Archive for Branding and Marketing

Facebook Pages Offer an Online Store – Do I Still Need a Website?

A while back, Facebook partnered with Shopify to create a “Shop” section for Facebook Pages. This enabled businesses to sell their products directly, making it a little easier for some of those businesses to have their Pages become true online stores. If your visitor clicks on a product, they can either be pushed from Facebook to your primary website, or you can let them check out directly on Facebook. Payment processing and transaction tracking is handled by Shopify. Facebook will not (at least for now) take a cut for items sold on the site. So the question is; do you still need a website if you’re selling on Facebook?
The answer is a resounding YES. And here’s why;

It may be hard to envision, but Facebook could eventually lose favor. As social media continues to evolve, other sites, like Google+, may become more popular or an entirely new site or technology not created yet may emerge. It’s impossible to predict. But by choosing Facebook instead of a website, you are favoring the short-term over the long-term. You are investing your time and energy in a platform that may not pay you back over time. It may benefit your short term goals but you can never be sure that it’s going to benefit your longer term goals.

In the meantime, without a website, people who don’t use Facebook become incredibly difficult to identify and reach. Not to mention that they may not be able to find you as easily.

You can’t control what Facebook does with its design, its user interface, its functionality, or ad displays. You’re limited in how you can optimize the experience, and your insights (or metrics) are only what Facebook itself decides to pass onto you. Using Google Analytics on your website provides many valuable metrics to help understand your visitors so you can make the most out of your site.

Many businesses received a rude awakening when Facebook adjusted its algorithms so that only the most popular status updates would be seen by most fans of a page. Statistics range anywhere between 8% – 16% of fans see your posts. If you want to reach ALL fans who’ve liked your page, you now have pay for it. If you post 40 times per month, you could spend hundreds of dollars per month to get your message to all your fans.

That said, it’s true that Facebook, with over 1 billion users, has attractive qualities to anyone building an online presence. So you can’t ignore Facebook, but just realize that you don’t call the shots.
At the end of the day, a website is the most effective way to deliver information to your audience. It is a storehouse of information, customized in any way that you choose, to deliver information to your current and potential customers. This is because you are in total control over what is presented.

When people seek information, they usually use Google, or another search engine, to find it. People won’t be inclined to visit Facebook if they have a specific goal or information they’re seeking. Why? Because Facebook is a connection tool for people to stay in touch in a very organic way. It’s not about structured information delivery, but conversation and social engagement. At least that is the current perception. A website, on the other hand, serves as a hub for all people who are interested in your work and are seeking more information or updates directly from you. It doesn’t matter if they heard about you online or offline, people are trained to use their mobile devices, tablets, and desktops to search for more information, and your website is a 24/7/365 resource waiting for them.

Many times, people find out that you’re on Facebook because they’ve visited your website, which also offers many other benefits for your visitors. Aside from having an e-mail newsletter, you may offer ancillary materials they would enjoy, such as additional resources, e-books, Q&A, etc.

Sure, you may need to invest some money for a developer to build your website and assist with an upgrade, redesign or functionality add-ons over time. But for anyone with a long-term goal, this is one of the best and most critical investments you can make.

So yes, use Facebook as ONE of the many arrows in your quiver of marketing methods but don’t discount the need for a website. You might be cutting off your nose to spite your face (as my Mom used to say), and end up being sorry in the long run.

What is Retargeting?

Most people become aware of retargeting when they are see oddly familiar advertisements. Like when you look up that new gizmo on Amazon but leave without purchasing it, then the next time you visit Facebook, bam! There’s an ad for that gizmo right there in your newsfeed saying “Click Here to Purchase on Amazon”.
It is a very simple concept. As implied by its name, retargeting is when you continue to market to people after they leave your site without achieving your desired outcome.

How does it work?
When a visitor come to your website, a specific cookie is placed on their computer. This cookie allows you to target that visitor through a variety of advertising channels including Facebook, Google AdWords, and Twitter. The cookie is placed on the visitor’s computer through a simple script that you add to your website.

