Category Archives: Online Marketing

Turn Customer Questions into Website Content Gold!


Many businesses who have been serving clients for more than a couple of years will start to hear similar questions being asked. Receptionists and sales people know exactly what these questions are. These can run the gamut of simple to complex solutions or variables on your products or services. If they are taking the time to ask the question, more than likely someone else is out there searching for answers on the Internet.

Do you want to be the one to answer your clients or do you want one of your competitors to? Or, do you want to answer the questions for your competitors’ clients? If your competitors are doing little with their site, this can become a “win” for your Internet marketing efforts.

How do you answer these questions?

There are many ways to turn the questions into the website content gold. Here are a few options:

  • Write out an answer to the question using sound SEO techniques and post it to your site or blog.
  • Make sure to link from this post to the page that describes the product or service that solves the problem on your site.
  • Create a graphic explaining the issue and how to solve it. Write a description about the graphic and share it out to sites like Pinterest. Making sure it links back to the product or service on your site, not the homepage.
  • Create a video talking about the answer and post it on YouTube. This provides an additional area for the answer to be found. You can imbed this video on your site with a description to attract search engines as well. You can even offer a transcript so the search engines can index the entire content of the video.
  • Create or Add a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) or “How-to” section to your website and include it there.
  • Add calls to action to each of these to help convert readers/viewers into clients or customers.

For most of these questions, the answer will remain the same for a long period of time, making the effort to produce the answer all the more worthwhile. The longer the answer is relevant, the longer you should expect to see some traffic visit your site for the answer.

If you need help developing a strong online marketing strategy or how to make some golden website content, call us at 877.817.4442 or contact us online.

Gold Bars

3 Google Search Clues for Long Tail Keyword Subjects


We often hear about SEO clients struggling to come up with ideas for relevant subjects to write about on their business blog. And by relevant I mean, to the reader that may convert into business, and to the search engines that are questioning if each post is “on topic” with the rest of the blog. Well sometimes the simplest solutions are right in front of us. A simple Google search can tell us a few long tail SEO keywords that Google thinks are relevant based on the search terms we type in.

Continue reading


Priorities – Customer Experience, Web Design, & the New iPad


Seen a lot of scuttlebutt about the new iPad lately? Well you’re not alone. Considering the staggering sales success of the device, it only seems logical that we in the Web marketing world should be paying attention. I mean, with the new Retina display and its amazing 2048×1536 resolution it packs 4 times the pixels into the same footprint as that “dinosaur”, the iPad2.

The folks at Mashable recently reported on many magazine apps having “badly aliased” text due to the “traditional” techniques of converting print to .png files. Well, if blurry text is what the best display on earth gets its users, then so be it. What is interesting here, however, is that the app developers were not given a heads up that the new platform would require a change in how they render text/images.

The New Yorker‘s text appears pixelated on the new iPad (viewed at 100%).


So how worried should you be that your website may also look blurry on the new iPad? Maybe you’re a designer or developer and you’re wondering if you should change how you build sites. Well, everyone should be aware of the possible pixilation on the new iPad but when you look at the data, you might not want to make any drastic changes to anything… yet.

Our very own Kevin Mullett (@kmullett) and I (@b_gardiner) reviewed several customer websites in various consumer-centric fields to see how much of an impact the new iPad was having and were not the least bit surprised with the results. The first example had roughly 9000 visits in the last 30 days. Of those, 200 came from an iPad roughly 4.5% of overall site traffic.  Of the 200 iPad visits, 198 at 1024×768 screen resolution (iPad 1 and 2). The other two were at 0x0, likely an emulator. Overall, mobile traffic was around 18% (Android 7%, iPhone 6.25%, iPad 4.5%, etc).

Even more interesting was the breakdown of browsers. As more and more companies are dropping support for IE7, it should be noted that roughly the same % of this site’s traffic came from IE7 – add IE6 and you get more traffic from antiquated browsers than from the iPad.

