How Not to Upsell your Product – or How WHSmiths and Waterstones degrade their brand

Recently I bought a great book on human behaviour and how to gently influence people from Waterstones book shop, called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (a middle initial always makes you seem more authoritative). It looks to be a cool book, but what I most remember about the encounter is the interaction with the person handling my sale.

After they took my order they asked me if I wanted to buy from a stack of books on the counter. I didn’t get the name of the book, but it had a soft, gentle, pastel cover with flowers and a stylised image of a young girl. The writer was female and the book cover evoked a feeling of walking through tall wheat with Keira Knightly, whilst bees went about their gentle work. Not the kind of book I would ever be interested in.

There is an internet marketing point in here, just hang on a minute. I’m creating a parallel narrative.

I looked at the sales person and saw the fear in her eyes. The fear that said, “If I don’t offer you this book, my management speaking-well groomed boss will sack me.”

Would Waterstones really sack a member of staff because they didn’t try to get me to buy “chicklit”?

Who knows, but you do see a dribble of humanity leave a member of staffs body each time this poor attempt at upsell happens. Which leaves a stain on the floor behind the counter.

The internet marketing point of this article is about the upsell. It is an incredibly powerful and profitable way to get sales. But the way WH Smith – who seem to think that stuffing chocolate down the gobs of the British Public is somehow going to lead us to spiritual enlightenment – employ the upsell is atrocious and leaves me lamenting the humiliation of their staff.

When you buy something online, you are in the mood, in the zone for other stuff that solves the same or similar problem that is on your mind, so if you buy an ebook on linkbuilding it makes perfect sense to upsell to a link building tool or offer link building services.

Of course, WH Smiths and Waterstones may have conducted studies that 5% of people when buying a copy of Top Gear will also buy a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate. Thus increasing profits.

But what about the 95% who don’t buy?

What if someone blogs about this fact?

What if that blogger, also tweets about it.

What if a journalist reads that blog and decides to rip off the writer and give no atributation and rewrite the article as their own, (surely journalists would never do such an unethical thing) and publish it in their widely read Sunday Paper column which they later turn into a book which ends up at WHSmith and when you try to buy it you also get offered a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate?

There is another direction I could go with this about cheapening a brand, but I have a new chicklit novel to read whilst eating a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate.

Diggs for Sale

Maybe this post should read, “Digg for sale”.

A few thoughts on what is happening on digg.

First, I’m not following the current convo regarding the latest changes at digg closely as there will be a period of flux where nothing of worth really settles. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great, geeky, soap opera and if you have the time it beats having to watch the coffee dribbles on your wall harden in the warm sun.

Most of the people I follow about the subject are the professional diggers who have made a career out of pushing stories to the top. I of course push my own stories to the top and over the years have realised how much most of the social bookmarking sites are quite easily gamed. Mostly in an ambiguous nod from the owners of the sites.

Whilst the owners of these site publicly castigate such practices, they actually need professional social bookmarkers as they provide them with quality content. If it’s an infographic it’s usually been created by professionals. Which I think reveals the extent of the operation.

So, why is this important.

Well, if you are not getting a piece of the action, then you are missing out on a big chunk of online marketing. It’s a relatively small group who control 80% of social bookmarking action. It’s really no different than getting stories in newspapers which are sympathetic to a specific brand or product.

But right now, digg is in turmoil in the sense it is not yet clear how to promote. Which is why I think it’s not worth following the story. In a few weeks it will be clear which wheels need to be greased, but right now, I’m off on holiday and hopefully when I come back it will be sorted.

However, digg only represents one entity and there are many others to promote your website at.

What Dan Raine Taught me about SEO Agencies

I was watching a Dan Raine presentation in the wee small hours of the morning. And I realised what seo agencies are about.

Or rather what they are not about.

It’s something that has been niggling me for a while and I probably haven’t raised it because a lot of my clients are seo agencies.

SEO agencies don’t do cutting edge.

I think I’ve been to all the seo conferences in the UK and you hardly ever get a presentation that is cutting edge from an agency.

Which is fine.

They are about delivering what is mainstream, stuff like buing links from newspaper websites and the like.

They are also about managing the client, which obviously is an important part of the equation.

But the client will get in the way of implementing cutting edge techniques as most are new and highly experimental and there are little or no case studies around.

Also, most clients have not the time nor the industry knowledge to be taught about these cutting edge techniques, let alone being sold them and so the seo agency falls back on the tried and tested.

And there is nothing wrong with the tried and tested.

This is not a criticism of seo agencies, it’s merely a realisation of their place in the Internet Marketing food chain.

A lot of businesses need the tried and tested and have deep pockets to pay for it.

But people like Dan Raine are a couple of jumps ahead on the evolutionary scale of Internet Marketing.

If you are in the industry, when he speaks, you should listen.

But you probably wont.

You don’t have time.

What you do right now works for you.

