fbpx
Top
 

Digital Marketing & Social Media

The secret to keeping your social media ‘on brand’

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools available, but to fully harness its potential, businesses need to establish a consistent brand.

Why is consistent branding important?

Staying “on brand” within and across social media platforms is crucial for creating brand recognition, credibility and loyalty. It signals to both potential and existing customers that your brand is established, dependable, trustworthy and engaged.

Social media is a fast-paced world that thrives on novelty, but studies have shown that consumers are also affected by familiarity bias, which means they favor the consistent and the familiar. Successful brands need to both keep their content fresh and engaging and create enough continuity in their messaging to give users the feeling of dependability and familiarity.

So what is the most effective way for a company to develop a strong brand and continue to stay on brand through growth and transition? The secret boils down to one word:

Strategy.

In an article featured in Small Business Trends, ATX Web Designs founder and CEO Daniel Griggs advised businesses to create a strategy and system for their social media posts.

While it can be time-consuming and even tedious at times to plan and schedule social media posts, this process will give you the most return on your investment. Creating a strategy and schedule for your social media posts allows you to think about the content you want to present, cross-promote, synchronize posts and make sure each piece of content matches with your brand and company vision.

Developing brand guidelines and a style guide is a must for maintaining brand consistency. There are many aspects beyond the actual content to consider when establishing these guidelines, such as

  • Tone and personality
  • Visual design
  • Multimedia
  • Font and color scheme
  • Logo
  • Offline and internal marketing

Utilizing a content calendar and post scheduler will help ensure that all these aspects of your social media content represent a consistent brand and are in line with your company’s greater vision.

There is no shortcut to creating and maintaining a cohesive online brand and presence. It requires pre-planning, strategy and commitment. Most of all it takes time. Building trust with your consumer base requires patience and consistent effort but the results will boost your credibility as well as your bottom line.

If you’d like to develop more brand cohesion throughout your website and mobile app, ATX Web Designs offers design and development services customized for your business.

The Right Social Media Platform for Your Business

How the hell do you choose the right social media platform?

Facebook has 2 billion users and offers the best ROI. LinkedIn just crossed half a billion users. YouTube viewers watch a billion hours of clips per day (!). Twitter has only (“only”) 330 million users (there are 330 million people in the United States) but half a billion tweets per day (which comes out to over 7,000 every second!). How do you possibly get your message to your audience?

Dang. That is actually a really good question! It wasn’t until I started writing this out that I realized how ludicrously incomprehensible this all is. Let’s get some perspective:

Right now, our planet has about 7.6 billion people living on it. Roughly half use the internet (official count in 2015 was 3.2 billion). And about one-tenth of those live in the United States. Which isn’t to say that all 320 million Americans use the internet–actually only about 284 million Americans do. There are 7 continents, approximately 193 countries, and most of the world’s population is on the Asian continent.

And, if you’re like me, none of this means a thing because I have no grasp of the abstract. So, thank you, Tim Urban, for creating this incredible visual so that people like me can begin to think about grasping the concept of one billion.

Wow.

I was going to get on here and tell you some good strategy tips, but if you’re reading this from Austin, TX, your corner of the internet is like sand on the beach, man. One grain of sand on a very large, sandy beach filled with sand dunes.

Which turns out to be great news, after all!

The entire world of 7+ billion people is connected by, like, 10 websites.

And you’re going to be just fine.

Here’s your job:

  1. Know your market.
  2. Work with its influencers.
  3. Be better than your competition.

That’s it! That’s your job.

Take your tiny miniscule corner of the internet and communicate with your audience. I suggest doing it directly through the influencers because they’re really good at their jobs and working with them frees you up to run your business, but whatever. The point is for you to learn your customer’s well enough that you know who their influencers are and where they hang out. If you can figure out those two things, you’re well on your way to dominating the competition.

And through it all, get on LinkedIn. It’s still a small enough network that you can really establish yourself there. Get to know people in your industry. Comment on their thoughts and posts. Share some of your own. It’s the most direct way for you to build your business and your (personal) brand.

It’s a big world out there. It’s crowded and noisy, but your business is not to worry about what other people are doing. It isn’t about the platform. It’s how well that platform enables you to connect with your audience. You choose the right platform for your business by going where your audience is and engaging with them. Don’t look to impress everyone or get the biggest following. Ultimately the only currency that matters is connection. Connect with your audience and you’re golden.

4 simple strategies to start using today

Early in 2017, the world’s largest professional network LinkedIn broke 500 million users. That’s no small amount, and yet, in a world of over 7 billion people, where Facebook has 2 billion users, 500 million is kind of–dare I say–small?

That’s the great advantage of LinkedIn right now. It’s enormous, but it doesn’t feel enormous. It offers tremendous opportunity but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Or does it?

Last month we told you why you need to be all over LinkedIn.But for most people who use Linkedin, a picture and some basics about their job is all they ever do. We know that it can be nerve-wracking to put yourself out there on LinkedIn. Staying within your profile is safe. And anyway, what do you have to say that’s going to help anyone?

We get it.

So today we’re going to give you 4 strategies that you can start using today to build your network, raise your profile, and grow your brand.

1. Write Posts

The great thing about writing a LinkedIn post is that the best ones are just quick thoughts. You don’t have to worry that you’re not a writer. Here are some ideas to get you started:

-Observations. If you don’t already, start paying attention to what you pay attention to. We all make observations and notes to self about what we see going on around us that could be improved. Start sharing yours.

-Ideas. Share ideas of thought leaders in your industry with some of your commentary. Share your own ideas for the future of the industry, how you would like to make it better, how it could be improved or how it might change or how a certain technology or platform could impact it, or is impacting it. You have a million ideas, I’m sure. Share one now and then.

-Help other people. You’ve worked your way up the ladder, you’ve started a business, you’ve spent years doing something that you’re really good at (or not). What can you say to help someone starting out? What about someone mid-career? What about a challenge you overcame or a lesson you learned that might help another person?

-Articles. Sharing interesting pieces is a great way to leverage LinkedIn. Just don’t let this be your only strategy. You want to share your own original work, too.

2. Build Relationships

LinkedIn has 500 million people on it. Go get to know a few of them. Help them with their work. Accept help with yours. You can do this by:

-Posting content

-Commenting on posts.

-Saying Congratulations and Happy Birthday when LinkedIn prompts you to.

Using groups, or creating a group and inviting others to it.

-Creating partnerships: This Entrepreneur article suggests using groups to find businesses related to your work that can help you serve clients. Real estate agents, for example, would partner with insurance agents and mortgage brokers.

3. Consistency

Don’t feel like you have to write a post everyday. The strategy of consistency is that you interact with other people on at least a weekly basis. Use LinkedIn for more than your professional updates. The more you interact with other people and their work, the more you get to know people and understand their needs. Then, it’s easier for you to make content that’s valuable, and that’s how you’ll create a network of people that you can both help and be helped by.

4. Don’t Be a Me-Monster

This might be the most important thing about leveraging LinkedIn: it isn’t all about you. So much advice is about being an authority, being a thought leader, creating content. Think instead about building relationships. You don’t win over people by talking only about yourself. Add value to other people’s lives.

The good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneur life. Are you up for it?

Everyone wants the entrepreneur life. Wear hoodies to the office (when you go to the office), which will be equipped with game rooms and cafeterias that serve ice cream and churros (mmm). Your work isn’t for a punch clock or manager, or even a paycheck. You set your hours. You assemble your team. You work really hard on something you love and ultimately build a company that changes the world. Then, you just live on top of the world getting profiled by magazines, signing book deals, getting paid enormous amounts for speaking engagements, and maybe best of all, living it up on your private island with former presidents. Hell yes. Entrepreneurship is good.

Except when it’s not. Companies–most of them–collapse. Money is lost, sometimes millions (sometimes more). Years are lost. After years of devotion to an idea, you have nothing to show for it. Or, your company does great! It’s top of the world–and then the iPhone comes along.

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Most entrepreneurs aren’t Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg. Most entrepreneurs run much smaller businesses. You may not be dealing deals worth hundreds of millions or the collapse of enormous companies, but you will still experience the same hardships, setbacks, wins, and losses.

It’s the entrepreneur life.

The Good.

Do we need to talk about the good? Setting your own schedule. Owning an island and starting your day kitesurfing. Traveling to 20 countries a year. Wearing hoodies (or shirts made just for you). Being the youngest self-made female billionaire in America. The excitement, challenge, and satisfaction of growing your own company. There is no ceiling to what you can do.

The Bad.

Stress. You basically die to everything else in your life so that you can devote all your time energy and focus to building this business. Fear. Oh the fear. The cost to personal relationships. Failure.

The Ugly

The highs and lows of entrepreneurship are greater than with any other job. The ugly parts are uglier, too. Tim Ferriss has talked about his struggles with depression, suicide and burnout.

The ugliest thing, though, may be just the intensity of the scary feelings. Not having a boss means you’re not responsible to anyone–except your entire company, which can include the board, the shareholders, investors, and not just employees but the family who depend on them. The stakes are so high. It’s wonderful when it goes well, and utterly brutal when it doesn’t.

Even if you don’t have a board and investors to think about, it’s your company. It’s an extension of you, and you have people counting on you to succeed. You’re counting on you to succeed. You’ll work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life and your body and mind pay the price.

As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be prepared to experience all the good, the bad, and the ugly. Success demands dedication to your work, and all the good and bad that comes with that. You know you’re up for the good, but there’s a hell of a lot of bad and ugly that comes with it. Are you up for it?

Read two more takes on the good, the bad and the ugly of entrepreneurship here and here.

How to Create a Provable ROI in Social Media

How do you measure the return on investment from social media? Understanding the value of social media is important but really comes down to experimentation. I mean honestly, it’s hard to tell how much revenue a Tweet you sent out last week brought in, or if your last Instagram post boosted your bottom line. Many businesses are struggling to grasp the financial impact social media marketing is having for them.

You track your return from the quantitative data you receive from experimenting. That’s right, this will help your businesses determine what works best for their brands. We’ve broken down the process and listed a few simple steps to follow.

1.   Set Social Media Goals

Before you can get into measuring your return, you need to set goals! Your goals should be quantifiable and linked to a specific campaign. Why? This will allow you to track individual links that you share on Twitter, Facebook or other social media channels. Also, to ensure you get the most accurate number, you really want to set your goals based on actions that convert a casual browser to a lead, and ultimately a paying customer.

2. Track Your Goals

Once your goals are defined, the next step is to track them. Tracking is an extremely important part!

3.  Measure Your Social Media Expenses

In order to figure out whether you’re getting a positive or negative ROI for social media campaigns, you have to measure how much you’re spending. This includes; man hours, content, social media tools and ad costs. After all your time is valuable and expenses add up.

As you can see, tracking your social media ROI isn’t impossible. You just have to take a planned and strategic approach. Happy experimenting!

How to Set Awesome 2018 Marketing Goals That You’ll Actually Stick With

Everybody has big goals for the new year. You want growth, revenue, influence, more customers, bigger campaigns, better awards–setting the goals is the easy part. Achieving them? That’s a whole different ball game.

Conventional advice tells you to set SMART goals, goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, results-focused, time-bound. Instead of saying, I want to make more money in 2018, you say, I want to increase profit 10% in the first quarter.

Experts also advise breaking it down into small pieces so you don’t get overwhelmed. Break it into steps and pieces and achieve it one task at a time.

Conventional advice earned its place on the front pages of google: it works. Setting SMART goals and working toward them little by little is a great way to achieve a goal.

Unless you’re me because that just sounds so boring I just want to quit right now.

I don’t want SMART goals! I don’t want steps! I want excitement and spontaneity and the thrill of chasing an impossible goal–and getting lost in the process and discovering something even newer and more exciting along the way!

Or maybe you’re not like me at all, but you still struggle with goals. That’s okay! We can do this together.

Set Awesome Goals

Think you don’t need help with this part?

Wrong.

Your problem is you aren’t thinking big enough! Basketball players don’t train every day for years just so they can sometimes make a shot off the backboard.* They want that slow motion, jumping over the heads of their opponents, put it straight in the basket kind of slam dunk shot.

This is no time to get psyched out by fear. What do you really want with your business?

Running a business isn’t easy. What are you working so hard for? Be brash. Go big.

Only then should you be realistic–but only about achieving it. It’s going to take time and dedication, and probably the achievement of lots of smaller goals as you work your way to it. What are you going to do to achieve those goals? How will you overcome the naysayers? What will you say when your own self-doubt tries to talk you out of it?

Write down your questions, your doubts, all the reasons that pursuing this crazy goal is a stupid waste of time, that you’ll just fail anyway.

Then, one by one, come up with solutions.

See Them Through

Now that you have awesome (!) goals written down (because writing them down is the first step to achieving them), you need a plan for success.

We already talked about SMART goals. We talked about breaking them into mini goals. We have not yet talked about big wins and motivation.

Big wins are when, instead of saving money by cutting back on Starbucks lattes, you negotiate a big raise at work. Focus on big wins instead of little tactics and details. It gets you further, it feels great, and it’s great motivation.

Which is important because motivation won’t get you far. Gretchen Rubin is a researcher who studies happiness, good habits, and human nature. She writes that motivation doesn’t drive behavior:

Instead of thinking about motivation, I argue that we should think about aims, and then concrete, practical, realistic steps to take us closer to our aims.

Instead of thinking, “I want to lose weight so badly,” think instead about the concrete steps to take, “I’ll bring lunch from home.”

She has a quiz to help you figure out what sort of practical, realistic steps will be best for you–or, more specifically, your “tendency”. Each tendency (there are 4) is a different way of responding to expectations. For example, I’m an Obliger, so I respond to outside expectations. If you expect me to meet a goal, I’ll meet it pretty easily. Meeting my own goals, though, requires a system of outer accountability (ie a buddy to help keep me on track). Other tendencies respond to reason (the “why” of a goal) and desire.

You’re setting awesome goals. Set yourself up for success, too.

Wow Your Audience and Improve SEO

In today’s society, to truly establish yourself as a leader and wow your audience you need to create longer and more in depth content. This will truly help show your audience what you know that benefits them. There are 6 reasons why you want to write longer content that is deeper, offers more facts, and engages your audience in a better way. You can truly delve into a topic with more words than reading longer content or watching longer videos. The first step, start with longer features and higher quality. Secondly, dig deeper include more visuals. There are different types of content that lend themselves to digging deeper.

Feature Articles — A featured article requires more research and has a different format that’s shorter than blog posts have. Often a long article consists of quoting other authorities, books, individuals to further the points being made in the article. To demonstrate your authority, knowledge, and expertise you need to write long articles that will help be useful to you and your audience.

Case Studies — Typically a case study covers so much and the content is usually longer. You must define the problem, offer the solution and share the results via the case studies that you publish. This will certainly keep people reading. People like reading how a solution worked for other people, so case studies are a great choice for longer content.

White Papers —The intent of a white paper is to give authoritative information to guide the readers to answers about an issue that matters to them. A white paper is traditionally used in government and education circles. It will describe benefits, present a set of questions, tips or points about the topic, as well as recommendations and solutions.

Instructional Videos —Videos are known to grab the attention of the audience, and what better way to demonstrate your knowledge and build authority than a long, in depth video tutorial on an important topic for your niche.

If you choose to include longer more in depth content to wow your audience, it needs to be more appealing visually. Make sure to add in images, plenty of bullet points, subheadings, and headers. Also, it’s okay to send people to new pages for the rest of the content it’s essential good for SEO in today’s search engine climate.

Use Product-Feed Advertising on Social Media

For nearly 15 years, marketers have been relying on product display ads to boost advertising campaigns. A few short years ago targeting capabilities, advanced analytics, and product ads opportunities, weren’t available. It’s time to carry these results over to other marketing channels, get your marketers excited and improve advertising.  How can you do that?  Simple, with Product-Feed-based advertising.

Product-feed advertising on social media may be your solution for delivering highly targeted personalized ads to your audience. We have listed four advantages that product–feed advertising has to offer that you may want to consider.

1. Boost Ad-Performance

No one enjoys seeing ads they care nothing about. In all honesty, reaching the right people with the right message isn’t always easy but by automating the process, feed-based advertising creates efficiencies. It will boost ad performance in ways that truly move the needle.

2. Consistency

Feed-based advertising allows you to reach your audience with relevant products at the right time. Consistency is important not only as consumers return to your website, but also in the ads they view.  Although people move from device to device they are almost always logged in as themselves on social channels. Which means, you have access to a personalized and authenticated data.

3. Accelerate the Process

The purpose of programmatic feed advertising is to addresses the issue by accelerating the development process. This makes things easier for marketers. Rather than rely on a creative agency or in house team to put them together, assemble ads from the product feed itself. It will not only save you save time but money.

4. Ability to Scale

Feed-based advertising streamlines the process so that you can combine the right ad and or destination with the data you have. You can effectively manage and optimize social ad campaigns on Instagram and or Facebook at scale.

Conclusion

If you want a simple strategy that can be personalized, boost performance and retargeted for maximum impact, then get feed based advertising!

It will not only deliver consistent customer experiences but it will accelerate the creative development process.

The Five Most Important Features of Your New Website

Business owners love a sexy website. They tell us to make their website look cool. They want their users to be impressed by it, to spend time (and money) on it.

What they don’t usually think about are the really practical but crucial elements of a website that we don’t notice until they’re not there–or, worse, done poorly.

1. User Experience

Each website has its own purposes and objectives. None of them can be achieved if it isn’t stupid-easy to navigate the site. I think this is the single most important element of any and every site because I have no patience for websites that confuse me or present me with broken links or missing pages.

As we always say: know your target audience. Know why they’re there. Know what they want. Know how to get them to what they want.

The key to nailing this part? Test, test, test, then test some more. It doesn’t matter what’s on your site or how good it looks if people can’t get what they need, or leave out of frustration.

2. Mobile response

Do I need to say this? 80% of internet users own a smartphone. Hell, you’re probably reading this from yours! Make it mobile responsive.

3. Analytics

Installing Google analytics is so easy that I’m sure you already have it on your site. The question is: are you using it?

It’s the end of the year and you’re planning your marketing for next year (right?). Your analytics will tell you almost everything you need to craft the web site piece of your marketing strategy. How are people finding your site? What keywords are they using? How long do they spend? How many pages do they visit? Which pages to they visit?

You want to know traffic sources, keywords, and user behavior so you can audit your marketing, determine your ROI, and craft growth strategies for the future.

4. About

I hate when I got to a website and can’t figure out what the company does or what their product is for. Have you had this? You go to the about page and it says a bunch of lofty things about how the company has been utilizing innovative technology since 1986 and is a leader in its industry. What does that even mean?

Just one sentence somewhere on the site about what you actually do would be very helpful to the lost visitors who wander to your website from a social media link and wonder, What the hell am I doing here?

Point ‘em in the right direction. Send ‘em home.

5. Social Media Links

It may be a Millennial thing, but I always check out social media links when I visit a new website. It’s a great way to get a feel for the business. I want to know if they’re posting funny memes or if I can see Instagram updates on their Facebook feeds. Do people like them? Is there a new product coming out? Is it a cool company?

Put your social media links up and invite people along (it’s an easy way to grow your following–and effortlessly generate more leads).

Tips to Avoid Digital Marketing Roadblocks

Have digital marketers made the transition to the super-connected, mobile, digital marketplace? Not yet. According to the Adobe Digital Roadblock report, two-thirds of marketers expect their role to change over the next year, and over three-quarters expect changes over the next three years.

Marketers have shown at this day and age they must reinvent themselves! So how can you reinvent yourself and mature in digital marketing? Well some of the common themes are people, product and process. I have chosen the top 5 Roadblocks for you to avoid.

Hiring digital talent – Roadblock #1

Our enterprises must focus on digital-savvy talent in order to reinvent ourselves.

From digital social marketers, creative development and data analysts all these roles make a big impact in this industry. However, these roles are not rising to meet the demand and marketers will struggle with finding potential hires who possesses the characteristics to operate in a highly technical environment. Marketers should be looking to hire dual digital talented individuals. For example, look for candidates that are creative and analytical, possess leadership skills and digital acumen skills. You can reinvent your marketing ecosystem you just need to hire the right digital talent.

Data avoidance – Roadblock #2

If we don’t hire the digital talent to execute digital campaigns, our success will remain doubtful. We must have luminaries who understand data not just read data. Marketers tell us they believe the ideal marketer should take more risks, but by embracing the strength of data analysis, risks can be significantly reduced. We must arrange and schedule workflow to accommodate the constant feedback loops that permeate our digital world. For those seeking to reinvent themselves, embrace data!

Social media blackout -Roadblock #3

Our digital roadblock concluded that 61 percent of marketers believe social media will be the most critical marketing vehicle to deploy in the next few years. The fact that most brands are growing their social media marketing budgets, leads us to believe the future predictions that social media spend will double in the next five years is accurate.

We must adopt a social strategy and cultivate a social identity that supports that identity through a disciplined approach to audience engagement. Our enterprise must maximize ROI, be organized to leverage the speed, volume, and intensity of social media. Teams must be able to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade all at the same time, all while directing traffic to engage our offerings.

Lack of testing-Roadblock #4

Can you believe that half of the marketers stated that they used the “trusting my gut instinct” on where to invest marketing budgets. How can you rely on that? No need for gut instinct- testing allows us to approach senior leadership with quantifiable results, which may be leveraged in other business areas. Big Data is available to shape customer profiles, track consumer behavior, and monitor ROI. When we can show lift through testing based on data, we are able to justify marketing spend and improve productivity.

Technology adoption -Roadblock #5

Brands in any vertical have to embrace technology or suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, marketers tell us they are more comfortable adopting new technologies once they become mainstream. However, competition is too fierce to hold off consumer engagement.

There is seemingly no end to the integrated tools we have at our disposal such as dashboards that enable analytics, attribution, tag management, content management, and integrate marketing with business IT systems. If we adopt these tools, we can make reinvention possible.

Ultimately, our attempts to reinvent ourselves as digital marketers must point to digital ecosystem management. We must transition our brand and have the ability to dovetail creative development, asset deployment, and customer experiences with financial management. Let’s tear down these roadblocks and explore the frontier together!

Why I, As A Small Business Owner, Support Net Neutrality

This article expresses my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of ATX Web Designs or anyone who works for it.

On November 21 the FCC announced its plan to repeal net neutrality. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said it was to stop the government from “micromanaging” the internet.

Look, the government is not micromanaging your internet. You can go to literally any website in the world right here from your US computer. You can do dark and evil things–for better or for worse!–and no one in the government is going to stop you. There is no micromanagement happening here.

Further, Pai stated that the repeal will allow consumers to “buy the service plan that’s best for them” which, don’t we already? And–here’s where you come in– give “entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

Uh, when the was the last time you were happy that someone threw up a wall on your route to work, then gave you “technical instructions” to innovate to innovate yourself a new route to work?

Never. Because it sucks. This isn’t about small businesses being able to innovate. This is about big (ass) businesses getting even bigger and richer by making you pay for access to your consumers.

It is genius. It is brilliant. It is terrible.

