22 Feb 2011
I’ve been on an SEO / SEM (search engine marketing) kick lately. As a new business owner, I’m starting to see the value of proper placement, key search term optimization, and Google (or Bing) ranking. In a previous post I wrote about how properly tagged blog posts can generate long term recurring traffic and how Google loves linkbacks (being referenced in other people’s blog posts). With Nectar Tasting Room opening, I’m more in tune with how people can find me online and being a part of the search terms people are using for wine tasting and wine events in Spokane.
If you have a business, you NEED to be thinking about where you rank in Google search. If you sell shoes in Sheboygan or parakeets in Poughkeepsie, Google search will improve your customer conversion. I will go as far as to say that focusing on search engine listing is the single best investment a business can make in their bottom line.
I recently had a conversation with a local search engine guru / god…okay, his name is Ed from Sixth Man Marketing about an upcoming search engine optimization seminar in Spokane. If you live here, I strongly encourage you to go (details below). If you don’t live here, well, your loss because Spokane is a really cool place. Regardless, Ed (a.k.a. SEO guru/god) was kind enough to provide FIVE SEO/SEM tips just for my readers. Shhhh…don’t share this post. It’s just for those that read this blog. P.S. Stay tuned at the end of the post for the amazing details on the upcoming Get Listed University seminar.
FIVE SEO TIPS
- Make sure your business information is consistent across the web. Do an audit of your brand and make sure the references you find are the same. Update any inaccuracies and make sure your business name and particular is consistent.
- Test categories in Google Places. Look to see if the categories you think will be a good choice for you produces a local search result (map). Test the categories that make sense for your business and track them to see which ones work best for you.
- Make sure your address and phone number are prominently listed on your site. This can be a sub-page but make sure they aren’t just in the footer. A page that calls our your address and phone number helps a lot. Also 800 numbers can really throw the search engines off. Use your local number if at all possible.
- Understand what citations mean to local search. The Get Listed Resources page has great information about them.
- Once you understand what they are, I recommend using the Whitespark Citation Finder to track them down.
GET LISTED UNIVERSITY
Spend a whole day with industry experts and search engine optimization pros at Northern Quest Resort and Casino on February 25 from 8AM – 5PM. Your fee includes…
- A full-day workshop to accommodate the amount of content & questions
- Classroom style seating for easier (and more comfortable) note taking
- A lab area for hands-on training! Get personalized advice from our experts.
- Updated presentations with the latest information about the Google & Bing search algorithms.
- More local success stories. Hear how last year’s attendees (and a few others) made HUGE gains.
- Lunch and snacks. After all, what’s a seminar without lunch and snacks.
- Free follow up class at LaunchPadINW Lounge for the first 40 people who register
Use the discount code “LAUNCHPADINW” and save $30 off the $149 price
VISIT http://www.sixthmanmarketing.com/get-listed-spokane for all the details! If you don’t go, you’re sorta silly!
25 Jan 2011
Staying ahead of marketing trends is important. As a new business owner consumed with two thoughts; 1) how do I get people through the door, and 2) how do I give them the best possible experience when they arrive, I have a new appreciation for marketing trends and their potential uses at Nectar Tasting Room. There are smart people that get paid a great deal of money to offer analysis and recommendation to businesses on their marketing strategies. I am not one of them. Over the years of marketing at church, at a top global bank, and now with the magazine and tasting room, I’ve made two valuable observations:
- People want to be connected – People love to be a small part of something big. This is a testimony to the power of the “like” button on Facebook or “following” a business on Twitter.
- People want an experience – You can go to a winery and taste wine and leave or you can go to a winery and interact with the winemaker, take a tour of the facility, taste directly from the barrel and walk away with a memory and an experience.
I’m always looking for the power of connection that can bring people in the door and the engaging experience that keeps them coming back. Here is a look at three (not the only three or the best three…just three) marketing trends to watch for 2011.
Location Based Marketing
Do you Foursquare? Do you use Facebook Places? I’ve asked these questions of people as they come in the tasting room the last three weeks. Using my scientific formula I would guesstimate that about 10% of the people who come in have heard of Foursquare and about 3.28% actually use it. In my opinion, sites like Gowalla, Foursquare, Scvngr, and the new king, Facebook Places are barely scratching the surface of potential. With barely 20% of the world using smart phones, the potential growth is staggering.
