Author Archives: Malhar Barai

About Malhar Barai

An author, speaker, blogger and digital media strategist, at my day job I work on devising and executing various digital media campaigns. I usually blog about content strategy, social media platforms, product reviews and tricks to ace Social Media. Let's collaborate over @MalharBarai (Twitter) and other platforms.

Guest Post – Importance of Lead Validation

importance of lead validation

Guest Post by Aaron Wittersheim

Generating quality leads is a never-ending battle for a lot of companies. One way to win that war is to set up a system that will better measure the success of your lead generation campaign. Ideally that system would involve separating sales leads from non-sales conversions, a process called lead validation. This allows you to decipher what’s working in your campaign and what’s not, helping you adjust campaign elements for better results.

Why Lead Validation

Most inaccuracies in lead generation stem from relying on conversion data instead of sales lead data. According to “The Importance of Lead Validation” study, 50 percent of a company’s website conversions aren’t sales leads. That means you could be investing in campaigns that aren’t contributing to ROI. Here are more key benefits of vetting your inquiries:

  • You will know the online marketing source that contributed to every sales lead.
  • You will know how to optimize campaign performance based on sales leads data versus conversion data.
  • While conversion data provides the cost per conversion (which is grossly misleading when half aren’t sales related), through lead validation your will know the accurate (and far more important) cost per lead.

Find out more valuable information on lead generation (like the visit attribution for conversion) and importance of lead validation in the presentation below:

Your Take

  1. Why is it important to validate leads?
  2.  What steps are you taking to validate your leads?

Author Bio

Aaron Wittersheim is Chief Operating Officer at Internet marketing agency Straight North.

Artificial Intelligence in Content Writing

artifical intelligence in content writingRecently I came across two websites ContentHop and WordAI promising to write and rewrite content using artificial intelligence. What piqued my interest was, there could already be some content that would have been written by these AI programs.

Next came this news about a robot reporter in China which had written 300 words in one second!

Boom! Are we entering the age of artificial intelligence and robots in the world of content writing.

Artificial Intelligence in Content Writing – Death or Transformation

Now that is an important question? Will content marketing die or transform?

A look at the content cited at the start of the article and you can hardly deduce that these have been written using bots.

That means, as consumers, if the bot is doing a better job with writing content, handling the emotive aspects, thinking more closely as humans, we really do not bother.

We are already seeing how the likes of Google, Facebook, etc are deploying self learning systems, which try to mimic the behaviour of consumers and show results, timelines that are more relevant to them.

Extending the same concept to content writing, I would believe that systems are being developed that will keep learning what kind of content is resonating well with the consumers. This will improve the bot-driven content writing skills making it better for consumers.

Will Artificial Intelligence Help Content Writers?

Like always, artificial intelligence will definitely help consumers but in my opinion it will help the content writers more. Here’s how –

Artificial Intelligence for content writers

  1. Draft post – Give the bot relevant inputs and you can have you the post created in a jiffy (the 300-word article in China Daily was created in one second)
  2. Citations – The bots can find related content across the web and provide references that you can cite in the article
  3. Syndication – As of today, many of us are using multiple tools to syndicate and distribute our content across multiple channels. What if, there could be one tool that will study the destination and automate syndication too.
  4. Humanizing Content – Many of us might argue that this is not possible, but my contention is, with self-learning systems, many of the future content writing engines will learn how the consumers are reacting to certain kind of content. Hence the system will alter the content writing style to best suit the consumer’s reading preference. As of today, we still rely on CTRs and other means to know it.

With this, I rest my case and conclude that artificial intelligence in content writing will actually help in transforming the industry. Therefore making us better writers rather than killing the industry

But are we ready??

Your Thoughts

  1. Will Artificial Intelligence in content writing kill the industry?
  2. What could be the future?

 

Google AMP Demystified – #SEOTalk Recap

google amp demystifiedWelcome 2017 on SEOTalk Twitter Chat. We decided to start the year with a look at Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

Since the launch of AMP, we have been debating on it’s importance and does it really make sense for brands to adopt it.

Last year, Google also made changes to SERP where it integrated AMP with mobile listings and also giving better ranking to sites with AMP.

The biggest benefit for using Google AMP is the ability to load the site on mobile devices faster. In my opinion, since making ‘faster loading’ one of the ranking factor and also advocating ‘mobile first’ design, Google has been asking webmaster to be mobile ready for a while.