You are a small business owner. You paid for your web redesign and you paid for SEO optimization. You can now pay your bills and your employees because the things you did to set your business up and get the word out to your market–they worked! And they didn’t require any technical information or innovation. You paid some very skilled people to help you get started and now you have just as much access to your market as your biggest, gnarliest competitor.

Now, conceivably, with an unneutral internet, you could grow big enough to effectively slow down consumer access to your competitor’s website (by speeding up access to your own). Like I said, it’s pretty brilliant.

Except, now your ability to reach your customers is also in the hands of a giant, extremely wealthy telecommunications company.

The (Real) Final Frontier

I like the internet. I like the organic subcultures. I love that some kids built an empire from the college dorm. I love that Ze Frank just started making weird videos one day and got people around the world (!) to make an Earth sandwich and that not only did people come together to do it but that it spawned a generation of YouTubers making great content, content that is educational and funny and creative, content that drives entire ecosystems of the internet and, in many cases, actively betters the world.

Maybe that’s not why you love the internet, but at the heart of it is the reason we’re all here: it’s a space and a tool that connects us to one another. We can use it to launch our businesses and grow our platforms, or we can keep in touch with our grandkids. We can watch silly cat videos or spend the weekend binge-watching seasons 1 and 2 of Stranger Things.

The point is: you get to decide. I get to decide. We get to do whatever the hell we want on the internet. If we want a subscription to YouTube or Netflix or HBO Go, it’s up to us. No one decides, or charges us more for wanting All The Things.

In a world where everything costs money, the incredible, unmatched freedom of the internet is literally free. If you can make it to a library, you can make it to the entire world.

What else is out there that is even close to that?

I’m a small business owner. I imagine that if you’re reading this, you are too. It’s not that we use the internet everyday; it’s that we depend on it.

And to me, that’s the most outrageous part. People with lots of money and power and influence are giving themselves even more money, power and influence–at my expense.

“And suddenly what we’ll have instead of an infinite variety of crap is a finite amount of crap. And a finite amount of crap is just crap, whereas an infinite amount of crap? Is hope.” source.

I’m with Hank Green on this one.

An Ostensibly Unrelated but Equally Important Thing: My favorite podcast ReplyAll did a show in April of this year about another FCC decision that impacts internet users. The decision allows Internet Service Providers to sell your (!) search history to advertisers. Which doesn’t seem like a big deal except that now everything you’ve ever put in your search bar is up for grabs. Like Net Neutrality, it seems like an issue that we know is bad, and we have trouble imagining just how bad it could be. Have a listen. Let me know what you think:

Want to Learn More About How Net Neutrality Impacts You?

Lots of people explain it way better than I can. I’m partial to this video analogy by Hank Green, and his 3-minute for/against debate. NPR put together this good primer article. Public Knowledge works to promote an open internet by shaping policy. To read more about it or to take action, visit their website.

The Right Social Media Platform for Your Business

How the hell do you choose the right social media platform?

Facebook has 2 billion users and offers the best ROI. LinkedIn just crossed half a billion users. YouTube viewers watch a billion hours of clips per day (!). Twitter has only (“only”) 330 million users (there are 330 million people in the United States) but half a billion tweets per day (which comes out to over 7,000 every second!). How do you possibly get your message to your audience?

Dang. That is actually a really good question! It wasn’t until I started writing this out that I realized how ludicrously incomprehensible this all is. Let’s get some perspective:

Right now, our planet has about 7.6 billion people living on it. Roughly half use the internet (official count in 2015 was 3.2 billion). And about one-tenth of those live in the United States. Which isn’t to say that all 320 million Americans use the internet–actually only about 284 million Americans do. There are 7 continents, approximately 193 countries, and most of the world’s population is on the Asian continent.

And, if you’re like me, none of this means a thing because I have no grasp of the abstract. So, thank you, Tim Urban, for creating this incredible visual so that people like me can begin to think about grasping the concept of one billion.

Wow.

I was going to get on here and tell you some good strategy tips, but if you’re reading this from Austin, TX, your corner of the internet is like sand on the beach, man. One grain of sand on a very large, sandy beach filled with sand dunes.

Which turns out to be great news, after all!

The entire world of 7+ billion people is connected by, like, 10 websites.

And you’re going to be just fine.

Here’s your job:

  1. Know your market.
  2. Work with its influencers.
  3. Be better than your competition.

That’s it! That’s your job.

Take your tiny miniscule corner of the internet and communicate with your audience. I suggest doing it directly through the influencers because they’re really good at their jobs and working with them frees you up to run your business, but whatever. The point is for you to learn your customer’s well enough that you know who their influencers are and where they hang out. If you can figure out those two things, you’re well on your way to dominating the competition.

And through it all, get on LinkedIn. It’s still a small enough network that you can really establish yourself there. Get to know people in your industry. Comment on their thoughts and posts. Share some of your own. It’s the most direct way for you to build your business and your (personal) brand.

It’s a big world out there. It’s crowded and noisy, but your business is not to worry about what other people are doing. It isn’t about the platform. It’s how well that platform enables you to connect with your audience. You choose the right platform for your business by going where your audience is and engaging with them.  Don’t look to impress everyone or get the biggest following. Ultimately the only currency that matters is connection. Connect with your audience and you’re golden.

Marketing the Millennial

Did you know Millennial’s spend 6 hours a day checking email? Yes, it’s true!  According to research done on CMO.com. Those results are spread across a wide range of demographics, but the numbers don’t lie. The results show that  70% of Millennials check their emails while watching tv, 50% check their emails while in bed, 40% check their emails while on vacation and 42% check their emails while in the bathroom. Their involvement in email far outstrips the usage of any other group.

I mean seriously, Millennials were pretty much born with the digital spoon in their mouth. Which would explain why millennial’s tend to create their own rules of engagement via email. Did you know a millennials believe it’s appropriate to use emojis when communicating with a direct manager? Seriously, emoji’s have meaning to the millennial. Do the older generations even find that to be an appropriate means of communication? I think not! However, as a marketer, it’s important to know that the millennial does consider it appropriate.

Let’s put some numbers into perspective so 70% of the millennials check their emails “While Watching TV” this means they are watching tv on their smartphones, tablets, and watches. Email alerts typically pop up all the time and they read them. Email is not only relevant for millennials, it also remains to have the highest ROI for direct marketers. Marketers need to keep the following in mind to ensure they grab millennial mindshare and don’t just add to the noise in Millennials’ inboxes:

  • Make sure your emails are mobile friendly.
  • Contextual email is everything.
  • Pictures are worth a thousand words—optimize emails for images and allow for quick feedback through emojis.
  • Less is more—Quality over quantity will win the day.

If you use the tips listed above, focus on the target audience and your email marketing strategy, you can really get skin in the game. After all, millennials truly are your biggest customer.

How to Get the Most from Facebook Insights

In today’s society, social media sites are a huge contributing factor for sales. Facebook, is especially great for small businesses to generate new leads and build their online presence. Why? Because potential customers spend most of their free time online. According to Social Media Today, the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day!

How do you know what type of customers you’re attracting to your Facebook page? Well now there is a new easy tool to use that is called “Facebook Insights”. It has the ability to show you all kinds of statistics about how your Facebook business page is performing. I know you’re probably thinking I’m about to give you the “sales pitch” or be told the elongated “too much information” spill. Surprisingly no, I actually have simplified and highlighted a few of the essential benefits that Facebook Insight has to offer.

  • Your top posts. Facebook Insight allows you to see your most popular post you have. It also shows you what kind of content, posting times, and days are best to receive more likes and clicks from your audience.
  • See who your best fans are. You can see who your most-engaged followers are. Which includes; the location, age, and interests. This is especially beneficial to business owners because it can help you refine your marketing strategy and increase the traffic to your page.
  • How you compare to competitors. Yes, that’s right, Insight helps you see how your business page compares to the competitors page. Awesome right? It can also show you the top five competitor pages and how they are engaging and growing with their fans.

Are You Sending The Wrong Message With a Poorly Designed Website?

How important is your online presence to your users? Seriously, think about the last time you came across a website that just made you laugh because of how poorly it was designed. Did that make you second guess or affect your decision to do business with them? Imagine walking into a poorly designed storefront,  that is unorganized, and smells of dead rodents. Would you continue to shop there or would you walk out and find a similar storefront that sells the same products and or services with a better user-experience? There have been countless times that I personally have come across websites that were not designed with the end-user in mind. Do you think I reached out to this particular business?  Take a wild guess….NO!  I searched for another vendor or business that was more appealing. I mean honestly, if you don’t care about your online presence, imagine what users are thinking about your company?

According to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve perused your company’s website. Let’s be honest, if you don’t meet the consumer’s expectations and needs in that moment, you will more than likely lose that potential business. No one wants to wait 1-3 minutes for a website to load especially if it’s non-mobile-friendly. Unfortunately, this happens way too often. Many companies focus on spending thousands of dollars on marketing and neglect investing money on their poorly designed websites.

Does this sound like you? Consider the following tips before you invest money into your marketing budget:

Think like the user

Keep the end-user in mind. First impressions continue to be a primary factor for an end-user. When you have a poorly designed website, your credibility is on the line. A negative first impression of your business can greatly impact you and help others negatively voice their opinion about your business to all their friends and family. A website is a representation of the quality of a company’s products and/or services, so make sure your site accurately represents your business.

Focus on Design Principles

What constitutes a well-designed website? Focus on usability, utility, and have a user-centric website. Don’t forget the rule of thumb, simplicity is key! You want to ensure you condense your content that way your users can find the information quickly and effectively. Remember to keep in mind who are your users and how are they going to use your site. If you focus on these design principles, your website will not only look attractive but it will help increase leads.

Is There An ROI To The Amount Of Facebook Likes? Do Followers = Sales?

Social media is a marketing tool, so does that mean that more likes and follows means greater business growth, sales, and money? All our hours developing a badass content calendar,  making shareable videos for Facebook ads and crafting perfect 120-character tweets–those are dollars in the bank, right?

Well, often yes. But it’s not quite that simple.

What Social Media Is (and Isn’t)

Social Media is a marketing tool. It is a great way to connect with your customers, engage them, and maybe above all: to build community. Usually building your brand also grows your business.

But social media itself doesn’t make money. If anything, it costs money–and potentially lots of it. Total up the time and resources you spend on making awesome content or putting together influencer campaigns and it can be a spendy venture.

A huge following on Facebook and Twitter should mean you’re getting lots of referrals to your website and that that traffic is converting to sales at a high rate. Social media is a great (!) referral source, a way to get new customers in the door and out via the register.

Analyze This

So how do you know if your Facebook efforts are paying off?

Analytics, my friend. Google Analytics will show you your referral sources and whether they converted to sales. (It will also tell you a  million other things, all for free, so if you’re not already using it, what are you waiting for?) Facebook Insights will show you the results of your campaigns, boosted ads, engagement, page growth, and even demographics. Twitter and Instagram (and just about every major platform out there) all have their own business analytics options, and there are entire companies who specialize in getting you this data.

Size Isn’t Everything

Surely someone on the internet has calculated how a following corresponds to sales. And it’s likely that if you got a million followers this year, you’re going to see a (considerable) boost in sales. But, it really isn’t about the numbers.

The reason social media is such a powerful marketing tool is referrals. People talking about your stuff, tagging friends in pictures, sharing posts, tweeting about their new workout gear–whatever it is, those person-to-person recommendations are more valuable than any campaign you could produce in a studio.

Don’t worry so much about the numbers. Build a community of engaged customers and the sales will take care of themselves.

Two Thoughts that Just Might Revolutionize Your Marketing Strategy

If you work in marketing at all then you know two things: Seth Godin, and Seth Godin’s unmatchable insight.

Just this week I was doing some client work and came across this 2016 Q&A he did on the TIm Ferriss show.

(I’m going to sidetrack for a moment to ask: do you listen to the Tim Ferriss Show? I don’t listen to every single one, but every single one I do listen to is worthwhile. Just recently he sent out the intro and first chapter of his new book Tribe of Mentors to his email list and it was so good. I’m looking forward to reading the rest!)

I pulled these two questions from the beginning of the interview because there’s so much to chew on in just these two questions. Sometimes I get so into the metrics of marketing that I forget what we’re actually doing. This was a good reminder.

How do you build a tribe from scratch?

In the modern world we can get confused because it might seem that our job is to build a tribe from scratch but most of the time that’s not what happens.

Nike did not invent the running tribe there were already runners before Nike showed up…. What we do when we lead a tribe often is we find people who are already connected and we merely show up to lead them

For most businesses, we don’t even lead them. We merely service a tribe that already exists so that when you find a group of people who share an instinct and interest a connection a leader a goal and you give that group of people something with which they can take action

The way i abbreviate that long sentence is: people like us do things like this.

What’s the one thing that most marketers do wrong?

This is easy. We’re selfish. We’re narcissists–infantile narcissists who believe that our need for more and our desire for attention trumps everything else. We justify and rationalize our work and interrupt people spam people, yell at people, deceive people and play the short term game again and again and again. Successful marketers are successful because they don’t do that. It turns out that’s scarce. The folks who are willing to build a story that’s true, to earn permission, to create a product or service that spreads merely because it’s remarkable–that mindset almost never shows up.

Boost Traditional B2B Sales Through Digital Marketing

As we all know, traditional B2B sales have a patterning process where field representatives meet with their customers, educate them on the product and attempt to close the deal. However, that is not the case in today’s business climate. Many B2B sales are declining because they are finding it hard to adapt to the new modern, sales cycle and the several marketing channels. Let’s face it, technological innovations have changed the world around us. There are now well-designed solutions and support to obtain information about products.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t immediately reach for their phone and start googling something that’s on their mind. We look for general information, solutions, the latest trends, celebrity gossip and last but not least the infamous consumer reviews on restaurants and products. Seriously, nowadays the internet can answer just about anything.

Unfortunately, many B2B sales organizations aren’t taking advantage of today’s digital technology and marketing. If the B2B sales organizations understood the process better, they could increase their sales and be more efficient.

Let me show you three effective ways you can boost your B2B sales all by leveraging digital marketing.

1.    Stay connected to your customers

With today’s digital technology and marketing, you are able to stay connected to your customers, educate and support them anytime, anywhere. Online content never sleeps! Consider this your 24/7 marketing depot for your business. This is very important because today’s customers spend a lot of time self-educating through digital channels. You have the ability to lead and influence your customers to make the selections and best purchasing decisions for them.

2.    Know your customers

Digital Marketing can give you access to an abundant amount of data so you can really know your target audience. With online digital channels, you can learn about the people who have visited your website, track returning visitors, show you what they viewed and even tell you what device they used. It’s pretty scary to think about as a customer but as a business owner, this is a great benefit. This can help you understand your customer’s expectations across all platforms. When you know your customers, it will be easier for you to deliver the most relevant content.

3.    Interact with your customers online

Yes, you can now interact with your customers through a website. Businesses can now build effective online tools that complement the sales process for them. So, a website can’t provide an actual sit down meeting, but it can deliver a great user experience. It’s important you personalize the content so you can extend your customer relationships. This can actually be more convenient than any “in person” sales contact.

Remember, at the end of the day, both traditional sales and digital channel process will ultimately be decided by the consumer. However, digital marketing is an essential part of any B2B sales strategy. It’s always ready to help drive sales, so use it wisely and to your benefit. Enjoy!

Why Your Business Should Be Going All In On Marketing Before 2018

Why Your Business Should Be Going All In On Marketing Before 2018

We talked last month about how important it is to start marketing for the holidays months before the holidays arrive. Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas, New Years. They’re all coming up fast. People have gifts to buy, sales to take advantage of, and New Year’s resolutions to spend money on! They want what you’re offering and they want a good deal.

The problem is: you’ve got competition. You’re not the only one with your product, and yours really isn’t the only one on the market.

Always Be Closing Marketing

Corporations sponsor things like conferences. Really big corporations sponsor really big things like stadiums and arenas.

Can you imagine that? You’re planning your marketing budget for 2018 and it includes a an $18B line item for stadium naming rights. How’s that for competition?

The point is: your marketing can’t just be good. It has to be better than your competitor’s.

That’s why your marketing is so important. You have to be thinking about your market, but also about your competitor. Your campaigns have to connect with your customers better than your competitor’s does. And just like in a real game, you have to always be upping your game, outsmarting your opponent, changing your strategy mid-game so that when that shot opens up, you get nothing but net.

The Year Is Almost Out. What Do You Have Planned?

Facebook ads. Influencer campaigns. Sales and sales pages and extra big discounts.

Those are great! Truly. But think about your marketing as a way to connect with your customers. You know your customer better than anyone. You know the problem your business is helping them solve. Right? (If I’m wrong here, you need to rethink your marketing strategy and ensure it includes some damn good research.)

Now zoom out a little and figure out how can you add value. What can you give these people, in this busy, crazy (but beautiful, cheery, feel-good) season that would really add value to their lives.

Or, to their Facebook feeds at least.

Put out content that’s funny, pretty, inspirational, useful, helpful—whatever’s going to connect with them.

(But, like, genuinely connect. Don’t be all smarmy about it.)

How Will You Ring In The New Year?

I’m not talking about watching the ball drop!

You’re going all in for the rest of this year, you’re killing the competition and connecting with your customers. Whatever big business goals you have for the new year, go after them in full force right now(!).

Connect with them now so that after the holiday madness has passed, you can ring in the new year with new customers.

How Search Can Help You

Consumers use search engines to ask questions, find solutions and gain knowledge on a certain subject. As a marketer, you want consumers to identify with your company, products, and services. First, you need to identify what types of thoughts and search terms define certain areas. Marketers must develop a hybrid solution that satisfies both what the consumer wants and what the company is selling.

For example, people might associate any fuel-efficient vehicles with the term “hybrid”—although this term doesn’t refer to all types of fuel-efficient vehicles. A company that sells an “all-electric car,” wants to be a thought leader for fuel-efficient vehicles. But, because this company does not sell hybrid cars, they must explain that to customers somehow. For instance, they could say something like “All-Electric Car offer better MPG than any Hybrid”. By doing this, the electric car company is maintaining its position as a leader for people looking for fuel-efficient vehicles. They are not only using a solution that aligns customer needs but product sales. This helps them become top of mind for customers.

If you want to engrave yourself on the minds of your consumers you need to be there whenever they look. Choose terms that describe a customer need and go with a paid and organic search engines. The higher you rank on the search results page, the better your chances are of becoming a thought leader.

Get Email Subscribers

Get Email Subscribers—Without Annoying Your Readers or Playing the Guilt Card

8 years ago, I came across a site offering surely the best freebie I’ve ever encountered. It was a PDF called A Brief Guide to World Domination, and all it cost was my email address. But, even better than that PDF—if you can believe it—was the email that came after it. Chris Guillebeau, the site’s author, laid it out very clearly right off the bat:

Here’s the deal: I’m going to send important information to you, and I have one, maybe two chances to get it right. If I disappoint you, you’ll click the "unsubscribe" link and I’ll be gone from your life forever.

Have you ever read a welcome letter like that?

It’s the only one I’ve ever gotten (and why I’m still a subscriber). These days I have a whole separate email account for subscriptions I’ve gotten just for the lead magnet. I read very few of them. They’re annoying to me as a subscriber, and they’re time-intensive and costly for the companies to produce. So, let’s talk newsletters, subscribers, and opt-ins.

Getting a bunch of subscribers is the easy part. You do a great lead magnet. You host a giveaway. The better the lure, the more people will sign up.

But then what? A good open rate is about 25%. Why aren’t more opening their email? DIdn’t they sign up for it?

Maybe. more likely they signed up for the “freebie”—which actually isn’t free at all because it cost them their email address. And because they hate the email but want the freebie, they entered the address of the account they never check, which means that no matter how good your content, they will never open it. They’re not even going to see it.

Stop Wasting Your Time on Getting Subscribers

Instead of thinking about getting them, think about what they get from it. Why should they be on your list? What are you giving them? Instead of focusing on the number of subscribers, focus on the quality of your content and letting your readers know that if they like your blog, there’s even more (better!) content by signing up. You want them to want to sign up.

Delete all of those annoying pop up windows that ask for your email address the second you enter the site. I haven’t even gotten to see your damn website! Why the hell am I going to give you my email address?? I don’t know why anyone even responds to those forms, but I can tell you: you’re the only one who loses. Exit-intent pop=ups, or one that comes up at the end of posts are the only acceptable forms.

Then, always give your subscribers value. You can make money off your list, but just like with your business, you cannot let this drive your decision-making. Customers first and the rest will follow.

My favorite newsletters are consistent, brief, and high-quality. They’re enjoyable and easy-to-read, and they benefit my life. They include: This American Life. ReplyAll. Tim Ferriss. Ramit Sethi.

The reason you’re reading this right now is because you know how valuable a good email list is. Why is an email list valuable? Because of the quality people.

Never ever forget that, and you’ll have readers for years.

Should My Social Media Posts Be long or Short?

Should My Social Media Posts Be long or Short?

Long or short, your posts need to be good. Different platforms lend themselves better to one or the other. We’ll take a look at how to do the best content on each platform.

The Case for Short Posts

Most social media channels don’t allow for long posts. They’re made to share content that is visual (instagram), easily shared (Twitter), or FOMO-inducing (Snapchat). This works great as you can share a great visual, meme, quote, joke or thought that’s quickly viewed, engaged with and–hopefully–passed on. Keeping it brief (but engaging!) means it’s more likely to be seen or read, engaged with, and passed on.

Instagram. Instagram, like Twitter, is a platform designed for brevity. And yet, length can work to your advantage. Instagram stories allows 15-second clips with a shelf life of 24 hours and, in general, Instagram is a short-format platform. It’s mainly visual, so captions should be brief, as should talking on stories. Still, a mix of longer stories and shorter ones, like longer captions and shorter captions, is the a great way to tell stories. And telling compelling stories is a good way to increase followers and keep them engaged long-term.

YouTube Ads are my favorite thing to talk about. Many of the short ones are unoriginal and awful to sit through, but so many advertisers have gotten smart about it! I’ve sat through long ads just because they were so engaging that even once the 5 seconds had passed, I still wanted to know what would happen next. So, if you do produce video content—as you probably do if you’re managing a Facebook page— imagine you’re producing a YouTube ad and you only have 4 seconds to grab your viewer. How would you immediately engage your audience? How do you keep them watching?

The Case for Long Posts

Generally, your posts are not going to be very long. Shorter posts are great for daily sharing and conversation. Long posts are for more in-depth discussions. However, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (Medium) all have ways to publish longform content and you should use these strategically.

Blogging is the most obvious place for long posts, but you don’t have to have a blog to share a more in-depth post.

Share:

-A lesson you’ve learned from your life that will resonate with people

-An anecdote that illustrates a new idea you want to share

-A how-to or informative guide that’s relevant to your business

The thing about a long post is it has to be super good. You can recover quickly from a lousy short post, but if people take the time to read your long post and get to the end and feel like they’ve wasted several minutes of your life? That’s bad for your brand.

Whatever you decided: make them worthwhile! Just like your business is adding value to your clients’ lives, so should your social media presence. Before everything you create, ask how your follower will benefit from it. If lengthening will make it more valuable, add more content. But if it’s better with fewer words (even if you really loved that story in the second paragraph), cut it. Ultimately your posts are a service to your followers. Make it A-1.