You have to tweet about your new iPhone 4 (and how best to hold it)

But I will be listening and applying a few of his cutting edge techniques.

They certainly work for linkbaiting.

Why Am I Bad at SEO?

I have to confess, I am really bad at optimising my web pages. And the reason is this,

“It’s not knowledge that holds most people back in SEO, it’s Implementation”.

… which was something I tweeted a couple of hours ago whilst reading an seo forum. I have to say, link builder, Debra Mastaler and Aaron Wall really get the grey matter working.

The reason I say I am bad is that the optimisation of my pages do not match the knowledge I have in my head. Although the knowledge is of value, it’s only realised when implemented.

The reason it’s not implemented is because I can generally get away with it as I focus primarily on building exceptional content and getting links to it than optimising web pages. It works so well that the optimisation part simply gets pushed aside.

Not to say that I don’t have the urge once in a while. In the past few weeks I have looked at clients seo structure and relised a tweak here and a tweak there and their traffic will triple. But I kept quiet because creating content about 10 Kittens on Crack go on Holiday to Amsterdam is far more interesting that trawling keyword analysis and building hub pages with a little bit of linkable content and then arguing with the IT dept of said client.

You know how it is.

Something has to give, you can’t do everything.

So the answer to the question, why am I bad at SEO? It’s because I am good at something else.

Why is this important to you?
It’s very important to know what you are good at, what you are passionate about and not get sidetracked into being something you are not.

If it’s working for you, ignore the critics and just keep on with it.

SEO Keyword Research using Google Insight

Update: I didn’t think to check that the information presented was going to be live and so what I talk about in the post does not now reflect the data. DOH! Obviously I should have taken a screen shot and done it that way. But the points are still valid, it’s just the data set has changed on me.

Interesting to see seomoz as a breakout keyword. I would have thought they were riding too high to breakout, possibly recent press has sent a new bunch of people to search

Dannyseo

At first I thought, Danny Sullivan but no. This guy is called Danny Seo and is a Environmental lifestyle expert, sigh! He’s the kind of guy that makes me want to go out and burn tires in my garden.
Looks like he does a lot of TV and print, hence the boost in the search data. He also seems to smile a lot, maybe the new algo has a happy clappy quotient.

SEO Woo

This is interesting as I have chosen the search to be USA centric, this is a Korean of some sort. What I am realising here is “Seo” must be a Korean name and so when someone of that name gets famous they start ranking for “seo”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Guess what, Seo Hyun is another female star of some sort and so is Hee Kyung Seo.

A quick search in US Google of SEO, only reveals our friends in the search optimization industry and no Korean stars, which is not surprising. But what we have uncovered here is a little nugget of information. How valuable is that nugget? Don’t know, but one semantic occurance, that of a Korean name popped up three times in the break out data.

What I find with this kind of knowledge, is that there is someone, somwhere who will put this to use to their advantage. 99% of people will probably be “so what”? But then 99% of people fail. It’s those who can take a piece of information and meld it to their own use, whilst no one else knows about it.

Lets turn our attention to top searches related to SEO

First thing you notice is “google seo”, twice the amount of searches than the second in the list. More searches than “how to seo” or even “seo website”.

What this tells me is like it or loathe it, Google is the web. Lets not get into that right now. Using “google” as a keyword seems an obvious choice for an seo site to optimise for. I would never use “google” as a keyword search term when loooking for info, but I am neck deep in search knowledge and so may not reflect the ordinary person.

This is an important point. When trying to figure out what ordinary people are searching for, try to search like an ordinary person.

Using a brand in your long tail is a no brainer, using the brand of Google within keyword phrases with the root of “seo” is essential.

Some may like to point out that the optimisation for this site is terrible, and it’s true, I’ve never bothered with SERPS traffic, I get my conversions in other ways, but that’s another story. I just wanted you to know why I am suggesting it but not bothering myself.

If you are in the SEO business and aggresively targetting the keyword you probably already know all this.

WordPress pops up two times, once by itself. What’s that about? Why would google say that someone searching for “wordpress” is an seo related search? Possibly Google is factoring in other metrics, such as where the searcher came from, what are they doing, what were their previous searches and so on.

The important thing is to realise that “wordpress” is within the semantic gaze of seo.

All interesting stuff, it’s fascinating what you can learn from mining data and seeing where it leads. Hope this has been educational, it certainly has for me.

Social Media Myth No. 1 "It's about the conversation"

“Social media is all about the conversation”, I think that phrase started to rankle me around last July and I couldn’t figure out why.

It’s something I have taught people in my training class for years, so it’s not like I haven’t agreed with it. Blog – people comment – you reply – they blog – you reply, blah blah blah, yada yada yada.

Also with twitter, you tweet, they tweet, we all tweet.

And round it goes.

But it may be that the thinking is wrong. After all, the objective is not to have a conversation, the objective is something else, be it:

  • Links
  • Exposure
  • Sales
  • Branding

The objective is not the conversation, that is merely a stepping stone and yes it is an important and useful stepping stone, but it is not the objective.

