Category Archives: Digital Marketing

5 Must Haves of Every Online Marketing Plan

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Puzzle Squares On Smartphone Shows Pieces of Online MarketingWhen we were coming up with a title for this post, the logical choice was ‘5 essential elements of an internet marketing plan.’ Though logical, that title didn’t strike us as strong enough—not nearly strong enough to emphasize how much owners and managers need these must-haves to achieve online marketing results.  No one is going to find out about your website just from its mere existence (called the ‘if we build it, they will come’ phenomena).  Your business MUST have a solid internet marketing plan with all the essential elements that drives customers to your online presence—and converts them to paying customers.

Solid website

A solid website seems like a given; after visiting thousands of sub-par websites, we’re here to tell you that isn’t true.  Your online marketing efforts should revolve around your customers (not what you want them to know, but what they want to know) to drive traffic to your website.  Without a solid website for customers to land on and use, all your online marketing efforts are going to result in a big goose egg.  A solid website includes:

  • Text your English teacher would approve (i.e. no spelling errors, typos, grammatically correct),
  • Excellent user experience (clear call-to-actions, user-friendly navigation, etc.),
  • Design targeted toward your primary audience,
  • Mobile-friendly features and option,
  • Easy-to-read content written specifically for your audience,
  • Loading speed,
  • Quality images,
  • Contact information.

It’s important to note that you need all of these elements when building a solid website.  We’ve all seen websites that have some of these elements but not other key parts; we’d strongly recommend you go down this checklist and make sure your website checks off all the boxes.  If it doesn’t, find a company that can build a solid, customized website for your company—and provide all the services that go into a high-quality website (professional writing, design, security, etc.)

SEO

SEO Optimize Keywords Links Signpost Showing Website Marketing Optimization road sign for local seoSearch engine optimization is creating an optimal website and content for search engines to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are many different ways to optimize your website, but here are some of general, basic ways:

  • Adding regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content targeted for your primary audience
  • Using search engine optimization tactics such as writing strong, accurate headlines and building an optimized website structure
  • Hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you at the top of organic search engine listings in local towns and cities. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization technology is an essential part of reaching local customers searching for information and services. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website at the top of local organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

blog at center of targetContent marketing is creating and sharing content relevant to your customers. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless.

The goal of content marketing is to build trust. In the past, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. Excellent content marketing delivers the information your customers are searching for on the internet (on search engines and on social media), and gives them links to find more out about products, and to contact your business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with search engines. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.  If you don’t have time to maintain a regular content marketing schedule, contact a company that can produce professional content specific to your business and targeted at your customers. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Remember that you still need to allocate time to give input.

Content should be shared via social media, email marketing, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Social Media Marketing

social media sites behind smart phoneSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. Social media marketing gives your business these benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products and services. We’ve seen businesses where customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine what networks your customers are on. Factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for social media.  Automation tools can help with this process, but don’t overuse social media automation.   Be real on social media and avoid the common social media marketing ‘traps’ that some businesses fall in.  A solid social media presence consists of regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network), relevant resources, and prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service).  To check all those criteria off your list, designate a staff member (or company) adequate time to devote to your efforts.

Email Marketing  

Statistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers and good email marketing program.  Don’t send out thousands of emails from your company server.

To get the best results out of your email marketing, don’t buy random email lists.  Spam emails are a sure turn-off for customers and potential customers. Instead, compile a strong email list by:

  • Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch in-store or at tradeshows.
  • Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases.
  • Create a social media contest, and include an honest request for their email in the contest.

Craft emails with all the elements of a essential email marketing piece:

  • Truthful, eye-catching email subject line.
  • Strong media, videos, and visuals.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA).

Online Marketing Diagram Shows Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsIntegration

For optimal results, integrate all your online marketing efforts into a regular, coordinated internet marketing plan.  Start with a strong, optimized website with search engine optimization, and create a blog with topics that drive traffic back to your website.  Finally, create a schedule in-line with your business cycle that promotes your content (email marketing, social media marketing) and your website. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

6 Ways to Win Over Your Online Audience

A happy online audience: group of happy people looking at a tablet computerYour email recipients, social media followers, or website visitors may not be as tangible as a customer who walks into your business, but you can still win over your online audience in your email marketing, social media, search engine optimization pages, and content marketing pieces.  Remember, these are people you are reaching; believe it or not a fair number of marketers have lost touch with that fact—and these best practices of online marketing.

