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One Data Geek’s Thoughts On Key Implications Of Switching From UA to GA4 Google Analytics Property

Refer to it as you will — and we are seeing a lot of reference variability, such as GA4 and G4 — but Google Analytics’ new property version will soon be here to stay and pushing aside the Universal Analytics (UA) version (a version which all of us digital marketers and data geeks are very familiar with and have grown to love over the years.)

Since as a Boston SEO Company and Boston Digital Marketing agency, we ask each and every one of our clients to provide us with access to their Google Analytics data — so that we can help them determine what marketing activities are and aren’t working for them and what their general “website health” looks like — we are sorry to see the UA version of Google Analytics go. We’ve been using it 20 years, both in corporate and consulting roles, to assess the aforementioned.

Per Google’s own declaration, UA versions of Google Analytics will stop recording hits come July 1, 2023, which means the last day an organization can use Google Analytics to effectively track website visitor behavior with a UA property version is June 30, 2023. That said, our digital marketing agency is already hard at work learning the “ins and outs” of GA4, and working with our clients to make the switch late 2022 or early 2023 to this new Google Analytics property version.

We just completed several online classes offered by Google to learn about the many benefits of GA4 Analytics and how GA4 differrs from UA Analytics. While it’s fresh in our minds, we’re sharing our immediate reactions. We decided not to outline pro’s and con’s because general use, and our own use, of GA4 is too new and what we might consider a “pro” someone might consider a “con,” and vice versa.

Keep in mind we aren’t calling out similarities or things that will remain fairly constant across the two property versions. You can learn more about the general benefits of having a Google Analytics account here.

Key Benefits Of GA4 Analytics Over UA Analytics

  • G4 simultaneously tracks both mobile app and website data
  • G4 can often track a user across devices and platforms (UA was only able to track based on device ID) — this means if an individual originally visits your website using their phone, but later visits your site using their desktop, laptop, or other device, your organization will be able to track that individual as one user (currently in UA Analytics that same individual would likely be tracked as several users) and follow their user journey. Important note: You’ll likely see your “unique user” volume drop when you switch from UA to GA4 Analytics for the reasons outlined above and below.
    • So how does Google accomplish the above? By looking at three distinct identifiers or identity spaces:
      • User ID (this is an ID that an organization provided to a customer or prospective customer or other website visitor as part of their need or ability to login to the organization’s website)
      • Google signal (available when people are signed into a Google account, such as a Gmail e-mail account and have consented to sharing that info.)
      • Device ID (this info. comes from a user’s browser or app instance ID)

Key Differences Between GA4 Analytics and UA Analytics

  • GA4’s tracking emphasis is on user events vs. sessions (note that session info. is still available in GA4)
    • Many standard user events (activities that a user completes on a website, such as downloading a document) are automatically tracked in GA4 vs. UA Analytics. This means organizations will be far less dependent on using Google Tag Manager to set up event tracking, something we believe most organizations will welcome. We know we found using the aforementioned tool very cumbersome.
  • A smaller number of standard/pre-defined reports are available within GA4, but an extensive set of tools known as “Explorations” allow data geeks to slice ‘n dice data to their heart’s content. We’ve always found the best way to learn a new tool is to set it up and start playing around with it. We’ve found if you do some digging around in GA4, you’ll figure out where and how to access info. that you analyzed regularly in UA Analytics.

Interestingly enough, the Google-provided training we took highlighted the same items we highlighted above as benefits or differences in this grid that was shared in the training.

Need Help Setting Up A GA4 Analytics Property?

Our team of SEO experts and data analytics experts are here to help related to helping you set up a GA4 property or to answer questions about GA4. So please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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Should I Work In An In-House Marketing Department or At A Marketing Agency?

We’ve had discussions about the subject of this blog post quite a number of times with individuals about to graduate from college or graduate school, or who have recently graduated from such programs. There’s no blanket right or wrong answer, but we’ve outlined below the pros and cons of working at an in-house marketing department vs. a digital marketing agency, advertising advertising, or PR firm to help you figure out what’s right for you.

Pro’s and Con’s Of Working In A Corporate Marketing Role/At In-House Marketing Department

We’ll start with the Pro’s!

  • Your work is focused on the needs of one organization (and possibly some affiliate organizations) only. That means you can really get to know and understand in-detail the specific opportunities and challenges your organization faces.
  • You or fellow in-house marketing department team members are responsible for the successful execution and oversight of each and every marketing & communications tactic, including PR. Even if your organization employs an external advertising agency, digital marketing agency, or PR firm, you or someone in your organization will need to serve as the liaison with that external organization and review and approve any marketing or PR tactics with which the organization has been charged.
  • Because an in-house marketing team tends to hold regular meetings to discuss the various marketing and communications activities on which each team member is working, even if you aren’t responsible for a particular activity, you have the big/full picture of all the active and planned/future marketing and PR initiatives for your organization. You also have the opportunity to learn a lot during these meetings.
  • Depending on the size of your in-house marketing department, you may have the opportunity to learn how to execute a large variety of traditional and digital marketing tactics, and how to analyze the results of them.
  • You’ll likely have a chance to collaborate with individuals in other departments related to rolling out new marketing initiatives, such as IT and Customer Service employees.
  • There’s usually an obvious career path, particularly if the marketing department is large. Often the path is from marketing coordinator to marketing specialist to marketing manager to marketing director to chief marketing officer (CMO) or Vice President or Senior Vice President of Marketing.
  • Your manager is usually aware of everything you have on your plate, will likely not expect you to regularly stay late or work excessive hours, and will likely delegate an appropriate amount of work so that it can be accomplished during normal business hours. Related to this, there will likely be fewer unexpected marketing and PR emergencies!

