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    One of my favourite analogies when I talk about social media and online marketing is the concept of spreading “welcome mats” around the internet. The more individually made mats that you make and strategically place, the more chance you have of being found in an increasingly competitive online market … and of course the better the chance of developing those all important contacts and relationships.

    What’s a Welcome Mat?

    So, what do I mean by “welcome mats”? Well, for me, they come in many different shapes and forms but are essentially places on the web where you invite people back to your website or blog by introducing yourself (through something you have written yourself or via someone else’s reference or recommendation) and making contact with them. Essentially a “doorway” back to your site indicated by a “welcome mat”.

    Still not clear? Well, let me give some of the forms that they can take. Some of the principal ones that come to mind are:

    • Website pages which appear as Search Engines results

    • Blog posts (individual, categories etc.) in Search Engines and Blog Search Engines & Directories

    • Social/Business Networking Profiles pages and the posts or comments you leave on these sites

    • Bookmarked articles on Social bookmarking and Crowd Sourcing sites

    • Links coming from other websites or blogs

    • Blog comments you leave where the “name” will link back to your blog

    • YouTube profiles linking your videos back to your site

    • Reference to your post from a Twitter message (either your own or someone else’s)

    • AdWords (PPC) Adverts

    • Directory entries

    • Articles posted with a link in the signature file

    • Forum / Bulletin Board signatures

    In each of these cases, you are effectively creating a Welcome Mat – something which provides information about you and your business, and then extends both an invitation and the means to find out more about you, via a link back to your site.

    So, how will people find me?

    As people use the internet for research, social interaction, fun, information gathering or whatever they individually want, they “cross the internet” in a variety of different ways – just how they go about it, is totally out of our control. In fact, it’s likely to change each time and so the ‘route’ that they take will be different too.

    They might use a search engine and then follow links in a directory they find, or head straight for the blogosphere and check Technorati. More and more, they may use a tool like Twitter to ask others’ opinions or they might start off with some Press Releases via Yahoo News. Whichever they choose, our goal as online marketers is to make sure that we appear in as many relevant places as possible to increase our chances of being part of their search – creating multiple and specific Welcome Mats allows us to do this.

    Our mission – should we choose to accept it! – is to make sure that we give ourselves the best chance possible to place a welcome mat in their path and make it attractive and relevant enough for them to follow and read our information. No small task!

    Where do blogs fit in?

    The trouble is that creating Welcome Mats is all well and good but the internet is vast and there are a lot of people vying for attention – so you have to take the time to make them relevant and to make them stand out. They have to demonstrate why they should spend time on your site rather than someone else’s. Blogs have two key roles to play in this scenario.

    In the first instance, they are a great way to create welcome mats. For example, each time that I write a post which I hope will first and foremost be of interest to people who read my blog, I also know that it will also automatically:

    • create 5 or 6 new pages (individual post, home page, archive page, 2 category pages) 5 potential Welcome Mats on the main Search Engines;

    • ping 35 blog search engines, directories and RSS directories – let’s say at least 10 Welcome Mats;

    • if it is well written, it may be fortunate in having 5 people reference it in addition from their blogs giving another 5 Welcome Mats;

    • add to Feedburners Headline Animator which I use when I post on Business Networking sites which displays links to my RSS feed on average another 5 Welcome Mats;

    • perhaps referenced, tweeted or dugg on relevant social media sites if the post is something that people believe is worth sharing.

    So, by posting on my blog and focusing purely on my key aim of writing something which will prove useful and interesting, it is also likely that I will automatically create over 25 new Welcome Mats. That for me is a bonus rather than the primary reason that I write … but is also an additional reason to encourage businesses I work with to get their own business blog.

    In the second instance, blogs are also a great place to refer people back to – so not only do they fulfil the role of information creator and distributor, they are also a great place for all of these welcome mats to lead back to, rather than a static website. This is particularly true when it comes to social media and the interactive nature of the blog acts as a central focus for the other tools such as video, microblogging or social bookmarking. There is no better place for someone to get to know you (and decide whether they want to do business with you) than on your blog – so let it reflect the information and values you wish to communicate.

    So, go for it!

    It’s no longer the case (if it ever really did work this way) that you can simply put up a “roadblock” and divert people automatically to your website. This smacks of so called “interruption marketing” and as such gets short shrift from the net savvy users that we have become today. Today, we have to use our powers of attraction and our networks instead to help to deliver our message and information to the people interested in it.

    The ‘Welcome Mats’ of today need to be much more based upon four of the principles of social media – creating, sharing, participating, involving – than on the advertising bias of a few years ago. These also offer many more opportunities. So take the time to look at your own and see whether you are creating attractive invitations that people are going to want to follow and share with others – if you find that you’re not, then I’d suggest that now’s the time to start.

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    Landing PagesWhether you use a blog as part of your company marketing strategy or it is your only online presence, youll no doubt be looking to promote your blog as widely as possible.

