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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Rebranding Your Company

In our last blog post, we discussed the five essential steps companies should take when considering a rebranding. As promised, here are the five top mistakes to avoid when overhauling your brand.

Whether your rebranding is a result of a new acquisition or product to highlight, a misstep to correct, or is simply an image makeover to appeal to a new or changing customer base, there are many factors to consider. Your company size, resources, marketing assets, brand history, and audience will all impact how easy or challenging the process becomes.

Be on the lookout for these common errors and pitfalls so that you give your company and your new brand the best chance of success. 

  1. Don’t Think a Simple Logo Facelift Will Do The Trick 

    It’s common for companies to think that rebranding simply involves rewriting the mission statement, changing the logo and fonts, and calling it a day. While a design facelift is likely an important part of your rebranding strategy, successful rebranding involves pursuing a new strategy or goal, and it will extend to every corner of the business. It’s the difference between repainting the trim on the ship and actually turning the vessel around. Use your rebranding process as an opportunity to re-evaluate your company processes, goals and long-term direction.  

  2. Don’t Let Rebranding Become “Just Marketing’s Thing”
    While the marketing team will be doing much of the forward work on rebranding, and will likely be partnering with and executing the visions of upper management, it does nobody any favors to silo the rebranding effort to one particular department. Executive leadership should be making sure that departments aren’t working at cross purposes by involving the entire company in the rebranding process. 
  3. Don’t Forget To Talk To Employees
    Your employees may have some valuable insight into your company’s brand image and internal processes, so make sure you are bringing them into the decision making process and gathering their opinions and feedback. Understanding the culture and goals in your workplace is important to any rebranding, because problems in the office tend to bubble outward over time. The behavior and opinions of employees can be hard to change: a successful rebranding starts internally, using feedback from employees and executives to guide the most compelling narrative and strategies. If you can sell people inside, it’s easier to sell people on the outside. 
  4. Don’t Under-Communicate
    Presenting a brand strategy once or twice is not enough for the strategy to stick. This applies to both internal and external communications. To successfully launch a new brand image, you will need tested methods for gaining the buy-in of your employees, your customer base, and your target audience. This will involve consistent, concerted marketing efforts and a strong belief in your new brand.  
  5. Don’t Hire A Design Agency And Call It A Day
    There are plenty of designers who can craft a nice logo or a catchy tagline, but that’s not the same as having experience in brand strategy or business. Make sure your rebranding isn’t rushed and only skin deep. For a successful and sustainable rebranding, you should be partnering with a digital marketing agency that understands your company holistically and can make recommendations that incorporate your long-term business goals into your rebranding process. 
  6. Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

5 Essential Things To Do When Rebranding Your Company

Rebranding your company may sound intimidating, but it is nothing to be afraid of. Most of the major brands and industry leaders have overhauled their image at one point or another—from McDonald’s to Instagram to the Huffington Post.

Rebranding can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe the company needs to re-establish its place in the market, or reflect a major new acquisition. Maybe there’s new technology to show off, or new industry trends to follow. Maybe the old brand has received criticism for previous mistakes, and needs to cool off for a while.

The fact is that times change, style changes, and consumer expectations change. If your company has been around long enough, chances are it will need to evolve and adapt to the latest trends if it is going to be successful.

Undergoing a rebranding can be a time-intensive process depending on your company size, marketing assets and the resources available for the process. If it’s time for your brand get a makeover, here are five important steps you don’t want to miss.

1. Think Carefully About Why You’re Rebranding
What do you hope to gain? What are the risks of walking away from an established brand? Do you have other options that might be easier? Rebranding takes time and money to do well—and should not be entered into lightly. Make sure you do thorough research before initiating a rebranding, including internal research.

2. Get Buy-In From The Top
The CEO and executive leadership of your company should be directly involved from the beginning, and should ideally be leading the initiative and providing a strong vision for the project. They’re going to be involved at some point: it’s better for that to be sooner rather than later.

3. Talk With Customers and Stakeholders
Talk to customers—yours, and other people’s—as well as industry partners to work out your brand strategy. Ask about how people perceive your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Find out what frustrates them, what they need, and what obstacles stop them from working with you. Such information will help you position strategy and messaging that will help you thrive in your market.

4. Overcommunicate
Hammer home the new brand strategy. Share it in ways that prompt people to directly experience it. Continually lay it out through regular workplace communication and training. Make it part of engagement activities. Make sure the message gets through.

5. Find The Right Partner

If you’re thinking about rebranding, you’ll need a partner who understands that brand strategy is a business strategy, and can show deep experience melding the two goals. Remember: you’ll need to make sure your business pursuits are aligned with your brand. Rebranding only to fall short of your new promises is worse than not rebranding at all. If you want to make sure you are hitting all your goals, you should look for a digital marketing agency that can not only help you change your brand image but your online presence and processes as well. Approaching the project from this holistic perspective will help ensure your rebranding is a triumphant success.

Stay tuned for Part Two: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Rebranding Your Company

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

Featured in Forbes: Sports Trainers, Monetize Your Knowledge

The digital revolution has allowed many companies and individuals to move past the format of trading their time and effort for money and into more passive and scalable income stream structures. 

The sports coaching industry is no different. This lucrative industry is expected to grow by $9 billion over the next four years, yet many trainers feel they have hit a financial plateau—whether they are self-employed or work for a sports training company. 

Last week, ATX Web Designs founder Daniel Griggs was featured in a Forbes article titled Sports Trainers: Monetize Your Knowledge and shared advice for coaches and trainers who are looking to scale their business and grow exponentially. The article explains some of the steps needed to create a digital platform that will turn knowledge and experience into profit.

These steps include:

​​1. Create content tiers. It is important to match your digital content to your audience. If you’re looking to monetize your knowledge for an online audience, you will need to identify audience segments and create tiers of content that apply to each one. For example, a college athlete needs a different approach than a mother of four young children.

  1. Progress your audience over time. In the sports training world, people like to see results. One of the advantages of a digital platform is the ability to showcase and adapt to your audiences’ growth. Incorporating various levels of training and utilizing online self-assessments or even live video assessments are ways to create measurable results. 
  1. Use existing platforms. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating and sharing online content. Platforms like Teachable, Podia and Thinkific are valuable tools for content creators and educators. You can even leverage social media platforms such as Instagram or TikTok to provide value for your audience and engage them in your marketing funnel. 

To read the full article,click here.

The Best Instagram Strategies for Small Businesses

Instagram is not only a free tool for small businesses, it is an extremely powerful one. There are 1.4 billion users on the photo-based social media platform who spend about 30 minutes every day scrolling through content. About 200 million Instagram users visit a business profile at least once a day, while 130 million click to learn more about businesses’ products and services. 

Running a small business requires the ability to multitask and wear many hats. While large corporations have teams of people researching, posting and responding on social media platforms, small companies don’t always have the time to prioritize engaging on apps like Instagram. Unfortunately, this means that many small businesses miss out on the significant opportunities Instagram offers for building brand awareness, generating new leads, and even making sales. 

If you are a small- or medium-sized-business owner and aren’t able to dedicate a lot of time to social media management, here are a few tips to help you keep up with the trends and get the most bang for your buck when you are able to post. 

  1. Optimize the link in bio. Make sure you include a link in your Instagram bio that takes users to an important page of your website. This should either be your homepage, a marketing landing page or your shop/services page.
  2. Schedule your posts. Save yourself time and energy by scheduling your posts in advance. This will also ensure you are able to post consistently and produce fresh content for your followers. You can schedule posts through free features like Business Suite or upgrade to a paid post scheduler like Buffer  or Hootsuite for a more streamlined experience.
  3. Interact with your followers. Consumers are more likely to purchase and promote brands that interact with them on social media. Set aside a day or two each week to respond to comments and questions so you can show your followers that you are active and engaged.
  4. Utilize videos and reels. Video “reels” and video posts are some of the most popular content on Instagram. Posting a video about your company, product, or services will give potential customers an experience of your brand that they can’t get through photos or text alone. Consumers are more likely to visualize themselves using a product or service when they see it in action via a video.
  5. Track your analytics. Instagram and other social media sites offer users data about posts, followers and engagement. By viewing your insights and analytics you will be able to gather useful information, such as which types of posts get the most engagement and when your followers are most active. This information will help you maximize your social media efforts.

Follow our blog for more digital marketing tips!

How to Write Better Product Descriptions

If you run a product-based business or e-commerce store, every piece of information on your website is critical—including your product descriptions. Many companies overlook their product descriptions, believing the product photos will speak for themselves. However, product descriptions can be invaluable for both SEO (bringing users to your site) and engagement (getting users to interact with or buy your products).

Here are 7 ways to create better product descriptions so that your audience is informed, engaged, and persuaded to purchase.

  1. Make it accurate. It may seem obvious, but making sure your product description preciscely matches the product itself will help improve sales and brand image. About 50% of consumers have returned a product because it didn’t match the description.
  2. Make it easy. Users want to gather as much information about your product in as little time as possible. Use short sentences, bullet points, and clearly delineated sections to help website visitors quickly scan the text while simultaneously being fully informed.
  3. Get creative. Generic, boring product descriptions inform the user, but don’t necessarily create more engagement. Try infusing your write-ups with a pop of personality, humor, or a conversational tone tailored to your specific target demographic.
  4. Benefits over features. Consumers are more persuaded by the benefits of a product than they are by the specifics of a product’s features. In your product descriptions, make sure you mention how this particular item will benefit someone’s life and solve their pain points.
  5. Describe an experience. Help your audience imagine what it would be like to hold, wear, or use your product with descriptive language that sparks their imagination. If you can picture yourself using a product, you are more likely to purchase it.
  6. Give examples or suggestions for use. By suggesting ways to incorporate your product into everyday life, you will provide your audience with clear examples of how useful and valuable your product is.
  7. Collect data. The best way to know if your product descriptions are working is to track your website traffic and conversions to determine how well your e-commerce page or product page is converting. If something isn’t performing well, it’s time to make some adjustments.

