The Number One Tip for Every Direct Marketing Professional (not what you’d expect!)

Drumroll please.


My number one marketing tip…make sure you have the right tools in place! Modern day marketers are expected to be responsible for a wide range of strategies and tactics, and the only way to make sure you are being efficient and effective is to know what tools are out there to help with each area. This list is by no means meant to be inclusive, but it should give you an idea of just how many resources (both paid and free) are available out there.


1. General SEO

(Raven Tools, Moz Suite, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs)


2. Technical SEO

(Screaming Frog, Xenu, Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster, Schema Creator)


3. CRO

(Clicktale, Visual Website Optimizer, Inspectlet, CrazyEgg, Unbounce, UsabilityHub)


4. Social

(Buffer, Sprout Social, Hootsuite)


5. Keyword Tools

(Wordstream, Ubersuggest, Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Wordtracker)


6. Email

(Streamsend, Mailchimp, ExactTarget, Constant Contact, Sendgrid)


7. Customer Feedback

(Survey Monkey, Qualaroo, SurveyGizmo, Google Forms)


8. Automation

(Marketo, Hubspot, Net-Results, Pardot, Silverpop, Infusionsoft)


9. Mobile

(Localytics, Flurry, Appboy, Appfigures)


10. Personalization

(Monetate, Demandbase)


11. Data & Analytics

(Google Analytics, Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Geckoboard)


12. PPC Advertising

(Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Linkedin Ads)


13. Retargeting

(Adroll, Retargeter, Perfect Audience)


14. Content Marketing

(MyBlogGuest, StumbleUpon Paid, Contently, Scribe, Feedly)


15. CRM

(SugarCRM, Salesforce, Sage CRM)


16. PR

(Buzzstream, Vocus, HARO, PRNewswire)


17. Organization

(Trello, Google Drive, Dropbox, Basecamp, AtTask)


18. Customer Support

(Uservoice, Freshdesk, Zendesk, Happyfox)


19. Competitive Research

(Compete, SEMrush, SpyFu, iSpionage, Mixrank, TrackMaven)


20. Local SEO

(Bright Local, GetListed, Yext, Whitespark)


21. Chrome Extensions

(Scraper for Chrome, Moz Bar, Link Clump, Awesome Screenshot, Similar Sites)


22. Brand and Social Monitoring

(Google Alerts, Topsy, Social Mention, Mention)


23. Miscellaneous

(SenderScore, Wayback Machine, Prezi, Uberflip, Copyscape, IFTTT, Boomerang)


24. Bonus Tip – To get insight into some of the tools other companies are using, you can use BuiltWith. This will identify (most) of the technologies your competitors, favorite websites, and Fortune 500 companies are using.


25. Bonus Tip 2 – Many of the paid services mentioned in the blog post will offer a free trial – some even without a credit card. Make sure to take advantage of these trial opportunities!


Knowing the tools, what role each plays, which are in your budget, as well as which one(s) are right for your business can take a lot of time. It’s something that we definitely recommend every marketer take the time to research – it makes a world of difference!


So you have any favorite tools you don’t see on this list? Share in the comments below.

As always…happy marketing!

7 of the Biggest Adwords Mistakes

Adwords can be confusing for people new in the marketing world. When learning, be sure to not commit these mistakes and you will be well on your way to success.


1) Using broad match without negative keywords

This is the biggest mistake you can make by far. If you are using broad match keywords, you should be constantly checking what search terms your ads are appearing for (typical located in the “dimensions” tab). Using an analytics platform and common sense, add  new negative keywords to your campaign every day for the first couple weeks. After you gain some experience this timeframe can gradually increase to every other day or even once a week…but never longer than once a week. And don’t forget that you can add negative keywords by exact, phrase and broad match as well.


2) Not setting correct geographic targets or devices

Be smart with who you target. If you don’t ship products to Canada, then you don’t want to show ads there…duh! Local businesses should not waste their money by showing ads nationally. Using the same concept, do not pay for ads that appear on mobile phones if your site is not mobile friendly. Or if you have an all flash site – you probably don’t want to run ads on an Ipad. All of this can be configured in the “settings” tab.