Be relevant.

You’re not going to win over your online audience if they don’t feel you can relate to them. Plan accordingly: what does your audience care about? What entertains them? What do they want to know? Choose subjects for your emails, social media posts, articles, and website pages that provide value and fit the pain points and voice of your audience. Pair those online marketing efforts with clickable headlines and you create a win-win situation for you and your audience.

Don’t ignore them.

This is one of the most common mistakes we see, and it comes in two forms: 1) by not answering emails and social media messages and 2) by ignoring negative responses and comments. If you receive an email off of your website, respond promptly. If you don’t have a full response immediately, let the customer know that you are collecting information and will get back to them—then follow-up as soon as you can. Not responding to customers with negative feedback can also back fire in another way, leading to a social media page full of negative reviews and angry comments.

Stop trying to trick them.

frustrated womanSensational email subject lines, click baiting headlines, misleading social media posts…they give us shivers just thinking about all the different ways companies and agencies try to trick their customers. DON’T do it. You’re not going to build trust with your customers, and your time and efforts are a waste. Unless it’s April Fool’s Day and the trick is for fun, don’t destroy the relationship you built with your audience with underhanded tactics.

Provide excellent customer service.

Stop thinking of online customer service as different than in-person customer service. If a potential customer calls you on the phone, or walks into your office, they expect to talk to someone. An email from your website or a message (other than solicitation emails) through one of your social media channels deserves the same prompt customer service response. Respond quickly, and follow these other rules for excellent online customer service to reap the rewards. Remember, customers appreciate your efforts, and studies have shown they do choose a company that provides excellent customer service over another competitor—even when the product or service costs more.

Stop yelling at them.

Businessman sitting at table and screaming in megaphone on laptop while content marketingNo one likes an obnoxious jerk; that’s true for in-person and online marketing. Stop screaming only advertisements and start building trust. Give your customers, and potential customers, information that can help them (you get more points if you optimize your content for customers and search engines—here’s how here) and include strong calls to action. That doesn’t mean you should stop advertising, but it does mean that you are going to sabotage your efforts if your social media page is full of “buy this!” “buy that!” The same goes for your emails and content marketing. Win your audience over the same way you win a spouse over: with time and trust. Very few people are going to say “yes” to an obnoxious proposal on the first date.

Be present.

Studies have shown that regular marketing gets regular results—if your marketing efforts offer value to your customers. Online marketing is a marathon. Create a marketing plan with regular touches (content marketing articles, social media posts, mail pieces, emails, etc.) and stick to it. If you can’t keep up with your marketing plan, partner with a company that can produce optimized, customized marketing pieces specific to your business on a regular schedule that reaches your audience—all the elements of a marketing plan that wins over your audience.

7 of Our Top Tips for Companies New to Online Marketing

Online Marketing Pyramid Has Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsYou’ve heard all the online marketing buzz terms: social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing…and you’re ready to jump on board. You’ve heard about the results that other companies are getting using the internet and you’re ready to start using all the online marketing tools to market your company.

But are you really ready?

The world of internet marketing is not as intimidating as it seems, but it is an unknown that won’t yield results if you blindly jump in. On top of that, it’s also always evolving and changing as technology advances. So where do you start? We’ve compiled a list of some of the top tips we’d give to anyone ready to start using these valuable tools—in fact, we’ve given them to our own rookie clients.

Know what you want to achieve.

Don’t jump into online marketing without a goal. Your goals could include increase website traffic, online conversions, customer engagement…your goal is specific to your business. Once you’ve set your goals, create a calendar that matches your promotions and audience.

Target your efforts.

Online marketing is all about starting a conversation with your audience. Know who you’re talking to, and how they want you to talk with them. Select a voice that fits the demographic of your audience and your industry, and use that voice in all of your materials. Next, choose the online channels where your audience converses so you don’t waste your time throwing a million proverbial darts without hitting very much of the target.

Don’t treat online customer service different than in-person service.