But we were wondering if AMP really mattered and for which kind of brands? We asked this question during the chat.

The answers were a mixed bag. Many of the folks commented that it will really matter but more so if you are a brand that has frequent updates and more long form content. Since AMP requires sites to load in 2 seconds max, it matters much.

That thought brought us to media brands, which have content being published frequently and thus AMP made more sense to them.

Another interesting question was on the SEO impact of Google AMP.

We had two insightful answers to it, by Varun and Jerry –

Given that we are still in the early days of Google AMP, the chat was quite insightful. Read on…

Here are the questions that were covered during the chat –

Q1. What is difference between non-AMP and AMP websites?
Q2. Why does AMP matter?
Q3. What kind if brands should implement AMP?
Q4. How can AMP be implemented for WordPress websites?
Q5. How will AMP impact SEO?
Q6. How are you approaching AMP?

Google AMP Chat Transcripts

Here are the transcripts from the chat –

Your Thoughts

  1. What kind of brands should adopt Google AMP?
  2. Do you see better results for brands using Google AMP?

Join us on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat every Monday 8:30PM India, 3:00PM GMT, 10:00AM EST

SEO Predictions for 2017 – #SEOTalk Recap

seo predictions for 2017We had an exciting 2016 on SEOTalk and it was fitting to end it on a high with all the possible SEO Predictions for 2017.

Over 2016, we saw a lot of action in the search industry and it kept the practitioners literally on their toes. And 2017 doesn’t seem to be any different.

We are already seeing the world where desktop is being relegated to second screen and mobile devices are becoming primary. Add to that, the power of local information and contextual information. So we saw in 2016, Google increasingly giving precedence to mobile and Local SEO. That should continue to improve in 2017 too.

So very aptly, we started the SEOTalk Twitter Chat with that topic and then discussed few others.Post that we moved to automation and AI in SEO.

2016 saw introduction of RankBrain and we expect it to grow bigger and beyond search queries in 2017. So search practitioners should have a field day optimizing content for AI.

And finally, we moved to the importance of schemas. I had covered that topic in couple of recent meets and was surprised to see many brands still not leveraging the power of schemas. While schemas do offer better view in SERP there was another argument – it reduces CTR. The point that was being made is, since enough information is available in SERP, people wouldn’t click on the links and go to site. What are your thoughts?

So off you go. Catch the chat transcripts below. This is what the community believes will happen in 2017.

The chat got divided in 4 segments –

  1. Local and Mobile SEO
  2. Automation and AI in SEO
  3. Schema Markups
  4. Anything around SEO

SEO Predictions for 2017 Transcripts

Here are the transcripts from the Twitter Chat –

Your Turn

  1. What are you SEO Predictions for 2017?
  2. How will Automation and AI transform SEO?

Do share your thoughts over comments below.

Inbound Marketing Tactics – #SEOTalk Recap

SEOTalk Twitter Recap on Inbound Marketing TacticsThis week on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat, we discussed about Inbound Marketing Tactics.

Inbound Marketing has become a key component of marketing strategy for brands across all hues since it is instrumental in them acquiring customers. The term coined by HubSpot relates to mapping customer journey and attracting them rather than going and pitching exclusively.

This form of marketing relies on multiple components like SEO, Blogging, Landing Pages, Content Marketing, etc. During the chat, we covered questions from the most basic like definitions to the key elements and finally on how it can be measured.

While there is no secret sauce to have the best strategy as it depends upon your marketing goal and industry. But the general rule of thumb or sales funnel is –

  1. Attract – You can use SEO, content marketing, etc to attract leads
  2. Convert – Once attracted, bring them to a landing page and convert via forms, call-to-action
  3. Close – Once you have the client/prospect details via landing page follow with email campaign and close sale
  4. Delight – You might have closed the sale but opened a relationship. Nurture relationship with offers, email campaigns to upsell

Check out what our participants had to say on the subject…

Questions from Inbound Marketing Twitter Chat

Q1. Starting with the basics, what is inbound marketing?
Q2. What are its key elements?
Q3. How can B2B vs B2C marketers use Inbound Marketing effectively?
Q4. How can SEO play an important role in Inbound Marketing?
Q5. What changes on the website should be done to effectively run Inbound Marketing Campaign?
Q6. Why is email marketing an important element of Inbound Marketing?
Q7. What tools do you suggest to measure impact of Inbound Marketing?

