Monthly Archives: November 2016

How to Use Co-Marketing this Holiday Season

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Brands everywhere are looking to increase profits, improve b2b relationships, and drive traffic to their sites now that the holiday season is in full tow.  Co-marketing is an excellent way to do this, as two heads are always better than one.  When two companies partner together and form a working relationship in which both parties collaborate for a marketing campaign, the result can be extreme success.

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If you were to collaborate with another brand, you will find that your brand will be displayed to an entirely new audience that you were not previously exposed to.  Running a holiday promotion with someone else is a great way to do this.  Remember to choose your partnership carefully, and follow these steps to ensure a successful outcome:

  1. Set Your Goals. Your goals should be clearly determined and defined ahead of time.  You want to make sure that you and the other brand have the same vision and want the same outcome.  Gather with your marketing team to determine what your deepest needs are and what you want to get out of this holiday season.  Is it a specific product?  Is it lead generation?  A larger Social Media presence?  Knowing these details helps setting a goal become a possibility.
  2. Set a Budget. Knowing what you have to work financially with is key before starting a project.  When you meet with the other brand initially to discuss a co-marketing campaign, you will likely be asked what your budget is.  Having a rough idea of this number in your head is wise.
  3. Consider Possible Partnership. Now that you know your goals and what your budget will allow, it is time to consider possible partnerships.   You want to choose a brand that shares an audience with you, as you will mutually benefit from products and services related to your brand.  You also want to team up with a brand that has a good reputation: positive reviews and happy clients.  After all, the brand you work with will be a reflection of you.  Lastly, consider a partnership with a brand that does not directly compete with you as well as a brand that you will enjoy co-marketing with!
  4. Types of Co-Marketing Projects. There are several ways you can move forward with a co-marketing project, and understanding your options is wise.  Here are some ideas you can collaborate on with your partnership: email marketing, catalog, telemarketing, events, promotions, digital advertisement, collateral, print advertisement, and direct mail.

Once all of that is in place, it’s time to get started. Make sure you develop an agreement that clearly spells out the terms and conditions of your project, be clear about your goals, and set a timeline! Last but not least, have fun!

How to Properly Market in an Online Community

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Companies have been using online marketing communities to spread the word of their brand since the internet first began.  Its is a great way to collaborate with other minds and advance knowledge in specific areas as well as of various products.  Before you dive into this marketing approach, however, it is important to be aware of several factors.  Even if you are acting with your best intentions, things can go awry with the wrong approach.

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Tip #1: Participate rather than Pitch.  Do some searching for the perfect online community.  Once you’ve found one that truly makes you feel at home, make sure your profile reflects you as an actual person rather than a brand. Include a photo, biography, and make sure every available field is filled out. When people join online communities, it is typically because they want to gain more information, research, network, and advance their learning.  The last thing people want is to feel like they are being sold to.  It is imperative to keep this in mind, and participate in conversations: resurface outdated ones, start fresh ones, and circulate new content.

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Tip #2: Expert Like Contribution.  Give people educational pieces that are actually helpful and informative, rather than a bunch of pieces filled with sales tactics.  Publish articles such as how-tos, product reviews, tips and tricks, and so forth.  This is a great way for people to be introduced to your brand and begin to form a relationship with you and what you have to offer.

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Tip #3: Accessibility.  Being able to engage with your customers via conversation online is huge, so make sure you are active with this.  Act as a thought leader by controlling the topics revolving around your brand.  This will help you build rapport and establish trust with your audience.  A quicker response will make you look like the active community member that you are.

Tip #4: Turn Influencers into Ambassadors.  This will come after you are established within your community.  Once you are, determine which members are influencers over others.  From there you will be able to engage with them and seek their help to be an ambassador for your brand.  If they feel a connection with your brand, the likelihood of them supporting you will be much higher.  Having brand ambassadors that people trust and know will help spread news of your brand via word of mouth.  This will expand the knowledge of who you are within the community as well as increase your organic search rankings.

