Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, social media, technical SEO, Uncategorized

Why SEO Is Not A One and Done Marketing Activity

Even if Google didn’t regularly change its algorithm that determines which organizations’ listings it serves up on the first two pages of search results, and even if new competitors haven’t entered your marketplace or existing competitors haven’t up’d their SEO game, your organization still needs to regularly revisit your SEO strategy and tactics. By regularly, I mean, at least quarterly.

My digital marketing agency is often engaged to implement activities related to keyword research and planning (such as employment of appropriate keywords in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags). While keyword research and planning is a large, complex, and time-consuming activity that doesn’t need to be revisited monthly or quarterly, there are a number of SEO review and audit type activities that should. I won’t repeat those activities in this post because I’ve already outlined them in the recent blog posts shared below, but I hope you’ll take the time to read or re-read these past posts. They outline easy tasks you can and should complete to make sure you are up-to-SEO-speed and that potential issues with your website aren’t impacting your SEO, or that tactics that you are or aren’t employing related to your social media presence, aren’t harming how your organization ranks in search engine results in some way.

Don’t have the time or capacity to complete the above monthly or quarterly SEO activities? My team is always here to help! E-mail or call us for information about the services we can provide related to quarterly SEO reviews.

 

 

digital marketing agency, Nonprofit Marketing & Communications, online advertising, SEO, social media, Uncategorized, website

One Digital Marketing Agency’s Story: Five Years By The Numbers

Since it will be five years next month that Results C & R hung its digital marketing agency shingle, via the launch of this website, I thought it would be a fun and interesting exercise to do a deep dive into the types of clients our organization has served to-date,  as well as the nature of the work we’ve done for them. I mean, we’re always slicing ‘n dicing our clients’ data, why not slice our own?

The graphics below should readily tell our story of the 42 clients we’ve helped (as of the date of this blog post) over the past five years, and how we’ve helped them (with ongoing or one-off/project marketing strategy development or tactic execution work). But, just to preview and reinforce what you’ll see…we’ve served a very diverse group of clients with a very diverse set of digital marketing — and even some traditional marketing — challenges and objectives.

And, while our specialties since the launch of our digital marketing consultancy have been technical SEO; paid SEO (SEM/pay-per-click ads); website revisions, revamps, and launches; and Google Analytics account set-up and data analysis, we enjoy and can help clients with a variety of marketing and market research needs!

Nature of Client Work.png

size of clients

Nature of Client Work

 

good will creation, integrated marketing, lead generation, sales, SEO, social media

A 10-Year Look-back: Observations on Social Media Use by Businesses

Social media is no longer a new and innovative marketing tactic. So, I thought it might benefit my readers to look back at the 10+ years this tactic has been used by organizations and share what I’ve observed and learned.

Roughly 10 years ago, as a contractor, who eventually assumed permanent marketing manager and director roles at a large New England health plan, I was a big champion of social media. At that time, social media use by organizations for business purposes vs. by individuals for social purposes was starting to gain momentum, but there were still a good number of business organizations who had yet to launch a social media presence. I worked diligently to educate senior leadership in the marketing and communications department where I worked, as well as across the entire organization, about why we needed to dip our toes in the social media pool. I’m sure my reasons at the time for pushing my employer to establish a social media presence on one or several social media platforms included several, if not all, of the following:

  • by not having a social media presence, our organization looked dated and irrelevant
  • our competitors were taking advantage of this new marketing tool known as “social media” and we were missing out on the opportunities they were having to connect and communicate with our mutual target audiences: 1) direct users of our services aka members (individuals who qualified for state-funded healthcare coverage programs); 2) healthcare providers who served our members, and 3) nonprofit organizations serving our members who could refer them to us
  • other than employee time to create and share posts, social media was “free” and could help us make the most of our marketing budget
  • through the sharing of thought-provoking and informational posts, my employer could establish itself as a subject matter expert
  • we could drive traffic to our website via posts that contained links to various website content
  • we could create goodwill with other organizations by sharing their posts
  • we could speak to our members and prospective members via one of their preferred vehicles of communications; therefore, not only could we market ourselves using social media, we could keep our members informed

I eventually got buy-in to launch a social media presence for my employer and how we used the platforms and which platforms we used evolved during my time at the health plan. And, five years post my departure, I’m sure the health plan’s use of social media to promote itself, create goodwill, and communicate with its members, providers and the community continues to evolve.