If someone comes into your store, or calls you on the phone, you answer their questions promptly and courteously. Treat the service you deliver from your website and social media the same way, and follow these six rules for delivering excellent customer service.

PLEASE integrate all your marketing.

Online marketing may be the big unknown, but it’s not a stand-alone effort. Treat your online marketing efforts like you (hopefully) are treating all your mail and radio ads: integrated with one consistent voice. For example, if you are putting together an ad for the local papers, post those same deals on social media. Don’t worry about your audience getting the information too much; today’s customers receive their information from different channels. Your job is to be on all those channels with coordinated information and one clear, consistent voice for optimal brand awareness.

You have to commit to online marketing, and stick to it.

Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Once you jump into online marketing, expect to allocate time to writing quality content, scheduling strategic social media posts, answering messages, and locating high impact images. Online marketing results occur from regular work, so don’t give up. If you don’t have time to keep up, outsource your efforts and give the company the necessary information they need to market your business.

Don’t use social media and content marketing as another advertising space.

You don’t get results in online marketing like you do in advertising. Internet marketing is more subtle. You’re trying to build trust, and you’re not going to get that by screaming at them. Instead, entertain them (if appropriate). Build a relationship with them. Give them information. Answer the questions they ask on the phone and in person. Provide customer service.

You don’t have to do it all.

There’s no shame or blame in handing your online marketing efforts over to the professionals. Contact a company that can supplement or manage all your online marketing efforts. Use our do’s and don’ts of outsourcing to get the most out of your marketing company—and to achieve the online marketing results you’re always hearing about.

5 Common SEO Misunderstandings that Drive Us Crazy

seo misunderstandings graphic confusionWe would argue that search engine optimization (SEO) may be the most misunderstood tool in digital marketing today.  Everyone knows about social media marketing, and content marketing and email marketing have gained in popularity.  The tool that’s left out—the black sheep of digital marketing—is not as well known and buried in piles of SEO myths that aren’t true.

We’ve come across a few of these misunderstandings about SEO, and we have a confession to make: they make us crazy. If they’re not completely wrong, they cling to a morsel of truth that grew from a disreputable SEO practice.  It’s not anyone’s fault, really, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to clear up a few of the most popular SEO misunderstandings that we encounter on a regular basis.

SEO is ONLY about writing

We’ll say this up front: there is great value in optimized content on your website. Whenever you write content for your site, or your blog, you need to strategically optimize. This does not mean filling a page with the same keyword, or using the word so much in your text that your users are repulsed. It does mean creating content that people want to read, and using tips to optimize that content for the search engines before and during your writing.

However, there is more to SEO than writing. There is a technological side to SEO that the average user cannot tackle on their own. Your website development company should start this process when building a new website and a SEO company can take your website optimization from there. SEO companies use their unique technology to achieve results for a company. It can be done. We know it, because we’ve done it for numerous companies.

SEO is underhanded

Just the mention of the word “SEO” can bring to mind common black-hat SEO tactics: keyword stuffing, cloaking, link manipulation. Those tactics have tainted the image of SEO and spurred a host of misunderstanding about search engine optimization. SEO is always evolving; today’s effective SEO is not your grandma’s game of stuffing a page full of the same keyword. In fact, those kind of old-school SEO tactics, and black hat SEO tactics, can get your website penalized and kick your company off the digital map.

Today’s SEO revolves around quality content, effective technology, and optimized site structure. We know that sounds like a mouthful—a list of terms that you don’t have time for when managing a business. Contact a SEO company who can make sure your website has all the elements of an optimized website so you can manage all the users who visit and order from your site.

SEO is a one-time only feat

“There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works; creating an optimized website is only the start of your efforts. Search engines and your customers want fresh, updated quality content on a regular basis. Just the mere mention of those words brings shudders to many managers and owners, and we completely understand why. Quality content is a long-term commitment, as well as the efforts to promote that content (i.e. social media, email marketing, etc.). If you don’t have time, outsource your optimization efforts to a company that can.

SEO is only for national companies that sell online

Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization into your marketing strategy can drive potential customers to your brick-and-mortar location. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology can get your business website in local potential customers’ organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011).