And now, the con’s!

  • While also stated above as a pro of working in a corporate marketing department, you only get to develop and execute marketing activities specific to one organization (and possibly its affiliates). That means you only get to complete marketing work related to one particular industry. And, you don’t get exposed to innovative marketing tactics and results tracking that are used in other industries that you could apply to yours.
  • Depending on the size of your marketing department, there may or may not be opportunity for growth or to take on new responsibilities.

Pro’s and Con’s Of Working For A Marketing Agency or PR Firm

Marketing Program Graduate Deciding What’s Next — Marketing Department or Agency?

Post the arrival of the internet, there’s now so many different ways that individuals refer to what used to be known as an “advertising agency” or “ad agency.” Agencies specifically focused on implementing digital marketing strategies, such as website, online advertising, e-mail, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media ones, are often referred to as “digital marketing agencies.” Agencies that offer both traditional and digital marketing services (you can learn more here about traditional), tend to call themselves or be called ad agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing agencies. If a firm specializes in creating branding for websites or overall marketing use, including logos, they are often called “branding firms,” “branding & design firms,” “brand & design firms” or simply, “design firms.”

There’s also the option post-graduation to work at a PR firm, or “public relations firm” or “public relations agency.” While PR firms tend to focus on external communications and work may include press release writing, event execution, and pitching stories to media reporters, an overlap between ad agencies/digital marketing agencies that developed as result of the introduction of social media networks has to do with social media strategy development and execution. Both marketing/ad agencies and PR firms tend to offer “social media voice” services.

Phew, that was a lot of terminology! On to the pro’s of working at an agency or firm that serves marketing & communications clients.

  • You get to learn about the marketing & communications challenges of numerous industries, and then, can apply best practices from a client in one industry to a client in another industry.
  • You are always learning and being exposed to something new, as even if you have several clients in one industry, they still each have their product & service nuances, ways of doing business, marketplace/competition, etc. that you need to understand.
  • As with an in-house marketing job, your agency likely will hold regular meetings to discuss everything that the agency has on its client work plate, so there should be lots of opportunities for learning.
  • Agencies tend to encourage brainstorming which is always a lot of fun and keeps the creative juices flowing.
  • As with a corporate marketing role, there likely will be a career path at whatever marketing agency or PR firm at which you work. You might start out as a coordinator or specialist (doing day-to-day/hands-on tasks to support a particular client), but eventually have the opportunity to become an account manager or vice president. In those latter roles, you likely will have more interaction with the client.
  • As with in-house marketing jobs, the diversity of your role and your work will depend on the size of your organization. The bigger the organization, the more specialized your role will be; but, regardless, you should still have the opportunity to learn about a number of tradtional and digital marketing tactics and results analysis best practices.
  • If you have direct interaction with clients, you get the satisfaction of feeling like a member of their team — clients become your co-workers along with any agency co-workers you may already have.

And, now the cons of working at a marketing agency or PR firm:

  • Clients often have marketing and PR emergencies. This may cause you to need to regularly rethink or re-jigger what you planned to accomplish on the work front on any given day.
  • Because you aren’t a member of a client’s in-house marketing team, you may not always have access to all the important, beneficial, and business-critical information you want or need. Of course, you can ask to have information shared with you, but sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know, and clients may be so busy they forget to share with you.
  • You may not be able to enjoy the same satisfaction you would get from being involved with or aware of each & every marketing and communications tactic that an organization has planned or has implemented. You don’t always have access to or see the big picture as clearly as if you worked in-house at the client.
  • Ad agencies, branding & design shops, and PR firms tend to be pretty fast-paced and you may need to work long hours, or suddenly change social or personal plans because of an unexpected client emergency.

We are pleased and proud at Results C & R to have hired and taught numerous college and graduate-school students and post-graduation individuals about what it’s like to work at a Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company. We love passing our marketing and PR knowledge on to the next generation and enjoy brainstorming with individuals interested in pursuing a marketing career to help them figure out what type of marketing & communications might best support their interests, passions, and lifestyle.

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Understanding Google’s New Emphasis On “Helpful Content” Related To SEO

As we’ve shared on social media and with our SEO company’s clients, Google announced in September 2022 a key revision to their search algorithm (the algorithm they use to decide which websites to serve up, and in which order, for search terms entered in their search engine) to which each and every website owner should pay close attention. And, that is that they, as the #1 search engine used by individuals (92% or more of individuals use Google as their primary search engine), will be paying greater consideration to whether or not a website’s content is “helpful” or “unhelpful” when making search engine results listing ranking decisions. As you would expect, sites with “helpful content” are more likely to be served up and rank well in search results for relevant terms.

Impact of Google’s September 2022 “Helpful Content” Algorithm Change

We know first-hand how much of a shift in ranking can take place when Google views your site as one that shares “helpful content.” Our site now rank approx. 50 spots higher in Google search results for a high-volume, relevant keyword and that shift happened almost overnight. We believe that the positive shift was due to Google recognizing that our Boston digital marketing agency consistently publishes blog posts that are easily understood by a “lay person,” but also provide enough instruction to implement some of the marketing tactics we describe and recommend in our posts.

Shared below in Google’s “own words” is information from Google’s Search Central blog about how to ensure your website content is “helpful.” We’ve highlighted (via bold italics) what we consider to be the most critical policies to apply when making decisions about what topics to write about — and how to write about them — to make sure your content is beneficial to the various audiences who visit your site. All of their recommendations should improve your website’s “bounce rate,” i.e., the percentage of people who land/start on your site without interacting it in any way, such as clicking on a link or call-out, or visiting another page of your site. When prospective clients or clients are bouncing too quickly from your site, it’s an opportunity for a competitor to win them over on their site, right?