Based on my approximately 10 years’ experience overseeing the social media presence of corporate employers, clients, and my own organization, Results Communications and Research, here’s what I’ve learned about social media use by businesses to create awareness and generate leads and sales. I call out these last two objectives, because ultimately those are the biggest desired end results of organizations who develop and implement a social media strategy.

  • Organizations should never put all of their marketing & communications $$ and efforts into their social media basket. Regardless of an organization’s nature and the nature of the products and services offered, some members of one or all of an organization’s target audiences may not be active on social media; therefore, you need to leave some $$ and time to reach those individuals who aren’t fans or users of social media via another form of communication that may be preferred by them, such as e-mail marketing, search engine advertising, or print advertising.
  • Even if it’s limited, organizations should maintain a social media presence to establish and maintain relevancy. Organizations don’t want potential clients or existing customers to make the assumption you won’t be up-to-speed on other issues because you’re viewed as “behind-the-times” by not having a social media presence.
  • More is not always more. Sure there’s a large # of social media networks/platforms out there: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and others. That doesn’t mean your organization should have a presence on all of them. It’s hard to maintain a strong, effective presence on one or several platforms if you dilute your social media energies too much across too large a range of social media networks.
  • Each platform has distinct audiences, benefits and limitations. Here’s our observations on the platforms we’ve used most to promote our own organization as well as others’:
    • LinkedIn – because it was built for business and professional networking purposes, each & every organization should have a profile page on LinkedIn; a lot of really great conversations happen on LinkedIn via post comments and LinkedIn’s messaging capability
    • Twitter — as with LinkedIn, this is where we see business conversations happening most, regardless of the nature of an organization, but particularly when it comes to business-to-business conversations and services
    • Facebook and Instagram – based on our experience, business Facebook and Instagram profiles work best for organizations offering business-to-consumer services or products vs. business-to-business services or products. A restaurant or hair salon may benefit from having a business Facebook or Instagram page, but a business offering services to another business, like insurance, likely won’t benefit as much. And, if you’re not an organization who wants to or can regularly take and post new photos, you shouldn’t bother with an Instagram account since Instagram is all about serving up a steady stream of interesting photos
    • Pinterest – consumer goods companies, such as food or other retailers will benefit from having a presence here, but there don’t seem to be any applications for organizations offering services. As with Instagram, if you’re going to maintain an effective presence on Pinterest, you need to be able to constantly take and post new photos or graphic images
    • YouTube – organizations need to think of YouTube as a search engine — since the YouTube search tool receives the second largest search volume after Google. Regardless of its nature, any organization should benefit from establishing a channel and sharing videos here
    • Google My Business – while some may not view this as a social media network/platform, I believe each and every organization should have such a profile, keep it current and regularly post to it, the way you would any other social media platform. This will greatly improve your SEO — where you fall in search engine results listings for search terms relevant to your products and services
  • In isolation, social media profiles and posts don’t often directly lead to sales or generate leads. In general, social media strategy and tactics need to be supported by other marketing tactics as part of a much larger, integrated marketing plan. We highlighted this in red to really call out the danger associated with believing that a social media presence will directly promote sales and leads, or suffice as a stand-alone marketing activity to create awareness of your organization and its products and services. In rare instances, social media posts may generate sales and leads, but those are the exceptions. For example, these types of social media behavior may generate a lead or a sale
    • Posts that promote sales or special offers for whatever consumer goods are currently most popular or the “it” thing
    • Posts that promote upcoming events, such as concerts by popular performers
    • Commenting on another organization’s or professional’s post, particularly on LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Organizations should use Google Analytics to determine where to put their social media $$ and energies. I always suggest giving equal attention — in the form of posting your own content and sharing, liking and commenting on others’ — to two or three social media platforms that make sense for your organization (for several months), based on what I shared about about the platforms’ benefits and limitations. Then, use Google Analytics to determine which of these social media platforms are referring the most traffic to your site. That will help inform where you’ll likely want to put most of your social media energies going forward.
  • Businesses shouldn’t “go dark” on certain social media platforms without acknowledging it or explaining why. Whenever I’m preparing for a meeting with a prospective client, I check out all their digital/online marketing activities, including their social media presence. I’m always surprised by the number of organizations that have social media icons on their websites that link to profiles on social media platforms that they don’t maintain, e.g., haven’t posted to in the last 3 to 6 months or longer. If you don’t have the capacity to maintain an effective social media presence on a particular platform, i.e., can’t post at least weekly to the platform, consider the following:
    • removing the social media icon link to the platform, in question, until you can give the social media network the attention it deserves
    •  posting to the “neglected” social media platform that you won’t be posting to the platform in the foreseeable future, but that you hope your followers will join you on x,y,z platform instead and include a link to your presence(s) there (assumes you are more effectively maintaining a presence on one or several other platforms)
  • If you’re going to put time & energy into social media, be sure to capitalize on it. Be sure to put social media icons on each page of your website that link to the various social media platforms on which you have a presence. Also, place such icon links in e-mail signatures, and e-newletters. I’ve seen so many organizations neglect to do the aforementioned, and therefore, miss out the opportunity to build stronger bonds and share additional information with customers and prospective clients.