Can We Talk About StartUp?

Can We Talk About StartUp?

Every so often I meet a person who doesn’t listen to podcasts.

This is crazy to me. It’s like you telling me that you still rent DVDs from Redbox. ??

If that’s you, I can just direct you here and then ask you to come back when you’ve decided to join this millennium. (And I’ll be so excited when you do. There are just too many good podcasts in this world!)

Now the rest of you: do you listen to StartUp?

I was an early listener, but then I stopped listening for a while and just happened to come back when they were doing the season on Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel. I don’t normally find anything interesting about pervy men, but Dov. I get the controversy. He’s odd and smart, enchanting in the way Steve Jobs was: an obsessive perfectionist whose life revolved around–was inextricable from–his business. But, ultimately he was extricated from his business.

American Apparel is rightly controversial and, like anything controversial, makes for a fascinating story. Listen for the business side of it. They talk about its manufacturing, business model, marketing, growth and–of course–its downfall. And because Dov was so tied in with the business, it’s also his story, which is upsetting, disturbing, and hard to turn away from.

I hated their marketing, but I never tire of hearing how different business devise their marketing strategies. Hearing his was repulsive and interesting, if you can imagine that.

Or don’t imagine it. Just give it a listen here and let us know that you think in the comments!

But probably the best episode of the whole series is the very first one. That’s saying a lot because this show is so well-produced and covers all kinds of interesting companies, people, and stories.

It’s just that: we’ve all been that stumbling, inarticulate Alex Blumberg, just trying to craft our damn elevator pitch! It sets the tone for the entire show: authentic, funny, painful, nerve-wracking, exciting. For anyone who’s ever struck out on their own, this is a must-listen. Listen to StartUp season 1 here.

And if you aren’t someone who listens to podcasts, what do you do when you drive? Or clean? Or get ready for work or bed or lunch? What is that world even like?

If Something is Bad, Do You Go Back for Seconds? (Or Thirds?)

My favorite candy bar is made of dark chocolate and infused with mint flavor. It’s got this texture that feels like you’re eating slightly crispy, crystalline chocolate that makes it feel kind of like eating a thin mint cookie. And, because I’m a hippie, I love that not only is it soy, gluten and emulsifier free (real chocolate doesn’t need emulsifiers), it’s also fair trade.

So of course it’s also stupid expensive.

I don’t buy candy or junk food (because I would eat it all. Every last thing.) except, on special occasions, this sweet, sweet indulgence. I enjoy every bite of that tasty, snobby chocolate.

And then, the thing you never want to happen to your snobby chocolate happened to mine.

I brought it home one day and opened it to find it covered in chalky awfulness. That’s right. Unlike every other time when I would rip into that thing as soon as it rang up on the register, I had waited.

Patiently.

All the way to my house.

And it was ruined.

But, it was a fluke, right? That’s not going to happen when I go back for next week’s groceries.

Oh yes it is. It happened the next week. And the week after. Three times my perfect chocolate bar was ruined (!).

I thought about going to social media or customer service, or even back to the grocery store. Why didn’t I?

Because it was too much damn energy. I just wanted my chocolate! I was mad that I couldn’t have it! Instead of resolving it, I just took my business and left.

Consistency Builds Trust

They got it wrong three times. I was willing to consider the first two flukes. A bad batch. An issue. Whatever.

But three times? That’s a company problem.

Steve Jobs, Beyonce and You: This is How You Take Your Content Seriously

As if the Apple store experience weren’t cool enough, as if Apple weren’t already worth $800B, now Apple has reinvented retail yet again, transforming it into a social, educational, entertainment experience.

Which is to say: Apple is a destination. And in becoming a destination, it has established itself as the freaking Beyonce of the tech world with Today at Apple as its Lemonade.

Whatever you say about Jobs, you cannot say he didn’t take his shit seriously. He practically willed Gorilla Glass into existence. And he is the reason Apple continues to grow, transform, innovate, and dominate years beyond his passing.

You Don’t Have to Be an Asshole to Make Millions

First, Steve Jobs is renowned for his assholery–which, please, the world doesn’t need more a-holes okay?

So don’t be an a-hole but do learn this lesson: But it stemmed from his profound love of his products. He wanted to make the best things, make them beautifully, make them perfect, make them better than anything else out there could ever be. (I would argue he succeeded.)

Apple’s products are your web content.

If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will either.

You Do Have to (Probably?) Be a Control Freak

Steve Jobs was a control freak. He didn’t just insist on the visible, functional, important piece of his products (like the unscratchable Gorilla Glass on iPhones). He wanted even the inside of his computers to be beautiful. Which makes sense except that MacBooks, by design, are made to only be opened by Apple personnel. The consumers would never know, but he did it anyway. That’s how seriously he took his products.

In 2011, Beyonce put out a music video for “Run the World (Girls)”. At first glance, it appears to be a pretty run-of-the-mill pop music video. She dances. Backup dancers dance. It’s visually appealing. But two, far-fetched, beyond control freak things set this video apart from all other videos:

1. She flew in dancers from Africa to teach her to do a specific dance. But not famous dancers. Her team spent 4 months tracking down two guys from a random youtube video because no other dancer in this country, apparently, could dance quite like they did. She insisted on learning directly from them.

It must be a pretty important dance, right? Like there’s some crazy dramatic twist, an epic climax wherein she and a hundred people perform this carefully, beautifully choreographed number and the viewers have no choice but to respond with breathless wonder and awe.

Ha! The song opens with the three of them performing the routine. Total screen time? About 50 seconds (!). And I bet most viewers never even notice the two dancers flanking the queen.  

2. But maybe my favorite crazy detail in this video is the four seconds beginning at 00:31. It’s a lion, guys. A full-grown, black-maned, king of the jungle lion. For no reason other than to make Beyonce look badass. (Success!)

A lion!

Four seconds!

Can you imagine the logistics that went into to producing that shot? Like, last I checked there weren’t lions roaming around America. She couldn’t just go to the Savannah and stick it in the back of her Jeep (for so many reasons). It had to be scouted, transported it and trained to sit in the front of the camera so that it didn’t turn grumpy (violent) and shred everyone around it (which is what I do when I’m hangry). All of that for a four-second shot.

A shot, by the way, in which nothing at all happens.

I’m not saying you have to be Steve Jobs or Beyonce (as if you even could).

I’m saying that these people are at the top (and Jobs has been dead for 6 years) because they took their content seriously. They continually reinvented the game, upped the stakes, innovated, created, crafted, and, ultimately, changed the world forever. (And definitely for the better.)

Now it’s your turn to build a business that matters and content that rocks.

The business you’re trying to start will most likely fail

The Business You’re Trying to Start Will Most Likely Fail. Here’s How You can Beat the Odds

The two business decisions that will make the greatest impact on your company immediately and long-term are: your team and your marketing.

Your Team: Hire for Talent and for Team

Your company is as good as your team. Don’t just hire great individuals. Hire great teams. Ensure that your team’s individuals can work well together as people and complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Hire with an eye for growth and development. Look for people who can lead well, which means not just looking out for their own promotion but are great at mentoring and supporting, and who care about other people as much as themselves.

Most employees in the US are disengaged which means they aren’t contributing their best ideas and energy. That means that the company misses out on the strengths of their employees and taken to scale, that’s working with just a fraction of a work force.

At a startup, you have the opportunity to hire smart hard workers who will bring their A game, and stay with their A game. You build a strong company culture that values performance, creativity, the unique strengths, skills, and talents of each team member so that instead of working with the equivalent a fraction of your workforce, you’re working with a workforce powerful and effective beyond your team’s individual contributions.

It sounds simple enough but this is so often overlooked. People who look great on paper aren’t 100 in the interview, but we hire them because they’re good enough. People who are fabulous in interviews and give all the right answers are never given actual hands-on exercises or introduced to other team members and by the time it’s apparent they’re a bad fit, team dynamics have already taken a hit.

Take care in hiring your people, even if it takes longer. Surely you know from your own experience that all it takes for a good person to leave a company is one bad manager. People are your greatest investment. Protect them.

Your Marketing: Authentic and Finely Crafted

It’s not easy to convey a company’s personality through the internet. The companies that make it look easy do it with a stellar marketing team.

Go look at the instagram page of any big brand. Look at how beautifully the photos are taken, how they all follow a color palette and design scheme. Watch what times and days they’re posted and the interactions they have with their followers.

Naturally when we try to tell a story about ourselves, we end up talking about ourselves. You can’t do that with a brand or company because you exist to serve other people. Therefore, your story must be about them. Most companies struggle to communicate their value, and that’s fatal.

Anyone who’s written an admissions essay knows how hard it can be to speak interestingly and illuminatingly about our purpose. It’s just hard! You write and re-write and tweak and hire a tutor and freak out. It’s the same with storytelling as a business but arguably the stakes are a little higher.

That’s why it works so well to get someone else to do the storytelling (which is all marketing really is). As listeners, they know what’s boring/interesting about it, the pieces that will be valuable to your base, the parts than can be clipped down for a tweet or edited into a video. They take what you’ve been working so hard to achieve and present it so that others can relate. Instead of hearing an idea, they’re evaluating how it will benefit their life. That’s what you want.

Doing marketing right is so complex and time-consuming. Producing stellar content and ensuring vibrant, engaged social media channels are full-time jobs unto themselves, and with the high stakes of startup it’s crucial to start with a good strategy well-executed. It will ensure you grow from the very beginning.

Your team is going to set the course and your marketing is going to ensure that you have enough business to keep on that course. So choose your people wisely, even if it takes a long time, and market like your business depends on it. Because it does.

If You Market, They Will come

In 2014, the number of websites on the internet crossed 1 billion. It was a milestone in internet history. It had barely been around 20 years and it hit its first billion. Today, which is 8/26/17, websites are popping up at a rate of 100 per 17 seconds.

I haven a little trouble understanding numbers, so let’s get visual with it:

troubleThe difference between $1M and $1B is the difference between sitting down for dinner and sitting down for a fresh juice in the world’s tallest tower–more than 1000 chairs up.

All of which is to say: there is a lot of damn noise on the internet. A lot of places for people to visit. A lot of competition to face. It’s like shouting on the side of a freeway yelling into traffic. You’re drowned out by the traffic and the sheer speed of the cars.

How to Get Noticed In a Loud, Fast, Crowded World

Strategy. That’s how you do it. You’re going to market differently in a nightclub than on a freeway than on a YouTube video. But, what will those differences look like? How can you be sure you’re being effective?

HIRE OUT. I know I’m saying that as a marketing agency, but seriously. We live and breathe internet marketing. We know about getting eyes on your site and traffic to your pages. We know about growing social media audiences and engagement. We know how to design your site so that people want to hang out on it (man, there are few things worse than ugly, clunky websites), and can use it to buy your products.

Marketing Builds Your Brand’s Awareness, Loyalty, and Competitive Edge

Social media. Being a channel that people love to follow and share takes lots of work. Not only do you (we) make unique content, but it has to be fresh, engaging, and frequent. It goes further when there’s a human there to cultivate relationships. Influencer marketing is said to explode this year. You have to know how the influencers are, then they have to want to work with you. There is so much more to say about the significance of social media to your company’s security and growth, but we’ll just leave you with this piece of advice: leave it to the professionals.

Search engines. In 2015, The Atlantic reported that people visit 96 websites a month. When you account for the email, social media and shopping websites we typically visits, plus a few random google searches here and there–there aren’t that many opportunities for discovering your site. A marketing agency builds your site with search engine optimization in mind so that it’s ready to rank the second it goes live. It’s beautifully, carefully designed with the ideal customer–based on in-depth market research–in mind.

It’s virtually impossible for people to stumble onto your website. It has to be plugged into the information superhighway, and positioning it at the right stop on the way (so to speak) takes skill, planning, and flawless execution.

User design, user experience, advertising, email lists, landing pages and so on and so forth. Marketing is big in terms of all that it encompasses and in terms of its importance to your success. In this day and age, brand is everything. That’s how you build your customer base and get referrals and, ultimately, succeed.

Everyday, new websites are born and die (yes, new websites die). Marketing your website and your company is complex, long-term, and energy intensive–and crucial to your success. Market it right. Your customers will come.

This how you Build a Business That Matters

We all want to be the Richard Bransons of the world, hosting the Obamas on our private island. But honestly, what a boring goal. I mean, sure, the Obamas are badass, and the photos look amazing, and the dinner conversations are unbeatable, no doubt. But the most amazing companies are amazing for what they’ve become, not their earnings reports or achievements. It’s always in the building.

Build Something Awesome

For example, Zappos pioneered a no-boss policy. What? Who does that? How awesome is it to be the company that not only dominates the two 2-day shoe market (and now much more), but also piloted a brand new approach to workplace culture and operations, one well-suited for the 21st century? Like, super awesome.

I’m not getting paid to say this but: Zappos rocks. They have a 365-day return policy! Great customer service! A kajillion shoes to choose from (including cute heels in wide sizes–very hard to find) AND two-day shipping. #goals amiright?

^^This is the kind of enthusiasm and excitement you want for your company. Sorry, but screw profit. Be remembered for something. Don’t just be a business. Transform the way business is done.

Or Ruthlessly, Rampantly Successful

I don’t really want you to be another ruthless, rampant Amazon because I experience all kinds of cognitive dissonance about it. 2-day shipping! Free movies! Free TV shows! Everything I could ever want to buy sent right to my door stop in a single click! Like, Amazon is the best.

But, ugh. At what cost? To people, to the environment, to my own ability to delay gratification? Well I can answer that last part: I no longer wait for anything. If I can’t have it on my door in 2 days–MAX–then forget it. I’m no longer interested.

Still. They went from books to global e-commerce overlords, and now they even own our precious snowflake grocery stores!

That’s some kind of transformation.

You Do You

I know google isn’t the only multi-hundred-billion dollar company with a BA campus but I think they’re the only ones with a dinosaur (ie so they’re my fav)

Virgin America invented the foldable boarding pass, and definitely the coolest plane interiors

Tom’s popularized the one-for-one business model.

charity: water is still maybe the only charity/company to have a 100% giving model–and still be thriving!

In other words, there are tons of right ways to go about building a successful business, and to innovate in areas that aren’t directly related to your product. To really stand out as a company and brand, you have to explore those avenues. You’ll surely make some mistakes along the way, but you might also change the world

Your Idea Sucks—But Can It Still Be Successful?

Remember* grape nuts? Definitely one of history’s worst cereals (I mean grape nuts?). But also, possibly the most genius.

In 1944 they launched a campaign to promote breakfast as the most important meal of the day. That’s right. They didn’t promote their cereal or their company. They promoted breakfast. Through radio advertisements and pamphlets at grocery stores, they sold America on the idea that eating breakfast increased productivity (profit).

Grape Nuts Have Always Been as Bland and Awful as They Sound

Cereal had been around for decades. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the same Kellogg of Frosted Flakes and father of the namesake to Kellogg School of Management, introduced the first cold cereal in 1878, and Americans had been eating it pretty happily ever since. But Grape Nuts had ambition. They weren’t just going to be another cereal, waiting patiently on the shelves to be consumed. Nope. They were going to be Cereal. They were going to Breakfast for the whole entire nation. And they knew that to be successful at that, they would have raise cereal’s profile first.

Cereal started as a health food. There was a belief that indigestion was caused by eating too much meat and spices, and that heavy, indulgent foods taken at breakfast led to indigestion and sin. Cereal would keep people healthier and more pure. Kellogg did not start the cereal company—in fact it was his brother—but he had a patient by the name of CW Post who who did.

Post was something of a marketing genius. He took the healthy-tasting, unappealing cereal that of Kellogg, coated it with sugar, and marketed it as a solution to health problems.

So Is Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day?

The true genius of it all is that for entire swaths of the world’s history, breakfast has not been a thing. Maybe we’ve stumbled on to something new here, and that thousands of years of civilization has been doing it all wrong. Maybe that’s why there is still research promoting it as the most important meal of the day while still others say not really.

See, it’s not really up to you to decide what is a good idea and what isn’t. Like, how did Google Glass flop and Crocs are—cool?? It’s all about story.

The story cereal told resonated with people. First it was adherents of the Clean Living Movement, later it was women busy supporting efforts of the Second World War. And then: kids. Can’t you still name every cereal mascot?

I don’t want to say your idea doesn’t matter, but it almost doesn’t matter how good or bad your idea is. I mean, Shake Weights and Snuggies, right? You can have the best idea in the world but if you can’t communicate to your audience why it matters to them, isn’t it the same as having the worst idea?

*It was only in doing research for this article that I learned Grape Nuts actually still exist.

Thanks to Priceonomics’ How Breakfast Became a Thing and The Atlantic’s The Most Contentious Meal of the Day for informing much of this article.

What’s Your Marketing Strategy? Mobile First or Mobile Only?

Did you know, that mobile device account for approximately 40% of all online sales. Today’s customer is always connected on mobile even when they browse the web on their desktop. The smartphone is on 24/7! So let me ask you what is your marketing strategy? If your strategy is not mobile first, it’s definitely not customer first.

Our websites must be responsive to all possible screens and devices. The mobile first strategy does not ignore the fact that customers also access our E-commerce sites on desktops and laptops devices it recognizes that responsive design gets us there. For example, in a mobile first approach, our methods and goals start with the mobile, smartphone screen in mind.

We’ve found that page load times must be 3 seconds or less to keep the bounce rate at low percentages. Your content strategy needs to be accomplished in a “bite sized” approach. This way you can present value to the customer without requiring excessive scrolling. Ensure you design with the smallest screen in mind that way you can transition to each larger screen in succession.

Consider this detail, your new competition in marketplace is being born mobile. In the not too distant future, mobile only may well be the destiny for all us marketers. So ask yourself, what is your market strategy are you mobile first or mobile only?

Tips to Avoid Digital Marketing Roadblocks

Have digital marketers made the transition to the super-connected, mobile, digital marketplace? Not yet. According to the Adobe Digital Roadblock report, two-thirds of marketers expect their role to change over the next year, and over three-quarters expect changes over the next three years.
Marketers have shown at this day and age they must reinvent themselves! So how can you reinvent yourself and mature in digital marketing? Well some of the common themes are people, product and process. I have chosen the top 5 Roadblocks for you to avoid.

Hiring digital talent – Roadblock #1

Our enterprises must focus on digital-savvy talent in order to reinvent ourselves.
From digital social marketers, creative development and data analysts all these roles make a big impact in this industry. However, these roles are not rising to meet the demand and marketers will struggle with finding potential hires who possesses the characteristics to operate in a highly technical environment. Marketers should be looking to hire dual digital talented individuals. For example, look for candidates that are creative and analytical, possess leadership skills and digital acumen skills. You can reinvent your marketing ecosystem you just need to hire the right digital talent.

Data avoidance – Roadblock #2

If we don’t hire the digital talent to execute digital campaigns, our success will remain doubtful. We must have luminaries who understand data not just read data. Marketers tell us they believe the ideal marketer should take more risks, but by embracing the strength of data analysis, risks can be significantly reduced. We must arrange and schedule workflow to accommodate the constant feedback loops that permeate our digital world. For those seeking to reinvent themselves, embrace data!

Social media blackout -Roadblock #3

Our digital roadblock concluded that 61 percent of marketers believe social media will be the most critical marketing vehicle to deploy in the next few years. The fact that most brands are growing their social media marketing budgets, leads us to believe the future predictions that social media spend will double in the next five years is accurate.

We must adopt a social strategy and cultivate a social identity that supports that identity through a disciplined approach to audience engagement. Our enterprise must maximize ROI, be organized to leverage the speed, volume, and intensity of social media. Teams must be able to entertain, inform, educate, and persuade all at the same time, all while directing traffic to engage our offerings.

Lack of testing-Roadblock #4

Can you believe that half of the marketers stated that they used the “trusting my gut instinct” on where to invest marketing budgets. How can you rely on that? No need for gut instinct- testing allows us to approach senior leadership with quantifiable results, which may be leveraged in other business areas. Big Data is available to shape customer profiles, track consumer behavior, and monitor ROI. When we can show lift through testing based on data, we are able to justify marketing spend and improve productivity.

Technology adoption -Roadblock #5

Brands in any vertical have to embrace technology or suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, marketers tell us they are more comfortable adopting new technologies once they become mainstream. However, competition is too fierce to hold off consumer engagement.

There is seemingly no end to the integrated tools we have at our disposal such as dashboards that enable analytics, attribution, tag management, content management, and integrate marketing with business IT systems. If we adopt these tools, we can make reinvention possible.

Ultimately, our attempts to reinvent ourselves as digital marketers must point to digital ecosystem management. We must transition our brand and have the ability to dovetail creative development, asset deployment, and customer experiences with financial management. Let’s tear down these roadblocks and explore the frontier together!

How Search Can Help You

Consumers use search engines to ask questions, find solutions and gain knowledge on a certain subject. As a marketer, you want consumers to identify with your company, products, and services. First, you need to identify what types of thoughts and search terms define certain areas. Marketers must develop a hybrid solution that satisfies both what the consumer wants and what the company is selling.

For example, people might associate any fuel-efficient vehicles with the term “hybrid”—although this term doesn’t refer to all types of fuel-efficient vehicles. A company that sells an “all-electric car,” wants to be a thought leader for fuel-efficient vehicles. But, because this company does not sell hybrid cars, they must explain that to customers somehow. For instance, they could say something like “All-Electric Car offer better MPG than any Hybrid”. By doing this, the electric car company is maintaining its position as a leader for people looking for fuel-efficient vehicles. They are not only using a solution that aligns customer needs but product sales. This helps them become top of mind for customers.

If you want to engrave yourself on the minds of your consumers you need to be there whenever they look. Choose terms that describe a customer need and go with a paid and organic search engines. The higher you rank on the search results page, the better your chances are of becoming a thought leader.

How to Get the Most from Facebook Insights

In today’s society, social media sites are a huge contributing factor for sales. Facebook, is especially great for small businesses to generate new leads and build their online presence. Why? Because potential customers spend most of their free time online. According to Social Media Today, the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day!

How do you know what type of customers you’re attracting to your Facebook page? Well now there is a new easy tool to use that is called “Facebook Insights”. It has the ability to show you all kinds of statistics about how your Facebook business page is performing. I know you’re probably thinking I’m about to give you the “sales pitch” or be told the elongated “too much information” spill. Surprisingly no, I actually have simplified and highlighted a few of the essential benefits that Facebook Insight has to offer.

  • Your top posts. Facebook Insight allows you to see your most popular post you have. It also shows you what kind of content, posting times, and days are best to receive more likes and clicks from your audience.
  • See who your best fans are. You can see who your most-engaged followers are. Which includes; the location, age, and interests. This is especially beneficial to business owners because it can help you refine your marketing strategy and increase the traffic to your page.
  • How you compare to competitors. Yes, that’s right, Insight helps you see how your business page compares to the competitors page. Awesome right? It can also show you the top five competitor pages and how they are engaging and growing with their fans.

Are You Sending the Wrong Message with a Poorly Designed Website?

