Category Archives: Content Marketing

4 Ways To Start Using Video To Build your Brand

Are you looking for some ways to get motion and video built into your brand? Here are four tips to get you started.

MoGraph

  1. Get an early start. Motion designers can help you tell your brand story in unique ways, and including them in the development stage of your brand be beneficial in telling the story of your brand. Remember, motion and video is an essential part of branding, not just an add-on.
  1. Team effort. Give motion designers, cinematographers and animators a collaborative opportunity to work with the rest of your branding team. Motion designers have a different way of thinking that can shed new light on ideas, and it’s valuable for them to hear the discussions of how your brand should come together.
  1. Be flexible. Allow motion designers the flexibility to push the brand in new and different directions. Often times a video can lead to a whole new direction in brand experience that can be retooled into web and print solutions that further push effective multi-channel marketing, thus driving brand recognition. It doesn’t hurt to play a bit and stretch into new territory. You never know how your brand could be elevated from the experience.
  1. Build a library. Lastly, give your work a place to live and breathe. Keep an archive of your motion projects online on channels such as Vimeo and YouTube. This can be an effective branding tool, and is nice to compile as your brand changes and evolves. Plus, older videos can still be accessed and enjoyed for years to come.

It isn’t hard to start integrating motion and video into your brand, and the payoff can be tremendous. If you have any questions about how to start the process for your business, give us a shout.

Who owns your content and why does it matter?

This shouldn’t even be a question right? Assuming your website or app is your own, it’s all certainly your content, right?

Not so fast.

Some platforms and approaches to websites or apps can rob you of the return you deserve for creating good content. Here are two very common examples.

First, we’ll look at rental websites. I can’t tell you how many companies have come to TKG over the years needing a new website with an urgent need to abandon their old one on a hard timeline. Often the reason for this dilemma is what I call “rental websites.” In other words companies that offer you a very low cost website for a minimal monthly cost. The problem with these solutions more often than not? The fine print. The provider is usually leasing you the platform and design, many times they even have rights to your actual content. They may sound fantastic: “fully hosted solution” … “turnkey websites” … “low-cost, do-it-yourself website.” They sound simple enough, but when it comes time to upgrade or move on, companies often find their hands tied when they realize they didn’t own their own website. That makes carrying your strategy forward much more difficult and expensive, especially if you’ve already gotten some traction.

Next, let’s look at subdomains. A subdomain is often used in inexpensive sites and some “apps.” If your site does not live at your domain, that can be a real problem. Let’s pretend you have a mobile site at a domain other than your own. It might look like “yourcompanyname.nameoftheappprovider.com.” From a search engine’s perspective, all of the content there belongs with the root domain it is associated with, which in this case would be “nameoftheappprovider.com.” So while you may legally own your content, the search engines don’t see it that way – and for good reason. This means that all the while that you think you are building, promoting, advertising and linking to all the great content in your app or website, you’re really just promoting content that isn’t ultimately associated with your brand. How much sense does that make? Some of these software providers may even attempt to tell you that Google and search are no longer relevant. If anyone tells you this, or you read it in their content, do yourself a favor and excuse them from your office and return to Google to continue your search for a digital partner.

I know no one wants to think about all of the geeky stuff that makes your online presence successful for your business. But it couldn’t be more important to get it right so you aren’t throwing your money away.

Feel free to contact me – or anyone on my team – if you have any questions about how it all works. We’re happy to talk geek, and can translate it to real English pretty well, too.

Digital Trends to Watch Out for in 2016

Digital Marketing WordsOnline marketing is a constantly changing industry, and with each new evolution comes a host of new challenges and opportunities. That’s why, at the end of each year, we take time to reflect on the year behind us, and think about where our industry is heading.

So as 2015 comes to a close, we’re putting together our list of digital trends that we predict will have the biggest impact in the upcoming year. Read on for an exclusive look into the digital trends projected to shake up 2016:

1. Increasing Need for Marketing Automation

Let’s be honest, most visitors won’t make a purchase the first time they visit your site. That’s because it takes time and repeat exposure to form the kinds of relationships that lead to conversions.

