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4 Winning Digital Marketing Tactics For The Holidays

With the holidays right around the corner it is the start to the most wonderful time of the year but it is also a tricky time for any business, retail or service, to keep engagement up and try to reach out to customers. The fourth quarter of the year can be make or break for retailers with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the rush of the December Holidays. After all consumers can hardly resist the attractive displays, the tempting discounts and the urge to shop when everyone around is doing the same. This is why you need strong, timely and effective digital marketing tactics to make your brand stand out during the holiday rush and get a piece of the holiday shopping season pie. According to the benchmarking report from Cuebiq, there was a significant uplift in physical store visits due to digital campaigns in the last quarter of 2016.

  1. Begin Your Holiday Marketing Campaign Early To Stay Top of Mind

Even though consumers don’t begin purchasing until November and December, they do start browsing and thinking about what to buy much earlier. According to AYTM Market Research, 47% of shoppers in the U.S. admitted that holiday promotions before Nov. 4 were effective in pushing them to make purchases. When it comes to making marketing strategies for this time of the year, the sooner you start the better as it is quite difficult for businesses to make themselves heard through all the holiday noise.

Running non-holiday related messaging a few months before November helps people recognize your brand and creates immediate recall when you do make the switch to holiday messages and promotions. And if your holiday advertising isn’t running by November, then it should be made a priority so that consumers know what you have to offer them.  Planning and starting your digital marketing efforts early will help your business will be top of mind when consumers are starting their holiday shopping.

  1. Spread Season’s Greetings On Social Media

If you want to be noticed by the feel-good audience on social then you need to blast promotions on social media. But there is a fine line between successful social content to create a buzz around your brand and pushing cheesy and annoying messages, especially during the holidays. Social media can be a great channel for promoting your brand to consumers active on different social media networks, without being too heavy on the “sell”, and getting the word out about exclusive holiday deals and sales to your target audience.

If you establish yourself as a recognizable brand early on in the buying cycle then consumers will be more comfortable seeing your post or ad in their news feed later on in the purchasing process. For instance, Most major social media platform’s have great targeting capabilities and with the number of engaged users rising paid social ads can help your brand reach an audience in your area and be found online. For instance, with Facebook ads you can promote your ads to targeted audiences of a certain age or demographic based on who your business want to focus on. Nearly a third of consumers go on to make purchases based on a Facebook ad they see.

  1. Generate Holly-Jolly Sales Through A Pay-Per-Click Campaign

Pay-per-click can help bring in targeted holiday traffic to your website. A vast majority of people use search engines as their primary product/services research tool for holiday shopping by typing keywords or search terms. When users perform searches using the target keywords on your PPC campaign, your ads appear on top, below, or alongside organic search results, depending on your bid and quality score. Obviously search and pay-per-click campaign is the best place to start so that people looking for your products can find your business.

Planning for a strong PPC strategy has to start long before the holiday season so that you have a bid schedule for the entire season and enough in your budget to cover the cost of bids through this hectic time. It is necessary to have a clear idea on which offerings, promotions, messages and ad copy you’ll be sending out this holiday season and days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday so that your message can reach a wider audience. Leverage extensions such as sitelink extensions, location extensions, review extensions, product listings and landing pages with holiday-specific terminology to attract credible customers.

  1. Send Personalized Emails To Promote Holiday Sales

It is true that email inboxes become crowded with holiday marketing messages around this time of the year and users become particularly picky about the ones they open. But email remains a great channel to share your marketing message and keep your business top of mind when customers shop. In fact studies show that many people actually prefer email promotions over any other platform and are more likely to visit a local establishment after receiving a holiday themed email message from them.  To maximize your holiday revenue, consider promoting holiday sales in email messages and include specifics about products or services on sale or special offers. It is important to schedule your email messages carefully and send reminders closer to the key dates.  Based on a study by email vendor Yesmail, Thanksgiving-themed messages are received better early in November, whereas Black Friday-themed offers get better responses when sent last minute. For Christmas, emails should preferably be sent in the 10 days leading up to the holiday, with a countdown to the 25th.

To get online shoppers trying to find the best holiday deals on your website, put in place some of these digital marketing practices and see your business grow. To gain more insights about your holiday marketing get in touch with DirectiveGroup. Let us help you prepare your marketing plan for this season.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

2 Brands That Rock Content Marketing

Modern web users are always searching for new content to consume. From hot new startups to big businesses, everyone has to provide valuable content to engage their customers and keep them hooked in order to get visibility for their brand and also to stay relevant. Brands that are fully invested in content marketing are the ones driving conversions with informative and interactive content hubs, winning social media presences and use of innovative new technologies. They are the brands pushing the boundaries with their content marketing campaigns, always creating something fresh and inventive to capture audience attention and boost awareness.

Most SMBs look at the powerful content marketing efforts of large enterprises and mistakenly think they don’t have the digital resources to succeed with content themselves. When the reality is that it is possible for any business to succeed with content marketing, provided it has the right strategy in place. We can all learn from the best, so let’s take a look at two examples of top brands with killer content marketing sites.

Starbucks

With widely adopted mobile apps, and massive social audiences, Starbucks concentrates on social media branding that expertly expresses what the brand is all about. Starbucks does use posts to advertise products but it is done rather subtly and always with a lot of personality and originality. But the brand’s social channels are more focused on creating consumer engagement around popular Starbucks drinks and products, in an effort to drive sales. For instance, the latest Instagram campaign, #UnicornFrappuccino shows the potential of visual content in generating buzz.  With over 640,412 likes the color-changing frappuccino caught the imagination of netizens.  In December last year the company innovatively made use of “1st and Main,” an animated web series featuring talking animals working and hanging out at Starbucks to reach out to newer audiences.