How important is your online presence to your users? Seriously, think about the last time you came across a website that just made you laugh because of how poorly it was designed. Did that make you second guess or affect your decision to do business with them? Imagine walking into a poorly designed storefront, that is unorganized, and smells of dead rodents. Would you continue to shop there or would you walk out and find a similar storefront that sells the same products and or services with a better user-experience? There have been countless times that I personally have come across websites that were not designed with the end-user in mind. Do you think I reached out to this particular business? Take a wild guess….NO! I searched for another vendor or business that was more appealing. I mean honestly, if you don’t care about your online presence, imagine what users are thinking about your company?

According to researchers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form a first opinion of your brand once they’ve perused your company’s website. Let’s be honest, if you don’t meet the consumer’s expectations and needs in that moment, you will more than likely lose that potential business. No one wants to wait 1-3 minutes for a website to load especially if it’s non-mobile-friendly. Unfortunately, this happens way too often. Many companies focus on spending thousands of dollars on marketing and neglect investing money on their poorly designed websites.

Does this sound like you? Consider the following tips before you invest money into your marketing budget:

Think like the user

Keep the end-user in mind. First impressions continue to be a primary factor for an end-user. When you have a poorly designed website, your credibility is on the line. A negative first impression of your business can greatly impact you and help others negatively voice their opinion about your business to all their friends and family. A website is a representation of the quality of a company’s products and/or services, so make sure your site accurately represents your business.

Focus on Design Principles

What constitutes a well-designed website? Focus on usability, utility, and have a user-centric website. Don’t forget the rule of thumb, simplicity is key! You want to ensure you condense your content that way your users can find the information quickly and effectively. Remember to keep in mind who are your users and how are they going to use your site. If you focus on these design principles, your website will not only look attractive but it will help increase leads.

StartUp or well established, your business will fail if you’re not doing modern day marketing

StartUp or well established, your business will fail if you’re not doing modern day marketing

Marketing is crucial whether your business is a startup or well established one. Marketing has evolved significantly over time and businesses cannot survive in the current market if they continue to use outdated, ineffective marketing techniques. The goal of marketing is to make your brand more visible to a wider audience.
Marketing methods include direct TV ads, mail marketing and radio spots. All these can still get you results, but your focus should be getting buyers to come to you, not you going in search of them. The desire to attract more customers has led marketers to a continuous search for new methods to grab the attention of new customers. Since the new modes of marketing have moved away greatly from the traditional methods, how can you take advantage of the current marketing techniques?

Current Mistrust of Companies and Advertising

The average consumer has developed some level of mistrust for companies and advertising. The constant bombardment of more and more advertisements by businesses with the desired intention of getting consumers to buy something, have added to their distrust. Consumers feel that these new, faceless companies have hidden agendas and they are not interested in what is best for them; the consumers. The result is a decline in the returns on the traditional ways of marketing and advertising.

Enthusiastic Buyers

Consumers today can access information more readily and easily than before. With only a click on Google, all information on different brands and the products and services you need are readily available. The advantage with this availability is that the average consumer can now “pick, choose and refuse” before making a final decision. More and more consumers are conducting online searches before they buy anything. Consequently, the traditional ways of marketing and advertising are now ineffective because users are searching this information for themselves, making the new, inbound method more effective.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is very different from the traditional marketing method. The aim is to maximize you brand’s reputation and visibility so much, so that customers can find you easily when they start their online search to buy anything.

The Different types of Inbound Marketing

How then, can you make yourself more accessible and visible to consumers without making it too obvious? There are several ways to do this, but all will combine to create stronger, mutually useful links.

  • Content marketing. This is one of the best mainstay in your inbound marketing strategy. Content marketing provides the opportunity for you to develop a continuous series of videos, whitepapers, articles, podcasts, eBooks, webinars and other types of content to engage your clients. Be aware though that your subject matter must address the needs of your customers. If you can do this, you will build a great reputation in the industry and your content can assist in providing visibility in other areas like social media and SEO.
  • SEO. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a pool of approaches intended to help you get a higher ranking for related queries in search engines. Because your users are searching for information related to your product, you need to use this approach to help them find you. Although SEO is challenging, when combined with content marketing, it is a great place to begin.
  • Social media marketing. This is a great way to build an audience. Here you can engage with new people by updating your content regularly and interacting with influencers. Eventually, you will attract more attention and you will be able to organize your content and post them to attract more viewers.

The Benefits

When compared to an outbound approach the inbound approach is a better strategy because of the distinct benefits it brings:

  • Increased trust. Once you allow your users to find you naturally instead of you forcing your message on them, they will obviously develop a trust in you. How will this affect you? Your initial conversion rates will increase and most likely will lead to the beginning of confident, trusting consumer-brand bonding that will help strengthen your ability to retain your customers as time goes on.
  • Lower costs. Inbound marketing promotions are likely to be less costly than their outbound equivalents.
  • Long-term development. Although inbound marketing does not deliver a big remuneration initially, it eventually compounds in value as your reputation progresses. The reward eventually is a ROI that becomes so extensive that nearly no direct ad promotion can compete with it.

Nevertheless, if you message, timing and selection of medium are fitting for your audience, outboard promotion and marketing can be effective. However, you can improve an effectual outboard approach with a corresponding inboard arm. It is likely that inboard marketing will continue to evolve, however, the central principle will not change; if you provide your customers with what they need, they will certainly trust you to satisfy their needs always.

3 Ways Pokemon Go Can Increase Your Business Sales

Pokemon Go has flooded the internet and all social media the past week. At the moment it’s the biggest mobile app game in American history. It’s caught the direct attention of gamers and sparked new opportunities for small business owners. Active users are up to more than 21 million daily, whose attention is directed on their smartphone screens as the journey through communities in attempt to catch virtual Pokemon characters. But they’re also walking into real small businesses just like yours.

If you’re not embracing this current trend right now, you could be losing out. You should definitely not shy away from it at all. There are millions of kids playing the game, as well as adults who have spending dollars in their pocket. They’re wondering all over the city looking to catch Pikachu and other Pokemon.

What exactly is PokemonGo?

PokemonGo is a free-to-play location-based augmented reality mobile game. Making use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices, the game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear on device screens as though in the real world. Active players are encouraged to go to either a “Pokemon Gym” or “Pokestop” to compete with other players or in order to find supplies.

If you’re a small business owner, these Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops are great marketing opportunities for you. The game destinations are actual landmarks and real businesses. Yesterday I was meeting with Jack Cramer, the owner of Austin Salt Cave, and he had a sign on his window that invited gamers to come by his place. He mentioned to me that two guys came by looking for a Pokemon and he invited them in. They caught the Pokemon, then he pitched them on trying salt therapy, which the did! He’s used Band-Wagon Marketing to help increase his sales.

pokemon-go-1519637_1280

How Can Pokemon Go Can Increase Your Business Sales?

Clearly Pokemon Go players are potential customers and clients, so attracting the characters of the game to your business or storefront could bring sales along with them.

Here are three ways your business can reap the benefits from the popularity of the game.

#1 Become a Player Yourself

Incense and Lure modules are elements within the game that lure Pokemon characters to particular Pokestops. Lures are shareable, therefore any player in that area, who can see your Pokestop on the map, will more than likely come to your business to search for the characters. You can buy Lures within the app. They’re good for 30 minutes. If you’d like create a marketing strategy around it, you should advertise the time that you’ll place lures every day. This will have many gamer’s coming to you business to catch Pokemon. That’s foot traffic leading to your business.

#2 Create Incentive For Players
Take advantage of this foot traffic and reward the gamer’s. For example, if a customer comes in and can prove that he/she has completed a specific level in Pokemon Go, they’ll receive “x” amount off of their purchase or service. Then ask them to share your location and business on social media. This give gamer’s reason to support your business and come again.

#3 Use Hashtags
You don’t necessarily have to play the game to hop on top of the trend. You may have seen the hashtag #DontCatchAndDrive to remind Pokemon players to keep their eyes glued to the road and not their smartphones. While inviting gamers to your business on social media, use that hashtag to help create online traffic.
Pokemon Go is a huge fad going on for the moment. Definitely not sure how long this trend will last, but for the moment it’s something that you, as a business owner, can take advantage. But be careful. You don’t want to alienate those that aren’t fans of Pokemon, neither do you want to push away those that are serious fans of the game.

Pokemon Go is a huge fad going on for the moment. Band Wagon Marketing would be perfect to use for the current hype that Pokemon Go is receiving. Definitely not sure how long this trend will last, but for the moment it’s something that you, as a business owner, can take advantage. But be careful. You don’t want to alienate those that aren’t fans of Pokemon, neither do you want to push away those that are serious fans of the game.

Would love to get you thoughts and opinions! Are you a Pokemon Go Player or not? Are you a business owner that likes or dislikes the foot traffic from the game?

7 Top Qualities of an Effective Online Marketing Service

With so many online Internet Marketing agencies out there, you’re probably wondering how to find one that is reputable, responsive and results-oriented. It is easy to find the ideal one for your business if you know exactly what your needs are.

Agencies that are reputable will be knowledgeable in all the following services but not limited to them; Social Media, SEO, Email Marketing, PPC,  Conversion Rate Optimization, Web Development, Web Design and Tracking/Testing/Reporting. While they may not be specialists in all these areas, they still need to have some knowledge about each.

This article will guide you in identifying what you should expect to receive, the red flags,  and will help you navigate options when you need to hire a reliable online marketing team.

Why hire an Agency?

For your business to succeed you have to do what other successful people and businesses have done and that is focusing on your strengths and seek experts to do the rest.  Business owners who want to market goods or services online must learn to spend time on their specific expertise. It’s a waste of time and resources trying to spend your time learning what the experts already know. Use your time and energy to focus on managing your business instead. Let a good online marketing service handle your marketing needs.

How to find the best online marketing service

It is easy to conduct a search in Google when you need to find an online marketing service. The problem however, is how to find the ideal one from the numerous options available. Worse yet is not knowing what you are looking for. It is important then to hire a good online marketing service to prevent you from wasting your time and resources in hiring the wrong agency.

Here is a list of the characteristics to look for in your search to find the best online marketing service.

Seven Top qualities of an effective online marketing service

Before selecting an agency, you should create a list of the companies you’re interested in. Here’s a short list of how to complete that first step of actually finding an agency:

  • Carry out a Google search (look for phrases like “internet marketing services” or “industry internet marketing”)
  • Twitter is a great platform to post a question such as “Would anyone care to recommend a good #SEO company?” or “where can I find a reputable #online marketing company?”
  • Check out competitors’ websites that look great or rank, also look at their site footer to see who actually did the work.
  • Ask family and friends for referrals

The qualification process begins when you can have a list with 5-10 agencies you can speak with.

Here are seven qualities to look for to ensure that you choose the best Internet Marketing agency for your business…

They keep their word.

If a company is able to keep its word or practice what they preach, you can trust that one to handle your marketing needs. For example, if the company states that SEO is among their specialty, you just need to look to see if they are ranked for their most important key phrases (“online marketing service” or “internet marketing company.”) If you can’t find them, this is most definitely a red flag.  This is applicable to any other service such as social media or web design. If their website is repulsive or there are only 10 likes on their Facebook page, run as fast as you can!

They are reliable and open

Some agencies when asked direct questions tend to provide evasive answers. For example, if asked how do you do what you do, they respond by saying “it’s not our policy to give out that information.” Or if asked about any weaknesses they have, the response is “we don’t have any.” These answers are really red flags, so watch out!  Agencies that are reputable and effective are open and reliable, willing to share information that the clients ask for. A good online marketing service will willingly share information with their clients so that they can build long-lasting relationships.

They are not afraid to show valid results.

Never make the mistake of not asking for reviews and legitimate results. The agency should at least be able to show you their legitimate results. A few examples, preferable the ones related to your industry showing results from previous works will help you make the right decision. While client confidentiality may prevent you from getting the direct amount of money these customers spend, you should nonetheless be given enough information to confirm the agency’s experience.

They offer valid suggestions.

A good online marketing agency will not only take your orders but also will provide you with information and make the necessary recommendations based on your objectives to help you expand your business.  If they just listen to you as you dictate all the strategies, without offering any suggestions it’s a signal that you need to get out of there. You need an agency that will not treat you as a number but as a customer having your best long-term goals in mind.

They promise rankings.

There are agencies that promise to rank your website in Google. If this is your experience, run! This is definitely a red flag, so don’t let them try to convince you it can be done, it cannot. Falling for this will cause you to pay dearly in the future. Trustworthy agencies will never guarantee rankings. They will instead, conduct the correct research and help you set realistic but strong KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that will help you achieve your goals.

They are willing to call.

This particular characteristic often goes unrecognized and only surfaces when you become a customer. If you pay close attention during the sales process, you can pick up a few hints. Asking for the type of customer service and the frequency in response time will give you an idea of what you are in for. Many agencies, especially the less experienced ones are known to have delayed phone calls or have hidden behind emails just to get extra time, even at your own expense. Get hooked up with a responsive marketing agency that is liable for its services and advises.

They are cool and creative.

Although this may not be on everyone’s list, we believe it is worth adding to the list. Being passionate and excited about prospective and present customers is a sign that the agency you have selected to market your business has your best interest at heart. An agency that is able to share creative, fun ideas with you and make suggestions that give you more than an edge above your competitors is definitely what you need.

Grow with your agency

Now that you have created your list, completed your research and have selected the agency you believe is the best for you, it’s now time to trade expectations. Never sign off or make any payment before you both understand and agree on your expectations. Ensure that all expected results, expected turn-around times and communications are laid out on the table, and stated plainly in advance. If you do this, your business and the selected online marketing service will grow old together resulting in an expanding and successful business. If you fail to do this, be prepared to watch your business wither and die. Avoid future bickering, frustrations and disappointments by ensuring that the agency of your choice delivers upfront what is expected.

What online marketing you should be doing when you’re a startup or have little to no budget?

Yes, so you have come up with the brilliant idea of a new software, a business solution or an innovative product that no one else has thought about and you are now thinking how to go about creating your own startup business. How do you get your idea off the ground?  How do you tell people about this new exciting idea when you really don’t have the money to do so?

The mistake many start-up owners make when working on a tight budget is that thinking that they have to slice their budget. Most often, they believe that if anything needs cutting, it has to be the marketing expenses. But this is not the only option.

Yes, it is an established fact that the traditional way of advertising is costly and very hard to measure. However, your small business can survive on a tight budget, even with so many other successful and established players in the market.

All you need to do is utilize low-cost or free platforms to influence enthusiasm around your idea. Use your time and that of your initial employees to generate that enthusiasm. Many small start-ups have learned to combine Social Media and Email Marketing to push their business forward and you can do the same.

In this article are ten effective marketing strategies that you can use to help you push your business forward even when you are working with a limited budget.

  1. Create an elevator pitch

Marketing should be constant – make marketing your goal anywhere you are. That’s why it is so important to have a winning elevator pitch.

Research has shown that an adult has an average attention span of 6-8 seconds. Only just 6-8 seconds you have to hold someone’s attention. Once you engage them, you have only a limited time to sell them your product or service. Spend your time creating an appealing elevator pitch. This will allow your business to benefit greatly leading to a massive growth in business opportunities.

  1. Influence your community

Your community plays a crucial role in your marketing strategy.  Find out what’s happening in your community. Sponsor a community event such as a 10k walk /run or a Little League team. Why not print some bookmarkers and place them at the library in your area?  Check out your ideal customers and find out where they spend most of their time and what they love doing.

Now you are in a position to look for ways to get your marketing message in front of your customers.

  1. Join forces

Why not join forces with other supportive, non-competitive businesses in your area and cross-promote?  Use fliers, coupons, social media platforms, bundled promotions or shared website links to promote your business. Teaming up with other companies will help you reach more people and so will lead to an increased customer base.

  1. Network

Networking is a great way to promote your business. It allows you to get out there, meet people, and get to know them. Networking does not provide immediate gratification because it needs time and commitment but if you build a strong one; your business will be heading in the right direction.

  1. Engage in public speaking

Many persons shy away from public speaking.  Numerous organizations need persons who are qualified and competent in relevant subject matter to make presentations to their groups. Why not ditch your fear and volunteer?  You don’t have to be an expert to speak, you just need to share information that is relevant to the audience. What are the benefits? You gain confidence the more often you speak, while at the same time you are building your credibility as an authority in your field.

  1. Create buzz

Create your own buzz. You can get a lot done without contracting the services of a professional company. Resources such as Help a Reporter Out are available. Check out and respond to queries made by reporters who need resources and story ideas. While a few are small media prospects, others are large media outlets that use the services. In time, your brand will create its own buzz.

  1. Ask for referrals

Referrals make it easy for new customers to get in. Many people are eager to provide referrals if you ask them to, but some will never do it on their own. Don’t miss out on the opportunities by not asking for them.  Promote your brand by asking your customers for referrals!

  1. Build relationships

Building relationships is great for your business. It is crucial that you establish strong relationships with your customers and email marketing is the ideal way to do this.

When you ask customers for their email addresses whenever they visit your website or store, you are creating the way to communicate with them. Just provide useful, informative and professional communications that will make them want to keep doing business with you.

.9.  Give out coupons

Coupons are great for attracting new customers. Research has shown that many people will use coupons to stretch their spending dollar. Then why not use this method to expand your customer base? They are great for generating return visits, especially when you give them as incentives to use on future purchases.

  1. Offer give-a-ways

Giving out samples or free trials is another way of increasing your presence in the market. People these days are more likely to buy a product or service they have tried before. Therefore, provide the opportunity for people to experience your goods or services.

Conclusion

Your start-up doesn’t have to fail because you have a limited budget. By using the ten listed low-cost marketing strategies you will be able to engage your customers, build relationships, and eventually keep your product/service on top.

When you need to utilize effective marketing strategies to grow your business money is not necessarily the key factor. What really matters is the time and effort you are willing to spend to make your business successful, but most importantly, is the relevancy that all this has for your customers.

How To Set Online Marketing Goals For Your Business

The role of short-term and long-term online marketing goals for your business

 

It’s impossible to identify a winner or at least to complete a competition if there isn’t a finish line. Namely goals (short- and long-term) make measuring the success possible and help to avoid or amend failure. Implementation of online marketing strategy, like any other sphere of your business, needs a precise set of steps that include short- and long-term goals and objectives.

 

It may be difficult for business owners to look at their business from a new perspective. In this case an experienced web design, SEO and internet marketing firm can help them to establish marketing goals for all activities of online promotion such as official website, blog, pages in social media, etc. Profound understanding of the matter and the costs of achieving the goals will help to save you time and resources.

 

The reason you need to set goals for your online marketing

 

You need to set goals for online marketing and its objectives because they predetermine a purpose and potential result of all online activities. Goals and objectives together make change and adaptation possible so that they can provide a way of measurement to help scale your business marketing efforts The most popular goals must:

 

  • be relevant to general business strategy of the company (For example, “raise web traffic to increase profits of the business”)
  • be realistic (For example, “to raise web traffic”)
  • have the ability of quantitative measurement (For example, “to raise web traffic by 14 percent”)
  • have deadlines (For example, “to raise web traffic by 14 percent by the end of the month”)

 

You can modify or eliminate tasks that do not support your goals. This frees up time and other resources to focus on activities that do support established goals. This is a cost-effective and efficient way to organize multi-faceted entities such as online marketing.

 

Establishing and implementation of online marketing goals

 

First thing you should do is write out all your short-term and long-term online marketing goals which must be laconic, clear, and have only one interpretation. On the next step you should determine the attributes of each goal as what, where, when, who, why, and how. This step helps to assign all tasks to the members of the team who will cope with them in the best way, so every member of the team knows his/her role in achieving the goals.

 

The difference between short-term and long-term goals

 

Short-term goals are the goals you want to do in the near future (days or weeks). Long-term goals are those that take a longer time to achieve (several months, a year or several years). Both of them play an important role in success of online marketing.

 

We can call long-term goals most meaningful and important because they determine directions of online marketing. They often represent general ideas and aspirations, such “Become one of the top-ranking door-to-door moving companies in Austin.” Short-term goals should be considered as supportive goals. These goals usually support big ideas of long-term goals. For instance, “Produce three optimized weekly blog posts about relevant life coaching topics.”

 

Examples of long-term goals of online marketing

 

As a small business owner you should make your long-term goals clear. Some examples of long-term goals for an online marketing campaign may include:

  • expand the audience on Facebook page to 2000 followers
  • increase web traffic by 14 percent by the end of the month
  • get 1000 new subscribers for the company’s e-newsletter
  • increase company’s conversion rate by 15% by the end of the year

 

After the establishing of long-term goals you can start to work on setting short-term goals. You can use different ways to determine the most important short-term goals such as internal company surveys or brainstorming.

 

Some examples of short-term goals for online marketing

 

Company’s short-term goals can support its general long-term goals, or exist separately. Examples of short-term goals of online marketing include:

 

  • assign social media marketing specialist and determine schedule of SMM (Social Media Marketing) activities
  • conduct a research of target audience and make changes in keywords
  • improve content of the company’s e-newsletter
  • use new and more effective calls-to-action on your web pages.

 

Every step of setting of short-term and long-term goals should harmonize with your company’s general marketing strategy, goals and objectives. Every task should work in harmony to support your company’s marketing goals and objectives. At ATX Web Designs, we assist new and established businesses in developing short- and long-term online marketing goals. We also provide specific, measurable ways to track your progress. Learn more about how we can help you streamline your online marketing efforts. Call 512-994-0191 or contact us or more information.

You Can’t Force a Fish to Bite: The Importance of Being Patient in The Marketing World

I’m no expert in fishing , by far. But I’ve recently grown to enjoy it much more. What I’ve learned about fishing also applies to marketing. Here are a few quick things you absolutely need to know.

 

WHAT KIND OF FISH ARE YOU TRYING TO CATCH?

Identify Your Target Audience

You don’t decide what bait you’re going to use until know what kind of fish you’re going to go fishing for. Same thing applies to marketing.

Before you can decide if you’re going to use social media, do SEO, or how you’ll redesign your website, you need know who are audience is.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT BAIT:

Web Design, Facebook, Twitter, or PPC.

Depending on what you’re fishing for and trying to catch, then you can choose your bait: live shrimp, plastic worms, minnows, etc.

Before you up and decide that you want to use twitter to engage with your audience, make sure that that’s the best platform to use for your business when trying to capture their attention.

For example, typically if you’re small local business in a common industry, such as a chiropractor, then having s very interactive Facebook page, along with doing Facebook ad campaigns, makes more sense than spending most your efforts on twitter.

Now, this isn’t to say that you wouldn’t get leads and clients from doing another form of marketing, but it’s all about getting the most bang for your buck, right?

 

YOUR CAN’T FORCE A FISH TO BITE:

Be Patient and Adjust

Even with the perfect pole, bait, and fishing spot you still can’t force a fish to bite (I know from experience). It takes patience, and it takes skill.

For one, there are many other competitors that are marketing in your industry. You’re not the only one. Let me repeat that: you’re not the only one.

That means it takes skill and figuring out how to best capture your audience and give them what they’re looking for, in the most effective way.

Maybe that has to do with your website not being up-to-par. Or that the marketing you’re doing is as good as you think.

You can’t just throw up some marketing on the internet and expect it work. And even if it does, you’ll still have to keep critiquing it because the web changes fast and so the your audiences’ preference.

