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Envelope Options – Getting Your Prospect Mail Piece Opened

Envelope Options – Getting Your Prospect Mail Piece Opened

As you know from visiting your own mailbox, there is a lot of competition for your attention. Self-mailers (mail pieces not concealed in envelopes) have an advantage: the message is visible instantaneously, and, if the reader needs the product or service, it can earn more than a brief glance. Plain white envelopes on the other hand, are almost irresistible to open, especially if there is no name in the return address portion. We are a curious animal.

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5 Web Design Practices that Will Make or Break Your SEO

Search engines are all about relevance.  If you want to rank high on a search engine response page you must create a page that is easily read and indexed.  Your site must be spider and web crawler friendly.  Oh, and it must appeal to your visitors at the same time.

Content is King

Clear, readable and relevant text is crucial to SEO.  Your search engine ranking depends on text the search engine can crawl through to find information they can index.  If your site is image heavy and light on text you have a problem.

Some sites feature home pages with images and graphics but very little content.   This might be interesting to your target visitor, but it’s a bad idea for SEO.  Each page on your site, including the home page, needs unique content that is relevant to your business and communicates your message.

Notice the phrase unique.  Repetitive content is as destructive to SEO as no content at all.  In the world of SEO each page of your site is an entity all its own and is indexed and ranked separately.  Duplicate content actually decreases the ranking of each page and therefore of your site overall.

Descriptive URLs

Search engines won’t find your great content without descriptive URLs.  It certainly is tempting to use a URL like www.yoursite/homepage when designing a site but this practice is terrible for SEO.  Dynamic URLs should be avoided too since web crawlers can’t navigate around cookies.

Make your URLs friendly for search engines by keeping them under 65 characters and giving them the same unique attention as your content.  Consider using keywords, your brand, or other unique wording for each URL on your site.  Isn’t www.yoursite/Home-of-Your-Brand much more original and ultimately SEO friendly?

How Dense Are Your Keywords?

Keywords are a good thing.  The search engine uses them to determine the relevance of your page compared to a query.  The words and phrases you select as keywords should be tied to the likely words and phrases people will use when searching for your site.

Keyword density and placement are very important to SEO.  Where do you need keywords?

  • Title Tag
  •  URL if possible
  • Main Heading (H1 or H2)
  • The first paragraph of content
  • Another two or three places in the content

Be careful, though.  It’s possible to get too much of a good thing.  Search engines look at keyword density and also the natural flow of the page.  If you pack the page with keywords or use keywords in strange ways that just don’t make sense, your page and your site are likely to be penalized.

Is Your Site Flashy?

There’s a fine line between creativity and visual appeal and search engine optimization.  While the eye might like splash pages and lots of Flash heavy content, web crawlers do not.  If your homepage is a splash page with a link to “enter here” you may want to rethink things.  Search engine spiders can’t read text embedded in Flash or other images.  Since they can’t read it they can’t follow the link and index the content that lies behind it.

A little visual appeal is a good thing.   Flash navigation buttons, splash pages, and text imbedded in images and graphics is a not.

Links and Anchor Text

Web crawlers use links to navigate to additional pages to index them.  If you want the crawler to review each page on your site create internal linking to help them along.  Internal links are hyperlinks inserted into anchor text in the content of one page with another.  They help both your visitors and the search engine explore your entire site.

Let’s discuss anchor text.  Ever noticed “Click here” or “Learn More” at the bottom of every page of a site?  This might make logical sense but it is a poor practice for SEO.  The anchor text used becomes a searchable keyword for that link.  Unless you want to rank high in “Learn More” you will avoid these phrases and instead select keywords or relevant natural phrases within the content as anchor text.

Internal links are important to your site, but they are nowhere near as important as back links.  Back links are incoming links that direct users to a page on your site from a completely different site altogether.  They are powerful because they signify relevance and importance to search engines.

While you can’t control back links, there are some things you can include in your web design that encourage them.  Add social media buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn to encourage incoming links.  Provide link worthy content in a blog or newsletter.




10 Top Marketing Strategies for Solar Companies

Marketing is an uphill battle for solar companies.  While there is a lot of interest and excitement around solar alternatives in general, consumers are relatively resistant to making an investment in solar products.  Effective marketing must overcome the barriers of cost, reliability, complexity, and fear to convert interest into revenue.

Let’s look at how to use the top 10 marketing strategies to address these barriers and create marketing success for your solar company.

1.      Website Development – Solar products are perceived as complex by the general public.  This complexity barrier makes an intuitive, user friendly website crucial to your marketing success.  Keep it simple by offering clear navigation options, layman’s language, easy to follow graphics.

 2.      Blogging – Consumers are looking for information to ease their concerns and motivate them to action.  Providing a compelling blog communicates your message and engages the consumer in your mission.  Consider outsourcing your blog efforts.  Rank Up, a service we offer at MSI, adds a custom Word Press blog to your site and provides regular content with your target audience in mind.

 3.      SEO – Solar products are a hot search topic.  Aligning your keywords and content with the most frequent searches is a winning strategy.  Use natural keywords rather than scientific terminology.  Use your site’s content and video to explain solar alternatives and address reliability concerns.

 4.      Email Marketing – Email marketing, done properly, can overcome consumer inertia.  Consider sending an informative email to a targeted customer list or a thank you email to environmental advocates.