Replay of SEOTalk Live Stream

Chat Transcripts

Your Thoughts?

  1. Is Inbound Marketing a good tactic?
  2. Do share your own answers to the questions posted above

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3 Reasons Twitter Is Killing Vine

3 Reasons Twitter Is Killing VineJust off the press, Twitter is shutting down Vine, it’s short video format service. Twitter had acquired Vine in 2012 and had been trying hard maintain it growth recently.

One of the earliest entrant in short video format space, which is now occupied by the likes of Snapchat & Instagram, Vine did have a fair share of stardom. So much that it had an entire movie Chef, dedicated to it.

But with launch of Instagram stories, it hardly had any traction. That is proved by the fact that Vine was once the no 1 App on iOS but has recently fallen below 200.

Though Vine is not being shutdown completely. According to the release,

Since 2013, millions of people have turned to Vine to laugh at loops and see creativity unfold. Today, we are sharing the news that in the coming months we’ll be discontinuing the mobile app.

Nothing is happening to the apps, website or your Vines today. We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You’ll be able to access and download your Vines. We’ll be keeping the website online because we think it’s important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website

That does mean that we could still see the app around for some time before (if they wish) it’s killed completely.

3 Reasons Twitter is Killing Vine

Reason 1

We can probably attribute the shutting down of Vine to the recent layoffs at Twitter and also to the lack of innovation to either Vine or Twitter. Vine had it’s own stars and they did have the first mover advantage but the subsequent launch of Instagram Videos and lack of any new features worked against Vine.

Reason 2

The other reason, we can attribute is probably the lack of any revenue stream. Twitter’s current challenges are primarily lack of revenues and they couldn’t possible keep a team engaged for a platform that contributes no revenue.

Reason 3

The third reason could be that Twitter wants to leverage the current video capabilities of Vine and put that to good use for Periscope, which is coming with new features regularly.

Your Turn

  1. Should Twitter only look at cash cows for now?
  2. Will we see Vine stars moving to Snapchat, Instagram?
  3. Good move/bad move?

What next for Twitter?

My earlier rant about Twitter

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5 Things We Learnt From Hosting a Twitter Chat

5-things-twitter-chatThis post comes with an experience of hosting and participating in Twitter Chats for more than 4 years. #SEOTalk Twitter Chat was born 4 years back and I have been participating in various Twitter chats even before that.

Over the years that we have been hosting the Twitter Chat, we have had some fabulous engagement within the community and that has helped us notch some awesome stats.

We have organically trended in India multiple time including the first time #SEOTalk was conducted and have been able to reach wider audience over a period of time.

So here are few things that we learnt in course of time and that might help you if you intend to start a Twitter Chat of your own or join as participants.

5 Things to Learn from a Twitter Chat

Timing is important

Before starting a new Twitter Chat, check if there are similar chats already. There are multiple source to find Twitter Chats. Tip: Make sure they are active, these directories have few inactive Twitter Chats too

Once you have identified the gap, then launch your own chat keeping in mind the targeted audience. After our initial research, we found that most of the participants prefer to have these conversations in evening so as not to disturb their routine tasks during the day. Also, Fridays were supposed to be avoided as most of the folks would either be devoted for friends or family.

We specifically wanted to appeal to the Indian audience and knowing their preferences, kept the timing for Mondays, 8:30PM Local Time.

There can be no participants

If you are a host, this is one of the worst situation you can be in. But yes, there are times when everyone is busy and you might hardly see yourself or one more participant. This happens especially when you’re starting a new chat and not many are aware about it. Action Tip – Promote well enough, to start with, tag and engage few friends/acquaintances in similar industry

There can be parallel conversations

This does happen when you have more participants in the chat and few of them could start internal conversation while the chat is on. At times, this conversation might not even be relevant to the subject being discussed in the chat. Don’t lose heart, it happens to many of us. Action Tip – As a moderator of the chat, it would be your responsibility to bring the conversations back to the topic at hand. You will have to politely ask them to drop off the hashtag if relevant conversation is not happening

There can be trolls

Sad reality of Twitter is there are enough trolls out there to hijack any conversations. Their intention may be to sell services, product or anything under the sun by leveraging your reach. On the flip side, there could be some honest mistakes as well, where automation could have gone wrong eg. Retweeting of any tweets with the hashtag, adding to list, etc Action Tip – We have immediately marked account as spam and notified Twitter, which would mean that few of those accounts are banned. We also notify other participants of such spam so that they can even take similar actions.