Always be prepared during marketing when trying to grow your clientele or customer base. You do this by strategy, patience, and being willing to make adjustments when need be.

For the record, I just started enjoying fishing recently within the past year. It’s probably because I’ve gained more patience and actually begin catching something. But what I’ve learned has helped me understand the art of it all. I’m no expert. No even close to it, ha.

Daniel Griggs – ATX Web Designs Founder & CEO

You Can’t Force a Fish to Bite: The Importance of Being Patient in The Marketing World

I’m no expert in fishing , by far. But I’ve recently grown to enjoy it much more. What I’ve learned about fishing also applies to marketing. Here are a few quick things you absolutely need to know.

 

WHAT KIND OF FISH ARE YOU TRYING TO CATCH?

Identify Your Target Audience

You don’t decide what bait you’re going to use until know what kind of fish you’re going to go fishing for. Same thing applies to marketing.

Before you can decide if you’re going to use social media, do SEO, or how you’ll redesign your website, you need know who are audience is.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT BAIT:

Web Design, Facebook, Twitter, or PPC.

Depending on what you’re fishing for and trying to catch, then you can choose your bait: live shrimp, plastic worms, minnows, etc.

Before you up and decide that you want to use twitter to engage with your audience, make sure that that’s the best platform to use for your business when trying to capture their attention.

For example, typically if you’re small local business in a common industry, such as a chiropractor, then having s very interactive Facebook page, along with doing Facebook ad campaigns, makes more sense than spending most your efforts on twitter.

Now, this isn’t to say that you wouldn’t get leads and clients from doing another form of marketing, but it’s all about getting the most bang for your buck, right?

 

YOUR CAN’T FORCE A FISH TO BITE:

Be Patient and Adjust

Even with the perfect pole, bait, and fishing spot you still can’t force a fish to bite (I know from experience). It takes patience, and it takes skill.

For one, there are many other competitors that are marketing in your industry. You’re not the only one. Let me repeat that: you’re not the only one.

That means it takes skill and figuring out how to best capture your audience and give them what they’re looking for, in the most effective way.

Maybe that has to do with your website not being up-to-par. Or that the marketing you’re doing is as good as you think.

You can’t just throw up some marketing on the internet and expect it work. And even if it does, you’ll still have to keep critiquing it because the web changes fast and so the your audiences’ preference.

Always be prepared during marketing when trying to grow your clientele or customer base. You do this by strategy, patience, and being willing to make adjustments when need be.

For the record, I just started enjoying fishing recently within the past year. It’s probably because I’ve gained more patience and actually begin catching something. But what I’ve learned has helped me understand the art of it all. I’m no expert. No even close to it, ha.

Daniel Griggs – ATX Web Designs Founder & CEO

How to Get the Most from Facebook Insights

In today’s society, social media sites are a huge contributing factor for sales. Facebook, is especially great for small businesses to generate new leads and build their online presence. Why? Because potential customers spend most of their free time online. According to Social Media Today, the average person will spend nearly two hours on social media every day!

How do you know what type of customers you’re attracting to your Facebook page? Well now there is a new easy tool to use that is called “Facebook Insights”. It has the ability to show you all kinds of statistics about how your Facebook business page is performing. I know you’re probably thinking I’m about to give you the “sales pitch” or be told the elongated “too much information” spill. Surprisingly no, I actually have simplified and highlighted a few of the essential benefits that Facebook Insight has to offer.

 

  • Your top posts. Facebook Insight allows you to see your most popular post you have. It also shows you what kind of content, posting times, and days are best to receive more likes and clicks from your audience.
  • See who your best fans are. You can see who your most-engaged followers are. Which includes; the location, age, and interests. This is especially beneficial to business owners because it can help you refine your marketing strategy and increase the traffic to your page.
  • How you compare to competitors. Yes, that’s right, Insight helps you see how your business page compares to the competitors page. Awesome right? It can also show you the top five competitor pages and how they are engaging and growing with their fans.

Ranking For Organic SEO vs Local SEO. Your Small Business Needs To Know The Difference

If you’ve been actively marketing your business online, you’ve probably familiar with both local SEO and organic SEO. But you might find yourself wondering what’s the difference between the two.

 

No worries. We’ll discuss the difference between local SEO and organic SEO and how they relate.

 

They both begin with search.

 

What is local search?

The main difference between organic and local search is that local search has a physical location component.  If a user searches for your industry plus a specific location, the search engine knows there is a local intent in that search. Search engines job is to give the user exactly what they’re searching for. Here’s an example of how local search works:

 

You want to get your kids involved in some after school activities. You hear karate is good to get them involved in so you Google search “Karate Class Round Rock.”

 

So what’s it going to be? As you see, only three karate places show up in the local results under the paid ads on the first page.

 

2016-07-14 (1)

 

Even when searching for “Karate” Google assumes I’m looking for a nearby karate class.

 

If you look below the local results, you’ll see what are called the “organic” results. These are the results search engines return on searches that they don’t see as having local intent.

 

2016-07-14 (3)

 

What is organic search?

Organic search happens when search engines decide there’s no local intent in the search. The searcher is looking for information rather than a specific location.

 

Maybe you want to teach your child some self defense moves yourself. So you search for “How To Do Karate” and the search engine will pull the best and most relevant results for that keyword.

 

So, you might be wondering how search engines determine which karate places (local results) or how to do karate (organic results) are the best or the most relevant.

 

Search engines use hundreds of factors to rank and index websites in searches, including keywords, outbound and inbound links and even grammar, just to name a few.

 

Who should rank in local vs. organic search?

Brick and mortar businesses with physical locations will want to rank high in a local search. Your target audience is likely looking for a place to go for a specific product or service. Therefore, your local small business needs to show up in local searches for your industry.

 

On the other hand, if you want your business to show up for certain search terms including or not including a specific location, you want to try to rank higher in organic search.

 

For example, if you sell art online but your business has no physical location and doesn’t serve a specific area, you want to show up in organic searches. You can still target a specific location or area, to potentially capture customers in your area.

 

Should local businesses rank high in organic search?

If you have a business with one or more physical locations as well as an online store, you want to be found locally as well as organically. You also want to be found both locally and organically if your local business has a blog.

 

That’s where organic SEO comes into play. Search engine optimization is the process of trying to make sure search engines know which searches your business or website is relevant for.

 

To rank higher in search results, both organically and locally, your business has to be relevant to a specific search. And to show search engines your business is the right answer for a particular query, you have to state the obvious.

 

Local SEO

It’s important for your business to show up in relevant local searches because over 50 percent of searchers visit businesses within 24 hours of a local search.

 

Naturally, optimizing a business for local search has more to do with location than with other factors. Search engines need to know exactly where your business is located so that when someone searches for a location, the search engine can find the businesses located in that area.

 

For local search, you want to make sure your business name, address and phone number is consistent across local listing directories as well as your website. That’s the bare minimum you’ll need for local SEO.

 

Organic Search

This has less to do with location and more to do with whether or not your website is relevant for certain keyword searches. That’s why “karate” and “how to do karate” are in bold in the “how to do karate” Google search. When searching for how to do karate the search engine wants to give me video and tutorials on how to do karate.

 

When optimizing a website for organic search, the intention is to get the website to show up for certain keywords. This could be a short term “how to do karate” or a question spoken into voice search on a smartphone. “how to teach myself to do karate?”

 

For organic SEO, you need to use specific keywords in headings and paragraphs. Don’t stuff the paragraphs full of keywords, but if you post a tutorial on karate, you might want to use the words “teach yourself karate” at least a couple of times.

 

How do they affect each other?

There are also certain SEO practices that help both local and organic search rankings. For instance, when claiming your business page on local listing directories like Google, Bing, and Yelp you are also adding a link back to your website.

 

These local listing citations (your business’s name, address and phone number) help local SEO by telling search engines where you’re located. They create links back to your website, which counts as a link building strategy that helps your organic SEO efforts, since search engines take the number of backlinks into account when they rank websites in search results.

 

On-site local SEO, such as writing a locally focused blog post or updating a page by adding your business’s address can also help your organic SEO. Search engines like fresh content, so while local SEO helps send out signals of local relevance, it can also help boost your organic SEO efforts.

 

When they’re done correctly, both local and organic SEO efforts will help improve your website rankings, but when done incorrectly, both can have a hugely detrimental effect on your online marketing efforts.

 

Remember, even though SEO is optimization for search engines, it is what helps consumers find your business. While you want to make sure search engines know what your business and your website are about, it’s important to think of those potential customers who are searching for your business. Don’t just optimize so that Google knows what you do. Make sure your target market can find all the information they’ll need to know about your business, such as exact location, hours, services or products, and more.

 

Do you want your business to rank better in local SEO, organic SEO, or both? Contact us and we’ll give you more information on steps you can take to rank better in local and organic search engines.

If You’re A Startup Avoid These 10 Deadly Mistakes So You Won’t Fail

Starting a new business can be very worrying. With so many plans to put in place and numerous decisions to make you have to be careful not to make the wrong choices as this can really work against your success.

While there are no surefire plans available to make your small business startup a success, you can avoid the mistakes other new business owners have made, which affected their businesses negatively.

Let’s look at the 10 most common mistakes you should avoid when you are starting your small business.

1. Avoiding the Planning Phase

Planning takes time, but if you want to be free from the stress of a failing new statup business, you have to plan effectively. Your planning should include business idea, research and prospective target market, without these you will be left completely in the dark. There are three key plans you need to include before lauch out: business, financial and marketing plans.

2. Failure to Set Goals

Goals keep you focused and help you know where you are in terms of your daily operations. Simply put, your goals give you direction. Your goals help you recognize where you want to go and help you to pinpoint the particular steps needed to get you there.

3. Undervaluing Your Products/Services

Fear of failure and lack self-confidence in your ability can result in undervaluing of your products or services. Doing this is not good because it undercuts the true value of your business and makes way for possible frustration and bitterness. Moreover, it will take you a very long time to recover if you put too low a price on your goods. The best way forward is doing a thorough exploring of the market so you can identify the right entry price for whatever you are selling.

4. Sidestepping New Technology

Technology creates new opportunities for new business owners; it makes your work easier and help you run your business more efficiently. New technology can be scary too, and may take some time to learn or understand, but failing to use new technology can hurt your business both in the short-term and in the long-term.

5. Being Scared of Marketing

Marketing is a good way to get people to notice your business. Marketing can take many approaches including word of mouth recommendation, traditional advertising or internet marketing. Since marketing strategies vary, you have to find the one that is perfect for your business if you want your business to grow. If you don’t market your goods/services, you won’t be noticed.

6. Being Unaware of Your Ideal Customer

One important key to a successful marketing campaign is the ability to understand an ideal customer. A market research will help you identify the persons you are targeting, where they are and the way they will respond to your marketing actions.

7. Excessive Spending

Many persons may believe that you need a large investment to start a business, but is not so. You don’t need to spend money purchasing the best technology, the best software or the best equipment. There are other viable low cost options. All you need is the willingness to make the necessary research. The best way to limit overspending is to make a business budget and follow through.

8. Inadequate spending

While the possibility exists that some small business owners will overspend, others will do the exact opposite. Being cautious about overspending is good but you must realize that for your small business to succeed, you will need capital. You have to strike a balance because underspending will only hinder the growth and success of your business.

9. Doing It All by Yourself

While a Jack- of- All -Trades mentality may look like the right approach to a small business owner, this however can limit your success. Delegating some of the workload will give you the time to focus on those activities that need your required expertise. Building an efficient and reliable work team will position your business for long-term success.

10. Not capable of making a Commitment

Character traits such as determination, dedication and commitment are key to getting your new start up business off the ground. As a small business owner, you have to be prepared to face the challenges directly, make the necessary sacrifices, and fill in the time needed, if you want your small business to be successful.

Making mistakes is a common everyday experience. The most important thing about the mistakes we make is accepting them. Accepting your mistakes makes you aware of the importance of working on them consistently. This will help you make the right choices to push your business forward. Being resilient is the only way to bounce back from your mistakes and attain the level of success that you desire.

Want More Leads? Landing Pages Are The Way To Go!

What the heck is a landing page, and why do I need one? A landing page is a web page that is designed to motivate a specific audience to visit your website. The link to this page is usually presented in direct mail, emails, Facebook advertising campaigns, pay-per-click ads or social media posts. Basically, your landing page should get visitors to subscribe, fill out a form or contact your business.

 

So, what’s the difference between your website and your landing page? Well, even though they both generate leads for your business, your website should be designed to provide details, improve your business’ online visibility and display case studies. A business website, that is well designed, directs your visitors to take certain actions.

 

Your landing page, on the other hand, is designed for a for one specific audience. The benefits it brings makes them perfect for driving leads. Here are 7 things a landing page can do for your business.

 

1. Providing Direct Support For Your Business’ Goals

Researching a fresh niche? Promoting a recently launched product or service? Just need more customers? How about increasing your sales? That’s where a landing page comes in. Whatever the goal your business needs – landing pages are the way to go. They can be targeted to a specific set of people and you can measure how successful you are in achieving your that goal.

 

When we say specific, we mean nitty gritty specific, the kind of specific that you can’t design a website for. The actions you can lead people to take include providing contact information, subscribing to your newsletter, purchasing, requesting consultations, or signing up for a mailing list.

 

2. Sending Your Conversions Through The Roof

In the same way that your website can move a visitor to perform a certain action, so can your landing page. Your landing page pushes a call to action. It defines an action that you want your visitors to take and presents it in the easiest way possible. Your business benefits from more conversions, since conversion generally leads to sales and sales means more cash for the business.

 

3. Obtain Well-needed Insight and Data

Linking a landing page to a particular action, source, content, or campaign can show you the channel that generates the most leads, the offers and topics that interest your audience most or the best performing campaigns. You can track your visitors behavior. This allows you to scale your target market, as well as your campaign strategies, making you more effective.

 

Implementing A/B testing also helps gather more insight. You can use several landing pages over a period and determine the effectiveness of each. They need not be drastically different. You could possibly use a different video, different text, layout, colors or even vocabulary. In this way, you will see what works for your business and what doesn’t.

 

4. Higher Returns On Investment In Paid Search Campaigns

Paid search campaigns depend on click through rates. What better way to increase your click-through rates, than with a landing page? For instance, let’s say your business is a shows in search results when an individual searches for “kitchen design” in a search engine. You could direct them to your website’s homepage or another webpage within. However, your homepage gets individuals to your site. A landing page quickly turn that visitor into a qualified leads.

 

When you have a landing page designed particularly for a certain ad campaign, it will direct visitors to one webpage. This page will show them what they are interested in, making it more likely for them to contact your business or complete your form, and voila a new lead. In view of the fact that the user has found exactly what he/she is searching for, and the landing page takes them closer to their ultimate goal, there is an increased likelihood of the visitor clicking that link and going through the steps.

 

Compare the above, to being directed to a webpage that has general information that may not even present a clear path to the information that you desire. Ah! Other links may divert your visitors’ attention or they may get overwhelmed by the information, reducing the likelihood of them contacting your business and becoming a lead.

 

5. A Lengthier Email List

If your landing page is meant to generate leads, that is, get you form submissions or phone calls, it may have a form, or a link to one that collects the visitor’s company, email address, name and/or telephone number. A form that requests an email helps to grow your mailing list.

 

Upon completion of the form (or somewhere in it), you can have a button or checkbox that allows the person to indicate whether they would like to get offers and emails from your business and also what kind. Then, you add the persons, who have indicated, to your list for announcements, news, promotions, and sales (linked to other landing pages) to make sure that your business is informative and current.

 

6. Increased Credibility

Content and elements on a landing page can be optimized to achieve the particular objective or task or to direct the user in the path that it is geared towards. Setting a clear course of action for your users and assisting them on that path lets them see that you understand their problem and you have spent time thinking about and designing the most suitable solution for them.

 

If that isn’t enough, show them what other people have to say. Testimonials on your landing page about the focus service or product are an excellent way to go. Your customers are sure to feel more secure knowing that your solution has worked for real people with real problems, similar to their own.

 

7. Everybody Knows Your Brand

Ensure that your landing page has consistent branding. That way people readily recognize your brand when they see it. The landing page should look like something they have seen before that is associated with your brand whether the content, feel, layout, look or style.

 

It should especially resemble the page that it links to. This benefits you by ensuring that user engagement opportunities with your brand are increased. Their familiarity with your brand grows. This is especially important in light of the tendency for clients to purchase products or use services from businesses they know or have seen on a regular basis. Ensure that they remember your business.

 

To top it all off, landing pages are designed to influence user actions with regards to your business’ goals. They assist with improving your customer relationships, how successful your marketing campaigns are and how much you know about the kind of people your business attracts. Landing pages are for a developed for a particular target audience, and to capture them and turn them into a lead.

 

Definitely test out a landing page in your next marketing campaign and see the results!

Small Businesses and Online Marketing – Is It Really Necessary?

Many small business owners at some point in the past 10 years, sincerely believed that they did not need to marketonline. Nowadays, most of those small business owners have given in and gotten a website at the very least but that is just about it. Do they give thought to search engine optimization? What about branding or even offering a platform for e-commerce. How about using social media to engage customers?

“Traditional” business owners may see these things as fads or time wasting pursuits. True, these things do require a bit of time, money and effort. However, the professional and more up-to-date marketer sees the obvious benefits. Why though do views differ when it comes on to online marketing? Is it really necessary for small businesses in this day and age, or is it possible for small businesses to stay afloat and thrive minus the online strategy?

Why views differ?
There are a plethora of reasons cited by traditional business owners to support their claim that online marketing is not necessary or doesn’t really add much. Not all business owners who don’t see the need to market online have the same reasons.To be fair, some of the supporting points they raise bear merit, but others can be easily set aside when the facts are carefully considered.

All my customers are offline.

Businesses that gain their customers through networkingandexisting partnerships often believe and adhere to this statement. While this is true, they fail to consider the fact that the reach of their existing marketing strategy would have to be offline if they are marketing offline.Putting things into perspective, of the 5 billion searches on Google daily and the excess of 1 billion active users of Facebook, even a few must have some interest in your business.

My business doesn’tneed more customers.

This reasoning is a bit difficult to argue with. We all know that thereis always room for improvement. True, you may not want to have the added responsibility that goes with expanding your business. It’s great if the customer base you have is satisfactory and profitability is at the point where youhavenoreal interest in growth. However, you need to be sure that you can depend on those customers to support you in the long run.

Marketing onlineisn’t effective for my business.

If you have attempted marketing online before and were not successful or not as successful as you expected, that doesnot mean that marketing is the problem. Rather, the issue could lie in how it was designed or executed. Don’t for once think it is a small business thing, it happens even to the best. What you need to do, is to improve your strategy,pursue new channels, secure new partners, broaden or better focus your target and increase the accuracy of the data you use.

Online marketing is a fad

Online marketing is definitely not short-lived. Types of marketing online or off can be fads. However, most of the established fields of online marketing have survived for over a decade. Instead of fading away entirely, they may change their form. That still is no excuse to avoid joining in to get your share of the patronage.

Online marketing is too costly. The approach that we take to marketing may cause us to see it as another expense. However, marketing is an investment. If you do it properly, you will get back way more than you put in.

I don’t understand it. Not understanding online marketing now doesn’t mean you won’t ever understand it. Research is so much easier with ready Internet access and online communities that can and willassist you to understand. Otherwise, you can hire an agency orcontractorto provide designing, execution, and management services with regards to your campaign.

Having broken down most common objections, here’s why you need to jump into online marketing sooner rather than later.

Consumers Expect You To Market Online.

Generally, when we first hear of a business, most of us will immediately search the internet for a social media page orwebsite to either learn more or find out if such a business really exists. Stopping in for a visit doesn’t cross our minds. Neither does searching a phone book (unless it’s online or an app of course).By default we and by extension, people expect that you to have a website; if you don’t, this casts doubt on your legitimacy as a business or you get relegated to the bottom of their list of available options.

Bottom line: Consumers expect to find you at least mentioned somewhere. Reviews and listings in online directories are good. A search engine optimized website and blog are even better. Couple that with a Facebook page and pretty soon you’ll be thinking e-commerce.

Online Marketing is Always Available

Continuing on the above point, let’s say persons were willing to call your business or even stop for a visit. Unless you are a 24-hour business, you can’t always be available. That’s where your online presence picks up. Customers can still be engaged and get some questions answered while you remain undisturbed. If they forget to visit your physical location, let’s say, to find out the products you offer, your online marketing strategy can do that for you wherever they are at whatever time they want to know.

Keeping Up With or Staying Ahead of Your Competition

Not every business owner will share your reluctance to develop and execute an online marketing strategy.Who knows if your competitors aren’t capturing your more tech-savvy customers?What about “robbing” you of your prospective customers and giving a better first impression to just about anyone in search of businesses like yours in yourlocality. If they already have, every day you delay an online marketing strategy of your own is one day for them to increase their lead.

Rate of Change

Change and trends are usually the biggest factors in determining what will work. Technology is readily accessible and it is used without a second thought. Reliance on online services and stores is also on the rise. Dependence on the Internet increases with its speed and the improvements on mobile devices and dependence on physical structuresare on the decline.Consequently, as time goes by, online marketing’s importance increases consistently. You may not see it now but what of next year. Remember this investment is long-term.

At the end of reading this, you may still not think you need online marketing and you may be right.If you don’t have any kind of online marketing going, you are blocking your potential and maybe even setting yourself up for collapse in the future. Your business may be doing well without an online presence; this doesnot necessarily mean that you are better off. You won’t regret your attempts at online marketing.

5 Essentials To Your Start-up Website

Most business owners put their focus on usability and a good design when getting their website started. They put emphasis on generating web traffic, marketing their site through various means like social network campaigning and cold emails. While these are important there are a few other things to consider.

For one, you want to convert. That means you want visitors to your site to take some sort of action. This is for more reasons than one. All your efforts are useless if the persons visiting your site don’t make a purchase, sign up or subscribe to your mailing list. Not only that but they increase your website’s bounce rate which lowers your SEO ranking causing search engines to think that it is not relevant to the keywords that itis indexed for.

When you are doing a website for your start-up you can’t spread yourself thin applying every piece of advice that you get. There are some things that you can’t afford to overlook. Here are 5 of such. You can always research and at to the list.

1. Ensure your value proposition is communicated conciselyand clearly

At the top of your priority list of things to communicate is the list of productsand/or services that youoffer or will be offering. This information should be communicated upon visitors entering your site. You may choose to use a short title that isa simple statement with a subtitle to give more details.You may favor usingvideosorpictures,just keep them to the point and your message clear. A value proposition is by no means a slogan.It basically sums up the problem you offer a solution to, the way you are able to achieve it and why they should choose you.

Youalso need to draw attention to your value proposition.From time to time you may want to change the presentation style, although the statement may remain the same.

2. Have a clear call to action

The Call To Action is theimage,button, or link that you want your visitors to click to be well on their way to becoming a customer. For eCommerce sites, the checkout or add to cart button would be the call to action. For marketing or service sites,the subscribe or sign-up button or linkwould be the most likely choice.In the early stages of your startup and for your blog the Call to Action would also be for them to subscribe to your mailing list. The call to action needs tostand out, be easily identifiable and located in different sections of your website.

