NVI celebrates 7 successful years with a new office launch party

Last night, Thursday September 20, nvi welcomed clients and key contributors into their brand new office space located at 4200 St Laurent, with a special guest speaker from Google.

Montreal – September 21, 2012 – nvi, Canada’s leading digital performance agency invited clients and key contributors to come celebrate 7 years of success during their new office launch party. Held on the 7th floor of 4200 St Laurent, it was the perfect occasion to discover the creative space where the nvi team has been working away for the last few weeks. During the Happy Hour event, guests had the chance to attend a joint conference presented by nvi’s CEO, Guillaume Bouchard, and the Managing Director of Google Québec, Nicolas Darveau-Garneau. The conference covered current challenges in digital performance with insights into what’s ahead for the digital industry.

nvi’s offices have been a reflection of where nvi is as a company. As clients, staff and services portfolios have grown, so have the physical surroundings. In 2004, Guillaume Bouchard and Simon Rouillier started the company as part of a final year project for school. nvi’s first “office” was a crammed apartment on Marie-Anne street. Next came a slightly bigger semi-basement apartment on Pie IX Boulevard. Just before the most recent move, nvi was located in a loft on 55 Mont-Royal West. Today, nvi has made a staggering step up to 10,000 square feet of state of the art open space. Now residing on the Main, the new office is designed to promote the collaborative, collective energy of the team. Without compromising the bold and passionate spirit that nvi was founded on, nvihas evolved with every move, taking on bigger, more complex challenges and serving a growing portfolio of tier-1 clients.

“The leaders of the company chose to invest in new premises in order to bolster our talents’ creativity; to allow them to work in a modern and inspiring physical space that makes them excited to go above and beyond for our customers,” says Guillaume Bouchard, co-founder and CEO of nvi. In addition, nvi was recently ranked third among Quebec’s fast growing companies (38th in Canada) by L’Actualité and Profit 200.

4200 St-Laurent new offices

4200 St Laurent, suite 701 Conference rooms are all named after nvi addresses through time nvi’s mission is centered on the ingenuity of its web marketing strategies and the collective energy of its employees to offer the best return on investment to its clients. nvihelps clients define goals and measure their actions. By doing so, nvi aims to find the optimal solutions for exceeding its clients’ performance expectations in a relationship that is founded on each other’s success. nvi builds a culture of performance based on a desire to excel and execute strategies in an intelligent way.

About nvi

nvi is a full service digital marketing agency with offices in Montreal and Toronto. nvileverages internal tools, broad experience and a diversified staff of experts to serve their customers. All services are rendered in a perfectly bilingual environment. Known for its resourcefulness, nvi has the ability to execute strategic plans that are performance-centric. nvi relies on the ingenuity of its digital marketing strategies and the collective energy of its employees to offer the best return on investment to its customers.

– 30 –

For more information and/or interview requests, contact:

Benoit Chiasson
nvi
 Vice President of Marketing
514-524-7149 # 241
bchiasson@nvisolutions.com

www.nvisolutions.com

NVI supports the efforts of Sun Youth (Jeunesse au Soleil) in helping the community

nvi, the digital performance agency has recently donated ten refurbished laptops to Sun Youth, a Montreal non-profit organization.

nvi has been working with the latest technologies to achieve performance objectives for digital customers since its founding. However, access to technology and equipment is not available for everyone. Therefore, nvi has reached out to Sun Youth to offer them ten fully refurbished laptops. Donated just before back to school, these computers are, among others things, available to children enrolled in the homework program (see photo). “We are very happy and grateful to be able to have a positive impact on our community and contribute in our own way, to support motivation in academic achievement while being environmentally and socially responsible,” says Guillaume Bouchard, President at nvi.

Children are enjoying the laptops

“Your donation will allow us to have better technological resources, which ultimately, allow us to provide better services to people we help. Your gift could not come at a better time,” says Johanne Saltarelli assistant to the executive director and director of the Sun Youth camp.

About SunYouth (Jeunesse au Soleil)
A local non-profit social organization in Montreal, Sun Youth helps the community by providing aid to individuals in need. The organization mission is to serve low income families, people with special needs as well as citizens of all ages, ethnic origins and religious beliefs, without discrimination.