In order to facilitate meaningful relationships in 2016, it will become essential to filter content and tailor your messaging to meet your audience’s needs. Personalized follow-up content goes a long way in establishing relevant touchpoints with your audience, and could make a serious impact on your conversion rates.

2. Immersive, Interactive Content will be King

In 2016, interactive content will become necessary for a successful digital presence. No longer is text-based content enough to tell your story. Without immersive, visual storytelling, your content will simply not be as effective in 2016.

Here’s a particularly compelling example from BuzzStream: In 2013, the most popular pieces of content from both BuzzFeed and the New York Times had something in common. And it was not that they were well-researched, journalistic pieces. They were quizzes. And this trend is not going away. As we move into the New Year, effective content will need to actively engage your audience. Passive content simply won’t cut it.

3. Data Will Help Guide Digital Efforts

Consumer behavior has become increasingly complex in recent history, a trend that we expect to continue into 2016. More sophisticated data analysis will be necessary in the New Year in order to understand this complex consumer behavior and guide digital marketing efforts going forward.

If you’re not thinking about customer relationship management, usability or cross-channel marketing, you’re likely doing your audience and your business a disservice. By understanding the ways in which your users interact with your brand in the digital space, you are much more likely to be successful in your digital marketing efforts.

4. Mobile Marketing is No Longer Optional

The use of mobile marketing will continue to be one of key digital trends in 2016. In order for your website and supporting marketing materials to be effective, they must lend themselves to an easy, streamlined mobile experience.

Trust us; geo-targeting, social advertising and responsive design are not just passing fads. As marketers learn more about the ways users interact with their mobile devices, they will continue to push the envelope of mobile marketing – and it’s important that your business doesn’t fall behind.

From responsive design to social and content marketing, TKG has the skills and resources to help you prepare your online presence for the New Year. Contact a member of our team to discuss your digital needs for the upcoming year.

Have other predictions for 2016’s biggest digital trends? Share them in the comments!

Interactive Content is the New Content

What is interactive content? It’s content that engages your users beyond clickable links and calls to action. The 21st century website user demands content that he or she can digest, use and interact with. He or she is selective about which websites he or she engages with, and which websites ultimately get his or her business. While having those important written components on your website are absolutely crucial to pick up Google’s feelers, in order to add that extra “oomph” to your website, you should add some interactive content.

Let’s look at five ways you can add interactive content to your site:

  1. Photos/videos: They may seem so simple, but a good photo gallery of your projects (before, during and after completion) can go a long way. Add calls to action or invite users to submit their own photos of the work you’ve completed for them and you’ll have even more photos to add to your gallery.Videos also play a crucial role in developing interactive content. Use videos to introduce your company to website users, hold a contest (see below), demonstrate case studies, show your business in action or to empower your audience to take action.
  2. Social media: Your company should be have some sort of social media presence. Period. Whether you’re active among all social channels or just dipping your toes into LinkedIn or Google+, make sure you take the time to nurture your accounts and community management. Don’t take the power of social media for granted. On a smaller scale, social media allows you to easily handle issues with customers on a public forum. But you can also use social media to create interactive content. Invite your users to share their experiences with your brand. Ask users for recipes using your product or to submit photos/videos of them interacting with your product. If you’re a service-based industry, ask them to who their favorite person to work with in your office is. No matter what industry, there’s always a way to create interactive content for your users.
  3. Contests: Who doesn’t love to win something free? If your users see you giving away a gift card or product on your site or through social media, they will flock to your contests. This method has been very successful with some of our clients, especially those who give away branded or consumable products. Hold a contest online or through your social media channels asking users to “like” or “comment” or “retweet” your posts and just watch your engagement and brand trust grow.
  4. Challenges: Similar to contests, challenges pose another way to engage your users and to get them involved in your product. One of our clients, Clearwater Systems Ohio, a water softener company, recently held a “Drink More Water Challenge” that was met with great success. Users even took the challenge in a completely unplanned direction by boasting how much water they drank each day—something that wasn’t even written into the contest!
  5. Quizzes: If you’re appealing to the younger generation, a quiz is a perfect way to build brand trust and to interact with users. You can write your quiz to lead users to answers to questions like “Which product am I?” or you can write quizzes that are relevant to your industry, such as the quizzes we wrote for one of our jewelry clients.