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

3 Reasons You Should Be Marketing to Millennials

Millennials may be criticized for being entitled, self-focused, and spending $7 a day on expensive coffee, but they are also invaluable to your business—no matter what the industry. For all the flack they receive from older and more experienced generations, they have the power to make or break many brands.

Whether you offer a product or a service, are a large corporation or a small startup, here are three reasons your company should be focused on marketing to millennials:

  1. They represent the largest demographic
    Millennials are projected to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest living generation this year, according to The Pew Research Center. Although there is some variation in the definition of the millennial generation, it is generally understood to be adults in their early twenties to late thirties. As young immigrants join this demographic, the population is expected to rise to a peak of 76.2 million by 2036.
  2. They have enormous spending potential
    The average millennial earns about $56,000 before taxes each year and will likely spend upwards of $10 trillion within his or her lifetime. Collectively, this generation has upwards of $1.4 trillion in spending potential, making it the most powerful consumer demographic.
  3. They can market your product and help build credibility
    If your company appeals to millennials in the right way, you can not only win their business but can also take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. Social media channels are a common platform for millennials to share reviews and advocate for their favorite brands. A Boston Consulting Group Study found that 39 percent of millennials post product reviews, 35 percent share product links on LinkedIn, and 32 percent follow brands on Twitter. Winning over a single millennial customer could also mean winning over a group of their peers.


Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

Featured in Forbes: The Best Website Strategies for Law Firms in 2021

Nearly 75% of individuals looking for an attorney begin their search online, 98% use a search engine and more than 70% visit a law firm’s website before making a decision, according to the National Law Review. That means it is critical for legal practices to have an effective digital strategy that will meet the demands of audiences in 2021.

In August, ATX Web Designs Founder Daniel Griggs was featured in an Forbes article titled The Best Website Strategies for Law Firms in 2021. The article discusses ways attorneys and law firms can optimize their online presence, reach more potential clients and grow their practices.

Some of the strategies recommended in the article included:

​​1. Make sure you own your website. If you don’t have 100% ownership of your law firm website, you could be losing business. It may seem tempting to hire a template-based web design company that can plug your law firm’s information into an existing website design, but this approach can prevent you from customizing your website and tailoring it to your target demographic.

2. Invest in SEO. Consumers in 2021 like to do their own research when determining the best products and services for them. An individual who is going to invest in legal services will likely use a search engine such as Google and scan through multiple websites before deciding on one they like. It is important that your website is search-engine-optimized so it appears on the first page of search engine results.

3. Employ mobile-first design. Consumers today are much more likely to use a mobile phone to search online and access websites than they are to use a desktop computer. The mobile experience should be the first priority in establishing a credible and engaging online presence for your law firm.

To read the full article, click here.

 Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

How to Use Video to Connect with Your Audience

Video is a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness and engagement. In fact, more than 50 percent of marketers say video helps them build trust with their audience. Right now, video-based apps like TikTok are skyrocketing in popularity as are the video functions of social media platforms, such as Instagram’s reels. Studies have shown that more than 45 percent of consumers will react or convert after watching a video.

There is a right way and a wrong way to use video in your digital marketing efforts. If done correctly, video marketing can lead to incredible growth for your company. However, the propensity for videos to “go viral” can be a blessing and a curse. Earlier this year, the CIA released a recruitment video that spread like wildfire on the internet and not in a good way. The piece received ridicule and backlash for being “overly woke” and trying too hard to reach the Millennial and Generation Z demographics.

Here are 5 tips for using video content to connect with your online audience effectively:

  1. Be realOne of the issues with the CIA video was its keyword stuffing and forced trendiness, which came across as inauthentic and gimmicky. It’s important that your videos feel real and personal to your audience so they feel they are connecting to the ethos of your brand.
  2. Provide value. Your videos shouldn’t just be about pitching your business to your audience. Make sure you are offering real value as well. If you decide to produce video ads, mix it up with video content that is informative, helpful or humorous.
  3. Vary your approach. It is important to use a number of different approaches to video content to see what really resonates with your audience. You can try short form videos, long form videos, interactive videos, and more to reach peak engagement.
  4. Use high quality tech. Video quality standards have gone up in recent years. Even small social media influencers use professional lighting, tripods, and high-quality lenses to capture their footage. A low quality video might turn off a viewer before they even see what your content is about.
  5. Add subtitles. Many people browse social media sites and websites on their phone with the volume turned down. In addition, some audience members may be hearing impaired.  Adding subtitles to your videos will ensure you are having the maximum possible reach.

 Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

The Secret to Creating Effective Social Media Ads

The average consumer sees between 6,000 and 10,000 ads in a day. Being constantly inundated with paid content means that it has become easier and easier for people to tune out online advertisements. Studies have found that most individuals see an ad seven times before they engage with it.

Social media ads can be a great way to generate leads, convert new customers, and raise brand awareness. However, creating effective social media ad campaigns is both an art and a science, and it takes a lot of time and energy to craft something that will actually have an impact.

There are many strategies and techniques that can help your social ads reach more people and generate more engagement. But the biggest secret to creating an effective social media ad is understanding your audience and their values.

At the end of the day, people don’t purchase a product or service for the product or service itself. Instead, they are hoping that their purchase will meet some sort of internal value or need. These values can include things like health, safety, self expression, adventure and peace. Understanding these motivators and learning how to talk about them to your audience is the key to generating good social media ads. Anything less runs the risk of being irrelevant to your audience at best and losing their business at worse.

Here are three steps to understanding and targeting your audience’s values:

1. Create a customer persona. If you haven’t already, create a customer persona for your ideal audience. Break down their lifestyle, their habits, their background, and most importantly the problem they are trying to solve. This will help you better identify their core values.

2. Identify your motivating keywords. Different keywords and calls-to-action will appeal to different audiences. Make sure you are using the right words for your target customer. For example, an individual who is seeking adventure or self-expression might be motivated by keywords such as “discover,” “create” or “experience.” However, someone who is seeking relaxation or ease might be more motivated by terms like “enjoy,” “deserve,” “get.”

3. ExperimentSocial media ads are all about experimentation. What your audience wants might change over time, so it is important to collect as much data as possible on how they’re interacting with your current post and ads. Double down on what seems to be working and don’t get too attached to your pet campaigns. Remember that these ads are about your audience, not your own personal taste and style.

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

7 Myths About SEO

One of the best ways to increase website traffic for your business is through search engine optimization, or SEO, which improves the chances someone will organically find your website through an internet search. The higher a company ranks in search engine result listings for specific keywords, the more likely a user is to find that company’s website.

Google and other search engines use algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant to a user’s search query. There are a number of strategies that companies can use to make those algorithms work in their favor. However, because the digital world is constantly changing and evolving, it is important to stay up to date on the best SEO practices and how to implement them.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about what is effective when it comes to SEO. This is mainly a result of certain standards and practices becoming outdated over the years as search engines become faster and better at identifying what users want and need.

Here are seven common myths about SEO to watch out for:

  1. More keywords = better. While it is important to include relevant keywords in your copy, it can be detrimental to use too many. This is known as keyword stuffing and some search engines might penalize you for it.
  2. Social media shares will impact SEO. It is always a good idea to create content that is easy to share on social media, however likes and shares on sites like Facebook don’t directly translate to a better search engine ranking.
  3. Headers must contain keywords. Most experts would recommend including relevant keywords in your main site header, but it’s not necessary to stuff keywords into all your site header tags throughout the page.
  4. Your domain name affects your ranking. Relevant and easy-to-understand domain names can help you build your brand, but a domain name that is too generic or contains too many keywords may appear less credible to users and may therefore negatively affect website traffic and ranking.
  5. Meta tags should contain all keywords. Meta tags are useful because they tell search engines what your page is about and can entice users to click on a link. However Google doesn’t use the meta tag for ranking purposes, so stuffing keywords in the meta tags will probably do more harm than good.
  6. It’s all about the words. Ranking high on search engine results is about more than the words you use in your tags and page content. It’s also about how well you engage users once they land on your site. If most users click on your website from a list of search engine results, only to quickly leave and return to the results to choose another option, it can negatively impact your future ranking.
  7. You can get penalized for duplicate content. Duplicate content can confuse search engines because they don’t know which page to prioritize on search engine results. However, you will not be penalized for having duplicate content.


The click-through rate for Google Ads is less than 2%, and the click-through rate for Facebook ads is less than 1%. In today’s digitally competitive environment, that means your SEO strategy needs to be foolproof in order to attract new leads and customers online.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level? Let’s talk.

5 ways to improve your mobile app strategy

The largest consumer generation is entering its prime spending years, has a collective $600 billion in spending power, and is redefining the way we do digital branding and marketing.

We’re talking about millennials. Marketers have had their eye on millennials—or adults ages 23 to 38—for years and are paying close attention to this generation’s digital habits to understand how best to reach them in the oversaturated online space.

Millennials browse the internet on their phones three times as much as they do on desktop computers or laptops. That means websites today don’t just need to be developed with mobile browsing in mind, they need to prioritize mobile. In fact, experts recommend that service providers consider creating a custom mobile app to serve the needs of their customers instead of relying solely on the mobile version of their website.

Not all apps are created equal, however. There are several best practices that will help ensure your mobile app is millennial friendly and will meet the expectations and standards of this massive consumer demographic.

