3. Create links in releases to your website that bring people to your site

4. Optimize press release delivery for searching and browsing

5. Drive people into the sales process and selling cycle with press releases

If you want your press release crawled by Google news and Yahoo news services, David suggests distributing your story using any of the following services: Businesswire, Prime newswire, or Market wire.

The cost can be as low as $80 to send a basic release. However to include anchor text links and photographs – features that let readers link back to your site, is in the $200 range.

In short order, his book release was picked up and reviewed positively by Seth Godin, an influential voice in marketing circles, and negatively by Steve Rubel, an influential PR writer.
Because these two power brokers had conflicting opinions, it fuelled more discussion and interest.

Before he knew it, David Merrman Scott was enjoying top natural search ranking results, incredible site traffic and more than 250,000 book downloads.

I wonder what would have happened if Seth and Steve had agreed on the book?

1 comment:

David said...

Hey Robert,

Wow. You were paying attention on Friday. Many thanks for participating on the webinar and in particular, thank you for writing up such a comprehensive overview here. I appreciate it.

Hey, do you have a copy of my latest hardcover book The New Rules of Marketing & PR? If not, shoot me an email and I will send you a complimentary copy.

All the best to you.