Tag Archives: online marketing

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!

#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.

Better for SEO: Subdomains or Subfolders?

When developing a blog, the following question usually comes up:

For SEO, is it better to locate your blog on a subdomain, in subfolders, or on a completely different domain?

For those who are visual, the options look like this:

Scenario 1: awesomewebsite.com/blog

Scenario 2: blog.awesomewebsite.com

Scenario 3: awesomewebsiteblog.com

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that we are answering the question with the goal of maximizing search engine optimization performance. More specifically, we want to know which scenario gives a website the best opportunity to bring in organic traffic, increase the volume of traffic, and rank higher for the content. We are not factoring ease of implementation or cross-platform hosting challenges.

With that out of the way, let’s dig in:

The Google Answer

In October 2012, the Google Webmasters YouTube channel released the following video featuring well-known Google spokesperson, Matt Cutts. He essentially states that Google is smart enough to recognize that content from blog.awesomewebsite.com is related to awesomewebsite.com so Scenario 1 and Scenario 2 are interchangeable.

 

In February 2015, Google Webmasters posted a Google Hangout video that contained the same topic. At the 0:50 mark, the question of subfolders versus subdomains was asked during a Q/A session. This time, Scott Mueller of Google reinforced Matt’s point that Google sees both as equally effective options.

 

Real World Example

In January 2015, Timo Reitnauer of IWantMyName.com posted an article detailing a dramatic drop in traffic as a result of switching his blog from a subfolder (Scenario 1) structure to a subdomain structure (Scenario 2).

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His company followed the advice of Google, experienced a dramatic drop in traffic for the next six months, and then decided to revert back to the subfolder structure. The author goes on to state:

“…we decided it would be better for our long-term SEO strategy to put our blog back on our primary domain.”

The Rand Fishkin Answer

In Reitnauer’s blog post, he references a similar sub domain / subdirectory content migration experiment from Moz co-founder Rand Fishkin. Like Matt Cutts, Rand is well-respected in the SEO community. On moz.com, they tested moving an SEO guide from a sub domain to a sub directory. In a Moz Community Message Board topic discussing the content migration, Fishkin states, “The results were astounding – rankings rose dramatically across the board for every keyword we tracked to the pages.”

The topic received so much interest that Rand released an SEO video in February 2015 elaborating on this experience. The first four minutes of the video provide a great overview of how he came to the conclusion that using subdirectories (Scenario 1) is the ideal structure for search engine performance.

What Have We Learned?

According to Google, Scenario 1 (/blog) and Scenario 2 (blog.) are interchangeable. However, when switching from one to another, there are real-world examples of companies experiencing positive SEO impact from Scenario 1 and negative SEO impact from Scenario 2. What about Scenario 3 (awesomewebsiteblog.com)?  It fits into the same category as Scenario 2. Your content is either centrally located under one domain or it isn’t. Search engines like websites with lots of content-rich pages that frequently have new, unique pages being added. If your company blog discusses topics similar to the industry, products, or services on your primary website, we do not recommend splitting up your page count across multiple domains. Subfolders are still the best option for search engine optimization.

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3 Questions to Ask When Setting up Facebook Ads

Facebook AdsAs most of you already know, Facebook released a new algorithm a while back which made it harder for business pages to see success with normal posting and updates. While this has likely been very frustrating for many of you the good news is that Facebook allows you to run promoted posts and pay-per-like campaigns to help improve your brand’s reach.

We are seeing a lot of success and great return on investment for our clients that are running pay-per-like and/or promoted post campaigns on Facebook. Over the past year we have been polishing our technique and strategies and want to share a few tips and tricks with you.

1. What are your goals?

It is important to write down your goals before starting any paid advertisement campaign so take some time to think through what you want to achieve. Are you looking to promote a new product, open job opportunity, increase your audience and drive traffic to your site? Your answer to this question will provide the foundation for your ad campaign and ultimately control which ad type you end up choosing.