To upgrade your mobile app experience, consider the following strategies:

  1. Streamline your login process. Accessing your app should be as quick and easy as possible while still maintaining high security standards. Login screens should be simple and intuitive with limited text or advertising content.
  2. Reduce friction. The app user experience should be a seamless flow with no sticking points that make the user pause, stall or wonder “now what?”. Methods to reduce friction include eliminating extraneous steps, simplifying forms, reducing pop-ops and incorporating built-in suggestions.
  3. Improve visual flow. The more your app design caters to the millennial aesthetic, the more likely this demographic is to trust your brand and engage with your content. Millennials tend to favor unique typography, large font, generous use of white space and interactive graphics.
  4. Offer 24/7 support. Millennials expect prompt responses to support questions. Preempting questions through FAQ sections and offering round-the-clock support through features such as chatbots can keep millennial users engaged and happy.
  5. Get a mobile app audit. A mobile app audit is a comprehensive review that will help determine whether you are reaching your target audiences in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Featured in Forbes: Is Your Small Business Website Secure?

Business owners have more options than ever when it comes to creating their own websites. What once required extensive coding and programming knowledge can now be accomplished through a drag-and-drop visual tool. However, while template-based and DIY websites are becoming more popular, they can also open businesses up to significant security risks.

Daniel Griggs, founder and CEO of ATX Web Designs, discusses some of these risks in an article recently published in Forbes, Is Your Small Business Website Secure?. The article outlines some of the common ways that hackers can infiltrate a small business website as well as some of the steps business owners can take to secure their sites.

These include:

  • Upgrading to a secure server with an SSL certificate. If you collect private information from site users, you need a hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS), which prevents the interception of data. Additionally, SSL will encrypt information so that it cannot be breached.
  • Requiring complex passwords. Requiring all users to use complex passwords when signing into your site will help prevent their accounts from being hacked. For example, you can require users to use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and special characters in their passwords.
  • Putting a firewall in place. Firewalls can block duplicate internet protocol (IP) addresses automatically, which prevents spammers and hackers from registering multiple accounts from the same computer.
  • Using custom coding. Unfortunately, website templates built through CMS like WordPress can be more susceptible to hacking. Custom coding is much more difficult to breach.
  • Updating plugins. Failing to update your software and plugins can result in security vulnerabilities and issues on your website.

To read the full article on the Forbes website, click here.

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

3 Branding Tips for Solopreneurs

Solopreneurs—or entrepreneurs who run a business on their own—are on the rise in the United States, numbering more than 40 million. Whether by choice or by necessity, solopreneurs wear every hat in their company, from CEO to accountant to customer service representative to marketing rep.

As busy people who are often operating on a tight budget, solopreneurs and small business owners sometimes overlook the importance of marketing their product or service in the digital space. There is a common misconception that digital marketing requires a large financial investment, so many solopreneurs see strong branding as a luxury rather than a necessity.

Regardless of the size of your business or ad budget, you can build a brand of your own. You may not be a Coca Cola, but you can still think about your message and how you want people to remember your service or product.

Here are three branding tips for solopreneurs that won’t break the bank.

  1. Create an emotional experience. Branding has largely to do with the type of emotional experience you create for customers and potential customers. How do you want your audience to feel? Safe? Excited? Elite? Entertained? Use this emotional experience to determine everything from the look and feel of your logo to the tone you use on your website and social media posts.
  2. Make it personal. Two advantages solopreneurs and small businesses have over larger competitors are personality and personalized attention. By making personal connections with customers and giving your digital content a strong personality, you can develop a strong brand that users are eager to follow and engage. Be sure to reinforce your brand personality across multiple platforms (such as website, social media and printed materials).
  3. Use keywords. What terms or words perk your audience’s attention? What phrases do potential customers use to search the internet for the type of product or service you offer? By honing in on keywords you can achieve a better search engine ranking and more effectively engage your target audience.

You may not have a $250,00 ad budget, but as a solopreneur, you can still work on building organic traffic and generating attention for your brand. This, in turn, will lead to more leads, sales and brand loyalty.

How To Find Your Customers’ Hidden Pain Point

The old saying tells us that “the customer is always right,” and successful brands know that there is a lot of wisdom in putting the customer first. After all, the reason your company exists is to provide a solution for some sort of problem that your customer has.

In the business world, the term “pain point” refers to a specific problem that your target audience is experiencing. It is the reason they are looking to your company (or your competitors) for a particular product or service. However, it is easy for businesses to get the pain point wrong or misunderstand what will really engage a target audience member and convert prospects into loyal customers.

This is because the obvious, surface-level pain point does not always address the core customer motivation. To really understand motivation, we have to understand that every human has a core set of psychological needs—such as safety, connection, respect, autonomy and freedom—and that products and services are simply ways to meet those needs.

For example, when John subscribes to a meal catering service, it’s not just because he wants to eat delicious food (although that might be part of the motivation). He subscribes to a meal service because he values his free time and autonomy and doesn’t want to spend hours cooking in the kitchen every week. His pain point is likely a lack of freedom and flexibility in his schedule or perhaps feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

By speaking to this hidden pain point, a meal service is much more likely to get John’s attention and convert him into a loyal customer.

To discover your customers’ hidden pain point, start with the obvious pain point and ask yourself what motivations might lie underneath. Then survey your target demographic and create audience personas so that you can confirm your predictions and narrow in on the core needs and desires your brand fulfills.

Have You Been Thinking About Business Value Wrong?

What value does your business offer?

Many entrepreneurs and business owners are accustomed to talking about the Unique Value Proposition (UVP) of their business. A UVP, also called a Unique Selling Proposition, essentially describes the benefits your company offers and how you differ from the competition. While it can be very useful to define your UVP, there is another way to think about business value.

Customers don’t actually buy products or services for the products and services themselves. This might seem like a bizarre statement, but it’s true. Customers purchase things that will meet a core, underlying need or desire for them, and these needs and desires are tied to the customer’s value system.

In other words, Jim doesn’t subscribe to a laundry service because he needs his laundry done. He subscribes because he values time and freedom—two things he will have more of if he outsources his laundry to a company. Similarly, Jill doesn’t buy a name brand purse because she needs a bag to hold her items. She likely purchases it because she values the respect and feeling of importance she will feel owning a designer handbag.

Coca Cola is a great example of value-based marketing. Coke commercials rarely try to sell soda. Instead, they sell a feeling of community, togetherness, and happiness. Their marketing motto is “creating brand value through content excellence,” and their campaigns certainly reflect that statement. For instance, the Share a Coke campaign encouraged customers to share a Coca Cola with a person whose name was written on the side of the bottle. Not only did this campaign produce viral video content, but it traded on the individual consumer’s personal connections to boost sales.

Companies that know the deeper value of their product in addition to the top level, immediate benefits can market and sell their brand far more effectively. Identifying and targeting core customer values and needs is the key to convincing them to invest in your product or service.

How to Scale Your Small Business Sustainably

“Sustainable growth” has become a popular phrase in the business world. Startups and small businesses in particular are focused on scaling their companies quickly yet dependably. After all, a company that grows too quickly without the proper structure and processes in place might risk burnout or the inability to match supply to demand. On the other hand, a company that grows too slowly may lose momentum and squander all its capital.

Digital technology has allowed for the exponential growth of small businesses, particularly in online spaces. The startup trend reflects just how easy it is to launch a venture with limited capital and grow it steadily in a short period of time.

However, scaling a small business sustainably is easier said than done. There are many pitfalls and challenges that entrepreneurs and small business owners face. Without proper guidance and strategy, they may find their company either stagnating or becoming unstable.

Here are five best practices for scaling a small business in a way that will encourage reliable growth for years to come.

  1. Focus on the problem you are solving. At the most basic level your product or service presents a creative solution to a common problem. Whenever you’re planning a new step for your company, you should keep this problem at the top of your mind. What is best for your customers and what will make their lives easier? Keep your audience in the center of your business decisions.
  2. Start small. Before you worry about developing every single bell and whistle of a new product or campaign, you need to start with the proof of concept—in other words, the proof that your vision is feasible and achievable. Does this actually work? Could this idea be turned into reality? Start with small “experiments” and when you see what works, follow that path.
  3. Know your benchmarks. What is success to you? Whether it is sales, site visitors, bounce rates, support calls, SEO ranking, brand engagement or otherwise, know the signs you are looking for to indicate your company is ready to move to the next phase or level. Make sure you are documenting and tracking this data so that transitioning to future phases becomes smoother and easier.
  4. Give it time. Any time you introduce a new way of doing things it will take your target audience some time to warm up to the idea. It will take catering and hand-holding to help users adjust to your platform and processes. If a new idea doesn’t land right away, give it time and make small tweaks and adjustments before you abandon it completely.
  5. Make sure your team is happy. High company morale is one of the biggest factors of success for a small company. If your team members feel connected and like they are making a difference, they will be more productive and more creative, allowing your company to innovate and grow.

3 Tips for Upgrading your Legal Website

Lawyers are like plumbers. We’re always going to need them. Through the ups and downs of the economy over the past 10 years, the legal industry has been steadily growing, but it’s also been going through some massive changes.

The truth is, even though demand is consistent, the legal industry will not be immune from the digital revolution. More and more people are searching for legal help online, and most clients will check out a lawyer’s website before hiring them. Millennials are driving a lot of this—they’re getting older, buying houses, running businesses, getting married, and getting divorced.

Legal professionals need to level up in the digital space if they want to compete. The Baby Boomer generation is aging out and the new generations have higher standards when it comes to online presentation and services. The sooner firms realize this and start investing in digital tech, the better chance they have at success.

Here are 3 tips for upgrading your legal website:

  1. 1. Make sure you own your website. If you don’t have 100% ownership of your law firm website, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. If you created your website through a generic legal marketing site, it’s going to be hard to update and customize your site, and transferring to a new host down the road will be a nightmare.
  2. 2. Invest in SEO. It’s all about the search engine rankings. Your website isn’t doing you any good if clients can’t find it. You need a solid SEO strategy and an experienced team that can implement it.
  3. 3. Focus on mobile. Most people use their phones to search the internet. Yes, you need a great website, but you also need it to be optimized for mobile devices so that people who land on your site can find the information they need and know what to do next.