Starbucks has been keen to promote the integrity of their brand to get more customers in the door. They have managed to do this through the brand-building web publication called 1912 Pike that holds up “memorable and authentic stories with coffee at their core”. It helps brand Starbucks differentiate itself as a compassionate company that offers ethically and sustainably sourced coffee to its customers. They want people to know not just about their coffee, but also where the coffee beans come from, for example –communities like Starbucks Reserve® Rwanda Abakundakawa and Starbucks Reserve® Malawi Sable Farms that the company has built lasting relationships with. Starbucks masterfully produces content about the number of social projects Starbucks has undertaken in over a dozen countries and also about opportunities like the Starbucks College Achievement Plan that the company is providing for Starbucks partners (employees) across the United States, which makes the brand look less formal and more community focused.

They are also quick to effectively jump on to current trends, news or events to offer relevant and responsive content. With their short and sweet posts and content devoted to the little personal moments of life, Starbucks looks to integrally involve itself into peoples’ lifestyles. Starbucks therefore encourages user generated content that celebrates family and friends. No wonder customers find it easy to interact with the brand in a much more personal and memorable way.

IBM

IBM is not just an institution in the world of technology. It also has one of the largest content marketing initiatives aimed at promoting thousands of products and solutions. With global customers, the content is published in nearly 100 different languages.  IBM knows its customers well and therefore develops dynamic and personalized content experiences targeted at specific personas so that people feel it’s relevant to them. The focus is always on roles-based messaging and also the usability, and interaction with target audiences. Personalization, personas, process, and performance mapped to specific end users are at the basis of IBMs content strategy to improve sales opportunities.

IBM successfully develops different content types, such as white papers, case studies, technical content, data sheets, analyst papers, videos, event-based content, FAQs, consultancy reports etc., to generate leads and nurture relationships with their customers. Visually rich and engaging educational videos have been developed and shared through multiple video sharing sites. But no matter what, all the different pieces of content links back to their main website where people can engage with more content.

IBM has managed to position itself as a think tank for tech innovation by producing authoritative content at an expert level on its blogs from IBM Emerging Technology to IBM Think or the IBM Training and Skills blog. It provides a library of education and training resources for the range of industries of which IBM is a part of. Their Voices page is an aggregate of their blog posts and other content.

Most importantly the key lesson to take from IBM’s content marketing strategy is how to take advantage of key influencers in the industry. IBM has successfully nurtured relationships with influential bloggers through their cognitive customer engagement project known as “Watson” in order to build their brand. IBM handpicks industry experts, critics and bloggers, known as “IBM Futurists”, to help spread the word about its technologies among their extended network of independent followers. IBM also encourages peer to peer sharing of their social content so there is a lot of visually-rich, sharable facts and data available on their site that can be shared with a click.

Marketers must become publishers and start producing content that their audiences crave for.  The businesses that understand and follow basic principles of content marketing will be the ones who win over the next several years. Just because you don’t have massive marketing resources doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same level of content success. DirectiveGroup can show you what content marketing success truly looks like.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Advantages Of Hiring An Outside Marketing Agency

Today our world is dominated by technology, smartphones and the internet. More people perform searches online for the products and services they need instead of looking it up in the yellow pages. Most consumers use social media and search engines to carefully research and form an opinion before choosing a brand they like and trust. For your business to be successful, it is absolutely vital to create a digital footprint on the web with a welcoming, informative website, social media accounts that promote your brand through digital marketing.

Marketing plays an absolutely integral role in communicating value to current and new customers about what your company does and how well you do it. No other department is as influential as marketing, especially when it comes down to building brand awareness, maintaining your company’s image and reputation, retaining and nurturing best customers and driving sales goals. Managing day-to-day critical business operations can be stressful as it is, so it is more judicious to hire a marketing agency to focus on building and expanding your brand and cyber presence. There are numerous benefits of using a digital marketing agency with a team of professionals to do the job for you. Here are a few:

  1. Diverse Marketing Methods and Tactics From A Team

Hiring a digital marketing agency gives you fractional resources.  That is the added advantage of partial use of a set of experts to meet your particular digital marketing needs.  It is access to a team of strategists, designers, copywriters, sales consultants and SEO experts for you to work with.  These experts put a wide range of skills, knowledge and experience to work on your campaigns to ensure their success. A marketing agency will have professionals with niche skills and industry experience that gives you the flexibility of being able to employ comprehensive marketing tactics to fulfill your marketing goals and expand your reach in the target market. Having access to an expanded talent pool to further your marketing plan is far better than attempting to do it yourself or hiring in-house marketers.

  1. Avail Professional Services

The world of digital marketing is always in a state of flux and key marketing trends keep changing. Agencies find it easier to keep on top of these changes and integrate them into your business marketing strategy. Digital media campaigns can be expensive to set up and optimize. You have to be on the ball to successfully manage your digital presence across multiple platforms in order to grow and expand your brand. Moreover businesses today have to use different marketing tools at their disposal and agencies have the resources and know-how to develop a cohesive online strategy across various networks towards a common goal. Not only that, but these tools can be costly.  When an agency spreads the expense across multiple clients, it becomes more affordable than doing it on your own.  Leave the marketing tasks to the talented professionals in a digital marketing agency and get the best insight and advice on which marketing tactics are best for your campaign.

  1. Gain Flexibility

Think of an outside digital marketing agency as a multi-dimensional partner, with a bespoke suite of services, to help with messaging, brand building and campaign development. Marketing functions include a number of activities such as blogging, social media marketing, email marketing, PPC to technical SEO and working with an agency gives you the flexibility to either scale up or scale down the services depending on your requirements. When you have a fixed number of in-house staff with specific skills, this is much harder to do. And you may find yourself having to outsource core functions that you don’t have in your team or hire personnel for it.  While working with a digital marketing agency gets you access to an experienced team of specialists and the right tools that can be scaled to suit projects of any size and scope, at the time you need them.

  1. Cost-Effective Use Of Resources

Managing marketing campaigns even with the most comprehensive automation tools, calendars and apps is time consuming work and can easily eat into time spent better focusing on business priorities. Time-management is absolutely crucial when running a business. Outsourcing your marketing efforts to an agency saves you time and money that it would take to perform essential marketing tasks.

The cost of hiring a marketing agency is a fraction of that needed to recruit, retain and train a full-time marketing employee. Whereas with a marketing agency, you can get the right skilled people to manage your account and you do not lose out on marketing time for holidays or sick leave, as there are team members ready to take over on such occasions.