Location based marketing has several great benefits. It creates loyalty and connection. It adds to a customer’s experience. It shares with all of their friends / fans / followers that they have been to your business thus increasing your potential marketing impressions. You can offer deals, reward loyalty, create challenges, and share information with people who check in (varies depending on application).
With Facebook’s entry into the game, 600 million users now have potential access to check in, savings, tagging and sharing. Foursquare continues to plug along with their model and maintains the lead in overall use but rest assure that as Facebook ramps up marketing and enhancements to the application, Foursquare may struggle to survive. Services like Scvngr offer a ray of excitement as businesses can add challenges or tasks to perform and can connect with other businesses to create a scavenger hunt type experience.
P.S. Check in at Nectar Tasting Room – They mayor gets a complimentary tasting bar flight and new check ins get $1 off of glass pours.
How can these funny little box codes make a dent in the marketing world? According to Wikipedia, QR Codes are a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by dedicated QR barcode readers and camera phones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be text, URL or other data.
Businesses can use a simple (and free) QR Code generator that can point people to specific information about a product, web site, or event page. Why not point people to the page where you can actually BUY the product. Any user with a camera ready smart phone can take a picture of the QR Code and have instant access to the information. Mobile marketing…mobile connection…mobile experience. A recent article on Enobytes.com goes as far as to say…
“I see QR codes exploding in the industry. It’s a marketing tool not fully being utilized in the wine business. It is the future of marketing, but it will take a considerable amount of effort for wineries and others to embrace it.”
While I don’t agree entirely with the prediction (explanation later), I do think the QR Code is an intriguing way of marketing specific information to a limited demographic. The problem with claiming QR Codes as “the future of marketing” is it assumes an easy adoption. Not only does a user have to have a smart phone, they have to download an app to recognize the picture AND it assumes that the person even knows what they are supposed to do with it. QR Codes will play a short term role in marketing and they are a fun and innovative way to share information. At Nectar Tasting Room, I plan on implementing them on our table toppers and maybe even in the front window (for our hours and Facebook page).
Group Buying Coupons
Everyone loves a deal. Get $20 worth of tacos for $10. Save 50% on clothes from Macy’s. Engaging customers through group buying deals, (Groupon, Living Social, Deal Planet, etc) has come on strong during the great recession. Merchants are looking for customers and cash flow, and customers are looking for deals. Groupon is so popular that Google offered to pay 6 BILLION to acquire them. A quick pulse check in every major (and minor) metro area across the US will reveal hundreds of Groupon copy cats.
A testament to the power of Groupon (and also a warning) – Prior to launch I did a Groupon for Nectar Tasting Room. I knew enough to know that I couldn’t support a discount on wine. Groupon asks for a minimum of 50% off on a product and then takes 50% of the actual sale price. Offering $50 worth of wine for $25 would mean that I would actually receive $12.50 for each Groupon sold. While cash flow may be good, the potential marketing cost could be high, especially if I didn’t have a way to capture any data on those purchases.
I chose to do a Groupon for my club membership, Club Nectar. The normal cost for the frequency based annual membership is $75. We offered the Groupon at $35 and sold 120 of them. The actual cost of the product on my end is $0 (although the potential for frequent users could certainly stress the costs), so to offer them at $35 seemed appropriate. Starting the business with 120 people who are incented to visit on a regular basis has proven to be a wonderful surprise. The added benefit is the capture of each of these member’s email addresses for added follow up and connection.
Several marketing trends are playing out for 2011. In my opinion, keep your eye on these. They could be great avenues for increased connection and customer experience.
One week ago today I was frantic. The blog that began in November 2009, with the intention to start a business, was finally fulfilling its vision. Just hours before opening we were still waiting for fire department approval, decorations were still arriving, catering for the evening had yet to arrive, and the credit card terminal still wasn’t processing. As someone who prides themselves on being organized, I felt overwhelmed and under prepared. How would the weekend turn out? Could social media marketing motivate people to action? Would the whole event be a non-event or would we experience success?
