Articles

Voice Engine Optimization

Whether through a smartphone, Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri, ~50% of all searches will be conducted via voice in 2020. VEO is SEO on steroids. Ranking at the top is literally everything. While the first organic result on a Google enjoys ~35% of all click-throughs, only the top result is returned for searches on a smart speaker. Just the top three results for voice search are delivered on mobile devices. Users are 300% more likely to research a local listing with voice search. It has become the resource for on-the-go information, while walking, or driving. If you engage in Voice Engine Optimization, you can beat your local competition, in a major way. Here’s how to start: Maintain Your Local Listings Amazon Alexa is partnered with Yelp for local searches. Google is driven by Google Maps. Siri sources information from Apple Maps. The goal is to optimize your listings to make it into the Google local pack, and ideally into the Google OneBox. Add Long-Tale Keywords To Your SEO Strategy A text search for a close-by pizza place would probably look something like “best pizza near me” where a voice-based search would sound closer to something like “where can I get the best pizza near me?” Integrate the conversational phrases into your SEO that your target audience is likely to use. Monitor Your Site Speed Voice searches are looking for immediate results. If your mobile page takes more than 5 seconds to load the customer is 90% more likely to leave. Google requires mobile sites to respond in 3 seconds to be considered for voice searches. If you can’t make it, you may loose out. Provide Answers Voice searches are more likely to be questions. Google wants to provide the best answers it can in the blink of an eye. By…  

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Building A Brand

You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Brand identity is conveyed through visual and non-visual elements, including name, logo, color, shape, tone, tagline, typeface, and imagery. A brand conveys the purpose and personality of a business, product, or service. Strong identities are instantly understandable, relatable, and memorable, evoking a specifically targeted cascade of emotions. Creating a successful brand requires shifting the focus from ourselves to the customer, understanding what they want, need, and how they communicate. Brands evolve over time to stay relevant, adapting to changes in the market and consumer behavior. A great product supported by a strong brand will always be more desirable in the eyes of consumers. Effective marketing is effective communication. It influences consumer behavior and listens to it at the same time. Whether looking at an advertisement, or speaking with you on the phone, you want every interaction to be a positive emotional experience. Comprehensive marketing programs deliver the brand message, reinforce credibility, build trust, create an emotional connection, motivate engagement, and inspire loyalty.

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Customer Experience

80% of companies believe they provide a superior experience—only 8% of consumers agree. Managing this gap is considered the single most important success factor for businesses today. Delivering a positive experience with your brand requires that all client “touch-points” and interactions are optimized for both prospective and repeat customers. It also requires that all parts of an organization are aligned behind this goal. That’s no small task. Understanding  your customer is a necessity. Map the customer’s lifecycle, break it down into individual steps, then tailor the message and call-to-actions for every step of the way. Shifting from a customer service to a customer experience mindset is necessary to gain and maintain a competitive edge. Small businesses may feel challenged to compete with the standards of top brands, but they are usually more nimble, capable of quicker implementations, and strategically adapt with greater ease.

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Social Media Marketing

90% of 18–29 year olds and 71% of 30–64 year olds use social media. It’s an invaluable communication channel. Not all industries are compatible with this media, asphalt contractors is a good example, but many products and services that are “Facebook-friendly,” such as restaurants, salons, the arts, retail, and nonprofits can benefit tremendously. Social media offers superior targeting. Age, sex, location, interests are known variables, making your marketing dollars far more efficient. With 2.6 billion users, and still growing—everybody is on Facebook. If you’re not on Facebook, your absence isn’t felt. Even with recent troubles, Facebook appears “too big to fail.” Will it fail? Maybe someday, but not tomorrow, not next week, not this winter, and not next summer, so you might as well work it into your marketing budget today. Twitter has about 330 million users worldwide, attracting about a quarter of Americans. It remains a platform for fast paced, real-time broadcasting and sharing. Pinterest is no longer only for the ladies. 50% of new signups are men, but it’s still a place where 80% of women under the age of 50 can be reached. Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media platform in America. It outranks Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Pinterest is a great place to do research, window shop, and find inspiration. Over 100 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day! The demographic is younger, this where you can find 64% of 18–29 year olds. Instagram has passed the one billion active user mark worldwide. If you have photographic content to offer, get in there. I’m not sure how else to say it. Senior decision makers are on LinkedIn. With over 575 million users worldwide, LinkedIn attracts about 28% of America to publish professional profiles, network, and share content. This is where more…  