Utilizing an outsourced marketing agency, allows you to plan and control your marketing spend according to internal budgeting and resources. Most importantly, the agency can help to quantify the results of marketing initiatives undertaken so that you can track and measure your marketing efforts and identify which ones work and which may have fallen short. Research studies have shown that businesses depending on marketing agencies to develop their marketing strategies for them have a lower cost per sales lead than those who do their marketing themselves.

Get Outstanding Results With A Digital Marketing Agency

Hiring the right digital marketing agency is the best way to gain expedient advice, get access to the latest resources and harness expertise in order to push your brand reach, expand your target audience, and maximize business growth. With a digital marketing agency, your business will always remain one step ahead of the competition!

DirectiveGroup is a full-service digital marketing agency ready to help you tackle the ever-changing world of online advertising.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

mobile marketing

7 Phenomenal Mobile Marketing Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind

With the prevalence of smartphones and tablets in today’s digital market, there are endless opportunities for businesses to reach out to their target audiences. To cash in on the huge mobile market, the focus for every business should firmly be on implementing a well-documented mobile marketing strategy. If you are unsure of what impact mobile is having on your business today and will continue to have well into the future, all you need to do is look at the statistics in this article. Savvy marketers should be monitoring the changes behind how much mobile media is consumed daily, the proliferation of mobile apps, how users behave in digital media, and their response to commercial advertisements. Get ready for a record growth year for the mobile market!

  1. 80% Of Internet Users Own A Smartphone Gadget (Smart Insights)

The smartphone has now become an extension of us and our lives. Voice calling and texting are passé; users prefer to check out videos, consume media, shop online, use mobile apps, reply to emails and browse the net on smartphones. According to StatCounter, for the first time in October 2016, more users globally accessed the internet through mobile devices than via desktops. Smartphones and tablets accounted for 51.3 percent of internet usage worldwide in comparison to 48.7 percent for the desktop. This is good news for businesses with mobile friendly sites and content.

  1. Mobile Devices Will Drive 80% Of Global Internet Usage and 60% of Digital Ad Spend Will Be On Mobile By 2018 (Zenith)

Advertising effectively communicates the brand’s message to its audience. Today, most advertisements happen online and most companies are spending more on digital mediums than traditional platforms such as print media, television, and outdoor advertising. Forecasts from Zenith confirm that 75% of global internet usage will be on mobile this year, which will grow to nearly 80% by next year. Global internet ad expenditures will reach $134 billion in 2018, and mobile advertising will overtake desktop advertising too. Mobile advertising has been the biggest growth driver in the U.S. in 2016, mopping up nearly half of all digital ad revenues. Mobile advertising will account for 72% of the entire US digital spending by 2019, which is way more than newspaper, magazine, cinema, and outdoor advertising put together. If this trend continues, and we have no reason to believe that it won’t, desktops may soon be relegated to being an old tactic soon.

  1. Mobile-influenced Offline Spending Already Over $1 trillion (Forrester)

According to U.S. government estimates, the offline retail spending is well over $4.5 trillion, whereas e-commerce sales stands at $354 billion in 2016  But in-store spending influenced by digital media stands between $1 and $2+ trillion. And it is projected that by 2021, mobile devices alone will power $1.4 trillion in local sales. People do heavy mobile research before indulging in offline purchasing in almost all categories. Data from Marketing Land show that 90% of smartphone owners use their phones while making purchasing decisions in a brick and mortar store.

  1. 48% Of The Buyers Use Smartphones To Start Searching With a Search Engine (Google Research)

A large number of consumers browse the web and search on multiple devices daily but mobile remains the dominant platform for searches. In fact, 39% of users perform search only on a mobile device and 32% search only on a PC. This is what makes Google’s cross-device retargeting capabilities so important for advertisers. 48% of mobile consumers begin their search at the search engine to compare different brands in the product line. And, Icebreaker Consulting found that almost 40% of searchers will click on another website almost immediately, if your site is not mobile friendly. In order for users to find your brand in search results, you need to think about how best to optimize your content for search engines and your target audience alike, as it can have a huge impact on your sales.

  1. 68% Of Digital Media Time Is Now Spent On Mobile (comScore)

The comScore Mobile App report shows that over 68% of our digital media time is spent on mobile, which is up from 44% roughly a year ago and half of all that digital media time is spent on mobile apps. The desktop only gets 32% of our online attention. It is obvious that even in our cross-platform world, mobile is without a doubt No.1, with mobile devices more often being used at the “top of the funnel.” With the shift in digital media time from desktop to mobile devices, it will no longer do to treat mobile as a supplement to the PC experience. Businesses now have to deliver a good mobile experience for propagating positive brand perceptions.

  1. Apps Get 89% Of Mobile Media Time While 11% Of The Time Is Spent On Websites. (Smart Insights)

Consumers spend most of their mobile time with a limited number of heavily used apps. Consumers love mobile apps that provide engaging media and interaction. It seems like shoppers prefer apps to websites when getting information about products.  The information on mobile apps has to be concise and relevant to what the buyers need. It is now possible to publish an app at an affordable price therefore businesses are keen on creating a mobile app experience for their customers to deliver a fulfilling brand experience to them so they keep coming back. The business website can be focused on marketing while the app on user interaction.

  1. By 2018, 80% Of Email Users Will Use A Mobile Device To Access Their Email Accounts (Email Monday)

Email provides businesses a personal and direct communication channel. By 2018 more than 80% of users will read and send emails using smartphones so it important to make sure all emails are optimized for mobile platforms. Your emails should be clearly readable and display your brand effectively. Most people check their email, read newsletters, and go over the latest news in apps. In their 2014 study, ExpressPigeon noted that half of all mobile owners check push notifications and email first thing in the morning after turning off the alarm. Marketers can use email marketing in line with client behavior patterns, as a valuable tool to reach out to mobile users. According to statistics by Email Monday email open rates on a mobile device has increased by 180% in the last three years. Email marketing can help initiate engagement to guide your customer’s next course of action.  All you need to do is give them a reason to open your emails. And that means never sending spammy emails.

