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The best marketing book I've ever read is Buzz Marketing. It's not quite about marketing plans, but it will expand your understanding of marketing and help you to think outside of the box to find effective ways to generate awareness and interest for your business.
My opinion is that it comes down to traffic and conversions. Most people don't know how to drive targeted traffic, so they get lots of bounces and very few conversions. If someone isn't interested in what you sell, but you pay for a Google ad that isn't a good fit, then you aren't going to be very happy with the lead and sales results.
Going one step further, if your site isn't designed to generate leads and sales, then you'll likely be disappointed as well. Lots of designers design for aesthetics not conversions which is a big mistake. Every design should start with goals in mind, and this influences the information architecture, the design, and the copy which ultimately is what will lead to sales and results.
So it comes down to two things: 1) Making sure you can drive targeted traffic and not just traffic (although traffic of any sort is a big problem for most people and 2) Designing your site for conversions, not just looks.
I don't have an answer but do understand the question since a lot of people would love to have this kind of access to Craigslist.
Follow-up question: If you pay someone to enter these manually (say someone working minimum wage), does that conflict with Craigslist's terms of service? If not, that might be a possibility.
I agree with the previous answer that Google Analytics and the built-in Facebook stats are a great place to start for this. One question to ask is what the goals are for the business. If your goals are to increase Facebook page likes (which usually isn't a top recommendation), then your reporting will be different than if your goal is to get people to your site to order a product (a much better way to use Facebook).
It's difficult to say which key figures to use without know more about the business. The top ones are traffic, traffic sources, and conversions (if you have goals set up in Google Analytics). If you don't have enough traffic, then you need to focus on generating that, and if you are getting enough traffic but aren't converting, then you need to work on improving conversion rates. The good news is that all of this can be done with Google Analytics so long as you have it set up properly.
I don't think it's dying, but do agree that it's evolving. One way it's changing is placing more emphasis on content. You need to have good content that ranks in Google in order to generate more search engine traffic. If you only have five pages, you're only going to generate so much traffic, but if you have 100 pages, you're going to generate more. High-quality content is what takes you from less to more and is becoming increasingly important for a complete SEO strategy.
One of the most significant results I've seen was for a client of mine - Switch Video. We changed one word on their call to action button and increased leads generated by 228%. How'd we do it, you ask? Well, first we surveyed their customers to find out what questions they had, and then we made an educated changed based on the survey results. It always helps to start with research so you're not just guessing about what to test.
I agree with Rich that 13% is pretty good. At this point I'd focus more on how to get more people to your page with links in your other social profiles, writing guest posts with a link to Clarity, or something else.
It all comes down to your goals and your budget. If you have a decent budget to begin a PPC campaign, that's an easy way to start driving traffic and generate conversions (you just need to know how to manage PPC so you don't burn through all of your money too quickly). If you have less money but more time, you can consider blogging and some of the other content items you mentioned.
I've had bad experiences with India and know people who've had good experiences in Eastern Europe. It obviously depends on who you hire, but I've found more than once that India is cheap but the work quality isn't great.
I agree with some of the answers that have already been posted. The first step is writing for your audience and making sure you write something people want to read and share. That's why it's called search engine OPTIMIZATION. You're optimizing for computers, not writing for them.
The next step is to optimize, which actually could end up being step one when you conduct keyword research to identify post ideas. If you come up with good post ideas based on sound SEO research and you write great posts for people, then there's a greater likelihood your posts will rank well for SEO. At this point, you just need to make sure you use the keyword phrase in the title and write it in a way that appeals to both people and computers. You can also take a little time to optimize your post and make sure you use the keyword sufficiently in your article without over-using. The Yoast SEO plugin is great for double checking and optimizing after the post is written. Premise by Copyblogger is another tool you can use.
Recap: 1) Write posts that will appeal to people and write for your audience first. 2) Make sure to use the primary keyword in the title and in the post and write the title in a way that will appeal to both readers and Google. 3) Double check with a tool like the Yoast SEO plugin or Premise (although once you get the hang of it you don't have to check as much).
Here are two great marketing blogs for entrepreneurs: http://blog.crazyegg.com/ & http://blog.kissmetrics.com/.
We had a 30 minute call with Joe that gave us fantastic clarity on how to take our SEO strategy forward.
Fantastic call, I could tell Joe really knew his stuff!
Joe is AMAZING! A+++ CALL. Never a better person to reach out to with SEO & Content questions to grow your business!!
Joe was great to chat strategy with and I left the call with some definite clarity on where to take our SEO strategy next.
I liked Joe's attitude and energy. The call went smoothly; he was reliable and was there even though I cancelled twice. Knows his stuff and will help you out a lot. His prices are low compared to the quality of the information that was conferred. Will use him again in the future.
Joe is the man!!
He's on top of his game, which was expected having followed his work on KissMetrics, CrazyEgg, etc.
The advise he gave me, was laser focused, on the dot.
I definitely am implementing what he suggested, and can't wait to see the results!
Will be talking to him again soon.
Thanks again Joe :)
Joe was very helpful and provided a number of direct resources that I can utilize immediately.
Excellent! Incredibly thoughtful and connected me with a friend in the industry who may be a perfect fit for what we're looking for.
Joe had great ideas to try out, asked good questions to gain context, and only shared advice in areas he was knowledgeable in. Thank you Joe.
We got great insights on content marketing and the content development process from an experienced practitioner.
Joseph was great to talk with and we have some interesting plans to move forward with around content and content marketing. Get in touch with Joseph!