For instance if you are looking to increase your audience size you would most likely setup a pay-per-like campaign whereas if you are looking to promote a new product you would most likely setup a promoted post campaign with posts about that new product.

2. What is your budget?

Budget is important to consider and the great news is that you do not need to bankrupt your business to get positive results with Facebook ads. While we have seen budgets as low as $35/month and ones over $1500/month, often times, $100 to $500/month is enough to start moving the needle.

3. Who is your audience?

This is perhaps the most important piece to the puzzle. Take some time to think, not only, about the audience that your business currently serves but also the audience you would like to reach. Some important questions to consider are:

a. What gender is your audience?

Even if you serve both male and female it is important to think about who the decision makers are in that purchase process. For example both men and women enjoy watching television but most of the time males will likely be the decision maker when it comes to making the purchase. On the other hand, the female of the household will likely control the grocery shopping decisions.

You might being saying, “Wow they are being very general and making a lot of assumptions.” You are correct we are being very general and making a lot of assumptions and in this particular scenario it is important to think this way at least a little bit. The goal here is not only to reach a lot of people, but also reach people you are more likely to convert.

If you target both male and female and the male makes the buying decisions you might be wasting a lot of ad spend dollars for ads that are being shown to people who are less likely to convert.

b. What Age is your audience?

Age is very important when setting up your ads. We recommend setting your age range slightly below and slightly above your audience age. This might need adjusted as you go along or as you run different types of campaigns.

For example if Dick’s Sporting Goods was running a special on baseball bats they would want to target high school students and parents of those high school students. This age range could look like 16-35.

It is possible that a 15 year old and a 40 year old could be looking for a baseball bat but targeting 16-35 will target the group that is most likely to convert.

c. What is your audience interested in?

Do you have a large national competitor that has a lot of Facebook followers? If so, there is the possibility to target only people who follow that competitor’s page. It is important that this is done with integrity and in a way that follows Facebook’s advertising guidelines. For instance you can target those who follow a competitor’s page but you cannot add their logo to your images or pose as that competitor.

I hope that this article provides you with some valuable information about how to go about setting up your Facebook ads. Feel free to ask questions in the comments below and if you would like to talk to someone about social marketing contact us today!

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“Oh I Forgot I Had a Website”

Oh I Forgot I Had a Website ImageWhile it’s not likely that you actually would ever forget that your business has an online presence, but that might be what the content and look of your site tell your visitors.

We all get busy running our businesses and making sure we are selling products. Fortunately, we at TKG are thinking about your website and we care a lot!

We took a look and, trust us, we were equally excited about the big news you announced proudly on your homepage in 2009! Unfortunately, it’s now 2015 so it is not quite as exciting.

That brings us to the photos you have of your team proudly displayed in your About Us or Meet the Group section. Everyone looks great, but unfortunately half of them are now gone as that photo is circa 2005. Or even worse (better?), you now have 30 employees, rather than the 10 shown in the photo.

So all joking aside, what kind of message does this outdated kind of info and look convey to visitors?

  • Do these guys update anything?
  • Are they almost out of business?
  • Is this really a company I want to do business with?

Other recent TKGenius blog posts have talked about the importance of things such as technology, keeping up with browser compatibility and responsive design. What your site says (or doesn’t) can be as important as the technologies used. It’s why we don’t take a one size fits all approach with our clients at TKG. We evaluate what you have, take the time to understand your goals and strategize to make the right recommendations to move your business forward.

So remember that website you have? Go take a look. Are you proud of what it says about your company? Would you want to do business with your company? Is it time for a few updates, a facelift or maybe even a complete overhaul?

We’re here for you. Get connected!

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5 Online Marketing Tips for 2015

It’s never a bad idea to revisit your online marketing strategies and SEO efforts. Here are five quick tips to help with your online marketing initiatives in 2015.