Perhaps this is a fluke; let’s look at another site, this one a restaurant. Slightly less traffic (just under 7000 visits) yet percentage of iPad visits was roughly the same at 4.92%. Interestingly, IE6 and IE7 usage were similar as well. Overall mobile traffic came in at 26% (iPhone 10%, Android 9.56%, 4.92%) yet still no notice of 2048×1536 screen resolution anywhere.

Let’s look at one more site; this time, we’re going to ratchet up visits to almost 60,000. Here, surprisingly, iPad usage is the lowest yet at 3.75%. IE 6 and IE7 usage was its highest (5%) yet, as well as overall mobile traffic, accounting for approximately 27% of visits (12% Android, iPhone 10%, iPad 3.75%, etc).

Whew! After digging through this data it should be clear that the number one focus for all 3 of these websites is to make sure they are designed for a mobile experience. Whether or not the sites opt for a full mobile experience or just a “mobile friendly” design it is clear that limiting Flash, improving load times, and making sure that relevant info is front and center is critical. Now, we will need to watch iPad usage stats over time and also watch for the dreaded ancient browser usage data to continue dropping before we can say they shouldn’t be supported anymore.

What do your analytics say about your website? Are your customers more, or less, mobile than the examples above? Do you have a higher number of iOS users that require a different experience than Android or desktop users? If you’re not sure or would like to explore further, let us know! Putting your efforts into the optimal customer experience is critical to your site’s success – let the data guide you.



Don’t Shave Time or Effort from Your Marketing Planning


Finding a correct strategic direction requires time and effort.
Marketing messages tend to generate a great deal of debate. Think about how much discussion surrounds the Super Bowl advertising!

I got thinking about this subject after reading an exchange between two friends on Twitter. One mentioned how two particular messages reached her and convinced her that their products could solve problems for her. The other pointed out how much she appreciated that someone pointed out how an advertising message influenced a purchasing decision.

My first friend’s point is worth noting in that if she hadn’t heard the message (no matter what the delivery mechanism), she likely wouldn’t have realized that product could solve her problem. While I don’t really respond to brand campaigns (I love beer commercials but for the most part hate beer), I definitely respond to these kinds of messages – in fact, I stumbled upon one just this weekend (warning, implied profanity, possibly not safe for work):

Now, it is safe to say these guys don’t have the budget to take on the more well known brands in this space. The video may look very casual and thrown-together, but don’t let that trick you into overlooking the thought that went into its production. While the video itself cost $4,500 to shoot, according to this interview with Business Insider, Dollar Shave Club’s CEO, Michael Durbin (the guy in the video), has extensive experience in corporate brand development and video marketing.

This is not to say that you can’t do something like this – but there’s a strategy here… with one well-produced video Durbin and his team manages to:

  1. define a problem,
  2. identify a value proposition, and
  3. establish a brand identity.

It’s not easy to accomplish all of these objectives through just one delivery vehicle, and in most cases you probably shouldn’t. For Dollar Shave Club this works because they’re marketing an online solution through an online medium. Marketing is not a one-size-fits-all game, it’s important that you understand who you’re marketing to when you’re figuring out how to convey your message.

A major part of NetCentered Marketing is identifying your audiences and figuring out what to say and how to say it to them. YouTube worked for Dollar Shave Club. It may be television, radio, or Facebook for your company. The important thing is that you figure it out before you jump in with both feet.  The guys at Dollar Shave Club have been working on this for over a year. The time and energy they invested in crafting an effective message was rewarded in spades. If you’re not sure how to figure this out, let us know, and Cirrus ABS will help you through the process!

Capitalizing on a Social Media Storm ala NASCAR Driver Brad Keselowski


Keselowski tweets during the Daytona 500

Social Media folks are buzzing about how NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski won over 100,000 new Twitter followers during last night’s simply unbelievable Daytona 500. Unfortunately, it was not due to him winning the race. What most are not talking about is the perfect social media storm that lead to it and what your business can learn from it. I know, it sounds like typical spin to win social media buzz, but stay with me on this one.

Continue reading

QR Codes are a Potential Technique, Not a 100 Percent Solution!