To summarize our observations, in general, social media shouldn’t be used in isolation by organizations to generate leads and sales. It should be one tactic that is part of a much bigger integrated marketing plan. Organizations should maintain a social media presence to be seen as relevant and to create goodwill with customers, prospective customers, and organizations who might be good business referral sources, but it isn’t necessary to have a presence on each and every social media platform. If you’re going to have a presence on a certain form of social media, be sure to post, comment, like, share, etc. regularly, and don’t just “go dark.” Use Google Analytics data to determine which forms of social media drive the most traffic to your website and focus your energies there, and make sure your website and e-communications share links to and promote your social media presence.

Need help creating or evaluating your social media strategy? Contact us to learn about our social media “audit” and strategy development and “voice” services.

 

 

 

LinkedIn, Networking, social media, Uncategorized

Identify the “Link” Before You Send a LinkedIn Invite to Connect

Because I’m a digital marketing expert, and advise clients on social media strategy and/or serve as their social media voice, I felt I owed it to the many individuals who use LinkedIn — both the right way and the wrong way — to call out a major user “faux pas” and how to fix it.

Given the fact no job or business is ever 100% secure — times and interest in products and services by current customers change rapidly, management comes and goes, new technology makes certain products or services obsolete, etc. — if you are of employment age, then you should be maintaining an up-to-date profile on LinkedIn and actively using it to connect with both individuals you do know, and individuals you don’t. This will ensure you are adequately connected when you find yourself in need of identifying your next permanent or contract gig.

So, now to the “faux pas”. If you’re going to reach out to someone via LinkedIn whom you don’t know well or don’t know at all, and it’s not totally obvious why you want to connect with them (for example, they are not a close friend, or former co-worker or manager), you should never, ever send an invite to connect without 1) devising a note of some sort  that goes beyond the standard one of “I’d like to connect on LinkedIn.”; and 2) including in your note some context around why you want to connect.

LinkedInInvite

As a marketer who understands “best practices” and the proper use of various forms of social media, for some time now, I haven’t accepted requests to connect from individuals I don’t know who haven’t taken the time to explain why we should “connect.” However, I’m kind enough to reach out to these “inviters” and ask them why they want to connect before I completely write them off as a possible LinkedIn connection. I hope by doing so, I’m teaching them how to better make connections going forward, so they they and all LinkedIn users will benefit.

A good salesperson knows you have to explain the value-add associated with any product or service you sell. In the case of LinkedIn, you are selling yourself, and you need to explain to your “invitee” why and how they would benefit from connecting with you. As the inviter, you have the responsibility to identify the “link” for your “invitee”. Hey you wouldn’t invite someone to a party or event without explaining what it’s all about, right? The “link” could be having careers in the same field, volunteering at the same organization or ones with similar interests, having attended the same college or graduate school, having a lot of mutual connections, having the same passions/interests, etc. The explanation you provide with your invite doesn’t have to be long. In fact, ideally it shouldn’t be (you can and should wait until your target “invitee” accepts before providing too much detail; you can use the LinkedIn “message” function later on to provide that greater detail). Sample explanations include:

  • “I’d love to connect with you because of our similar interests in healthcare technology”
  • I’d love to connect because I see we have quite a few mutual connections from our careers in community banking”
  • “I think we’d enjoy being connected because I see we are equally passionate about digital marketing”
  • “I’d welcome connecting because I really enjoyed your article, blog post, presentation, etc. about x,y, and z, and I’d love to keep the conversation going.”