Unhelpful Website Content And How It Impacts SEO

The flip side of the positive practice of regular production and posting of “helpful content” is to eliminate content that Google may deem as “unhelpful (which could negatively impact how your website ranks for “desirable” search terms).” Such “unhelpful” content includes:

  • Short content that is “stuffed” with keywords and was primarily loaded to your site to support your site being found on Google for those keywords.
  • Content that is outdated — think events that have already passed or information that is no longer relevant or accurate, particularly pre-pandemic information since the pandemic greatly changed both business and consumer behavior.
  • Content that is all “about you,”, i.e., too focused on selling your products and singing your praises or sharing your differentiators without explaining how your prospective clients or clients would benefit from your products, services, and solutions, i.e., explaining what pain points of clients they would address.

Our team is here to help you interpret this most recent Google algorithm change, and put the right steps in place to make sure you respond to, and take advantage of, this recent Google algorithm change appropriately, promptly, and effectively. It’s very much in keeping with what we shared years ago in one of our very first SEO blog posts about making sure your website is “authentic.” So, please reach out if we can help you effectively navigation this change in algorithm — one we think makes is warranted, was a long-time-in-coming, and will provide for a far better user experience on all websites.

Google’s Explanation Of What “Helpful Content” Is

Source of information below: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2022/08/helpful-content-update#:~:text=The%20helpful%20content%20update%20aims,successful%20with%20our%20new%20update%3F

Focus on people-first content

The helpful content update aims to better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience, while content that doesn’t meet a visitor’s expectations won’t perform as well.

How can you ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update? By following our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. People-first content creators focus first on creating satisfying content, while also utilizing SEO best practices to bring searchers additional value. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having actually used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?

Avoid creating content for search engines first

Our advice about having a people-first approach does not invalidate following SEO best practices, such as those covered in Google’s own SEO guide. SEO is a helpful activity when it’s applied to people-first content. However, content created primarily for search engine traffic is strongly correlated with content that searchers find unsatisfying.

How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? Answering yes to some or all of the questions is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that actually has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?

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Is Your Website Holidays-SEO-Ready?

Where did 2022 go? It’s hard to believe it’s late October, and that means that consumers are already starting their holiday shopping. Regardless of whether your target audiences are shopping for Christmas, Hanukkah, or some other holiday celebrated towards the end of the calendar year, it would be a huge marketing mistake to not capitalize on the year-end uptick in online shopping by making sure your website ranks as well as possible for terms related to it.

While the focus of this post is related to retail, e-commerce, and B2C organizations offering physical products, as you read thru it, you’ll see there are applications for organizations trying to sell services, tickets to events, or even looking for someone to make a donation to their non-profit organization as a gift to someone else.

SEO Tactics For The Holidays

Below are both easy, and more time-consuming/complex SEO tasks your organization should complete by early November to support having a successful holiday sales season.

  • Conduct keyword research to determine the search phrases your target audiences are using most related to holiday shopping or holiday gift giving. If you don’t have access to a keyword planning/research tool, reach out and we will share holiday-shopping-related keyword research with you that we already conducted for FREE (a more extensive list than what we share further on in our post.) That’s our holiday gift to you!
  • Incorporate high-volume keywords (search terms) that are relevant to your target audience in:
    • the public-facing content found on a holiday-related landing page (if you plan to have specials/sales/discounts or want to promote certain items that make great holiday gifts) and/or incorporate such terms on existing product-specific pages.
    • website product and landing page headers (H1 and H2), as appropriate.
    • page title tags, particularly if you have a distinct landing page or several such pages for holiday shopping and specials.
  • Use structured data to support your products appearing at the top of Google search results when someone searches on a very specific product need like “yellow pocketbook.” As a result of the aforementioned fall 2022 algorithm change, use of Google “Shopping ads,” a Google Merchant Center Account and/or Google Surfaces is no longer mandatory to have your products shown to individuals who are shopping. This article details Google’s reason for making the change and where your product information may appear when you properly use “structured data.”

The above task/tactic may be a more complicated and difficult one for your organization and may require your website developer’s help. You can learn more about structured data (also known as “schema markup”) via these resources:

Google Search Podcast

Crowdcontent.com

How To Incorporate High-volume Holiday-Shopping Keywords In Your Website Content

Recent holiday-shopping keyword research we conducted indicated the following as being among some of the highest-volume search terms used related to holiday shopping or gift shopping, in general (the number shown represents the average # of monthly searches in Google for that term):