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Content Marketing

81% of consumers research online before making a purchasing decision. When you add value to a consumer’s due diligence/decision-making phase, it puts your business on a trusted footing, and moves you to the front of the line among competitive offerings. Content marketing replaces interruptive, promotional marketing with interesting and helpful content. Whether it entertains or informs, quality content marketing offers potential customers something of value, a positive emotional experience, and a lasting impression, which can lead to increased sales, brand awareness, social media shares, endorsements, and word-of-mouth references. A reliable stream of content attracts new customers and stimulates existing customers to reconnect, keeping you fresh in their minds, and activating the viral potential of social media when they like, comment on, or share your content. Content has a search engine optimization (SEO) value. Combine organic and paid online marketing to quickly deliver qualified web traffic, and maximize your return on investment. 86% of viewers skip video ads, 91% unsubscribe from email lists, 44% of mail is never opened, and over 200 million people are on the do not call list. High-quality content sidesteps these barriers and leads to directly to engagement. Our typical content marketing campaigns deliver 25–90% additional website traffic and a 35% increase in lead engagement at a fraction of the cost of traditional print, radio, or display advertising.

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Websites Are Everything

Your website is where consumers go first. It’s the single most influencing factor in a consumer’s purchasing decision. Usability, clarity, and overall appearance impact a customer’s impression about the quality of products or services offered. Their experience quickly determines whether a consumer will engage further, or look elsewhere. Design and content go hand-in-hand. Without quality design, visitors don’t take the time to read the content. Without meaningful content, customers are unlikely to proceed any further. When a potential customers  compares you to your competition, the web experience is often the determining factor. It’s the foundation of any comprehensive marketing strategy—ground zero. This is were you can control the message, provide key content in both short and long forms, and initiate transactions. It’s your global storefront, and it’s open 24/7/365. Your website is your businesses’ single most valuable marketing asset.

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Marketing Trends

Technological and cultural trends are quickly pounced on by marketing pundits and resold to the business community as the latest-and-greatest-thing to incorporate into a marketing strategy. What we tend to miss is that not every trend is appropriate for every market. Here’s a great example: It’s 2007, and Campbell’s marketing consultants are salivating over the metrics on blogging trends. Naturally, they launched an aggressive campaign to get people to blog about their soup. They push hard, throw plenty of money at it, and it didn’t work. Few are willing to blog about it, most who do feel somewhat ridiculous. It’s wasn’t believable, nor sustainable. Blogging was certainly the largest new trend, but that just didn’t translate for the can of soup. There’s a flip-side to this coin. Some trends are so massive and pervasive, our clients need to adopt them regardless of personal bias. We can help our clients to navigate these trends, assess appropriate opportunities, and evaluate ROI potential. Some of the latest trends in marketing are: Chatbots Programmatic Advertising or Smart Ads Conservational Marketing Personalization Video Marketing Social Commerce Interactive Content User-Generated Content Voice Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) SERP Position Zero Artificial Intelligence (AI)  

