Determining how to spend what’s already probably a limited marketing budget is one of the tasks most marketing departments struggle with, especially if you don’t have enough employees in the department to devote someone entirely to accounting. However, as with every department, it’s important you’re able to show the results of your projects so you know your money is being spent wisely. The amount one business ought to spend on digital marketing isn’t the same compared to other businesses; a lot depends on the size of your business, its goals and the scale of your budget.
Shift Money Around
According to the CMO Council, 28 percent of marketers have reduced their offline advertising budget in favor of more digital marketing. Taking money out of your current budget for a different form of marketing – TV, newspaper or radio advertisements, for example – and adding it to your digital marketing budget is the simplest way to find more funds for your digital venture when you’re certain your business is strapped for cash. Look at the returns – via surveys, referrals and feedback – to see which forms of advertising are no longer performing to your expectations. For instance, TV ads might not be necessary if the majority of your audience doesn’t tune in to the shows airing when your commercial airs.
Majority to Digital
HubSpot reports that content marketing costs 62 percent less than outbound marketing, yet it generates three times as many leads. If you devote the majority of your marketing budget to digital marketing, you’ll see significantly better results. The majority of your budget should go to digital marketing efforts, such as:
- Content (written, graphic and video)
- Paid ads
- Social media posts
- Search engine optimization
The only exception is if your targeted demographic is comprised heavily of people who don’t use the Internet. For example, the oldest members of the population use social media sites like Instagram and Twitter at a far smaller rate than the majority of Americans. In that case, continuing to focus on venues such as TV, newspaper and radio might lead to a better return on your investment.
Percentage Is More Important Than the Dollar Amount
Bigger businesses are always going to outspend smaller ones when it comes to marketing. Don’t look at the prospect of spending more on digital marketing as a specific number you have to reach. If your total annual marketing budget is $20,000, you’re not going to be able to comfortably spend $18,000 on online marketing, even if a rival in the industry is known for spending $50,000 on digital marketing alone. Devote the majority of your budget to online marketing, and make it go further by producing your own content and operating your own business social media profiles instead of hiring out whenever possible.
It’s a good idea to devote at least 60 percent of your marketing budget to digital marketing – perhaps more if your business is online-focused or otherwise targeted at a demographic that spends a lot of time online. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of larger businesses spending more money. If you spend an adequate portion of what you have available, your efforts can achieve results.Read More
Nearly every site on the web strives to attract new visitors. After all, the more awareness you’re able to generate for your business or personal brand, the more opportunities you’ll have to profit. However, simply getting people to visit your site isn’t enough to generate substantial returns. As Kissmetrics reveals, within eight seconds of visiting a new site, the vast majority of Internet users have decided whether or not they wish to stick around. While seeing a noticeable uptick in your visitor numbers can certainly be uplifting, this actually means very little if most of these people are leaving within a matter of seconds. The following pointers will prove useful in retaining visitor interest and building lasting awareness for your site.
Have a Structured, User-Friendly Interface
When visiting a website for the first time, people don’t want to expend a lot of effort. If the information they seek can’t be located in a matter of seconds, many first-time visitors won’t hesitate to leave a site and never look back. With this in mind, your site’s navigation menus should be user-friendly and easy to spot. Instead of having a multitude of different options, limit yourself to no more than five clearly labeled drop-down menus. People without a preexisting loyalty to your company have no real incentive to spend their time making sense of a confusing interface, so the easier your site is to navigate, the better.
Fix Any Lag Issues that are Plaguing Your Website
Lagginess and long load times are among the foremost reasons first-time visitors abandon websites. Frankly, given the abundance of options Internet users have at their fingertips, this shouldn’t come as much of a shock. If your site can’t load in a timely manner, why should prospective customers stick around? Odds are you have plenty of competitors, some of which are sure to have lightning-fast websites. If your website suffers from any lag issues, it behooves you to enlist the services of an experienced web developer and nip those problems in the bud.
Add Gamifying Elements
A growing number of modern-day websites are embracing gamification – the practice of incorporating video game-like elements in a site’s makeup. The overall mechanics vary from site to site, but this typically entails rewarding visitors with digital currency for visiting a certain number of pages on a site or taking special surveys. These points can subsequently be exchanged for digital goodies, like online coupons, skins or desktop backgrounds. Not only does this provide new visitors with some material incentive to stick around, it’s sure to give them a better understanding of what you’re company’s all about.