It is not uncommon to see posts condemning QR Codes or relegating them to an “are dead” status these days. And why not? We social media and marketing types are over them because, frankly, they just don’t have that new marketing technique smell anymore.

Continue reading

SOPA Pits Copyright Holders Against Internet Businesses


Confessions of an Internet Marketing Intern

This week has concluded and it’s time to voice my opinion. Being the intern for Kevin Mullett, I get the privilege of being a sponge, and this week Kevin briefed me or, dare I say, delivered a diatribe on SOPA.

SOPA is a bill that is currently in Congress, and it stands for Stop Online Piracy Act. There is also another bill which is in the Senate that is similar to SOPA, and it is called PIPA. That stands for Protect IP Act. The bill I’d like to address here is SOPA.

Kevin Mullett interviewed by WFFT Local Fort Wayne regarding SOPA/PIPA

It was introduced in the House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Lamar S. Smith. SOPA allows the Department of Justice as well as copyright holders to essentially shutdown websites that are accused of copyright infringement.

This is not just for the well-known Pirate Bay or another torrent site, for that matter; this also includes your own website and even your business’s. If someone places a link that directs back to something that is deemed to be a copyright infringement, your website is now in violation of the law, and without due process you are guilty of copyright infringement.

As the bill states, your payment processors, such as PayPal and Google Checkout, have to stop conducting business with you. In addition, search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Google will also have to stop linking to you, which ultimately leads to no traffic and, consequently, the demise of your online business and/or your personal website.

Okay, say you don’t have a website or a blog. How could this bill affect you, otherwise? Well, if you are like me, you have a YouTube channel. If you upload a video of someone singing a copyrighted song or even if there is copyrighted music playing in the background, you are also in direct violation because you don’t have the rights to the music. Anyone found guilty of this could reportedly face up to five years in prison.

On January 18th, 2012, now known as “Black Wednesday,” Internet users and thousands of online companies were fed up and decided to take a stand against this bill. Many major websites such as Wikipedia, Reddit, Mozilla, and Craigslist blacked themselves out in protest of the bill, while others, like Google and Cirrus ABS, were a little more subtle but still took a stand. It didn’t stop there. Millions of Twitter profile pics and Facebook Timelines, along with mine, were blacked out as well. Stop SOPA and Censored Web pictures were posted, as well as tweets and statuses that were directed toward the bill. If you logged onto the Internet, you were made aware of the disdain toward the bill. Make no mistake, Internet users were heard that day!

The stated objective of SOPA – to stop the piracy of music, movies, and videos – sounds reasonable enough on the surface. But, as written, the bill undermines freedom of speech and due process and thus violates our constitutional rights. America will take a stand. There’s no way to gauge the effects of “Black Wednesday” until Congress votes again. I believe a lot of good was done that day. But the question remains: does SOPA go too far?

Tell us what you did on “Black Wednesday” by commenting below or subscribe to our NetCentered marketing newsletter here!


Search Plus Your World is Search + Social


Cirrus has always put an emphasis on educating our clients. Before we even started doing online marketing webinars and seminars, we dedicated a significant amount of project time to empowering clients with tips and advice to improve their online marketing, including search engine optimization and what has now become known as social media.

For the past several years we have been repeatedly harping on how social media is going to be ever more important to search engine optimization, visibility and clicks. Yesterday Google sent the clearest signal yet. The time for action is now. Actually the time for a social media strategy was years ago for many businesses, but let’s not quibble over nuance.

Yesterday Google released ‘Search Plus Your World‘, which melds Google’s new social network Google+’s search inline with Google’s normal search properties. And while some social has been appearing in SERPs (search engine result pages) for years, this level of prominence is so pronounced to actually draw fire from competing social networks like twitter.

To help understand how this impacts you or your companies visibility in search, consider that a searcher may see different search results if for example:

  • They are using incognito or other browser privacy mode.
  • Not logged into Google, cleared data, history and/or cookies.
  • Logged in and has not cleared the aforementioned data.
  • Logged in and socially active on other networks such as Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, et al.
  • Logged in and have a Google+ account, unless they use the button to hide personal results.
  • Have opted out of personalized search altogether.