  • gifts for men – 301,000
  • gifts for mom – 201,000
  • gifts for dad – 135,000
  • gifts for women – 135,000
  • Christmas gifts for mom – 90500
  • Gifting ideas for men – 90500
  • mens gifts ideas – 90500
  • gift ideas for women – 90500
  • mom Christmas gifts – 90500
  • women’s gifts ideas – 90500
  • women’s gifts for men – 74000
  • Christmas gifts for men – 74000
  • Gifts for mens Christmas – 74000
  • Christmas gifts for dad – 49500
  • Gifts for girlfriends – 49500
  • Christmas gifts for boyfriend – 40500
  • Christmas gifts for womens – 40500
  • Gifts for womens Christmas – 40500
  • Gifts for wife Christmas – 33100
  • Best Men gifts – 33100
  • Gift ideas for mom – 33100
  • Husbands gifts – 33100
  • Unique gifts – 33100
  • Best Christmas gifts 2021 (note you can use this phrase but change to 2022) – 33100
  • Gift for Christmas for wife – 33100
  • Unique gifts for men — 27100
  • Christmas gift idea for her — 27100
  • Christmas gifts for a girlfriend — 27100
  • Christmas gift ideas for her — 27100
  • Best gifts for men 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Best gifts for women 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Christmas Gifts 2021 (change to 2022) — 27100
  • Christmas gf gifts (change to 2022) (reminder people use acronyms like bff, bf in searches) — 27100
  • Gift ideas for boyfriend – 22200
  • Gift ideas for dad – 22200
  • Best gifts for mom – 22200
  • Top gifts for guys – 22200
  • Best gifts for moms – 22200
  • Secret santa gift ideas – 22200
  • Fun gift – 22200
  • Ideas gift boyfriend – 22200
  • Christmas gift teenagers – 22200
  • Gifts for husbands Christmas — 18000
  • Best gifts for dad — 18000
  • Best gifts for dads — 18000
  • Gift ideas for girlfriend — 18000
  • Unique gifts for women — 18000
  • Christmas gift ideas for mom — 14800
  • Ideas for mens stocking stuffers — 14800
  • Good gifts for mom—14800
  • Gift ideas for wife — 14800
  • Christmas gift ideas for moms — 14800
  • Unique Christmas gifts — 14800
  • Secret santa gifts — 14800
  • Mom’s Christmas gift ideas — 14800
  • Christmas gifts to her — 14800
  • Christmas gift ideas for him — 12100
  • Cool guys gifts — 12100
  • Cool gifts for guys — 12100
  • Presents for mom — 12100
  • Gifts for mother — 12100
  • Women best gift — 12100
  • Best gifts for women — 12100
  • Gadgets for men — 12100
  • Cool Christmas gift — 12100
  • Christmas fun gift — 12100
  • Christmas gift ideas 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
  • Best gift 2021 (change to 2022) — 12100
  • Gift ideas him Christmas — 12100

As mentioned above, we are glad to provide a much more extensive list of holiday shopping terms and their associated average monthly searches in Google. You can e-mail us at gail.moraski@allintheresults.com to have the list sent to you. As we share all the time with our new SEO clients and attendees of our SEO classes, and as we did in this previous blog post, keyword research can also help you identify new products, services or solutions you should offer.

As alluded to above, be sure to use the term 2022 once or several times related to holiday shopping, and also be sure to include terms for non-Christmas holidays that are celebrated in December. Plus, think about what acronyms or abbreviations someone might use related to a loved, such as “bff” for “best friends forever.”

Before you begin incorporating high-volume keywords in your content, think about whom would most likely be the recipient of a gift of your product, services, event or class tickets, or a donation, and use terms that the searcher of your product or service might use. Let’s say you offer hand-made jewelry for women, you’d want your site to rank well for terms above like “Christmas gifts to her”  and “Christmas gifts for mom” and should incorporate such or similar terms in your website content. 

We’re Here To Help You Rank Well For Holiday Shopping Search Terms

Got questions or need our help. Reach out today as holiday shopping has already begun!

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The Two Key Perks To Pre-Internet, Non-Digital (Traditional) Marketing

This morning I participated in an interview with two University of Connecticut students who were working on a class project about leadership in marketing & communications (I’m a UCONN alum to whom they outreached via LinkedIn). I had already completed an initial draft of this post before my meeting with them, but while discussing with them the shift that has occurred since I first launched my marketing career – from “traditional” marketing to digital marketing – it struck me to refer to traditional marketing as “pre-internet” marketing. I’m going to start using that term and “non-digital” more because “traditional marketing” has just never felt right to me as the term to use for activities advertisers engaged in more before Google searches, social media, and texting took over the world!

Read on to learn what I see as the two broad categories of perks to employing non-digital marketing activities.

1. Perks To The Marketing Professional Developing and Executing Non-Digital Marketing Tactics

Call me crazy, but I miss things like print checks and listening to possible music beds and writing advertorial copy – all things that came with being involved with or overseeing non-digital marketing activities like direct mail, TV and radio advertising, and print advertising. I also miss physically visiting or viewing images of billboard locations and scripting messaging for radio ads. And, I miss holding a beautifully crafted – both in appearance and messaging – sturdy, direct mail piece, and being responsible for buying a target audience mailing list and working with direct mail house partners. I miss ad slicks and seeing my print ads in the Metro newspaper that I snagged at the train station to read on my commute to work, and I miss seeing my advertising subway posters on that same commute.

Particularly during my days when I was employed in bank marketing roles, and we implemented integrated marketing campaigns that ran anywhere from one month to three, I loved overseeing the content, production, and design of various pieces; plus, working with our external marketing agency to produce a number of physical marketing pieces that all mirrored each other and sent customers and prospective customers the same marketing messages and reminders. These included:

  • Physical statement stuffers that went in customer bank statements – it was so enjoyable to brainstorm with others on my team to arrive at fun, punchy, effective copy and seeing the stuffer come to fruition in its beautiful slick, printed form. Often we would create extras of these for tellers or other bank employees to give out to customers or prospective customers.
  • Lobby posters – these would appear in each of the bank’s various branches and most branches had several locations within the office to hang the posters that highlighted whatever product or service we were promoting that month.
  • ATM messages – back then, people used ATMs more and we’d arrange for messages to appear on the screen that mirrored the campaign-in-question’s key messages.
  • Teller posters/cards – these were mini versions of the lobby posters that were placed at teller stations for viewing by customers as they waited in line or interacted with the teller.
  • Visual displays – these were physical/tangible items we’d place in bank branches that were relevant to the product or service we were promoting, such as telephones to encourage people to use the bank’s “phone banking” service.