If you’re not seeing a steady increase of traffic, leads and conversions through your law firm website, then it’s time for an upgrade.

7 Strategies that Smart Credit Unions Will Have in 2021

A lot has changed over the past year. We were already living in a digital age, but the COVID-19 pandemic has issued us into a new era where online business is not only popular—it is crucial. In fact, nearly 51% of small businesses have increased online interactions with their customers and about 36% are doing sales online, according to e-commerce support platform Oberlo.

Consumer habits and the global economy are changing, which means that the financial industry will be majorly affected—and credit unions in particular. As member-owned, non-profit organizations, credit unions will need to adapt to the times if they hope to compete with large banks and financial institutions.

Here are seven strategies that smart credit unions should incorporate if they want to stay relevant in 2021 and engage their target customer base.

  1. Audience research. Consumers in 2021 are looking for different things than they were in previous years. If your credit union has researched your audience and created target demographics and customer personas, it is time to go back to the drawing board. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way consumers think and operate. If you want to make sure you are reaching your target audience, you will need to reevaluate who you are reaching and how.
  2. Website upgrades. First impressions matter. The average user will leave your website after 10 to 20 seconds if they can’t find the information they’re seeking. To capture the attention of potential customers in 2021, your credit union website needs to have a responsive design, be aesthetically pleasing and connect to the user’s values and tech-savvy lifestyle. Simple factors such as typography and intuitive interface design may make or break your chance of engaging millennials on your website.
  3. Mobile-first design. Today’s online consumers are much more likely to use a mobile phone to access a website than they are to use a desktop computer. They are also selective about their mobile app experience. For example, 43 percent of millennials have at some point abandoned mobile banking activity due to a poor user experience. Top reasons millennials may discontinue using a mobile banking app include lengthy processing time and complicated forms.
  4. Social media. Social media accounts aren’t just a way to promote your product, they are channels for direct communication with clients and potential clients as well as a tool for building brand trust. The average consumer spends more than six hours each week engaging with social media, and the majority view social media as the most effective advertising medium.By directly engaging with followers, answering questions, commenting on posts and asking for feedback, your credit union can build trust and credibility.
  5. Video capabilities. In 2021, more and more consumers are attending virtual events and communicating through video conferencing software. In the absence of in-person interaction, video is the next best medium for communicating the emotional and visual appeal of a product or service. The only thing worse than a lack of live and pre-recorded video content is poor quality video content—whether from a technical or production standpoint. Your credit union’s video capabilities should be on-trend and technically on-par with banks and large financial institutions in order to stay competitive.

Featured in Forbes: How Tech Can Revolutionize The Music Industry

Last month, ATX Web Designs Founder Daniel Griggs was featured in a Forbes article titled How Tech Can Revolutionize The Music Industry During the Pandemic. ATX the Brand is based in Austin, Texas—the live music capital of the world and a burgeoning tech hub. The Forbes piece explains how the tech and music industries can join forces to help preserve arts and entertainment during a time of significant loss and change.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

One of the biggest lifestyle disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the loss of live music and entertainment. For an industry that relied heavily on ticket sales and sponsorships from live performances, the restrictions on large gatherings and congregating indoors were a heavy blow. Some venues and artists attempted to find loopholes or work around regulations by hosting socially distanced events, but the concert industry still forfeited more than $30 billion as a result of the pandemic. The BBC estimated that musicians lost two-thirds of their income in 2020.

Enter the techies. As the owner of a web design and digital marketing agency, I have seen the demand for web-based solutions and virtual alternatives explode during the Covid-19 pandemic. My company is based in Austin, Texas, which is both the “Live Music Capital” of the world and an emerging tech hot spot that has outranked Silicon Valley for the past two years. It logically follows that Austin would lead the way in discovering new ways to optimize the convergence of technology and live music.

Austin’s annual music festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), typically takes place in March, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe and generating more than $300 million in economic impact for the city of Austin. The festival was canceled in 2020 as a result of the pandemic but has reemerged in 2021 as a virtual event.

As a tech entrepreneur, I was excited about the possibilities of a digital SXSW experience, but as a music lover, I wanted something more. I was missing the raw, unfiltered, exciting nature of intimate live performances and underground events — that feeling of walking into a bar and discovering my new favorite local band or artist.

To read the full article on Forbes’ website, click here.

5 Ways Franchises Can Dramatically Improve Their Online Brand in 2021

We were already living in a digital economy before COVID-19, but the global pandemic has emphasized the need for companies of all types to improve their online presence and prioritize digital marketing.

Studies show that in 2021, nearly 50 percent of consumers are avoiding leaving their homes and also predict that 2.14 billion people will buy goods and services online this year. After a year of lockdown, many companies have discovered innovative ways to market and offer their products and services online—and some are making the switch to virtual operations permanent.

While COVID-19 cases are decreasing and businesses in some states are reopening their doors, marketing will never be the same. It is time for brands to upgrade their digital presence or risk becoming irrelevant.

Franchises in particular can benefit from investing in their online branding. Franchises face a unique marketing challenge. To succeed, franchisors need to support the independence of individual franchisees while maintaining a brand continuity. Online marketing efforts need to be both creative and consistent.

Here are five ways franchises can upgrade their online presence to stay competitive and thrive in 2021.

  1. Create a style guide. If your franchise doesn’t already have a style guide, then creating one will be essential to improving your digital marketing and branding. Cohesive branding is crucial when it comes to franchise marketing. Even if local branches have a lot of diversity, brand messages and brand personality should be consistent across local franchises and should match the corporate vision. In your style guide, you’ll want to determine the feeling or emotional experience you want to create through your brand, select a content tone, identify your key phrases and hashtags, and determine the unique visual components of your brand (colors, logos, etc.).
  2. Conduct audience research. Consumers are looking for different things in 2021 than they were in previous years. The world has experienced widespread trauma and loss and has gone through social and structural changes that affect consumer priorities and behavior. Even if you think you understand your target demographic, it is time to conduct a new round of research to better understand your audience’s pain points and priorities. By understanding your audience more thoroughly and holistically, your franchise will be able to develop digital marketing strategies that are efficient and effective.
  3. Utilize SEO. It is important for brand uniformity and visibility that each franchise location appears on the first page of search engine results. Many individuals do not scroll past the first page of Google results. While franchisee landing pages should be consistent and contain keywords that pertain to the target demographic, it is crucial that landing pages do not duplicate content. This could cause your company to be penalized by Google or other search engines. Also note that franchisee websites under independent domain names may take longer to be ranked by search engines than sites housed under a corporate domain.
  4. Develop a comprehensive social media strategy. Social media can be a challenge for franchises. Since the medium is more personal than websites or traditional marketing materials, each account will inevitably vary in voice, tone, aesthetic, and frequency of posting. Franchises should develop a cohesive and comprehensive social media strategy that is controlled at the corporate level or develop a social-media-specific brand and style guide for franchisees. This style guide can be developed in-house or with the help of a marketing and branding agency.  
  5. Integrate domain names. It is essential for franchises to present a united front and remain consistent across platforms. The landing pages for local franchise branches should either all be hosted under the main corporate website or they should have parallel, independent domain names. If a franchise decides on independent franchisee domain names, it is critical for each site to reflect the same brand personality. Franchises should decide on a domain name strategy and make it consistent for all franchisees. It may be helpful to host group trainings with franchisees to explain the strategy and reinforce consistent brand messaging.

As a franchise, it isn’t enough to have a polished corporate website. It is also vital that franchisee sites and social media accounts are consistent, are optimized for search engines, and reflect your corporate brand. Remember that a better digital structure will create more brand value, visibility and credibility, and will ultimately help your franchisees increase sales and retain customers.

ATX Web Designs offers branding strategy and digital brand development services. For more information, drop us a line!

5 Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

Running a small business requires the ability to multitask and wear many hats. Entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t always have the resources to hire staff or assistants to complete the tasks that many larger companies dedicate whole departments to. A small business owner often has to handle the administrative, marketing, customer service and financial aspects of the company in addition to providing or organizing the delivery of products and services.

One aspect of small-business ownership that can feel daunting and overwhelming is social media management. While large corporations have teams of people researching, posting and responding on social media platforms, small companies don’t always have the time to prioritize engaging on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites.

If you are a small- or medium-sized-business owner and aren’t able to dedicate a lot of time to social media management, here are a few tips to help you keep up with the trends and get the most bang for your buck when you are able to post.

  1. Schedule your posts. Scheduling your posts weeks or months in advance will save you a lot of time and stress in the long run. Instead of worrying about what content to post each week, you can block out a few hours of time each month to plan social posts ahead of time. You can schedule posts through the social media platforms themselves or upgrade to a paid post scheduler like Buffer  or Hootsuite for an even easier and more streamlined experience.
  2. Post consistently. Studies have shown that consistency is key when it comes to social media posts. Whether you’re posting daily or a few times a week, maintain a regular pattern so that your followers know what to expect. The most recent surveys show that posting at least once per day on Instagram and Facebook will garner the most engagement, but posting consistently is more important than posting every day.
  3. Add value with your posts. Your social media feed shouldn’t read like an advertisement. If most of your posts are promoting your products or services, you will lose engagement and followers. Instead, make sure about 70-80% of your content is something that adds value for your followers. Examples are educational information, tips and tricks, freebies and contests, or humorous content that provides a much needed chuckle.
  4. Interact with your followers. Consumers are more likely to purchase and promote brands that interact with them on social media. Set aside a day or two each week to respond to comments and questions so you can show your followers that you are active and engaged.
  5. Look at your analytics. Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites offer users data about posts, followers and engagement. By viewing your insights and analytics you will be able to gather useful information, such as which types of posts get the most engagement and when your followers are most active. This information will help you maximize your social media efforts.