About nvi
nvi is a full service digital marketing agency with offices in Montreal and Toronto. nvi leverages internal tools, broad experience and a diversified staff of experts to serve their customers.  All services are rendered in a perfectly bilingual environment. Known for its resourcefulness, nvi has the ability to execute strategic plans that are performance-centric. nvi relies on the ingenuity of its digital marketing strategies and the collective energy of its employees to offer the best return on investment to its customers.

– 30 –

For more info, contact
Benoit Chiasson
VP marketing and sales
4200 St-Laurent blvd, suite 701
Montreal, Qc. H2W 2R2
514-524-7149 # 241
bchiasson@nvisolutions.com

www.nvisolutions.com

NVI ranks 38th among Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies, by PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success

Montreal — June 4, 2012 —NVI, the leading SEO and digital marketing agency in Canada has once again ranked as one of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies with another top 50 performance. The complete rankings of the PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success are available online at www.profit200.ca.

“We are very excited to be nominated for a second consecutive year and to be first among digital agencies,” says Guillaume Bouchard, CEO of NVI. “We attribute our growth and success to our values of performance, ingenuity and collective energy and to a team that’s bright and talented.” Indeed, in just over 5 years, NVI has evolved from a start-up web design company to one of the major digital marketing agencies in Canada.

NVI’s mission is centered on the ingenuity of its web marketing strategies and the collective energy of its employees to offer the best return on investment to its clients. NVI helps clients define goals and measure their actions. By doing so, NVI aims to find the optimal solutions for exceeding its clients’ performance expectations in a relationship that is founded on each other’s success. NVI builds a culture of performance based on a desire to excel and execute strategies in an intelligent way.

PROFIT 200 Ranking

Ranking Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies by five-year revenue growth, the PROFIT 200 profiles the country’s most successful growth companies. Published in the Summer issue of PROFIT and online at PROFITguide.com, the PROFIT 200 is Canada’s largest annual celebration of entrepreneurial achievement.

“The PROFIT 200 companies are an inspiration to Canadian entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs,” says Ian Portsmouth, Editor-in-Chief of PROFIT Magazine. “PROFIT is proud to celebrate the success of these businesspeople, who, despite a challenging economy, have achieved outstanding success in a wide variety of fields.”

About PROFIT Magazine

PROFIT: Your Guide to Business Success is Canada’s preeminent publication dedicated to the management issues and opportunities facing small and mid-sized businesses. For 30 years, Canadian entrepreneurs and senior managers across a vast array of economic sectors have remained loyal to PROFIT because it’s a timely and reliable source of actionable information that helps them achieve business success and get the recognition they deserve for generating positive economic and social change. Visit PROFIT online at PROFITguide.com.

About NVI

NVI is a full service digital marketing agency with offices in Montreal and Toronto. NVI leverages internal tools, broad experience and diversified staff of experts to serve their customers. Known for its resourcefulness, NVI has the ability to execute strategic plans that are performance-centric. NVI relies on the ingenuity of its web marketing strategies and the collective energy of its employees to offer the best return on investment to its customers.

– 30 –

Contact

Benoit Chiasson,
VP marketing and sales
4200 boul. St-Laurent, suite 701
Montréal, Qc. H2W 2R2
514-524-7149 # 241
bchiasson@nvisolutions.com

www.nvisolutions.com

Google I/O 2012

Every year, the  Google I/O developer conference becomes more and more popular.  Their famous Oprah-style giveaways certainly have something to do with the rising attendance, but for me, it’s really about the quality and quantity of talks that take place.

Tons of great new ideas, applications and concepts are demonstrated at Google I/O and if you’re a developer or simply love tech, it would be a shame not to take advantage of one of the 2 days left of the event that kicked off yesterday. For those who can’t attend the event in-person, Google I/O Extended allows you to livestream parts of Google I/Oevents from all over the world. Otherwise, you can always wait until the talks become available for free on YouTube, which should be in no time.