We are not Google

We don’t know where this idea came from, but this misconception comes up in conversation with business owners and managers from time to time. Search engine optimization revolves around creating content and structure for the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo)—which is what we do—but we are not Google. We get results on Google for our clients, but you don’t have to be a search engine, or work within a search engine company, to get those top results.

5 Ways to Make (and Keep!) Your Online Customers Happy

online marketingLet’s just say it: a significant part of your online marketing efforts should be focused on keeping your customers happy. Sure, we use other terms to describe the concept—customer satisfaction, enhancing their digital experience, customer service, etc.—but really the crux of your online marketing strategy should be focused on your customers and how you can keep them happy with you now, and interested enough to come back. The truth of online marketing is that there is no magic recipe, no standard road map for that goal. And with the advent of new online marketing tools, social media platforms, and search engine optimization strategies, the “magic recipe” for customer satisfaction is continually evolving. Yet even in the midst of all the digital evolution, there are some hard and fast guides you can use in your pursuit of customer happiness.

Know who your customers are

Take the number one rule of marketing to heart when writing optimized content for your website or blog, or emails to send out: know your audience. You’re not going to keep your customers happy if you don’t know the type of customer you are trying to satisfy. Create a buyer persona of your “typical” customer, and create content and emails for that customer type.

If you’re an outdoor gear store with a younger audience, create marketing pieces with information and tips for your customers’ next adventure. Are you a bridal store who caterers to younger brides? Answer the questions you hear in the story on your website, in emails, on your blog, on social media—wherever you have a social media presence.

Know where your online customers are

Once you identify your key audience, don’t randomly dive into online marketing without being strategic about your efforts. Target your efforts where you know your customers are. If you are considering using social media to connect with your customers, do your research. Choose a social media channel where your target audience spends a great deal of their time. Don’t feel you have to be everywhere online; be realistic and strategic about your online marketing efforts.

Engage with them

We often talk about using engagement to measure our social media and online marketing tactics; what about measuring how we engage with them online? Do you just throw social media posts and content out there and see what happens? Do you respond to emails that come in through your website, social media comments and questions quickly? Remember that one of the unique elements of online marketing is that it’s a two-way street; take advantage of that to the fullest. Engage with them, deliver excellent customer service and don’t be afraid to say thank you. It’s refreshing—and too infrequently done, by our standards.

Give them what they want

Is your content relatable to your audience? Can they relate to the problem you are writing about or choosing content about? Does your content relate to the age group of your audience? One way to choose relatable content is to listen to your customers, or talk to the people that do, and write content that answers their questions. You can also put your content marketing in the hands of professionals that can. Remember social media is not about JUST selling to your customer (though you can certainly do that some of the time)—that goal is met by posting and sharing relatable content that helps them, and about listening.

Being relatable can be especially challenging if you feel your industry is “boring,” but that’s where it pays to be creative—and to know your voice. Don’t try to be humorous in an industry where it’s not appropriate (such as for a funeral home). However, we’ve seen heating and cooling businesses, pest control companies, tire shops, many “boring” shops create relatable, entertaining online marketing pieces.

Don’t stop

Online marketing is not a feast or famine exercise; successful online marketing is regular and consistent. Allocate your time accordingly; create a strategic plan that uses all the elements of a successful online marketing plan and execute accordingly. If you need assistance in drafting a plan, or executing regular and relatable content, enlist the help of an online marketing firm. It’s a move that makes you and your customers happy; a bonus in your efforts to keep your customers happy.

Don’t Listen to these Bad SEO Tips

search engine optimizationThe world of digital marketing is fraught with misconceptions and bad advice. We’ve found this to be true in almost every part of digital marketing; if we had a penny for every bad piece of social media marketing advice we’ve heard, we’d be buried in pennies. That penny pile would have nothing on search engine optimization, which is full of junk ideas and misunderstandings. The pile of pennies of SEO misconceptions would reach to the sky; that’s why we’ve tackled some of the worst SEO tips we’ve heard, and the truth behind them:

“SEO is dead.”

We’re getting really, really tired of this. SEO is not dead, it’s just changing. The days of keyword stuffing and buying links are gone, and has been replaced by SEO tactics centered around technical aspects and optimized content that gives your users, and the search engines, what they want the way they want it.