The takeaway? Pre-internet marketing activities allow marketing staff and professionals to use a different part of their brain and more of their senses, including touch/feel, and it’s important to shake things up that way, right? Using one part of your brain can help strengthen the other part of your brain, or give a certain part of your brain a rest or new perspective.

2. Perks To The Organization Employing Non-Digital Marketing Activities And To Their Target Audiences

In keeping with the message that ended the discussion of perk #1 above, everyone has different preferred and default means of learning and absorbing information. Organizations need to understand that seeing a billboard or an advertisement at a movie, mall, or subway station might resonate more with, or be more easily digested by, certain individuals than an online ad or social media post.

Plus, some target audiences may not spend a lot of time online or on the phone because of personal life circumstances or the nature of their job – equating to missed opportunities for the organization who is advertising. Some target audience members may be more likely to see or notice your advertising if it occurred on or in a billboard, train, bus, mall, TV, radio, or a printed/hard copy of a newspaper or magazine. I think you get the picture! Plus, there is so much distraction for a prospective customer when they are on their phone or computer; non-digital marketing tactics are often served up and to, and viewed by, customers when they are in more of a “captive” vs. distracted mode.

To summarize the above, we believe both the advertiser and target audiences win when marketing activities that go beyond digital ones are employed to create awareness and educate prospective customers. As we discussed in our recent blog post, non-digital marketing activities can greatly contribute to the success of a multi-tactic, integrated marketing campaign.

We Can Help You Decide If and What Non-Digital Marketing Is Right For Your Organization

While we often refer to ourselves as a Boston digital marketing agency or Boston SEO company, we are so much more than that, and bring significant non-digital/traditional marketing experience. We can serve as a marketing consultant for developing strategic marketing plans and as your outsourced digital marketing team. Our team can help with both high-level marketing work like determining strategy, as well as hands-on implementation of day-to-day marketing work and marketing campaign and advertising campaign tactics.

The team at Results C & R is glad to hold a complimentary discussion with you about available non-digital/traditional marketing activities, and which, if any, might make sense for your organization. Reach out to schedule your consultation to start planning for the new year!

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It’s A New Year. Time To Pivot, If Only Slightly

After writing several blog posts in recent years about one of my favorites hobbies — walking — I was torn about whether it should be a walking or a digital marketing topic that would be the focus of the first blog post of the new year. But, then, it hit me (while I was out walking, of course) why not combine the two topics? So here goes…

Depending on how your business, organization, or you personally fared in 2021, maybe the new year/2022 doesn’t require some kind of grand gesture or large overhaul related to new beginnings and resolutions. Hey, if it ain’t broken, why fix it, right? Maybe, it’s just a matter of making some small tweaks to last year’s marketing strategy and/or the particular tactics that are part of it, or to your personal habits and mindset, so you can optimize results even further in the new year.

That’s why, while I plan to keep up with my “no excuses” winter walking plan this year, I made a small adjustment to it in the beginning of 2022. Sure, in the blog post that I linked to in my previous sentence, I sang the praises of last year’s coat related to being “prepared for opportunity.” But, I realized this winter, I needed to do something slightly different. The coat I bought and wore last year was just too heavy for my back, which started troubling me in fall 2021 (life happens). Plus, the length of last year’s coat-purchase (down to my ankles) limits the length of my stride. So, I went to Macy’s last week to capitalize on post-Christmas sales, and bought a very reasonably-priced coat that’s a bit shorter and a bit less heavy –because life circumstances, business, and marketplaces constantly change and we need to adjust to them, even if only slightly.

We’d welcome the opportunity to chat with you about what your business/organization could or should do slightly or significantly differently in 2022, based on the following and other possible or anticipated changes pertaining to:

  • your industry
  • the competitiveness or other attributes of your marketplace, such as pricing and inflation
  • consumer or business buying behavior or interests
  • technology used by consumers or businesses to gather information about products, services, and solutions, i.e., consumer and business technology preferences
  • marketing technologies and opportunities to reach target audiences

So, please let us know how we can help and don’t be afraid to make some very small or some very large tweaks to personal habits or business processes, tactics, strategy, etc. if warranted for a more prosperous, less stressful, more productive, and/or healthier new year!

Walk On!

If you’re a fellow walking fanatic, enjoy our other walking blog posts:

A Live Constant: Why I’ve Always Walked

Why I’ve Always Walked Part II – No Excuses

Why I’ve Always Walked Part III: Brattleboro VT (150 miles) or Bust

Stay Tuned For #FridayNightWalks, #DestinationWalks, and More!

Being Found on Google, digital marketing agency, direct mail, Google Analytics, keywords, marketing consultant, Nonprofit Marketing & Communications, online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, pull marketing, push marketing, Results Analysis, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, target audiences, technical SEO, User experience, website

Why "If You Build It, They Will Come" Doesn't Always Hold True

Over the past six years, as a digital marketing agency owner and marketing consultant, I’ve had so many prospective clients approach me with a specific marketing tactic/activity that they’d like me to implement on their behalf. As I’ve repeatedly expressed on social media, in other blog posts, and in my website’s content, I never encourage clients to implement or continue with a marketing activity that doesn’t make sense for them. So, as part of discussing the particular tactic for which they’d like my help, I do a “preliminary check” to see if their website is “optimized for search,” and, therefore, likely to be found by individuals searching on relevant terms for the products, services, and solutions to problems the client in-question provides. Instead of a costly advertising campaign or direct mailer, the client might be better served investing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which could have longer-lasting impact.