So, the next time you go to send a LinkedIn invite to connect, give some good thought as to why you want to connect with the individual in-question, and why they’d want to connect with you. If all LinkedIn users employ this protocol, we can improve on the great tool that LinkedIn already is and make it an even more effective environment for ensuring interesting conversations and beneficial connections happen between the right people.

good will creation, public relations, social media

Top 3 Reasons You Should Consider Outsourcing Your Organization’s Social Media Presence in 2018

I’m sure most individuals’ immediate reaction to reading this post will be, “of course, Gail’s recommending that organizations outsource their social media presence since that’s part of the digital marketing services she offers.” But, as someone who has pledged to never encourage prospective or existing clients to invest time and energy in marketing activities that don’t make sense for them — economic, business, sales, or logistical — I do believe, per the reasons outlined below, that there is great value to many organizations in outsourcing their social media presence to a contractor/freelancer or small marketing agency/consultancy, such as mine.

  • Top Reason #1: Priceless General & Local Social Media Landscape KnowledgeContractors or agencies who have been serving as the social media voice for their own and client organizations for any length of time get to know the following:
    • what hashtags (#s) are used by your peers, competitors, and target audiences, so they can naturally include those #’s in your posts to ensure they are easily found and read by appropriate audiences
    • subject matter experts (SMEs) for the services and products you offer, so they can capitalize on SME content for your social media posting/sharing
    • who you should follow in your particular marketplace. If you hire a local contractor/agency, they should know what community/civic, business, and other organizations to follow, particularly, ones that will provide a good source of social media content for or create goodwill for you
    • what topics are trending on a daily, weekly or monthly basis on which your organization might capitalize
    • best overall practices related to social media use and voice, regardless of an organization’s physical location
  • Top Reason #2: Cost Savings – To have an effective social media presence, an organization should be posting/sharing its own and other appropriate organizations’ information very regularly. Because of wanting and needing to make sure that any and all information-sharing that occurs on behalf of your organization is thoughtful, appropriate, and relevant, this will likely require the time-consuming involvement of a more senior leader/manager at your organization. But, does it really make sense to have a high-salaried individual spending so many of their working hours and associated paycheck on a task you likely could outsource to an individual or agency who knows the ins, outs, benefits, and pitfalls of social media? Outsourcing your social media is a cost-effective way to protect your organization from any liabilities that could occur while also optimizing awareness of your organization among prospective customers and their opinions of you.
  • Top Reason #3: Client Synergies – When and where appropriate, a contractor or marketing agency who serves as the social media “voice” for several or many organizations of all shapes and sizes can tweet, post, retweet, and share one client’s social media posts via another client’s presence. Let’s say the marketing contractor or agency has one client who offers services to small businesses, and a second client who offers non-competing, different services to small businesses. Often, the target audiences of both clients would be interested in the information shared by both, so why not let a contractor or agency capitalize on that scenario on your organization’s behalf?

Wondering if outsourcing your social media presence makes sense for your organization? We’re glad to have a complimentary, open, and honest discussion with you about your particular organization’s social media situation to help you determine if social media outsourcing makes sense for you in 2018.

competitive advantage, keeping up with trends, mission statement, SEO, social media, staying current, Uncategorized

SEO Is Not for Sissies

An 8/12/19 Update to the Post Below: It is believed that Google takes into consideration “social signals” when deciding what organizations’ listings it will serve up in search results to searchers. So, as mentioned below, be active on social media. You can use Google Analytics to see which forms of social media drive the most traffic to your website to determine where you may want to put most of your social media energy (call or e-mail us if you don’t have a Google Analytics account or don’t know how to use it to determine the aforementioned). Another social media and SEO tip: Don’t have a Google My Business Profile? Get one right away (we can help you with this as well). Your Google My Business Profile will not only enhance how your organization ranks locally in search engine results, it will also support your ranking well overall in search. Think of your Google My Business Profile as another form of social media and be sure to post to it regularly.

 

With the increase in the number of forms of social media and the use, by both consumer and business professionals, of mobile devices to access Web sites, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a more complex task than ever for marketers. Since 90+% of individuals conduct internet searches via Google, and Google regularly changes its algorithm for organically ranking Web sites, individuals charged with keeping their organization’s Web site at the top of search engine listings must regularly take courses, like the Basic SEO course from Yoast that we just completed, as well as read everything they can get their hands on, to ensure they are up-to-speed on optimizing their site for search.