3) Not setting up conversion tracking

When setting up an ad campaign, how would you know what works and what does not without analytics? The same applies for conversions, if your ads are leading to increased traffic, that is great but you want to make sure they are converting into customers. If they are not, reconsider a stronger call to action.


4) Not using remarketing

This might not seem like a big mistake since you are not wasting money, however when you realize how much money you could be making by using remarketing…you’ll change your mind. If you target visitors who have already been to your site with a specific message based on how deep they went and to what parts they visited you, why wouldn’t you? Remarketing ads allow you to stay in the forefront of their mind throughout their time online (or until they clear their cookies) and you ONLY pay when they actually click your ad. You can show your ads on some of the most popular sites online thousands of times for little cost.


5) Not testing different ad copy AT ALL TIMES

Think of it like this. Even if you have an incredibly successful ad that’s making you lots of money…it could always be better. Nothing in this world is perfect. Perhaps using an exclamation point instead of a period or using capital instead of lowercase letters will increase that successful ad’s conversion rate by 15%. Even something as small as using instead of as the display URL can make a difference. Guess what? You’ll never know unless you try. People get tired of seeing the same things over and over so you should be continuously testing, or a few months down the road that successful ad might not look so successful anymore.


6) Not testing ad extensions

If Google told you “hey, we want to make your ad more visible by offering you the option of adding a clickable phone number, site links, showing your address, or displaying your products”, would you say no? If you did you would be committing one of the top 7 biggest Adwords mistakes possible. I’m not going to tell you they help 100% of advertisers…but they help most of us once we have done some testing.


7) Focusing on CTR rather than ROI

Awesome, your ad has an average position of 1 and a CTR of 22%! That’s great right? Well, that depends. It’s not great if you have an average CPC of $11 and a conversion rate of 0.0%. You don’t make money by getting your ads clicked; you make money by making visitors buy your products. CTR is relative to average position. So pay less attention to click though rate, and more attention to ROI.


Adwords can be confusing for people new in the marketing world. When learning, be sure to not commit these mistakes and you will be well on your way to success.

The Ultimate Website Audit Guide – 10 Steps to SEO Success

10 steps to SEO website success. Things change in the SEO world frequently and what works today may not work tomorrow. Take a look at what you can do now to start.


When I am doing an audit for a client or even as a favor to a friend there are guidelines I like to follow to help me identify weaknesses, strengths, and potential issues more quickly and efficiently. Honestly, I have almost even begun to like auditing websites thanks to this tried and true method…almost.


1) Look For The Redirects

Does a site redirect its duplicate content? For example I would be checking to make sure that all pages on redirected to If they are not 301 redirected, then I will be looking for the use of a rel=”canonical” tag on those pages. If I find neither of these things – then at least I know what my first suggestion is going to be!


2) Check for Page Titles, Meta Tags, H Tags & Alt Tags

During this step I want to make sure that every page is using unique page titles and meta tags…while intelligently making use of all H tags and alt tags. Once again, if this is not being done, it’s another quick and easy fix that can lead to better rankings.


3) Check for Broken Links

When auditing a site, checking for broken links is near the top of my priority list. With access to applications and software like Google/Bing Webmaster Tools and SEOMoz checking for broken links is a breeze. After identifying the broken links, I simply fix them…end of story… unless of course there are 1,000’s of broken links. That usually signals much larger issues (that I will cover in step 9).


4) Scan for Duplicate Content

While this step is not always practical for large sites with 10,000+ pages, I at least like to start by using different methods to navigate to the same page. For example, in a personalized invitation site I might search by both “occasion” and “product type” to reach the same product. Once there I will check to see if the URL is consistent no matter how the page is reached. There are also numerous tools that can be used to check for duplicate content.


5) Examine Link Profile

One of the most important factors of any site audit – the link profile will give you a good picture of what a site is doing right and wrong in the world of online marketing. I usually check the total number of links, number of unique linking domains, distribution of links to the domain, no follow vs. follow links, and the distribution of the various types of links. This step is very time consuming – but it gives me a great picture of where a site may be lacking in terms of inbound links. Tools like OpenSiteExplorer are also great for looking at the authority of each inbound link at other unique characteristics like MozRank and MozTrust.


