Category Archives: Digital Marketing Strategy

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.


  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.

Moving Pictures: Storytelling on the Web

Humans are social beings, and we have an inherent need to connect with others to create a sense of belonging and acceptance. You may have not thought about it in this way, but a large part of Facebook-Videothat connection with others is telling stories – everything from your uncle’s hunting tales, to reminiscing with college [studying] buddies, and even the “I remember” conversations you get by looking at your old family photos.

All of these examples are stories that build history, value and connection between people. Stories are so ingrained into our existence as humans that no matter how far you look back into history, every culture’s beliefs, artistry and writings are really just a collection of stories about hope, fear and knowledge that are passed from one person to another over the course of time. Our need to use stories as a connection and communication tool has not diminished with the onset of technology – not by 35mm’s, or even a pixel. The film industry alone is at $88 billion per year, only rivaled by the essentials of modern existence – power, construction, medicine … and Wal-Mart.

Do you have a story to tell? Video is a format that changes how a story is told. We live in a spectacular time when the tools to create video are more accessible than ever before. You don’t need an $80 million blockbuster budget or a 30-person crew either. Quality cameras are affordable (every phone has one), and powerful graphics and animation software is cheap (or even free!). The audience doesn’t have to imagine what you are trying to say, because you are not just telling your story, you can show them. You can easily have your own web video channel about parenting, how-to series about car repair, watch product demos, or have your own web cartoon – and place it in the palm of anyone’s hand.

As our culture changes, the way we consume information and tell stories will follow suit. Thanks to the Internet and smartphones, your story is now only a click or swipe away. The days of text-heavy websites – overflowing with tables, paragraphs and bullet points – are long gone. Everyone is busy and on the go. Statistics say 40% of us are engaging other people on our tiny, handheld portals to the Internet. Since time and accessibility seem to be the issue, I know I would rather experience a story in 30 seconds, with full-screen video and audio, rather than try to absorb the same story across four screens worth of 10-point Helvetica. I certainly do believe in the power of the written word, being a creative writer (and now blogging here on TKGenius!).

Writing in general will always holds its value with expanded explanations, imaginative narrations and abstract thoughts. A novel will always have greater depth and details than its movie counterpart. Unfortunately, I can’t process the novel-version of that same story in the same hour and a half with my fourth-grade reading speed. Video lends itself to the modern web because you can use focused storytelling to rapidly engage audiences with a complete story that can easily be shared on any web page, social media forum, or sent through email.

If you have a very clear message to convey in a short timeframe, consider video. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but video is worth a thousand words twenty-four times per second – and has its own soundtrack. We all have a little time for a great story. How are you telling yours?

Understanding Mobile First

Having spent nearly 20 years in the web development field, I was an early adopter and strong advocate of the “mobile first” approach that has recently came on strong.

It forces many good habits that, frankly, the industry should have been paying attention to all along. Prioritizing the right content for the visitor’s needs just makes sense.

Mobile first means exactly that – considering what is most important for smartphone and tablet readers to see when they reach your website from those devices. It is (and should be!) a different experience from the desktop.

As Geoff detailed in his recent “Mobile Only is Foolish” post, TKG definitely does not advocate the easily-confused idea of mobile only. Mobile only is very different than mobile first, and it’s easy to see where people may be fooled into mobile only.

Commonly, what happens in mobile only is that a desktop experience existed and then a completely separate mobile experience is considered. With this approach, the likelihood that the brand’s intended experience across devices becomes increasingly fragmented. What happens is you end up cramming all of the information into the smaller displays or just cut it out entirely. Just having a link to everything that you would on the desktop doesn’t mean you’ve successfully delivered the right experience.

Not to mention what it says to Google and your SEO rankings.

A mobile first approach takes more thought and time to plan, but the return is tremendous. Desktop displays afford much more space to play with, and typically require more bandwidth and technology to produce a desired experience. The beauty of a mobile first approach is that the core experience is maintained throughout the site, no matter what device your visitor is using. The mobile experience is delivered with the minimum required components and then is progressively enhanced as the display, bandwidth and technology allows.

