U.S. consumer spending is up. So is consumer confidence. And so is business investment. And no less a sensible sage than Warren Buffett says that “the mother lode of opportunities resides in the U.S.”
We’re seeing the same positive trend here, and with clients. One longtime client who really struggled during the recession told us last week that last month was up 30% over the same month last year. Another client’s revenues have grown 400% over last year. And now that the snow that choked much of the country is clearing, watch the economy soar.
So if your sales aren’t up, if you’re not yet taking advantage of the turnaround in the economy, we have to wonder why. Because others (your competitors?) are already getting primed. With new marketing and new sales initiatives aimed at growing their crops while the sun is shining.
Creating and sharing valuable, free content will bring all the prospects to your digital yard, but how do you translate that intrigue into sales? While social media focuses on conversations with your loyal followers, traditional email marketing — a tool thought to be old-fashioned, or even dead by some — boasts impressive conversion rates and moves the “conversation to commerce” (copyblogger.com).
The kicker lies in the numbers. Effective email and content marketing is not only cost-effective, but, according to the Direct Marketing Association, has “an ROI of around 4,300%.” #wowza
Here are a few key tips we’ve drafted to help spruce up your emails and up those click-through rates.
1. Tailor your subject lines
The single most important factor that leads to someone opening your email is your email’s subject line. Tailor it to be fewer than 60 characters to keep the messaging clear so that your reader knows what to expect.
2. Keep the content fresh
It’s all about content, content, content. Shall we repeat that again? Content! Create quality and niche-specific content, elaborating on your profession and expertise, that can’t be found via a simple Google search.
3. Create an eye-catching call-to-action
Emails should read like a narrative, so design them to guide your readers’ eyes to a bold call-to-action. This actionable item, whether it’s a link, a clickable button or a phone number, should urge your prospect to act.
Need to fine-tune your email marketing strategy?
We can help.
Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it?
Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, has declared that if you’re using guest blogging for link building, you should “stick a fork in it.” Matt also slammed article directories as a link-building tactic.
Google and Matt’s reasoning is that something that started as an authentic way to increase a website and author’s reach and authority has become spammy. Too many have taken advantage of the guest blogging and article directory link benefits and ruined it for everyone.
Believe it or not, now there are guest post and keyword article generators, websites you can pay to play, and even folks who will pay you to put their post on your blog.
Matt shared, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”
But he also said, “So there you have it: the decay of a once-authentic way to reach people. Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”
What does this mean? It means that Google will devalue these types of links and, in the future, these types of links might even hurt your search rankings.
What’s the solution? Fabulous content and earned links.
How do you do that? Create terrific, relevant, valuable content and put it on your blog or website regularly. Share that content everywhere – Facebook, LinkedIn, your email newsletter. If your content is good, people will read it, share it, link to it and talk about it. This is how you earn the links and engagement that can help your search engine rankings.
There’s also the benefit of having greater keyword density on your website. This means using keywords that people would use when searching for a business or service like yours.
Plus you’ll be regularly adding relevant content to your website that will make it website and your blog a destination, giving people a reason to visit regularly and stay longer – which is also a search engine ranking booster.
The truth is, it’s not easy to create good content. Search engine optimization and content creation require art, not just science. Blog posts and website content that get search engine rankings now need to be longer and juicier. You need substance, not just style.
To help with search, you need to write pieces that set you apart from your competitors and position you as a thought leader and authority. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Some posts need to be long – like 750-1000 words long
- Write a mix of types of posts – opinion, how-tos, and news
- Include the keywords people will use when searching for a company like yours
- Look at your list of keywords for inspiration if you don’t know what to write about
- Do it
- Do it again next week
Not everyone is equipped with the ability to do all of this writing and sharing. Need a content strategy or help? Let me know.
Social media is a hot topic of conversation, but sometimes you have to wonder, “What’s the business value of social media?”
According to a recent report, while only 14% of social media users trust ads, 73% of them trust peer recommendations. Social media is just that—a dialogue between you (aka your business), your customer base, and other peers. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus offer your business a unique opportunity to converse and build genuine, one-on-one relationships with consumers of all types.
To see the best results, however, you’ll need a social media marketing strategy to keep this dialogue effective and ROI-oriented. Here are 3 strategies that will help.
1. Interact with your followers
Initiate and extend the conversation past a comment or page like. Send a private message to a new fan, expressing thanks for the follow, or respond to a status post comment with an open-ended, topic-based statement.
2. Share valuable content
In today's tech-savvy world, consumers can find anything they're looking for online—so it's better if they find it through you. Embrace the value of content sharing and post the fan-favorite cupcake recipe or offer tips to better maintaining your car's transmission. Your followers will appreciate this and remember you for it.
3. Create contests
Who doesn't love to win a free prize? Creating a fun, simple and unique contest that offers your followers a desirable giveaway can spike your page's engagement. It can also motivate your fans to spread the word about your business to their friends. If you're new on social media, keep the prize product or service-related to teach people about what you do.
We can help.
A powerful and successful brand is one that evokes a positive emotion from a consumer and creates the perception of credibility and trustworthiness. When a consumer believes in a brand and its positioning, a relationship is born; therefore, it makes sense for businesses with great branding to generate great sales.
These three tips can help you improve your company’s branding:
1. Be authentic
Developing trust with your target audience should be a top priority. It’s important to relay honest, transparent content with your customers. Just be yourself and promote the values that you believe in.
2. Be consistent
When a consumer trusts that your products and/or services will meet their expectations, then you’ve mastered consistency. Think of Starbucks: When you walk in to pick up your daily latte, you have an expectation of the type of product (your drink) and service (customer experience) you’ll receive. This is brand consistency.
3. Be relatable
It’s easy to connect to a brand that inspires an emotional response. When you share your core values with your audience – such as a love for fitness or a commitment to innovation – you can make a lasting impression. A prime example is the Coca-Cola holiday campaign, which promotes a feeling of warmth, joy and family that many of its customers can relate to.
A well-designed image that represents your products and services is a powerful marketing tool — and a necessity for most companies. This identifiable design piece, a.k.a. your logo, acts as the visual embodiment of your brand and fosters customer recognition.
When creating your logo, focus on making it simple, yet memorable. Here are 5 steps to help you do just that:
1. Tell your tale
An effective logo tells your story. Choose three adjectives that best describe your products and services to inspire the logo design before that process begins. For example: a high-end restaurant may choose “gourmet, sophisticated and delicious,” while a children’s apparel line could go with “fun, lively and happy.”
2. Select a style
Most memorable logos are designed with one of three basic styles in mind: a font that spells out your business’s name, such as the logos for Wal-Mart and IBM; an identifiable graphic, such as with Target or Apple; or an abstract design, such as the logos for Nike and Adidas.
3. Choose a shape
Picking the appropriate shape for a graphic logo is crucial. Circles and ellipses are related to a positive emotional message, such as community and love, while squares and triangles are associated with power and strength. Keep in mind the adjectives you chose to represent your business and pick your logo’s shapes accordingly.
4. Pick a palette
A palette of two to three colors will do the trick. You never want to overwhelm your logo with too many colors. These colors should reflect the industry you’re in, too. Color psychology determines that reds and yellows are appetizing and well suited for the food industry, while bright pinks and blues — typical colors that children attach to — are perfect selections for children’s apparel.
5. Keep it clean
While there are many facets of creating a powerful and memorable logo, keep in mind that less is more. A simple design will equate with a clear positioning. You want your customers to identify your business easily — a complex, elaborate design runs the risk of causing confusion.