Interactive content empowers your users through social media channels or through your website and helps them understand and interact with your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re a “fun” brand like food or candy or an industrial brand, you can absolutely benefit from interactive content.

Why You Shouldn’t Have Too Many Websites

When marketing your business on the Internet, sometimes it may be sensible to offer visitors more than one website. But in most cases, having too many websites can be a detriment to your company.

Over the past two years, we have been asked our opinion concerning having more than one website. Should your company have more than one website? Maybe, but owning numerous websites, we found, can cause lots of challenges.

4-8 years ago: the multiple website mentality 
There was a trend—especially with larger corporations—to create websites for each brand or for every whim that came out of the marketing department. For example, if a company wanted to market a new product or service, the quick plan was to build a website around it.

“It’s new. It needs its own website.” 

The concept seemed solid: let’s create one site that is all about this product or service, and Google will reward us for it. Oh, how times have changed. Today, that just isn’t the case.

Today’s web and business
Google has gotten smarter. The world’s biggest search engine can tell what type of device you are using, not to mention your location, your behaviors, likes and interests as well as the websites that stand the best chance of meeting your needs.

The Internet has changed; so websites need to adapt quickly. Today, your business or organization must have a web presence for everyone. Your audience is on all devices: desktop, tablet and smartphone computers.

Knowing all of this, how are you going to manage a website for each product or service well and manage the information each type of computer user is seeking (e.g. a smartphone user tends to want brief, bullet-point style answers to questions; a desktop user may want to dig deeper into the information, research, etc.)?

In other words, how can you give visitors to your website a great experience so they want to buy from your business?

Answers to the challenges of multiple websites

The following are some reasons why businesses should want fewer websites – perhaps even condense down to one site.

  • Mobile-friendliness – It’s important to create a great web experience for all users, especially smartphone and tablet users. This most likely means redeveloping your website in what’s known as ‘responsive design.’ This is costly and time consuming. Imagine doing this for every site you own!
  • Lower costs – You can save development costs and management time when multiple websites are trimmed down into one good site. Development is less time and money. Hosting is less. SSLs are less. Costs of labor to make changes, additions and updates are less when resources are conserved. Less is less.
  • Easier to manage – I would say one of the greatest expenses of owning a website is the time it takes to add and update pages. And to do it right, you have to dedicate time to manage your website. Otherwise, the site is likely not doing your company much good. Having fewer websites means less time employees will spend logging in, writing and managing text, photos and videos in multiple website admins. It’s much easier to manage all of your company’s content in one location. (Shameless plug alert: You can also save employee time by having us help with writing content, and managing your website – FYI.)
  • Search engine credibility – If more content is on one domain, and Google is getting really good at understanding what a business has to offer (not to mention if visitors to a website are finding what they are seeking), doesn’t it make sense that you might be able to leverage the strength of having more content on one domain to your advantage? If that content is consistently being updated in one place (instead of having many websites with some stagnant content – who can manage all that and do it well?), wouldn’t it appear to Google that your company’s website is well-maintained with fresh, relevant content for visitors? If so, we bet Google would reward that.

There IS a solution!
The web is challenging. Our clients are busy, and most have a website (or more) and multiple social media platforms to manage. The challenge is to let go of what you don’t need. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions:

  • Do we need more than one website?
  • Can we have just one good website?
  • Where is my audience on social media? (e.g. Are my customers on Facebook and Twitter or are they on LinkedIn?

If you have multiple websites and are loaded down with doing a lot but not doing a lot well, it may be time to find a better way to market your company.

Let’s get together and talk about your customers and your business goals for growth. Let’s put a strategy together for your website and web marketing.

Is Your Business Using Periscope Yet? (Should It?)

You can’t sneeze twice in a row these days without a new Social platform or app being introduced and claiming to be the best, latest and greatest thing that combines all of the things you love while adding better features and the ability to use it all while operating a Tilt-a-Whirl. Oh, and you MUST have it for your business or you’re a failure at pretty much everything, but mostly life. And your business.

Pardon me, I get a lot of sales emails. Ahem.