I realise this may get me kicked out of the Secret Social Media Marketing Society, but social media marketing is not about conversation, it’s about getting people to do what you want.

This guy, Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli…

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

…. probably has more to teach us on social media networking than Chris Brogan, Brian Sollis, David Meerman Scott, Robert Scoble, Darren Rowse, Mark Hughes, Josh Bernoff etc. Although I have learned from you all and you are all at the top of your game, I can’t help thinking that you need to dig down and get into the root nature of human interaction and manipulation to really understand the fundamentals of social media.

Sure Machiavelli is not going to teach us how to integrate a twitter feed onto our blog, but he is going to teach us something about the nature of mankind. And although we use a lot of technology to do what we do, at its core is the human being with all the ancient brilliance that that entails. It’s not until you understand people and their motivations and the way people are, that you can truly understand what social media is about.

The chaps above who I have mentioned all know this, they are all students of human nature and have simply used a technological interface (social media) to employ what they know.

Social media marketing is not about conversation, it’s about getting people to do what you want them to do.

UK SEO Company Goes Bust

I first heard about Lattitude having problems from Dave Naylor’s blog

The Telegraph is also reporting the story.

I’ve worked with the Lattitude guys before and chat with the seo guys on a regular basis and I can say they know how to cook it. They didn’t go down because they were bad at seo, but rather seem to have been a credit crunch victim.

There are other very large SEO firms that I don’t rate, who seem to make their cash by pumping pretty pie charts for the clients top chomp on and being visited by well suited salesmen with ultra white teeth and an unhealthy fixation for reading the Art of War by Tsun Tzu.

But as Dave Naylor said in his post, if you really want the job done well you have to go for the “special ops” guys. And in a recent blog post by Econsultancy they brought up the Specialist Vs Agency debate.

Which is all very interesting. Especially for me as I specialise in one thing, creating content to be pushed over social media to get links.

If you need the other stuff, I can send you in the right direction.

I’m not too worried about the seo guys at Lattitude as they are experts at what they do and will always land on their feet. Not too sure about the whiter than white toothed salespeople though.

Update: Alex Hoye, the big cheese at Lattitude has issued a statement saying things are calm and it’s business as usual, which is good to hear. Also, spoke to a few guys at Lattitude and they are not worried at all. Sounds like there is going to be a smooth transition and a shedding of a lot of debt.

Link Building to the Right Kind of Tunes

Music to link build to.

Building links with linkbait can sometimes by a labour and time intensive process leaving you drained quicker than snakes ass in Death Valley.

Here’s a selection of tunes to help ease the link building or linkbaiting process along.

Still smells fresh.

Nirvana, Smells like Teen Spirit

This one is jammed on repeat on my mp3 player

Florence and the Machine, You’ve got the Love

When you get into that link building sweets spot it’s like being on fire.

Kasabian, Fire.

A big stain of dirty, filthy energy from the Stranglers.

No More Heroes

One of the best base lines ever, turn it up and really feel it.

Yes I know, Stranglers again, well it’s my blog after all.

Walk on By, written by a very clever man called Bert Bacharach

Sticking with the Bert Bacharach theme, Do you Know the Way to San Jose. No points for guess the importance of the geographical reference.

Linkbuilding can be very entertaining if you have the right tunes.

The Jam, That’s Entertainment

Try not to take yourself too seriously.

The Dickies, Banana Splits

Bit of big band action with Lily Allen. The Lady is a Tramp

If you do too much link building, you are going to go….

Dizzee Rascal, Bonkers.

Mashup time, and mashups are always a tasty way to link build.

Speaking of Tasty, Kylie and New Order all mashed up. Who’da thought.

Bit of old, bit of new. Bloody Hell, look what happens.

Dizzee Rascal vs Nirvana – Stand Up Tall

Special thanks to Jools Holland

Do I really Need to Hire a Social Media Consultant?

Yes you do.

A successful social-media campaign integrates social media into the many elements of marketing, including advertising, digital and PR. Opinion and theory are no match for experience and the best social media marketers now have more than 10 years of experience incorporating interactivity, blogs, forums, user-generated content and contests into online marketing.

Adage

I’ve been involved in social media for about ten years now and what I find obvious, natural and easy, others find impossible to grasp.

Sure you can read a bunch of books and blogs and learn the knowledge, but that only goes some way to delivering the goodies. There are other people out there who know and live in the space of social media. It is a complex and nuanced place and takes a lot of real time experience to develop the ability.

I wouldn’t say it’s an art, it just takes time and incredible amounts of grit to keep working at it.

Those of us who have been doing it for years have a head start.

Over the years technology has improved, making a few things easier, but there is not technological solution for experience and real life knowledge.

And if you were thinking that this blog post was all about trying to persuade you to hire me and others like me, you are absolutely right.