These new SEO tactics achieve results; we’ve seen a local flooring company increase their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package.

“SEO is not technical; it’s just about writing optimized content.”

Don’t ignore this piece of advice, but put it into context. Optimized content, text written for optimal results on search engines, gives your business website a digital marketing advantage. However, technical SEO pushes that advantage over the edge and positions your website well on search engine results pages (SERPs). To maximize that investment, invest in an ongoing content marketing strategy, which produces fresh content relevant to your industry and your audience. Content marketing provides updated content to your customers and your search engines on a continual basis.

“Buying links gets you to the top of the search rankings.”

Buying links also gets you penalized by Google. It’s a black hat SEO tactic that you should never listen to. If you produce excellent content through content marketing, or have excellent content produced for you, you’ll earn those links without penalties.

“You don’t need SEO if you don’t sell products online.”

Completely false. Think back to the last time you were looking for a plumber, or a dentist, or carpeting. You went online and typed in “local plumbers,” right? Just because your company doesn’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, doesn’t mean that you don’t need SEO. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). Making an affordable investment SEO technology means your company is on the list next time one of your local potential customers types in keywords that pertain to your business.

“SEO only works for national companies.”

No, no, and no! We’ve helped businesses of all shapes and sizes achieve local results—online exposure in front of potential customers in surrounding communities—with our search engine optimization technology. Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using topics and keywords your audience searches for.

“One SEO firm is as good as the next.”

No. Like any other industry, you have to weed out the good from the bad. Be wary of outlandish promises and guarantees. Ask for references and testimonials of past successes; steer clear of firms that use black-hat SEO practices, such as keyword stuffing and buying backlinks. Ask your SEO firm to see their technology; a demo can give you the full picture of what you’re in for, and the SEO results you’ll achieve.

Are you taking advantage of all the digital marketing tools that increase sales?

search engine optimizationYou know you need to do something about online marketing, but you don’t know what. You’ve heard all the buzz terms: social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, online marketing, email marketing, digital marketing, blog; but you have no idea what they mean, and how to use them for your business. You’re not alone; we talk to business owners and managers every day who are in the same boat. They know their business needs the online exposure. They know it is the wave of the future as statistics repeatedly show that more people are using online to find local businesses—and not the phone book.

Increasingly, we’re finding more and more of our job is to educate business owners about these tools; they know they need them, but they don’t know why or even what they are. We’ve addressed why in past blog posts, but here’s the what of digital tools and, more importantly, how to make them work for your business.

SEO

local seoSearch engine optimization is just what it says—creating an optimal website for search engines to browse and rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are three different ways to optimize your website:

  • By creating regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content users want to read.
  • By using search engine optimization tactics on your website such as writing accurate headlines and excellent content on each page.
  • By hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because people are looking for products, services and information online—a lot of people. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

content marketingContent marketing is creating and sharing content. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless. The goal of a blog is two-fold:

  • To give your audience what they want. The #1 rule of marketing is to know your audience. If you are a sports retailer, your audience is going to be different than a spa or wedding venue’s customers. Find out what your audience wants to know and give it to them. How do you figure that out? Ask them. Listen to them on your social media sites. In a way, you’re using a business blog to provide customer service.
  • Build trust. If you give your customers and potential customers what they want: entertainment, answers to their questions, knowledge, you can earn their trust. In the old days, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. They’re cruising the web because it’s convenient and easy to find what they need, both in information, services and products. Or they’re clicking on links they receive in their email. A business blog gives them the information they’re looking for on the internet, and gives them links to find more out about products or to contact a business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with a tool that more than 90% of online users turn to for information: search engines. Top search engines gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content of your website pages. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.

A business blog is full of content that should be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Successful business blogs contain relatable and regular content. What does regular mean? Regular means that you post content once, twice, or three times a week, or twice a month—whatever you can manage—without gaps in content posting. Unfortunately, many business blog writers start out with best of intentions and lose steam. If you don’t have time for a business blog, contact a content marketing company that can keep your blog updated with content specific to your business. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Use this list of do’s and don’ts for outsourcing, and remember that you still need to allocate time to give input to get maximum content marketing results.