Here’s your strategy for doing it right:

  • Goals: Mobile first thinking immediately brings to the surface the need for clear goals for the site. Most often a conversion is desired, whether that be a phone call, a lead form or an e-commerce sale. This usually isn’t a one-step path. And often, the goal(s) of a mobile user are different than a desktop user, so we must make accommodations for those realities. Some simple things are quick access to things like directions, hours or click-to-call. These are things you might keep available on a desktop experience, but likely tone down.
  • Content First:Again, with limited screen space, mobile first thinking forces our content to be focused on the most critical messaging. So, as your content is developed, key messaging should be separated from their expanded topic(s), while allowing both to be present for the visitor.  This decision-making typically bodes very well then for larger display experiences by allowing a great amount of flexibility when presenting content. Of course, to execute that focus on key messaging, the designer must have the actual content prior to design to properly present it for the varied experiences.
  • Navigation:Navigation menus can present a substantial challenge, particularly on large sites. Taking a mobile first approach again brings these challenges to the surface early on and facilitates the need (opportunity) for structural prioritization. When possible, simplify. Long lists of navigation are forced to be tucked away as a utility to the visitor to allow key messaging to remain in focus. Remember, out-of-sight is often out-of-mind. The saving grace is that if your goals are clearly identified and your content provides a supporting path, those navigation menus should be able to remain a utility (in non-commerce websites).

Contracting a reputable digital partner to redesign your website from a mobile first approach isn’t the quickest, but I know without a doubt that it’s the most effective. A side benefit is that you only pay to maintain one “website” instead of multiple, which means that Google stays happy too and you won’t get dinged on the search marketing implications of having multiple websites.

Invest in creating the mobile experience first, put focus on your goals and reap the rewards of a better experience for those interacting with your business. As with any change, it’s not easy, but it’s the right thing to move your business forward.

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!

The Glorious Callout Extension

Ad extensions are very helpful for people trying to find your website, or are searching for a site within the scope of yours. Ad extensions provide the ability to customize additional elements of your ad outside of specific page links.

Though sitelink extensions are the most popular form of ad extensions, they should not be the only ad extension used. Specifically, callout extensions can be quite helpful in conveying a small message to the ad’s viewer. A callout extension shows a specific callout message that you want to convey, such as specials, or features of your business that make you great. Remember, the goal is to help drive people to your site. One idea would be to use a callout that brings in regular customers or customers from your other advertising media. One other nice feature of callout extensions is that they do not need their own landing pages as sitelinks do. This makes for an easier set up of ads right out the gate for your new campaign, or if you have limited resources for landing page creation.

call out

As seen in the above example, callout extensions are in place saying ‘Free shipping’, ’24-7 customer service’ and ‘Price matching’. Not only do these three callouts provide incentives for someone looking at your ad to click through, they also allow for more description for your ad. Currently there can only be 35 characters per the two allotted lines of a text ad in AdWords. Throwing in promotional callouts allows for a more descriptive and keyword-centric ad, as they show up at the bottom and do not count against the main text’s character count.

The key here is to use callouts in a way that works best for your customers. They can be scheduled to show up at different times of the day, or to be mobile-specific. Some callouts could be used to highlight inventory, such as ‘Stereos, TVs & More’ or promotional callouts such as ‘New Deals Every Day’.

Callout extensions were recently added to one of our client’s ad groups in AdWords. Two of the new extensions were served up with the ads for multiple conversions over the last two months, where the data points to there being fewer conversions. It also shows a lower cost/conversion when these are present as opposed to the whole ad group statistics. In this case, one callout was used to describe the product further, and another was used as an extra a call-to-action. They may not lead directly to a page on your site, but they can contain other important keywords and actions.

Looking to implement callout extensions on for your ad groups or PPC campaigns? Watch this video for helpful tips from the friendly people at AdWords.

Want some help setting up your PPC campaign with callout extensions, or looking to improve your paid advertising results through AdWords? I just might know someone who can help.

Mobilegeddon: The Results are in

April 21, 2015 will forever live in infamy in the online marketing world. This date, lovingly dubbed ‘mobilegeddon’ by those in the industry, corresponds with the day Google implemented their new algorithm that favors mobile friendly sites on mobile searches.