Getting prospective customers to visit your website is certainly a big accomplishment – but it’s only half the battle. In order for their visits to mean anything, you’ll need to entice them to stay. Although holding someone’s attention in the digital age can be a tall order, it’s far from impossible, provided you know the right tricks. A user-friendly interface, a fast website and an understanding of gamification will serve you well in the quest to capture the interest of first-time visitors.Read More
These days, any company that wishes to remain competitive needs to put a substantial amount of effort into creating web content. Blog posts, in-depth articles and short videos are among the most popular types of content businesses set out to create. However, when putting together this content, a surprising number of companies neglect to find an appropriate voice. Instead of making a conscious effort to convey an authoritative or casual tone, they inadvertently adopt a narrative voice that’s all over the map. Not only does content written in this style read unevenly, it often leaves the audience unclear on who it’s actually meant for. If your company’s web content is in need of a consistent voice, the following tips can help you find it.
Are You Trying to Reach a Younger Audience?
When determining the right voice for your content, take a moment to consider who you’re trying to reach. If your target audience skews younger, a casual, laidback tone is typically the way to go. While an authoritative, all-business tone certainly has its uses, this type of voice is often unable to hold the attention of millennials and young professionals. When attempting to curry favor with a younger audience, your content should read more like a friendly conversation and less like a scholarly essay. Don’t be afraid of interjecting bits of humor and casual slang – and don’t get hung up on grammar. For example, many professional writers can’t stand the thought of ending a sentence with a preposition, but frankly, that’s how people speak.
How Knowledgeable is Your Intended Audience?
It’s also important to consider how much your target audience knows about your chosen field. If your goal in creating content is to educate people on your industry, make sure to coherently explain any complex concepts or terminology that people outside of your field are unfamiliar with. Conversely, if you’re trying to reach people who have experience in your industry, don’t be afraid to project an air of authority in your content. Industry insiders are liable to be turned off by detailed explanations of terms and ideas with which they’re intimately familiar. As Small Business Trends’ Lisa Barone points out, it’s imperative that you think like your readers when creating content.
What Kind of Industry Does Your Business Serve?
The industry your company serves is another important factor in determining your narrative voice. If you work in an industry that promotes creativity and freedom of expression – like web design – a casual tone is sure to strike a positive chord with your target audience. Alternatively, if you work in a very by-the-books, matter-of-fact industry – like manufacturing or supply chain management – an authoritative, no-nonsense tone is the way to go.
Shockingly, many of the people tasked with creating engaging content are unfamiliar with the concept of narrative voice. Such individuals tend to adopt a “writing is writing” approach when putting together blog posts and feature articles. However, a good voice helps content read more naturally and truly resonate with its intended audience. Taking the above mentioned factors into consideration when creating web content, will heighten reader engagement and boost consumer interest.Read More
For every piece of content your company posts online, think not just about the relevancy of the topic and the interests of your targeted demographic, but also about how you can bring the content to life with the right images. Kissmetrics reports that content with images get 94 percent more views than content without images. This applies not only to blog posts and web pages but even to much shorter posts you make on social media. Relying on stock photos is one good strategy, but if you have the means, consider creating your own images to use.
Plan Before the Shoot
According to the CMO Council, 65 percent of senior marketing executives declare that visual media is core to their
marketing strategies. If you understand the importance of visual aids in your content, then, don’t be satisfied to simply take a picture of a product and throw it up on the web. Plan your images before you take them – sketch or storyboard them even if possible. What kind of lighting will you use? Will you focus on a product by itself, models or
employees using a product or service, or a product with other flourishes? Give yourself several options for each piece of content and save what images you don’t use for future use.
Tell a Story
The best images used with content tell a story that connects to the themes of your posts. For example, if you’re writing about the best ways to clean laminate floors and your cleaning product is one of the options, show a model looking at a dirty floor in disgust, followed by the same model using your product to clean. This is where having your own photos will prove especially effective, as you may find stock photos that could tell the story you want to convey, but they won’t have your products in the picture. When a visitor scans the content and sees your product right there in the image, they’ll receive another subliminal message to shop for your brand.