Featured in Forbes: Digital Transformation is About Process, Not Products

On May 21, ATX Web Designs Founder Daniel Griggs was featured in a Forbes article titled Digital Transformation is About Process, Not Products. ATX the Brand is based in Austin, Texas—one of the fastest growing tech hotspots in the country. Some experts predict it may eclipse Silicon Valley as a hub for digital innovation. Tesla founder Elon Musk is opening a factory outside the city and tech giants Intel, Apple, Oracle and Facebook all have headquarters or offices in the area.

As a web development and digital marketing agency, ATX the Brand works with many tech companies in the Central Texas area, as well as local entrepreneurs and startups. Our team is able to observe trends within the industry and speak to the ways businesses can successfully capitalize on new developments related to digital branding and marketing.

One of the biggest trends we have seen among Austin-area business owners is a push for the “digital transformation” of their companies in order to stay relevant and competitive in the rapidly evolving digital economy.

Here is an excerpt from the article on digital transformation:

The unfortunate truth is that many businesses equate their online brand with their website and see “digital transformation” as no more than a site upgrade or redesign. The fact of the matter is that digital transformation is about your company’s processes, not about your products. Your processes include your customer relationship management (CRM) system, your security, your marketing strategies and your administrative systems — and these processes are vital when it comes to sustainably growing your business. They are the pieces that your customer doesn’t immediately see or know to look for but will ultimately have the biggest impact on their experience with your business.

Your website and mobile app are important, but they are really just the tip of the iceberg. If your company hopes to stay competitive in the digital economy, you need more than a pretty website or trendy mobile app. You need to understand the mind and the values of the modern consumer and learn how to build your business processes around the needs of your target audience.

In focusing on the visual aspects of their brand, some business owners forget to ask themselves the following important questions:

• How do I manage bookings?

• How is customer data filed and organized?

• What is my process for following up on leads and inquiries?

• How are my services promoted and marketed?

• What is my process for gathering feedback and implementing changes?

The answers to all of these questions are critical for growing a business in a digitally competitive economy.

To read the full article on Forbes’ website, click here.

7 Ways to Stretch Your Marketing Budget

You’ve got to spend money to make money, according to the old saying, but how much should small and medium-sized businesses be investing into marketing and advertising? Whether your business is growing rapidly or you are just figuring out how to make ends meet, marketing is an essential component of company operations that you can’t afford to ignore. While some businesses do very well through word-of-mouth marketing, there is a limit to how much you can scale through organic referrals alone.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that businesses generating less than $5 million a year spend about 7 to 8 percent of gross revenue on marketing and advertising. Other industry experts have suggested anywhere from 5 percent to 14 percent.


If these numbers seem high to you, or you are wondering how much you are realistically able to invest in marketing, here are five ways to stretch your marketing and advertising budget to get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Social media. Social media platforms are free marketing tools that can help you raise brand awareness and gain customer trust. While social media followers don’t necessarily equate to sales, building out your Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms can be an extremely valuable long-term marketing investment. Make sure you are using your social platforms to provide value to your followers and engage with them regularly.
  2. Experiment. Marketing is all about experimentation. Instead of sinking your entire monthly marketing budget into ads or cold email campaigns, opt for small, cost-effective experiments to see what type of messaging and content delivery strategies resonate with your audience most right now.
  3. Partnerships. Partnerships and collaborations with other businesses are an affordable way to build your brand and get exposure. When creating partnerships, you want to work with companies that target your same demographic but are not direct competitors.
  4. Media relations. Pitching your business to local media is a way to get free exposure for your company. When pitching, make sure that you provide a specific, timely angle or a reason that a certain publication’s audience would be interested in the story.
  5. Incentivize referrals. By incentivising your current customers to recommend your business, you can boost organic traffic and sales. Affiliate programs, giveaways and contests are some relatively inexpensive ways to increase referrals.

Is Your Small Business Website Secure

On July 2, ATX Web Designs CEO Daniel Griggs was featured in Forbes in an article titled Is Your Small Business Website Secure?. As website templates and DIY web design programs become more popular, they also increase the potential risk of security threats.

The article outlines several ways that small businesses in particular can help ensure their websites can protect customer information and company data, as well as preventing other security breaches.

Here are a few of the important security questions business owners should ask about their websites, as outlined in the Forbes piece:

Is your website hosted on a secure server with an SSL certificate? If you collect private information from site users, you need a hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS), which prevents the interception of data. Additionally, SSL will encrypt information so that it cannot be breached.

Does your website require complex passwords? Requiring all users to use complex passwords when signing into your site will help prevent their accounts from being hacked. For example, you can require users to use a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters and special characters in their passwords.

Do you have a firewall in place? Firewalls can block duplicate internet protocol (IP) addresses automatically, which prevents spammers and hackers from registering multiple accounts from the same computer.

Does your website contain custom coding? Unfortunately, website templates built through CMS like WordPress can be more susceptible to hacking. Custom coding is much more difficult to breach.

Are your plugins up to date? Failing to update your software and plugins can result in security vulnerabilities and issues on your website.

To read the complete article, click here.

The Top 20 Website Design Trends of 2021

The web design industry is a fast-paced and rapidly evolving one. Every year, new innovations in graphic design, user interface design, marketing, and backend development lead to new trends for websites and mobile applications.

Over the past year, we have seen businesses of all sizes increase their investment in their web presence. We were already living in a digital economy before COVID-19, but the global pandemic has emphasized the need for companies to improve their online brand and prioritize digital marketing.

Consumer habits have also changed, with more and more individuals choosing to shop online instead of in person. With the increased online participation and standards of the modern consumer, it is essential for businesses to keep up with design trends and present a digital brand that is relevant, engaging and effective in meeting its long-term goals.

Here are the top 20 website design trends predicted for 2021:

  1. Muted colors
  2. Authenticity and honesty
  3. Flat icons and illustrations
  4. Retro fonts
  5. Activism and supporting meaningful causes
  6. Parallax scroll animations
  7. Classic serif fonts
  8. Playfulness and optimism
  9. Illustrations
  10. Abstract and surreal art
  11. Minimalism
  12. Personalized experiences
  13. Vintage effects
  14. Animations
  15. Custom graphics
  16. Interactive landing pages
  17. Unique multimedia
  18. Embedded videos
  19. Non-traditional scrolling
  20. Gradient color schemes

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

10 Tips for Writing Better Social Media Ads

About 42 percent of the world’s population, or 3.2 billion people, use social media, and the average user spends 2-3 hours a day on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Businesses have recognized the value of engaging with this massive online audience and social media ads have become an essential piece of modern marketing.

There is an overwhelming amount of demand for user attention on social media websites and apps. The average social media user sees between 6,000 and 10,000 ads per day and is inundated with content. That means that it is more important than ever for businesses to be smart about the advertising content they produce.

Here are 10 tips for creating better, more compelling social media ads.

  • Choose the right platform. Different social media platforms cater to different audiences. For example, members of Generation Z (16-24 year olds) are more likely to be active on apps like TikTok than they are to spend time on Facebook. Don’t waste time and money on social media ads that aren’t popular with your target demographic.
  • Focus on audience values. Effective social media ads offer an instant promise to meet the values and priorities of their audience. Identity your target demographic’s key values and create a list of ad keywords that speak to those values.
  • Include engaging photos and graphics. Most social media platforms are largely visual. If you want to quickly capture the attention of a user who is scrolling through social media, you need bold, engaging photos and graphics that will pause them in their tracks and encourage them to read your content.
  • Simplify your copy. Attention spans on social media platforms are incredibly short. Users are typically scrolling quickly and mindlessly through their feeds and don’t want to do more work than is necessary to read advertisements. To make it easier for your audience, simplify your ad copy by removing jargon, long words, adverbs and most adjectives.
  • Use a creative hook. A hook is the first line of your ad copy that catches the attention of a reader. A social media user may or may not even read your hook, but if they do, you want to make sure you are pulling them in with an intriguing question, a bold statement, a useful fact or a keyword that resonates with them.
  • Create a straightforward call to action. The call to action (CTA) is the next step you want someone to take after they read your ad. For the purpose of social media ads, CTAs should be short, simple and compelling. Try using motivating action words such as “create,” “discover,” “get,” and “try.”
  • Build a sense of urgency. You want to give your audience a reason to take action after reading your social media ad. Creating a sense of urgency will help motivate them to engage further with your brand and take the next step in the marketing funnel. For example, creating a special deal or discount with a time limit can persuade users to take action now instead of later.
  • Personalize your ads. Users are more likely to pay attention to ads that feel personal to them. Try including your audience’s city name in your ad headline or call out their demographic by name, such as “parents,” “college students” or “entrepreneurs.”
  • Maintain consistency between ads and landing pages. Consistency is key when it comes to online branding and the user experience. If your social ad is directing users to a landing page or website, make sure your colors, fonts, graphic design and content tone remain consistent between pages.
  • Collect data and experiment. To a certain extent, social media advertising is a giant experiment. What works well for one company may not work for yours—even if you fall within the same industry or cater to a similar audience. The most important part of social media marketing is to collect data on user behavior and engagement and modify your approach regularly to prioritize the type of copy and design that works for your audience.

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

How to Instantly Improve Your Website Copy

Having a well-designed, user-friendly website is the first step toward developing a successful online brand. But great web design is practically useless without good copy. The text on your website is just as important as its aesthetic and usability.

Studies have found that website visitors will navigate away from a page if they cannot find what they are looking for within 10 seconds. That means your website copy has 10 seconds to convince users that your company can solve their problems better than the competition can.

Many business owners and entrepreneurs do not know where to start when it comes to creating content for their websites. It can feel overwhelming to try to condense an entire company or brand down into a few simple paragraphs on a landing page or homepage. As a result, many websites are bogged down by irrelevant or cumbersome content that turns site visitors away instead of converting them into paying customers.

