Tag Archive | "Turning"

There’s Treasure Everywhere: Turning waste into profit

Throughout history, curious business people have launched entirely new companies off their company’s waste. Read on to learn how you can you find similar waste-to-winning opportunities.
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Is Your Camera the New Search Box? How Visual Intelligence is Turning Search Keyword-less

Posted by purna_v

My neighbor has the most beautiful garden ever.

Season after season, she grows the most exotic, gorgeous plants that I could never find in any local nursery. Slightly green with envy over her green thumb, I discovered a glimmer of hope.

There are apps that will identify any plant you take a photo of. Problem solved. Now the rest of the neighborhood is getting prettied up as several houses, including mine, have sprouted exotic new blooms easily ordered online.

Take a photo, get an answer. The most basic form of visual search.

Visual search addresses both convenience and curiosity. If we wanted to learn something more about what we’re looking at, we could simply upload a photo instead of trying to come up with words to describe it.

This isn’t new. Google Visual Search was demoed back in 2009. CamFind rolled out its visual search app in 2013, following similar technology that powered Google Glass.

What’s new is that a storm of visual-centric technologies are coming together to point to a future of search that makes the keyword less…key.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are the critical new components in the visual game. Let’s focus on what this means and how it’s going to impact your marketing game.

How many kinds of reality do we actually need?

The first thing we think about with the future of visual is virtual reality or augmented reality.

There’s also a third one: mixed reality. So what’s the difference between them and how many kinds of reality can we handle?

Virtual reality (VR) is full immersion in another universe – when you have the VR headset on, you cannot see your actual reality. Virtual reality is a closed environment, meaning that you can only experience what’s been programmed into it. Oculus Rift is an example of virtual reality.

Augmented reality (AR) uses your real environment, but enhances it with the addition of a computer-generated element, like sound or graphics. Pokémon Go is a great example of this, where you still see the world around you but the Pokémon-related graphics – as well as sounds – are added to what you see.

Mixed reality (MR) is an offshoot of augmented reality, with the added element of augmented virtuality. Here, it merges your virtual world with your real world and allows you to interact with both through gestures and voice commands. HoloLens from Microsoft (my employer) is an example of mixed reality – this headset can be programmed to layer on and make interactive any kind of environment over your reality.

The difference is a big fat deal – because an open environment, like HoloLens, becomes a fantastic tool for marketers and consumers.

Let me show you what I mean.

Pretty cool, right? Just think of the commercial implications.

Retail reality

Virtual and augmented reality will reshape retail. This is because it solves a problem – for the consumer.

Online shopping has become a driving force, and we already know what its limitations are: not being able to try clothing on, feel the fabric on the couch or get a sense of the heft of a stool. All of these are obstacles to the online shopper.

According to the Harvard Business Review, augmented reality will eliminate pain points that are specific to every kind of retail shopping – not just trying on the right size, but think about envisioning how big a two-man tent actually is. With augmented reality, you can climb inside it!

If you have any doubt that augmented reality is coming, and coming fast, look no further than this recent conquering by Pokémon Go. We couldn’t get enough.

Some projections put investment in AR technology at close to $ 30 billion by 2020 – that’s in the next three years. HoloLens is already showing early signs for being a game-changer for advertisers.

For example, if I’m shopping for a kitchen stool I could not only look at the website, but I can see what it would look like in my home:



It’s all about being able to get a better feel for how things will look.

Fashion is one industry that has tried to find ways to solve for this and is increasingly embracing augmented reality.

Rebecca Minkoff debuted the use of augmented reality in her New York Fashion Week show this September. Women could use AR app Zeekit – live during the show – to see how the clothes would look on their own body.


Image credit: Zeekit

Why did they do this? To fix a very real problem in retail.

According to Uri Minkoff, who is a partner in his sister’s clothing company, 20 to 40 percent of purchases in retail get returned – that’s the industry standard.

If a virtual try-on can eliminate the hassle of the wrong fit, the wrong size, the wrong everything, then they will have solved a business problem while also making their customers super happy.

This trend caught on and at London Fashion Week a few weeks later there were a host of other designers following suit.

Let’s get real about reality

Let’s bring our leap into the visual back down to earth just a bit – because very few of us will be augmenting our reality today.

What’s preventing AR and VR from taking over the world just yet is going to be slow market penetration. AR and VR are relatively expensive and require entirely new hardware.