Social Media Marketing

social media marketingSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. This is a two-way street! While you may be on social media networks for sales conversions, this is your chance to listen to what your customers want and give them relevant resources to help solve their problems (and no the answer to their life problems is not always your product or service!). Social media marketing also gives your business other benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service (with an emphasis on prompt!). Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products, and your company. We’ve seen businesses where the customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine where your audience is online. For example, if your audience is predominantly female, choose a social media network with a strong female following. Also factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for the network or networks. Many a business has signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the works because they want to be everywhere and everything, without a thought about the amount of time it takes to properly maintain each social media network. Each network has its own audience and way of doing things. If you’re not playing by the “rules” on each social media network, you’re not going to get the results you signed up for. A solid social media presence has:

  • Regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network)
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach
  • Prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service)

If you want to cash in on the benefits and opportunities that come with social media but don’t have the time, outsource your business social media page or profile to experts that can manage your social media network(s). Remember, don’t measure your success on the number of followers, but on the number of engaged followers.

Email Marketing

digital marketingStatistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers. Note the catch: interested customers, so don’t start buying random email lists. Even worse, if you “steal” emails, such as sending numerous emails to an email account without proper consent; you run the risk of getting your server blacklisted after the email user flags your emails as junk. So what’s the best way to create a valuable list of interested customers?

  • Give them an incentive. Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Create a graphic or pop up on your website or blog. Chances are, if the user is interested in your website or blog articles, they want to know to more. This is your chance to deliver with emails that contain valuable information and discounts.
  • Include your ask in your pitch at tradeshows and events. Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch. Take the opportunity to keep the interest of potential customers with valuable information (not just sales pitches) and relevant discounts.
  • Give your customers the option during or after their purchase. Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases. Put a card in your shipments asking customers to keep in touch.
  • Ask your customers for their email addresses on social media. Create a social media contest, and include a request for their email in the contest. Just make sure you are honest about what you are asking; you don’t want to lose your customers’ trust.

Once you’ve got a reliable email list, make sure you don’t just blast out emails with sales offers. Take the same approach you take to your social media marketing and content marketing efforts; be sure to include all the significant parts of a successful email:

  • Create great subject line. All great email headlines speak to your audience. Whether that is through an attention-grabbing headline (e.g. 5 things you’re doing wrong) or a title that speaks to their pain point or entertains them. Don’t produce a headline to get their attention, or uses all the key words that your audience is looking for, and doesn’t deliver any value. Remember, the best way to sell to a customer is to build their trust. Misleading them has the opposite effect.
  • Use different media and visuals. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all mentality when planning and selecting visuals for your digital marketing efforts. Create videos and graphics for every different preference, or purchase them.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA). The definition of a CTA is not always about a purchase. A call-to-action can be a graphic, asking your audience to contact you with questions (remember you want to build trust) or inviting their input (about a product, a funny picture, anything).
  • Keep testing. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

Integration

Remember that all these digital marketing tools are most effective as part of a digital marketing tool box. Always make sure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing; create a schedule to make sure that you are taking full advantage of your digital marketing efforts. If you don’t have time, find an effective marketing company that can; outsourcing can be the solution that guarantees that your business is getting the most out of your digital marketing tools.

Business Blog Ideas to Combat Your Writer’s Block

ideas for blogger's with writer's blockIt’s the bane of any business blogger’s existence: writer’s block. What do I write about today? What’s relevant to my audience? What else is there to write about?

Hopefully, your writer’s block is more than thwarting a whim; it’s an interruption to your content marketing plan, because a strategic content marketing plan is more effective than writing about everything and anything that comes to mind. We’ll give you a prime example: when we took over content marketing efforts, we inherited a company’s business blog. After a quick scroll through the business’ blog, we found that we had to completely start from scratch because the posts were about musings from going on a walk with the writer’s dog and other non-relevant content. Very few of the posts were about the company’s business or their audience’s interests—and who’s going to be driven to a website about if they don’t have any relevant and valuable content that can help them?

A strategic marketing plan also has another benefit; creating a content marketing plan leads to consistent content, the second ingredient in a successful marketing campaign. Unfortunately, creating consistent content also leads to writer’s block, leaving you searching for writing ideas. So how do you come up with new ideas for content?

