Filter: Marketing

Taxonomy for design & Why Use It on Your Site?

What is taxonomy? It is vital if you are in the middle of a site design or redesign, and provides a method of organization so there is no frustration when organizing it.

You want your visitors to not only find what they are looking for quickly, but you want them to linger a while and explore your site. And, if you have a lot of content, you’ll want to be able to find it easily. Your site’s success – or lack thereof – sits on the foundation of its organization.

Taxonomy: An Organizational Method

So, what is taxonomy and how can it help get you better organized?

Taxonomy is a hierarchical structure for the classification or organization of data that enables websites to be categorized according to topics and types, enabling easy information retrieval.

To me, the most beneficial aspect of taxonomy is that is reduces manual content management. It allows you to dynamically retrieve and display anything on a page based on enabled tags or structured fields within your content. Taxonomy gives you the opportunity to balance the page’s content with other relevant information.

How Does Taxonomy Work?

Logistically, the way it works is that you are making content load dynamically when a page is accessed by programming a search on any number of taxonomy tags or other fields within your content block or page.

No doubt, you’ve seen this, but haven’t recognized what was going on behind the scenes. Amazon’s site includes taxonomy-driven content publishing. Whenever you log in and go to a page of interest, notice how when you scroll down a little you’ll see a section telling you other customers who bought this bought that, too. Or, it will show you what you should buy today based on what you bought yesterday.

Another example can be found at online news services, such as Reuters. If you’ve ever signed up with one, you’ve been given the opportunity to personalize your experience by your unique interests. That way, you don’t have to waste your time scrolling through hours of news you’re not interested in. As soon as you log in, you get to see what matters to you.

Some taxonomy sites allow the visitor to interact and filter in ways I just mentioned. But, other sites don’t require user interaction at all. You can also develop a site with only a little user interaction.

 Taxonomy Considerations

If your site has proper taxonomy, you will be able to bridge across subjects, and better manage and often reuse your content – at scale. Of course, it will assist with effective navigation and will, ultimately, provide a better product and brand alignment. At the end of the day, it will improve SEO and findability, and even support social sharing.

When creating a sound taxonomy, the first few things to consider is its projected longevity and flexibility. This means thinking ahead to what your site might become – what additions might occur down the road. You’ll also want to think from the perspective of what terms your visitors might use and what structure will help support your business goals and help your content perform optimally. And, don’t forget to understand the scope of your project. Taxonomies can easily get out of hand.

To develop the scope of your taxonomy, imagine a Venn Diagram. The taxonomy lies at the intersection of your business context (or purpose), content and users – which are your target audience.

The Benefits of Structuring Your Own Taxonomy

Taxonomy can be a huge boon for your website. However, equally clear is that this is not something that can be built overnight. It requires strong input from both your multi-disciplined team and from your users. You have to thoroughly understand your target audience and have a good grasp on how they think. After all, you’re creating something that should be almost intuitive.

Taxonomy requires vision and commitment to plan and execute. Many companies don’t bother to standardize data definitions. Yes, it takes real time to properly define your data. But, the many benefits of having a taxonomy structure under your site are huge. Not only for your users but for your team. The many, many ways you can utilize such a structure are endless.

As you can understand, developing a taxonomy can be quite daunting.  GlobalDirective can assist your team to structure your data.  Because we have been placed in the 97-percentile of Google partners, we’re not just doing a few things right, we’re doing most everything right. Allow us to show you how to achieve real success.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Understanding and Marketing to Generation Z

The year 2080 will be the start of a time in our history which will be unlike any in recorded history. There will no longer be an age group that outnumbers another. That changes everything. And, though 2080 is pretty far down the road, those changes have already begun – with Generation Z.

When I first heard of Generation Z, I thought it was just another generational group characterized by its own set of idiosyncrasies resulting from its very existence and place in history. And, in a sense, it is. But, it very well could be something more.

All other generations, from Depression Era, to WWII, to Boomers, Generation X, and then Millennials each fell into a specific age group. All were born at definite times which shaped who they became and how they viewed the world and their place in it. That, in turn, dictated how we could best advertise and market to them.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z is not completely characterized by one age group; though, it could be. Most notably, it is characterized by a mindset. If we were to give it a birth time, it would be between 1995 and 2005. But, since Gen Z is a group whose members all use new technology, hyperconnectivity and collaboration to drive change through innovation, it is said anyone can be a part of this group, no matter their age.