On the other hand, something like voice search – another aspect of multi-sensory search – is becoming widely adopted because it relies on a piece of hardware most of us already carry with us at all times: our mobile phone.

The future of visual intelligence relies on tying it to a platform that is already commonly used.

Imagine this. You’re reading a magazine and you like something a model is wearing.

Your phone is never more than three feet from you, so you pick it up, snap a photo of the dress, and the artificial intelligence (AI) – via your digital personal assistant – uses image search to find out where to buy it, no keywords necessary at all.

Take a look at how it could work:

Talk about a multi-sensory search experience, right?

Voice search and conversation as a platform are combined with image search to transact right within the existing platform of your digital personal assistant – which is already used by 66% of 18- to 26-year-olds and 59% of 27- to 35-year-olds, according to Forrester Research.


As personal digital assistants rise, so will the prevalence of visual intelligence.

Digital personal assistants, with their embedded artificial intelligence, are the key to the future of visual intelligence in everybody’s hands.

What’s already happening with visual intelligence?


One of the most common uses exists right within the Amazon app. Here, the app gives you the option to find a product simply by taking a photo of something or of the bar code:

Amazon1.jpg or Amazon2.jpg


The app CamFind can identify the content of pictures you’ve taken and offer links to places you could shop for it. Their website touts the fact that users can get “fast, accurate results with no typing necessary.”

For example, I took a photo of my (very dusty) mouse and it not only recognized it, but also gave me links to places I could buy it or learn more about it.


Pinterest already has a handy visual search tool for “visually similar results,” which returns results from other pins that are a mix of commerce and community posts. This is a huge benefit for retailers to take advantage of.

For example, if you were looking for pumpkin soup recipe ideas and came across a kitchen towel you liked within the Pin, you could select the part of the image you wanted to find visually similar results for.


Image credit: Pinterest


Google’s purchase of Moodstocks is also very interesting to watch. Moodstocks is a startup that has developed machine learning technology to boost image recognition for the cameras on smartphones.

For example, you see something you like. Maybe it’s a pair of shoes a stranger is wearing on the subway, and you take a picture of it. The image recognition software identifies the make and model of the shoe, tells you where you can buy it and how much it costs.


Image credit: Moodstocks


Microsoft has developed an app that describes what it sees in images. It understands thousands of objects as well as the relationship between them. That last bit is key – and is the “AI” part.


Captionbot.ai was created to showcase some of the intelligence capabilities of Microsoft Cognitive Services, such as Computer Vision, Emotion API, and Natural Language. It’s all built on machine learning, which means it will get smarter over time.

You know what else is going to make it smarter over time? It’s integrated into Skype now. This gives it a huge practice field – exactly what all machine learning technology craves.

As I said when we first started, where we are now with something like plant identification is leading us directly to the future with a way of getting your product into the hands of consumers who are dying to buy it.

What should I do?

Let’s make our marketing more visual.

We saw the signs with rich SERP results – we went from text only to images, videos and more. We’re seeing pictures everywhere in a land that used to be limited to plain text.

Images are the most important deciding factor when making a purchase, according to research by Pixel Road Designs. They also found that consumers are 80% more willing to engage with content that includes relevant images. Think about your own purchase behavior – we all do this.

This is also why all the virtual reality shenanigans are going to take root.

Up the visual appeal

Without the keyword, the image is now the star of the show. It’s almost as if the understudy suddenly got thrust into the spotlight. Are they ready? Will they succeed?

To get ready for keywordless searches, start by reviewing the images on your site. The goal here is to ensure they’re fully optimized and still recognizable without the surrounding text.

First and foremost, we want to look at the quality of the image and answer yes to as many of the following questions as possible:

  • Does it clearly showcase the product?
  • Is it high-resolution?
  • Is the lighting natural with no distortive filters applied?
  • Is it easily recognizable as being that product?

Next, we want to tell the search engines as much about the image as we can, so they can best understand it. For the same reasons that SEOs can benefit by using Schema mark-up, we want to ensure the images tell as much of a story as they can.

The wonderfully brilliant Ronell Smith touched upon this subject in his recent Moz post, and the Yoast blog offers some in-depth image SEO tips as well. To summarize a few of their key points:

  • Make sure file names are descriptive
  • Provide all the information: titles, captions, alt attribute, description
  • Create an image XML sitemap
  • Optimize file size for loading speed

Fairly simple to do, right? This primes us for the next step.