For those that regularly read this blog, I hope you are not tiring of the recent posts on the new adventure. I plan on returning to a regular schedule of wine reviews, wine business, and entertaining observations of the wine world (or at least I hope they are entertaining). This post is less about the tasting room and more about the power of social media in action.
I’ve long known and believed in the power of social media to call people to action. In March, and again in June of 2010, we (I and several other Washington wine bloggers) used Twitter and Facebook to draw hundreds of people together online AND in wineries to celebrate Washington Merlot and Washington wine. These events showed me that people are listening online and those people are passionate about wine.
The Social Experiment
Nectar Tasting Room was built using social media and I’m committed to continuing this social media experiment for as long as I can. Other than the capital costs of web design, logo development and some interior and exterior signs, I spent zero marketing dollars on Nectar Tasting Room. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back; actually I pat you on the back for being passionate ambassadors of the business. The results were overwhelming:
- Prior to launching, using Groupon and LaunchPadINW, we sold 120 Club Nectar memberships. This annual membership provides savings and rewards frequent visits. To have 120 members for a business that has never opened its doors is powerful. Memberships are $75 if you want one.
- Weekend receipts were nearly $8,000, over 25 cases of wine (no, I don’t mind sharing this).
- Friday night was standing room only from 6-11pm (people stayed way after the open sign was turned off every night).
- We have already booked 6 private events with inquiries coming in daily. P.S. we can host your group from 10-75 as well. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
At one point at the height of our busiest time, a good friend of mine, Ed Reese from Sixth Man Marketing, leaned over and jokingly said, “This whole wine and social media thing…it’s never going to work.” Now, I’m do dummy, I don’t expect these results every weekend. In fact, I fully expect this weekend to be half as busy. We’ve got a few marketing ideas in place but most of them were either focused on last weekend or upcoming weekends.
Why Did It Work?
The success was actually a result of hitting the sweet spot of relationships, social networking, and traditional media. It has been fun getting to know each of you (virtually and in real life). The relationships we’ve built online and through local networking events have generated what I like to call “brand ambassadors.” YOU are my marketing team and you didn’t let me down.
The immediate reach of social media and the power to instantly share the blog posts, Facebook updates and Tweets provides a force of marketing. The post referencing the grand opening was shared on Facebook and Twitter over 100 times. This reach translates into tens of thousands of impressions. The final piece to the puzzle is traditional media mentions. Still a force to be reckoned with, the newspaper and local entertainment magazine, The Inlander, mentioned our opening and the result was traffic.
What Did We Learn?
“For one of the most organized people I know, a lot sure did take you by surprise this weekend,” said a good friend of mine. Well…yeah…it sure did. I think I can attribute that to the lack of brain power. I was so focused on all the details surrounding the opening that I lost sight of some of the most basic process pieces.
- Hot water tank was not sufficient to run the dishwasher over and over again on a busy night. We remedied this by installing an instant hot.
- Bottle neck at the register as we hunted and pecked to find the products. Solution, UPC codes entered, and UPC sheets printed for an easy scan of glass pours, flights, and tasting fees.
- Food. We provided a very small catered menu this weekend and we are still working out a long term solution for our small plate and dessert menu.
- Too many menu options on First Friday. I was warned but I ignored the advice. First Friday will always be super busy, going forward we will only offer glass and bottle sales for this night.
- We were under staffed. Solution – I hired someone who starts this weekend and another person will be starting in February.
- Process – I am a process nut at my day job. Everything is documented and has a written procedure. This is on my next steps list to help with the flow at the tasting room.
This is my first business. Every day I learn something valuable and I rely on a team of people around me to give me good advice and help me succeed. So, here we are, continuing with this social media experiment. So far, so good, check back with me in six months and I’ll let you know how it went.
P.S. Come on in to the tasting room this weekend (January 13-15), mention this blog post, and I’ll give you $1 off your order.
09 Dec 2010
What is in a number? Do you pay attention to rankings, links, mentions, and search engine optimization? Lately I’ve been talking with Ed Reese, SEO guru of Sixth Man Marketing. Ed knows analytics, google, and conversion rates like nobody else I know. He happens to have an office at the LaunchPadINW space just above my future tasting room. When you type “SEO Spokane” in Google, he comes up first. When you Google “Social Media Spokane,” LaunchPadINW is first. These are two good resources to know.