Working with a professional content creator or digital marketing company is the best way to make sure your website messaging and branding is just right. However, there are a few easy ways that you can instantly improve your website copy on your own. Here are five strategies for creating more engaging, effective content for your website:

  1. Focus on the user. Perform an audit of your site content and see how often you use the word “you.” The majority of your website copy, particularly on the home page, should be focused on the user and not on your company.
  2. Move from problem to solution. Digital content marketing is about connecting with an audience’s pain points (the problem) and presenting your company’s product or service as a solution. Frame your content in terms of your audience’s challenges and how you can make their life better.
  3. Promote benefits, not features
    . Instead of writing about the features of your product or service, concentrate your writing on the benefits customers will receive when using your product or service. This places the attention on the user and helps them feel more engaged with your copy and with your brand.
  4. Include clear Calls to Action. Don’t assume your audience understands the next step they need to take in moving down the path to purchase—or that they will take initiative to move forward on their own. Each section of your website should indicate some Call-to-Action, such as “learn more,” “sign up,” or “browse our products.”
  5. Provide value. Your audience’s attention needs to be earned, so each piece of content on your site should provide some sort of value. Identify what your specific audience values then use bold, simple headlines and straightforward copy that showcase how you can provide that value.

Having a well-designed, user-friendly website is the first step toward developing a successful online brand. But great web design is practically useless without good copy. The text on your website is just as important as its aesthetic and usability.

Studies have found that website visitors will navigate away from a page if they cannot find what they are looking for within 10 seconds. That means your website copy has 10 seconds to convince users that your company can solve their problems better than the competition can.

Many business owners and entrepreneurs do not know where to start when it comes to creating content for their websites. It can feel overwhelming to try to condense an entire company or brand down into a few simple paragraphs on a landing page or homepage. As a result, many websites are bogged down by irrelevant or cumbersome content that turns site visitors away instead of converting them into paying customers.

Working with a professional content creator or digital marketing company is the best way to make sure your website messaging and branding is just right. However, there are a few easy ways that you can instantly improve your website copy on your own. Here are five strategies for creating more engaging, effective content for your website:

  1. Focus on the user. Perform an audit of your site content and see how often you use the word “you.” The majority of your website copy, particularly on the home page, should be focused on the user and not on your company.
  2. Move from problem to solution. Digital content marketing is about connecting with an audience’s pain points (the problem) and presenting your company’s product or service as a solution. Frame your content in terms of your audience’s challenges and how you can make their life better.
  3. Promote benefits, not features. Instead of writing about the features of your product or service, concentrate your writing on the benefits customers will receive when using your product or service. This places the attention on the user and helps them feel more engaged with your copy and with your brand.
  4. Include clear Calls to Action. Don’t assume your audience understands the next step they need to take in moving down the path to purchase—or that they will take initiative to move forward on their own. Each section of your website should indicate some Call-to-Action, such as “learn more,” “sign up,” or “browse our products.”
  5. Provide value. Your audience’s attention needs to be earned, so each piece of content on your site should provide some sort of value. Identify what your specific audience values then use bold, simple headlines and straightforward copy that showcase how you can provide that value.

7 Ways to Improve Your Brand’s Social Media Engagement

Having a solid social media strategy for your business is a crucial element of brand marketing. The average person spends about two and a half hours on social media every day while millennials, the largest consumer demographic, spend closer to three.

Social media engagement—or the comments, likes and shares your posts receive—are the best indicator of an effective social presence. If your account has tens of thousands of followers but little interaction with those followers, your content is falling on deaf ears. As a commercial brand, your social media accounts should strive for quality over quantity and help you build a solid foundation of loyal fans and customers.

Whether you are a social media novice, or have an established company brand online, here are seven tips for improving engagement with your audience.

  1. Post eye-catching photos and videos. On social media, striking photos and video content coupled with text get significantly more engagement than a block of text on its own. Incorporating multimedia is especially important on platforms like Facebook and Twitter that don’t require images for posts. Your photo only needs to be loosely related to your content, but make sure it isn’t click bait or you will lose the trust of your audience and the social media algorithms may work against you.
  2. Ask questions. Polls and questions are great ways to interact with your followers on social media. Whether you post the question in your feed, stories, or in a live video or reel, you are sure to connect with your audience in a deeper way.
  3. Be funny. A Sprout Social survey found that humor is the most desired brand characteristic after honesty, helpfulness and friendliness. Three out of four respondents said they wanted their brands to be funny, although only one in three thought snarky humor was appealing.
  4. Get personal. Studies have shown that more and more consumers favor brands that feel personal and personable. Don’t hide behind a professional veneer (unless that supports your brand image). Try posting behind-the-scenes-content, personal photos, and posts that show you are a real company run by real people.
  5. Partner with other brands. Cross-promotions and collaborations can be a very effective way to increase followers, sales and engagement. Partner with brands that have a similar audience and style to yours so that you can double down on what your followers already know and love.

Questions about how content marketing and web design strategies could elevate your brand and improve your bottom line? Schedule a consultation with one of our digital strategists by clicking here.

Three Common Marketing Mistakes Franchises Make

Franchises are a popular business structure that face a unique challenge when it comes to marketing. To be successful, franchisors need to support the independence of their individual franchisees while also maintaining a consistent brand image.

There are three common marketing mistakes that franchise owners make, and they all  relate to the way independent franchisees present themselves online.
Here are the pitfalls to avoid when developing marketing strategies for your franchise:

  1. Inconsistent franchisee sites and domain names. Inconsistencies between the corporate franchise website and franchisee landing pages create confusion for users and reduce brand visibility and credibility. It is important for franchises to remain consistent in how they present franchisee web pages. These pages should either all be hosted under the main corporate website, or they should have independent domain names. Your franchise brand could lose potential sales if users get a different experience on your corporate website than they do on franchisee websites.
  2. Failure to utilize SEO. It is important for brand consistency and visibility that each franchise location ranks on the first page of Google and other search engine results. This allows for backlinks and means rankings will be boosted for any new franchisee. However, it is critical not to duplicate content on independent franchisee websites. This could cause your company to be penalized by Google.
  3. Social media accounts lack uniformity. Social media management can be challenging for franchises. Since platforms like Facebook and Instagram are so personal, each franchisee account will likely vary in voice, tone, aesthetic, and posting frequency. Franchises should control social media at the corporate level or create a social-media-specific brand and style guide for franchisees.

A better digital structure will create more brand value, visibility and credibility, and will ultimately help your franchisees increase sales and retain customers. ATX Web Designs is skilled and experienced at helping franchises create consistent brands, rank highly on search engines, and improve sales through cohesive marketing efforts. Visit our franchise page to learn more.

 

5 Web Design Myths … Busted

Your website is likely the first place consumers encounter your brand, and the design not only conveys information about your products and services, but also speaks to your values, style, and relevance. 

In an article published by Inc., ATX The Brand Founder Daniel Griggs responded to five common website design myths and shared the reality behind good web design. 

Myth 1. Your website can’t serve multiple audiences
There may be gaps in technological knowledge and aesthetic taste, but that doesn’t mean your website design can’t appeal to multiple demographics. Work smarter, not harder, to engage with each of your target audiences by finding the areas where their preferences overlap. For example, the baby boomer and millennial generations may both prefer large font and less cluttered design. 

Myth 2. Content is content

Not all content is created equal. The average website visitor will leave a page after 10 to 20 seconds if they are unable to access the information they need, so your site should convey your main message as quickly and simply as possible. Be as bold and blatant as you can about answering the three W’s—Who are you? What do you do? Why should a user do business with you? If your website has a high bounce rate, this could be an indicator that you are not keeping it simple enough. 

Myth 3. You need to tell your whole story on your homepage

Your users’ first interaction with your website should make them feel like it was designed for them. Avoid overwhelming site visitors with details about every facet of your product or service and instead create clear calls to action that help specific audiences quickly and easily navigate to the content they need. 

Myth 4: A well-designed desktop version is good enough

A well-designed desktop version of your website is important, but research shows that the mobile version is crucial. The Pew Research Center reports that 28 percent of millennials are smartphone-only internet users, meaning that nearly one third of the country’s largest consumer demographic will be viewing your website solely on their phones. 

Myth 5: You don’t need a website audit 

Quality website and mobile app design requires a professional set of eyes. A website audit is a comprehensive review of your design and content that will help determine whether you are reaching your target audiences in the most efficient and effective way possible. A full audit will help expose weak spots and improve the usability of your website and mobile app to ensure you are reaching the greatest amount of people in the most effective way. This will help conversion, which means more leads. 

You’re Going to Drop the Ball

You are going to fail in business. The question isn’t “if,” but “when.” 

Hopefully you enjoy more success than failure, but there will always be bumps in the road along the way. No matter how hard you hustle, when you have a lot of balls in the air we will inevitably drop one. 

ATX The Brand Founder Daniel Griggs published an article on Forbes that lists his top tips for how to respond when that ball hits the ground. 

  1. Take ownership When you do inevitably drop the ball in some way, it is important to take ownership of your mistake. When confronted with a misstep, we tend to want to shift blame or make excuses for our actions, but claiming responsibility can be an important part of reaching a resolution quickly and effectively. If you are going to point the finger, point the finger at yourself. 
  2. Create realistic expectations Being proactive by creating realistic expectations at the outset of a project is critical, and it is just as important to identify clear deliverables and limits when something goes wrong. Be careful not to overpromise in an attempt to rectify a mistake or mitigate discomfort. If you need to recalibrate, set a realistic scope. It is not about what you and your team are capable of accomplishing, it is about how well you can meet the client’s goals while working within their parameters.
  3. Over-communicate There is no such thing as too much communication with a client. Just because you said something one time does not mean your message was received or understood. If you said it once, say it again. And again.Do not avoid a client because they are upset or because the mistake is awkward or uncomfortable. Stay in constant contact so the client knows you are on their side and are taking every necessary step to correct the issue. Dropping the ball is never fun but it does not have to be the end of the world. If you respond to failure by taking ownership, setting realistic expectations for addressing the problem, and communicating clearly, you will be able to bounce back in no time. 