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All Roads Lead To Google

Google is so ubiquitous, it’s achieved that rarified status of being both a noun and a verb. They own web traffic. We’re not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing— it’s probably both—but the sooner you admit Google’s strength, the sooner you can benefit by aligning to their methods. Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) More than 90% of all web searches happen on Google—that’s 20X Bing and Yahoo combined. Optimizing your website for Google’s crawlers and algorithms is essential to ranking high in relevant searches and driving targeted audiences to your website. Search Engine Marketing or Google Ads Google Ads put you on the fast track. If you’re looking to quickly increase website traffic, call volume, or visits to your store or restaurant, Google Ads deliver instant returns, with amazing targeting, and unsurpassed metrics. Google MyBusiness A Google business listing engages customers through Google Search and Google Maps. Your profile page enables easy calling, messaging, getting directions, or leaving a review. Google For Retail If your business is selling online directly to consumers, a Google merchant center account optimizes showcasing your store and products for Google Shopping and across the rest of the Google platform. And there’s more: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Calendar—all extremely useful. Many of us incorporate them into our everyday workflow. There is no point in the near or middle future without Google playing a central role in your marketing efforts.

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Search Engine Optimization

SEO increases the quantity and quality of website traffic from organic search engine results. This kind of optimization is about understanding how the people you are trying to connect with are using search engines, and increasing the relevancy of your content to match their specific queries. The better you understand which keywords are most appropriate and tailor your content to fit, the higher your relevancy score and potential ranking. Google’s continuously crawls and indexes the internet, and stores their findings in a database. Google does not publish the size of their database, but estimates are that it is in excess of 10 exabytes (10,000,000 terabytes). When a user initiates a search, Google’s proprietary algorithms query this database and return the most relevant results in a fraction of seconds. How relevant your content is considered to be, depends on how well your website seems to match the search intent. This involves an exact or approximate match with the search terms, how many times those keywords are used, on what level of importance they appear on your page, and on how well your content is interlinked on your site and linked to from other sites. Google’s algorithms have become incredibly smart about analyzing search intent. The more relevant Google considers the content of a page, the higher it ranks on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Here are some of the factors Google evaluates for relevancy and rank: “Freshness” of content Frequency and position a search term in a content cluster User experience Links to related content Trustworthiness and authority on a subject matter Quantity of search traffic for similar queries Inbound links from other high-quality sites on the same topic Google’s algorithms are updated several times per year, making ongoing SEO a significant part of any content marketing effort. While all of…  

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Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is used to increase a website’s visibility on search engine results pages with paid advertising. Paid search initiatives allow you to compete for high-volume keywords which may be difficult to rank for organically. Beyond text ads, display ad campaigns leverage compelling images combined with the right catchphrases. Paid online marketing is 100% data-driven, allowing specific interest-based, demographic, and geographic targeting. The wealth of available data allows us to optimize campaigns, making them evermore cost effective and efficient. Google Ads use a pay-per-click (PPC) model, in a bidding format. That means advertisers enter into an auction and compete, one query at a time. The winner of the auction is established by multiplying two key factors: Cost Per Click (CPC) Bid, the highest amount an advertiser is willing to spend per click, and Quality Score, a value that Google assigns based on your click-through rate, relevance, ad and landing page quality. Getting your ad to show up is a success already. It allows you to be seen and drives brand awareness—for free. But the ultimate goal is to increase quality website traffic, navigate highly relevant search traffic to your website, where you can further engage them with your content and brand. As in all PPC models, advertisers only pay a fee if their ad is actually clicked on and the user ends up on your site. Why bid for expensive advertising space, when organic results are free? Well, SEO isn’t free. It takes significant time and effort, and a deep dive into data analytics to earn high organic rankings for your top keywords. Especially for newer, less established sites, it can take quite a while to develop enough content and domain authority to get onto page one—most sites never make it to page two. During that time you’re…  