How to Optimize Your Site for Google’s Mobile-First Index

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As of November 4, Google officially posted details about their mobile-first index on their blog site.  They are now testing the mobile-first index where they will look at your website’s mobile version to see its ranking signals and then fall back on the desktop version of your website where there is no mobile version.  If you have not yet optimized your site for mobile use, now is the time.  Mobile continues to dominate search, and Google as well as other search engines are placing more and more emphasis here.  If you haven’t gone mobile, here are a few steps you can take for Google’s mobile-first index:

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Mobile continues to dominate search, and Google as well as other search engines are placing more and more emphasis here.  If you haven’t gone mobile, here are a few steps you can take for Google’s mobile-first index:

  1. When people search something on their phones, they want it to load fast.  What is fast?  According to Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead for Google, “two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability.  At Google, we aim for under a half-second.”  If your site doesn’t load quickly on mobile devices, your ranking will not be very high.  A few ways to optimize your website’s speed: optimize language to the correct size, remove unnecessary characters from source code, leverage browser caching, and reduce redirects which ultimately slows down the user experience.
  2. Do Not Block JavaScript, CSS, or Images. In the past, this was a common thing to do as they caused more issues and make the websites move incredibly slowly.  This is no longer the case, however, and smartphones are far more powerful than computers in many cases. GoogleBot on smartphones wants to be able to see and categorize the same content that users do, so making sure you aren’t hiding them is key.
  3. Mobile Design. Your mobile design needs to be responsive. This can be an art form in itself, but it is important not to overlook.  Design can be used to influence rankings by: never using flash, getting rid of pop-ups, finger-friendly use.
  4. On-Page Optimization. Keep your titles and descriptions brief and to the point, as mobile SERPs do not give you much room to work with. Having concise titles will enable GoogleBot to understand your page better, which will then increase your overall rankings.
  5. Local Optimization. Last but not least, mobile search is essential for companies looking to bring in local traffic to their stores.   Your mobile visibility needs to be high in local areas, so make sure you include lots of information of your city and state in your title tag, URL, content, alt tags, and meta description.

How to Build a Successful SEO ecommerce Site in only 12 Months

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Ecommerce is the fastest growing industry as well as one of the most valuable.  After all, being able to shop online is incredibly easy and helpful.  You can seamlessly checkout and have exactly what you need delivered to your doorstep in a matter of days.

Some people may think that this process isn’t that difficult, however, there are many tips and tricks that need to be followed in order to build a successful SEO ecommerce website.

  1. Buy a Domain Name. This is pretty apparent, however it is something you must have in order to build a website.  This name needs to identify your brand, and can be done so very affordably (under $10 on GoDaddy).
  2. Locate a Web Developer. If you aren’t one yourself, this is an essential component prior to launching your site.  Make sure you do your research, and hire someone who has a strong graphic design background.  Get references from others of you don’t know where to begin.
  3. Acquire All Necessary Paperwork for a Legitimate Business. Save yourself future headaches by hiring an attorney to assist in creating your business.  Make sure you register it, look into legal business issues, and acquire a vendor’s lisence.
  4. Choose Your ecommerce and Website Hosting Platform. Select a popular company that most developers are used to working with, such as Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce.  These platforms make payment processing and integrating plugins an easy task.
  5. Take Your Site Live. Before all of your products are listed even, your website should go public.  As long as you have an ‘About Us’ section, a homepage, and a contact page you are golden.  This will make you legitimate when trying to negotiate deals with vendors, reporters, and bloggers.
  6. Use PitchBox. PitchBox is a great way to generate high quality relationships.  At only $95 for a startup, it will do the outreach work for you: prospecting, emailing, tracking, and managing workflow.
  7. Payment Gateway. In order to process payments, you need a way to accept credit card payments on your site.  For all credit cards, recurring billing and mobile payments you can use gateways such as 2Checkout.com or authorize.net.  You must know in advance that you will have to be approved for payment gateway and credit card processor, and this isn’t an easy process. Before getting approved you will have to have a secure checkout system in place, a Privacy and Return Policy, shipping and delivery methods, and a customer service phone number and email address that actually works.
  8. Packaging and Storage Options. Before being able to launch your business, you have to have inventory storage and shipment policies in place.  Will you use UPS, FedEx, USPS, or a combination of the three? What will you ship your products in? What sizes will you need? Will promotional materials be included?

Ways You May Be Undermining your SEO Efforts

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It is no secret that effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts are necessary in order to help a business thrive.  This is the most ideal way to get your business in front of the right people, and eventually turn those people into customers.  It is said that visitors from search are the closets to the purchase cycle than visitors from any other source.  With 6 billion searches per day, it can be a wonder that anything could ever go wrong with SEO.

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How is it then, that some people’s SEO thrives while others seem to do no good for their overall success?  If you find yourself relating to the latter, you may be undermining your own SEO marketing efforts without even knowing it.  These tips will help you recognize things to watch out for in order to have the best possible functioning SEO marketing.

