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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.

benefits of affiliate marketing

Understanding the Role and the Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing gets a bad rap many should know the benefits of affiliate marketing. Some people think it’s a business strategy that empowers robot-crawling ads to surreptitiously mine people’s Internet history through the placement of annoying banner ads. In actuality, affiliate marketing is transparent and so well regarded that millions of people use it to make money and help consumers find the products they’re looking for.

According to the most recent AffStat Report, 51.3 percent of affiliate marketers earn anywhere from $5,000 to more than $500,000.

In order to understand how affiliate marketing helps people make money, it’s important to know what it actually does.

Independent publishers, known as “affiliates,” act as an outsourced digital-sales team and can include anything from a personal blog to a large product-reviews website. Affiliates make money by setting up clickable ads on their websites that lead customers to the main business network. If consumers are successfully converted, affiliates claim commissions through predetermined flat or value-based rates for each lead.

Why Affiliate Marketing Works

Affiliate marketing is successful because it tracks the revenue growth of each lead through data. One of the main criteria for successfully converting leads is to create accurate ad targets. Accurate ads are those that are more likely to incite readers to click on them and buy the product.

Think of a highly trafficked U.S., news website: Most news sites make money through direct advertising (ads they sell themselves), affiliated marketing (ads placed through a network) and subscriptions. Big websites might have their own sales staff but also incorporate affiliate marketing, with ad prices based on the varying value the network assigns to demand levels, size, and audience type. Commissions for leads, obviously, are also based on these criteria.

For example, well-educated readers from a high-income bracket are assigned high lead values because they’re more likely to have disposable income and a desire to buy products. The ad network distinguishes these customers through user-tracking technology (like cookies) and assigns ads to appropriate affiliate websites.

This ability to distinguish targets is what makes the business model so attractive, says Crystal Lopez, Lunarpages’ manager of affiliate marketing.

“Having hundreds or thousands of affiliates promote your brand over the ever-growing Internet can reach more of an audience than a company just running their normal marketing efforts,” she says.

Lunarpages uses its own affiliate-marketing program to promote its products, on top of traditional marketing efforts. Lopez says the company reaches its biggest audience through affiliates, which allows Lunarpages to connect with “hundreds and thousands of individual blogs, forums, email, PPC and the like.”

Not All Affiliate Marketing Is Created Equal

While different affiliate networks can make money for their smaller affiliate partners, not all networks are the same. Choosing the right network is a critical decision that should be made thoughtfully.

Lopez says that giving an affiliate a quality brand or service to promote as well as a choice of options of “banners, links, landing pages [and] coupons,” is very important for potential affiliates.

“If you give an affiliate something they can’t sell because it’s low in quality, or only a few banners to use, and high pricing, they will probably not sign up for your program or will leave shortly after seeing no results,” she says.

That’s why Lunarpages offers a variety of options in its affiliate program.

The expectation of quality service also extends to the business relationship between the affiliate network and the publishers. Lunarpages offers the benefits of affiliate marketing by cultivates a direct, one-on-one connection with affiliate partners that has led to increases in promotions, ranking and sales.

“There is a large percentage now of conversions from clicks due to the increased efforts of our affiliate partners and affiliate-department staff,” she says.

Lopez also says Lunarpages is competitive in the marketplace because its hosting services offer high-commission payout opportunities. The company’s dozens of banners, links and network partnerships mean affiliates can make up to $300 per referral in the program.

Some of the features of the program include varying levels of commissions, including uncapped and multilevel commissions. Lunarpages’ commission table helps potential affiliates decide how much they could make through sales. For example, a starter-hosting program between one and three sales per month can lead to $20 a month in revenue, while a business-hosting program can pay $125 for the same number of sales, primarily because the value of each sale at that point is much larger.

Advanced tracking and reporting tools are also important. Lunarpages tracks affiliate sales through cookies that don’t expire unless they’re overwritten, Lopez says. This means Lunarpages can determine how many visitors arrived on an affiliate website via different campaigns, even within the same session, which is a huge advantage for affiliate marketers.

“In the case when the visitor leaves the site but comes back later to purchase the product, [it gives] the affiliate credit for the sale,” Lopez adds.

A successful marketing strategy depends on the effort and the practical marketing knowledge of the affiliate itself. For example, Lopez says affiliates that use good keywords to properly match their content with their ad business will make the user experience of clicking through an ad for a product way more accurate.

As the benefits of affiliate marketing business’s grows dramatically year after year, it’s important to keep the engines running bug-free. So far, it’s full steam ahead for the Lunarpages affiliate marketing program.

[image: vaeenma/iStock/ThinkStockPhotos]