While I am not an expert, let me give you two examples from my blog. One of the most consistently viewed posts on my blog is one called A Mojito Kind of Night. One hot summer evening, I was bored. Wine didn’t sound good so I decided to make mojitos. I got out my video camera, recorded the process and 45 minutes later I posted the “how to” post. The post is THE single most viewed post on my wine blog – go figure.
Yesterday I woke up at 5:45AM to get ready for a morning event. Like I do every morning, I grabbed some coffee and logged into Google Analytics (yes I’m addicted). I was blown away to see that 500+ referrals to the site had come from people Googling “Leavenworth Christmas Tree Lighting.” The day ended with over 1000 referrals and my highest traffic day ever. Why? Two months ago a post titled Leavenworth – Bavarian for Wine? In the post I mentioned the Leavenworth Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony which just happens to be going on this weekend.
What did I do right? Both of these posts had good SEO optimized key words. Both had images that referenced the same key words. Both had video that referenced the same key words. Both were referenced on other people’s sites with link backs. Google likes these things. When Google finds more things it likes about your site and your post…BOOM, SEO rocks!
I love the fact that when you Google Spokane Wine, Spokane Wine Events, or many Spokane wineries by name, you get a NectarWineBlog post. While I wish I could say that my maniacal plan has come together, in reality I’ve just stumbled into most of it. However, now that I’ve seen the power of proper search engine tagging, more time is going into optimizing each post before pushing the publish button.
Linkbacks, Trackbacks, Incoming Links, and References
As I mentioned before, Google loves link backs (incoming links). These incoming links act as a circular loop that plays to Google’s crawling algorithms. Having an incoming link (being referenced) by a high ranking site or trusted site (news, college, reference resource) scores you bonus points. This is another reason why content is king. Content drives consistent readership. Readership builds interest. Interest causes you to be referenced or quoted or used as a resource. These are all incoming links.
Search Engine Optimization leads to effective Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Where is the first place you go when you’re looking for information on something? Google. Who goes to the yellow pages anymore? With 21% (50% by December 2011) of Americans using smart phones like Android, iPhone and Blackberry, these devices become portable information mines. Out on the town looking for a restaurant that serves Thai food? Google it. Looking for a local store that stocks the latest Mark Oldman book? Google it. SEM means that people using Google drive sales. Investing in good placement is good marketing.
So, what is a number? If you blog for a hobby, the number might be useless to you. If you blog to be recognized as a leader in an industry (Ed Reese, SEO; LaunchPadINW, Social Media), then that number is critical to building business.
Wikio ranks blogs by the number of link backs. More link backs equals higher rankings. More link backs by top rated blogs equals even higher rankings. Here is how they describe it on their site.
“The position of a blog in the Wikio ranking depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs. Our algorithm accords a greater value to links from blogs placed higher up in the ranking.
A blog linking another blog is only counted once a month i.e. if blog A links to blog B 10 times in a given month, it is only counted as having linked to that blog once that month. The weight of any link decreases over time. Also, if a blog always links to the same blog, the weight of these links is decreased.
Only links found in RSS feeds are counted. Blogrolls are not taken into account.
In December 2010, retweets were added as an additional factor to the ranking algorithm. For each twitter account, only one backlink per blog is taken into account each month.”
So, to put it more succinctly:
- Link backs are cool
- Link backs by top ranking sites are cooler
- Multiple link backs by the same blog don’t count
- Buddies who always link you are weighted lower
- Blog rolls don’t count
- Re-tweets were counted for December
So, get talked about (especially by top sites) and you’ll rank high. What excites me about the December ranking (besides the obvious number 2 position of my own site), is that FIVE Washington focused wine blogs are listed in the top 20. My friends at Wine Peeps, Vinotology, Washington Wine Report and Paul Gregutt all score high! I’m not exactly sure how the heck I’m ranked up there above Palate Press, 1 Wine Dude or Tom Wark (Fermentation). November was a big month for me (with the magazine and the tasting room). I’m sure there was just a lot of buzz that mentioned the blog. I certainly do appreciate it, but I have a long way to go. When you Google the words Wine Blog, you don’t find me until page 6. I’ll throw a party when you Google the words “Wine Blog” or “Wine” and I’m ranked at the top (spots currently held by Vinography and Wine.com.