  1. If You Don’t Measure Tangible Metrics. There is a reason that people measure their results. If you are not gleaning insight from data you are collecting, you will have no way of knowing what areas to make necessary changes.  You want to know how your efforts are performing in contrast with your expectations, and the only way to do this is by measuring the right metrics.  Tangible metrics include Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), visitors area of concentration, and traffic performance.  By understanding these results, you will know what steps need to be taken in order to generate more leads and eventually close them.
  2. If Your Content Disappoints Your Visitors. Although creating great content is absolutely essential, it is not enough for great SEO. Do not give into the urge to create content only to fill a blank space, rather take time to give your users something life enriching.
  3. If You’re Practicing Stale SEO Tactics. What constitutes as a stale SEO tactic? Prioritizing keyword score. Keyword scores and backlink counts are no longer the gas that makes SEO go.  You want to have content that actually rewards someone for his or her time. The only content that will get ranked is the authentic stuff, so skip out on trying to cut corners.
  4. If You’re Audience Isn’t Number One. This should be your primary focus, and can actually keep you from a lot of SEO traps by emphasizing this strategy.  30% of your efforts should be to truly understand your audience: conduct the necessary research to understand the demographics of your audience and cater to them specifically.

Get More Results with Social Media Nurturing

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Almost every brand recognizes the importance of social media marketing.  Where people have gone wrong, however, is when it comes to social media automation.  This is when people take large volumes of tweets and updates and post them with automation tools.  This form of social media marketing requires little effort and is not effective in the slightest.  With every single business doing that, people are completely inundated.

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People are not going to feel connected to your brand if they feel like your message does not come from a real live human being.  Mass amounts of automatic marketing tends to not feel very relational.  In order to engage your audience, you must have a relational feel behind the message.  Instead, brands need to balance their automation tools with spending actual time analyzing their tactics. For example, one size will not fit all; you will have to tailor your message specifically to your different audiences.  Another thing to avoid is not actually reading the articles you are posting.  People get into trouble here, as they may not be aware of some of the content.  Lastly, auto direct messages should never be a part of your social media strategy.

In order to effectively nurture your social media marketing, you have to change it to relationship marketing.  The CEO of Digital Marketing Stream, Audrey DeSisto says:

“Engagement and nurturing go hand in hand. One of the most important factors in being nurturing on Twitter is how well you engage with your followers. Thank everyone who followed you, introduce yourself and let your followers know that you are interested in learning more about who they are and what they do. Respond to all of your messages that are not on auto-pilot.”

When it comes to nurturing your social media marketing, there are two things to focus on.  The first one is to elicit interaction in your posted conversations. Waiting on people to comment and like is not the way to approach it, you must actively bring people into your conversations to be active rather than passive.  The second thing to focus on is to pick one quality post and nurture that post for an entire week. The message communicated here will be far more effective than if you were to post 10 things that week.  Audrey DeSisto also added:

“Nurturing begins when you meet socially, just as if you are meeting someone personally. When you have made a connection, and the connection has been supportive, thank them with a tweet. Check your notifications often for connections asking for a Retweet, it is very easy to miss important messages from fans.”

How to Reach More People on Facebook

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Facebook has now been the number one platform people use to connect with family and friends for over 10 years.  How’s that to make you feel old today? Businesses everywhere understand the importance of utilizing Facebook in order to reach as many people as possible with their brand’s message.

sej-feature-imageRecently, however, some have experienced difficulty in reaching out to a large audience at a very affordable cost. This article will explore various ways that one can use Facebook effectively in order to reach as many people as possible.

  1. Engage Your Audience with Imagery. If done properly, this will engage your audience visually while simultaneously communicating a clear call to action. It is imperative that you do not place too much text on your image.  Users will find this spammy and most likely move on without paying it any attention.  If you are using the Facebook Power Editor tool, you will be quickly notified if your image displays too much text.
  2. Automatic Bidding so You Never Lose Your Traffic. On Facebook, your bids will be different every day, as they are optimized automatically for conversations. Some days you will have higher Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) bidding, and some days you will have lower CPA bidding.  On competitive days in the market, Facebook will automatically increase the bid to make sure that you do not lose any traffic in the process.
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  4. Don’t Let Your Ads Overlap. Overlapped ads are when you have two that are basically competing with each other. Avoid this as well as ad sets.  If not, you can hike the price up for a bid without meaning to do so.
  5. Don’t Make Changes Often. When you do this, it resets the algorithm.  If too many changes are made, Facebook will not be able to keep up and the algorithm won’t reach its fullest potential.  Keep changes limited to once per month.
  6. Reach Campaigns to Meet your Goals. It is recommended that you create a reach and frequency campaign.  When you buy a certain amount of impressions at a fixed price, essentially you are telling the Facebook algorithm your ultimate goal.
  7. Lifetime Budget. Allowing Facebook to use a lifetime budget, or a set amount of money within a set amount of time, will ultimately increase your reach.  Facebook will work to make sure you receive your best results within the time frame.  The common trend you will see is that traffic gets high in the beginning, then slows down in the middle, and gets high again toward the end.