  1. Building Stronger Content
    Need ideas for new web content? Review the submissions coming in from the comments field on your website’s Contact Us page. Additionally, review search terms users enter into your site search box. There is a report for this in Google Analytics and many content management systems also capture this data. Outside of the website, you can also ask your sales team for call transcripts from valid prospects. These are all great sources of information to better understand what is important to your customers.
  1. Find the Answers You Need
    Are you stumped on a technical or SEO-related question about your website? Visit the Google Search Help Forum to get answers directly from a community of knowledgeable Google users.
  1. Structured Data Checkup
    Does structured data make sense for your website? Probably. Rich snippets can be added to specific elements on a website to help search engines further understand information. There are snippets available for almost all types of websites so more than likely there are several that are applicable for your business. For example, there are snippets available to identify items such as navigation breadcrumbs, recipe images, product reviews, job posting locations, and the physical address of a business. Learn more at www.schema.org.
  1. Long Tail Search Term Content
    google-autocompletegoogle-searches-related Need even more landing page copy ideas? Pay attention to the auto-suggest results that show up when typing a popular industry search query into Google then write content to address the long tail results. At the bottom of Google search results pages, there are also helpful ideas in a section called Searches related to. Bing displays related searches in the right column of the results page.
  1. Keep Similar Keywords
    Stumped on which similarly popular keyword to incorporate into a page? Use both. Embrace synonyms, related phrases, and long tail phrases across title tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, URLs, page copy, etc to define an overall theme for a page rather than fixating on a single keyword. The days of finding that one magical keyword then plugging it into every single meta field are over. If it feels like you’re stuffing keywords; you probably are.

Have any other helpful digital marketing tips? Feel free to share in the comments.

Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?

More Traffic

Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.

So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.

Leads and Sales

There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?

Conclusion

Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?

What is the SSL Effect on SEO?

In August, Google announced that having a HTTPS site will help your site’s SEO. Further information revealed that this new SSL ranking signal would be slightly less significant compared to quality content. In response to this announcement, Raven Tools co-founder Jon Henshaw has encouraged internet marketers to test this switch before jumping into a fully HTTPS site.

Making the transition from HTTP to HTTPS is not as simple as adding an extra letter to the URL. It requires adding a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which is generally found on e-commerce sites or others that offer secure transaction pages. Switching a site to HTTPS has some heavy SEO obstacles.

Henshaw gives nine steps to follow in transitioning a WordPress site to HTTPS. Outside of the difficulty of obtaining private keys and certificates, there are a number of other obstacles to hurdle over in maintaining SEO. It’s important to first understand that HTTP sites and an HTTPS sites are considered to be different sites, not extensions of one another. Next is the need to redirect traffic from the old HTTP site to the new HTTPS site. Enter the wonderful process of de-indexing. The old HTTP pages will need to be removed, which luckily, Google will do once your new redirects are set up. This will take care of the regular HTTP, or non-secure, pages.

One last tip from Henshaw is that he doesn’t recommend switching to an HTTPS site if your site is performing well and bringing in a large volume of conversions. This secure site SEO factor is another best practice to be added to a lengthy list that online marketers need to address, or at the very least be aware of.

What does this mean for your site?

Don’t panic if your site is not entirely HTTPS. As with many other changes to SEO best practices, which change constantly, you won’t want to jump straight on the wagon. Take some time to evaluate the process involved in switching from a site in HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure any kinks are worked out of the process if you decide to switch. Have a plan of action (see above steps from Jon Henshaw). How intensive will it be for your site? If your website is new, you may want to go ahead and start the transition as this change would be easier to make, and you won’t have to make the change once your site is established in organic Google searches.

I agree with Henshaw when he makes a point about successful sites with high traffic and goal completions not needing to make an immediate switch. Though being proactive is not a bad thing:

  • Are you creating a new signup feature? Make sure it is secure.
  • Are all of your e-commerce transaction pages already HTTPS? If not, that’s a change you need to make.

How does SSL effect SEO?Security needs for your site are directly related to how much information you are collecting. If the main goal of your site is only to push content, you have much less of a need for security additions; however, if you are collecting a range of personal information or credit card info, you absolutely need secure pages.