Go Mobile

Consumers love the convenience of a mobile marketplace. To capture user interest, it is obvious that your business needs to position your brand better on mobile platforms. Really there is no excuse to ignore mobile marketing any longer! If you need help developing a mobile marketing plan for 2017, why not reach out to Global Directive today? We turn opportunities into success stories.

 

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524

website banner ideas

Ideas For Designing Website Banner Ads

We come across banner ads everywhere, so much so that they have become intrinsically linked with our web experience. Banner ad clicks may be dropping but we can’t afford to ignore the power of this prolific online advertising format in spreading the brand message to a large audience. Just seeing a web banner ad creates recall and user preference for that product or service. But our senses get assaulted every day with some really obnoxious examples of banner ad designs so it is time to turn the tide. Lunarpages would like to arm you with some basic design guidelines so that you can create web banners that will make a favorable impression and bring in clicks.

Apply Standard Banner Sizes

Banner ads work within the specs of the site where you plan to advertise. And since most sites use a set of common sizes, it is advisable to design in the size you will use the most. Google AdWords, lists the most popular standard banner ad sizes on the web as –

  • 728 by 90 pixels for leaderboard at the tops or bottoms of pages
  • 300 by 250 pixels medium rectangle, either embedded in text elements or floating on the right
  • 336 by 280 pixels large rectangle
  • 300 by 600 pixels half page
  • 320 by 100 pixels mobile banner

You can take elements from the design in your most preferred banner size and reflect it in other sizes too. When you don’t take the time to resize or recreate your ad specific to the networks specs, your creatives become distorted and displeasing to the eyes of your target market.  Check out the banner ad for FatCow to see how your layout can work for a number of different banner sizes.banner sizes

Create Hierarchy

All banner ads need to have a brand logo, clear message within 2-10 words about your offer  (High quality, Free Signup, Limited Time Only) and encouragement to click (Watch Now, Click Here, etc). The real challenge lies in the fact that there is not much room to do this so there has to be a right balance between these elements. Create a simple hierarchy of elements using size, space and color to draw attention to each.jumpcloud

This banner ad from JumpCloud showcases the company logo first, followed by the value proposition which calls attention to itself and the CTA button is smartly placed right at the bottom inviting clicks.

Pair Stylistic Typography With Images

Banner ads only have small spaces to play around with so make the most of it by using strong, easy to read typefaces with striking images. Make sure to use tight images and detail shots as there is a lot of competition for eyeballs. This banner ad by Cavender’s pairs playful text, handwritten type and great photography to effectively announce the brand and product.

Use Colors And Texture Appropriately

Color is generally the first thing we notice in banner ads. Different colors have distinct associations, and your choice of color will depend on the kind of emotions you want to evoke in your audience. Look up this great resource on color theory to know how best to use color in ads. Banner ads do not always have to be subtle so feel free to use contrasting and bold colors to draw the eye in. In this banner ad, the bright yellow rectangle ties in with the National Geographic logo and is highlighted even more against a black or blue background. The yellow CTA reinforces the brand and also invites quick action.nationalgeographic

Incorporating texture within a banner ad can also create interesting dimensions, movement and depth to drive home the brand image. Check out the unique geometric polygon pattern in the limes of this ad for Corona by Vasiliy Yusov. The angularity of the fruit adds in dimension and edge to the product being advertised that you just wouldn’t get from a simple image or illustration.

Incorporate Stylized Illustration

Adding in illustration to your web banner ads can be simple or detailed depending on the message you are trying to deliver. Illustration can often speak volumes, especially if you add in animation to it. Illustration can be edgy and modern or fun and playful. Adidas ran a Line Runner sidebar ad campaign where the viewer was provided a black pen and prompted to draw a line which became a course for the runner with trees, buildings, hills, lamp posts popping up for an interactive digital adventure.

Focus On The Product

The ultimate goal of an ad is to sell so it helps to shine the light on the product. Tell your story using the product. Ikea is known for its space-conscious furniture and it highlighted this point by making the most of banner ad real estate too. Hovering over the ad would bring a product into focus and a click would send the person to the site to purchase.

Better Banners

Banner ad placements can certainly help users connect with your brand. And following some of these design guidelines will definitely improve your click-through rate and help you achieve your campaign goals.

reputation management

Cost of Online Reputation Management

Do you know what people are saying about you online?  Traditional marketing has always known the value of word of mouth marketing.  Today the internet, well, more specifically search engines, has made knowing what people are saying about you even more important than traditional word of mouth marketing.  Why?  Because 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  So, if your reputation isn’t managed well it could be very costly.  And, did you know that what people say about you online impacts your search results?  Let’s learn some more.

Case in Point

A few years ago, American Airlines had a costly run in with a guitar.  In fact, it cost the airline $180 million and a 10% loss in their stock prices.  When a passenger witnessed the airline mishandling his guitar, which resulted in the instrument being seriously damaged, and the airline refused to pay for the damages, the passenger — musician David Caroll — wrote a song, United Breaks Guitars. The YouTube video was a huge hit with more than 15 million views and the major contributor to the airlines dip in stock prices.

Granted, this one incident didn’t bring American Airlines to destruction, but it is a good example of how, when a company has a bad reputation, business is simply more difficult to conduct, the cost of doing business increases and it’s far more difficult to retain customers and employees, shareholders, and other important stakeholders, than it is in good times.

How to Fix a Bad Online Reputation

Arguably, protecting an organization’s reputation is the most important yet difficult task facing senior management teams and boards of directors today.  First, it’s important to point out that reputation management is a game best played using offense.  When you’re on the defense, when you’re trying to fix a negative online sentiment it’s an uphill battle that takes a lot more work than had you started your vigilance early and when things were calm and clean.  However, if you find your business in a toxic situation, here are some things you can do to keep your reputation on track:

  • Monitor! This is first and foremost. If you don’t know whether or not you have a negative reputation, how can you fix it?  There are a lot of tools as well as agencies such as LocalDirective that offer services to help you monitor your online reputation.  But just like protecting your online identity, monitoring isn’t enough.
  • You need to respond to what is out there and be proactive in acquiring positive reviews, testimonials, and stories from happy customers.
  • Finally, never become complacent. The moment you think you’re safe something will happen.  What I mean is that just because there isn’t negative chatter around your business doesn’t mean that you don’t need a reputation management program.  Be proactive in building your brand as a strong company to do business with.