How to Achieve the Best Possible Contextual Marketing Campaign

By | Content Marketing, Marketing, Search Engine Marketing | No Comments

Contextual marketing is what advertisers everywhere are aiming for, providing relevant information to consumers based on recent search activity.  Some companies really have this down and are able to move beyond “the right message to the right person at the right time”.  These companies include Nestle, Disney, Marantz, and GE.  So what is it that they are doing right?

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How are they successfully getting their contextual marketing campaigns off the ground and achieving the best possible results?

Here are some recommendations:

  1. Assemble the Proper Teams. Typical first-time projects begin with one line of business.  This can be email, social, mobile, or customer-service.  People properly educated in these areas are essential at making these initiatives successful.  The team will be able to bounce ideas off of each other and aggregate to accomplish the best long-term results.
  2. Content Strategy. Content is essential with contextual marketing. Content must include all contextual elements, such as the various situations, conditions, locations, device interfaces, goals, and KPIs.
  3. Real-Time Ability. This is important as consumers will want relevant information when performing searches.  If they are looking for somewhere to get a good latte, and the only results that filter to the top of the search engine are for coffee shops that close at 8pm, but it is 11pm, the consumer will quickly move on.  Many teams employ well-trained analytics and social media teams that can provide this information in real-time to consumers actively searching the web.
  4. Get Permission. It is imperative that contextual communications are not pushed on consumers.  No one likes to feel like they are being manipulated in any circumstance.  Make sure there is an option to opt-out if wanted.  Every brand must keep in mind the four components of permission communications: education, brand accountability, consent and agency, and value (what’s in it for me?).
  5. Internal & External Partners. Both internal and external partnerships are wise to have, as contextual campaigns go far beyond only marketing.  These campaigns touch other areas that can be of great value to stakeholders.
  6. Technology Vendors. Be fully aware when choosing tech vendors what value they will bring as well as their limitations.  Choose accordingly for specific projects.
  7. Continuing Education. The area of contextual marketing is ever changing, and it is essential to be well informed of the latest technologies, tools, data, and best practices available.

Facebook is Adding New Tools for Commerce and Local Discovery

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Facebook wants businesses to view them as the solution for bringing in revenue via mobile devices.  In addition to this, Facebook views themselves as the local place for consumers to easily make purchases for goods and services.  With Marketplace and the Events App introductions, they are diving full force into local SEO.

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On October 19th, Facebook added even more tools for businesses and consumers.  There is a booking and ordering tool for Pages, a social recommendations tool, and a local event discovery tool.  The new call to action buttons on ‘Pages’ is the most significant addition, as consumers are able to order food online, book appointments, and purchase tickets all on Facebook.

cta-all-phone-800x339Facebook is making this possible through third-party partnerships.  These partnerships include Front Desk, MyTime, BookingBug, Pingup, Home Advisor, Setser, Simploybook.me and Schedulicity.  Facebook users will have the ability to purchase tickets through Fandango, EventBrite, and Ticketmaster.  They will also be able to request quotes from other businesses using TalkLocal or Porch.

Some of the time, not all, users will be automatically directed into the Messenger app to interact with business owners.  This process will most likely bottify over time.  For example, this would probably happen when a user was requesting an appointment from a place such as a hair salon, where the owner would need to chat with them directly about their schedule(s).

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-6-23-47-amHomeAdvisor was asked what they thought about Facebook’s new capabilities, being one of their partners.  The response by CEO Chris Terrill was as follows:

Facebook Pages help businesses reach customers where they are already spending time, making it easier than ever for customers to find the information they need to get things done. Our Instant Booking marketplace — a marketplace that will drive one million transactions since last year’s launch — will leverage Facebook Pages to help homeowners instantly and conveniently book appointments with service providers offering 500 services from emergency repairs to kitchen remodels.

In addition to booking, Facebook has updated the Events app so consumers are able to easily discover local events taking place.  As for social recommendations, Facebook users will be able to include recommended business Pages in any comments they post.  Those recommendations will then be plotted on a map. This will be a great way for businesses to be discovered.  All in all, these changes make Facebook an incredibly useful tool for commerce and local discovery.