    Unfortunately, much like normal websites, it is not simply a case of build and they will come there are, however, lots of ways to encourage visitors and readers, some of which are outlined in the
    52 methods of blog promotion.

    Consider Landing Pages

    Whichever ways you choose, I would encourage you to also adopt one of the key elements of successful online marketing and develop specific relevant landing pages to complement the marketing. In case you are wondering, a landing page is the page on your blog that visitors arrive at after clicking on your promotional creative, whether that is a Pay Per Click advert, email marketing link, magazine or newspaper advert or a Word of Mouth recommendation.

    You should make the page completely relevant to the keyword phrases they have been searching on in the case of Pay Per Click advertising or the subject matter of the promotion – effectively, your first goal is to reassure the reader that the page (and by implication your blog and company) really does provide what they are searching for.

    This is equally effective when you are marketing offline, perhaps in magazines or at seminars, as you can create individual landing pages which offer information which is going to be relevant to these groups – then just provide them with this URL rather than your homepage.

    What are your aims?

    A landing page needs to be focused not only on where your reader has come from but also very clearly on what you want them to do and where you want them to go as a result of reading it. There are a number of different options which are nicely summarised by Seth Godin as follows:

    • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)

    • Get a visitor to buy

    • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.

    • Get a visitor to tell a friend

    • Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

    The information that you decide to have on each specific landing page and how you build the page will depend on what you want to achieve with it. The whole page should point to the “call to action” that you are looking to achieve, but at the same time should motivate your readers by showing them the value in it. It that means using a “giveaway” as a taster then do that too.

    Creating the Landing Page

    You could use a highly relevant single post or, more appropriately, a category page, with a specific sticky post at the top to make sure that you press home your message. Lets face it, posts on business blogs will tend to be specific and focused on a particular subject or subject area.

    However, to get the developed landing page we outlined above then ideally you should create one which is tailor made for the job. If you are using WordPress, then this is very straightforward just create a page (rather than posts) which sits outside the chronological structure of the blog and link directly to that. With other systems, you should be able to use the same functionality that you use to create your About page .

    In terms of content, try answering these questions as you create each landing page:

    • What benefit am I offering? (may be more appropriate than what service or product)

    • What specific group of people do I want to appeal to?

    • 5 reasons why they would be interested in what I have to offer?

    • What do they need to do to take the next step? (ie. subscribe, buy etc)

    It is helps, you could consider that each landing page is really a summary of all the pages covering the product or service you are offering which needs to be motivational and persuasive without being hyped.

    So to summarise – I’m not suggesting that we start to turn our business blog into purely a direct sales tool. Far from it. However, the blog is a business tool and we should use it to develop connections and new opportunities as best we can to support the marketing activities we employ to promote it and our business. Astute use of landing pages will help to achieve this.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    An analogy that I use when I talk about emarketing is the idea of making mats, specifically Welcome Mats, which you then spread around the internet. The more individual mats that you make and strategically place, the more chance you have of being found in an increasingly competitive online market.

    What am I on about? Well, these Welcome Mats are places where you essentially introduce yourself and then invite people to learn more about you, your business and what you offer. Generally this means “inviting” them back to your website or to your blog.

    What form can these take? Well, for example:

    • Pages which appear as Search Engines results

    • AdWords (PPC) Adverts

    • Links on other sites or blogs

    • Directory entries

    • Articles with a link in your signature

    • Forum / Bulletin Board signatures

    These are all what I would call Welcome Mats each will ideally be individually crafted, give a short introduction to you and your business and then invite people to find out more through a hyperlink through to your site.

    So, as people use the internet for research or information gathering, they cross the internet in many different ways – how they go about it is totally out of our control. In fact, each time will be different and so the route that they take will be different too.


    They might use a search engine and then follow links in some directories, or head straight for the blogosphere and check Technorati or maybe start with some Press Releases via Yahoo News. Whichever they choose, our goal as online marketers is to make sure that we appear in as many relevant places as possible and so cover all options – creating multiple and specific Welcome Mats allows us to do this.

    And why do I consider blogs to be Mat Making machines? Well as I write a post which I hope will first and foremost be of interest to people who read my blog, I know that it will also automatically:

    • create 5 or 6 new pages (individual post, home page, archive page, 2 category pages) 5 potential Welcome Mats on the main Search Engines;

    • ping a number of blog search engines, directories and RSS directories – let’s say 10 Welcome Mats;

    • if it is well written, it may be fortunate in having 2 people reference it in addition from their blogs giving another 2 Welcome Mats;

    • add to Feedburners Headline Animator which I use when I post on Business Networking sites like ecademy which displays links to my RSS feed on average another 5 Welcome Mats.

    So, by posting on my blog and focusing purely on my key aim of writing something which will prove useful and interesting, it is also likely that I will automatically create over 20 new Welcome Mats. That for me is a bonus rather than the reason that I write … but is also the reason that I encourage businesses I work with to get their own Mat Making Machine.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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