The new philosophy behind Gen Z is to get rid of negative generational stereotypes and put the focus on working with technology and each other to make great strides in the world in which we live and work.

There are a few main philosophies which are the driving force behind Gen Z. This should be our focus as we interact and engage with them.

  • Instead of relegating people to generational boxes, the thought is to amalgamate everyone’s good traits or abilities to create a cohesive team.
  • Hyperconnecting means everyone has the same opportunity to access the same information from the Internet. And because anyone can be connected, anyone can learn and develop skills.
  • Influence – and not affluence – is the new power. This influence is wrought from a strong personal brand.
  • Gen Z believes you can hack through anything – breaking tradition and changing the rules – to get anything they want. The term coined for this is Lifehacking.

How Do We Appeal To GenZ?

Gen Zers have a very limited span of attention. It is said to be 6-8 seconds. Yes. Seconds. But, because they are so fast-paced, and have been bombarded with so much since birth, they have decidedly highly-selective filters. If they like what you offer, they are committed. And, as with Millennials, they are far more concerned with relationships and engagement than they are with any other type of marketing activity. So, you’ll want to focus your efforts on connection points and creating those relationships, in tandem with usual marketing efforts.

And, as is with Millennials, social media is pivotal in the lives of Gen Zers. In fact, 40% say social media impacts their happiness. So, make them feel good about themselves.
Because Gen Zers have grown up in such a corrupt world, they intensely desire to make a real difference. Create campaigns that show you care about your brand’s impact. Show you care about more than just your bottom line. Tell the story about how your brand impacts the greater good.

If you connect with them and are real with them, and if you can prove that you care about them and the world we all share, you will have shot at getting GenZ to love you, buy from you, and amplify your message throughout their social media stratosphere.

Materials To Help You Get Started

As with any target market, research is paramount to your success.  Be sure that you segment your market appropriately, understand what appeals to them, and how and when to best reach them.  Consumers are early 60% of the way through the purchase process before they ever engage with sales so knowing how to disrupt their thinking and attract their attention, no matter what generation they are from, should be an important part of your plan.  At GlobalDirective, we have an eBook on Persona Based Marketing that can help you get started with painting the right picture of your GenZ market.

It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

link building

Link Building 101: What You Need to Know to Get Started

“If you build it they will come”.  Kevin Costner will live on forever because he uttered those words in the movie Field of Dreams in 1989.  While it may still be true for a lot of things, it’s a dangerous philosophy to run your online business by.  In order to be successful, websites need more than to simply be built.  They need compelling content, a functional design, personalized user experiences, and need to be user friendly. They also need traffic.  Link building is one of the most important ways to help drive traffic to your website.  Not only that, but quality inbound links help increase your search ranking.  Let’s talk about why link building is important and how you can get started on increasing your links today.

Link Building: What is it and why is it important?

Before we get into why link building is important, let’s make sure that we all know what it is.  Link building is when you acquire links from other websites into your website.  It’s one way of driving traffic to your website. There is no one way to build links.  It’s a difficult and complex process and one that SEO professionals agree is the hardest part of their jobs.  You could spend hours trying to master the art of link building and if you’re successful at generating high-quality links, it can truly put you ahead of your competition.

Link building continues to be one of the many factors that Google and other search engines consider when ranking search results.  We don’t know how many you need to rank above the competition; we just know that you need them.  Google isn’t denying that links are a major factor in ranking.  They recently revealed that content, links pointing to your site and RankBrain (their artificial intelligence system) are the three most important signals contributing to the result of a search query.  These are not the only things that determine your ranking but they are what Google considers to be the top 3.  If that’s not reason enough to learn more about link building and to make sure you’re doing it right, I don’t know what is.
Link building doesn’t just make Google and the search engines happy.  It’s also good for business.  It involves reaching out to other relevant websites and blogs in your industry. This outreach can help you build long-term relationships with key influencers in your industry, and these relationships can mean that your brand becomes highly regarded and trusted.