Google I/O Extended events are official  “viewing parties” that sometimes have their own extra talks before the viewing of the Google I/O keynote. For example, at the Montreal Google I/O Extended, there were 3 additional talks about Chrome development:

  • Chromium : Développement (French)
    Guidelines on how to add your own code to Chrome.
  • Outils de développement de Chrome (French)
    This talk demonstrated how after using Firebug for years, the default developer tool for Chrome surpassed it with its many features. If you ask me, this is the best web debugging system.
  • Chrome Extensions Best Practices
    At this talk, I learned best practices for maximum security when developing a Chrome add-on.

After those 3 sessions and a quick meal, it was time for the main event, the Google I/O 2012 Event. They unveiled so many great things, some of the highlights including:

Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean

  • Built to have the best speed performance
  • Add offline voice commands (don’t worry, it’s far from old “dumb phone” voice recongnition)
  • Better notification or, like they say, active notification with type specific functionalities.
  • Google Now is a new application that will, with time, learn to anticipate your needs. Say you’re a soccer fan (since we all have World Cup fever) and you’re always checking the scores for your favourite team, Google Now will learn your patterns and instantly give you score updates but also tell you when your team is playing next and even where to buy tickets to the game.

Google Q

Google Q’s hardware reminds me of some kind of mix between the Apple Air Port Express and Apple TV machine. With integrated speakers, and operating on a fully Cloud based system (buy a song or a movie with your computer or TV and it’s available anywhere), this seems to be a great contender to Apple TV and Air Port systems.

Nexus 7

Like the Nexus One or Nexus S, the Nexus 7 is the next official Google hardware machine. Besides being one hell of an amazing piece of hardware, it’s also only $199 ($209 Candian). A perfect size for reading a book, playing games, managing your life … you name it! And all for such a a small fee 

Are you going to buy one? I will for sure!! They’ll be available in Canada in a little less than a month.

Google + Events

Google+ is a nice platform for social sharing, but to be honest, I don’t use it that much. It’s not to say that it’s bad, but I’m so used to Facebook for all my social needs that I don’t see the point in using Google+. That changed today!!

Google+ Events is the perfect tool for creating and managing events. It takes care of the before, during and after the event. Creating an event is a breeze. It groups all the pictures of the event together and puts them into one easy accessible place that you can go back to once the event is done. Don’t take my word for it, check out this video :

Google Glass

What is Google Glass? It’s the new cool gadget in town. Still in it’s infancy stages, it acts as a sixth sense and provides extra information to the user about the world around them through a wearable Glass. For more info, check out this video:

Like the famous “one more thing” Apple does at almost every keynote, Google Glasswas showcased in its fully functional format and ended the event with a Bang!! We witnessed guys flying down from a plane, biking on a rooftop and then deepelling down the side of a building! Crazy stuff -watch below:

That was it for me for Google I/O 2012 in Montréal! Can’t wait to watch all of the talks and I hope you’ll do the same.

NVI Made A Search And Social Media Marketing Game For You

NVI is proud to share of our very first online holiday game!

A game created to add “freshness” to generic holiday print and e-cards, the NVI Xmas Rankerizer tests your web marketing skills through fast action plays, requiring quick reflexes,  precise hand/eye coordination and attention to detail. In true Social spirit, the Xmas Rankerizer is the perfect way heat up and unwind before the holidays begin.

Inspired by the classic county fair game, “whac-a-mole”, the NVI Xmas Rankerizer is an updated virtual game where the most trending search and social media icons, such as the Facebook Like, the Twitter bird, YouTube, Google’s +1, LinkedIn and the Google Panda, replace traditional media, err… moles.

Web marketers, bloggers and all you social media buffs out there… get ready to rev your game ranking engines! The player with the most points wins!

Don’t forget to publish your results on your social networks so that the competition gets fierce! Nothing like a little showboating right?

 

The game is compatible with mobile and iPad as well. Visit the NVI Xmas Rankerizer for more information and loads of fun!

Happy Holidays to all!

The NVI team

LinkedIn’s Guide To Maximizing Your Marketing Strategy

Members of NVI attended a LinkedIn seminar held at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal last week. Speakers at the event included Brian Church, the Country Manager at
LinkedIn Canada, Julie Howlett, LinkedIn Canada’s Account Director and Steve Watt, a Marketing Manager at LinkedIn.