Take action now by taking advantage of existing technology:

1. Pinterest:

On Pinterest, optimize your product images for clean matches from lifestyle photos. You can reverse-engineer searches to your products via the “visually similar results” tool by posting pins of lifestyle shots (always more compelling than a white background product shot) that feature your products, in various relevant categories.


In August, Pinterest added video to its visual search machine learning functionality. This tool is still working out the kinks, but keep your eye on it so you can create relevant content with a commerce view.

For example, a crafting video about jewelry might be tagged with places to buy the tools and materials in it.

2. Slyce:

Integrate Slyce’s astounding tool, which gives your customer’s camera a “buy” button. Using image recognition technology, the Slyce tool activates visual product recognition.


Image credit: Slyce.it

Does it work? There are certainly several compelling case studies from the likes of Urban Outfitters and Neiman Marcus on their site.

3. Snapchat:

Snap your way to your customer, using Snapchat’s soon-to-come object recognition ad platform. This lets you deliver an ad to a Snapchatter by recognizing objects in the pictures they’ve just taken.

The Verge shared images from the patent Snapchat had applied for, such as:


For example, someone who snaps a pic of a woman in a cocktail dress could get an ad for cocktail dresses. Mind-blowing.

4. Blippar:

The Blippar app is practically a two-for-one in the world of visual intelligence, offering both AR as well as visual discovery options.

They’ve helped brands pave the way to AR by turning their static content into AR interactive content. A past example is Domino’s Pizza in the UK, which allowed users of the Blippar app to interact with their static posters to take actions such as download deals for their local store.


Now the company has expanded into visual discovery. When a user “Blipps” an item, the app will show a series of interrelated bubbles, each related to the original item. For example, “Blipping” a can of soda could result in information about the manufacturer, latest news, offers, and more.


Image credit: Blippar.com

Empowerment via inclusivity

Just in case you imagine all the developments are here to serve commerce, I wanted to share two examples of how visual intelligence can help with accessibility for the seeing impaired.


taptapsee logo.PNG

From the creators of CamFind, TapTapSee is an app specifically designed for the blind and visually impaired.

It recognizes objects photographed and identifies them out loud for the user. All the user needs to do to take a photo is to double tap on the devices’ screen.

The Seeing AI

Created by a Microsoft engineer, the Seeing AI project combines artificial intelligence and image recognition with a pair of smart glasses to help a visually-impaired person better understand who and what is going on around them.

Take a look at them in action:

While wearing the glasses, the user simply swipes the touch panel on the eyewear to take a photo. The AI will then interpret the scene and describe it back out loud, using natural language.

It can describe what people are doing, how old they are, what emotion they’re expressing, and it can even read out text (such as a restaurant menu or newspaper) to the user.

Innovations like this are what makes search even more inclusive.

Keep Calm and Visualize On

We are visual creatures. We eat first with our eyes, we love with our eyes, we become curious with our eyes.

Cameras as the new search box is brilliant. It removes obstacles to search and helps us get answers in a more intuitive way. Our technology is adapting to us, to our very human drive to see everything.

And that is why the future of search is visual.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Don’t miss the first (Australia) and second (Hong Kong) laptop lifestyle travel diary posts that came before this one! Hello Tokyo! Touching down in Tokyo Narita airport I was well prepared. This was my first trip to Tokyo, although not my first trip to Japan. I spent a long weekend…

The post I Think I’m Turning Japanese appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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The Step-by-Step Guide to Turning Link Prospectors into Lead Generators

Posted by John-Henry

Digital marketing is a pretty introverted industry. This tends to make us a bit hesitant to embrace sales and outbound selling. There’s no beating around the bush: Sales can be difficult, scary, uncomfortable, and awkward — but if you want to grow your client base, it may require getting out of your comfort zone.

Image via Quinn Dombrowski

Sales has a bad rap, especially with digital marketers. Even Moz’s founder frequently expresses how much he dislikes outbound. Let’s make one thing clear first: There’s a difference between spamming a scraped email list with offers for digital marketing and strategically building a database of prospects to work over time. This post is all about the latter.

You may not know it, but your agency has been training quality sales development reps all this time — you’ve just been calling them link builders. At DocSend we have an SDR (Sales Development Representative) team whose day-to-day consists of locating contact information for decision makers, cold email pitching, polite and persistent follow up, and negotiation…. sound familiar? Outreach teams have a nearly identical skill set to SDRs.

Image via HaPe_Gera

If you take a link builder or promotions person on your team and set their sights on local business owners and marketers in your area, your team can build a database of potential leads for your agency that you can strategically contact, work, and close over time. Here’s a step-by-step guide to starting up an outbound sales process for your small-to-mid-sized agency using your link building team.

