For better or worse, the days of potential consumers utilizing traditional media and advertising are long gone. Today, a consumer has endless tools at his fingertips from Consumer Reports to Angie’s List to Yelp to Trip Advisor… The list is overwhelming! Consumers are more informed and more empowered in their decision making than ever before. Heck, a potential customer can walk into your place of business, conduct a quick search on their smart phone and make a decision about your business while standing in your store. As I’ve discussed a thousand times now, there can be a major advantage for small businesses in this new world. All the different social media platforms allow small business owners to create significant buzz around them. If you manage your web presence, this is priceless. Here are some techniques to reach these empowered potential customers.
Traditional advertising just doesn’t impact the way it used to. If you over package your brand, consumers will be suspicious. Potential customers put more stock in endoresements from their peer group. Like-minded consumers who share their experience because it made a difference in their lives are what get attention these days. Think of it as an electronic word of mouth endoresement. Paid endorsers have lost a lot of their shine. If he was around today, Joe DiMaggio’s days as Mr. Coffee may be numbered! So remember, “advertise-y” endorsements and posts do not build trust among today’s consumers. Personal statements from your customers are the impact statements on the web.
Social media diversity is the name of today’s game. Almost 90% of consumers almost always have their mobile devices with them allowing them to access apps anytime, anywhere. It is important you maintain a presence on multiple sites such as Yelp, Foursquare, Trip Advisor and others in addition to the usual Facebook activity. Do the work, stay active and you’ll maximize your business’ benefits in the social media world.
Consumers today can be a little greedy! WIth discount codes and free gifts with purchase, you may want to consider sweetening some of your deals. You’re working so hard at your social networking and mobile engagement, take your work over the top iwth some inventives. In fact, you can maximize your coupon/incentive impact by tying it to your existing social media efforts. “Join our email list for special coupons!” “Mention this ad for BOGO!” “Check our Facebook page for special discount codes!” One you may have started seeing more is the “Share this (Facebook or email) with your friends for an extra % off!” What better way to advertise than encourage your customers to tell their friends? It meets the consumer’s desire for organic endorsements from actual clientele. Everybody wins!
Obviously there are good and bad aspects to our social media world. While it has become critical to maintain a social media presence, it can help you remain engaged with clientele. Small businesses rely on re-engagement by their customers. One-time deals will not keep a small business afloat. Work at your relationships, generate loyalty, and LISTEN to what your customers are saying. While receiving a negative comment or review can hurt your pride, it’s also nice that you can immediately address it and (hopefully) remedy the problem while also maintaining your client-base. Marlin has pushed the social media presence for our clients for years, let us help you take that next step!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Since its inception, Facebook has proved itself time and again as one of the best social media platforms for return on investment. Part of the reason is the constant changes in strategy and technique. We’ve all had that irritating Facebook update that changes our homepage or our profile picture and throws us for a loop. As annoying as it is, that is exactly why Facebook continues to lead in a competitive, fast-paced industry. Let’s touch on a few of these features to help you maximize your business’ Facebook impact.
Dark Posts. (I’ve already discussed these but we’ll cover a few new details today). As previously blogged, dark posts appear in the news feed but do not publish to your page. This way you can push your content to new potentially different audiences without cluttering your page. You can also test messages through dark posts to see what works best. The goal here is relevance. The more relevant you are to your ideal client group, the better. You want users to engage with your ads and react to them. You can create these dark posts yourself pretty easily: 1. go to Facebook ads manager 2. go to Facebook Power Editor 3. Click manage pages and create post 4. click the radio button that says “Unpublished Post”.
Conversion Pixels: Measure your Success. Historically we have used ‘cost per click’ to measure Facebook ad impact. The goal is obviously to maximize impact while achieving the lowest possible cost per click ad plan. Utilizing conversion pixels can help you truly identify your best practices. To install conversion pixels: 1. go to Facebook ads manager 2. go to conversion tracking 3. create pixel 4. copy code and paste it on your website. Don’t worry, Marlin can help you with this!
Remarket your audience. The average of first visit conversins is is pretty depressing, less than 10%. But Facebook is helping with this. Their remarketing feature has significantly changed the game. The idea behind a remarketing strategy is based on the statistics that users who have already viewed your website are more likely to be interested and respond to an ad than a first time user. Set up your remarketing strategy: 1. go to Facebook ads manager 2. go to “audiences” 3. create a new audience 4. select people who visit your site 5. copy the pixel and paste it on your site 6. create an advertiesement and select your website custom audience.