Your choice of images,text, and videos used on the website should be in support of your value proposition and move your visitors totake your desired action.

3. Have good web design and give users a great experience

It should be a pleasure for users to interact with your site, not only because of the beautiful things you have filled it with but, also because of the way your site works. The aesthetics should be on point but your site structure should be easy to follow and navigation should be easy as well. You need your visitors to understand and believe the value proposition that you have sold them. Youalsoneed to build credibility and get users to trust you and if everything works and feels good, you will speak to at least 75% of your website’s visitors.

4. Complete contact information

We tend to overlook the value of this until we are in a bind, need to get in touch with a business and we can’t seem to find their number or email address listed anywhere. Nearly all visitors may need to see your contact information at some point in time and even if they don’t need it, some will notice that it is not there. When your contact information is on your site, this helps your customers to see that you are interested in them and helping them solve any problems they may have.

You may want to consider having a separate contact page or includingaddresses,email,links to social media profilesandphone numbers in the footer throughout the site.

5. Clear, convincing and well-written texts

A good choice of words,correct grammarandaccurate spelling are vital. The textual content on your site that you use to sell your service or product is termed copy. They should put the meat on the bones of your value proposition. In the end, you really are trying to influence the visitor to decide to purchase from you. You may want to engage the services of a professional,experienced copywriterto tailor your content to suit your target audienceand businesstype.

As you grow, you can focus on more things. These are pretty much the bare essentials; what you need to start with. Anexcellent SEO strategy is important, but it is most effective, when you get the resulting traffic on your website, engage the visitors and use the means at your disposal to convince them to become a customer or at least consider it.

Marketing your Start-up Digitally

One of the most exciting experiences is planning your own venture and seeing it come to fruition. After you have gotten it off the ground, you recognize the importance of marketing. At which point, you may begin to wonder about the best way to reach the masses, drive results in your business, make your business resonate and being wildly successful, fulfilling your dreams on a very small budget?

Consider why start-ups need to be marketed. Start-ups are designed to create solutions to problems their users face. In order to connect with the right users, those who want to utilize your services or products, you need to market personally to them.A start-up needs its own brand identity in this competitive and fast-pacedworld sooner rather than lateras slow growth can prove damaging.

Then too there is traditional marketing. You may be wondering why we recommend usingdigital marketing as opposed to traditional marketing methods. The first and most important factor at this point is cost. You are able to have a wider reach and focus on those who are most likely to use your services without spending large amounts. This targeting prevents wastage and you are able to make digital marketing work on almost any budget.

How though can digital marketing be of assistance to you? Digital marketing helps increase awareness of and positions your business and brand. You are able to build a steady stream of trafficand get the first few users. Marketing digitally also drivesonline salesandleads.

Although there are budget and possibly time constraints within a start-up, they must have a few tools or techniques that can be leveraged at a minimal cost. Here are a few of these tools and how your business cango about making use of them.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Search engine optimization is cost-effective and provides a way to measure benefits that are for the long-term. The organic traffic (that is visitors to your site that are not directed there through paid means) and overall visibility of your site increases, the higher your SEO ranking is. A high SEO ranking builds your business’ credibility, is free branding and is able to work for you 24/7.

To increase your SEO ranking
*Design your site to be responsive (mobile friendly) and secure. This is of utmost necessity if you are engaging in e-commerce on the site.
* Make sure that all your pages are functional.
* Ensure that you use appropriate tags, headers, and descriptions. You may also want to do this so it is easier for users with special needs to make use of your site.
* Design your pages to load quickly. Pages to focus on would beyour contact page and any others which you anticipate high traffic for.
* Ensure that your site content is relevant, memorable and a talking point. That way users will talk about your site.

Content marketing – Creating and sharing materialthat stimulates interest in your products and services increases traffic, gets you more leads, and increases awareness of your brand. It also gives a good first impression and forms the basis for great relationships with potentialand current clients.

To make your content marketing more effective
*Publish relevant, informative and engaging content regularly.
* Come up with original ways to make your sales propositions.
* Start a blog, write stories, and collaborate with other publishersto publish your content and increase your market.
* Include user stories in your write-ups.

Social media marketing – Social media marketing is a very dynamic form of marketing. It can pull users in and engage them. It provides you with statistics and even detailed feedback straight from your customers in real time. It is cost-effective and helps give your start-up a voice. Not every social media platform is suited to every business or at least what you want to accomplish. Choose a platform in line with your business and your desired outcome. You can choose from Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest,Tumblr, andTwitter.

What to do on social media platforms
* Think of why someone would join your community or want to follow you and post along that line.
* Don’t be anxious to put lots of content on at once. Post your first few pieces of content and watch the feedback.
* Respond to chat in a timely manner.
* Use features such as groups and add-ons effectively.

Email marketing – Email marketing is simple. It offers a cost-effective,and personal strategy that can be tailor madeand measured. It has been proven to generate high returns on investment (ROI). Email facilitatescommunication with any size audience. Thereareabout three email user accounts for allTwitter andFacebook user accounts combined.

Getting emailmarketing started
* Choose an email marketing service provider. You could try a do-it-yourself platform. Amazon SES,Aweber, Constant Contact andMailChimp are a few.
* Set up a calendar.
*Ensure that you are not always selling. Try to make most of the emails about free services.

Growth hacking – This is an innovative, low cost and relatively new alternative to marketingtraditionally. Your sole focus will be growth and everything you do will be geared towards that.

How to go about it
* Set up referral programs.
* Go with exclusivity.
* Offer a free service or product.
* Offer something that makes your product go viral.
Get the handle on these tools and techniques and not only experience the excitement of starting right but also the exhilaration of soaring successfully.

Growing Your Small Business With Your Website

Growing a small business starts with ensuring that you build strong relationships right there in your locality. It is imperative that your prospective clients get an excellent first impression of you, so they will like and trust you.

The person or company a consumer chooses to purchase from is usually more than just an afterthought. Most people generally research a business that they plan to buy from. Your online presence, like a physical storefront, creates an impression in the minds of your potential clients. Unfortunately, many small businesses, don’t invest a lot of time into increasing their online visibility.

Research may turn up a few online reviews on sites such as Yelp. However, most times their businesses are not listed with Google My Business, their Facebook page is almost non-existent and often times they don’t even have a website.

Growing a small business starts with ensuring that you build strong relationships right there in your locality. It is imperative that your prospective clients get an excellent first impression of you, so they will like and trust you.

Below are a few of the keys to creating a local website to aid the growth of and help your small business flourish.

Draw attention to your contact information

The contact information of the business should be located that customers are likely to see it, whether they are looking for it or not. When your contact information is visible in more than one place on your site creates the impression that you are open and readily accessible, should your customers require information or assistance. When persons are making purchase decisions, they are assured in knowing that you are available if they need anything.

Your readiness to be contacted, also serves as a form of quality assurance. If you are not willing to share your direct contact information you create an impression of doubt about the legitimacy of your business in the minds of your customers.

The extra effort that you put in to be accessible is also recognized and rewarded by search engines. Search engines like Google have been seen to give a small boost to those businesses with their contact information placed on the homepage, especially when that same contact information is also visible on online directories.

Remember your target market

When building your site, you need to bear in mind who you are making it for. When purchasing your service or product, your customers will have to navigate through your pages, images, and choice of words.

Whether you are selling cars to the general public, packaging material to a local manufacturer or childcare products to parents, you have knowledge of your products, business, and jargon that your prospective client likely does not. If you immediately jump into talking about the pistons on an engine to the general public, you will lose them.

True, using the jargon does make it seem like you know what you are doing. At the same time, the customer really does not need all that information to come to an informed decision.

When your prospective client visits your website, they would like help to solve their problem. They have placed their confidence in your ability to take the information that they have provided you with and provide a solution that is tailored to them with the personal touch small businesses are noted for.

You also need to think about how your site is designed and the way in which your users will experience it. Be sure to factor in the impression that the website creates on your target market when designing with your locality in mind.

Avoid a site that creates the impression of a corporate level business as individuals may be intimidated or come to the conclusion that you are high priced. Instead, ensure that the language and funnel used moves prospects along to the section of the site that they need so they can obtain the information to deal with the problem facing them.

Cater to mobile devices

With the ever increasing pace of life, likely, a large number of your clients will be viewing your site on the go. Mobile devices are the media of choice to do this. Keeping this in mind when designing your site will mean that it will be responsive; that is changing the content to allow ease of reading and navigating minus the extra scrolling and resizing on any device that they use.

Asking your prospective clients to zoom in and out of pages and interact with tiny navigation buttons and links may be asking them to find some other business that is more convenient.

To keep your expense and effort within reason and practicality, you need to think about what would be most important to a client that chooses to view and interact with your site using a mobile device.

If you are a local restaurant, mobile users of your site would not need such information as your company history or your vacancies on the fly. However, they would likely need to information on your specials and general menu. Contact information is also among the things that any site needs to have readily available to mobile users.

Small and medium-sized businesses are lagging behind where mobile websites are concerned with nearly 95% not having a mobile platform. This represents an area where SMBs can get ahead and improve to stimulate growth and foster trust.

Keep your site content fresh

A lot of the online marketing done by small businesses is like a nine-day wonder. The enthusiasm to keep the website and social media page content fresh can wane after a while. Allowing the website design and language to become stale creates the impression of a business that is dated and behind time.

Let people see what working with you will be like. You want to create the image of being established and professional however you also want your prospects to see that you are able to relate to their problems and why it matters to them.

Better than any jargon, maintaining fresh web content relating to the problem(s) that your prospects face, helps distinguish your business as having the expertise and being able to furnish solutions.

When they see you address the problem, they become aware that they have access to resources locally to answer questions or provide some other assistance.

You are also able to use your web content on social media. Based on your prospects’ interactions, you can determine what is best to drive your ads. You may also be able to get a mailing list or just create a repository for those persons who need just need information.

Keeping your site fresh requires effort but it keeps your business current and is crucial to growing a local business.

In conclusion

There are many other things that you can factor into your website design. However, this list represents a good starting point on the essentials when getting your website designed. When hiring a website developer, these should be high on the priority list of keys to your website’s success.

Correcting 3 Mistakes Your Small Business Might Be Making with SEO and Branding

Sometimes, in seeking to be a competitor with major players, you underutilized strategies that your small business can capitalize on for SEO and branding.

In the attempts to gain more visibility online, it is often difficult to be certain of the tools to utilize, the methods to target and measuring results effectively, particularly so, when you are consumed with your small business’ daily operations. There may also be budget constraints as well and so a limited margin for error.

All of the above added to the confusing nature of SEO, a field where many companies promise to improve your rankings, but very few able to achieve, often cause many small business owners to wonder about the direction to take with regards to their small business’ SEO. Let us explore some things you do not want to do as a small business professional:

 

Mistake #1 – Not Selecting A Specific Target Market

It helps to have an area of focus when approaching branding. This area is typically called your niche.

You may believe that gaining ranking for as wide a variety of keywords as is possible would maximize your impact, as your visibility would be high for a variety of search terms. For example, if your business is a bakery, you might face the temptation to target terms like cake making, cake decoration, pastries, bakery, baked goods, cake delivery and so on.

While it is true that all those keywords apply to your business and the variety of keywords may cause you to rank for more search terms, your relevancy for each will be low. When competing with businesses with budgets that are lavish, have content the size of your entire site and a longstanding client base, your moves need to be more calculated and strategic.

Allocating resources to a few keywords, perhaps cake decoration, cake making, and pastries will increase the likelihood of you ranking higher for those particular terms.

 

Mistake #2 – Underestimating How Important Local SEO Is

In line with the first mistake, you not only need to focus on particular searches but also the area in which those searches are taking place. Having a huge audience is good just ensure it is the right audience.

Take, for example, Wal-Mart, which has a location in nearly every area. A perk that small businesses have over big corporations, is knowledge of the issues and needs of a specific local area that a chain brand without ties locally will hardly be aware of.

As a result, you need to ensure that Google knows your location and uses that information to your best advantage. This results in your business appearing on more search engine result pages, within a very relevant, specific demographic.

A lot of the steps in optimizing local SEO are pretty straightforward. These include creating Yahoo and Google local place pages for your business with detailed address and contact information. When customers post reviews on your place pages this helps to increase your rankings too, because this is among the first things an individual sees after your place page comes up.

Having reviews help to promote your business to prospective customers, and Google’s algorithm takes local reviews into account during ranking, so it is a win-win situation.

 

Mistake #3 – Starting Late

SEO planning can be overwhelming. It is advantageous to start planning your SEO strategy when you are in the process of developing your business plan.

We will agree that in the early stages of starting your business, you a lot on your plate. You may begin to think that aggressive pursuit of SEO for small business does not need to be undertaken early on in the process.

Truthfully speaking, though, the more time that passes between your startup and your SEO strategy development the harder it becomes to start and finish.

When you leave creating digital content and establishing relationships with other resources on the web (which is very helpful to your rankings) for a later date, you will have more to catch up on and your competitors would have had more time to use these and other tools to get ahead. In a perfect (or nearly perfect world), you would have SEO and digital marketing fitted somewhere in your business plan. If you don’t, get cracking on it as soon as the business starts. When you are competing against large corporations you need to monitor and adjust to content and digital marketing.

Choosing and sticking to your niche, promotion of your location and development of a digital marketing and branding procedure from early stages are all strategies that sometimes get neglected and overlooked within the small business sector. Within a competitive market, just as important as knowing what you have is knowing how to use it. You must be aware of how to use your assets, in relation to your company’s size to gain the best advantage.

Need help with your SEO and digital branding? Contact Us and let’s chat about your situation!

Is Your Current Web Design In Line with Your Brand?

Have you ever wondered whether your firm’s website design is in line with your brand? If you haven’t, you need to evaluate. Here are five points that you can use to evaluate and determine if your web design and your brand are really in line.

Before evaluating your site, you need to consider what the current website says about your company. After you have, eliminate the things that you do not want it to say and consider what you would like it to say. You could ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the design current or out-dated? Does it say that your brand is new and dynamic or old, and behind time?
  • How is the website’s adaptability and responsiveness? Incompatibility with the types of devices that people will use to gain access to your site, may imply that your brand rigidity or inflexibility on the part of your brand.
  • Does your web design make navigation easy or difficult? No doubt, your brand is all for making it as easy as possible for clients to work along with you. Your web design should convey that message.
  • Is the information, especially the basic contact information, on your site still accurate?

Having gone through those questions, let’s now dive a bit deeper into the elements of design that change overtime and can be used to measure your brand.

Logos

Logos have a tendency to evolve over time for various reasons. This is totally normal. Many huge companies have had different ‘versions’ of their logo. With a logo’s evolution, however, it becomes harder to keep track of everywhere the logo will appear and ensure that they are all up-to-date. Ensure that all the logos appearing on your site are the currently approved versions that are in use by your brand.

Remember logos should be:
– Strategically and correctly placed (usually at the top of your site)
– Clear and crisp
– Appropriately sized and resizable
– Distinct and memorable

Typefaces

Typefaces are one of the areas where less is more. It can prove challenging to choose a few from the various typefaces and fonts that exist. Even more challenging may be choosing fonts that go well with each other. When those typefaces have been chosen, they should be set forth in the brand guidelines. These should state clearly the typefaces and fonts that should be used in every brand design and should ALWAYS be adhered to on your site. It may not appear to be a big issue, but users will identify any inconsistencies in the fonts and/or typefaces and that will definitely shape how they see your brand.

Colors

The brand guidelines should typically cover brand colors that are acceptable. The brand colors may not be done up in a formal document however, most likely you know what they are. Take as an example, Cisco, which uses a specific blue color palette that their Color Guidelines lists. Hardly could you expect to visit a Cisco site and see red, yellow or orange, simply because that is not what we see associated with their brand.

Are the colors on your firm’s website consistent with its brand colors?

Imagery

Imagery is more than just the pictures on a website. It encompasses animations, banners, icons, info graphics, and videos. Service-based businesses often are not able to utilize product-based imagery. As a result, their tendency is to utilize pictures of individuals carrying out tasks or making use of services to perform tasks. The imagery that is most in line with your brand is that which should be seen in your web design. The imagery used should be kept consistent as well. A website with a jumble of differing image types can prove confusing.

Messaging

What is the overall message on the site? What is it that you want to subtly or overtly get users to do? Are the benefits calls to action, language used and statements harmonious with the brand message? Every single element, as well as the layout of textual elements should show a measure of uniformity in order to convey a cohesive story.

After your firm has surmounted the first hurdle of defining the main value proposition of the brand, the next step is to maintain that defined proposition throughout the messaging on the site. If the message of your website is not in line with the message of your brand, it may be time to think about revamping.

Consistency, navigability and responsiveness are all things that your prospective customers want to see on your website. Ensure that you implement these in all website elements. Be sure too to evaluate your site from time to time so you can be on top of your game.

Need help with branding? Contact us for a free evaluation!

3 Simple Yet Often Overlooked Digital Marketing Opportunities For Franchises

Marketing for local search is complicated. Of course, we know that the standard SEO strategies like highly optimized meta tags, content with a good keyword density, as well as a strong backlink profile are always necessary. For franchises with multiple locations, there are added complexities of proactively managing Google My Business data and citation development, Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) accuracy, and maintaining and distributing local business listings. The more competitive the market the more challenging all of this becomes.

This article will explore three tactics that are oftentimes overlooked or neglected by digital marketers for franchises but present significant opportunities.

1. Proactive management of data on local business listing

Arguably, maintaining the accuracy and consistency of data regarding your local business across the web may pose the most difficulty in local search. Proactively reviewing and managing such data become a must with the frequent automatic updates made by Google and other directories. In order to accomplish this, franchise marketers need, to begin with, an accurate database or list of hours of operation, NAP, and other crucial business data for all locations.

Within the United States, it is essential to make sure that the data held by these four major aggregators of data Acxiom, Factual, Infogroup, Localeze, is both accurate and consistent. Frequent reviews of your local businesses listed on these sites must be conducted and duplicated and/or inaccurate data addressed.

It helps to use a tool to achieve this often neglected task to monitor a business operating from multiple locations. Tools can help with the streamlining of the process of locating and identifying missing, inaccurate or duplicate citations. Tools that can be used include SweetIQWhitespark Citation Finder, and  Bright Local

Proactively managing business data presents an opportunity that is missed by many franchises. Many franchises do not allocate enough energy and time to local listings. This may be as a result of the complexity of the systems, the frequently changing market and the huge volume of work that goes along with the management of many locations.

2. Maintain individuality of local businesses by creating local business pages with unique content

All businesses and franchises with multiple locations should have an integrated location finder on its website. Many franchises miss out on opportunities in the displayed results for location searches. These search results are often not able to be indexed by search engines which not only lets a big local SEO opportunity slide but only offers very basic information that really is not very helpful to the prospective customer.

It is very helpful to customers when each business location has an indexable web page of its own containing essential local information like the name, phone number, hours of operation, address, email address, a Google Map showing the business’ location and customized content.

Try to keep local content on each of the pages unique. Franchises have a great opportunity to ensure that each of these pages for local stores offers unique content about the store’s nearby landmarks, neighborhood, location, parking and other features unique to a particular location. Another feature that proves to be a help to prospective customers is an image of the actual storefront.

3. Develop and Implement a Monitoring, Review and Response Strategy

Many franchises or multi-location businesses tend to overlook managing their reputation and reviews as a digital marketing strategy. No longer are people calling businesses to air their grouses or complaints. Nowadays, individuals tend to share their pleasure or displeasure on local business listings. You may not pay attention to these reviews but the people deciding whether or not to enter into business with you do.

It is critical for businesses with many locations to proactively monitor and respond to reviews for every location— especially the negative reviews. On Google My Business, and Yelp, a rating in terms of stars is now shown in the knowledge graph in the upper right of the Search Engine Results Page when individuals enter a branded search for a particular local business.

Third-party tools are also useful for the management of reviews for multiple locations. SweetIQ and Bright Local have platforms that are very good for monitoring reviews. You may also want to give attention to developing a solid strategy for attaining new, positive reviews on local business directories. Selecting a handful of directories that are most important for your business is a good place to start and then expansions can follow. Always a great starting point is Google My Business.

Develop and maintain your competitive advantage

Many franchises are not:

Maintaining the accuracy of all their local business listings

Creating individual pages for each location with unique content

Monitoring and managing customer reviews actively

This means, therefore, that businesses with many locations that are willing to put in the work can gain a real competitive advantage.

Give attention to these important areas as often as is possible because updates, changes, and problems are unavoidable, but you can minimize the impact. Where possible and advantageous, use third-party tools in managing the volume of individual business location data.

8 Ways To Boost Your Ecommerce Traffic & Sales

In days gone by, simply having an online shop guaranteed you extra profit. Those days are gone. To be a viable competitor in today’s dynamic marketplace, you just cannot afford to overlook some things, no matter how small or insignificant you may believe they are.

Here are 8 great starting points to help you boost your business’ e-commerce success.

Landing Pages

When persons click on your ads, they don’t necessarily want to see all the products you offer or even learn about your business. They may just genuinely be interested in the product they see advertised. Therefore, you need to direct paid traffic to product landing pages, not the homepage. You may also want to direct paid traffic to categories matching the user’s intent. Landing page optimization is a must.

Speed

In this fast-paced world, people appreciate speed in everything and rightly so. If your website is not very fast in loading or responding, this can lead to page abandonment. Page abandonment is an annoyance for any website, but a disaster for sales-based sites especially if you can do something to stop it – and you can.

Ensure that your checkout process is fast and intuitive as well. Lengthy and overly complicated checkout processes lead to abandonment. After you have accomplished the tasks of grabbing the customer’s attention and stocking or sourcing the item(s) and the customer has already identified what he/she needs this is a total waste.

Choosing the least expensive defaults for shipping and other paid options, making sign in or resuming easier for returning customers, and using smart algorithms that eliminate a step are all ways to shorten checkout. An easy example is the credit card type. This can be determined easily using the number’s first few digits. Save your customers time by not asking for it!

SEO and Product descriptions

Ensure that product descriptions are original, engaging and based on what users normally search (ask) for.

For SEO purposes, search engines will return results based on its index and well-chosen keywords within your product description help you to be found and can also push your page high up on the list of results. Original product descriptions motivate persons to return to your site and also help to prevent search engines filtering your site out as spam.

Site-wide search

Being successful in getting customers onto your site is not all. Your site needs to be developed and designed in such a way that they can easily locate whatever product(s) they are looking for on your page. This is very vital for you to close the sale. The best way to get this done is using a search function that is simple, user-friendly and strategically located. Use every possible aspect of design to make it outstanding: cursor focus, color, placement, and don’t forget white space. Ensure that you complete your own on-site keyword analysis with a view to improving descriptions.

Avoid shocking shipping costs

Always let your customers be aware of your true shipping cost. Half of those who abandon their carts are repelled by shipping costs. This may be because shipping costs were excluded too long or the purchase doesn’t qualify for free shipping. Your customers are going to pay the cost anyway so why shouldn’t they see it before they decide to buy. Let them know the cost, and if you care that much do your best to keep them minimal.