 5.      Paid Search – Google and Facebook offer advertising in a variety of paid search options.  You can offer a promotional discount, sponsor additional links within your listing, or advertise your products through images and present product information directly on the listing page.  This strategy generates qualified leads by giving the consumer information immediately and motivating them to take action.

 6.      Social Media – This is the age of social media.  Environmental issue fan pages are alive with social media activity.  You can leverage this excitement by getting involved.  Offer content and promotions that support the interests of these groups.  Provide links and social media buttons on your site to encourage consumers to engage and connect.

 7.      Direct Mail – Buying solar leads for direct mail campaigns is a good investment.  This warm list can provide solid results when you focus your message to their interests and demographic.  Be sure to include a compelling call to action they can’t resist.

 8.      PR Campaigns – The public is hungry for information about solar products.  The media is open to press releases and PR efforts related to your products.  Use this to educate consumers and establish your company as an industry leader.

 9.      Guerrilla Marketing – What is guerrilla marketing?  It’s using the media in an organic way to market your company.  Things like sponsoring an alternative energy event in your community, donating solar products to a charity or non-profit, or even sponsoring a sports team or local activity establish your company in the public arena and help develop trust between you and the consumer.  Good will media coverage that includes your company provides effective marketing with a low investment.

 10.  Information Products – Don’t overlook information products in your marketing strategy.  You are probably already familiar with case studies and white papers.  While these are effective, balance them with ebooks, webinars and videos designed to reach an average audience.  Highlight the benefits of solar products to the environment or the ease of use.  Overcome the barriers of cost or reliability by giving compelling information anyone can understand comparing solar products with more traditional options.



Fresh Content – The SEO Trump Card

Wondering why your website visitor traffic isn’t what it used to be?  You built a great website with keywords that target your potential customer base and you’ve launched a solid link building campaign.  Traffic to your site should be steadily increasing, but instead you’ve reached a type of plateau.

You need an infusion of fresh content to propel your site forward.  Without fresh content your site becomes stale to visitors and correspondingly stale to search engines.  In the changing world of SEO, success is driven by a great content marketing plan to keep your site current, relevant, and highly ranked.

Great Informational Content – Articles and Blog Posts

Hopefully your organization has a blog associated with your website.  A blog is a great way to provide quality informational content that not only draws in and engages your visitors but draws the attention of search engines to improve your SEO.

Blogging provides the long tail keywords that will draw a higher level of visitor to your site.  Phrases such as “comfortable women’s all season hiking boots” target consumers looking for a product for a specific purpose, a more focused group than those searching “women’s boots” for example.  Consumers using long tail keywords are statistically further along in the buying cycle than general visitors.

Blogs are updated frequently providing fresh content that draws search engines to index additional pages of your site.  The frequency of your posts is relevant to SEO too.  Sites with a regular cadence of updates rank higher than those with infrequent changes.

Articles and blogs are social media favorites.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn love this type of fresh informational content because it gives people a reason to engage, share and comment.  Shared links, tweets, and comments all drive traffic to your site and improve your SEO ranking.

Regularly Updated Page Content

Each page of your website is ranked individually by search engines.  Fresh content on each page of your site is a powerful way to improve your SEO ranking and maintain the effectiveness of the site itself.

Search engines evaluate the changes you make to your site.  Sites are ranked not only by the percentage of fresh content but also by the importance of that content and the frequency of changes and additions.  Changing your navigation panes or adding a document for download on a sidebar is not as valuable as creating new content for the main body of a page.

Some organizations update one or two pages on a site, primarily the home page, and allow the remaining content to stagnate.  This strategy will not yield the best results.  Instead, look for ways to switch up the content on each page of your site at regular intervals.

Changing content allows you to vary the anchor text, add a variety of long tail keywords, and target different members of your target audience.  All of these factors help you optimize your page with the search engines.

A Content Management Strategy for Your Website

Fresh content is the SEO trump card leading to the consistent SEO growth that keeps your business moving forward.  The key to fresh content is implementing a targeted and defined  content management strategy.

Your content management strategy should include a plan to create new pages for your website, update main body text on existing pages, and post videos, articles and blog posts regularly.   Encourage comments on your blog posts and reply to them.  Ask for customer product reviews.

Fresh Content and Your Audience

Remember your target audience in the process of creating fresh content.  After all, driving visitors to your site is not an advantage unless they spend time reviewing the material you provide and ultimately make decisions that build revenue.  Consider the audience as a part of your content management strategy.

Make sure you provide content keeps your visitors coming back to see the latest post, article, or offering.  Use your content to establish your authority in your industry or niche.  Build trust with your target audience and establish your organization as a leader in your industry by providing content your visitors can use immediately.  This focus will drive returning traffic to your site and ultimately increase your importance to search engines and social media sites.



The Future of US Mail

The debate and discussions on the future of US mail has been in the news for the past few years. No one seems to know exactly what direction it will take. Some extreme pessimists see the United States Postal Service completely going under in just a matter of time. While others, brightly optimistic, see it continuing to exist as it has.

Admittedly, with the rise in postal prices and the extension of delivery times, along with the continual debt the postal service is accumulating, it does look less than happy for US mail. However, the USPS has existed since Benjamin Franklin proposed its establishment in the 1700s, and it has continued to morph from the Pony Express to delivering nearly a quarter of the world’s mail. And all right here in the United States. If the US mail can survive the changes that over three centuries has brought, there is still hope that the US mail can continue to have a future.

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