The Power Editor. Facebook’s Power Editor was created by FB to manage multiple ad campaigns more efficiently. It can also help you create ads faster. There are some really cool advantages upgrading to Power Editor brings. Check it out: avoid character limits, write as much as you want; schedule times for your ads to run, maximizing impact based on your research; duplicate campaigns and test your audiences quickly; more dark posts!
I can’t say it enough. Social media is absolutely critical to today’s small business. The opportunity to manage your own page and for low to no cost advertise to your clientele is priceless. But you must maximize every outlet at every opportunity to get everything out of your social media campaign. Take advantage of these Facebook techniques and max out your social media profile. Let Marlin help you make it happen!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
The idea of a brand reboot can be completely overwhelming, even scary. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, Being around long enough that you need to shake things up with a brand reboot can actually be a sign of success. Longevity is a good thing but it means you have to keep up with technology and changing times. Hence, the brand reboot. Let’s break this down a little bit.
Timing is EVERYTHING. What this means is ensuring you’re rebooting for the right reasons. You don’t want to go through this kind of major change in response to a fad. You want to work with real changes in the business world. Business models are changing constantly in the digital age. Social media alone has changed the business concept by essentially removing the middle man when we want to communicate with a business.
Your reboot needs to include a makeover. Your website, logo, business cards, etc are your brand. What better way to make sure everyone knows you’re changing than to bring out a new logo and design scheme? You’re changing and everyone should know it. With the internet the marketplace is crowded. It has become very easy for small businesses and individuals to create an online presence and clutter up the works. Your bold change will bring attention to your business.
While your makeover’s visibility is important and shows your changes, you need to be able to explain them simply and clearly. Think about the marketplace right now. Domino’s Pizza is no longer Domino’s Pizza. They created an entire ad campaign to explain they’ve dropped Pizza from their storefronts to reflect all of the other products they now offer. Starbucks dropped coffee from its name for the same reason. Companies are branching out and want to avoid being pigeon-holed into one product or idea. You must strike a careful balance with your reboot. It shouldn’t be superficial or shallow but you need to be able to explain it succinctly and with conviction.
Now that you’re committing to a reboot, you want to establish any elements of your brand that have a strong connection for your customers and keep them as you update. Think about major reboots over the years and the elements that never change. Sticking with Starbucks and Domino’s, even though they changed part of their names, the logo is the same, the colors are the same. You can still identify a Starbucks cup just by seeing the round green logo. When you’re in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language, you still know that cup! So don’t start from scratch. Don’t throw away everything you’ve built up. Decide what you want to see change and be clear on what you want to keep.
Test your plan. Then test it again. Then test it again. Get my drift? Talk to employees, customers, competitors, anyone and everyone who will give you feedback on your current brand and any ideas you have for your reboot. Don’t just rely on YOUR gut. Someone may surprise you and completely change your perspective. Remember, your reboot is aimed at impacting your customers so you need to make sure you’re listening to them!
Good luck! Brand reboots don’t have to be scary. Commit to your change and keep an open mind during the process. Marlin can help!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Over the years it has become more and more clear that one of the best ways to build your brand is to connect with your clients, both existing and potential. So how do we do that? You want to bring a human edge to your business and your advertising, and that can be tricky. How do you tell the world about all your business can offer while introducing yourself and developing a personal relationship? One of the best examples I’ve encountered is to follow the “5 C’s”. We’ll break it down below.
CHARACTERS. Introduce your barnd through the voices of real people. It can be anyone involved with you company; customers, you, suppliers, employees. You can take inspiration from several commercials on television today. Think about Florida Orange Juice. Their commercials are often out in the orchards with the farmers and their employees harvesting the oranges we end up drinking at breakfast. It reminds consumers of the human side of business. And that gives most people a feeling of connection to their products.
CONFLICT. In a literature or theatre class we are taught that conflit is the essential element of drama, and drama is the essential element of keeping your audience interested. Consider this, you created your product or service to meet a need you saw as unfulfilled. Gaps like that are conflicts or problems. Your goal as a business is to resolve the conflict, active or passive, that exists in your marketplace.
CURE. Building off the previous “C”, cure. You cure the conflict. You meet the existing need and add value to a potential client’s situation. Improve their life!
CHANGE. This change applies to your clientele. If you cure their conflict (See what I did there?) you have CHANGED their lives. They have improved their lives and the goal is their lives will not be the same. Change them. Become a part of their lives.
CARRYOUT Message. The final piece of your 5 C’s is a tough one. The idea here is to identify the takeaway for your people. Every person involved with or impacted by your business needs to be able to understand what your business is doing in their lives.