Table of contents

Creating your ideal customer profile for your agency


Image via Thomas Quine

It’s time to categorize every current and former client and determine what aspects of their business made them a fit (or not a fit) for your agency. Here’s a simple spreadsheet template that I like to use. The goal is to identify the commonalities and qualities of the customers that have been great for your business. I like to bucket my clients into three groups: good, fair, and bad. Here is some criteria I like to use when evaluating past and current clients:

Location: What’s the geographic location of client’s business?

  • Where are your best client located? Does being close in proximity and being able to hold face-to-face meetings correlate with longer client retention for your agency? Do you have an established client base in a distant city where your agency is building up customers + trust that you should target?

Monetization: What’s the primary goal of the site?

  • Lead gen, ecommerce, and advertising models require very different skill sets and domain expertise. Does your agency provide the best results for a specific type of business model that you can focus on and target?

B2B or B2C: What kind of customer does this business sell to, other businesses or consumers?

  • B2B marketing and B2C marketing have some stark differences. Content consumption behaviors of the target demographic and the promotional strategies to get in front of those audiences are vastly different. Does your firm excel at connecting your customers with consumers, or is it stronger at generating interest from other businesses for your clients?

LTV of customer: How much is the ideal client worth to your business? HubSpot has a great guide on calculating LTV for agencies.

  • Everyone dreams of big clients, but where does your business actually get tangible returns? It’s more important to be a profitable agency, rather than a high-revenue agency. Chances are your most profitable accounts aren’t your highest paying.

Services performed: What was in the SOW?

  • Analyzing your clients based on the type of work performed will provide insights into what service provides the best client experience and provides the most value to your agency. Does your agency tend to get clients for local SEO and keep them by providing solid results while losing most of your paid social clients in under a year?

CMS/Technology stack: What kind of technology were they working with?

Point of contact: Who was your point of contact?

  • Does your team work better with founders/owners of earlier-stage companies, where employees all wear a lot of hats, or do they get better results and retain clients longer when there is a dedicated marketing lead to work with and help them drive client-side change?

After going through my historical freelance clients for good fits, here’s what my ideal client looks like:

Locations: Chicago or San Francisco

Point of contact: Sole proprietor/business owner in charge of running both the website and all marketing.

Contract- or project-based: Project

Services: Small-site technical SEO, penalty recovery, local SEO

Employee count: Less than 10

Monetization: Lead gen

B2B or B2C: B2C

Average monthly billings: $ 500–$ 2,000 a month

CMS of choice: WordPress

Implementation capability: Requires help with all forms of implementation (which allows for upsells).

Content deployment timeliness: If I provide implementation help, the business can deploy new content the same week it’s delivered.

What analyzing past clients taught me and why it’s valuable

After going through everyone I’ve worked with, I discovered a lot of interesting info:

  • The clients I keep the longest are small businesses in Chicago and San Francisco that have less than ten employees and have a budget between $ 500 and $ 2,000 per month to spend on SEO.
  • In the past I’ve worked with East Coast clients, but they don’t seem to be as good of a fit (possibly due to time zone differences).
  • Businesses I work best with are typically consumer-facing and the sites have less than 100 URLs.
  • The business that stay the longest typically need help with technical SEO, local SEO, and penalty recovery.
  • Sadly, this process also helped me discover that clients that need consistent link building (even though it’s something I love doing) are not a good fit from a revenue/retention standpoint.

Although this wasn’t the most exciting way to spend a weekend, this process yielded a lot of valuable findings. I’m less likely to seriously pursue any business on the east coast. If anyone comes to me with a project for a massive site, I’m now quick to pass that lead on. I also no longer provide freelance link building, which is kind of a bummer. This has allowed me to focus on the type of customers that I provide the best results for and retain the longest, and avoid investing in leads that are likely to churn.