Numbers, rankings and Google SEO matter. Proper SEO can drive SEM and revenue. Take the time to tag your posts, key words and images before you push publish. That extra time could make the difference between 100 hits and 1000 hits, or better yet, one extra customer.
29 Nov 2010
I am not a social media expert. I’m a guy who has tried and failed and tried and succeeded over the last year in my efforts to build a brand. Lately I’ve been asked to share my story at events, seminars and have been asked to do some private consulting. I love teaching. As a youth pastor, I taught large and small groups of students for six years. As a guitar teacher, I taught as many as 25 students weekly, and taught regularly for eight years. As a marketing executive at the largest US bank, I teach, train, and manage projects for the company intranet. Because of the interest in my story, I’ve partnered with local networking site, LaunchPadINW to put together five classes that I will be teaching over the next several months.
Inspired by the analogy given by Rick Bakas of Bakas Media, the classes will cover the strategies that I’ve learned and observed over the last year. Using myself and others as real world case studies, we’ll walk through the process of creating a strategy, understanding the tools, developing content, building a following, and harvesting the social currently for increased revenue and/or decreased expense. Social media tools are best used as integration and supplement to your existing marketing strategy. Take the classes that most fit what you need. Move beyond the theory and start planting the seeds of success.
PART 1: Planting the Seeds for Social Media Success ($39)
CLICK HERE to RSVP for the for the class on January 26
Are you looking for ways to get ahead, reach more customers and generate more revenue? He who has the most relationships wins. Statistics say that 50% of Facebook users and nearly 70% of Twitter users are more likely to BUY product from someone they follow or ‘like’. It’s time to move beyond the theory and 101 courses into some serious real world examples. Learn how to integrate social media tools into your engagement strategy. Plant the seeds that will yield a harvest of social media success.
Follow the story of Nectar Tasting Room, Spokane Wine Magazine and other real world case studies who have successfully implemented social media strategies to build or enhance a brand.
- 10 ways social media can benefit your business
- Build your followership and start developing your online currency
- Tips for converting your existing brand to an online presence
- Finding your online voice
- Facebook: Should you like me or be my friend
- Twitter: Understand the language
- Five no brainers that will have immediate impact
- Learn the three pronged approach to success, Commitment, Content and Caring!
Part Two: Cultivate Your Online Identity ($39)
Now that you’ve planted the seeds of success, learn how to engage your audience and build brand ambassadors. Walk through the 7 rules of engagement, leverage the opt in economy, and how you can measure conversation and brand mentions. 90 minute class
Part Three: Harvest Your ROI by Cashing In Your Online Currency ($49)
The fruit is ready and the harvest is here. Learn practical ways to cash in on the online currency you have developed. Develop strategies to track your efforts and take steps to reduce your traditional media advertising. 60 minute class
Using Twitter to Make your Business Fly ($29)
Understand the language and harness the power of this often misunderstood platform. We’ll walk through the basics of creating an account, learning the terms (@, mentions, DM, re-tweet, favorites, hashtags, etc), and how to grow a following. The class will also cover the powerful Twitter search engine and how you can use it to keep track of conversations that relate to your business in your area. 90 minute class.
Blogging for Better Business ($49)
Blogging showcases your knowledge base, builds credibility, creates traffic, and increases your search engine optimization and marketing. Learn how to establish and build a business blog from the ground up. Turn your blog into a full blown web site. Develop a strategy for content and learn how to maximize the SEO of each new post. 90 minute class.
Josh Wade is the owner of Nectar Tasting Room and Spokane Wine Magazine. Exclusively using social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and a blog, Josh built a brand and a following for a business that did not yet exist. Through the relationships built in social media, Josh was able to build a following of 4,000 people (on Facebook and Twitter) and grow NectarWineBlog into one of the most successful wine blogs in the country. These efforts lead to the launch of Spokane Wine Magazine and Nectar Tasting Room in downtown Spokane. Josh’s wine blog receive nearly 10,000 unique visitors per month and he is ranked in top 3 of social media users in Spokane, top 5 wine blogs in the Northwest and top 25 in the country.