Mobile Responsiveness

Mobile devices are being used more frequently than Pc’s and even laptops. Therefore, your e-commerce site must be optimized for tablets and phones. Ensure that your site is responsive to facilitate easy viewing and purchase on a mobile device.

Social Media

Don’t be afraid to use social media sites to drive sales on your site. Don’t just use the regulars like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can check out Pinterest as well. It has the highest average order value than any other major channel and is a source of many Shopify referrals.

Make your site disability friendly

You need to remember that your site is for everyone. This means that you will need to make the site so that those with special needs can use it. As you go along, you will find ways to make it easier for them to use.

Good places to start are using appropriate colors for actions to be taken eg. Red for cancel, green for ok and blue for a hypertext link. You can also allow for the sizes of text and images to be changed or zoomed without upsetting the layout. Keyboard shortcuts are great to aid navigation as well as to allow a visually impaired person to navigate. Using correct elements will make your site friendly to screen readers as well.

Being a viable e-commerce competitor is becoming more difficult, the consolation is that fortunes still can be made. Sometimes change is good. You must change to keep up with the current trends. The above tips will help you to capitalize where other sites may fall short.

Want to drive more traffic and get more sales on your ecommerce website? We can help! Contact Us today, and let’s chat about your needs and how we can assist you.

What Should My Business Be Doing on Social Media in 2017?

Anybody can use social media but not everybody uses it effectively. In the business world, this is a serious thing. If you have an individual or group of individuals employed to manage your social media connections, you want to know that they are getting it right every time. If you are doing it yourself, you need to know exactly what to focus on.

Why is social media important?

The fact that you are reading this means you should be over this question, but in case you aren’t here’s a few reasons why.

  1. Most of the basic features are without a charge. Yes, free. This matters if you know anything about marketing because good marketing is not cheap. Social media can provide excellent marketing opportunities at a low cost.
  2. Almost everybody is using it. Not only are social media sites filled with users, they seem to be online all the time. This is good as your posts can be seen instantly.
  3. You get instant feedback. Don’t waste money handing out questionnaires. Get your most pertinent questions answered digitally and in real time.
  4. You know who is interested in your brand and you get an idea of how interested they are.

 

There is an art to making use of social media in the right way. No matter if you are a small company or a big company, you can make it work. Over the years, a craze about likes, views and followers has developed. Some businesses though still expend the largest amounts from their marketing budgets on print and television. For 2017 though, that needs to change.

Things to do

When you get on social media, here is what you may want to focus on:

1. Use video better

Do video content the correct way. Spend money to make your videos great. Don’t worry about the cost of promoting them. Great videos will promote themselves.

Live videos are your friends. Use them carefully and wisely. They encourage personal engagement. Live videos allow you to broadcast to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Videos are appealing to the audience and are able to capture moments that words just can’t. Your audience will be more likely to share them and they can be very persuasive.

2. Use banner branded videos

These seem to be the trend right now and they work. The banners actually get people to click and if you phrase them right, your viewers will watch right to the end. Something like “You won’t believe what this product did” or “Savage but great ending” or even “Wait for it”.

3. Engage, engage, engage

In addition to writing top-notch content, you have to pull your followers in. Get them to participate in something and there are several ways in which you can do this. Requesting feedback is one of them.

In the end, you can evaluate your effectiveness in this regard by:

  • Follower Participation – What portion of your following actually reads and comments on your posts? Comments mean your audience is engaged and what they say will tell you whether you are getting where you need to be or not.
  • Shares – A large number of shares says that your audience is spreading your message and loves your post.
  • Conversion – How many of these followers actually take you up on your call to action and do what you direct them to do? Do they click the links to your site?  Are they purchasing your product or signing up for your newsletter? How many of your followers really become leads?

4. Collaborate

Collaboration represents the fastest way to grow. To grow your social media following you must collaborate. Find successful people, throw content ideas around and write together. You can incorporate what works for them into your strategy so you not only appeal to the people who already follow you but to a different crowd altogether.

5. Optimize for mobile

Most social media platforms are not only optimized for mobile but also available as a mobile app. Ensure that your links as much as possible are mobile responsive. Make mobile ads. Just mobile everything.

6. Check out Instagram Business Tools

Although this isn’t the most talked about features, it is still worth investigating. Instagram took the time out to determine what businesses need. The business profiles allow you access to analytics and to create ads from posts within the app. These tools will make it easier for your business to drive revenue and traffic.

7. Be available to your customers and offer great response times

Facebook now informs your customers of your typical response times. You can also set up auto response and list your availability hours on both Facebook and Twitter. Make use of any customer service options available to you on your platform of choice.

8. Paid social media advertising

There comes a time when you will nearly exhaust your marketing capacity using the basic free features of the social media platform. Don’t wait until the free features aren’t driving traffic for you. Run a paid advertisement campaign every now and then. In so doing, you will identify what time is the best for you.

In using paid advertisements, you need to become more adept at creating new ideas so you can reach new audiences. On the downside, the increasing number of people that will opt for paid advertisements will cause their cost to rise, so you may need to set a bit more aside within your budget.

9. YouTube

YouTube is a great way to build your following and earn a few dollars while you are at it. Really then what do you have to lose? Add your YouTube channel link to your other social media pages and your other marketing efforts like business cards etc… Otherwise, you can advertise here minus the responsibility of creating videos. The choice is yours.

Social media has come a very far way. Don’t get left behind. Keep up with the trends that your followers are most fond of. Don’t be afraid to invest your time and money into social advertising and selling. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Strengthen Your Online Reputation For SXSW 2017

$325.3 million.

That’s how much more money was invested in the local Austin economy in 2016 courtesy of South by Southwest. SXSW–which will span March 10th through to the 19th of this year– is an excellent opportunity to connect with and share ideas with other business owners, possibly about increasing customer base and brand awareness or even starting a new business. You don’t have to be in the hospitality or retail business to benefit. The following preparatory tips will help you to make the most of the festival.

Review and revamp your social media account

Before your first day of attendance at SXSW, be sure to optimize and update your social media accounts and pages. In this digital age, almost everything you need to know to form an impression about an individual or business is available on a social media page. Often times, the first thing we do when we meet someone or we hear of a business is to check them out on social media and guess what, they are doing the same to you. Ensure that your social media gives the desired impression by:

Keep your profile photos up-to-date

Ensure that your profile photograph on your different social media accounts is appropriate and recent. It is important that your picture looks like the way you currently do; otherwise, you lessen your valuable connection opportunities then and there. If at all possible, use to make sure your photo is the same across each network so that it is immediately recognizable as you.

Keep your social media handles linked

It is more difficult for people to find you across social media sites if you are known by several different names or handles. Try to keep your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram names the same or as close as possible. That way those who meet you at SXSW will find you easily.

Do a thorough cleanup

Try to remove things that are inappropriate – especially if you didn’t post them – and anything that is not reflective of you or your business. It’s not necessary to remove your personality, though; no need to be bland.
Make Your Online Reputation Stronger before SXSW

Do not overlook your business’ online reputation when making preparations for SXSW. Restaurants or stores in the downtown area especially need to be mindful of this. Many individuals attending the festival will check online review sources such as Google+, Urbanspoon, Yelp, among others to make decisions on the best places to go. Negative reviews, even a few, may be discouraging to them. According to research, a 1-star difference in reviews online can mean a 5-9% effect on revenues.

There are things you can do. If you haven’t already done so, get your business’ Google+ up and running. Ensure that your business’s social media channels, as well as your personal LinkedIn profile, are up to date. Make positive responses to negative reviews; offer a concrete solution to issues voiced by past customers.

Be sure to highlight any positive reviews you have received in your advertising campaigns and on your website. If this makes you feel overwhelmed, contact ATX Web Designs for expert assistance in building and maintaining a positive and strong online reputation.

5 Things To Look For When Your High Website Traffic Isn’t Converting Fast Enough

By this time, most businesses have a website; and justifiably so, as many people do their research online before choosing to become a customer or choosing to buy a particular product. Any business could almost be considered to be at a disadvantage if it does not have a website or at least some sort of online presence.

Here is a five-point checklist for when your traffic isn’t giving you much leads:

1. Is your web layout professional and your content fun or stale and boring?

A professional site is one that is designed taking several key factors into consideration. The cheaper a site looks, the less likely people will be to purchase what you are selling or sign up to learn more. Things like poor or jarring color choices, weird layouts and inconsistent navigation are definite no-nos for professional sites.

How up to date is your website? Are you keeping up with accessibility trends? Is your site comparable to popular sites in terms of ease of navigation?

On your actual content, you need to provide consistent, relevant and useful content. Be sure to update your site regularly (weekly or fortnightly). Try to establish a plan of the content you want to deliver, content that will add value to visitors to your site. Relevant content is in keeping with the theme of your site and useful content will assist your site visitors in their search for your product.

How is your picture quality? In the e-commerce world, low-quality images are almost like a poorly maintained shop. Why should people buy from you if you don’t see the need to get clear high-quality images? How will they be sure that what they will get is really what you claim to be selling? Your web content can cause serious trust issues.

2. Is your website mobile friendly?

Most people these days are equipped with a smartphone and/or tablet. One thing these site visitors appreciate is the responsiveness of the website, that is, its adjusting to the smaller size screen so they can comfortably see and select what they desire. A mobile friendly site is bound to score points with users on a mobile device and result in a great user experience for those individuals.

Many people use the time in transit, on the bus, train or plane, to make purchases and smartphones and tablets are the devices of choice for purchases on the go.

Be sure that your calls to action are brought to the fore on the mobile version of your site just the same.

3. Are there clear calls to action throughout your website?

Don’t do all the fancy footwork on the home page and leave your site visitors hanging afterwards. To gain people’s trust you must be consistent. The converse is also true, sometimes site visitors are left hanging from the very beginning. If the page that you direct users to (landing page) lacks selling machinery, you will not be directing your visitors into conversion.

In another breath, people need to know what you are actually selling. With so many informational sites around people can be on your informative pages or blog forever and not realize that you are actually selling something. When you make your links close in resemblance to banner ads or other off-site advertisements visitors to your site will avoid clicking them. Ads are usually overlooked and as a result, your leads and sales may be down.

You may also be directing users to places other than where you want them to go. You may have many links to unrelated sites or content. Be sure that your phone number is clearly visible along with your other contact information. If people see no other way to contact you they may ignore your calls to action. Don’t go collecting too much information on your contact or sign up forms.

4. Who is monitoring your analytics and managing your web traffic?

In many businesses, the answer to this question is no one. This sad, simple truth could very well be the reason why your conversion figures are down.

You have the machinery reigning people in, the paid ads, the SEO, the links scattered across other pages but when people get to your website you are unaware and so you don’t know how to cater to these people.

Another thing to keep an eye out for is abandoned cart numbers. Many persons are interested in a product but they are turned off by something like shipping rates, the insecurity of your page or payment system.

One way to improve your exposure is by adding a social sharing button to your website and to your blog. You may want to plan how you will increase traffic and areas to focus on as well as keep track of the finer details in the analytics month by month.

5. Is the traffic real and the right kind?

Of course in considering the analytics you need to think of the kind of traffic that is coming through. Spam sources of traffic can blow up your traffic numbers but your leads and sales will remain the same. If you decide to buy traffic, ensure that traffic is coming from a valid source.

If your traffic isn’t coming from your target audience or the audience you should be targeting your leads will not improve either. This calls for a re-examination of the factors that you consider when targeting the advertisements that are generating traffic for you.

These factors include income level and education, geolocation and basic demographics. Targeting poorly or not targeting a set audience at all will likely get you high traffic but those people may not care about what you are selling, they may not need it or they may not be able to afford it.

You can remedy this situation by ensuring that your paid traffic is valid and by learning about your target audience so you can determine the way to target them properly.

You may need to check how your analytics is implemented. If the code is accidentally entered more than once, each visit may be counted more than once, giving misleading figures.

 

How does your website do when compared against this list? Once you are sure you are offering a product that people really want or need, reviewing, improving and constantly updating your website will get you more leads and ultimately more sales.

 

How to turn social media followers into leads

Many users of social media obsess over numbers. How many likes did that video get? What is the viewership like? How many likes did we get today? How many followers does my business have?

 

The list goes on, but a great question to ask, that most of especially the newer users of social media for business purposes overlook is how many of my followers actually turn into leads?

 

Now that you have read this, things probably have snapped into perspective. It is your leads, not the number of followers you have that will ultimately make your business more profitable. With that said let us consider how we go about converting.

 

We have been conditioned to believe that a click equals a lead. With such marketing techniques as pay per click ads and banners, that is a more accurate belief.

 

However, clicking like on Facebook or following on Twitter is not the same as clicking on an advertisement. Your social media should be a part of your marketing strategy that leads your followers in a step by step fashion to your goal.

 

To convert your followers, you must put in effort. Except for those who are naturally talented at something, an hour of work will look far different from something that a whole day was spent working on. Why should your followers spend more than a minute on your page when you only put ten seconds of thought into the design?

 

Therefore, you need to develop a plan, stick to it and change it when necessary.

 

Choose your platform(s) carefully

You need to determine which platform(s) your target audience uses most frequently and focus there. You also need to assess which platform compels enough in line with your brand.

 

Sometimes followers won’t be compelled to convert via Twitter but may be via Facebook. This may be because of some of the features available on Facebook that are not available on Twitter.

 

Promote your content in an entertaining way suited to the platform of choice

To get the best results you have to tailor your content to the platform of your choice. The native content you may say. This refers to content that takes on the style, culture and distinct language of the platform.

 

This is simply because your followers on that particular platform are there for a particular reason and they communicate there in a way that it is unique to that platform.

 

Know what offers to make

Liking your page or following it does not necessarily mean an individual is intent on buying your products. Maybe you give good advice or your posts are informative.

 

An offer of a free trial to an individual who is merely following you for your advice will not necessarily convert them even if they actually take you up on the offer. You may be expending hard-earned resources to convert leads that have no interest in becoming your customer.

 

Persons who are not really intent on becoming a customer are most effectively reached by free articles or whitepapers, information packets and/or special offer downloads.

 

Ensure that these are downloadable so you can capture the information of those that have demonstrated interest. Even if you do not manage to convert these people, if they believe in your brand, they can generate leads.

 

Individuals who you assess to be very interested in becoming a customer are those individuals who you want to make substantial offers to. Webinars, estimates, consultations and free trials are all some of the offers that they will appreciate fully and that will not only make them leads but also customers.

 

Provide calls to action and conversion opportunities right there

On your social media page, you want to provide clear calls to action and also ways that your followers can heed these calls. If you want them to sign up, put a link to where you want them to sign up right there on the page. Any product information and free downloads should also be linked to your page. Some social media platforms allow you to integrate purchasing capabilities, be sure to make full use of that.

 

We make these suggestions because people these days are accustomed to instant gratification; they like being able to fill their needs now. You need to cater to that and not send them around the world and back just to become your customer. When you do this, you can get them to do things for you. For example asking them to share something in order to give them a deal or requesting that they provide feedback to get a chance to win something.

 

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Not because the experts have said it works best this way means that it is the only way. The good thing about social media is that you have the numbers. There are so many variables that you can manipulate. You can choose different post topics, images and even platforms. These experiments can provide you with well-needed insight into who you are dealing with and how to approach them.

 

Keep track of your results

Now that you have an idea of what to look for – monitor it. When you do, you can make your strategies better and tailor them specifically to the needs of that portion of your following that would like to become your customer.

 

Remember, you can always count on satisfied followers to help you in generating more leads. Tag your most active followers, ask them to repost and answer any questions they may have quickly and accurately.

 

At the end of the day, don’t overdo anything. Yes, you want to push links and ultimately your product but no you don’t want to come across as pushy. Put some fun stuff on your page maybe a motivational quote, marketing joke, a behind the scenes video or a funny meme. Connect with your followers, that’s the whole point of social media. Use the above tips and discover some of your own to convert your followers into lifelong customers.

 

Will a new website increase my business revenue and bottom line?

Your company has managed to stay afloat for all these years. Several factors have contributed to this, your exceptional service being one of them. Having been able to secure the loyalty of most persons you serve in your area, you are assured of constant patronage. It has been a while now since you have seen new business and you are beginning to wonder what you can do to attract new customers so as to increase your business revenue. You have been putting off that website that the marketing companies have been trying to interest you in long enough. Now you wonder if it would really help.

 

What is a website?

A website is a collection of related web pages, under a single domain name. That’s probably not exactly what you were looking for. Let’s try again. A website is a digital reflection of your business. It may be the first point of contact for potential customers of your business. Your website can add to or detract from your business. In fact, oftentimes your website can give your customers an idea of what to expect when doing business with you. Whether a website increases your revenue and bottom line is determined by the content, design and how it is developed.

 

Why do you need a website?

Why don’t you put all your containers in the microwave? Well, that’s easy. Some just aren’t designed for that purpose – similarly with a website. A website can serve several purposes. The intended purpose of your website will determine how it will be designed.

  • Informational – Informational websites are created to provide knowledge about a business, brand, products and services. These websites usually have focus placed on content and design primarily.
    An effectively planned, well-designed informational website can serve as an excellent driver of sales and revenue for your company. Informational sites can capture leads and provide potential customers with information about your company.
  • Marketing – Marketing websites are designed in such a way as to push a brand, product or service. A marketing website is designed to motivate a visitor to your site to take a certain action.
  • E-Commerce – E-Commerce sites are designed to sell products and/or services. The main aim of this website is to influence a visitor to purchase from you. Everything on this page is geared toward leading the visitor to purchase your product or service.
  • Support – This website is generally by larger companies to support hardware, software or services that they offer. They usually answer questions regarding products and services and provide contact information or a direct link to a customer service representative.

A company’s website may be designed to incorporate all the above purposes. Really, a single website can achieve all those functions. You just need to decide what you value most and what area of your business could use some enhancement. Other factors affecting your website design include the type of business and your target audience.

 

How a website is most effective?

After you have established the purpose your website should serve, there are a few key things you don’t want to exclude from a website that should improve your revenue and bottom line.

    • SEO – What’s the point of a well-designed website if no one can find it? Ensure that your website is visible by improving your business’ ranking. Search engine optimization involves enabling your customers to find your site when they search for a product or service that you offer. These results are unpaid and are reflective of a great design.
    • Easy to use and navigate – A site that is easy to use and navigate will definitely attract and keep visitors coming back. A site that is too crowded may be a deterrent to users. Avoid using jargon or technical speak as that can be discouraging or convey wrong information.

Remember too that you are designing your website for persons that are disabled. It helps to design it friendly to screen readers etc…

  • Mobile-friendly – This is especially necessary considering that mobile browsing has surpassed desktop browsing in terms of searches. If your site is an e-commerce site, you can rest assured that you will have a lot of mobile user traffic. You need to design your site so that the user is able to gain information or make purchases on the go.
  • Loads fast – In a fast paced world, with internet speeds that sometimes surpass device load speeds, you need to ensure that your page loads quickly.
  • Clear calls to action – Your site’s purpose should be clearly communicated to your clients. Whatever it is that you want them to do should be clearly kept to the fore.

 

The bottom line

A new website can most definitely increase your revenue and bottom line. Here’s why:

  • A website is available even when your physical location isn’t – 24/7 365 days per year.
  • Local SEO makes your business more visible in the areas that you desire to be seen the most. Now you can rest easy knowing that your efforts are geared especially towards your target area.
  • E-commerce sites allow customers to make purchases from home or on the go. This is definitely something that people the world over are using and coming to appreciate.
  • If clients know that they can get support for products that they have purchased without coming in, for example, instructional videos, forums or frequently asked questions they will more likely patronize your business. These features also make it easier for visitors to your site to choose your products or services as they can do research here and get views of other previous clients.
  • If you choose to place advertisements on your site, that is also an additional source of income. The more traffic your site has the greater the potential for the site to generate income to sustain itself guaranteeing a great return on your investment.

Don’t hesitate to get a new website when you want to increase your revenue and your bottom line; just ensure that you have done adequate research or chosen the best web design and development company to do it for you. Get your website today and watch your sales hit the roof.

 

Waiting for 2017 To Start Your Online Marketing? You’re Going To Lose.

Waiting for 2017 to start your online marketing? You’re going to lose.

 

If you’re waiting until 2017 to begin implementing new online marketing plans, you’re going to lose out on that new years window of potential sales. Implementing Online Marketing Strategies will take time.

 

For example, let’s say you want to redesign your website for 2017. Well, you don’t want to start doing that in 2017, you begin doing it at the end of 2016.

 

Realistically a web design firm will need up to 90 days to complete your website, depending on the scope of your web design project. For your average project, for the average small business owner, you’ll need at least 60 days.

 

To put it into perspective, if you begin getting your website redesigned, or a new website for your business, at the beginning of 2017 then it won’t be complete until March or April. Now you’ve just missed out on potential leads and sales because that new years window is closed.

 

Here’s another instance. Let’s say that you want to be ranked higher and gain more exposure in search results online. At ATX Web Designs, we always let our online marketing clients know upfront that SEO is a long-term relationship; Not short term.

 

It takes time, and depending on the industry and competition it can take 6 plus months to be ranked on the first page of Google results.

 

The new year always brings forth new goals and new opportunities. If you wait until 2017 to begin to implementing your marketing strategies, there’s a higher chance of you failing than succeeding.

 

The high sales window of opportunity at the beginning of the year is between January and March. If you don’t have your strategies in place, implementing them, and not aggressively marketing to your target audience, you’ll miss that window of opportunity.

 

Can you answer these questions?

Do you feel a new website will increase your leads an sales?
Do you have marketing strategies in place to accomplish your goals?
How’s your business ranked in local SEO and organic SEO?
Do you have a budget to implement your strategies?
Do you have a marketing plan to grow your company Brand?
Will you be doing: New website redesign – SEO – local SEO – organic SEO?

 

If you don’t have a firm answer for any of these questions, we’d love to help! Take 10 seconds to fill out this form so we can have a quick chat!

How Prepare Your Website For Black Friday & Cyber Monday

Is Your Website Ready for Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are coming up fast. Is your website ready for the holidays?

 

Did you know that last year online sales were record-breaking and more than 120 million people planned to make purchases online on Cyber Monday? I don’t think you want to miss it this year. Here are a few things you can do this month to make sure your small business website is ready for holiday shoppers.

 

Plan Your strategy

When speaking about holiday promotions, don’t forget that the early bird actually gets the worm.

 

According to Google trends many people start to choose Christmas gifts toward the end of summer. National Retail Federation confirms this, and reports that the tradition of waiting to shop on Black Friday is evolving from year to year. Today nearly 40 percent of consumers begin to search for winter holiday deals starting around Halloween.

 

As you know consumers usually plan and purchase gifts in advance, that’s why you need to start working right now if you want to get your piece of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday pie. Here are a few ways to start working on your website:

 

  • Make a detailed calendar of promotion activities with all the deadlines and tasks you have to do for your website (email campaigns, blog posts, ads, graphics, social media updates, etc.).
  • Make sure the technical capabilities of your website can handle the inflow of visitors. Your online shopping cart has to work properly as well. 
  • Plan out and approve your return policy and procedures in advance. This step will help you to avoid hiccups.