Talk to your salesperson & business owner

A business blog is not—should not—be a one-person job. That’s not to mean that one person can’t do all the writing to produce content for the blog, but a GOOD business blog requires a village. Talk to your business owner or a salesperson for ideas. You don’t have to take up hours of their time, just have a simple conversation with them. At KD Interactive, we always get the input of a contact from the business, though many of them don’t think they have “blog ideas.” Once we start asking questions, we find they know more than they think. Ask your salesperson, “what are your customers asking about?” “What are the latest industry trends that appeal to your customers?” “What are common problems that your customers encounter?”

Research your industry

What are latest trends and new products? Are there any new solutions that you can make your customers aware of? Remember, one of your top business blog goals is to give value to your audience. Write a blog post that delivers with new solutions or products that resolve their problems, or new trends that they can utilize in their life.

Look at the calendar

What kind of services are your customers looking for this time of year? Are there any national holidays you get inspiration from? How is the calendar affecting your audience’s lives? Make sure you stay ahead of the game (another reason to create a content calendar) so you’re not late to the party. You don’t want your blog post to look like an afterthought.

Create a list

Most likely, you found this post because you’re looking for ideas—you’re not the only one. Give your audience what you want; a list filled with ideas, tips, or topics relevant to them.

Still don’t have any ideas? Or don’t have time to come up with ideas and create consistent, relevant content? If you find that you don’t have the content marketing expertise, time to keep posting content on your blog or that you’re losing steam in your content marketing efforts, outsource your blog to a company experienced in content marketing. Even though you are putting your blog content in an expert’s hands, don’t walk away. Your input is a valuable part of successful content marketing, so use these do’s and don’ts for working with a marketing company. (And be wary of marketing companies that don’t ask for your input).

Remember, content marketing is not an “overnight success” marketing tactic. A quality business blog is a marathon effort, built on relevant and regular content for your audience. If you stay in the marathon (even amidst the writer’s block), you and your customers can reap the rewards of a good, relevant business blog.

Why your Digital Marketing Needs to Mirror My Buying Experience

customer experience

Here’s what you should learn from my decision to replace this ugly door.

Like most marketers, we’re always trying to learn and build upon our training and experience to guide our clients. To give them the best advice, content and strategic knowledge so they can give their customers the very best customer experience. And sometimes, that experience we use happens outside of work hours—like my recent experience in a hardware store on a Saturday afternoon.

Why should you care about my experience? Not because I was shopping for the most fascinating product. I was shopping for a door—a regular, plain entry door. And my experience isn’t going to set off a viral backlash against the company, because it wasn’t negative. In fact, my in-person buying experience was perfect—so perfect that it reminded me of what we’re all striving to give our customers, what we’re all striving for when we talk about customer experience.

That’s why you should care. Because my experience is what you need to give your customers. Not want to give, but need to give. Studies have repeatedly shown that customers are willing to spend more for a product from a company that provides great customer experience—and they are likely to come back to you again in the future.

That’s what I received. I had an errand to run in a nearby town. As long as I was there, I decided to drop in a local hardware store because I needed a door. My door had been damaged a few weeks ago but was still functional, so I had been doing research online about kinds of door materials, what I needed to purchase a door (measuring, knowing which way it swung, etc.), and general pricing.

I went into the store and found the door display. I started wandering around, browsing through the options and happy to be doing some pressure-free research (remember I wasn’t there to buy, just to look). Eventually, a salesman—we’ll call him “Bob”—came over and asked if I needed any help. He was friendly, and he answered all my questions with knowledgeable answers. I knew from my previous research that he knew his stuff. While I was there, I noticed that many of the doors were on sale, and he told me everything about the sale—including that that day was the last day of the sale. When we were done, I thanked him for his help and let him know that I was just looking and would be back with my husband the next day. Honestly, I did not intend to come back. I just wanted to call my husband and give him the information I had learned.

Fast forward 30 minutes later, and I was back in the store. I had talked to my husband, and he gave me the green light to buy. I came armed with more questions about storm doors because we wanted to replace both doors at once. The same salesman, “Bob” saw me looking at storm doors. He nicely answered all my questions, made several suggestions, and was incredibly patient as I made my decision. Incredibly patient. When the transaction was done, he wrote up the sale for me.