You would be amazed by the number of organizations — both large and small — who have spent significant $$ and time to launch a comprehensive, user-friendly, informative website, but didn’t realize they needed to implement off-page (behind-the-scenes tags) and on-page (content) SEO tactics in order for their site to be found on Google. Some website developers and designers are well-versed in SEO, others aren’t, and don’t offer the service automatically, or as an add-on when launching a new site.

The above means that a for-profit or non-profit organization may have invested in a beautiful, effective website as far as design, user experience, functionality (interactive tools) and content goes, but they won’t likely benefit from it to the degree to which they could/should. Their site becomes like a pretty little unknown island that no-one knows is there, and therefore, no-one visits. In sum, building their new site, didn’t mean people would come.

Another factor related to lack of visitors may be this. If the products, services, or solutions to problems an organization offers are not ones that individuals are aware of, and therefore, aren’t actively searching on, even the most-optimized-for-search website isn’t going to get a lot of visits that stem from search engine inquiries. If your product or service is a brand new one — think something you’d see on Shark Tank — your target audience may not even realize a product or service like yours exists. Or, particularly, if you’re a B2B (business-to-business) organization, prospective clients may identify an organization like yours by asking one of their contacts or colleagues for a referral.

Both of the scenarios outlined in the paragraph above equate to your organization not being able to rely on “organic search” to drive traffic to your website. But, if you want and need to confirm that individuals aren’t actively searching to find an organization like yours, read our recent post that explains how keyword research can help you figure out whether or not individuals are searching to find an organization with your capabilities.

So, what are the takeaways from everything we’ve shared so far in this post, i.e., how do you ensure “if you build it they will come?

  1. Don’t assume that searchers are searching to find you and/or what you offer. Take the following steps to determine if they are searching to find you, and how.
    • use your Google Analytics data to see what percentage of your traffic is organic (comes to your site as the result of a visitor clicking on a search engine results listing)
    • use your Google Search Console data to see for what search terms, if any, Google is presenting a listing with a link to your website in search engine results, and the # of individuals who are clicking-thru to your site as a result of it being presented
    • conduct keyword research for the specific geographies you serve to determine whether or not a significant volume of individuals is searching to identify an organization likes yours
  2. If the above exercises reveal that the percentage of organic traffic to your site is low (less than 30%), and your website isn’t being presented in search engine results for relevant search terms (keywords), but keyword research indicates a large number of individuals in your geography are searching for the solutions, products and services you offer, then you should optimize your website for search, i.e., implement organic/technical SEO tactics
  3. If keyword research indicates that only a small number of individuals in your geography are searching for an organization with your capabilities, it’s time to consider “push” vs. “pull” marketing. Push marketing is all about putting the idea of your product/service in individuals’ heads and making them aware that a your solution to their problem exists. Display vs. search advertising is just one form of this and this blog post explains the push vs. pull dynamic, but there are many other forms of push marketing, such as an e-mail campaign, print or broadcast advertising, or a direct mail campaign.

Results Communications & Research is always here to make sure your website isn’t an island onto itself, so reach out to make sure it gets the admiring visitors it deserves.

Acceptance of Circumstances, Consulting, Enjoying What You Do, integrated marketing, lead generation, Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, staying current

What I’ve Learned From 5 Years of Running a Consulting Firm

comfortzone

Ninety percent of my blog posts cover marketing topics and trends, particularly digital ones. This, of course, makes sense as I want to be a resource for “all things marketing” for my existing and prospective clients, as well as demonstrate my expertise, and remind folks, in need of marketing help, that I’m here to assist them with both marketing strategy development, and hands-on, day-to-day execution of marketing tactics. That said, for a while now, I’ve been wanting to share with friends, colleagues, and particularly those considering starting a consultancy of any nature, the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a consultant.

I know already I’ll be commenting on or editing this post as pros and cons of consulting come to mind that I neglected to include!

Let’s start with the GREAT!

  • New People, Partners, Connections: You meet so many interesting, knowledgeable, passionate and creative individuals — whether they be fellow small business owners/entrepreneurs/consultants or employees of small, medium, or large for-profit and non-profit client organizations. And, on certain client work, you get to partner and collaborate with fellow consultants who are experts in their particular field.
  • New Industries, Products and Services: You learn about so many different industries, and unique products and services, and you get skilled at getting up-to-speed quickly on various industries. You know the types of questions to ask and the information you want and need to hunt down.
  • Diverse Service and Solution Provision: No two clients’ challenges and opportunities are the same, so with each engagement, you are required to step back and think about which of the solutions and services you offer would most benefit a client and have the most immediate impact on whatever pain point they are struggling with. In my case, because of my line of work, this means I have the opportunity to oversee or assist with a large, diverse set of marketing activities and analytics.
  • Money and Time Savings: If you’re a consultant who works out of a home office — like me — or a local, shared work space, you save time and $$ commuting to an office. You also can spend far less money on work clothes and lunches.
  • Pajamas and Sweat Pants: I don’t do it very often, but yes, you can work in your pajamas and sweats and even attend phone meetings wearing the aforementioned. Before I hit my home office and computer, I prefer to get dressed for the day in something a little less comfortable than sweats or pajamas, so I don’t feel too relaxed and feel more professional and in “work mode.”
  • Flexible Schedule: For someone like me, where past cancer treatment left me with some chronic health issues, it’s nice to have the flexibility to take care of my health and work at a slower pace, if and when required, and to be able to go to doctors’ appointments when I need to. I can also take a longer break to meet up with a friend or colleague for lunch or coffee, knowing that I can make up the lost work time at night or on the weekend.
  • No Difficult Office Politics or Managers: I don’t think the former really needs explaining…keep in mind, though, you can end up with difficult clients, or clients with difficult office politics.