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Local Marketing

97% of customers search online to find local businesses. 88% of local searches from a mobile device contact or visit the business within 24 hours. That’s good news! Considering also, that 46% of all Google searches are local searches, why attempt to conquer the nation when there’s low hanging fruit right outside your door? Local marketing targets customers within a certain radius from your physical business location or area of service. Here’s how to take advantage: Invest In a Mobile-Friendly Website: If you haven’t already done it, this is the place to start and the foundation for the success of any other initiative you decide to engage in. Setup A Google My Business Account: This is how to connect with customers in Google Search and Google Maps, enabling easy calling, messaging, directions, and reviews. Localize Your Website: Location-based terms and make your content relevant to local consumers. Whatever tone you set, stay consistent across all communication channels, social media and online ads. Claim Third-Party Listings: Maintaining your listing on Yellow Pages, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Healthgrades, Yelp, etc. Industry-specific sites add to your internet presence, domain authority, and improve search engine rankings. Localize Google Ads: Targeting the geographic areas and demographics most relevant to your business. Integrate local keywords into your search engine strategy and ad content. Localize Social Media: Set a location in your profile, tag the location of each post, and use local hashtags. Leverage Local Media: Leverage local PR opportunities, radio advertising, event sponsorships, and select print advertising. Leverage Your Online Store: Drive online shoppers to your store with locals only promotions or coupons. Local marketing tools broaden your reach, boost search rankings and online traffic, make your phone ring, and bring new customers through the door.

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Email Marketing

No matter what it is you are marketing, which age group you are targeting, or where they are located, email remains a highly effective way to reach your audience. Here’s why: Over 90% of people over the age of 15 use email—even 75% of teenagers (15-19) 99% of Americans check email daily Email marketing is 40 times more effective in reaching targeted customers than social media Average engagement rates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are just under 0.6%. Compare that to average email open rates of 22.86% and click-through rates of 3.71%. That’s just average ones. Really good emails can do even better than that. Inboxes are busy, crowded, and extremely competitive. We optimize every aspect of the email we send for our clients: the subject line, images, design elements, copy, and call-to-action to make sure they get the attention they deserve. And while all these details are very relevant for the email’s overall performance, we also need to keep in mind it’s just the first click in the consumer’s journey. Don’t invest in a compelling newsletter to simply drop the recipient onto a generic homepage. Create a custom landing page. Start the conversation in the email and continue it on your website with deeper engagement. Deliver exactly what the customer has shown interest in, and you can increase conversion rates by more than 25%. Over half of all emails are read and opened on a mobile device, making responsive design a top priority. According to Google, 61% of consumers won’t return to a site that was difficult to navigate on a mobile device, and even worse, 40% will visit a competitor’s site instead. The more relevant and interesting the content, the stronger the affinity between recipient and sender. The number one reason why people unsubscribe is because the are…  

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Marketing Collateral

“Collateral” is all tangible, promotional materials designed to communicate brand values and value propositions. We regular produce: Business Cards, Letterhead, Envelopes, Pocket Folders Flyers, Brochures, Posters, Door Hangers, Gift Certificates Packaging and Shipping Materials Sample Books and Portfolios Signage & Banners Direct Mail Postcards Decals & Car Wraps Menus, Loyalty Cards, Table Tents Promotional Products & Merchandising (Coasters, T-shirts, Hats, Pens & Swag…) In the virtual age, printed materials continue to be effective precisely because they are tangible. Real items: a branded van, the company logo on a shirt, handsome business cards, and “leave-behinds” like brochures work together, delivering a strong brand impressions and a trust-building experiences. The greater the number of impressions one has with a brand, the more ingrained it becomes, and more customers will turn to you before calling anyone else.