Your customers are your BEST publicity source, good or bad. Nothing can match that. We consider our business model from the perspective of our bottom line very easily. The challenge (I snuck another C) is to remember the human aspect. If you put the people first, success will follow. Product alone will not carry the day. Take care of the people from your employees to your suppliers to your customers and you will become a trusted, important part of their world.
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Backlinks are one of the most important things you can do for your business. Essentially, backlinks are links from another website that brings consumers back to your page. This will bring more people to your website and search engines will pick up your site more often through the click activity. Backlinks are critical to your website. When search engines see that you have a lot of good backlinks on several different webpages you’ll move higher on the search engine’s returns.
There are several different strategies you can utilize to build your backlink network. Some of the more common ones are guest blogging, press releases, and article marketing. Guest blogging is just what it sounds like. Find blogs that are relevant to your business and see if they will allow you to guest post on their site. Press releases are fairly self-explanatory, as well. Write one up and fill it up with some backlinks! Article marketing is another excellent tool in your backlink toolbox. Write up articles about your business and submit them to directory websites. You can put your website in the resources and draw clientele to your site that way.
Backlinks are an excellent way to improve your reputation with search engines as well as maximize your exposure to new and existing clientele. Good luck!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Email Marketing – Composing an email campaign
Writing a good email campaign that works isn’t magic. It’s about simplicity. If your copy doesn’t try to play games with your client base and targets your audience, you will have successful email copy.
You don’t have to be an expert to engage your audience, merely someone who understands campaign objectives and can appropriately adapt your language to the situation. You already do it when you talk to a new client. Do you speak to new clients the way you speak to your friends? That said, no matter what your language has to be authentic. If you create a dialogue, regardless of subject matter, you will develop a more genuine interaction with your clientele.
There are several different ways to create your campaign but a couple points remain the same. Get to the point; don’t dilly-dally when you’re trying to get someone’s attention. Most readers won’t read an entire email so it’s critical you highlight key points. Once you have their attention, inspire them. All your work will be for naught if you can’t motivate potential clients to action. Compel them to explore your site and get involved in your business.
Finally, don’t be afraid if your campaign doesn’t work perfectly right away. It’s critical that you test, learn and improve on your efforts. Proofread your work, have others take a look at it for fresh perspective. As you build your campaign, compare the success of your different emails and see what works best. Build your brand!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Dark Posts as FacebookAdvertising; A new way to reach your customer base
Dark posts sound sinister but they’re incredibly effective and growing quickly in popularity. A dark posts doesn’t show in your timeline, it appears in the newsfeeds of SPECIFIC people you designate. Because it appears in someone’s newsfeed they are more likely to acknowledge the ad than the ads that run down the right side of a Facebook page.
Dark posts can include updates, links, photos, or video like normal user posts. Embedding a link in a dark post can drive customers to your website to learn more about you. You can shape content for specific types of users such as targeting by location, age, gender, or interests. The ability to customize your ad helps you avoid one-size-fits-all ads that don’t draw the same level of interest from users.
With dark posts you can test content without showing your entire hand to your potential audience. Dark posts can help you avoid coming off as spam but you should maintain standard social media etiquette. You can receive comments and likes and users can share your dark posts like regular user posts. That said, it is critical you monitor your dark posts. If you don’t keep up with them, potential customers will lose interest due to lack of attention.
As always, Facebook advertising can be a double-edged sword. Comments, reviews, and photos are great when they’re positive, until they’re not. Stay on top of your Facebook reputation; respond quickly when there’s an issue. Take control and be proactive instead of reactive. Dark posts can be a quick way to get your online identity up and running if you handle it the right way!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Two pillars of SEO strategy have been the same for years: quality content and inbound links. A third key element has joined the ranks of these two elements: the now ubiquitous social media. Many business owners remain slow to pick up the social media torch, this may be due to the fact that social media wasn’t even around when SEO got rolling on the World Wide Web.
Today social media is pervasive across our entire culture and it provides a whole new way to distribute and reach existing and potential clients. Social media has become the fastest-growing ranking factor on search engines. Now that we’ve identified the three pillars, let’s go into some more detail.
Content strategy goes beyond great content. It covers the current and future content on your site as well as ensuring it’s optimized for SEO and follows technical best practices.
Before you attempt strategic content, you must understand your potential client as well as keywords they may be searching. Keyword data can be an excellent tool to fill gaps in your content. What are users in your market looking for? Is there a particular word or phrase that could bring in new clientele?
Great content will shape user experience. A well produced, regularly maintained blog will build your reputation for trustworthy, quality work. All of this leads to more meetings, potential sales, inbound links, social media attention, and overall increase in your company’s online success. You have to provide interesting, eye-catching content to your readers or they will look elsewhere.