You know, Benjamin Franklin once said “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it”.  No other words have ringed so true as this statement.  Especially in today’s digital, share-everything world.

How to Manage Your Online Reputation

Managing your online reputation isn’t just for businesses with a toxic situation.  Your online reputation also plays into other things such as your search results.   I am sure you’ve seen the stars that show up next to a company in Google search results, but did you ever wonder how or why the stars were there?  Most SEO strategists find a strong correlation between reviews and organic search result rankings, particularly in Google. It is widely believed in the industry that the importance of reviews as they relate to search result rankings will only increase over time. Therefore, being able to display your stars will show Google that your customers trust you, that they are happy with what you provide, and that you’re a credible solution.  Here are some things we know about reviews and how they impact local SEO:

  • It’s generally believed that 10 reviews left at Google provides a little bit of a ranking boost
  • Google may be trying to incorporate review sentiment into its ranking algorithms so it would be who of you to get ahead of that and start managing your sentiment today so that when this does happen you’re not playing catch up.
  • On-page SEO remains the top factor that Google considers when ranking local business, but studies show that reviews are rapidly growing in importance.
  • Finally, Google knows a fake review when it sees one and can penalize you for such tactics. In order to rank and to rank with stars, be sure that your reviews legitimate.

 

Get Started Today

While SEO and online reputation management play nicely together, they are not the same thing and should not be used unethically to impact each other. Online reputation management avoids using black hat SEO techniques.  Black hat techniques can ultimately damage your reputation by making it difficult to maintain a positive long term presence on search engine results.

At DirectiveGroup we can help you develop an ethical online reputation while avoiding harmful tactics such as buying fake reviews. Online reputation management done well is designed to establish a long term positive online presence for a business or individual. Let us help you create engaging social media profiles, a positive review presence, and multiple points of positive, high quality content to ensure that you maintain a positive online reputation that lasts.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at DirectiveGroup, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact them today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

digital marketing

Modify Your Digital Marketing to Fit the User Experience

Prior to the 1900s, when it was mostly based on the concept of supply and demand, marketing was considered to be more of an economic issue. Marketers did not give customers’ purchase behavior much – if any – thought.

By the mid-50s, relationships with consumers became more of a focus. Now look! Today, everything revolves around the consumer (or user) experience (UX). Our challenge has become much more in how to keep up with and respond to the ever-evolving UX.

User Experience – Then and Now

In 2005, Investopedia stated: “The ultimate goal of marketing is to match a company’s products and services to the people who need and want them, thereby ensuring profitability.”  That’s still how we view the act of marketing in context with UX.

Our main challenge is that people change – as do their behaviors. Technology changes, too. And, we must continually keep informed in both arenas if we’re to reach customers effectively and maintain dialogue.

In the past, our main goal was to sell more. Now, we want people to buy more. Though that may sound like it’s the same thing, it’s not. Now, we really must focus on garnering and maintaining a deep understanding of exactly who our customers are – what they want, and the path they travel to get it. And then, modify our digital marketing efforts in order to meet them where they are. Today, that’s the best marketing course of action to take in order to boost sales and increase the bottom line.

How to Increase User Experience

Let’s talk about approaches to modify your marketing efforts to fit the UX.

As we, at GlobalDirective, have mentioned in our blogs from time-to-time, customers today are much savvier. They start their research much earlier in the buying process. That’s why we need to make contact sooner. We can’t wait until they’re actually ready to make the purchase to reach out.

To do this, we have to focus on the right things at the right time. We can’t solve a non-existent problem. What we need to do is identify a potential problem and then construct a good solution for that particular problem or need.

Take these steps for success:

  1. Foster recognition: No two ways about it, you have competition. And, you have to work hard to stand out from among them. We know your website is your brand’s showcase. That’s where you proclaim to the world just how great you are. But, how are you going to get prospects to it so they, too, can learn all about you and find out just how wonderful you are?

 

First thing – amazing SEO. Prospects must be able to find you easily in their organic search. A few well-thought-out and well-placed paid ads will also help.

 

Other methods to get them to your site include creating a presence on a few unique social media platforms and channels where you know you can engage with your target audience. Remember: your plan is to have them recognize you long before they realize their need or pain. And, you want to begin building trust by having them consider you an expert in your field.

 

  1. Familiarization: Once prospects come to your social media platform or to your website, you need to engage them. As with any new acquaintance, you want to build a rapport where they become familiar with who you are. To accomplish that goal, write all your content in a way that is clear, confident and comfortable.

 

  1. Consideration: As mentioned, communication between your brand and the consumer goes back and forth. It is a two-way communication. With that in mind, how can you facilitate good communication, and make it easy for them to explore your product or service? Three good ideas that come to mind are: test and prioritize your objectives; optimize your calls to action (CTAs); and use pricing variances as filters.

 

  1. Continue to learn: As you tweak your onboarding processes, consider these actions: schedule drip emails; communicate promptly and regularly on your social media channels and whatever you do or however you do it, continue to learn about your target market and their behaviors. This is key to modifying your efforts.

Tip: Google has a myriad of free tools you can use to accomplish your goals. Search ‘Google Tools’. You will be surprised at what they have available to help you.

A Few Planning Caveats

Please keep in mind that you don’t want to create a marketing program, plan or campaign of any kind without doing your due diligence. You could easily waste valuable time and resources if you don’t execute comprehensive research.

  • You need to know, for instance: who, specifically, is your target audience? And, what marketing mediums would work best to reach them?
  • Of course, budget planning is critical and your timeframe matters.
  • Finally, you must track each campaign. Was it successful? Maybe not. Knowing this is vital to your later planning.