So what should you take away and apply to your content marketing (and digital marketing efforts) from my perfectly normal buying experience?

Your customers will come to you before they buy—several times, in fact. Treat every contact like they are a potential customer. It’s your job, via content marketing and social media, to be “Bob.” Be relevant and be there (“there” is the social media platform where your customers are), so you are available when it comes time for the customer to buy your product. Answer their questions with your content and your customer service replies on social media. Be prompt, especially when replying on social media, where studies have repeatedly shown that customers expect a response within a few hours. Be human and very patient. Make each customer feel like they are your number one concern, especially when you can’t face-to-face interact.

Create the right opportunity for a customer conversion. The store had a sale and a knowledgeable salesman: the perfect ingredients for a customer conversion. “Bob” answered my questions and didn’t pressure me to buy (to be honest I think he was shocked when I came back). You need to do the same thing online; create a blog with the information they need, and the opportunities to convert to a sale. This can be done through convenient links, great call-to-actions, visuals and lots of good, diverse content. You want to make your customer comfortable and build their trust so they buy from you once—and are willing to come back.

You don’t have to sell products online to create this same pleasant buying experience for your customers, but you need to strive for perfect. We pointed out how to use digital marketing even if you don’t (or can’t) offer e-commerce in a recent blog post, and this experience exemplifies why. If you “wow” a potential customer online, if you make them comfortable with your knowledge and interactions, if you speak to their pain points, they will reach out to you. We’ve seen it happen for our clients. If you use your digital marketing tools to create a great user experience online, they’ll send you a message on social media requesting an appointment. They’ll walk into your business ready to buy. So the next time you don’t feel like you have the energy to write another blog post or another minute for social media, know it’s important for your customers and potential customers. And if you don’t have the time or knowledge to devote to creating and building a great customer experience, contact a company that can. Your customers will thank you if you do—just like I’m going to do when I send an email tonight to the hardware store about how great “Bob” was to work with.

5 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Ignore Local SEO

local seoYou’ve heard the joke “Where do you bury a dead body?” “On the second page of search results.” Now that you’re done laughing, we’re here to tell you it’s true. If you’re a number cruncher, we’ve given you statistics that back up the joke; if the numbers aren’t enough to convince you, we’ve got other numbers for you to consider: revenue received from the increase in website traffic from search engine optimization. In this post, we’re going to give you the missing piece of the puzzle: the five reasons that SEO generates increased website traffic and extra business revenue.

In the past, you knew where your website stood in search engine rankings. Not anymore. Today’s search engine results are focused on user experience, with the goal of giving users customized results based on their preferences and location. Getting your website to the top of those users’ search engine results is a challenge, and an ever-evolving one, but a worthy investment of time and effort that gets results for five key reasons:

  1. Local SEO technology gets you in front of local customers. Yes, we’re stating the obvious. Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because that’s where people are looking for products, services and information—-a lot of people. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.
  2. A beautiful and functional website is not enough. “There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Customers have a lot of online options, and studies have shown that they make more than 60% of their purchasing decision online. So how do you get your new website found? Contact a reputable company that can achieve results with search engine optimization, updated content and social media marketing. Together, these three digital marketing tools get your website found by local customers—and keep you there.
  3. Search engines are replacing phone books. Statistics are proof of an trend: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore) and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). More and more, American consumers are looking to the internet to find local solutions and information. If you’re not online, you’re not on their radar.
  4. Your competitors are using it. We’ll be honest; we don’t know if your specific competitors are using SEO. However, we do know that thousands of businesses are utilizing digital marketing tools including search engine optimization, social media marketing and content marketing as part of their marketing strategy—and getting results.
  5. It works. Paid search engine optimization technology is one of the most effective online marketing tools for businesses. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location including a major metropolitan area. They also invested in content marketing to keep their site content updated and give their customers value, yielding long-term results; their printing firm has remained at the top of the major search engines—Google, Yahoo and Bing—since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, and stronger opportunity for online conversions. Another one of our clients, a flooring company, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. If you want to tap into that same local search engine technology to get results for your company, read our blog post about SEO terminology or see it in action.