We like how Yoast encourages marketers to take a “holistic approach” to SEO. Marketers need to keep in mind that both “on-site” and “off-site” activities influence results ranking. To help you in your quest to have your site appear before your key competitors in search engine results, and preferably on the first or second pages of listings, we’re sharing some of the less-complex-to-implement and less-technical takeaways from the recent “refresher” we underwent to ensure both our own and our clients’ Web sites are well-positioned for SEO.

confident-young-woman-working-in-her-office-with-mobile-phone-100340643

  • Link internally – Google’s “spiders” that search the internet and your site hop from link to link to link to index information and to determine the credibility of your site. Help the spiders take their journey by posting links throughout your site pages to appropriate content on other pages of the site. Share links frequently throughout your site to your most valuable internal content – what you want site visitors to be most aware of/know most about your organization, its services, and mission.
  • Link externally – Share links to relevant external sites via your site, and most importantly, where appropriate, ask those external sites to share a link to your site on their site. This will reinforce the trustworthiness of your site with Google, and help improve both organizations’ rankings.
  • Don’t overthink – Google recognizes when sites are overusing certain “keywords” (phrases or individual words) throughout their site because they are the search terms which they hope or think searchers will use to find their site. Google will actually penalize you if it believes you are trying to “game” them in this fashion, and it will take some time, even after you make adjustments to reduce the overuse of certain terms, for Google to re-index your site. Don’t try to beat Google at its own game.
  • Do tag and title appropriatelyWhile we mentioned above to not overuse “keywords”, you do want to make sure your pages are appropriately titled and tagged with relevant keywords. Just don’t tag a page with certain keywords if your page doesn’t contain content relevant to those keywords. Also, be cognizant to not “over-tag” or “under-tag”.
  • Aim for the best site and user experience – By focusing on having the best Web site possible – one that makes it obvious to visitors what you do and why you do it – and on providing the best user experience (UX), your site should be well-positioned to receive higher search results rankings than competitors. Google wants internet searchers to land on the sites that best meet their needs and provide for the best possible experience. As Yoast shares, just make an “awesome” Web site, one with high-quality writing/content, and good, intuitive site structure and navigation.
  • Be socialBe sure to have a strong presence on social media platforms like Twitter and Google+; while Google can’t “read” a lot of Facebook content, it can read the aforementioned social media sites, and does take your social media presence and content into consideration when indexing and ranking your site.
  • Be responsive – “Responsive” sites respond to the vehicle on which they are being viewed, e.g., desktop, tablet, mobile phone, etc. If your site isn’t “mobile-ready” or “mobile-friendly”, Google isn’t going to rank it high in search results that it presents to a user entering relevant search terms on a mobile phone.
  • Be authentic – In keeping with not “overthinking” and providing the best UX, be real and be honest about who your organization is and the services your offer. While, as mentioned, you want external organizations to link to your site, don’t offer compensation for sites to do so. Google recognizes when the connection between organizations is forced vs. real and natural. In addition, don’t just write for SEO. Tell a good story, get people talking about you, be newsworthy, etc. Write about the things that matter most to you and your customers.
  • Be strong and be well – Regularly review your site to check for and fix “broken” links. “404” error messages that visitors receive when clicking on non-functional links to internal or external content send a red flag to visitors that your organization is not minding their Web site shop and/or doesn’t care enough or have the manpower to regularly make sure any site links still point to appropriate pages. Don’t let something so small and unnecessary as a broken link influence visitors’ first, second or tenth impression of you! In keeping with being viewed as “strong and well”, make sure the speed with which your site loads does not cause visitors to abandon it. If you need to eliminate large images or other media that may be contributing to slow site load, do so. Faster site load is more important to Google and your visitors than a pretty picture.
  • Look outward – As you title and tag pages and content, and even write content, use terminology you believe prospective clients and clients would use and understand. That may differ significantly from the terms and acronyms you use within your organization.

We’ll continue to stay abreast of what’s new and different on the SEO front and provide our thoughts about how to improve your site’s ranking. We’re always welcome and ready for a conversation on immediate and longer-term steps to improve your site’s SEO.