 

It’s better for you to design your promotion strategy ahead of time. The earlier you plan all of your promotion events, the more likely you’ll be able to carry out a great campaign.

 

Make Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly

Consumers not only like to browse on their mobile devices any more, they also like to buy on them. Last year, online, retailers recorded a great increase in purchases that were made from mobile devices (almost 65 percent). 

 

Convenience is the key factor when visitors are viewing your website on their mobile device.You have to make sure that your customers can pay for their purchases with a one-click option, as well as with a simple credit card number or PayPal when they’re shopping online on their phones or tablets.

 

Prepare Your Marketing Assets

A great winning holiday campaign takes much time. So it’s important to start working on it and its assignments early. We’ve listed a few things that will help you to drive holiday shoppers to your website.  

 

  • Design of the Website: Let your website visitors know that right now they have the opportunity to take advantage of a great sale. Do this by sprucing up your website’s graphics for the holidays.
  • Landing Pages: The more prominent landing pages you have, the more probably consumers will find you. Create promotional landing pages that can lead customers to your site in advance.
  • Ad Copy: Work on converting ad copy this month if you want your Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads to stand out. You have to research keywords and top converting words, as well as write the copy, and then test the copy. Your copywriters should be busy this month.
  • Email marketing: Email marketing has the highest conversion rate among all types of online marketing. Don’t forget to design and tune your email marketing strategy. Make sure that your copy looks great and all of your links are functioning properly
  • Blog Posts: Creating relevant content in your company blog is the best way to improve SEO results of your website. Organic traffic to your website can definitely increase sales.

 

Don’t get bowled over by holiday deals. Prepare now for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and it can become the perfect way to raise sales in November.

 

Not Getting Traffic To Your Website? Here’s 3 Reasons Why, & How To Fix It!

No matter if you’ve built the website for your business or outsourced and hired a professional web design firm, you’ve spent both time and money to bring it to life. The question now is: Why isn’t my website getting much traffic?

 

Here are a few nuggets to identify and correct a few common web traffic obstacles, increase your website traffic, and gain the attention of your target audience and potential new customers.

 

You’re Not Going All In On Your SEO Efforts

Search engine optimization should be your top priority when you’re wanting to get more customers to visit your site. Review you website and see how it measures up in these areas.

 

  • Are your SEO keywords overly competitive or don’t match up with you specific services or products? If so, then it won’t attract many customers to your website?
  • Search engines such as Google and Bing increasingly locally focused. Therefore, you should add the name of you city to your webpages.
  • Be sure that the content on your website is ‘searchable’ when search engines crawl your website. For example, Google can’t crawl the text in on you photo. Same applies to any content in Flash (whoever is still using that).
  • If you website doesn’t have recent updates and fresh blog posts, you may rank lower in search engine results. Be sure to consistently post new engaging content on your website that uses keywords you’d like to be found online by.

 

Loading Times on Mobile, iPhone & Androids, is Slow

Have you ever went to a website on your mobile device and it left because it took too long to load? Of course you have. Your target audience doesn’t have time to wait for your website to take its time loading. Actually, according to Google, almost half of all site visitors will leave in three seconds if the pages don’t load on mobile.

 

  • There are plenty of free web tools that’ll allow you to run a test on the loading time of your website. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights or Google’s site tester. Google’s site tester let’s you know how mobile-friendly your website is and provide a free report.
  • If your website doesn’t work well on smartphones or tablets, Google will rank you site lower in the search results. A lower search ranking equals less traffic to your business website when potential customers are searching for your services or products. If your site is mobile-optimized, then it’s definitely time to make it mobile friendly.
    You haven’t invited people to visit your website.

 

Invite People to View Your Website

You might have the best website in the entire world, but unless you’re promoting it you won’t receive any web traffic. PPC ads and SEO are one way to promote your website, but we highly recommend that your website is visible in a number of places online.

 

  • Claim your business and get it listing on online directories (such as Google My Business) and review sites (such as Yelp).
  • Create a social media page for your business and link your website to it. Post blog posts with the links to them and new product or service pages to attract potential customers to your website.
  • Find ways to generate backlinks from other website to yours. For instance: being quoted as a contributor or source in an article (request a link to your website); write guest post on motivating blogs in your industry; ask professional colleagues to add your website link, where appropriate, on their site or social media.

 

Is your website getting good traffic? Do you know if it is or not? We’ll do a full analysis and email you a detailed report for FREE! Contact us to get started.

 

ATX Web Designs is a web development and web design firm in Round Rock & Austin, Texas. We don’t just build websites, we build websites that build business.

Should Your Franchisees Have Their Own Website? Pros vs Cons

Is It Good When Your Franchisees Have Their Own Website?

Individual websites for franchisees is the thing that divides the franchise industry into two camps. Some franchisors prefer to retain central control and keep all franchisee sites under one domain, while others choose to give their own domain or sub-domain name to each of their franchisees where they can run their website and have their own online marketing activities. But which way is better? Let’s find out it.

 

One Domain for All Franchisees under Central Control

This approach allows the franchisor to retain full control of the franchisees’ websites under one domain name (e.g., cars.com). Franchisees don’t have their separate websites where they can update information; they also can’t run their own digital marketing efforts. The individual details of the franchisee’s location such as contact details, maps, and address are located on the main website.

 

Unique Domain for Every Franchisee

This approach gives every franchisee an individual website with a unique domain name that will be used only for this individual franchisee. In this way franchisees will be able to run their own web site as they like, and even delegate digital marketing campaigns to a third party if they need or want.

 

Well, there are two basic camps; let’s try to dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of each of them.

 

One Website for All Franchisees

Advantages
– It’s easier to maintain brand story, because the franchisor retains control over all information that is published under the brand’s name.

– Combined strength of the business. This is highly important to Google as the giant search engine moves its accent more in the direction of brands and brand mentions. The websites of big and well-known companies will exceed the websites of smaller businesses. As a result, your website becomes stronger when you maintain more content under the one domain name.

 

Disadvantages
– This technique makes the franchisor responsible for the digital marketing campaigns. This fact can become a problem without a strong and coherent strategy. It can also put off potential franchisees if they consider your online marketing efforts weak, while at the same time they may not be able to run digital marketing campaigns by themselves due to the restrictions in the franchise agreement.

 

Separate Website for Each Franchisee

Advantages
– Having separate website that is targeted solely to one specific geographic location could make it more relevant in Google’s eyes.

– This allows franchisees to invest in their own digital marketing campaigns in the way they see fit, removing responsibility away from the franchisor.

 

Disadvantages
– This technique will work against franchisees who are less technically savvy and those ones who just want to run their franchise. And this could put them off signing a contract with the franchisor.

– It’s harder to maintain brand story, because the franchisor doesn’t control content that is published online under brand’s name. Mistakes that could be made, could be too costly.

– Having own domains for each franchisee will reduce the overall strength of the main website as well as it will divide the strength of the franchise network.

 

So Which Approach Do You Prefer?

Finally, franchisees are buying the business, and they need to know that their online business will be successful. And they will lose out to competitors if the digital marketing efforts of the business are not sufficient.

 

Like the concept of franchising itself, business’ online presence can be made stronger by the combined efforts of franchisees, that’s why keeping everything under one website allows combining strength that will help the brand itself as well as each individual franchisee. Having individual websites for each franchisee can cause to diluting the brand and diluting the website’s strength in the eyes of Google.

 

But before franchisors start insisting their franchisees have to follow their digital marketing strategy they need to ensure that their strategy is good. Franchisor’s wish to retain control and keep brand story isn’t a reason to stop franchisees from having their own websites, domain names, and implementing their own online marketing campaigns. The franchisor should actively promote the business online; they need a coherent strategy that does all the best for franchisees.

 

This will show potential new franchisees that they’ve made the right choice with the franchisor, which will help them grow their business. Who would invest in a business where the investor is not allowed to work on his online presence and at the same time the franchisor isn’t doing anything about it either?

 

So, the answer to this question is that both camps are right, depending on the franchisor’s position and attitude to the Internet and digital marketing. In the case when a franchise business isn’t proactive in digital marketing, and there aren’t any intentions of engaging an SEO company, the franchisor should give his franchisees freedom in the issue of promoting their businesses online. Stopping the franchisees from doing that without real reasons, and decent strategy, could hurt both the franchisor and the franchisees as well.

 

But if the franchisor invests in digital marketing, then he can take the initiative and show his franchisees how it can be done. It is true that strength is in unity, especially when it comes to websites. The website should become stronger with each new franchisee.

 

ATX Web Designs clients includes franchises such as MiPhone Doctor of Austin which is an iphone repair store with locations is both Austin and Waco, Texas area.

 

Do you have a franchise or a franchisee? We’d love to have a chat with you and see how we can help grow your franchise online by web design and internet marketing. Contact Us to receive more information.

5 Reasons Your Business Should Be Doing Facebook Ads

As an web design and online marketing firm, we understand how easy it can be to get caught in the trend of what other marketers are doing; whether it be blogging, local search marketing, search engine optimization or SEO, video creation, or guerrilla marketing, there are endless options.

 

To be quite frank, we can’t do it all. Therefore we choose which platforms and direction we’re great at and focus on that, because if we only give a portion to each platform we reduce our chances of have a successful return for our clients.

 

That being said, there’s one modern day dominating force in today’s society: social media. It’s no secret that you (like us) more than likely check you Twitter feed, Facebook page, and Instagram numerous times during the day. Well, guess what? Your customers are doing exactly the same.

 

This isn’t too surprising, but it doesn’t mean you should be tossing all you dollars into every social platform there is. Although, there is one social network which you shouldn’t ignore. FACEBOOK. Here are five great reason why you should be advertising on facebook.

 

#1: Your Target Audience Is On Facebook

Facebook’s user base is bigger than the population of China! To be precise, Facebook has 1.49 billion members worldwide and 22 billion ad clicks per year. This allows businesses to have huge advertising opportunities. With numbers like that, your audience is definitely somewhere on there. It’s just a matter of locating them (which is discussed in reason #3), but if you’re having doubts, have another look at those stats.

 

#2: Facebook Ads Are Very Cheap & Cost Efficient

The reason you should advertise is because the traction you’re getting from organic activity on your business Facebook page isn’t yielding results.  Unfortunately, it proves the organic reach days are long gone. Your posts aren’t showing up in your audience Facebook news feed.

 

The upside is that Facebook ads only cost a fraction of what other online marketing may cost. We’ve ran facebook ads for $5 per day and was able to reach 200 people, whom all came to our website. You can’t beat that.

 

If you have a set budget, that’s even better because you can set a daily Facebook budget so that you don’t exceed what you spend.

 

In essence, it’s not about how much Facebook costs, but how far your money will take you. If you go into advertising with a strategy and focus, the ROI you receive will be incredible.

 

facebook percent

 

In terms of cost, to reach a thousand people, Facebook is far less expensive than all other platforms, including online and offline marketing.

 

You can spend $1 a day on Facebook ads, and reach 4,000 people that would’ve never seen you otherwise. That’s $30 a month. If you can’t afford that, then you may not be in business for long.

 

#3: The Targeting Capabilities of Facebook Are Outstanding

Because you scale so much detail, Facebook targeting capabilities is beyond belief. Not to mention the options of ad types, such as video ads. You can literally target President Barack Obama or his wife Michelle Obama. It can be age range, ethnicity, languages, geographical locations, demographics, behaviors, interests, or connections, you can get really detailed with the targeting capabilities and structure them with each other to increase your chances of getting rid of any users that aren’t your target audience.

 

#4: Facebook Is Effective to Push Potential Leads Down the Funnel

Still not convinced? Try re-marketing by custom audiences. This is a great strategy that does wonders. Remarketing words is targeting a specific audience that’s been to your website already, and would be more likely to show interest in your services or products.

 

#5: Facebook Allows You to Find New Qualified Leads Easily

When you’ve found your target audience, and getting them to convert effectively, you can duplicate them. This is called “lookalike audiences” where you can take that custom audience and have Facebook reach others that are similar to that audience, and likely to be interested in what your business offers.

 

Lookalike audiences are built with conversion pixels, data from installed mobile apps, or those that have liked your Facebook business page. You can also breakdown the size and targeting options to increase your chances of lookalike audiences accurately reflecting your target buyers.

 

This takes some guesswork out of targeting for user acquisition, which leads to a revenue increase.

 

Are you doing Facebook ads, or interested in doing them? If not, you should be! No matter if you’re looking to get more likes, shares, or convert users into leads, we can help you get started. Contact us for FREE advice on the best way to advertise your business on Facebook.

 

ATX Web Designs is an web design firm based in Round Rock & Austin, Texas. We don’t just build websites, we build websites that build business.

Why Are My Yelp Reviews “Not Recommended?”

Reviews are very important. Did you know that 4 out of 5 consumers actually reverse their purchase decisions based on negative online reviews?

 

Well that raises the question as to why are my Yelp reviews “Not Recommended?”

 

There has been much controversy with the nature of Yelps display algorithm and Review Filter, but don’t allow that to discourage your business from offering excellent services and products, and engaging with your target audience to gain great reviews from your customers and clients, and responding to their online reviews. Understanding what drives reviews from Yelp has become a major issue to online marketing strategies.

 

If the review isn’t a good one or if it’s a 5 star review regulated by Yelp’s automatic filter, most businesses have found it beneficial when engaging with customers that have left a review. Some business have even gone as far as to file class-action lawsuits against Yelp alleging that the automatic filter is configured to force businesses to pay for Yelp Advertisement. Unfortunately, none of the lawsuits have been successful.

 

Currently Yelp hasn’t disclosed what’s driving their review filter with much detail, but we’ve concluded a few basic assumptions based on our observations. Knowing what provokes Yelps review filter will give you better insight on what it takes to overcome Yelps domination.

 

How’s your ranking on local and organic search results? Ranking for local SEO and organic SEO

 

There are certain behavior types that are likely to force a review into the not recommended status. Whether good or bad, not recommended reviews won’t be taken into account when determining the businesses overall review average.

 

Yelps FAQ section give the most information about the way they filter reviews. They describe their recommendation process as follows:

 

“We use automated software developed by our engineers to recommend reviews from the Yelp community. The software looks at dozens of different signals, including various measures of quality, reliability, and activity on Yelp. Most of all, however, it’s looking for people who are intrinsically motivated to share the wide range of rich and detailed experiences they have every day with local businesses. On average, our software recommends about three quarters of the reviews that are submitted to the site.”

Yelp Reviews blog

The Yelp Reviewer Profile Isn’t Complete

One of the most common ways to trigger the filter is first-time Yelp users. Say, for example, someone loved the services that you’ve provided at your local business and wants to give you a review on Yelp. If it’s this person’s first review, he/she will more than likely not be too motivated to complete a profile just to leave a review.

 

This can trigger the automatic Yelp filter to categorize the review as not recommended. Sadly, this filter unfairly benefits first-time Yelp users that join with the intent of posting a bad review.

 

The Yelp Reviewer Doesn’t Have Social Media Integration

The absence of social media integration and social engagement is another common reason for filtered reviews. If they’re not using Facebook or Twitter as part of their Yelp interactions, it can raise a red flag. If a reviewer has added he/she social media profile to their Yelp profile, it stands a greater chance of having their reviews posted as recommended.

 

The Yelp Reviewer Has Positive Reviews Only

If a Yelp user has posted all five-star reviews, there’s a good chance that all of his or her reviews will be automatically filtered out. We aren’t making the suggestion that you should provide less than perfect service, but we’re sharing details to help you better understand what might cause a not recommended status on a great review submitted by one of your customers or clients.

 

The IP Isn’t Located Near The Business Location When The Review Was Submitted

This potential filter can cause a lots of frustration to those on vacation or have come back from traveling only to get back home and go to submit a review. If a review doesn’t come from an IP in close range to the business, then there’s a good chance of it be pushed into the non-recommended section.

 

The Reviews Cam From The Same Computer or Device

Yelp uses cookies to track engagement. If a business gets multiple reviews back to back that have come from the same device, they’ll be marked as not recommended. In this situation, the filter is structured in a way so to reduce fraudulent reviews, both positive and negative. This filter is mainly intended to keep everyone honest.

 

The Reviewer Doesn’t Marke “Useful” or Funny Marks on Their Other Reviews

This is pretty much a hit or miss, but we noticed  Yelp reviewers who have numerous reviews marked as funny or useful hold a better chance of having his or her reviews stay as recommended. As a business owner if you’re engaging with Yelpers, you should time out to mark reviews as funny or helpful. By doing this,  you are not only helping shoppers, but increasing the credibility and engagement power of other Yelpers as well. Don’t hold back on your clicks.

 

The Yelp Reviewer Does Not Have Yelp Friends

Yelp, in itself, is still a community. Yelp reviewers that have Yelp friends are more likely to have some form of credibility and their reviews will stick. Being socially friendless, won’t stand a chance, either a business or as an individual. Taking more time to engage with other Yelpers at a social level, both online and offline, will be beneficial.

 

Keep in mind that asking for Yelp reviews is against Yelp’s policies. We recommend you spend time engaging with past reviewers by responding to their reviews to give you the best chance to earn your reviews fair and square.

 

Yelp is a absolutely huge when it comes to building your online reputation, and it can definitely help you expand your online marketing reach, even without advertising. Don’t overlook the review platform and allow it to go to waste.

 

Do you need help getting more reviews from your customers or clients? We can help with that! Contact us for more information.

 

ATX Web Designs is your Online Business Marketing, web development and web design firm in Round Rock & Austin, Texas. We don’t just build websites, we build websites that build business.

Business Description Is Removed From Google My Business

Your business is more than just a red pushpin on a digital map, and Google is aware of that. So to reflect this, they continue to make updates to their search engine products. Google is always tossing out new updates and the latest is a new website testing tool which allows text ads to expand and display local business ads on Google Maps. On the 1st of August, Google announced yet another update which involves Google My Business.

 

That’s right. It’s official. Google has removed the business description section from your Google My Business.

 

The changelog for Google My Business gave a more detailed explanation of the update stating that the business description field will be displayed only on Google +, where updates and edits can still be made to the business descriptions. Here’s Google’s input about the change:

 

The Introduction/Description field is no longer editable in Google My Business. It only displays to users in Google+, and may still be edited there. Editing of attributes, coming soon to all Google My Business views, will be an improved way to describe your business to users on Google Search and Maps.”

 

Bing has also put a halt to accepting business descriptions. However, there’s no evidence as to if the two are related. Many users have mentioned that this change could potentially eliminate users spamming the business description section by cramming it full of keywords.

 

Does your business description still matter?

Of course they do! Even though the value of your business description isn’t as significant of a ranking factor for Google local search, most directories such as Yelp, Facebook, and even databases like Infogroup, are very important.

 

How does this affect my  small business?

If you want your small business to be found, validated and selected online by local consumers, you have to adapt to Google’s changes. It’s expected that Google will always roll out new changes that’ll expand on the ability to provide detailed attributes about their services and products, to leverage them to attract new customers and stand out.

 

What does this mean for ATX Web Designs clients?

As an affiliate and partner of the leader in personalized digital marketing, we are constantly adapting our strategies as new changes roll out, in order to give our clients the best, most up-to-date online marketing solutions for their business. Local search marketing is always changing, but we keep an eye out for those changes so you don’t have to.

 

Have questions about the update or how they could affect you business? Contact us today.

 

ATX Web Designs is your ‘Business Marketing ‘ web design and web development firm based in Round Rock & Austin, Texas. We don’t just build websites, we build websites that build business.

4 Ways To Help Your Business Be Found Online in Local Search

Just imagine the situation: you have spent several excruciating days working on a big puzzle that consists of a thousand pieces. After your hard work you get so close to its end that you can see it clearly. But when you are fitting the last pieces in, you suddenly realize that you have a missing piece of the puzzle, so it can’t be completed.

 

In this case you feel frustration because you can’t complete the puzzle without the one missed piece. Exactly the same feelings business owners have when after weeks and months of frazzling work, and doing all things right they are not being found online. In this article you will find common local search marketing mistakes of business owners and ways that will help you to complete your puzzle.

 

DISCREPANT NAME, ADDRESS, & PHONE NUMBER
The name, addresses and phone number of your business must be exactly the same across your listing directories. Otherwise, it can lead to a lack of credibility for the business. Here is the explanation: In order to confirm that your business has the correct name, address, phone number etc., Google will scan a big amount of websites. Any mismatch can cause a lack of trust in your business.

 

Remember that in this case, “close” is not good. As a business owner you’re looking for all advantages that you can get, so details are very important.

 

For example, your business is located at 330 West 40th Street. But you may use variations of the address when you publish information about it to online directories: 330 West 40th St., 330 W. 40th Street, 330 West 40th Street, etc. Online directories in most cases recognize abbreviations. Despite this, it’s important to publish the same data to every directory in order to increase recognition of your business.

 

The Solution: study all online listings where your business is presented and check the information. It has to be accurate and discrepant. Don’t forget that you can hire an outsourcing company that will do it for you if you want to have the best result and save your time.

 

PERMITTING LISTINGS TO BECOME INVISIBLE
You have to remember that getting your pages verified, with consistent and discrepant information, is the main thing that can help your business to be found online. At the same time it’s a complex process. Adding information about the name of your business, its address and phone number to your pages will help in the short perspective, but a successful page is provided by a permanent presence.

 

The Solution: Always be present on your business pages! Sign in at least several times a month to update important information about your business such as store hours, add new (alternative) phones etc., run the blog, get customer feedback. Make posts or respond to comments or reviews if it is a page in Google+!

 

ABSENCE OR LACK OF PRESENCE IN SOCIAL MEDIA
Engagement of audience in Social Media is one of the ways of evaluation of consumer interest that search engines conduct. Some businesses don’t think that social media will benefit them, and while it’s true that different businesses would get more value from various social media sites, it’s important to be active on at least a few platforms. Nevertheless, it’s important to be proactive on some platforms because social media activity is one of indicators that Google uses while ranking businesses.

 

The Solution: Always be proactive on your pages in social media. Post relevant and interesting content on a regular basis which suits you: twice a day, twice a week or twice a month. Use entertaining content to attract new followers. You can also promote your blog or webpages with the help of instruments of social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

GET MORE CUSTOMER REVIEWS 
Customer reviews are very important indicator of customer satisfaction and credibility for the business. Search engines take into account reviews of real customers about their experience with your company. It’s hard to be competitive on the market without positive reviews. The matter is not only in engines. Many customers trust online recommendation, which is why they are so important.

 

The Solution: It’s not hard for you to ask your customers to leave a review about their experience with your business. But sometimes this process can be long, and receiving a positive review requires a lot of time. That’s why business owners can hire outsourcing companies, such as RevLoval, that has a review generating platform which helps clients get customer reviews.

 

Mastering these four solutions, will get you the best advantages for your business. It is the lost puzzle that you now have found. If it’s hard for you to run online activities you can hire a professional company that will help you get your business being found online. Imaging how great it is when the puzzle is completed and your business is noticed online. So don’t hesitate and start working!

 

ATX Web Designs is your ‘Business Marketing ‘ company that specializes in online marketing and web design in Round Rock and Austin, Texas. We don’t just build websites, we build websites that build business.