Building a Link Building Campaign

There are white hat, grey hat, and black hat tactics that companies can use to help drive links back to their website.  White hat techniques are considered ethical SEO.  Black hat SEO refers to aggressive tactics that are implemented only to impress or trick search engines—not humans.  Grey hat tactics are those that fall somewhere in between.  So how can you gain/earn links to start a link building campaign?  First, let’s look at some things not to do:

  • Ask for links.  You can’t just call up a website and ask them to link to your website.  You need to offer something of value to their visitors.
  • Buying links.  If nothing else stay as far away from this temptation as possible.  If you’re caught using this black hat tactic you could be penalized by Google.
  • Cloaking.  This is when you show search engines different content than what you serve up to your users.
  • Link farms. This is when a group of websites get together and decide that they are all going to link to each other.
  • Buying expired domains. While this is considered more of a grey hat tactic, we still wouldn’t recommend it.  Companies who employ this tactic have a watch list of domains that are about to expire.  When the domain does expire they immediately buy the domain and replace the pages with links to their website.

While these are just a few of the link building tactics to stay away from they are some of the more popular ones that companies fall victim to.  Moving on.  Let’s review a few of the white hat approaches to building credible, authoritative links to your website.

  • Reviews and testimonials: Acquiring reviews and testimonials about your business has tremendous business impact in building good online sentiment and serves as a referral source for future business.  It also helps in your link building strategy.   Testimonials and reviews offer a great opportunity for you to get a backlink and potential traffic from the review sites that your customers leave reviews on.
  • Blogs: Consistent, frequent and industry specific blogs that focus on satisfying your customer’s needs will, over time, gain authority.  Once you have done this, other bloggers, websites and businesses will want to link to your blog.  Don’t just blog on your own site.  Reach out to other industry influencers to see if you can establish a content partnership where you each guest blog on their others site.  Guest blogging is a great way to get backlinks and increase search ranking.
  •  Link baiting: When you create content that that encourages people to link to your page from another website you have participated in link baiting.
  • Web directory linking: The best directories to participate in are the ones that also provide useful information for your potential customers.

Getting Started

Remember, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.  As with most SEO strategies, link building takes time—and a lot of knowledge.

The benefits of a successful link building program include not just increased SEO but also greater visibility online, more traffic being driven to your website, and an increase in brand awareness.  Thanks to Google algorithms and other search engine changes, the link building world is changing rapidly.  Now is the time to get on board with this growing form of marketing.

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

4 Secrets To Achieving Affiliate Marketing Success

The incredible rise of the Internet has led to the expansion of online affiliate marketing programs as a major revenue stream for merchants, publishers and marketers. A successful affiliate marketing program offers a low-cost method of spreading the word and showcasing the right products and services to the right audience. The first online affiliate marketing program was started in the early nineties by small businesses such as PC Flowers & Gifts, AutoWeb.com, and KB Toys. Amazon was the first big online merchant to offer an affiliate program. From its rather humble beginnings, the affiliate industry has grown to a staggering $4.5 billion this year. With more customers increasingly carrying out their research and shopping online, affiliate marketing is now a popular acquisition channel for businesses, big and small. According to Forrester Research, shoppers in the US from an affiliate site are likely to spend slightly more than other online channels.

What Does Affiliate Marketing Mean?
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing technique, wherein affiliates or partners are financially rewarded for driving traffic to another site for purchasing goods or services. There are 3 main players in affiliate marketing:

  • The advertiser: In the world of affiliate marketing, an advertiser can be a company selling a product such as home appliances, concert tickets, shoes or web hosting services. The most important thing to remember is that if you are ready to pay other people to help you sell and promote your business, then you are an advertiser.
  • The publisher: A publisher promotes an advertiser’s product or service in exchange for earning a fee. Advertisers provide the publisher with creative – in the form of links, banner or text ads or even unique phone numbers – that the publisher incorporates into their website.
  • The consumer: The consumer is the one who actually sees the ad and then takes action.  Typically the consumer is asked to fill out a form or click on a link.  Regardless, once they take that action they are said to have converted and they leave the publisher’s site and are taken to the advertiser’s site.

Anyone with a website, blog, or other online property, can earn money through affiliate marketing. Affiliates can write a post about specific products or services, place a button or banner ad on their site, set a squeeze page to build an email list, promote affiliate products through newsletters or even write posts on social media platforms. A special affiliate link to the product or service is usually included to allow followers to check out the product or services for themselves so that they can easily make a purchasing decision.