These planning details could make or break all of your marketing efforts. You’ve heard the adage ‘measure twice and cut once’? Remember always: planning before execution.

The Benefits of Working to Fit Your UX

If there is one thing we know for certain. People are different. Demographics are distinctive. Generations are unique. Their particular life experiences mold them and differentiate them. It is up to us to never stop learning and evolving with them. And, it is imperative to keep up with technology changes, too.

Yes, all of this takes quite a bit of effort. But, in order to understand your audience and to reach them, the legwork must be undertaken. We’ll be the first to admit, this is a lot to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Taxonomy for design & Why Use It on Your Site?

What is taxonomy? It is vital if you are in the middle of a site design or redesign, and provides a method of organization so there is no frustration when organizing it.

You want your visitors to not only find what they are looking for quickly, but you want them to linger a while and explore your site. And, if you have a lot of content, you’ll want to be able to find it easily. Your site’s success – or lack thereof – sits on the foundation of its organization.

Taxonomy: An Organizational Method

So, what is taxonomy and how can it help get you better organized?

Taxonomy is a hierarchical structure for the classification or organization of data that enables websites to be categorized according to topics and types, enabling easy information retrieval.

To me, the most beneficial aspect of taxonomy is that is reduces manual content management. It allows you to dynamically retrieve and display anything on a page based on enabled tags or structured fields within your content. Taxonomy gives you the opportunity to balance the page’s content with other relevant information.

How Does Taxonomy Work?

Logistically, the way it works is that you are making content load dynamically when a page is accessed by programming a search on any number of taxonomy tags or other fields within your content block or page.

No doubt, you’ve seen this, but haven’t recognized what was going on behind the scenes. Amazon’s site includes taxonomy-driven content publishing. Whenever you log in and go to a page of interest, notice how when you scroll down a little you’ll see a section telling you other customers who bought this bought that, too. Or, it will show you what you should buy today based on what you bought yesterday.

Another example can be found at online news services, such as Reuters. If you’ve ever signed up with one, you’ve been given the opportunity to personalize your experience by your unique interests. That way, you don’t have to waste your time scrolling through hours of news you’re not interested in. As soon as you log in, you get to see what matters to you.

Some taxonomy sites allow the visitor to interact and filter in ways I just mentioned. But, other sites don’t require user interaction at all. You can also develop a site with only a little user interaction.

 Taxonomy Considerations

If your site has proper taxonomy, you will be able to bridge across subjects, and better manage and often reuse your content – at scale. Of course, it will assist with effective navigation and will, ultimately, provide a better product and brand alignment. At the end of the day, it will improve SEO and findability, and even support social sharing.

When creating a sound taxonomy, the first few things to consider is its projected longevity and flexibility. This means thinking ahead to what your site might become – what additions might occur down the road. You’ll also want to think from the perspective of what terms your visitors might use and what structure will help support your business goals and help your content perform optimally. And, don’t forget to understand the scope of your project. Taxonomies can easily get out of hand.

To develop the scope of your taxonomy, imagine a Venn Diagram. The taxonomy lies at the intersection of your business context (or purpose), content and users – which are your target audience.

The Benefits of Structuring Your Own Taxonomy

Taxonomy can be a huge boon for your website. However, equally clear is that this is not something that can be built overnight. It requires strong input from both your multi-disciplined team and from your users. You have to thoroughly understand your target audience and have a good grasp on how they think. After all, you’re creating something that should be almost intuitive.

Taxonomy requires vision and commitment to plan and execute. Many companies don’t bother to standardize data definitions. Yes, it takes real time to properly define your data. But, the many benefits of having a taxonomy structure under your site are huge. Not only for your users but for your team. The many, many ways you can utilize such a structure are endless.

As you can understand, developing a taxonomy can be quite daunting.  GlobalDirective can assist your team to structure your data.  Because we have been placed in the 97-percentile of Google partners, we’re not just doing a few things right, we’re doing most everything right. Allow us to show you how to achieve real success.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

Understanding and Marketing to Generation Z

The year 2080 will be the start of a time in our history which will be unlike any in recorded history. There will no longer be an age group that outnumbers another. That changes everything. And, though 2080 is pretty far down the road, those changes have already begun – with Generation Z.

When I first heard of Generation Z, I thought it was just another generational group characterized by its own set of idiosyncrasies resulting from its very existence and place in history. And, in a sense, it is. But, it very well could be something more.

All other generations, from Depression Era, to WWII, to Boomers, Generation X, and then Millennials each fell into a specific age group. All were born at definite times which shaped who they became and how they viewed the world and their place in it. That, in turn, dictated how we could best advertise and market to them.

Who is Generation Z?

Generation Z is not completely characterized by one age group; though, it could be. Most notably, it is characterized by a mindset. If we were to give it a birth time, it would be between 1995 and 2005. But, since Gen Z is a group whose members all use new technology, hyperconnectivity and collaboration to drive change through innovation, it is said anyone can be a part of this group, no matter their age.

The new philosophy behind Gen Z is to get rid of negative generational stereotypes and put the focus on working with technology and each other to make great strides in the world in which we live and work.

There are a few main philosophies which are the driving force behind Gen Z. This should be our focus as we interact and engage with them.

  • Instead of relegating people to generational boxes, the thought is to amalgamate everyone’s good traits or abilities to create a cohesive team.
  • Hyperconnecting means everyone has the same opportunity to access the same information from the Internet. And because anyone can be connected, anyone can learn and develop skills.
  • Influence – and not affluence – is the new power. This influence is wrought from a strong personal brand.
  • Gen Z believes you can hack through anything – breaking tradition and changing the rules – to get anything they want. The term coined for this is Lifehacking.

How Do We Appeal To GenZ?

Gen Zers have a very limited span of attention. It is said to be 6-8 seconds. Yes. Seconds. But, because they are so fast-paced, and have been bombarded with so much since birth, they have decidedly highly-selective filters. If they like what you offer, they are committed. And, as with Millennials, they are far more concerned with relationships and engagement than they are with any other type of marketing activity. So, you’ll want to focus your efforts on connection points and creating those relationships, in tandem with usual marketing efforts.