Moving your event online? Don’t make these common mistakes

As the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, many companies have decided to move their events, conferences and trade shows online instead of canceling or rescheduling. 

But transforming a live event into a virtual one brings its own challenges. Unfortunately it isn’t enough to set up a camera and hit “record” or “go live.” 

If you’re planning an online event, here are some common pitfalls to avoid. 

  • Skimping on audio-visual equipment. Visual presentation is a critical component of virtual events. Invest in high quality cameras, lighting and sound equipment to make your event as professional and engaging as possible. 
  • Not testing everything ahead of time. Before going live, you will need to run several tests of your equipment and programming. Designate time for these trial runs in your pre-production schedule so that everything runs smoothly on the big day. 
  • Holding yourself to the same standards. Virtual events are a different ballgame with their own set of rules. Audience attention spans are shorter, their expectations are different, and their participation or investment level may fluctuate. Revist the benchmarks for your event and see if they still seem reasonable given the new format. 
  • Assuming your audience is tech-savvy. Regardless of demographic, your audience may not have a good grasp on your virtual event platform and tools. Make sure to educate them before the event begins and provide multiple channels for assistance and support once you launch. 
  • Assuming your presenters are tech savvy. Public speaking skills don’t always translate to video conferencing skills. Your presenters might need some support with aspects like video lighting and framing in addition to training on live video programs. 

As with any live event, be prepared for something to go wrong during your virtual event and have a Plan B (and Plan C) ready to go. Remember that everyone is figuring this out as they go along and be easy with yourself and your team if mistakes happen. 

ATX Web Designs Founder Featured in Forbes

Founder Daniel Griggs was recently featured in an article on the Forbes, Inc. website about the responsibility tech entrepreneurs have in supporting and creating social change.

In the article, Griggs describes his inspiration for creating the school bus tracking software Bus Kids Safe, as well as the lessons he learned along the way.

The Bus Kids Safe app uses GPS technology to allow parents and schools to track school buses in real time and get notifications about pick-up times, drop-off times and delays.

Griggs created the app after a nerve-wracking incident in which his son’s school bus was over an hour late to the stop. He said the process of creating, developing and marketing the app revealed several important lessons about how to use digital products to address pressing social issues:

  1. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes the most sustainable change is incremental change. Trying to progress too far too fast could actually be counterproductive. Bus Kids Safe took something that already existed (bus driver check-in processes) and digitized it instead of creating something new altogether.
  1. Borrow from other industries. Chances are, something that is working in one industry can be cross-applied to another industry. The solutions to some of our societal challenges may already exist and just need to be adapted to address specific problems. For example, GPS tracking of public transportation already exists — Bus Kids Safe just harnesses the technology for the education industry.
  1. Incentivize early adoption. You may have the greatest app in the world, but it cannot create social change if you don’t have users. Focus your marketing efforts and incentive programs on getting early subscribers for your app. This can create community buy-in and organic sharing of your product. The Bus Kids Safe technology is currently free for local schools and parents, motivating more districts to get on board.

It is the responsibility of tech leaders to use their power to create something better. Let’s start innovating!

How a College Student Transformed a $4,000 Bill Into $40,000 Profit a Month

For the month of February, we’re talking all about college student entrepreneurs. Our 4-part series looks at four very different businesses started by studentpreneurs and the key takeaways that can help you in your business. Questions? Suggestions? Want us to feature your business? Drop us a line! anna [at] atxwebdesigns [dot] com.

Who: Zaid Al-Quraishy

What: Online Courses

Where: University College Dublin

The Problem: He wanted to grow his online business.

The Solution: He started selling his online courses on Udemy.

Zaid Al-Quraishy was a college student and entrepreneur when, one day, his car broke down. Repairing it would cost $4,000. Though his online business had generated enough money for him to buy the car, it wasn’t enough to allow him to repair it. He was stuck.

Al-Quraishy is an “ethical hacker”. He isn’t out to take down websites, steal money, or otherwise harm people through the web. Mostly his courses teach how to test security of certain technologies and protect against malicious attacks.

Through his own website, he offered ethical hacking courses for Arabic speakers. He had an archive of videos and materials that had been supporting his student expenses. When his car broke down, a friend suggested he try offering his courses on Udemy. The only catch was: they would have to be in English.

So, he translated his courses and the supplementary materials into English. Then, made more even courses to put on Udemy. What could have been an enormous hassle turned out to be a lucrative opportunity.

He currently offers 8 courses that range in price from $10 to almost $200.

The best part is: he doesn’t have to run any of it. Udemy allows him to not only offer his courses to a (much) wider audience but in showing reviews, ratings, and numbers of students, also does a good chunk of the marketing for him.

He’s had over 130,000 students (and at a minimum of $10 per class, we’d say he’s done all right). Side Hustle School reports he brings in $40,000 per month (all right, indeed).

Top 3 Lessons and Takeaways:

1. Do Your Best, Outsource the Rest. Al-Quraishy grew his business by focusing on his strengths, creating great courses, and outsourcing the rest. Now instead of spending time and energy on the technical aspects of delivering the courses, on marketing and customer service, he can focus on building and improving his courses.

2. Capitalize on What you Know. Al-Quraishy knew all about hacking and was able to package his knowledge in a way that was accessible to others. You don’t have to take a class or learn a new skill to start a business. What are you already good at? What do you already know a lot about? Start there. Then, go back and read #1.

3. Make Passive Income. It’s what every entrepreneur aims for, but not everyone can make money in their sleep. Al-Quraishy’s business was already generating passive income, and he scaled up in a major way by migrating to Udemy (and outsourced a lot of the hassle). If you’re already making passive income, how can you increase efficiency (like adopting a new system or platform) to maximize your profit?

How a Newlywed With a Performing Arts Degree Beat Out Bank of America and Transformed the Blogosphere

For the month of February, we’re talking all about college student entrepreneurs. Our 4-part series looks at four very different businesses started by studentpreneurs and the key takeaways that can help you in your business. Questions? Suggestions? Want us to feature your business? Drop us a line! anna [at] atxwebdesigns [dot] com.

Who: Naomi Davis

What: Lovetaza.com (originally called The Rockstar Diaries)

Where: The Juilliard School

The Problem: Wanted to connect with her friends and family thousands of miles away.

The Solution: Started a blog and regularly posted life updates.

Naomi Davis was a lifestyle blogger before lifestyle blogging was even a category, back when blog titles (including hers) still had “blogspot” in the url. In 2007, she was in her final year at Juilliard in New York City and newly married to her husband Josh. She started her blog to keep in touch with friends and family back in Utah, but it quickly reached a much larger audience.

The blogosphere then looked much different than it does today. Instead of beautifully designed websites featuring styled photos by professional photographers (and an assembly of advertisements down the sidebar), blogs were little more than internet journals. They were personal, reflecting one’s personal tastes and preferences because blogs hadn’t yet become synonymous with brands and marketing. Davis’ reflected her talent for design, and early on showcased an appealing aesthetic. Take a look at this archived page from January 2010. Everyone on it is beautiful and happy, and everything featured is beautiful and stylish.

So of course it became a smash hit. Mr. Davis, a Columbia graduate, had a successful career in banking. He was Vice President at Bank of America Merrill Lynch before leaving to work full-time managing the blog (which by 2014 had become a thriving business) and related projects, including creative video, fashion and product collaboration with top brands. In 2017, Forbes named her on their list of Top 10 Parenting Influencers.

No official word on how much the blog brings in each year, but if living in a 3-bedroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan is any indication, the business is pretty successful.

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Top 3 Lessons and Takeaways:

1. Do you. Love Taza (Davis’ blog and brand) has flourished because of Davis’ distinctive tastes. In her blog’s early years, she also ran an Etsy shop which sold headbands. Now her blog regularly features fashion, home decorating, makeup, kids style, art, design, photography and videography. Most striking, perhaps, is her penchant for mixing bright colors–like on their walls, as well as in both their former living room (with the bright yellow piano) and their current living room. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. It’s what will set you apart from everyone else.

2. Sometimes It’s Nice to Have a Break. Years ago, Salon ran a piece featuring Davis’ blogs and the many like hers in which the writer called blogs like Love Taza “weirdly uplifting.” There’s no stress or drama on these blogs. Everything is beautiful and everyone is happy. Many businesses set out to change the world, and leaders to become the next Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. But sometimes, it’s just nice to see people being happy.

3. Just Start.  Don’t worry so much about the details that you never get off the ground. Do the things you’re good at. Do them consistently. Share them with the world. Who knows–maybe 10 years from now it’ll be you on the Upper West Side.

How David Gilboa Lost His Eyeglasses, Made $1 Billion, and Changed the World (With the Help of Some Friends)

For the month of February, we’re talking all about college student entrepreneurs. Our 4-part series looks at four very different businesses started by studentpreneurs and the key takeaways that can help you in your business. Questions? Suggestions? Want us to feature your business? Drop us a line! anna [at] atxwebdesigns [dot] com.

Who: David Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal

What: Warby Parker

Where: The Wharton School

The Problem: Eyeglasses are incredibly expensive, especially to people with limited income.

The Solution: Sell glasses online directly to the consumer, and donate a pair for each pair sold.

When David Gilboa lost his eyeglasses, he had a problem.

They were his only pair, and they cost $700. As a full-time student, he couldn’t afford to replace them so he spent an entire semester squinting in lecture halls and, as he put it, complaining to anyone who would listen about the exorbitant cost of glasses. Why were they so expensive?

He asked this of everyone, but it was Neil Blumenthal, with some experience in optometry, who took it seriously. Blumenthal and Gilboa got with two other friends and spent 18 months brainstorming and refining the idea for the company that would become Warby Parker.