Now, the GOOD!

  • You Are the Boss of You — I’ve always been driven and self-disciplined, so I treat every week day as a work day and rarely run personal errands and/or do personal chores during that time,  but for some being their own boss and not having someone tell them how to use their time or what their deliverables should be, doesn’t suit them. That’s why I listed this as “good” vs. “great”, even though I personally love being my own boss.
  • Nobody Rains (or Snows) on Your Parade — Literally and figuratively. If you don’t have face-to-face or in-person meetings scheduled, you can stay warm and dry on cold or wet days, and you don’t have to deal with negative co-workers dragging you down.

And, the BAD!

  • You Have to Look Good in Hats — You’ll be wearing a variety of them — CEO/President, junior- or entry-level staff person, bookkeeper, business development/sales manager, and marketing person, to name a few.
  • Friends & Family Think You Don’t Work — Friends, family, colleagues, etc. will think they can call or visit you anytime on a workday or you’ll drop everything to meet up with them because “you aren’t working” – hah!
  • Support May be Lacking — No matter how long your consultancy has been up and running, you’ll still frequently get asked by contacts, including friends and family, when you plan to return to a “corporate” job. Your circle may struggle with the fact that running a successful consultancy isn’t a temporary or short-term choice, it’s an active, long-term decision you made.

Boo hoo for the UGLY!

  • Client Work Gets Pulled — Promised work doesn’t come to fruition or projects for which you’ve officially been engaged or you’ve even started get put-on-hold or shut-down completely for a variety of reasons, such as:
    • your contact at your client’s office leaves
    • your contact’s manager or manager’s manager isn’t on board with proceeding with a project even if your contact is/was
    • your client has budget cuts
    • your client has new senior leadership or your contact at your client has a new manager
    • your client’s priorities shift — something unanticipated happens at their firm, in their industry, etc. that makes your work for them less of a priority
    • your client gets bought out by or merges with another firm

One of the most painful and expensive, but also beneficial lessons I’ve learned in the past five years of consulting is never leave “capacity” for a particular client unless you have documented approval of engagement for the work in-question.

  • The 50/50 Rule — At most, you will only be able to spend 50% of your work time, actually completing “paid” work for clients, this includes attending client meetings or participating in client phone calls. The remaining 50% of your time will be allocated something along these lines, unless, of course, you out-source some of this work:
    • Creating and issuing invoices, tracking expenses in an accounting system, such as QuickBooks — 2.5%
    • Posting to social media — 7.5%
    • Staying educated in your particular area of expertise through reading, webinars, and other trainings — 7.5%
    • Responding to RFPs/Creating Proposals – 10%
    • Phone or In-person meetings with prospective clients — 10%
    • Following up with individuals and organizations in your sales pipeline — 5%
    • Reaching out to individuals via LinkedIn, e-mail, etc. for the first time to see if they are open to a meeting — 5%
    • Attending short phone calls or responding to e-mails for which you can’t charge a client, since you don’t want to be viewed as “nickel & dime-ing” them. It’s just expected that a consultant will provide some “pro bono” hours – 2.5%

In sum, if you’re going to run a consultancy, you have to accept that about 50% of the work you do, will be “unpaid” work, i.e., work for which you won’t be able to bill someone.

  • If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Get Paid — enough said, and as I described above, even when you do work, much of it is work you can’t bill for.
  • No Employee/Employer Perks and Benefits (Both Tangible and Intangible) — when you are self-employed, you don’t have access to the following perks and benefits of a “corporate” employer:
    • true “paid”/”employee” benefits like health, dental, and life insurance, 401K contributions and matching, paid vacation time and time-off, short-term disability
    • office parties and celebrations
    • friendships and socialization that an office provides
    • support of and ability to brainstorm with co-workers, plus the ability to delegate work if you’re a manager
    • coverage of training and travel expenses
    • in-house training opportunities
    • and more!
  • You Work 60+ Hours, So You Don’t Have to Work 40 — So, I revamped this phrase that I snagged from Shark Tank, “entrepreneurs work 90 hours, so they don’t have to work 40”. But, basically, when you own and run your own business, it’s very unusual to have a week where you only work 35 or 40. Even if you’re not actively doing client work, you’re constantly checking your work e-mail at night and on the weekends, and quite honestly, often you you do have to work nights and/or weekends to stay on top of your accounting, proposals you need to create and send, blog posts like this one that you want to write, and client work that needs to be completed. And, yes, most consultants I know are thinking about their business 24/7 — while they are lying in bed at night, taking a shower, going for a walk, etc. It’s hard to turn your consultant brain off, particularly the part that knows that you need to constantly be creating new leads for your business.

One factor that both a corporate job and consulting have in common — workloads fluctuates. There will be times when you have far too much work, and times, when you have too little.

Despite some of the more difficult consequences and challenges of being a consultant, there is so much upside, and I wouldn’t change my work situation right now. I so enjoy where I’m at in my career — serving as an advisor and extra-hand to both clients and fellow consultants and marketing agencies — and I enjoy the challenges that come along with it. They’ve pushed and continue to push me to step outside my comfort zone and develop or enhance skills like sales and public speaking. I so look forward to what lies ahead for me in the next five years as a consultant!