Picking target verticals for lead prospecting

Personally, I look for businesses that are sought after once a trigger event occurs for a consumer, i.e. “I need a lawyer because I’m getting divorced” or “I need a house because I’m having a child.” These businesses tend to be competitive in search and their owners are already familiar with SEO and SEM. Here’s some I like:

  • Services:
    • Swimming pool construction
    • Basement waterproofing / seepage
    • Maids and housekeeping
    • Carpet cleaning
    • Tax prep
    • Photography
    • Computer repair
    • Compliance repair
    • Automotive repair
    • Debt consolidation
    • Financial advisor services
    • Accounting
    • Banking
    • Residential painting
  • Real Estate:
    • Residential
    • Luxury
    • Rentals
  • Law:
    • Mediation
    • Tax
    • Labor and employment
    • Immigration
    • Civil
    • Criminal law / DUI attorney
    • Divorce and family
    • Probate
    • Intellectual property
    • Document preparation
    • Real estate
    • Wills and estate planning
    • Disability
    • Bankruptcy
    • Contracts
    • Real estate
    • Personal injury

Don’t just prospect in these industries — this is what works for me, not necessarily for you. Even nuanced outbound cold email has admittedly low response rates, so you are going to need to harvest a lot of prospects to see ROI. The more you blow this list out, the more opportunities you have.

Generating prospect lists for your Local SEO agency

In order to generate a robust database of leads, I use SEMrush to generate keyword lists and Link Prospector to determine market share for a given industry’s keyword set. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown:

Step 1: Plug competitive head terms for the target service into SEMrush

For this example, we’ll use car window repair.

Image via Twanda Baker

Step 2: Export SEMrush keyword data

I like to use either the phrase match list of keywords or the full related list of keywords.

Step 3: Clean your data

Remove all branded and geographic keywords from your data set.

Branded & geo terms will just muck up your data — they must be deleted! Here’s how to use filters to quickly clean your keyword list:

  • Highlight all columns
  • Hit the “Filter” button in the menu ribbon
  • Hit the dropdown menu in the keyword column in cell A1
  • Click “Clear all” from the dropdown filter menu
  • Search for branded and geographic terms in the filter menu
  • Delete all terms that are branded and geographic
  • Click “Select all” and de-select “(Blanks)” and hit OK
  • You should now be left with non-branded, non-localized keywords

Step 4: Localize your keyword set

Once you have a list of at least 50 commercially viable head terms, delete columns B–F in the Google Doc and add geographic keyword modifiers to each of the search terms to localize them to your agency’s preferred service area. For example, “car window repair” would become “car window repair chicago.” Here’s how I like to set it up in a Google Doc:

Step 5: Run your keywords through Link Prospector

Take your list of localized search terms for your target vertical and drop all of them into a custom report in Link Prospector:

After a few minutes, your report will finish and you will be left with a huge list of results.

Pay special attention to the LTS metric. According to Link Prospector’s creator, Garrett French, if a URL ranks in position 1 for a query, Link Prospector assigns the domain 100 LTS points. Each URL below the #1 position gets slightly less LTS points than the result above it in the SERP. This metric was originally intended to estimate SEO link value potential, but it is also a great proxy for market share if you are creating custom reports that solely consist of local keywords for a single industry.

Step 5: Categorize your Link Prospector results for potential leads

After looking at the Link Prospector export, there are a bunch of national sites and service aggregators that are competing for market share. These are likely to have corporate offices, gatekeepers, procurement teams — they are best to avoid. To identify and exclude enterprise sites, I use Domain Authority scores. Anything over a DA of 50 is unlikely to be local.

Here’s the beginning of my categorization for car window repair in Chicago:

You can find some great prospects with low DA and LTS, so go through the whole list.

Step 6: Add potential leads to your CRM

Add any site that’s a potential match to a spreadsheet for easy tracking, or to a CRM if you have one. HubSpot currently has a free CRM and if you already use BuzzStream, it can work pretty well to track potential leads. Here’s a simple spreadsheet that I like to use that you can copy.

Step 7: Manually evaluate the sites marked as “potential lead”

You need to determine if these leads are a fit for your business. These are sites that fit your ideal customer profile that have functional websites that your team can work with. I also like to run sites that seem like a solid fit through SEMrush to see if they’ve been hit by any penalties or filters like Panda or Penguin. I also utilize the Builtwith Chrome plugin for insights about their technology stack to get a feel for how sophisticated their marketing is.