The theme of the seminar was to present key LinkedIn marketing solutions to help businesses get the most out of LinkedIn. Up until recently, LinkedIn has been a service used by business professionals to put up their CVs, recruit people, and network.

Over the last year, it has expanded its services to organizations as well. LinkedIn is (finally) harnessing the power of its high-profile network to become a key B2B marketing tool that offers companies a valuable way to advertise, manage their professional identity, build strong business relationships and ultimately, get leads, revenue and conversions.

Why LinkedIn Makes Sense
1. #1 resource for career-minded professionals
2. Over 120 million members
3. Precise targeting by seniority, industry, job function and geography

If you’re kind of new to the concept of LinkedIn as a marketing tool let’s delve right into the 4 things you should do to maximize your LinkedIn marketing efforts.

1. Optimize your Company Page: utilize all of LinkedIn’s new Company page features to strengthen your presence on LinkedIn and online.
2. Get Recommendations: build a highly targeted network of followers and increase number of brand evangelists
3. Amplify your message: through “paid media” (LinkedIn Recommendation Ads for example) you can scale your message to boost your social capabilities
4. Analyze and Refine: Track progress and message strength using LinkedIn Analytics Tool

1. Optimize Your Company Page

Your Company Page is where LinkedIn members can discover more about your company and engage with your brand. From new job postings, products and services, new hires, recent Tweets, new blog posts, to user recommendations, this is where members can learn who you are, what you’re up to and “Recommend” you to others in their network. Recommendations are akin to “authority” Likes that can help drive traffic to your LinkedIn page, your website and increase engagement and buzz surrounding your brand, from highly targeted prospects in the LinkedIn network.

Products & Services Tab

The products and service tab gives you the opportunity to highlight all of your best products and services. You can add comprehensive descriptions for each p/s with relevant links back to product pages on your website. As LinkedIn already gets top rankings on the SERP it can be a great way to pass on page rank to your site.

Display Banners

You can create up to 3 different display banners for your products and services page with links in them. Since you are targeting business networks specifically, it’s an opportunity to get creative with your banner ads. For example, providing stats on the company’s performance, incentives to “Become a fan on Facebook” or
better yet, “Follow Us on LinkedIn”.

Video

Video can do a lot to enhance user experience on your products and services homepage. You can embed videos from YouTube, advertise services, show video tutorials, host contests, announce special offers (LinkedIn highly recommends providing special offers to members) and more.

Get Recommendations

LinkedIn’s recommendation engine is probably the most valuable new feature of its service update. Once you’ve set up your services page, LinkedIn sends you the coding to add a LinkedIn “Recommend” button on your business website.

Many companies have been seeing significant results by using the Recommendation Ads paid service. Recommendation ads help gain a critical mass of recommendations more quickly. You can define your target audiences and customize your message so it displays relevant content for up to 5 different audience segments.

LinkedIn says you should actively seek recommendations as part of all your customer communications.Through LinkedIn’s “request Recommendations” module, you can invite members to recommend products and services straight from your products and services tab.

Since recommendations are the most trusted form of marketing, getting recommendations from trusted peers is an active way of strengthening your brands reputation, and increasing your brand and products’ potential to spread virally throughout LinkedIn’s broad network of company pages and professionals ones.

Members will see what someone in their network said about you, and these badges of approval then appear on your LinkedIn company page, helping empower your brand’s authority and presence on the most widely-used business network.

Amplify Your Message

Case study: Hewlett-Packard
HP was looking to expand its social capabilities and reach to get both commercial clients and customers engaging about HP products and endorsing the brand. Utilizing LinkedIn’s company page module and running a paid campaign through Recommendation Ads the company saw unprecedented results in only 2 weeks.

The ads encouraged LinkedIn members to visit the HP Company Page on LinkedIn, recommend HP products and services, and share those recommendations with their network.

Results:
• 2,000 product recommendations in two weeks
• 20,000 new followers on HP Company Page
• 500,000 viral updates about HP products and services.

Analyze and Refine

The LinkedIn Analytics tab is only viewable to admins and shows you who is visiting your company page, what pages they viewed most, and how you fare in comparison to others in your industry. You can also refine your analysis to learn which industries, functions and companies make up your group of followers.