A special shout-out to my niece, Angelique Snow, who alerted me to the expression in the image at the top of this post — one that is particularly fitting to my situation and that of other consultants — and to Angelique, who lives her life fully by stepping outside her comfort zone.

marketing consultant, online advertising, social media, Uncategorized

Invigorating Opportunities

As I write this last blog post of 2015, I feel so very energized. While it was a tough year personally for me — I lost my beautiful mom to Alzheimers — on the professional front, the past year has been a very educational and exciting one! As the number of online advertising opportunities continued to expand this past year, and along with them, greater opportunities for reaching very refined target audiences, we enjoyed learning about and testing out the various new tools, so that we could advise our clients on which ones might make sense for them based on their particular marketing objectives. And, of course, we enjoyed implementing results-achieving campaigns on a broad variety of online advertising platforms.

IMG_2193

Results Communications and Research became recertified as a Google AdWords Certified Specialist at the end of 2015. The need to renew our AdWords certification by studying for and passing an “advanced search” exam provided another welcome educational opportunity and refresher on the many tools and techniques available to optimize search campaigns and associated budgets. And, it positions us well to very effectively and efficiently manage clients’ 2016 search and display campaigns.

As it did in 2015, we expect that digital/online marketing will continue to reign as king of marketing activities for most brands and organizations. Sure, we’ll still see very large consumer packaged goods companies, financial service organizations, insurance companies, and cell and cable service providers running extensive broadcast and print campaigns — think General Mills, Capital One, Geico, and Xfinity TV and magazine ads. But, we believe smaller and mid-sized organizations should and will continue to put most of their marketing $$ and energies into digital marketing activities, such as search and display (pay-per-click) campaigns and their presence on a variety of social media platforms.

On the social media front, Facebook is expected to maintain its lead in 2016 as far as far as capturing the largest percentage of advertisers’ social media advertising dollars. Yes, the younger generation (25 & under) is primarily staying away from Facebook and mostly using it as a way to stay in touch with their parents, aunts, and uncles who have made Facebook theirs, but advertisers are still able to reach an extremely large, diverse audience on Facebook. And, the people they can reach, including baby boomers, have the greatest buying power.

During the last 5 years or so, Twitter has experienced popularity ups and downs, and the demographics of individuals whom it has attracted have varied greatly, but as we enter 2016, the platform seems to be embraced by quite a diverse group — both young and old appear very engaged. Pinterest remains very popular among women of all ages  who love to cook, follow style, love interior design, etc., and while a much smaller group than women, men are enjoying Pinterest’s benefits of being able to find and file items of interest. Snapchat and Instagram should remain great ways to reach younger generations, and two new video platforms, Periscope and Meerkat, are expected to be used very effectively by advertisers in 2016, as both platforms significantly grow their followers in the coming year.

With all of the current and expanding opportunities for marketing consultants like me to help clients meet their awareness and sales marketing objectives, there’s so much to be excited about as a new year gets underway. We look forward to working with and helping both existing and new clients with their marketing opportunities and challenges in 2016, so let’s get started!

 

marketing consultant, Uncategorized

Getting More Bang From Your Marketing Buck

As the number of marketing opportunities and vehicles has multiplied drastically in the last 20 years — due to the many and diverse tactics available online — marketing professionals have found themselves having to spread their thin marketing budgets even more thinly. While the number of opportunities for product and service promotion and awareness-generation has grown, most marketers have found their budgets haven’t, and therefore, they need to constantly be thinking about how to maximize marketing dollars.

I’ve recently been involved with and/or had the good fortune of learning from a couple of strategies employed by prospective or current clients that I believe very much maximize marketing budgets, and I wanted to share those below.

Co-marketing/Co-branding

An effective way of both achieving marketing objectives and maximizing marketing spend is to partner up with another organization to jointly achieve respective marketing objectives — sales and/or awareness. Whether it be through a product or service offering that bears both organizations’ names, a rebate or instant redemption when different products offered by two distinct organizations are simultaneously purchased, or simply through a promotion such as a contest, sweepstakes, or giveaway, joint or co-marketing by organizations can go a long way in minimizing dollars spent while maximizing awareness. After all, doesn’t it make good mathematical sense that if ABC company has brand recognition among a certain percentage or slice of the population, and XYZ company among another slice, that both companies will grow awareness, and hopefully sales, of their company’s products among loyal consumers of the other company’s products. In addition, one of the companies may specialize and have great success in resonating with a desired target audience with which the other company hopes to resonate.

Fan Sharing

While fame-seeking individuals who try to ride the coattails of celebrities in hopes of gaining fame for themselves are often recognized or criticized for doing so, in the world of marketing products and services, not trying to piggyback on appropriate individuals’ or organizations’ success likely means a missed opportunity. And, while there are many ways to incorporate people who are well-known and well-respected into a marketing campaign — for example, those people could be used as spokespeople for your brand or appear in your advertising — because of all the focus on online/digital marketing these days, the opportunity I will discuss here pertains to employing both bloggers and vloggers in your marketing.

Whether an external party publishes regular posts to their online blog on topics relevant to your line of business, or they appear in and produce relevant-topic videos that they host on platforms like YouTube, if that external party has a large fan following, you should give strong thought to how you might involve them in the promotion of your product or service. While the compensation vloggers and bloggers (talents) expect varies greatly, if you’re willing to take the time to do an extensive search, you’re likely to identify talents who are willing to talk or write about your product or service and/or show it in use at a rate that’s acceptable to you. And, both your organization and the talents will benefit from being able to share whatever post or video you jointly create among each of your sets of fans and followers.

I welcome your thoughts on the two marketing opportunities I’ve discussed above for getting more bang from your marketing buck, and I’d love to hear other ideas from you on how to maximize marketing dollars during this unique time of endless opportunities.