6) Keyword Analysis – Are they realistic?

This is one of the most important steps of any site audit. Some SEO ignorant sites simply choose to target the wrong keywords. You can be optimized from here to the moon and still not see any returns from certain keywords. Most of the time unrealistic keywords are either: too difficult to rank for, or do not have enough search volume to justify the resources spent in optimizing for them.


7) Check Site on Different Browsers

This step is much easier when you have access to an analytics platform. Simply pull up site usage statistics by browser to identify which browsers are underperforming. After identifying potential issues, simply view your site in the aforementioned browsers to see where the problems lie. Tools like Browserstack are also helpful for identifying trouble areas.


8) Level of Indexation

One of the most overlooked statistics, depth of indexation, can play a significant role in the total amount of traffic. If a page isn’t indexed, you’re simply not going to rank for it. If certain pages are not indexed I try resubmitting sitemaps to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. If the pages still are not indexed I look at what the problems could be. Are they too deep within the navigation? Perhaps there are duplicate content issues? I try fixing any obvious issues…if none can be found I will suggest to start building off site links to that page, as well as increase internal linking.


9) Site Architecture, URL Structure and Internal Navigation/Linking

This is often the most difficult part of any SEO audit to fix. Problems with information architecture and URL structure can require drastic website reorganization which can often affect conversion rates. This is not something to be taken lightly. But if a problem is identified it needs to be fixed. Remember to have a good game plan when implementing these changes, and test as much as possible before making the switch. 301 redirects will most likely be needed – especially when making your URLs friendlier and less dynamic. Make sure you have a good plan in place so that you do not lose any link value your pages may have.


10) Usability and the Obvious

These are the things often missed in a website audit. Things like “about us”, “FAQ” and other essential pages can be overlooked; though they often contribute just as much to the bottom line as any other pages on a site. Even things like the checkout page should be examined. I once made a recommendation to initiate a credit card option at checkout (other than only PayPal, which by the way takes most major credit cards) and conversion rates have increased 350% ever since. The main concept here is to take a step back and look at the website objectively as if it is brand new to you. Sometimes people who are too close to a site can miss the obvious…


But remember…even the best SEO website audits are useless unless the findings are expressed in a clear and realistic action plan. These 10 steps to SEO website audit success should be performed periodically and not just once a year or less. Things change in the SEO world frequently and what works today may not work tomorrow. Just remember to keep your content fresh and your methods fresher.

9 Free Blogging Tools, Services, & Marketing Tactics Every Blog Owner Should Be Utilizing

There are many other free blogging tools and methods to help bloggers market, manage, and improve their site. Here is a list of my favorites.

1. Submitting to Relevant Blog Directories & Niche Sites
There are hundreds of blog directories to be found online. This is one of the first marketing tactics any new blog owner should engage in. You can use various search queries to find blog directories, but here is a list of some of the largest and most beneficial to be listed in.

There are multitudes of various niche sites just waiting to feature your brand and link back to you. These sites will not only pass you gallons of link juice, but they will also send traffic – which in turn is more opportunities for links.
Example: For uniquely designed or visually appealing blogs there are niche sites you can submit to. If your blog is all about pets, guess what, there are niche sites you can submit to. Simple!
Searching for niche sites is not always easy. Often times I like to find the most established site on the topic I am looking for and then use services like SitesLike & MoreofIt to find related sites – Google’s Blog Search also works well.

2. Guest Blogging
If you are looking to build authoritative backlinks and gain relevant traffic, guest blogging is definitely a good way to do it. First off you can search for guest blogging opportunities using queries like these:
[keyword] “write for us”
[keyword] “submit post”
[keyword] “become a contributor”

There are numerous other queries, but these are the most basic and usually yield the best results. There are also networks that look to connect those looking for guest blog opportunities and blogs needing new content. The largest of these networks is

There you are able to:
1) Upload your article for others to use (*for extra fee)
2) Contact bloggers looking for new contributors
3) Chat and connect with others in the guest blogging community which can open new doors

This is a free service…No excuse not to check it out! Lastly you can always search for relevant blogs within your niche and pitch your guest blog post. This is more difficult, but if your content fits with the blog’s theme and it’s well written you have a decent chance at getting your article posted. These links tend to be of the highest authority and can really help your link profile.