By tracking analytics and progress, you have the ability to learn which products are most popular, which don’t get enough traction, who your followers are and how you can improve your message to target new communities.

It will be interesting to see the evolution of LinkedIn’s B2B marketing services as more companies jump on the bandwagon. Since there are little to no other competitors doing what Linkedin is doing right now,  the recommendations engine could prove to be a highly useful tool for raising brand awareness, reputation, trust and loyalty. Applying LinkedIn as part of an integrated campaign seems like it has the potential to yield some pretty outstanding results.

Groupon & The Attack of the Group-Buying Clones

Groupon is the deal-of-the-day website that has captured the online shopping world by storm. Brainchild of Andrew Mason, Groupon officially launched in November 2008 and serviced the Chicago market finishing the year with 400 registered users.

 

Fast-forward to today and Groupon is 44 million users strong, services 500 cities in 46 countries across the globe and is on pace to make their first billion dollars faster than any other company in history.

For those of you unfamiliar with Groupon and how it works here’s a quick rundown: Groupon offers one daily coupon to every market they serve. These coupons offer a deal by local business’ within each market. Every deal has a minimum purchase requirement for the deal to come into effect but once met, the deal becomes 100% valid and can be redeemed. Groupon sends out daily coupon deal emails to all 44 million of its users which brings the visibility to every deal.

Groupon’s system has a lot going for it. First, it’s free for everyone. There is no registration or membership fees for buyers and more importantly there are absolutely no fees for businesses who want to advertise their deals. Groupon makes 50% of the advertised deal price and the retailer walks away with a large quantity of new business. There’s no risk for Groupon, retailers or buyers. Everyone wins and this is a huge reason Groupon has grown the way it has over the last 3 years.

But as much as the Groupon deal-a-day concept has going for it, there are some limitations. “…we have to pass on seven out of eight merchants that contact us.”- Adam Mason on the amount of requests coming in. That’s really an amazing figure. That means a vast majority of businesses that want to get on the Groupon train get stuck at the station. With Groupon throwing away a majority of the business coming its way, it leaves a lot of business open for competitors to pick up. And there’s no end to the competitors lining up.

There are larger players like Living Social and Google Offers that have surfaced as head-to-head competitors but there are now thousands operating on more local levels showing up every day.

The Decline of Groupon

I’m expecting some flak from some of the opinions I’m going to express but there are some solid reasons for me to suspect Groupon will soon be in trouble.

I think just about everyone I know personally in the online marketing world either is running or thinking of running a deal-a-day website. Some of which are experiencing success but all have ideas to trump Groupon. This is a much bigger problem for Groupon than most are considering.

 

Smaller, more local and niche deal-a-day sites are the competition that Groupon has a real reason to be worried about.

Groupon is currently estimated to employ 7500 people across the world. The growth of the company has truly been amazing but this is the very reason it will soon find itself needing to scale back. In a company as large as this, quick on-the-fly adjustments are difficult and have far reaching impacts. This is where smaller deal-a-day sites will out-manoeuvre Groupon. Currently Groupon takes a 50% cut from retailers and this figure is pretty standard across the board on most deal-a-day websites. But there’s nothing stopping a strong local site to decide a 25% cut is good enough for them. Or less. This is already happening in the Montreal and surrounding areas where I’m regularly seeing smaller sites undercutting Groupon and its competitors.

Groupon has had a hard time entering the Montreal market with opponents like Tuango, MontrealontheCheap and RedFlag Deals all establishing a strong foothold in the market and there’s no reason to suspect the fierce competition won’t grow outwards.

Social Content Sharing and Search Rankings

Here’s the reality: social media now plays an important role in SEO. Now that social signals now impact search rankings, marketers have to find ways to coordinate and integrate their social media and SEO strategies.

A benefit of this is that there’s an opportunity here in terms of economies of scope: the more the two work together, the more efficiencies you should experience both in rankings and “sociability” — e.g. what is shared ranks, and what ranks is shared.

Social Signals & SEO

Okay, so there are a number of so-called “social signals” that can affect your search rankings. Let’s take a quick look at some of them:

  • Most recently, Google fully rolled out their Google +1 button, allowing users to effectively vote pages up in the search results.
  • Both Google and Bing seem to be factoring in Shares, Likes, and Tweets into their search rankings
  • and social news sites such as Reddit, Digg and StumbleUpon can all boost rankings

This, of course, begs the questions: so how do you get your content Shared, Liked, and Tweeted on these social networks?