Brands can reach new audiences and capture geographically or culturally inaccessible markets by harnessing the power of publishing affiliates. It has a much better return-on-investment than other digital channels in acquisition of new customers. The affiliate marketing channel works on a commission-based referral system, where the advertiser pays the affiliate partners based on delivered results like sales, pay-per-lead, pay-per-action or pay-per-click.

4 Strategies Your Business Should Adopt For Affiliate Marketing Success
An effective affiliate program allows businesses to improve their exposure to the market faster for little capital outlay. It is an attractive proposition for brands because money is only paid if the channel drives any business to the advertiser. Affiliate marketing programs do require time and effort to build and it comes with its own challenges; however, it can be a worthwhile financial investment.  Here are 4 affiliate marketing strategies your business should implement to ensure the greatest level of value.

1. Find Large Network Of Diverse Affiliates

Getting started on setting up an affiliate program is easy but the real challenge is finding good quality affiliates or partners to drive new consumers to your business. Do your market research to find partners or sites with built-in traffic interested in your offerings or take advantage of audience engagement in top affiliates in the cashback and voucher space such as Retailmenot or Ebates. Many brands make the mistake of being reliant on only a few affiliates.  This is a risky strategy because traffic is likely to be limited and advertisers will see steadily lower response rates from the same traffic. Brands will not gain any real competitive edge by aligning with only a few super affiliates because they are likely to be promoting your competitor’s products or services as well.  Sticking to a few key partners can also put your sales at risk.  It’s not uncommon for top affiliates have to suddenly stop promoting your product/service due to an exclusive deal with a competitor or change in industry regulations.

Brands should instead look to work with a large network of quality and reliable affiliates for an increasing level of sales. It is wise to spend time and resources on continually recruiting and optimizing affiliates based on performance.  Follow a clear planning strategy in detecting gaps within the type of affiliates needed (bloggers, content, cashback) or generic content areas (sports, Christmas, Presidential election) and preferred verticals.

2. Commit To Effective Communication

To run a successful affiliate program, you have to communicate clearly and consistently with affiliates. Affiliates sort through hundreds of emails each day from different affiliate programs. In order to get noticed, you must make sure your communications are direct, targeted and personalized. Instead of blanket-emails, you must tailor your communications by segmenting and profiling your affiliates. You will get the best responses by using multiple communication channels, including email, chat, and forums.  To keep growing the channel, you need to effectively answer any questions your current affiliates may have and also look at ways of recruiting new affiliates. Remember, the affiliates have direct access to your target audience; take advantage of this by asking them questions in order to get more accurate feedback about your business.

3. Provide Tools and Resources

Affiliates may be skilled at marketing your products, but they are bound to fail if they do not have the necessary tools and resources needed to be successful. Affiliates are actively looking to promote your product in an attractive and appealing way for your customers in order to improve the conversion rate. To do this well they need access to media and information. You must support your affiliates in promoting your brand better by providing them with relevant and quality materials including video, content, press releases, product feeds, and more. Keep updating fresh and new creative content for your affiliates and make sure it aligns with your overall digital marketing campaigns. Also offer your affiliates regular tips and advice on how to successfully market your products so that they can increase conversions and further benefit everyone involved. We’re all in this to be profitable.  Affiliates are more likely to promote your products or services if they can earn more from your site.

4. Invest In The Right Affiliate Management Technology

All affiliate management solutions are not made equal in capabilities so your business has to choose the right technology depending on your specific needs. Solutions should ideally address potential pain points and also be intuitive and easy to use.  Even basic affiliate programs need advanced and robust solutions to track sales accurately and to deliver a cost-effective ROI. Good program management solutions should automate core processes like tracking, reporting, and payment of affiliates. It will also provide vital data insights into what seems to be working well and what needs to be optimized. Analytics is incredibly important in estimating the true value of an affiliate. Even though the last click may be driven by a different channel, there is value in affiliates that help push customers higher up the sales funnel. It is important to recognize and work with such partners for affiliate marketing success.

Convert With Affiliate Marketing
An effective affiliate marketing channel acts as part of the path to conversion. While there is no plug-and-play solution for affiliate marketing success, following the above mentioned principles will help advertisers find value in the right affiliates. Remember that persistence, patience, and knowledge pays well in the long road to creating a market-leading affiliate program.

benefits of affiliate marketing

Understanding the Role and the Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing gets a bad rap many should know the benefits of affiliate marketing. Some people think it’s a business strategy that empowers robot-crawling ads to surreptitiously mine people’s Internet history through the placement of annoying banner ads. In actuality, affiliate marketing is transparent and so well regarded that millions of people use it to make money and help consumers find the products they’re looking for.