Acceptance of Circumstances, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, Objectives Setting, online advertising, social media, staying current, Target Marketing, traditional marketing, Uncategorized, Understanding Your Environment

Happy (I think?) 25th Anniversary to the Internet!

As with all national days and unique holidays celebrated via social media, I’m going to take the news that “today marks the 25th anniversary of general public access to the internet” with a grain of salt; however, it’s fitting that I learned of it via Twitter.

I didn’t grow up as a “digital” marketeer. I’m proud and glad to date myself. I broke my marketing teeth in the world of traditional advertising and public relations. Think “Mad Men” vs. Mark Zuckerberg. While my very first marketing-related position was at a national market research supplier, Market Facts, where I oversaw or was involved in conducting primary research for large consumer brands like Stop & Shop and Gillette, all subsequent positions have been more marcom (marketing and communications)  focused.

My earliest marcom roles were at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA and Bay State Federal Bank — back in the early 1990’s through early 2000’s — when companies were just dipping their toes in the promised power of the internet. Companies felt compelled to launch and maintain Web sites and set up e-mail addresses at which they could be contacted, but I don’t believe marketing professionals, or any professionals for that matter, appreciated then the extensive impact the internet would have on traditional marketing, the role of a marketeer, or life, in general, as we knew it.

Mad_Men_season_5_cast_photo

I have to digress and take my fellow marketeers down memory lane for just one minute. Remember the days when advertising options consisted only of print, radio, network T.V., and vehicles like billboard and transit? And the days of needing to mail camera-ready ads aka slicks to media for publication? Yes, those days when e-mail blasts, social media influencers, pay-per-click and banner ads, and vlogging and blogging didn’t exist?

I’m guessing the majority of my readers will agree that there are pro’s and con’s to a world ruled by the internet. Below are what I believe to be the most critical impacts of the introduction of the “World-wide Web” (for those who don’t remember or know that’s the origin of “www.”). Given my profession, I focused on those that affect marketeers, but obviously, there’s been immeasurable impact on the day-to-day lives of all human beings.

Pros

  • It’s easy to find like-minded people or individuals facing similar challenges or opportunities, and to hold a conversation with them.
  • The opportunities to target individuals who enjoy certain hobbies and interests, belong to certain demographic groups, and/or who serve in particular business roles seem endless and are abundant.
  • Smaller organizations without deep marketing pockets can play the advertising game as well as, and sometimes even better, than larger advertisers via integrated online campaigns that are much less costly to execute and run (partly because of low or no production costs associated with online ads vs. the higher production costs often associated with print or broadcast advertising).
  • You can use the internet to research or locate just about anything or anybody.

Cons

  • Advertising $ have become quite diluted. The size of average marketing budgets has held steady and marketing monies now need to be spread across numerous media since target audiences are no longer listening to a limited number of radio or TV stations or reading a limited number of print publications. Per my Getting More Bang For Your Marketing Buck post, this means an advertiser’s marketing spend may not be as impactful, making it harder to achieve wished-for awareness or sales objectives associated with an ad campaign.
  • Marketeers may be pressured by external and internal clients to put the bulk of their time, energy, or budgets into online advertising and communications, such as social media or pay-per-click ads, when that may not be the most-effective vehicle for reaching a client’s business-to-business or business-to-consumer targets.
  • Maintaining an online presence on social media, blogs, vlogs, etc. is time-consuming, and marketing staffs may not be large enough to support the appropriate time expenditure on both traditional and digital marcom activities.
  • It’s become almost impossible for public relations (PR) professionals to know who and how to outreach to regarding covering certain topics and stories. Some publications employ different staff to handle their online vs. print communications and won’t share e-mail contact information. Instead, they encourage you to communicate with staff online. This evokes another “con”– it’s hard to have a private conversation these days as some social media users and bloggers don’t offer the capability for you to e-mail or message them, thereby forcing you to share your message with both them and the rest of the world.

What’s the key takeaway? As you set budgets, develop marketing plans, and hire staff for your next fiscal year, give a lot of hard thought to the target audiences for your products and services — not only where do your target audiences hang out, physically and virtually, but when and how do they best like to be communicated with? For example, they may be hanging out on LinkedIn because they’re conducting a job search or trying to do business development there, so that may not be the best time and place to bombard them with an ad about your business services. You and they might be better served by a more traditional marketing activity — a direct mail piece delivered to your targets’ physical office mailbox.