6 Types of Sharable Content

If you’re going to get your content Shared, Liked, and Tweeted, you’re going to need to do more than throw sharing buttons up all over the place, throw some traffic at it, and hope for the best. You’ll also need to understand what motivates users to share content. Users usually share content because it’s either:

  • Useful/Informative,
  • Interesting,
  • Unique/Original,
  • Inspirational,
  • Funny/Entertaining,
  • and/or Surprising/Shocking

Now, depending on the kind of content you’re trying to rank, you can probably appeal to at least one of these motivations. If you can’t, you’re probably doing something very wrong and should probably go back to the drawing board and reconsider your entire marketing strategy. After all, if your target marketing doesn’t find your products at least useful or unique, you’re going to have a helluva time trying to convert them.

5 Elements Worth Sharing

Digital content is inherently multi-media, and to that extent, every page offers more than one opportunity to share content. Just think of all the different elements on a page that can fill any one of the above criteria. For instance, you have:

  • Product/Services
  • Product Descriptions
  • Product Reviews (by users)
  • Images/Video
  • and even Pricing

So there should be something somewhere on the pages you’re trying to rank that should appeal to the kind of users you’re targeting.

For instance, when it comes to everyday products or services, you might explore ways to write creative product descriptions or include engaging photos that users will be more likely to share through their profiles. Similarly, you might consider opening things up to user generated reviews: not only will this mean more frequently updated content on your pages (which is a staple of SEO), but you can integrate social media APIs that allow users to auto-share the review they submit.

Alternatively, you might have some novelty items in your inventory that you can induce users to Tweet, Share, Like or Digg. Even if these aren’t your bigger sellers or highest priority items, the more social signals they generate around your site, the more authority that your overall site will enjoy with search engines.

A Socially Sharable Content Strategy

Of course, generating enough social signal to actually impact your rankings is a bit more complex than making your existing content more engaging (in one of the 6 above mentioned ways) and waiting for users to share it. Rather, you actually have to drive targeted, social users who are likely to share content to your site, and this requires a bit of a content strategy.

Specifically, you need to give those users something before you expect them do something for you you, and this involves producing content that they find useful, interesting, unique, entertaining, etc., but doesn’t try to sell them anything. This means developing content for the sake of the users, seeding it across social networks, and building a rapport with users. As you do this, they’ll be more likely to discover and share the sales/product-related content that you are trying to rank for.

This is particularly pertinent for seeding content on social news sites such as Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUpon. Such site have so much potential because every share/vote you get from one of these sites counts as an actual traditional link, which has even more SEO value than a Tweet or a Like. As our own CEO, Guillaume Bouchard once put it:

When you submit a piece of content to one of these sites, users can vote it up or down. Every time a user votes for your content, you get a link on their profile. Score. If enough people vote for your content, it appears on the homepage of Digg or Reddit – both PageRank 8 pages. Super Score.

So by developing content that isn’t geared toward your products or brand but, rather, is designed to give something back to online communities, you can build considerable SEO equity. Not only will users be likely to Tweet and Like your content, but every share you get through social content sites will results in a traditional backlink that will help build the overall authority of your domain and its ability to rank other pages in general.

How to Manage Your SEO Agency

Entrusting any part of your marketing to a third-party poses some serious challenges, and hiring a search engine marketing firm is no exception. While an SEO agency can offer you a level of skill and expertise that you don’t have in-house, any miscommunication or wrong move can end up costing you rankings, revenues and profits.

Most bad experiences with search marketing firms can be avoided by being a good SEO client. Here are 5 tips to managing your SEO relationships so that you not only protect your investment and rankings, but also maximize them.

1. Educate Your SEO Agency

The first step you should take when involving any third-party in any one of your marketing initiatives is making sure that they understand (1) your business model and (2) your business goals.

Your business model might seem like a “given” or a “no brainer” to you, but that’s because you live, eat, and breath it. SEO agencies live, eat, and breathe SEO. So make sure you take the time to educate them on your revenue model and whyyou’ve chosen the strategy that you did. This will help them help you tap into the most targeted sources of organic traffic.