ANYWAY, Periscope is one of the newer apps that has been quietly and steadily proving that it really may be the latest and greatest and can be quite the cool little tool for your business. Here are a few fun facts: periscope app

  • It’s a live streaming app owned by Twitter that’s super easy to download and use right on your smartphone. You can also access and watch online (but what fun is that?).
  • It allows you to tune in to anyone’s live stream and interact in real time by asking questions or tapping the screen to “favorite” (which are in the form of little floating hearts that are surprisingly addictive and fun).
  • If you miss a live stream, not to worry, the streams are saved as videos on your profile which you can either save to your phone or send to your other favorite platforms, providing the user with multiple options for distribution and editing.
  • Want to connect with other users? Click and tap around on the map that shows you a worldwide (!) view of current livestreams.

Future Implications?
While, of course, many of the streams are random individuals sitting in their living rooms and watching TV (no joke), some streams are being put to great use. Here are a few of the cool/interesting/savvy things I’ve seen on the platform that I think have big implications for the future:

  • Breaking news. Get there before the news crews and you have access to events long before the pros. This kind of thing has happened a couple of times on the platform already, with individuals capturing fires or other events as they’re happening and documenting the process live.
  • How tos. I watched a bakery owner show just how she adds decorations to her beautiful and yummy cookies, all while taking questions in real-time from her audience. It was every Food Channel network show, but faster, “more real” and with less corny editing.
  • Celebrity and public figure live Q&As and talks. I accidentally stumbled on a Periscope of THE Sherri Shepherd as she and a friend sat in a dark theatre waiting for a projectionist to fix a glitch in the movie they were trying to watch. While she had a little unexpected downtime, Shepherd entertained an on-the-spot audience of hundreds while answering questions and making silly comments on her situation. It was hilarious and cool.

What It Means For Your Business
So what can Periscope mean for your business? Well, maybe nothing. If you’re like a lot of small to medium-sized businesses who are already scrambling to find and connect with your customers on Social media, you understand that as easy and as fun as it is to be a part of Social media as a user, it’s an entirely different story to use it well as a marketer. You may want to stick with your tried and true methods on Facebook or Pinterest, because it’s working for you already, and if it ain’t broke…

But! If you see a need in your business to connect quickly and in real-time with your customers, Periscope can be a great solution. How about:

…instead of waiting for studio space and a production team help to do the perfect, glossy how to on your latest product, why not give a quick live demo?

…you introduce new employees live and allow your customers to ask them questions and welcome them in real time.

…the head of your company–a well-known public figure who would never have time to write a full blog post for you–jumps on a five minute Periscope to say what he or she has learned lately in the business.

Explore Your Options to Connect
The options for marketing through Periscope are as varied as your imagination allows, and cuts out a lot of the legwork of recording video and uploading to YouTube, or taking hours to edit to perfection.

While this other type of video still certain has a heavy and important place in marketing strategy, Periscope is just like its Twitter parent, and allows for quick connection in real time to customers. I personally don’t believe Periscope is a flash-in-the-pan app and is here to stay for the foreseeable future, so it’s worth a look to see if it could fit seamlessly into your marketing strategy.

Of course, with any new thing that clamors for your attention in the landscape of marketing your business, the question isn’t “if” you should use it, but “why.” If it seems to fit with your “why” after a little research, Periscope could take you to the next level in your Social Media presence and give your customers a more intimate, connected look at the way you do business.

Don’t Do Anything to Your Website for this One Reason

One would think that Google’s own team of experts would know how its search engine works, right?google

While they probably know how their engineers envision it working, it’s apparent that there are aspects that even these leaders in tech can’t reliably explain.

As you can see from Jon’s post regarding subdomains vs. subdirectories, real world tests don’t play out as Google says they should.

Over the years we’ve seen numerous examples where real world tests don’t always match up with stated outcomes.

Another good example is the flurry over responsive design and how it relates to search engine rankings. Our industry–TKG included–is really good playing into the hysteria. If you’ve followed the industry conversation, you’d think that all websites that are non-responsive would have been removed from Google’s index by now.

The reality is that most sites are not responsive; Google, however, still has to return relevant results to satisfy its users.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe sites need to be responsive, but for the right reason: because human beings are accessing sites on mobile devices.

