Category Archives: Online 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.

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  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?

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.

Life with Microsoft Edge

Let’s just get this out of the way.  Microsoft cannot make a browser that satisfies everyone.  If you remember a few months ago, I wrote about how the excitement around IE’s demise at the hands of a brand new browser was losing its appeal to me.   At that time a look at the touted new features and work Microsoft had put into IE over the last few years left me feeling ‘meh’ about Edge.

Windows 10 has been out for a little over a month now and as promised, Edge is front and center.  Technically it does what a browser is supposed to do – show you a webpage.  Its rendering feels snappy and its minimal interface falls in line with what other browsers are doing. Actually trying to use it however seems like it is a very 1.0 release to me.   Refinements found in more mature browsers are missing, and in some ways it actually falls short when compared to IE.

Let’s start with my biggest annoyance.  As a web developer, I often times have to copy/paste part of the address for a task. To do this, I simply put my cursor where I want to start, and click.  If I needed “/web-development-portfolio” below, I’d put my cursor at the ‘/’

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So, what happens when I do that? Edge suddenly fills in a lot more of the URL and my cursor isn’t where I intended. The start of the highlight below shows where my cursor was after the click.

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Next, I rely on “Home” to get me back to some starting pages I need often through the day.   See the address bar image above?  Do you see a home icon? Nope, it’s not there by default.   Granted, you can turn it on under the hidden ‘Advanced Settings’ but it’s pretty well buried for people like my dad so I’ll get the tech support phone call when he finally moves to 10.    Ok, so it’s turned on – you would expect it to take you back to the page or group of pages define in the “Open with” settings, right?   Wrong, you get a single URL option that is different from what you see when you first open the browser.

microsoft3Speaking of the Open With setting, which defines what you see when you start Edge, what a cheap ploy by Microsoft to get traffic to their online properties. MSN and Bing both get top billing for the ‘specific page or pages’ option with a sort of cryptic “Custom” option that allows you to enter a URL 1 at a time for multiple tabs.   I know this labeling of “Custom” will be another phone call from Dad.

Finally, remember Cortana – Microsoft’s digital personal assistant?  As I mentioned last time, it felt like Microsoft knew they had a hit, so they decided to put her into every nook and cranny if it made sense or not.   To find her, you highlight text on a page, right click and choose “Ask Cortana”   Below shows her response to my selection of “CMS” on a certain web development company’s website.   “Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services?   “Food and Drug Administration”?  Thanks, Cortana.

Why isn’t the fact that I’m on TKG.com, which Bing knows as a web-development website, taken into consideration for Cortana’s response?  I would expect then to see information about “Content Management Systems” which would be helpful in the context of the site I’m currently on.

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I tried, really I did, for a week or so to make Edge my default browser.  In the end it just has too many rough edges and no compelling reasons to stick to it.  For now it’s back to the dynamic duo of Google Chrome and Internet Explorer as my browsers of choice.

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.

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.

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.