Similarly, make sure that they understand your business goals.There’s a huge difference between “dominating your niche” and “cornering your market”, and these are nuances that your SEO agency needs to be aware of so that they can build and pursue an SEO strategy that makes sense for your business.

For example, McDonald’s and the diner on the corner both sell cheap, greasy hamburgers, but their respective business models and goals are very different. So the kind of marketing (online and off) that they pursue will be very different.

You may also want to take the time to understand the SEO strategy that your agency pursues. There is often a “method to their madness,” and understanding that method will help you better challenge and support them.

2. Define Your SEO KPIs

Once your SEO firm understands your business model, you’ll need to work with them to define SEO KPIs that makes sense for your business goals. There are a lot of ways to evaluate SEO campaigns (rankings, traffic, conversions, etc.), and you’ll want to make sure that both you and your agency agree in advance on what blend of KPIs to work toward.

First, this will help your SEO firm devise a strategy geared toward your expectations. But it will also put you in a position to evaluate the quality of their work and measure the return on your investment with them.

3. Appoint an SEO Gatekeeper

With firm KPIs in place, it’s time to appoint an SEO gatekeeper. This person will serve two key roles.

First, they will avoid bottlenecks. By having one person responsible for all SEO initiatives, it will be easier to establish the status of any project. Basically, you’ll have one person monitoring all progress and pushing projects through on a consistent basis.

Secondly, by serving as a main point of contact for your SEO agency, they will lend campaigns cohesion. Essentially, if all SEO inquiries are directed through a single gatekeeper, both you and your SEO firm can ensure that the proverbial left hand always knows what the right hand is doing. This way, you’ll be able to establish some SEO symbiosis between projects, and get the most out of them because they’ll be support each other.

4. Identify SEO Stakeholders

Once you have an SEO gatekeeper in place, one of their first tasks should be to identify all the relevant SEO stakeholders in your business. After all, they’re the ones responsible for making sure that all business strategy and decisions are clearly communicated to your agency. So they need to be aware of any internal events that might impact any projects that your SEO agency is working on.

Execs & Upper Management: It’s at this level of your business that you find key decision-makers. These are the people guiding overall business strategy are responsible for the outcome of any marketing initiative –including SEO. So co-opting these stakeholders will be essential for holding other stakeholders account for keeping SEO projects on track and keeping things moving forward.

Sales, Marketing, & PR:The sales and marketing team(s) need the leads generated by SEO, and organic search should be their number one online acquisition channel. Similarly, the initiatives undertaken by your PR team (such as press releases) should support SEO efforts by begin keyword sensitive and linking back to key pages.

Design/Usability: This part of your company will be integral to creating users experiences and information architectures that are optimized for search. Consequently, your SEO gatekeeper should be in close contact with them at all times.

IT/Dev: Depending on how technology driven your business is, this layer of your organization will be essentially in ensuring that every release of every site respects SEO best practices. So your SEO gatekeeper should be in close contact with IT/Dev and aware of how any new releases might affect SEO.

Editorial/Content: One of the many reasons “content is king” is because of its impact on SEO. Just like PR communications need to be SEO sensitive, so does your other content production. Your content strategy should be adapted, for instance, to search trends/volumes, and ensure that you’re producing keyword sensitive content at a consistent rate across all your properties.

Legal: This is one place where many SEO (and other) initiative can be lost in limbo, so your SEO gatekeeper must ensure that the legal department does not become an roadblock. Your legal department is important for developing a global policy on SEO (i.e., whether you pursue certain practices). For instance, if every piece of onsite or offsite content gets caught up in legal vetting, it’s going to kill your SEO momentum. So your gatekeeper needs to work out clear processes with them in advance.

5. Maintain SEO Momentum

Like many marketing initiatives, SEO is something that requires building and maintaining momentum. You can’t just put things on hold for a couple months and expect to pick up where you left off. Rankings change, and while your SEO is idle, your competitors will gain rankings and displace you in the SERPs.