Use Tools

Most of the times, the Twitter Chats could clock anywhere between 200+ tweets in an hour. Which means that the hash tag becomes very busy and it is humanly impossible to track all the tweets using the native Twitter Tool. So we prefer to use tools like –

Action Tip: Use combination of tools and devices. One device can have a stream running on Tweetdeck where the mentions are being tracked while the other device can use other tools to engage in the chat.

We hope these recommendations and action tips will be useful as you host or participate in Twitter Chat. We have indeed learnt few things from our mistakes too, so happy learning!!

list of things twitter chat

Your turn

What has worked for you as a host and participant of Twitter Chats? Do you participate regularly? What makes you participate in Twitter Chats?

Let us know!

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Better Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) – #SEOTalk Recap

conversion rate optimizationThis week on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat, we had some interesting discussion around Conversion Rate Optimization. For starters, Conversion Rate Optimization or CRO as it’s known in the industry is –

a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers, or more generally, take any desired action on a webpage

To achieve better conversion, brands have to constantly look at customer journey towards the conversion. The conversion could be happening through click(s) from PPC, social updates, SEO campaigns. So studying each steps within these campaigns is important.

Like few folks have tweeted in the chat, analytics and A/B testing is a very essential element to achieve better CRO.

Other key element that needs to be optimized for better conversion rate is landing pages.

Landing pages are gateway to conversion process and personally, I advise brands to have minimum number of fields on the landing page for better conversion. If they can do with just 2 fields, name and email id, other details should not be sought. Additional fields can only hamper your conversion rates.

Apart from that, the landing page should have a clear call-to-action (CTA) to help in conversion.

We also covered myths around conversion rate optimization (CRO) and one clear myth was, CRO will solve all the problems of conversion or one landing page is all I need (which still many brands practice). These are clear conversion dampeners.

Here are the questions we covered during the chat –

Q1. What is CRO and why is it important?
Q2. Which metric(s) would to track for CRO?
Q3. How can SEM, SEO play an important role in achieving better CRO?
Q4. Why is landing page the most important aspect of CRO?
Q5. What are the myths around CRO?
Q6. What hacks/tips would you suggest for better CRO?

Conversion Rate Optimization Transcripts

Your thoughts

  1. What are your thoughts on improving conversion through landing pages
  2. How can brands be better at conversion rate optimization?

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What is happening in Live Streaming Universe?

live streaming universeOver last one week we have seen couple of key announcements related to live streaming. First was shutting down of Blab.im and that was followed by changes to Google Hangout On Air. Both these announcements are being debated about widely in various live streaming communities.

Most of us are talking on what went wrong with those two platforms and what can we see going further. But before we go there, let’s  see what has been happening so far.

Glance at Live Streaming Universe

Some stats –

  • Periscope has over 10mn users
  • Periscope has over 200 million broadcasts so far
  • Everyday, over 110 years worth of videos are watched on Periscope
  • Blab had over 3.9mn users
  • Average daily user viewed blab for 65 minutes

While live streaming was already popular with Crowdcast and Google Hangouts, it came to prominence with the launch of mobile platforms like Meerkat and then Periscope. The ease of doing live video by tapping on your devices and reaching out to wider audience was a power brands could hardly fathom.

Then came Blab.im, a platform that could live stream with 1-4 participants along with it’s iOS app and desktop interface. It was also tech light, which made many Google Hangout users to switch loyalties.

But now, by this time of the year, live streaming universe is dotted with multiple players – Periscope, Facebook Live, Firetalk, Huzza, Crowdcast to name a few and each of them offer more or less the same kind of functionality and few extensions too.

So we believe that the combination of mobile app + social + tech light has done wonders to the live streaming universe and is giving rise to many live streaming stars, each good in their own niche.

Then where is the challenge?

The first and foremost challenge is – ‘listening to community‘. For someone like me who were doing an occasional Periscopes but more Blab based shows, the announcement of shutting down Blab was quite sudden. Though it was not surprising given the way folks at Blab had stopped listening to the community since early 2016.