From the beginning, they wanted the company to make a positive impact. In addition to drastically reducing the price of eyeglasses and making it easy for customers to try on various styles, they also implemented a social mission into their business model. Like Tom’s, for every pair purchased, they donate a pair.

It sounds like another do-good company started by Millennials, but in fact, Warby Parker is a unicorn.

Prior to its founding, customers had few choices about eyewear. One single company owns and produces all the eyewear you have to choose from. And what they don’t own, they have exclusive licensing agreements with (glasses with fashion labels, for instance). They set the price, and the consumer has no other option but to pay.

It was a crazy idea, that a couple of college students could disrupt an enormous, powerful, deeply-established monopoly like Luxottica, and many people told them so. People with far more experience told them there was no way their idea could work.

The company was founded in 2010. By 2015 they were valued at over $1 billion.

Top 3 Lessons and Takeaways:

1. Choose Mentors Wisely. Everyone told them why it Warby Parker could never work. The mentors they trusted asked tough questions, but were also encouraging and positive. That’s what a great mentor is for: to help you clear the challenges and remind you of your own potential.

2. Think Long-Term, Then Bottom-Line. Building a company with a legacy requires thinking about the big picture. There will always be the bottom line to consider, but what about the purpose of your company? What impact are you making 5, 10, 50 years down the road?

3. Focus. The four founders didn’t rush to start their business. They carefully considered it, talked, sought advice, tested and planned for a year and half before their launch. As their company has grown, they’ve continued to focus on what they do best. Should they ever go public, go international, or roll out other products, it will be when it’s best for the company–and its customers. In Gilboa’s words, I can’t think of many businesses that have failed because they were too focused.

When The Dumb Business Decision Is Actually the Smart Business Decision

Back in the day (10 years ago) YouTube was this website where random people from all over the world could upload random videos—and random they were. Remember when Charlie Bit My Finger was a sensation? There were virtually no production values. People had digital cameras and it was a big deal if its quality was more than a few megapixels (who even talks like that anymore?). There was no HD—pretty much everything was 240p quality. And if you did create a smash hit like Charlie Bit My Finger (or Charlie the Unicorn? Shoutout!), you had no way of getting money from it.

Man, things have changed so much.

Now kids grow up wanting to be YouTubers—like it’s a legitimate career. Just kidding—thanks to advertisers and sites like Patreon, it is a legitimate career. Congratulations, Kids!

Patreon is a platform that puts the money making in the hands of creators. Instead of relying on ad revenue (especially after a change in YouTube’s algorithm left it drastically reduced)**, creators can produce content directly for their audience who can, in turn, directly support the creators’ efforts. Support can be given for as little as $1 a month.

In December, Patreon announced that they’d be changing their fee structure. I’m not a Patreon creator so I don’t entirely understand the ramifications of the decision, but they must have been huge because Twitter blew up. Many creators were upset with the changes claiming It would significantly hurt their revenue. Subscribers were upset about the change in fees and a good chunk of them left the platform. It was pretty ugly.

So what do you think Patreon did?

Better yet, what would you have done if it were your company receiving the backlash?

Defend it using the same logic that was used to make the decision in the first place? Explain to your base why these changes are good for them? Talk about your vision moving forward?

That’s what most companies do. They make the decision that’s best for the company (ie profit and growth) and either think little of their target audience or simply underestimate the impact it would have on them.

So it’s remarkable that, just days later, Patreon issued an apology and officially rescinded their decision.

We still have to fix the problems that those changes addressed, but we’re going to fix them in a different way, and we’re going to work with you to come up with the specifics, as we should have done the first time around. Many of you lost patrons, and you lost income. No apology will make up for that, but nevertheless, I’m sorry. It is our core belief that you should own the relationships with your fans. These are your businesses, and they are your fans.

Wow.

Evidence that sometimes the smart business decision is the dumb business decision.

Maintaining integrity and authenticity with your customers–especially your core customers, your target audience–is how to build a business that lasts. It’s how you recover from dumb decisions, and it’s how you leave behind a legacy. Establishing trust is the real smart business decision.

SEO, social media marketing, or both? The different between the two, and which you should invest in the most

What is SEO?
Boring, Factual Answer: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The purpose of optimizing your site for search engines is to drive traffic to your site organically. That’s it.

More Interesting Answer: What was the last thing you searched for? Did it take to you a website you’d never visited before?

Chances are you used Google, which performed over 5 billion searches today alone. (In contrast, Bing didn’t even crack 1 billion.) And while I don’t know the chances of finding a website you’ve never visited before, I know that Google’s my #1 referral to new websites. It’s rare that a friend or business card, or even a social media link, directs me to a new website. And when it does happen, it’s still outnumbered by the Google referral machine.

When you implement the technical and strategic components of SEO into your marketing efforts, it will take time for your work to pay off. When it does, though, you have potentially 5 billion daily Google searches (and hundreds of millions from other engines) in which to be seen.

Drive traffic. Generate leads. Make sales. Much of it without any additional effort from you. That’s the value of a great SEO strategy.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Boring Factual Answer: Social media marketing is driving traffic via social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

More Interesting Answer: Social media marketing is your opportunity to connect with your audience, foster great relationships, and build brand visibility and loyalty. Social media demands both creativity and authenticity, which takes great strategic planning and execution. It’s fun! And one of the best investments you’ll make in your business.

But. Before you get too excited about social media, make sure your SEO work is top-notch.

In this day and age, if you don’t have a website, do you even exist? You may as well not because no one is going to be able to find you.

For this reason, you must have a solid SEO strategy in place before you do anything else. You want people to be able to find you (it’s necessary to your business’ growth) and it’s the most low-effort way to go about getting traffic (and leads and sales). Invest in a good strategy. It will pay off.

Then invest in good social media marketing.

(By the way, you don’t have to wait to invest in either of these. So much can be done before spending your first penny! Social media takes a considerable investment of time (the platforms reward frequent engagement) but you don’t have to do paid marketing up front. You can invest good money in SEO and also implement a good social media strategy for free. But when it comes to money prioritization, start with SEO.)

Don’t take my word for it! Kissmetrics and Digital Current both have good pieces to help you make this decision.

Top Five Content Marketing Trends in 2018

The new year is here (hooray!) and these are the five trends we’re most excited about:

1. High Quality Content

There is a lot of noise on the internet and way too much mediocre content. But as platforms up their games (with things like stories, filters, and user-generated content campaigns, just to name a few), content improves, too. Boring ads and gimmicks just can’t compete.

We’re excited to see more great writing, videos and campaigns that add value to the user experience instead of just selling to followers.

2. Video

Video is a part of content, but it gets its own section here because we expect video to be a big player this year.

We’ve already seen video come to dominate Facebook newsfeeds, and it’s growing on other platforms like Twitter and Instagram, too. Videos are going to have to be better than ever to outperform the competition.

The downside is that we’ll also see more video ads. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve seen YouTube ads that are so good that I didn’t even skip them to get to the video. But, 2017 brought with it those awful Facebook video ads that cut in at weird times and are designed to be unskippable. I am sorry to say that I think this year will only bring more.

3. Chatbots

I find chatbots a little annoying because they don’t go away and I don’t find them helpful.

But, then I remember that it was only a few years ago that voice recognition software became useful. Remember when voice recognition on phones made you want to chuck your phone through a window? I don’t remember the last time the computer couldn’t get me where I wanted to go.

I think we’re seeing the evolution of chatbots and if they save me from customer service emails and wait times on the phone, I’m all for it. (PS Here’s a cool if only tangentially-relevant story about bots and humans.)

4. Augmented reality

I am loving the direction of AR. Sephora Virtual Artist and Ikea Place are two of my favorites from this list but we’re still in the very early stages of the technology. I loved this Forbes list of 11 creative uses for AR in marketing. Admittedly I get a little freaked out knowing my face is stored in some marketing department’s database, but just so long as no one steals my eyes, right?

5. Podcasts

There is no form of media I love more than a well-produced podcast, so I was excited to see this list of branded podcasts, only one of which I’d ever heard. eBay’s podcast Open for Business was a 13-episode run produced by Gimlet and it was so good!

According to Journalism.org, fewer than half of Americans have ever listened to a podcast, and fewer still listen to them regularly. But, listenership is on the rise.

I hope 2018 brings more great branded podcasts. Even if you already have a strong audience base, branching into podcasts is going to reach an entirely different audience. If you’re thinking of getting into the podcast game, now’s the time. Really all you need is some dedication and a good microphone.

Net Neutrality: What Now?

In December, just before the FCC’s vote, I explained why net neutrality is important to small business owners. On December 14, the vote to scrap net neutrality regulations passed, and with 2018 upon us, it’s a good time to ask how this decision will affect business owners and what you can do about it.

The short answer is: nothing is going to happen immediately. The rules were just passed and and change is going to take time. Plus, the cable companies are under close scrutiny right now. They’re unlikely to take any action until the heat is off a little bit.

Lawsuits will be filed this year, though, and states are making decisions about how to protect neutrality. No doubt that will all lead to suits and countersuits, and no one can say how it will all shake out.

Your work is to stay on your representatives. Keep calling them, keep telling your friends and networks to call them because for most, their incentive is your vote.

3 Things You Can Do

  1. Call Your Representative. You can find out here who your representatives are, whether they support or oppose neutrality (or are undecided), and how to contact them. You can also always send mail, but I advocate making at least one phone call. Here’s why.
  2. Email the FCC leadership. The names and emails of the five, two of whom are net neutrality supporters, are in this Lifehacker piece, which includes other suggestions of things to do as well.
  3. Donate to the legal battle. This is America, where disputes get resolved through lengthy and expensive legal battles. Support the legal defenders with a donation.
  4. These are three things you can do in the next 10 or 15 minutes to defend net neutrality, but this is an ongoing issue with much remaining to be seen.

If you want to learn more, I recommend these balanced informative pieces published by TechCrunch and Forbes on the regulations and what’s next.

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.