This is where you SEO gatekeeper becomes an integral part of your marketing team. Not only are they monitoring KPIs and avoiding internal bottlenecks (from legal, IT, etc.), but they must also devise procedures to deal with unforeseen variables. For example, if a key decision maker or IT resource leaves your company, your SEO gatekeeper should have a policy/procedure in place to address the potential bottleneck.

Similarly, if you choose to change SEO agencies, it should be a measured transition where (1) the decision to change is made, (2) the new SEO firm is selected, and then (3) your SEO gatekeeper begins the transition from one agency to the next. At no point should your agency choose to terminate an SEO relationship without there being an alternative in place. Doing so can cost you months (or even years) in SEO progress.

Managing Your Rankings and Bottom Line

All relationships are a two way street, and it’s important that you take complete responsibility for the factors in a relationship that you can control. It’s tempting to think “for what I’m paying them, they better have a magic wand that they can wave and fix everything with,” but it’s irresponsible and reckless to put that thinking into practice.

You have certain business goals, and priorities always change. Many of those goals and change are directly relevant to your SEO firm (and any other agency you work with), so it’s important that they are kept in the loop. Doing so will help you get the most out your relationship and investment with them.

Getting Free Advertising on LinkedIn

Aiming Clear

Recently, I observed a LinkedIn ad placed by aimClearConsulting Services. All it said was:

 

Good calls to action give a concise value proposition, and use strong language with an attention-grabbing sense of urgency to earn a click. AimClear’s ad… doesn’t have a call to action.

Log into your LinkedIn account and look at the ads you are shown. Refresh a dozen times. How many don’t have a call to action? In all likelihood, none of them. So what’s going on here? Is this the worst ad ever?

Multipurpose

Quite the contrary. Let’s set aside clicks for a moment, and this of what this ad communicates. In 74 characters, aimClear:

– Establishes that they were present at SMX
– Indicates a deep familiarity with and connection to advanced Facebook marketing
– Offer a post-event, gratitude-oriented relationship with attendees
– Creates an intriguing ad that gets me talking about it here

And they can accomplish this without a single click. If this was a CPM display ad, then the cost would have been what it was. There’s actually no way to tell as a user, since pay-per-click and display ads are mixed. But what if it was a PPC ad?

On the Cheap

LinkedIn ads are relatively new, but they do already have a reputation for providing weak click-through rates and high cost per click rates. Instead of trying to fight through poor ad placement and scrounge for expensive clicks, what if – and this is speculative – aimClear aimed to brand, chose a PPC and, and have potentially the least click-worthy ad of all, meaning the least possible costs?

Yeah, they probably got some clicks, so their costs weren’t nil. But by framing it as a display ad with little click incentive, they could have saved a whack of money.

It Ain’t AdWords

The reason why this strategy doesn’t work in a platform like AdWords is because of an old grouchy friend we call quality score. If your pay-per-click does not perform, which in the case of pay-per-click ads means attracting clicks, then the advertising platform makes less money. That punishment translates into higher costs per click for poor performing advertisers to recoup the poor performance losses. Quality score incorporates numerous factors, but CTR is a big one.

But it isn’t clear that there is any direct equivalent to a quality score on LinkedIn DirectAds. No quality score means no punishment in costs. The publishment a person does get slapped with is lower impressions. But first of all, low impressions can be expected anyway in LinkedIn ads, so you might be able to get away with it for a while, and second of all, the advertising is still nearly free, apart from the $5 startup cost.

The Future

As the LinkedIn DirectAds system gets more advanced and explicit about their advancements, we may start to hear about a quality score equivalent. Or at least, some clear mechanism to address cases like this which essentially make them little money. Depending on how strict their performance measure, the results of this kind of scheme can be few enough impressions to be worth the time. Still, free advertising is free advertising, and if an ad can be like aimClear’s and communicate a lot without requiring a click, it may be a strategy worth considering, especially in a case like aimClear’s where a big campaign isn’t necessary anyway, given that it was a conference followup and necessarily temporary.

Time to test! We’ll share results when we have them.

edit: Made some tweaks! The first version worked within the knowledge that the overwhelming majority of LinkedIn ads are PPC, but didn’t acknowledge that display ads do exist on LinkedIn. The post is about turning PPC ads into display ads, but the fact that display ads do exist, however rarely used, should have been mentioned.