According to the most recent AffStat Report, 51.3 percent of affiliate marketers earn anywhere from $5,000 to more than $500,000.

In order to understand how affiliate marketing helps people make money, it’s important to know what it actually does.

Independent publishers, known as “affiliates,” act as an outsourced digital-sales team and can include anything from a personal blog to a large product-reviews website. Affiliates make money by setting up clickable ads on their websites that lead customers to the main business network. If consumers are successfully converted, affiliates claim commissions through predetermined flat or value-based rates for each lead.

Why Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliate marketing is successful because it tracks the revenue growth of each lead through data. One of the main criteria for successfully converting leads is to create accurate ad targets. Accurate ads are those that are more likely to incite readers to click on them and buy the product.

Think of a highly trafficked U.S., news website: Most news sites make money through direct advertising (ads they sell themselves), affiliated marketing (ads placed through a network) and subscriptions. Big websites might have their own sales staff but also incorporate affiliate marketing, with ad prices based on the varying value the network assigns to demand levels, size, and audience type. Commissions for leads, obviously, are also based on these criteria.

For example, well-educated readers from a high-income bracket are assigned high lead values because they’re more likely to have disposable income and a desire to buy products. The ad network distinguishes these customers through user-tracking technology (like cookies) and assigns ads to appropriate affiliate websites.

This ability to distinguish targets is what makes the business model so attractive, says Crystal Lopez, Lunarpages’ manager of affiliate marketing.

“Having hundreds or thousands of affiliates promote your brand over the ever-growing Internet can reach more of an audience than a company just running their normal marketing efforts,” she says.

Lunarpages uses its own affiliate-marketing program to promote its products, on top of traditional marketing efforts. Lopez says the company reaches its biggest audience through affiliates, which allows Lunarpages to connect with “hundreds and thousands of individual blogs, forums, email, PPC and the like.”

Not All Affiliate Marketing Is Created Equal

While different affiliate networks can make money for their smaller affiliate partners, not all networks are the same. Choosing the right network is a critical decision that should be made thoughtfully.

Lopez says that giving an affiliate a quality brand or service to promote as well as a choice of options of “banners, links, landing pages [and] coupons,” is very important for potential affiliates.

“If you give an affiliate something they can’t sell because it’s low in quality, or only a few banners to use, and high pricing, they will probably not sign up for your program or will leave shortly after seeing no results,” she says.

That’s why Lunarpages offers a variety of options in its affiliate program.

The expectation of quality service also extends to the business relationship between the affiliate network and the publishers. Lunarpages offers the benefits of affiliate marketing by cultivates a direct, one-on-one connection with affiliate partners that has led to increases in promotions, ranking and sales.

“There is a large percentage now of conversions from clicks due to the increased efforts of our affiliate partners and affiliate-department staff,” she says.

Lopez also says Lunarpages is competitive in the marketplace because its hosting services offer high-commission payout opportunities. The company’s dozens of banners, links and network partnerships mean affiliates can make up to $300 per referral in the program.

Some of the features of the program include varying levels of commissions, including uncapped and multilevel commissions. Lunarpages’ commission table helps potential affiliates decide how much they could make through sales. For example, a starter-hosting program between one and three sales per month can lead to $20 a month in revenue, while a business-hosting program can pay $125 for the same number of sales, primarily because the value of each sale at that point is much larger.

Advanced tracking and reporting tools are also important. Lunarpages tracks affiliate sales through cookies that don’t expire unless they’re overwritten, Lopez says. This means Lunarpages can determine how many visitors arrived on an affiliate website via different campaigns, even within the same session, which is a huge advantage for affiliate marketers.

“In the case when the visitor leaves the site but comes back later to purchase the product, [it gives] the affiliate credit for the sale,” Lopez adds.

A successful marketing strategy depends on the effort and the practical marketing knowledge of the affiliate itself. For example, Lopez says affiliates that use good keywords to properly match their content with their ad business will make the user experience of clicking through an ad for a product way more accurate.

As the benefits of affiliate marketing business’s grows dramatically year after year, it’s important to keep the engines running bug-free. So far, it’s full steam ahead for the Lunarpages affiliate marketing program.

[image: vaeenma/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]