Qualifying prospects for potential agency fit

After going through a chunk of the list for “Chicago window repair,” here are some of the potential leads identified for car window repair in Chicago. In your CRM, place a note next to each site that is manually evaluated by your team, along with the other metrics you decide to track and record. Here’s a sample of some of our notes:

  1. franksautoglasschicago.com– Good-looking site that appears to have some marketing spend. Several analytics packages, Optimizely, Google remarketing, AdRoll, Facebook and Twitter, and several display network tags live on site. Site is on WordPress.
  2. aaronglass.com – Decent-looking site; not as professional as competitor franksautoglasschicago.com. Site has Google Analytics deployed, but no ad tech.
  3. chicagowindowrepair.com – Site is ranking well, but would need to invest in redesign before I could provide value.
  4. chicagoautoglasspros.com – Site appears to be lead gen owned by franksautoglasschicago.com
  5. chicagoautoglasscompany.com – Site appears to be lead gen owned by aaronglass.com
  6. expressautoglass.com – A more basic website than the typical competition, but still worth approaching. Pitch may need to be framed around betting the market leaders.
  7. grandautoglass.us – Rough UX and web design, not an ideal client — do not contact
  8. chicagocarwindowrepair.com/ – Rough UX and web design, not an ideal client — do not contact

Finding business owner & decision maker emails

Image via Born1945

Your link builders have experience getting email addresses for bloggers, but getting emails for business owners and decision makers can be slightly different. You can rarely use WhoIs lookups, and tactics like exporting social media posts for contact info don’t tend to pan out. However, it’s easy enough to guess the proper email at a small business that has its own mail server set up.

There’s already been a ton of great posts written on email gathering or guessing. Whoever is doing the prospecting on your team might get some value out of this reading list as a refresher course:

And tools like FullContact’s gmail plugin and Rapportive are the DocSend sales teams’ guiding light when it comes to email address gathering.

Procuring emails for sole proprietorships and small businesses — Advanced tactics

Not all the tricks in the above guides are going to result in a verified email for a prospect. Some of these local businesses may be using Gmail (or even Hotmail or AOL!), so you may have to get crafty.

Hack 1: The BBB is a gold mine of business owner info

Local businesses are often registered with the BBB, and their detail pages sometimes display business owner contact information publicly.

Bonus — full name of business owner acquired:

Hack 2: Hunt for contact info in existing citations

Citations often have contact info; here’s one from Yahoo Maps.

1 down, 1 to go.

Hack 3: Look for responses to reviews online to get business owner/decision maker name and email.

Here’s someone in charge of protecting a network of doctors’ online reputation responding to a negative review; they’ve kindly left their full name and email.

Hack 4: Use reverse image search on social media avatars

Yelp is a battleground for local businesses trying to protect their reputation. To create an account, Yelp allows users to login via Oauth from other social media accounts. When an account on Yelp is created with data from another social media platform, the profile picture from the parent social media account is automatically imported into the Yelp account.

By doing a reverse image search (get the handy Chrome plugin here) on the business owner’s avatar that responds to customer complaints on a Yelp page, you can sometimes find their other social profiles and hopefully their full name — and then guess and verify their email.

After a little bit of sleuthing through image search results, we are able to find the business representative’s full name.

We have the decision maker’s name, and some additional prospecting found two general email addresses for this business. Although we don’t have a direct email for this prospect, we have both the business phone number and address. If need be, we can make contact over the phone or via direct mail.

Moving up market: Prospecting for medium-sized businesses

Image via Sean McGrath

Finding contact info at slightly bigger and more organized businesses can actually be easier than finding the info for one-woman and one-man shops. When it comes to prospecting for decision makers in SMBs, LinkedIn will be your team’s BFF. If you have a lot of Linkedin contacts, give whoever is doing the qualifying on your team access to your LinkedIn profile to navigate corporate decision makers.

This time, let’s go after San Francisco real estate

Using SEMrush again, we are going to compile our keyword list. This time around, I took head terms Zillow.com is currently ranking for in organic search and removed all the branded, geo-targeted, and irrelevant queries. Once the list was cleaned up, we concatenated variations of geo terms for San Francisco. Here’s a link to the Google Doc where it’s all set up.

There were only a few head terms that I wanted to target. Instead of scraping the bucket for long tail keywords, i mixed up the position and formatting of the geo modifiers for each of the keywords to allow for more robust prospecting.

This is just a small sliver of the potential leads I found from the Link Prospector export.

Next, let’s look at a few hacks for getting emails for slightly bigger local businesses.