Google Search Personalized Search Settings

In short, there are instances where your more socially active competition may show up in Google search results, and you will not.

Late last year, one week after the launch of Google+ Pages for brands and businesses, we ran a Google+ webinar and seminar where we asked our clients to wait for Google to fix ownership and notification issues before jumping in. Google fixed those issues in late December and we changed our stance to go, go, go. We are now urging those of you who still have not, to jump in. Need more proof? This has changed visibility of brands on Google.

Not sure how to get started? Let us help you with your social media strategy.

Prepping for A New Business Year, Month, Week, Day…


It’s week two’s Monday morning as I write this, and preparations are no doubt being made to ensure that 2012 is a banner year for your business. The question is, are you focusing on the important parts of your business or simply resetting to repeat last year’s, month’s, week’s, or yesterday’s plans? What about your marketing? Are you keeping stats? Do you know which plays added points to the scoreboard?

Are you opening your business up to the wrong checklist?Far too often in business we either clamor for the old, familiar marketing methods that are well past their viability, or we waste time and money trying every new marketing trick that comes along. Without analyzing, tracking, or at the very least asking customers, what marketing piece moved them to action, we are left to attribute it to where we believe it came from without regard to truth or evidence.  Lacking stats, you allow the new marketing wiz kid to talk you into dropping everything for social media. Lacking stats, you may believe the agency of record when they tell you to keep doing more of the same. Does this sound like an optimal way to operate your business? Do you leave expenses, consumables, and wages up to such flippant record keeping?

My challenge to you is to start thinking of your marketing like the other critical components of your business. When you open the business each Monday morning, make sure marketing is on the checklist.

Let us help you review your marketing strategy checklist.

Lessons Learned in Online Marketing: It’s Not All About You


After celebrating one year at Cirrus ABS, Derek Pillie refelects on online marketing lessons learned

Sales always carried a negative connotation for me. Granted, when I came to Cirrus ABS my previous jobs had been in government and politics so that might not be a fair characterization – but I always saw “salesmen” as someone trying to get me to buy something I didn’t need.

One thing has become clear to me over the last year, my new job isn’t really that different from my old job! At my old job I spent much of the day figuring out how to solve problems, whether they were issues a constituent was having with a government agency, an internal personnel issue, or addressing a potential political problem. I’d identify tools and tactics I needed to use to solve the problem and get to work.

While the focus is slightly different than before, the work is basically the same. Either customers (or potential customers) come to us with a problem or we identify a problem they may be having with marketing their company or organization to potential customers. We have a variety of tools and tactics we can use to solve these challenges and my job is to help these clients or potential clients figure out what they can afford that will deliver the most value to their organization.

My biggest surprise getting involved with sales and business development is how much we work with competitors for mutual advantage. Today across Indiana we’re having the annual Social Media Smackdown awards, a lunch where we recognize those who were deemed most influential in social media across the state. Over 50 people have signed up for the Fort Wayne event and it will include people from different agencies and solo practitioners who are all competing for the same business we’re trying to land for our company.

So why do we collaborate? There’s a number of good reasons for it:

  1. social media is an ever-growing world and there’s no limit to the number of tools and tactics you can learn about in this space,
  2. how you approach challenges and deliver value is what distinguishes you from your competitors, sharing information and experience will not change that, and
  3. best practices and building up knowledge are important if you hope to prevent bad practices from souring the marketplace on valid tools and tactics.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you open up the playbook and tell everyone exactly how you would solve every single problem. But honest, open discussion about best practices actually builds up the community and opens doors to opportunities that might not be available to you otherwise. Ultimately we’re all trying to help people, businesses and other organizations solve the challenges they’re facing in a way we thing brings the most value to the table.

Thanks for your time as I shared a little of what I’ve learned over the past year. I’m looking forward to an excellent year ahead and hope that some of what I’ve shared can help you improve your online marketing efforts. If you need more help, just give us a call, we love to help folks with online marketing strategy development!