Think about how many times a day you Google something on your phone. This is a huge deal for websites.mobilegeddon

Google informed webmasters that they were planning to favor mobile sites on mobile searches back in February and provided resources for developers to help them make their sites mobile-friendly. This created a two month long mad dash for web developers to get their sites mobile. Some succeeded, and some did not.

It’s been a few months since April 21, so a lot of people are asking what the real impact of mobilegeddon actually is. The results seem to live up to the hype. According to a recent study done by Adobe Systems, traffic to non-mobile websites from Google mobile searches fell 12 percent in two months.

Google is not messing around. When they said mobile-friendly sites will receive preferential treatment in mobile search results, they were serious. On top of that, Google recently announced that in the US, mobile searches now outnumber desktop searches.

If you’re reading this and your site is not mobile, it might be time to consider responsive design.

Responsive design is a technology that allows your full website to be desktop, tablet and mobile friendly. You can tell if a site is responsive by decreasing your window size. If the site adjusts to the size of the browser, then it’s responsive and vice versa.

Google’s mobilegeddon aside, there’s a more important reason to go mobile: it’s great for your site’s visitors. Responsive design allows mobile users to easily use your whole site, as opposed to having a separate mobile site that is a watered down version of your desktop site.

When users find your site to be easy to use on a mobile platform, they are more likely to stay on your site longer. This should lead to more leads and conversions.

The Internet is shifting toward a mobile platform. Google and customers alike are saying catch up or be left behind.

Need help making your site responsive? Check out our website and see how TKG can help.

Five Mistakes to Avoid to Ensure Social Media Success

Today, everyone and their mother is on social media. According to We Are Social, the number of social media users exceeded 2 billion in 2014, and that number is steadily increasing by the day. Naturally, there is a lot of selling power in social media. Brands are noticing this and are taking action.

While avoiding social media all together is not your best bet (unless you’re Apple), using it incorrectly could hurt your brand more than help it. Here are five mistakes you need to avoid to keep your brand’s social media endevours successful.

  1. Not Having a Strategy
    So, your brand has a Twitter account—now what? If you’re posting random content whenever you feel like it, then you’re doing it wrong. Think about what your brand is trying to accomplish with Twitter and keep that in mind everytime you post.Consider making an editorial calendar to map out all of your posts for the coming month. Then, you can schedule your posts ahead of time—this will make your job easier and keep your social media consistent.
  1. Posting Too Much Promotional Content
    When managing a brand’s social media, marketers tend to lose sight of what social media is all about—fun interaction. By simply putting out your brand’s main talking points and products, you’re not correctly utilizing social media.Finding a balance between engaging and promotional content is key. Try tweeting about a trending hashtag or replying to a tweet in a witty and humerous way. Humanizing your brand will encourage the most social media interaction.
  1. Being Impersonal
    We’ve all heard the auto-responses-gone-wrong horror stories (cough, cough American Airlines), but the lesson to take away here is to always respond in a personal manner.Auto-responses that don’t entirely make sense are hurting your brand. When replying on social media, it is important to display human characteristics like humor or empathy.
  1. Picking the Wrong Channels
    Before you create an Instagram account, for example, you need to ask yourself why your brand should be on Instagram. If the answer is because everyone else is doing it, you might want to do some reevaluating.If your brand does not rely on visuals, then Instagram might not be for you. Think about your brand in the context of the various social medias and choose the ones that make the most sense for your brand.
  1. Not Doing Your Homework
    On July 4, 2014, American Apparel decided to post on Tumblr to commemorate the America’s independence. This seemingly harmless act turned into a PR nightmare of epic proportions.Whoever made the post mistook the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion for a firework (don’t ask me how). You can imagine the backlash that ensued. Before you post, make sure what your posting is appropriate and the image you plan to use is what you think it is.challenger explosion

What it all comes down to is keeping in mind that social media is meant to be fun. Promotional content is not fun for you or your followers. Keep them engaged and entertained. This will humanize your brand and make it more approachable. So, have a strategy, pick your channels appropriately, engage in interaction, do your homework and, most importantly, have fun!

Need help with your social media strategy? We can help. Contact us to see how we can help grow your brand’s social media.