Hire a Pro
If you have difficulty thinking about the artistry of a photo or planning a photo shoot, hire a professional photographer. This is likely the easiest way for most businesses to go, as a photographer will also be able to handle all of the copyright details you’ll need to legally use the images online, including model releases if applicable. With a professional, you can provide her with a general outline of your upcoming posts and let her come up with the themes for the photos if need be.
The right images will make more people interested in your company’s content and lead to more social media shares, website visits and visit conversions. When you use your own images and take care to protect the copyrights or purchase exclusive copyrights from the photographer, your website will stand out because none of the competition will be using your photos. If you don’t have the time to budget to rely exclusively on original photos, use a mixture of original photos and stock photo purchases.Read More
There’s no longer any question that Internet marketing is where companies should focus their promotional efforts. Depending on the type of industry your company serves, television, radio and print ads may still prove effective at reeling in new business, but these traditional forms of advertising aren’t nearly as far-reaching – or cost-effective – as well-executed online marketing strategies. However, most companies lack the resources and marketing knowhow to immediately set such strategies into motion. Small businesses, in particular, generally don’t have resident marketing gurus on staff to guide these efforts. If you’re open to accepting outside help – and frankly, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be – enlist the services of the following contractors.
Online Marketing Companies
These days, there are countless companies that specialize in helping businesses step up their online marketing efforts. Even if you already have a number of solid strategies in place, companies like these can help you improve them.
If your past attempts at Internet marketing haven’t garnered the results you’d hoped for, consider signing on with a highly-rated online marketing company. Taking your business’s target customer base and parent industry into careful consideration, these companies will develop marketing strategies designed to elicit attention from prominent search engines, increase visitor traffic and elicit interest from prospective clients. Although online promotion is hardly a one-size-fits-all affair, many of these strategies involve a combination of content creation, search engine optimization and social media activity.
If your latest web marketing strategy revolves around content creation, it’s in your best interest to bring some experienced content creators into the fray. As Business 2 Community’s Erin Nelson points out, high-quality web content should be created for every facet of a business. Companies focusing on feature articles and blog posts are urged to seek out skilled writers who have experience composing pieces that pertain to your specific industry. If video-based content is what you’re after, look for filmmakers and graphic designers who specialize in the production of promotional videos.
Social Media Managers
Depending on the size of your business, managing your various social media accounts can be a full-time job. Tending to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts on top of all the other responsibilities you have is liable to prove incredibly taxing. With this in mind, consider bringing a dedicated social media manager onboard. As the title suggests, this person will create well-timed promotional posts to generate buzz for your business, as well as its products, services and web content. This person will also handle customer relations across the social media landscape.
Whenever a current or prospective client shoots you a message on social media, your social media manager will respond in a timely and professional manner.
There’s absolutely no shame in outsourcing your company’s online marketing efforts. Allowing experienced experts to handle your web marketing strategies enables you and your staff to focus on serving clients and making various improvements to your business. As long as the strategies your contractors develop bring in new web traffic and lead to an uptick in new business, this arrangement should be win/win.Read More
When developing content for your blog or company website, your posts should be long enough to prove meaningful and worthwhile to readers but not so long that they see walls of text. QuickSprout reports that posts over 1500 words receive 22.6 percent more Facebook likes and 68.1 percent more shares on Twitter than posts shorter than that. Approximately 1500 words is the sweet spot for content; if you plan a longer piece of content, consider splitting it into multiple parts of a series of posts. However, if you’re like most bloggers and business marketers, you may struggle to even get the piece to 1000 words, let alone 1500. Figure out how to write posts of that length without becoming repetitive or packing the post with pointless “fluff.”
Hire the Right Professionals
Take the anxiety of coming up with long enough posts out of your hands entirely by hiring the right professionals. Just be careful who you hire. Digital Current discusses how and why to avoid cheap SEO marketing services—which doesn’t mean you should avoid the quality services. Expect to invest a small portion of your marketing budget, not pay pennies, to get native- or fluent-speakers to write compelling content tailored to your industry. If you hire them to ghostwrite, you can even publish the posts under your name. These professionals are skilled both in writing long enough content to entice more readers and in SEO placement so your content is more likely to come up on search engine results.