We often heard people having trouble signing in or unable to download or even asking for updates on certain features. Most of the time, they hit the wall with their queries, so many of us could see it coming. The only question was when.

The second challenge is ease of use. Many folks had migrated to Blab or similar providers from Google Hangout to host multi-participant shows because of the ease at which they could do those shows. These platforms were tech light and as easy as login & start show or login & join or just view the stream. And with mobile apps, most of them were able to go live tapping few buttons on the device.

Third and BIGGEST challenge – ‘Quality of content‘. While folks using Google Hangouts or paid platforms like Crowdcast gave out best content, free platforms like Blab or Periscope were often serving out crappy content. And that is exactly what Shaan Puri spoke about on the last post about Blab. According to him and which is true, many people were just ‘hanging around’ and broadcasting. That really doesn’t add any value to either the platforms or the followers.

What next for live streaming?

The churn is for real and I wish the best platform wins. And the platform that will be able to provide ease of use, quality content, easy integration with tools, mobility will be the winner.

And indeed, live streaming is not going away, so if you’re still sitting on the fence, it’s a good time to pick up platforms like Facebook Live, Periscope or Google Hangout and start engaging with your audience.

For starters, Google Hangout is not going away but just the integration with Google+ is moving to Youtube. Which means, few functionalities like Q&A might not work on the new integration. Youtube Live should be the next platform to watch out for. Though my hopes are not very high given Google’s history of bungling on anything ‘social’.

Other platforms that I am betting on, apart from Facebook Live and Periscope are Crowdcast and Firetalk. Both are pretty similar to Blab and I see many of the regular Blab users already on those platforms.

Your thoughts?

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Instagram Stories – Should Snapchat be worried?

instagram stories

We had pretty interesting couple of weeks in the digital marketing world. Earlier, most of the platform announced their quarterly results which was followed by launch of some new features. And Instagram Stories definitely caught everyone’s fancy. Not because of the new feature but more so as it resembled closely to Snapchat Stories.

The new feature, just like Snapchat Stories, allows users to share a photo or 10 second video on Stories with a life of 24 hours.

Now what does that mean to marketer and brands? And more importantly, should Snapchat be worried?

Instagram Stories – Who will win the game?

Here is my take on the topic and it is based on 3 key factors –

  1. User Experience
  2. User Growth
  3. Building a Tribe

User Experience

Instagram’s claim to fame was filters that people could apply on their photos and share within the community. Features gave power to people to make their photos look better without using tough-to-learn photo-editing softwares and it was quicker too.

Snapchat took that experience a little further. You had filters on ‘snaps’ which could be either photos or 10-sec videos. Apart from that, you could add location filters or like they call it – geo filters too. Giving more power to people, you could create your own geo-filter and submit too.

Add to that, the power of emojis, which were recently introduced. And there you have a fun platform that entertainers, personal marketers loved it. Just think, Snapchat reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States every day and they owe it to user experience.

So, Instagram 0, Snapchat 1

User growth

Many of us know that Instagram had been for long facing a growth fatigue. The MAU or the monthly active users were not improving much over last few quarters. Compared to it, Snapchat was getting much popular and more users were moving from Instagram to Snapchat, thus lowering the engagement on Instagram.

Though, over last few quarters, Instagram came up with Sponsored updates and algorithm based feed and arrested the sharp decline as well as monetized the platform better.

Now with addition of Stories feature, I have seen more engagement on Instagram which could mean that they are on a path to recovery.

So, Instagram 1, Snapchat 1

Building Tribes

Now this aspect I believe is a deal clincher. We have always known that it’s not easy to ‘Discover’ someone on Snapchat. You have either seen a Snapcode on some other platform or were recommended by someone.

Compared to that, it is much easier to find people on Instagram. You could use either a hashtag and follow people using that hashtag or find via the visual search tool. Also, given the fact that the platform has been around longer than Snapchat, many users already have a strong follower base in place.

So, Instagram 2, Snapchat 1

In a nutshell, I believe that this is Instagram’s battle to lose. And if Snapchat still wants it’s share of dollars, they will have to build strong discovery features as well as come up with other really innovative features to take the wind out of Instagram Stories.

Watch the video sharing my thoughts on this battle and do subscribe to the channel

Your thoughts?