#ALLinCLE: Three Things Brands can Learn from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Social Media Usage During the Playoffs

Cavs blog post imageThe 2015 NBA season was a fun ride for Cleveland fans. Although the Finals didn’t turn out the way we hoped, there is still plenty of room for hope looking forward to the 2015-2016 season.

While the 2015 NBA playoffs gave fans a chance to watch LeBron James and company play basketball at the highest level, another part of the Cavs’ organization had a chance to shine—the social media team.

Whether it was Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, the Cavs were all over social media during the playoffs. Fans saw the playoffs through an entirely new lens made possible by effective use of social media.

Believe it or not, your brand can learn from what the Cavaliers’ social media team did during the playoffs. I understand you’re probably not in a business as glamorous as professional basketball, but there are plenty of things to take away from the Cavs’ social media success to help your brand.

Use of Hashtags

#ALLinCLE. This was everywhere during the playoffs. It was seen on t-shirts, rally towels, billboards and in almost every Cavs social post. The hashtag received so much notoriety that when people used it during the NBA Finals, Twitter automatically added a Cavs logo to the end.

Keep in mind that your brand is probably not going to have the luxury of Twitter adding your logo to your hashtag, but creating a hashtag and promoting it correctly will still pay social media dividends.

Let’s say your company is hosting a walkathon to raise money for a special cause. You could come up with a creative hashtag to use in all of your posts about the event. You should also include the hashtag on the event’s marketing materials such as posters and ads. This will encourage people to use your hashtag when posting about the walkathon.

If enough people use your hashtag in your area, it will start to trend and attract more tweets and potentially local news coverage.

Give Your Followers Something Unique

On game days, the Cavs would post pictures and videos from inside Quicken Loans Arena hours before fans were even allowed in. Their followers were treated to an inside look at employees placing t-shirts and towels on seats or players getting some extra practice in before the game, for example.

These are things that TV cameras don’t normally show but are still interesting to fans. It’s exciting to open up Instagram and see Kyrie Irving drain three pointers during warmups or what players are wearing when they arrive to the arena.

Your customers always see the finished product, but they rarely see what goes on behind the scenes. Social media is a great way to show your followers the process of how your products are made or highlight employees who are responsible for providing the services customers are accustomed to.

Going back to the walkathon example—instead of just posting pictures of the walkathon while it’s happening, post pictures of the set up or the people or place the funds raised will benefit.

Take Advantage of When Your Followers Post About Your Brand

Whether it was newborn babies at the Cleveland Clinic dressed in Cavs gear, photos posted by players or famous fans at the game, the Cavs were all over reposting or retweeting others’ posts.

The Cavs obviously can’t retweet every fan that tweets about them because they’d have hundreds of retweets a day, but they pick and choose posts that have prominence to share.
Most of the time, celebrities won’t post about your brand, (if they do, retweet, repost, share, comment, do whatever you can to promote that post!) but sometimes your customers will post about your company.

For example, if someone posts about how much fun your hypothetical walkathon was, repost or retweet them and thank them for their participation. This will validate your brand to other followers because people value others’ opinions (hence Yelp, product ratings, etc.) and will make the original poster feel even better about your brand.

The Cavs might not have won the NBA Finals this season, but they certainly won the social media championship. So, next time you’re brainstorming a new social media strategy, keep the Cleveland Cavaliers in mind.

Craft and market a creative hashtag, give followers a unique perspective and take advantage of when others post about your brand, and your brand will have the recipe for social media success.

Need help with your social media strategy? Check out our website to see how TKG can help grow your business.

Win Them Over: 5 Ways to Turn Leads into Clients

YesWe seem to be programmed to instantly be skeptical of salesmen, almost involuntarily telling them “no” when approached with an idea. We’ve all done it. Think of walking into a retail store and being approached by an employee asking, “Can I help you find anything?”  Chances are you replied, “No thanks, I’m just looking.” Why is that? We all know we could use some help finding whatever it is we’re looking for whether it’s a shirt size or a new marketing strategy.  Sales are the driving force of any company. I’ve put together some key points to turn those skeptical leads into clients.