Hack 1: Prospect on LinkedIn for stakeholders and guess their email using mailtester.com

This email is easy enough to guess; it only took two tries:

Hack 2: Look for executive team and bio pages for contact and detailed lead info

Small businesses might not have an executive page, so make sure to check the “About us” page as well; you’d be surprised at what kind of contact info people publish online:

Sometimes you get lucky, and the prospect publishes a ton of personal data on their bio page that you can use to inform the initial cold intro process:

Compiling your local lead database

Now it’s time to repeat this process for every single vertical that you want to target. Considering outbound conversion rates for cold intros, I recommend getting at least 1,000 local businesses in your database. If you want to outsource the data collection, you can use a cheaper service like Odesk/UpWork. If you are outsourcing email collection, I recommend using a third-party validation service like BriteVerify so you don’t hurt your email deliverability or waste your time. If you are looking to outsource the whole process but with a layer of management and QA, I’ve seen companies get great results with services like LeadGenius.

Make no mistake about it, this is a lot of work, and the initial prospecting and keyword list building can be done with an outsourced service — but I highly recommend that either you as a business owner, or your savviest link builder manually evaluate the websites for potential agency/business fit.

What to do with all this contact info?

The goal here is not to start cold-calling these people and pitching them on your services. Without a trigger event (traffic loss from organic search, penalty, big jump in CPC or CAC) it’s my experience that business are unlikely to switch vendors after a cold pitch.

Here are a few ideas on what you can do with your contacts:

  • Host a free event for local business owners to learn about digital marketing; I stole this one from Orbit Media Studios. They regularly host Wine Web nights at their office where people come to sip a few glasses of vino and discuss marketing trends.
  • Upload their emails into retargeting lists.
  • Run the sites through URL Profiler to further enrich your data with stats like email addresses, PageSpeed, readability, and content metrics, or scrape their phone numbers.
  • Attend local networking events and work the room for people from these companies.
  • Send an ebook filled with helpful and localized tips for small business owners in your area that positions you as a local thought leader.
  • Whenever you need to use a new business or service, reference your list of prospects to see if any of them are a fit so you can get your foot in the door.
  • Start a digital marketing newsletter for local business owners and email everyone on your list asking them to sign up.
  • Analyze their paid search efforts for glaring errors and email them with actionable tips to improve their performance.
  • Run their site through Screaming Frog and find any easy-to-fix technical SEO issues that you can write up and explain in a quick email.
  • Send your rate card for one-off services and let them know you can help them on short notice if they are ever in a bind.
  • Anything you think will build trust and get you in their consideration set for when they have a trigger event.

If you think you can hard-pitch these businesses, go for it, but it’s never worked for me. I focus all of my sales efforts on nurturing prospects and building up trust via helpful information and friendly correspondence. Good luck and happy closing!

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I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Don’t miss the first (Australia) and second (Hong Kong) laptop lifestyle travel diary posts that came before this one! Hello Tokyo! Touching down in Tokyo Narita airport I was well prepared. This was my first trip to Tokyo, although not my first trip to Japan. I spent a long weekend…

The post I Think I’m Turning Japanese appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Founder Of CrazyEgg And KISSmetrics, A Legend In The Traffic Generation Industry And A 6-Figure Earner Before Turning 18 – This Is Neil Patel

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Neil Patel needs no introduction if you have spent any time researching the world of online traffic and conversion. He’s a superstar of SEO … Read the rest of this entry »

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Turning Traffic Into Customers

Why do we try to rank sites high in the search results?

Obviously, SEO is a traffic acquisition strategy. We seek to direct audiences who are interested in our products, services or ideas to our sites, rather than those of our competitors.

We expend time and energy getting a site to rank a few places higher, or for a wider range of keywords, but it also pays to focus our attention on what happens after visitors arrive. If visitors arrive, but click-back because a site isn’t what they expected to see, then the effort we’ve put into ranking is wasted.

PPC marketers tend to focus a lot of their energy on what happens after the click. Because they are paying per click, there is significant jeopardy involved if visitors do click back, but it’s also a discipline that can prove lucrative for SEOs. Many SEOs do this already, of course, however if you’re new to the field, then it is easy to get bogged down in ranking methodology without giving much thought to what happens next.

Let’s look at ways of making better use of the traffic we already have.

The State Of The Internet

In times past, producers could dictate to markets. You may recall Henry Ford’s maxim when he talked about the Model T Ford: “You can have any color, so long as it is black!”

Producers were able to dictate to consumers when there wasn’t much in the way of consumer choice. Markets weren’t deep with competition. This was also sometimes a result of market sectors enjoying regulatory protection against new competitors.

The internet is the opposite.

The internet is a deep amalgamation of markets. Anyone, anywhere, can set up a “store front” – web presence – in a few days, or even a few minutes. There are few barriers to entry, and there are many new sites launching each second. This environment shifts the power from producer to consumer, as the consumer can exercise choice. On the internet, exercising that choice is often little more than a click of a mouse.