3. Monitor Brand Mentions & Social Sphere
There many different ways to do this with the first being Google Alerts. Setting up Google Alerts is a piece of cake. Simply list all of the keywords and phrases that you want to be alerted of. When new pages are crawled by Google containing those keywords, you will receive an email. For monitoring brand mentions and online reputation it’s incredibly useful. It’s also great for monitoring your most valuable referring keywords. The best part…it’s 100% free. Social Mention, Wildfire, & Addict-o-Matic are also great monitoring tools. You can also use these tools to connect with other bloggers in your niche as well as find trending topics and new ideas for blog posts. There are literally dozens of useful social monitoring and research tools out there.

4. PR Networks
There are numerous free subscription services online that consist of reporters, bloggers, and authors looking for answers to specific questions. Sites like HARO, Reporter Connection, Pitchrate, and the paid service Profnet are simple ways to earn links to your website.
They basically work like this:
Reporters asks question(s) about specific topic
You respond to question if it pertains to your area of knowledge
Reporter credits you as source, usually with a backlink
You can also try your luck on Flacklist – a social media PR site. I would liken it to the Facebook of public relations.
HARO send 3 daily emails consisting of anywhere from 30 to 70 queries each. With hundreds of queries a day, 5 days a week, you are sure to be able to contribute sooner rather than later. Personally I have earned dozens of backlinks and been featured on sites from FOX News to The Huffington Post.

Reporter Connection, Pitchrate usually send emails once a day. There is no reason not to sign up for these free services! They are the easiest form of PR you will ever come across!
And guess what? They work the other way around as well. If you are looking for products to review or giveaway or are looking for an expert to interview – you can post the PR questions on these services.

5. Email Marketing
For blogs with 2,000 subscribers or less – Mail Chimp is the perfect tool. You can send 12,000 emails a month for the whopping price of $0. Enough said.

6. Conversion Rate Optimization
Even though most blogs aren’t trying to sell anything, increasing your conversions is still one of the keys to growing your blog. Conversions can range from something as simple as commenting on a blog post to subscribing to your RSS feed. No matter what your own conversions and micro conversions are designated as – there are free tools that can help you improve the rate at which they are
Google Website Optimizer, Userfly, & Fivesecondtest are all great (free) options to help you increase your conversion rate. I’m going to add SurveyMonkey to this list as well because it can also be used to help increase conversion rates (among other things).

7. Analytics
Duh! Everyone knows about Google Analytics. But there are other free website traffic analyzing tools out there that can help your blog improve in various ways.
Quantcast and Alexa are great free tools that let’s you learn more about your visitor demographics. GoingUp! offers another great free analytics tool that includes features such as heat maps and inbound link monitoring.

8. SEO
There are tons of great free SEO tools out there. This topic alone could spawn another 10 posts. As a result I will only focus on the most important, beneficial SEO tools.
First off are Yahoo Site Explorer and SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer (confusing right?). They let you analyze your own backlinks (and competition’s links for “inspiration”).
Google Webmaster Tools is great for checking broken links, crawl stats, important keywords, search queries, level of indexation, and more. Google’s Keyword Tool is a great way to research, well, keywords – which can help you optimize titles of your posts and give you new content ideas, among other things.
SEO Book’s rank checker is a great tool for, you guessed it, checking ranks. The list goes on…(Doesn’t the SEO industry have the best names for their toolsets?)

9. Create Better Content
Running a successful blog basically all comes down to one factor…creating amazing content. All the marketing and optimization in the world isn’t going to make you a successful blogger if you can’t create decent content. Besides previously mentioned tools PR & social tools that can contribute to more robust writing, there are a number of other useful services that can help improve the quality of your blog posts.
Stock.xchng is a service that helps you find free images to use in your blog posts. Zemanta is another great free tool that “looks over your shoulder while you blog and gives you tips and advice, suggests related content and pictures and makes sure your posts get promoted as they deserve to be”.

There are many other free blogging tools and methods to help bloggers market, manage, and improve their site. These are my favorites. Feel free to share your own favorite free tools & marketing tactics in the comments.