Be sure to watch your website’s statistics in the coming months. Is there suddenly a sustained loss in organic traffic? Have you noticed a dip in overall site performance? If you are having these issues, it would be worth evaluating the switch to HTTPS.

Image Source URL: http://www.softsystemsolution.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/HTTPS-Secure-Socket-Layer.png

3 Ways to Tell a Marketing Company is Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke - Mirrors_700There are a lot of reasons for a business to outsource online marketing duties. Whether it is manpower, talent or the idea of the Google algorithm that makes your brain want to explode, we get it. But before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework.

There are some marketing companies out there who do a good job of using confusing jargon and the phrase “we’re working on behind the scenes stuff, you don’t need to worry about that” to glaze over a client’s eyes. When you hire a marketing firm, you should be hiring into a partnership. You should expect the same type of communication and back and forth that you would get from your employees. Here are three ways to tell that the marketing company you’re working with is all about the smoke and mirrors.

  1. They talk in code (sometimes literally). Reading a report from your marketing company shouldn’t require Rosetta Stone. Sure, there are some terms that marketers might need to throw out here and there, but they should also come with an explanation. If your reports appear to be written in Sanskrit with no translation, someone might be pulling the wool over your eyes.
  2. Everything is a secret. You hired the firm and you should expect transparency. These are your dollars being spent, so you should be privy to how many hours you are being billed for, how long certain projects take, and what end product you received. And speaking of projects, don’t be afraid to ask for a project timeline or how the company tracks and bills work hours.
  3. There are no numbers to back up the results. “The campaign is doing great! You should be seeing leads now. Your phone must be ringing off the hook!” Those things very may well be happening, but are they the result of the work of your marketing company? Your monthly reports should come with real numbers … numbers that you have access to view using a Google Analytics account. The great thing about web marketing is that just about any click on your site, email blast, or PPC ad can be tracked. Ask for numbers and educate yourself by taking a high level crash course on Google Analytics (shameless plug, something that TKG offers periodically).

Just remember, before you sign into a marketing contract, ask some questions. Learn up front what kind of reports you can anticipate seeing and don’t be afraid to ask them to cut the jargon!

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What Happened to the Art of Writing?

Sometimes I feel like it’s lost in all of the talk about content.

Wait, isn’t content supposed to be about writing?

Seems that content is often more about creating buzzwords and catchy titles over great messages and words. Anything to reel in a few good clicks, right?

Surely you know the catchy titles that over-promise while luring you to click and under-deliver once you get there: “10 mind-blowing tips” or “5 things you didn’t know that could hurt you – you’ll never believe #2!” Anything to get the reader to bite, right?

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Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, talked about this phenomenon recently in a session at Content Marketing World.

“Tell true stories well,” she told the group of a few hundred in the audience. “Put the customer at the center.”

Seems simple enough. Why isn’t everyone doing that already? Why are we in a race to produce things that don’t have meaning?

Handley went on to give some tips on how to create content that follows those rules:

  1. Have a goal and follow a writing GPS.
  2. Write with a strong, unforgettable voice.
  3. Write to just ONE person.
  4. See content moments everywhere.
  5. Give customers gifts (who doesn’t love gifts?).

All great and valuable lessons in content creation, right? Certainly tips that anyone producing content should be following and living by in order to produce great content.

But what she said next made me sit up straight in my seat.

“Writing is not grammar; writing is thinking.”

YES! What a perfect way to frame the shift in thinking that needs to happen in content marketing. We need to think beyond just creating content and actually start writing.

Anyone can write words (ehhh, well, most people…). But it’s the thinking that goes behind the words that carry the most value.

Thinking is why we (should) have content departments. Content writers should be there to think through what needs to be written, considering subject, tone, voice and messaging. Secondary to that thinking is getting the perfect words on the page.

“Better writing means better marketing,” Handley said.

All brought together by better thinking.