I’m always available to discuss any and all of the above and look forward to your thoughts. Depending on your feelings regarding the internet, take this 25-year celebration as motive to post and tweet away, or to take a walk outside and say “hello” to your neighbor in-person.

 

 

Objectives Setting, online advertising, social media, Target Marketing, Uncategorized

Online Advertising: Top Five Things You Should Know

Online Advertising: Top Five Things You Should Know

Since Results Communications and Research’s official launch in April 2014, the majority of advertising work with which clients and prospective clients have sought assistance has been online (digital). As you would expect, whether our client contacts are dedicated marketing individuals for their mid-to-large-sized organization or small business owners, all are greatly aware of the last decade’s shift in how target audiences want to communicate and obtain information.

While I still believe there will always be a need for and benefits associated with more traditional forms of advertising, such as billboards, transit, print, and broadcast (radio and TV), online advertising definitely rules the advertising roost right now, and I don’t see that changing any time soon, if ever.

Given the above, as a Google AdWords-certified specialist, as well as someone who’s researched and been exposed to a large variety of other forms of online advertising, I’m sharing – in what I hope are layman’s terms (but know that you can always reach out for an explanation) – a list of important things to know when considering online advertising.

Laboure_200 x 2005

  1. Before you research and brainstorm any kind of online advertising campaign, define your campaign objectives. Are you trying to create awareness of your organization/brand/products? Or, are you trying to increase sales of your products, services, or programs? It’s imperative that you clearly define your objective before beginning to focus on an advertising campaign.
  2. Similar to defining objectives, determine upfront whether or not individuals are likely to be actively searching online for information on the product, service, or program which you plan to promote. If you are offering a product, service, or program that your target audience likely doesn’t know exists, implementing a search campaign using Google or Bing search engine advertising platforms is not going to help you achieve campaign objectives. Tools available in search engine advertising platforms can help you assess the volume of searches being undertaken in a particular geographic area that are relevant to your organization’s offerings.
  3. You’ve got options. Here’s a quick summary of what those are:
    1. search engine search advertising – gives you the opportunity to have a text ad presented to individuals entering search terms in search engines that are relevant to your product, service, or program.
    2. search engine display advertising – gives you the opportunity to have a text or image ad presented to individuals who meet certain targeting requirements, e.g., have particular interests, belong to certain demographic groups, visit Web sites focusing on topics relevant to your offerings, and/or who read online content pertinent to the aforementioned.
    3. other bulk display/banner advertising – gives you access to advertising on a variety of topic-relevant Web sites by providing options beyond search engines to purchase display/banner advertising on a collection of Web sites simultaneously. Google’s Display Network (known as AdSense) isn’t the only “bulk” display game in town.
    4. direct-purchase banner advertising – gives you the opportunity to have an image ad presented on relevant Web sites that will directly sell you advertising space.
    5. direct-purchase e-newsletter, e-blast, and Webinar advertising – relevant organizations may offer you the chance to advertise in their weekly or monthly e-newsletters or e-blasts, or to sponsor a Webinar they are hosting, so you can reach their members/customers/subscribers. And, opportunities may include the ability to push out your own content via e-blast or Webinar authorship/presentation.
    6. social media advertising – the majority, if not all, social media platforms offer advertising opportunities to reach a variety of target audiences. Think Twitter Web cards, and Pinterest and Facebook Pin and Post boosts, among others.
  4. All impressions are not created equal. I equate an impression to a set of eyeballs, i.e., each impression accrued for an advertisement means it was presented to one individual for viewing. Many online advertising opportunities require advertisers to pay for any and all impressions achieved; you may be okay with that, if creating awareness of your product, service, or program is a key objective of your campaign. However, if the focus of your campaign is to drive traffic to your Web site, and even further, cause visitors to take actions beneficial to your organization (known as conversions), such as completing an inquiry form or purchasing a product, then you’ll likely want to engage in advertising arrangements where you pay only for ad click-thrus to your Web sites (pay-per-click/PPC advertising), or where your advertising cost structure is related to visitor conversion behavior (advertising that offers cost-per-acquisition bidding).
  5. It’s possible to easily pilot, test, pause, and change course. Certain forms of online advertising, particularly search engine search and display advertising, only require a very small “entry cost” to use their platform. There’s really no true set-up fee you have to pay them, but you will have the human resource expense of using their tools to set up text ads and design image ads. You can launch a campaign where you’ve indicated you only want to spend $1 a day. Granted, depending on the competition from other advertisers to have their ads presented for search terms or to audiences similar to yours, the $1 may not be sufficient to have your ad presented; however, there are no required daily, weekly, or monthly advertising spends for search engine search and display advertising. And, unlike directly purchased banner advertising and some other online advertising opportunities, search engine advertising tools allow you to pause campaigns yourself 24/7 and to change campaign settings, ad content, targeting strategies, and search terms prompting ads at any moment of any day.