Link building is the process of utilizing SEO tactics to create links from other websites to bring new readers to your website. Hence, inbound links. As always, quality and quantity is a huge factor in link building. Quality always trumps quantity in the world of SEO. Weak links will not bring in new traffic; you have to entice your potential clients.
Social media is a favorite topic of mine because it is literally a gold mine. IF you use it correctly. I can’t say it enough, social media can allow you to interact with your customers and build relationships with them. You can create a feeling of camaraderie while driving traffic to your page. The application of social media is not the same for every company. Target market, location, product, all of these things can and will impact your use of social media to reach out to your market.
In today’s world, you must give attention to all three pillars of the trade. The tripod of SEO must all receive equal balance in order to support your online marketing efforts. Let Marlin Consulting build your online presence!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Happy New Year! For my last post of 2014 I thought I’d touch on one of the most ubiquitous pieces of technology in our world today: the smart phone. It feels like we’re being overrun by mobile devices, from smart phones to tablets. Today’s smart phones are running such high level operating systems they have become one of the best places for businesses to reach out and interact with their customers. Web design companies have a new level of importance in this mobile friendly world. Your website must translate to smart phone internet surfers in order to maximize your footprint. In fact, large companies have made this jump quite smoothly and quickly. Small businesses have lagged behind on this technology leap.
Statistics show the number of smart phones GLOBALLY is growing at unprecedented speeds. Keeping in touch with people is now just a small part of our mobile phone usage. Think about what you can do with your smart phone: make purchases in a store, get on an airplane, deposit checks, take pictures and load them to social media (the selfie. Who saw that coming?) Along this new line of thinking is the opportunity to communicate with your clientele. Many of our clients utilize email newsletters for their customers. Have you considered text messages? One of my favorite sushi restaurants in Jacksonville texts out their specials at least once a week. And it works. I have changed my plans more than once for them.
Regular websites don’t just magically work on a smart phone. It’s critical that your web design company is capable and prepared to develop your mobile site in addition to your regular computer-based site. There are so many opportunities created simply by developing your mobile-friendly site. Research has proven users are discouraged from a company if their website is difficult to navigate from a smart phone. Another unexpected benefit to a good mobile site? Improved search engine rankings. When someone conducts a search on their mobile phone search engines will provide them first with sites that will work on their smart phone.
I can’t overstate how important your mobile presence is in today’s smart phone world. From search engine optimization to online purchases to dinner reservations, the mobile world is becoming a larger and larger part of the web design business plan. Start 2015 with a bang and get your website ready for mobile users! Give us a call and Happy New Year!
Source: MarlinCS Blog
Believe it or not, the World Wide Web has been around for decades now but a surprisingly large number of small businesses don’t think that they need to have websites. People running small businesses give all sorts of excuses to avoid creating their own websites. However, the benefits of an online presence should not be ignored. Contracting the services of a web design company is guaranteed to change the way an entrepreneur carries out his business.
Business owners should know that buyers today pre-qualify businesses they might work with later. They do this by simply visiting the business website of a company. According to a study done by Hubspot marketing agency, a whopping 78% of internet users find out about products online before initiating a purchase transaction. This figure also applies to people looking for local businesses.
Think about your own purchase transactions. How many times have you searched a product or business online before going ahead to buy something? The Internet is a free source of information which influences consumers. Not having an online presence therefore hurts businesses whether they know it or not. Making your presence felt on the web is not as difficult as it used to. A business in Florida for instance can contact a Jacksonville Webdesign Company to make its name on the Internet. With a website a business will no longer miss out on the most crucial part of business which the getting found part.
Don’t let your competitors get ahead of you
More and more web-savvy companies are coming up and there is a good chance that one of those companies is your competitor. If your competitor is more active than you on the web, you are going to miss out on business. Companies whose products might be worse than yours understand that people are quick to judge a book by its cover. Therefore, if their website kicks your website’s butt, consumers will end up buying from your competitor. You must be picky when choosing a web design company. A local, plugged-in, experienced St Augustine Webdesign firm is better than an obscure company operating from God-knows-where.
Control the conversation
Whether or not you have a website, there are likely some conversations on the Internet regarding your business. Even if you have never hired a Jacksonville Webdesign Company to make a website for you, your web presence is already there thanks to your customers. People now leave reviews of businesses on websites such as Google review, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. Social media is another place where you cannot prevent people from saying whatever they want about your business. Even thought you can’t control what people say, you can respond to things said about you and potentially develop or improve relationships with your customer base. You can respond to reviews about you and introduce product improvements to fix previous negative feedback. You can only do such things with a website of your own. Let Marlin help you break out of the crowd and create your new website today!
Source: MarlinCS Blog