 

Retargeting

Is it difficult?
Not really, there are tools available that make the process fairly simple. BUT – it can backfire if overused. Have you ever gone to a merchant’s website, maybe a restaurant website or even some other online shopping site and now their ads are following you all over the internet? Even on Facebook? And Twitter? Relentlessly? It can be quite frustrating. Retargeting is great for business, but it can be very annoying in some cases.

Can you stop it?
There are ways to stop being the target. One way is to clear your web browser’s cache and cookies. Depending on which web browser you’re using, there are different ways of doing that. The problem here is that you have to do it quite frequently. Another is to stop accepting cookies all together, but this too can become burdensome for those sites that you visit often as you then have to re-enter the same information each time you visit because the cookies store site specific data so that you don’t have to re-enter it each time you visit.

The business perspective
Retargeting is a great way to stay “front of mind” with your customer base. However, there are many things to consider when thinking about starting a retargeting campaign. Things like; budget, technical aspects, strategy, ad design, frequency, landing pages, conversion goals, ad filtering, domain filtering… and the list goes on and on.

Before you begin, check your house and make sure it’s clean
Retargeting is only one piece in your marketing arsenal. Its effectiveness is relative to the rest of your marketing channels. Make sure there is not some underlying problem with your business before attempting to send visitors back to your site once they’ve left. If they are leaving your site without converting, you need to understand why.

How do you know if there is a problem?
Analyze the data you have available. Here are a few things to consider before launching a retargeting campaign:

  • Check Google Analytics
    1. What is your bounce rate?
    2. How much time does the average user spend on the site?
    3. How many pages do they visit?
  • Is your site responsive?
  • Check your competition
    1. Do your competitors have a better product?
    2. Do your competitors offer better pricing?
    3. Is their website better than yours?
  • Focus on Customer Feedback
    1. What do customers tell you about your business?
    2. What do reviews from third party sites tell you?

If your website is sub-par, all the money you spend on retargeting strategies will most likely be a waste. It’s important to consult a professional web designer to evaluate your site based on today’s trends in web technology, design, and online visitor tendencies before moving forward. The bottom line is, you have to have a great website. If yours is not so awesome, then that’s the place to start.

Remember
Your website is your number one sales tool. It works for you 24x7x365, it must be well designed, send the proper message to your visitors, have a compelling call-to-action, and convert visitors into customers. All are critical components in today’s online world. These will become even more critical as your competitors step up their online marketing game.
This is only a brief overview of retargeting. The question is not whether you should be using it, but how you’ll make retargeting a part of a successful marketing strategy for 2016. Retargeting provides an amazing tool to reach potential customers with strong messaging. Even if you’re skeptical that it won’t deliver the ROI, it is probably too valuable not to at least look at as an option. Contact a professional for advice before you decide.

How Important Is Your Website Name?

Many people assume the first step to starting your own website is the design. Not true. Choosing the right domain name is equally or even more important. It may be the hardest part of the site creation process. Once you establish your domain name, changing your mind later and transferring it to a new URL has more implications than you might think – not to mention the potential SEO losses that could occur by doing so. Therefore, it is very important to get this correct from the start. Here are a few tips on what you look for and why. But first a bit about SEO.

SEO Overview
SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization”. SEO is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search engine results page (SERP) – whether it be Google, Bing, Yahoo or another search engine.
It is very common for Internet users to stop looking at search engine results after the first page or two. In fact recent statistics indicate that fewer than 20% even get to the second page. Therefore, where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic to the site.

The Importance of Keywords
Keywords are the most important SEO element for every search engine, they are what search engines use to match content against. Choosing the right keywords is the most crucial step to a successful SEO campaign. If you fail on this very first step, you will basically be wasting your time and money.

There are many ways to determine which keywords to prioritize. Usually the final list of them is made after an in-depth analysis of what the online population is searching for, which keywords your competitors are using and above all, which keywords best describe your site. You want very relevant keywords that are not highly used by your competition and that you have a good chance of ranking for. You must do this BEFORE you try to pick your domain name.