We have said for years to our clients, “Don’t do anything to your website just for Google.” If you’re doing it just because Google or your online marketing agency said so then it’s probably not the right move. Make changes to your website because it makes sense for your users and the search engines will have no choice but reward you.

Besides, it’s clear that even Google doesn’t always know how Google works.

The Rise and Fall of BlackBerry

blackberry_logo-brokenWe all remember the “CrackBerry” craze during the early 2000’s. Everywhere you went you saw both business professionals and everyday people typing away on a small device, the BlackBerry. The company had all of America in the palm of their hand, so what happened that we don’t all have Blackberries in the palm of ours? The fall of BlackBerry is still a wonder to most people. How can a company with almost 50% of the smartphone market in 2010 fall all the way to a measly 5% in just a matter of 5 years?

Blackberry was formed in 1984. Originally named Research In Motion (RIM), they worked in the market of wireless point-of–sale equipment as well as modems and pagers. RIM was the first to make the transition from pager to handheld computer and eventually to the smartphone we came to love.

In 1998 the first “BlackBerry” was launched. The name Blackberry came from the appearance of patented keyboard design which was easy for typing with thumbs. This first BlackBerry caught the attention of not only consumers but other companies such as IBM and BellSouth (which eventually became AT&T).

The craze continued to build as they launched devices slowly resembling more and more the Blackberry that commonly comes to mind when thinking of the company. With the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, BlackBerry made their first mistake that lead to their fall. Co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin viewed the iPhone as a toy and not as a serious competitor, saying that consumers don’t want to type on glass when they can type on real keys. They felt as though they had secured a loyal fan base of both business professionals and everyday consumers.

BlackBerry peaked in 2010 with an estimated worth of $77 Billion and a 50% share of the smartphone market. In this year they launched their first touchscreen phone as well as their most popular phone, BlackBerry Bold.

In 2011 Apple launched the original iPad which tested the potential of the tablet market. Trying to get a piece of that market, BlackBerry made their second mistake. By assigning more engineers to work on developing a tablet of their own, the development of phones slowed. Unfortunately, their tablet, the PlayBook, was launched and instantly flopped. This started the never ending game of catch up which ultimately caused their downfall.

In addition, BlackBerry delayed the launch of their new operating system, BlackBerry 10. Originally planned to be released in 2011, it was pushed back to 2012 which didn’t actually launch until 2013. Although BlackBerry had more experience over their iOS and Android competitors in the smartphone market, with this delay they had lost their lead. By this point, Android devices were into their fourth major generation and Apple iOS was on its sixth generation of operating system.

It is currently unknown what BlackBerry plans to do. It is rumored that they are on the search for a buyer, which raises more questions. Who would buy a company that has fallen so far behind? Will the company be sold as parts or as a whole? What will the buyer plan to do with the company? All these are likely to be answered soon.

As for now, we can sit back and learn from the rise and fall of Blackberry. There are clearly more than a few things that lead to their demise but we’ll focus on a few of the big mistakes and see how they can apply to any business.

  • They ignored the competition Keeping an eye on your competitors is very important. When you don’t pay attention to what they are doing you lose track of the direction the industry is heading.
  • They didn’t focus on their bread and butter – Every business specializes in some area. In the case of BlackBerry it was their smartphones. By taking away resources from their specialty and trying to focus on another aspect (the tablet market) they fell behind and lost what made them a successful business in the first place.
  • They didn’t stay up to date – The biggest and most obvious mistake BlackBerry made was not staying up to date. They felt that they had a large and loyal fan base and didn’t have to worry about having the newest, flashiest technology and products. Meanwhile, their competitors were making large advancements. By the time BlackBerry realized this it was too late to catch up and they had lost many of their “loyal” customers. A business can never assume that they have loyal customers. By constantly striving for improvements the chance of losing client base is greatly reduced.

In all honesty, it’s sad to see a company lead an industry and rise to the top only to be taken down by a series of poor decisions. But there are lessons to learn from the misfortune of BlackBerry. Keeping an eye on the competition, focusing on what makes your business special and keeping up to date with the industry we’ve all learned to be crucial.

Is it time to update your site? Contact us with any questions and we will be happy to help you.