Focus on What Each Section Adds
If you opt not to hire professionals or your budget only allows for some outsourcing, craft the content yourself. Don’t focus on the word count when initially drafting a post. Write out all of your ideas similarly to how you might have written an essay in school:
- Think of your thesis. Although you’re not obligated to place it at the end of your introduction paragraph, as you would have been at school, you should know clearly what the point of your post is. The thesis should be reflected in the title of the piece. For example, if your blog is about special diet recipes, a post’s thesis might be “How to Lose Weight with a No-Carb Diet.”
- Come up with at least three, if not more, subsections. These subsections will examine your thesis in more detail and even help prove the validity of your argument. For instance, with the “no-carb diet” post, you could choose to examine how a low-carb diet causes less bloating, gives you more energy and triggers fewer cravings.
- Write at least three solid, unique sentences for each section. Don’t be afraid to add more sentences, but don’t feel like you must. Think of them as miniature posts all on their own. The first sentence introduces the idea, the second proves it and the third emphasizes the conclusion.
- Add a conclusion. Although a wrap-up paragraph at the end of a piece isn’t always necessary, it will add to the word count and remind the reader to follow through with the point of your piece.
Do Your Research
Citing sources not only lends your piece more gravitas, it also adds to the word count without seeming repetitive. Quote a statistic or an idea as discussed on a reputable online source and include a hyperlink to where you found the content. Avoid citing little-known or unprofessional publications.
Longer blog and website content is more likely to engage your audience. While not every post has to be in the 1500-word range, it’s beneficial to your website or blog to have a few 1500-word posts in rotation. Get in the habit of writing more compelling content, and you’ll learn instinctively how to write longer content.Read More
If you’re familiar with SEO (search engine optimization), you know how essential it is to bringing in new consumers. imForza reports that 93 percent of online experiences start at a search engine. It makes sense to worry about keywords and original material when crafting the content – blogs, product descriptions, company information, etc. – for your company’s website or online store. However, you may be wondering if you should worry about SEOs in product or company reviews that appear online.
Reviews Are for and by Consumers
Reviews aren’t meant for company intervention. They’re written by consumers to share their opinions with other consumers. While it’s ideal for a company when a reviewer happens to give a positive review and even more helpful when that review happens to contain the right industry-relevant keywords, it’s not your place to worry about the SEO effectiveness of reviews.
Reasons to Encourage Reviews
Even if you can’t direct what consumers write about you, you should encourage them to do so. According to Search Engine Land, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Potential customers are likely search out reviews about your company or products before they consider buying, so encourage customers to leave them on popular consumer sites like Amazon and Yelp – and even on your own website. Incentivize leaving honest reviews by offering a coupon code or a free item to anyone who sends you a link to one of her reviews, for example, or automatically sending a coupon code to anyone who completes a review on your website. You might also consider sending a free sample or free service coupon to popular bloggers in your industry in exchange for an honest review.
You don’t even have to worry about the risk of bad reviews because consumers who see only good reviews get suspicious that they’re all fakes. As long as the majority of your reviews are positive, they’ll do their job, especially if you reach out to any negative reviewers and try to make their experience right.
What to Avoid
It’s tempting to direct the content of reviews so they’re positive and more SEO-friendly, but don’t. Even if you just say something like, “And we’d appreciate it if you include the term ‘hot new shoes’ in your review” seems suspect to potential customers and reviewers. Let the products speak for themselves.
Don’t only reward positive reviews with incentives or try to erase negative reviews. Word will travel and people will boycott your merchandise or services if you attempt to manipulate the outcome in such a way. Plus, only positive reviews on a website seem fake. Instead, publicly respond to negative reviews by saying you’re sorry the customer is dissatisfied and offer a solution. Do not get into an argument.
Never pay people to produce positive reviews. They’re easier to spot than you might think and not very convincing. They’re not as effective as genuinely happy reviews or even SEO marketing campaigns focused on social media and website content instead of fake reviews.
Focus on the content your company produces instead of reviews when it comes to SEO. While you can and should encourage consumers to leave a review, you can’t tell them what to post, even if your instructions are minimal. Although new customers will rely on reviews when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy from your company, your number one SEO goal should be getting your website or store to the top of the search engine result pages for the search terms most relevant to your business.Read More