Keyword Driven URL’s
This is the hardest part to control; but when possible, you are better off choosing a domain name that includes your targeted keyword phrases instead of your company name. You can always purchase your company name or brand as a second domain and point that domain to your Website for those that are looking specifically for your company by name.

For example, if you are a marketing company in Milwaukee and you determine that “Milwaukee Marketing Company” is a good primary keyword for you, from an SEO strategy perspective it is better to use the domain “www.milwaukeemarketingcompany.com” instead of “www.yourcompany.com”. It does make sense to also purchase www.yourcompany.com and point that domain to www.milwaukeemarketingcompany.com. You will gain a competitive advantage when a person on Google searches for “marketing company Milwaukee”. In fact, you stand a very good chance of being listed on page one using this method.

Domain Research
There are many places available where you can find out if a domain has already been taken. Don’t use Google or other search engines to find out if a domain is available, however you could use Google and enter “find available domain names” to locate the services that can help you. Most people are familiar with the “.com” suffix so try to get that if you can. If you are able to find one, it also makes sense to purchase the .org and .net domains in addition to the .com. That way nobody can purchase one of these and take advantage of your keywords.

Choosing the perfect domain name is crucial to the survival of your website, and potentially your business. Many times people get so caught up in the design process that they forget that their domain name will usually be the first thing people see, and remember. Take your time, do your research, get second opinions, but be sure to get it right before you jump into web design.

10 Critical Website Tips for 2015

Your business services and products can be top of the line, but if your website is poorly designed and does not resonate with your visitors, you will not attract attention or convert them into customers. If you’re unsure about your website, check out these critical tips to increase your website’s contribution to your overall business goals.

  1. Design – With over 40% of website traffic originating from mobile devices, it is critical to have your website look equally impressive whether your visitors are using a desktop, a tablet, or a phone. For your website to be more engaging and easier to use, make sure it is mobile friendly. Using a WordPress Responsive design is an effective way to accomplish this.
  2. Colors – Colors can be a driving force on your website. They can touch the emotions of your site visitors. There is a science to how colors can influence a person’s mind. Branding is critical. When designing your brand, take into account the psychology of colors and then integrate that same pallet into your website, as well as your other online and offline marketing collateral.
  3. Navigation – Today’s online consumers want to be able to find their way around your website quickly and effortlessly. Your navigation should be simple, intuitive, and help people find exactly what they are looking for in the shortest possible time. If it takes more than three to five seconds, you’ll lose them. When faced with indecision, they will leave rather than try to figure it out.
  4. Call-to-Action – Your home page, where most visitors enter, needs to be clear on what you want the visitor to do. What action do you want them to take? Whether it’s purchasing your product, downloading your white paper, signing up for a free consultation, opting into a newsletter, or requesting more information, make it clear and urge them to take action.
  5. Content – Your page content needs to get your main points across quickly. Use simple, highly relevant content, with an attractive and readable format. Visitors don’t want to read 2,000 words on the history of your company, so get to the point. Make sure that your page text is specific to the context of that page and focuses on the reason the visitor has chosen it. Each page of your site should have its own purpose.
  6. Visuals – Website visitors today want to see more visual content. Use photos, graphics, and videos on your site to convey your message. However, don’t overdo it. The webpage should still have white space and not be overly cluttered.
  7. Testimonials – Statistics show that the vast majority of online consumers value what other consumers say about your products and services. Display your customer testimonials on your site and encourage new customers to add their own. Glowing reviews compel the visitors to trust you and increases the chance they’ll want to do business with you.
  8. Contact Information – Quite a few business websites don’t provide adequate contact data and as a result, may lose potential business leads. Failing to provide easy access to contact details is one way to frustrate visitors and incent them to leave, potentially to a competitor.
  9. Social Media – With the prevalence of social media today, you have to assume that your potential customers are there too. Make sure to increase the visibility and reach of your website through the use of social media channels. Show your visitors and customers the various ways they can communicate with your company directly. However, just being on social media isn’t enough. You have to be active on social media for it to be effective. Remember, “Like Rome, a massive web presence is not built in a day. A massive web presence is built a little bit each day”(Jeff Herring – Article Marketing Expert).
  10. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – One of the main reasons to develop a website for your business is to attract new customers. Statistics show that as many as 90% of consumers today use search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find their goods and services. Having a site optimized for search engines is absolutely essential in being able to achieve a high enough ranking that new customers will find you. If you don’t know about SEO, or don’t know someone who does, I would suggest seeking professional help. Having a website that can’t be found on the internet is like having a gourmet restaurant in the desert. It’s great, but nobody knows it’s there. If you’ve done all the steps 1-9 but left this last one out, your supreme effort ends up being a waste of time and money