6 Signs It’s Time For a New Site

The speed that technology advances is getting faster and faster. Once you actually get the hang of the phone you have the next model is already out. The internet is no different. From social media to SEO, it is changing daily. Website designs change to comply with the increase in mobile traffic and incorporate social media, content needs to be changed as visitors expect more and more visual content. If you’re wondering if it’s time for a new site here are some key points to take a look at.6 signs

  1. It doesn’t work well on mobile- Many older sites don’t load correctly on mobile devices. It is often hard to read the content or difficult to navigate the site. With around 50% of site visits being on mobile devices this means if a site is not mobile friendly, users get frustrated and a site may lose about half of it’s potential visits/conversions.
  1. It’s slow- Let’s be honest, we love instant gratification. Studies show that a page with a load time of 4 seconds resulted in a 25% drop in traffic. That may seem a little crazy but when it comes to the internet we want and expect it in the blink of an eye.
  1. It’s hard to update content- Content management systems have come a long way over the years. They now make it easy for anyone to go in and change content and keep the information current without needing a whole team to edit code to update.
  1. You’ve outgrown the site you have now- This point is by no means a bad one. If your business has outgrown your site congratulations you’re running a successful company! There are different reasons you may have outgrown it. Maybe you made the original site shortly after startup and have since added more services or products. It may be more difficult to navigate the site with these added items. Or perhaps you’ve changed the image of the company or shifted the primary focus. A revamp of the site to more accurately represent the business is a great plan to continue to grow.
  1. Users aren’t converting- The whole point of having a site for your business is to generate leads or make sales. If your site isn’t getting either of these but is getting decent traffic it may be time to consider a redesign. High bounce rates, short time on site, and low page views are pretty good indicators that the time has come.  There are different reasons why users may not be converting. Poor landing pages with content that doesn’t give users the information they were looking for, a lack of calls to action, or it could simply be because there haven’t been and conversions set up.
  1. No social media- Social media has become a huge part of business. It not only helps generate leads but keeps current customers up to date on what the business is doing. If your site doesn’t have links to the company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. you’re missing out on a great opportunity to interact with users.

If you’re having any of these issues, or if your site was made in Windows 95, it may be time to ditch it and consider a redesign. If you need some help or have any questions we are more than willing to assist you.

What I’ve Learned at TKG

I have been interning here at TKG for a little over two months. Sometimes it feels like time has flown. With just a few short weeks left I thought now would be a good time to reflect on my time here and what I’ve learned.

what ive learned_edited

With this internship brought many firsts. My first internship, I couldn’t have asked for a better company to intern with. As anyone would be, I was a little nervous to start the job. From day one each and every employee was kind and helpful. It also brought my first look into the industry. We learn all about business in school, but learning isn’t doing. The Karcher Group set a good program for a first time intern to lead me into the world of marketing and web design. Being that all my previous jobs were outdoor labor intensive jobs (such as grounds crew on a golf course) this is my first office job. For those who have worked both types of jobs you know how different they are. There was a period of adjustments and a learning curve.

Since being here I have worked on various projects ranging from social media libraries for clients to assisting in the development of a new site. With these I learned programs to complete the project including content management systems and Google Analytics and have become Google Analytic certified. With each project I find it becomes easier to know exactly what we want the end result to be and how to get there. I’ve also been able to see which parts on the industry I love and which parts maybe not so much.

They say that happy employees are hardworking employees. At The Karcher Group I’ve been able to see how true that really is. There seems to be something going on almost every day. With employees riding scooters through the office, playing foosball, darts, and pool it’s clearly a fun work environment. At a glance it may look like it is all fun and games but employees here play hard and work harder. In fact, each month an employee is elected by fellow employees and awarded the brain award for outstanding work and get to spin for various prizes from gift cards to extra vacation days. This is just one of the ways they show appreciation for the hard work put in by their employees.

As a first time intern I really had no idea what to expect. Going based off the stereotypical intern I thought I would be getting coffee and doing all the stuff around the office no one else wanted to. Within the first week I knew it was anything but a typical internship. I was already being taught programs and tools on the first day and was given projects shortly after. Although I only have a few short weeks left I have really enjoyed my time at TKG and am excited to see what I can learn in my remaining time.