  1. Listen, don’t pitch – Listening to what a customer needs is key. Knowing their needs and desired outcomes is the starting point for a promising business relationship. Put yourself in their situation to try to see the issue from their perspective. Make conversation, not pitches. This way they feel understood, not sold.
  2. Ask the tough questions- This part isn’t fun for anyone. It’s like enjoying a meal at a restaurant and then getting the check. Take your time getting to this point, only when you feel that you’ve gained the trust of the client can you ask the questions of budget, timing, or what results they find realistic. Offering different options for each of these keeps them comfortable.
  3. When in doubt, take a break- Sometimes the conversation can become a little heated, the negotiations can get tense. When it comes to this point it is better to suggest taking a five minute break to breath and gather your thoughts. There is nothing wrong with being upfront and honest. If you feel that being frank about the situation isn’t the best idea simply excuse yourself to the restroom. Even just a minute or two can help you and your clients keep a cool head.
  4. Be persistent- Some clients need more to win them over than others. This is where it can become difficult to find the line between reminding them how you can help them and being too pushy. Some clients may take long amounts of time to respond to emails, call, etc. Don’t give up, leave them reminders that you’re there and what you have to offer.
  5. Know what you have to offer – Never bad mouth the competition, but always know what you have to offer and how it will benefit them more greatly. Ask them what’s most important to them whether it’s price, customer service, quality, etc. and let them know how you can deliver.

At the end of the day you can’t win them all, but we’d sure love to try. Remember it’s not making a sale, it’s creating a solution. I hope this article provides you with some helpful tips and will help you get skeptical leads to say “yes.” Having trouble generating leads? We can help. Curious how? Feel free to contact us and ask any questions you may have.

Fading Excitement over Microsoft’s New Web Browser

My excitement over Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, is rapidly disappearing as more and more details emerge.

Originally billed as a replacement for Internet Explorer, Microsoft introduced some potential (and since removed) confusion when it announced that the browsing experience in Windows 10 would default to the new rendering engine and ‘auto-roll’ over to the IE engine when it detected legacy code. So basically, one browser with two hearts. Fortunately, the masses have convinced Microsoft to make a stand alone browser on the new engine, and leave IE alone to die in piece. Or have they?

I believe the driving factor behind a new browser is simply marketing. You see the IE team really has made drastic improvements to the browser over the last few versions. The problem is, no one cares.  IE’s image is tainted with the horrific days of IE 6,7 and 8, and no amount of work to make 9,10 and 11 ‘modern’ has been able to shed that negative reputation. So what is the answer to win back market share from competitors? A new browser.

Rather than going back to the drawing board and evaluating “today’s web,” Microsoft has taken the heart of IE, the Trident rendering engine, and rebranded it as “EdgeHTML.” Don’t get me wrong, there are improvements to the new browser, but I’d bet those improvements could have been packaged as IE 12.

Microsoft’s marketing for this new browser, Edge, is gimmicky and reminds me of “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” from IE8.  Don’t know what “Web Slices” and “Accelerators” are? That’s because they weren’t useful, and no one adopted them.  From

Accelerators. Accelerators give people easy access to the online services they care about most from any page they visit. Meanwhile, developers gain an easy way to extend the reach of their online services. Accelerators also allow users to browse faster by eliminating most of the clicks required to access desired content and services.
Web Slices. With Web Slices, people can see the information they want to see most often without going away from the page they are on, and developers can mark parts of Web pages as Web Slices and enable users to easily monitor the information they most frequently browse to, all while they move about the Web. Web Slices appear in the Favorites bar, where people can identify updated sites when in bold. From there, they can see a rich Web Slice visualization of their content with easy access back to the source Web page.

The touted features front and center on Microsoft’s new web browser, Edge, are “Inking” and are you ready“Cortana.” Inking is the ability to take notes over the content of a webpage, but seriously, how often have you needed to do this? Then there’s Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, that on my Windows phone, I LOVE.  MS has a hit with Cortana, so in historic fashion, that hit is being crammed into every nook and cranny, whether it fits or not.

My limited tests with Cortana in Windows 10 have left me frustrated and annoyed.  I can only imagine the experience will be similar with Cortana in Edge. Get me to Google and let me find what I need-  that’s it – I don’t need her (Cortana) stepping in to undo years of conditioned habbit.

Still not convinced that Edge is merely IE12 in a different skin? I’ll leave you with this comic pointing out the announcement of the new Edge logo, and the side by side comparison.

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