Your website is an extremely important component of your marketing strategy. Done right, its ability to attract and influence your visitors can have a significant impact on your lead generation. Done wrong, and it’s just another of the thousands of websites that can’t be found. Make sure yours is not lost in the crowd. If you’re not sure how well yours if performing, give us a call and we would be happy to provide a free, no obligation marketing assessment of your site.

Why Use a Single Service Provider for Marketing and Branding

An integrated marketing strategy is something most businesses would say they want because it sounds good. However, many are not really sure what that is, what it looks like or why you need one.

The Approach

An integrated marketing strategy is an approach that delivers a consistent message across all marketing channels. Its objective is to insure that your target market receives the same brand image and message about your goods or services, no matter where they see it.

Here are examples of marketing and branding a business might use:

  1. Business Logo
  2. Letterhead/Stationary
  3. Business Cards
  4. Promotional Brochures and/or Flyers
  5. E-Newsletter
  6. Website
  7. Blog
  8. Online Business Directories
  9. Social Media Sites
    1. Facebook
    2. LinkedIn
    3. Twitter
    4. YouTube
    5. Google+
  10. Magazine/Newspaper/TV/Radio/ ads

And this list can go on, and on depending on the business…

In theory, it sounds pretty simple. In practice, it can be surprisingly difficult. Especially if your implementation is fragmented and different people/vendors complete various components. Consistency in colors, fonts, text, graphic styles and message are more difficult to integrate.

The Single Service Provider

The right service provider requires a diverse set of skills. These include web design, graphic design, branding, search engine optimization and social media marketing, just to name a few. Working with the right firm provides the opportunity to develop a branding and marketing strategy that is consistent across all marketing channels before you begin. To find the right service provider, make sure to research your options. Look at their past work, look for reviews or comments on the quality of their work and ask questions.

The Vision

Start with a common vision of what you are trying to achieve. Whether your organization is large, medium or small, the key is to make sure that all decision makers share and agree upon a similar vision of what you are trying to accomplish and why.

The Process

Identify your current position. Quite often, a business will already have one, two or more of these components in place. This requires analyzing the quality of the existing components/materials and determining whether they can be integrated with the overall vision or whether they need to be altered or replaced.

The How

Identify the channels you will use to communicate with your target market. Where will you need to be so that wherever your potential customers look, you are there with a consistent brand appearance and message? This doesn’t mean that you need to be everywhere, or be all things to all people, it just means that you should prioritize your efforts so that the largest part of your target market gets your message.

The Team

Plan for the resources you will need. An integrated marketing approach needs to be worked consistently and across all channels which requires coordination and effort. When you look at failed marketing strategies, as we often do, you find that a top reason they fail is due to a lack of priority. Other factors come into play taking focus away from the plan. Consistency is not easy. One approach many clients use, especially smaller ones with limited resources, is to outsource part or all of the program. This not only brings additional resources to the table, but also objectivity/accountability and specialized skillsets.

The Monitoring

Consistent monitoring and occasional tweaking are necessary. We continually refer to the old adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Successful programs always monitor their implementation, measure their success, and make “tweaks” as necessary. Marketing is never a “set it, and forget it” proposition.

The Conclusion

The bottom line is that working with a single qualified service provider to guide you through this maze of tools and techniques is more cost effective, more consistent, you have a single point of contact which reduces confusion and finger pointing, and it typically results in a more cohesive approach with better outcomes.