And, as is with Millennials, social media is pivotal in the lives of Gen Zers. In fact, 40% say social media impacts their happiness. So, make them feel good about themselves.
Because Gen Zers have grown up in such a corrupt world, they intensely desire to make a real difference. Create campaigns that show you care about your brand’s impact. Show you care about more than just your bottom line. Tell the story about how your brand impacts the greater good.

If you connect with them and are real with them, and if you can prove that you care about them and the world we all share, you will have shot at getting GenZ to love you, buy from you, and amplify your message throughout their social media stratosphere.

Materials To Help You Get Started

As with any target market, research is paramount to your success.  Be sure that you segment your market appropriately, understand what appeals to them, and how and when to best reach them.  Consumers are early 60% of the way through the purchase process before they ever engage with sales so knowing how to disrupt their thinking and attract their attention, no matter what generation they are from, should be an important part of your plan.  At GlobalDirective, we have an eBook on Persona Based Marketing that can help you get started with painting the right picture of your GenZ market.

It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

link building

Link Building 101: What You Need to Know to Get Started

“If you build it they will come”.  Kevin Costner will live on forever because he uttered those words in the movie Field of Dreams in 1989.  While it may still be true for a lot of things, it’s a dangerous philosophy to run your online business by.  In order to be successful, websites need more than to simply be built.  They need compelling content, a functional design, personalized user experiences, and need to be user friendly. They also need traffic.  Link building is one of the most important ways to help drive traffic to your website.  Not only that, but quality inbound links help increase your search ranking.  Let’s talk about why link building is important and how you can get started on increasing your links today.

Link Building: What is it and why is it important?

Before we get into why link building is important, let’s make sure that we all know what it is.  Link building is when you acquire links from other websites into your website.  It’s one way of driving traffic to your website. There is no one way to build links.  It’s a difficult and complex process and one that SEO professionals agree is the hardest part of their jobs.  You could spend hours trying to master the art of link building and if you’re successful at generating high-quality links, it can truly put you ahead of your competition.

Link building continues to be one of the many factors that Google and other search engines consider when ranking search results.  We don’t know how many you need to rank above the competition; we just know that you need them.  Google isn’t denying that links are a major factor in ranking.  They recently revealed that content, links pointing to your site and RankBrain (their artificial intelligence system) are the three most important signals contributing to the result of a search query.  These are not the only things that determine your ranking but they are what Google considers to be the top 3.  If that’s not reason enough to learn more about link building and to make sure you’re doing it right, I don’t know what is.
Link building doesn’t just make Google and the search engines happy.  It’s also good for business.  It involves reaching out to other relevant websites and blogs in your industry. This outreach can help you build long-term relationships with key influencers in your industry, and these relationships can mean that your brand becomes highly regarded and trusted.

Building a Link Building Campaign

There are white hat, grey hat, and black hat tactics that companies can use to help drive links back to their website.  White hat techniques are considered ethical SEO.  Black hat SEO refers to aggressive tactics that are implemented only to impress or trick search engines—not humans.  Grey hat tactics are those that fall somewhere in between.  So how can you gain/earn links to start a link building campaign?  First, let’s look at some things not to do:

  • Ask for links.  You can’t just call up a website and ask them to link to your website.  You need to offer something of value to their visitors.
  • Buying links.  If nothing else stay as far away from this temptation as possible.  If you’re caught using this black hat tactic you could be penalized by Google.
  • Cloaking.  This is when you show search engines different content than what you serve up to your users.
  • Link farms. This is when a group of websites get together and decide that they are all going to link to each other.
  • Buying expired domains. While this is considered more of a grey hat tactic, we still wouldn’t recommend it.  Companies who employ this tactic have a watch list of domains that are about to expire.  When the domain does expire they immediately buy the domain and replace the pages with links to their website.

While these are just a few of the link building tactics to stay away from they are some of the more popular ones that companies fall victim to.  Moving on.  Let’s review a few of the white hat approaches to building credible, authoritative links to your website.

  • Reviews and testimonials: Acquiring reviews and testimonials about your business has tremendous business impact in building good online sentiment and serves as a referral source for future business.  It also helps in your link building strategy.   Testimonials and reviews offer a great opportunity for you to get a backlink and potential traffic from the review sites that your customers leave reviews on.
  • Blogs: Consistent, frequent and industry specific blogs that focus on satisfying your customer’s needs will, over time, gain authority.  Once you have done this, other bloggers, websites and businesses will want to link to your blog.  Don’t just blog on your own site.  Reach out to other industry influencers to see if you can establish a content partnership where you each guest blog on their others site.  Guest blogging is a great way to get backlinks and increase search ranking.
  •  Link baiting: When you create content that that encourages people to link to your page from another website you have participated in link baiting.
  • Web directory linking: The best directories to participate in are the ones that also provide useful information for your potential customers.

Getting Started

Remember, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.  As with most SEO strategies, link building takes time—and a lot of knowledge.

The benefits of a successful link building program include not just increased SEO but also greater visibility online, more traffic being driven to your website, and an increase in brand awareness.  Thanks to Google algorithms and other search engine changes, the link building world is changing rapidly.  Now is the time to get on board with this growing form of marketing.

So what now?  It’s a lot of work to take on by yourself.  GlobalDirective can help.  We have been placed in the 97% percentile of Google partners.  That means that we’re not just doing some things right, we’re doing a lot of things right.  And we can help you with those “things” too.

This is a guest blog written by Michelle Keyser, Director of Social Media and Content Marketing, at GlobalDirective, a digital marketing agency, where she is a strategist and blog contributor. Contact GlobalDirective today for more information by calling 1.866.925.9524.