I and my team continue to educate ourselves on a daily basis about the pro’s and con’s of available online advertising opportunities, so that we can best serve our clients. We know that no one size of online advertising fits all. I am always available to brainstorm with you about your particular needs or to explain further any of the information outlined above. The online advertising portion of digital marketing will continue to evolve, and we’ll be here to guide you through that evolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!

 

Enjoying What You Do, marketing consultant, online advertising, Passion, social media, Uncategorized

A Year In The Making

It’s so hard to believe that Results Communications and Research is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. One of my favorite and common responses to challenges has always been “onwards and upwards.” And upwards it truly has been the past year, and for that, I’m both extremely grateful and thrilled. As I look back at all the posts I’ve drafted and published during Results Communications and Research’s first year of business — we’ll have officially been in business a full year around mid-April — I realize that I’ve followed a lot of the marketing and outreach advice I’ve shared in past blog posts, particularly the ones below. They’ve proven to be quite effective!

  1. https://allintheresults.com/2015/01/05/and-they-told-two-friends-and-so-on-and-so-on/
  2. https://allintheresults.com/2014/11/19/oh-yes-im-the-great-connector/
  3. https://allintheresults.com/2014/10/15/while-you-wait-educate/https://allintheresults.com/2014/09/24/the-perks-of-networking/
  4. https://allintheresults.com/2014/06/23/attitude-truly-is-everything/
  5. https://allintheresults.com/2014/05/30/why-it-literally-pays-to-be-different/
  6. https://allintheresults.com/2014/05/13/my-hands-on-refresher-course/
  7. https://allintheresults.com/2014/05/07/keeping-up-the-fight/
  8. https://allintheresults.com/2014/04/23/why-i-love-the-marketing-term-shoe-leather/
  9. https://allintheresults.com/2014/04/16/why-goodwill-is-well-good/
  10. https://allintheresults.com/2014/04/12/the-power-of-passion/

I want to thank the many friends, acquaintances, prospective clients, and clients who provided an opportunity for a great marketing strategy discussion and/or the chance to submit a proposal for ongoing or project work, or who engaged me and my firm to oversee and execute ongoing or project marketing or research work. I’ve truly enjoyed our conversations regarding marketing challenges and opportunities, as well as primary and secondary research, and the actual work I’ve done for some of you in these areas.

I also feel so fortunate and honored to have been able to work with such a diverse group of clients on such diverse work. To-date, Results has been engaged by two large non-profit organizations for both marketing and development work. We’ve also worked with many service-industry organizations, including ones in financial services and insurance/benefits, private investigation, and commercial real estate, as well as consumer goods and entertainment industry clients. In addition, we’ve served as a sub-contractor to a fellow marketing agency on public health marketing and communications work. And, I feel blessed to have had the privilege of holding discussions with prospective clients with a variety of organizational missions.

We’ve enjoyed serving as outsourced marketing department or outsourced marketing professional for a couple of terrific organizations — helping with both traditional and online marketing needs, including web site, online advertising, and social media oversight. We’ve also appreciated overseeing important project work for clients including competitor/marketplace research and analysis, online advertising (Google AdWords Display and Search/Pay-per-click), web site development and launch, and creation of strategic marketing and media plans that included traditional media such as broadcast (T.V. and radio), transit, and print advertising, as well as digital media.

I can’t close this post without thanking my wonderful husband and friends who let me brainstorm with them on a variety of topics, and without thanking sub-contractors who have helped me with a variety of work — particularly research-related — when my plate was very full. You know who you are, I couldn’t have done it without you, and I look forward to continuing to work with you as we begin our second year. You are a critical part of the Results team.

We can’t wait to see what this next year holds for us, but we have a feeling with all the interesting opportunities and challenges that the world of marketing holds for organizations of all sizes, industries, and profit status, it’s going to be another exciting year for Results.