In such an environment, user-centric marketing is primary. If we don’t satisfy visitors, it’s very easy for them to go elsewhere. There is little point positioning #1 if the visitor is dissatisfied with what she sees, clicks back, and clicks on your competitors result further down the search result page instead. It could also be argued Google are using user behavior as a metric, so if enough users don’t find what they were looking for on your site, this could, in turn, affect your ranking.

So what makes a visitor decide to leave or stay?

Typically, visitors will judge quickly. User testing has shown that visitors will first scan your page to see if it answers their query. If not, they go elsewhere. If you look at your stats, you might find this is the behavior of high proportion of your visitors. Visitors are also unlikely to wrestle with a site they don’t intuitively understand, unless they really want what you’ve got, and you don’t have any competitors.

Keep these points in mind:

  • users have choice
  • users will be quick to judge
  • users don’t want to think

Three aspects need to work in tandem in order to get visitors to engage – design, usability and utility

Visual Design

First impressions count, hence the reason for appropriate graphic design.

What is “appropriate”? Naturally, it will differ for every site and audience, and largely comes down to how well you understand your visitors. A high-end fashion designer, who focuses on desirability and image is going to use a different visual design approach to a webmaster running a site for the academic community. The latter site design is more likely to focus on function as opposed to glossy form as commercial gloss can be perceived by an academic audience as being frivolous.

What both approaches have in common is that the visitor will be shown something they expect to see. This underscores the need to understand visitors. We’ll look at ways you can approach this in the steps section below.

The next concept is…..


Once the visitor decides they are in the right place, the next step they need to take should be patently obvious. Usability is a practice that involves making sites easy to use. In terms of operation, sites should be made as simple as possible, and not indulge in complex navigation schemes.

Because users can easily go to another site, there is little incentive for them to wrestle with your site, so if you make it difficult for people to engage with you, many will not bother.


So, if we’ve got the visitor this far, they like the look of our site, and the visitor can find their way around easily.

But that isn’t enough.

The visitor also needs a good reason to engage with us. What are you offering them? What do you offer them that is better than what the other guy offers? This is where your business strategy is important, especially your unique selling proposition. Do you offer something they really want? If not, rethink your offer.

Not only does the visitor need to be provided with a good reason to engage with you, this reason must be stated clearly. It must be self-evident. If the user has to go hunting for it, because it is buried in dense text on page three, then the visitor is likely to click back. Make sure your offer is writ large.

So, those are the three areas that need to tie together if we are to keep users: visual design, usability and utility.

Let’s look at the practicalities.

Practical Tips

1. Create An Appropriate Design

Evaluate your competitors, especially your most successful competitors. Are there similarities in approach in terms of visual design? “Steal” ideas from the best, and twist them into something fresh, yet familiar.

Know your visitors. Who are they? What do they expect to see? You can often get demographic research reports from marketing companies that will help you profile your visitors. Surveys, polls and enabling comments are some other ways to get feedback.

Test. Use a/b testing to see how visitors react to different designs. There are free tools you can use, such as Google’s Optimizer

Intuition and experience. Design often comes down to intuition, and what has worked in the past. If you’re not a designer, employ someone who understands user-centric design and usability. Many web projects are blown by designers who focus on bells and whistles, as opposed to what is most appropriate.

2. Ensure Your Site Is Easy To Use

Read up on usability. Recommended resources include UseIt, Don’t Make Me Think, and A List Apart (Usability Section)

Test. Track your logs to monitor user behavior. If you can, stand behind test users as they navigate your site. Look for any common impediments to their progress, and redesign as necessary.

3. Have you Articulated A Convincing Reason For People To Engage

Go back to your business case. Do you have a competitive offer? What is special about your pitch that will appeal to visitors?

Once you have identified the key points that differentiate you, ensure that these points are obvious to visitor. One good way to test this is with a spoken elevator pitch. Make an elevator pitch to your friends, and see if they are clear about what your offer is. What parts of the offer are they most responsive to, and why? Once you have honed a compelling pitch, translate this into the written word – or video – or sound file – on your website.

Address their objections. Not only do you need to appeal to what visitors want, you must also anticipate any objections they may have. Spell these out, then answer them.

Want to see an example of how this stuff comes together? Check out the front page of SEO Book.

Test :) As any PPC-er will tell you – always test.


SEO Book.com

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