4 Secrets To Achieving Affiliate Marketing Success

The incredible rise of the Internet has led to the expansion of online affiliate marketing programs as a major revenue stream for merchants, publishers and marketers. A successful affiliate marketing program offers a low-cost method of spreading the word and showcasing the right products and services to the right audience. The first online affiliate marketing program was started in the early nineties by small businesses such as PC Flowers & Gifts, AutoWeb.com, and KB Toys. Amazon was the first big online merchant to offer an affiliate program. From its rather humble beginnings, the affiliate industry has grown to a staggering $4.5 billion this year. With more customers increasingly carrying out their research and shopping online, affiliate marketing is now a popular acquisition channel for businesses, big and small. According to Forrester Research, shoppers in the US from an affiliate site are likely to spend slightly more than other online channels.

What Does Affiliate Marketing Mean?
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing technique, wherein affiliates or partners are financially rewarded for driving traffic to another site for purchasing goods or services. There are 3 main players in affiliate marketing:

  • The advertiser: In the world of affiliate marketing, an advertiser can be a company selling a product such as home appliances, concert tickets, shoes or web hosting services. The most important thing to remember is that if you are ready to pay other people to help you sell and promote your business, then you are an advertiser.
  • The publisher: A publisher promotes an advertiser’s product or service in exchange for earning a fee. Advertisers provide the publisher with creative – in the form of links, banner or text ads or even unique phone numbers – that the publisher incorporates into their website.
  • The consumer: The consumer is the one who actually sees the ad and then takes action.  Typically the consumer is asked to fill out a form or click on a link.  Regardless, once they take that action they are said to have converted and they leave the publisher’s site and are taken to the advertiser’s site.

Anyone with a website, blog, or other online property, can earn money through affiliate marketing. Affiliates can write a post about specific products or services, place a button or banner ad on their site, set a squeeze page to build an email list, promote affiliate products through newsletters or even write posts on social media platforms. A special affiliate link to the product or service is usually included to allow followers to check out the product or services for themselves so that they can easily make a purchasing decision.

Brands can reach new audiences and capture geographically or culturally inaccessible markets by harnessing the power of publishing affiliates. It has a much better return-on-investment than other digital channels in acquisition of new customers. The affiliate marketing channel works on a commission-based referral system, where the advertiser pays the affiliate partners based on delivered results like sales, pay-per-lead, pay-per-action or pay-per-click.

4 Strategies Your Business Should Adopt For Affiliate Marketing Success
An effective affiliate program allows businesses to improve their exposure to the market faster for little capital outlay. It is an attractive proposition for brands because money is only paid if the channel drives any business to the advertiser. Affiliate marketing programs do require time and effort to build and it comes with its own challenges; however, it can be a worthwhile financial investment.  Here are 4 affiliate marketing strategies your business should implement to ensure the greatest level of value.

1. Find Large Network Of Diverse Affiliates

Getting started on setting up an affiliate program is easy but the real challenge is finding good quality affiliates or partners to drive new consumers to your business. Do your market research to find partners or sites with built-in traffic interested in your offerings or take advantage of audience engagement in top affiliates in the cashback and voucher space such as Retailmenot or Ebates. Many brands make the mistake of being reliant on only a few affiliates.  This is a risky strategy because traffic is likely to be limited and advertisers will see steadily lower response rates from the same traffic. Brands will not gain any real competitive edge by aligning with only a few super affiliates because they are likely to be promoting your competitor’s products or services as well.  Sticking to a few key partners can also put your sales at risk.  It’s not uncommon for top affiliates have to suddenly stop promoting your product/service due to an exclusive deal with a competitor or change in industry regulations.

Brands should instead look to work with a large network of quality and reliable affiliates for an increasing level of sales. It is wise to spend time and resources on continually recruiting and optimizing affiliates based on performance.  Follow a clear planning strategy in detecting gaps within the type of affiliates needed (bloggers, content, cashback) or generic content areas (sports, Christmas, Presidential election) and preferred verticals.

2. Commit To Effective Communication

To run a successful affiliate program, you have to communicate clearly and consistently with affiliates. Affiliates sort through hundreds of emails each day from different affiliate programs. In order to get noticed, you must make sure your communications are direct, targeted and personalized. Instead of blanket-emails, you must tailor your communications by segmenting and profiling your affiliates. You will get the best responses by using multiple communication channels, including email, chat, and forums.  To keep growing the channel, you need to effectively answer any questions your current affiliates may have and also look at ways of recruiting new affiliates. Remember, the affiliates have direct access to your target audience; take advantage of this by asking them questions in order to get more accurate feedback about your business.

3. Provide Tools and Resources

Affiliates may be skilled at marketing your products, but they are bound to fail if they do not have the necessary tools and resources needed to be successful. Affiliates are actively looking to promote your product in an attractive and appealing way for your customers in order to improve the conversion rate. To do this well they need access to media and information. You must support your affiliates in promoting your brand better by providing them with relevant and quality materials including video, content, press releases, product feeds, and more. Keep updating fresh and new creative content for your affiliates and make sure it aligns with your overall digital marketing campaigns. Also offer your affiliates regular tips and advice on how to successfully market your products so that they can increase conversions and further benefit everyone involved. We’re all in this to be profitable.  Affiliates are more likely to promote your products or services if they can earn more from your site.

4. Invest In The Right Affiliate Management Technology

All affiliate management solutions are not made equal in capabilities so your business has to choose the right technology depending on your specific needs. Solutions should ideally address potential pain points and also be intuitive and easy to use.  Even basic affiliate programs need advanced and robust solutions to track sales accurately and to deliver a cost-effective ROI. Good program management solutions should automate core processes like tracking, reporting, and payment of affiliates. It will also provide vital data insights into what seems to be working well and what needs to be optimized. Analytics is incredibly important in estimating the true value of an affiliate. Even though the last click may be driven by a different channel, there is value in affiliates that help push customers higher up the sales funnel. It is important to recognize and work with such partners for affiliate marketing success.

Convert With Affiliate Marketing
An effective affiliate marketing channel acts as part of the path to conversion. While there is no plug-and-play solution for affiliate marketing success, following the above mentioned principles will help advertisers find value in the right affiliates. Remember that persistence, patience, and knowledge pays well in the long road to creating a market-leading affiliate program.