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Advertising

Today’s customers turn to Google and social media before talking to a salesperson or walking into a store. They research products and services, compare options, and read reviews. Easy access to virtual information influences what gets purchased, and from where. Successful advertising gets in front of consumers when they are looking for exactly what you offer. You will need a responsive website, optimized for search engines (SEO), high-quality content, that drives leads to custom landing pages, and ideally an active social media channel. Staying connected with existing customers via email marketing can also very effectively hit this target. Online advertising delivers instant results. Google Ads put you on the fast track. It allows you to immediately compete for keywords and search phrases that take a long time to rank for organically, immediately driving qualified traffic to your website. If visitors like what they see, they initiate a transaction, sign up for your newsletter, check out your social media sites, and come back for more. Social Media ads are a very effective way to get in front of your targeted audience. Social media knows more about its users than any other platform, allowing marketer to target demographics by age, sex, geography, and other interests. Social media also has viral potential, so when a user likes, comments, or shares your content, you receive a cascade of additional impressions—for free! Digital advertising makes it easy to measure results. You’ll know exactly how many people saw your ad, engaged with it, and converted. Traditional forms of advertising simply can’t do that. Based on the metrics provided by digital campaigns, we are able to modify, refine, and optimize them to achieve maximum impact at minimum cost. Targeting and reporting are a combination that makes digital advertising hard to beat, and therefore it should always be a top…  

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Public Relations

Is PR a thing of the past? Yes and no. Let’s take a closer look. 89% of Americans get at least some of their news online 62% of adults get news from social media sites, having surpassed print newspapers as a source Younger generations want easy access to entertaining, authentic, fair, and meaningful news Public relations manages perception, influences public opinion, or persuades to take a desired action through editorial and “earned” content. That is media coverage that isn’t paid for or self-created—third-party endorsements carry a lot of weight. With more news being consumed online than offline, PR and content marketing initiatives are now sharing many of the same goals. Online publications and social media have added new channels to the mix, with the added benefit of being able to easily interconnect, linking back to your website, and thereby positively impacting SEO and web traffic. But don’t through the press release out the window yet. PR has always been about storytelling and many journalists and online influencers continue to want you to pitch your story to them. A press release is still a convenient way to do that. Taking the time to develop your media list and pitches will pay off in the end. The impact strategic PR can have is unlimited. The right mention in the right place can easily lead to hundreds of thousands of new site visits. And, the value of inbound links on your search engine rankings can’t be underestimated.

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Video Marketing

Video blogs, video interviews, video presentations, tutorials, product reviews, product demos, video testimonials, and video ads—is it worth the effort? The answer is yes. 55% of consumers watch videos prior to a purchase 54% of consumers want more video content The secret to success? Be interesting. Leveraging humor, or presenting information in a sophisticated way are equally powerful. Video is multi-dimensional, with images, footage, animations, scripts, soundtracks, rhythm, transitions, and special effects. It’s the perfect media to meaningfully engage and leave lasting impressions. A successful print ad grabs a consumers attention for several seconds. Video succeeds for minutes, or even longer. When a customer feels they’ve learned something and been entertained in the process, they’ll trust your authority, seek your services, and recommend you to peers. Define your audience. If you know the targeted viewer’s age, where they live, their interests, how they consume content, and what stage of the customer journey they are in, you can determine what type of video you should make and where it should be published. View rate, play rate, social sharing, completion rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and views over time are metrics that provide valuable marketing insights, defining opportunities for optimization and future priorities. Creating video has never been easier or more cost-effective. Video marketing is within reach for businesses of any size, at large or small budgets. Many consumers respond as well to lower quality, “candid” videos as they do to ones that are movie-quality. A well developed storyboard and script that hits the right tone will streamline even complicated productions. Maybe it’s time to make video part of your marketing strategy?

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Reputation Management

Consumers look at 10 reviews on average before making a decision. If you aren’t actively soliciting reviews and achieving 4–5 star ratings, many customers will look somewhere else. Reputation management is the work of getting customers to write new reviews, addressing negativity and misleading reviews, and presenting your company in the best possible light. There are many online outlets where happy and disgruntled customers share experiences. The easier the access to your reviews the more likely the conversion. Ignoring or trying to hide online reviews really isn’t an option. 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business Content and average ratings that appear on a search engine results page, positive reviews on social media, and the manner you respond to any negative comments significantly influence a consumer’s first impression. Your online reputation is one of your most important marketing assets, as important as content marketing, paid search advertising, and search engine optimization.

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