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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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Why It’s A Marketing Must That Your Marketing Activities and Tactics Be Integrated

When I first started drafting this blog post, I thought I’d be mainly talking about traditional marketing and what I miss about it. But, as the post evolved, I realized the traditional marketing tactics/activities were just a piece of something bigger that I miss, sometimes, and that is being aware of, involved with, and/or or having oversight for ALL the marketing activities that a particular brand/organization executes. Often as a consultant, my team and I are working with organizations who have their own internal marketing team, and/or who work with a number of different outsourced marketing vendors or agencies. This means, while we are responsible for one or several pieces of the overall marketing strategic plan – usually digital pieces, we aren’t always aware of, kept informed of, or responsible for other pieces. As you would expect, each and every marketing message or tactic that is put out there in the universe by an organization has an impact – both negative and positive – on the effectiveness of the other marketing tactics.

Regardless of the above, because we strive each and every day to support our clients’ success, and to serve and be viewed as a member of their team, we often make recommendations and suggestions related to overall marketing strategy and various marketing tactics that others are overseeing. Sometimes, we suggest adding a new marketing tactic to the mix, even if we won’t be the ones making it happen, and sometimes, our suggestions are about shaking up how an existing marketing tactic is handled or executed.

Why Every Organization Needs Someone Monitoring and Aware Of All Marketing Tactics

Ultimately, each and every organization needs to have one person – whether it be an outsourced marketing consultant or agency or an in-house marketing director, chief marketing officer, or the business owner themselves – who:

  • Is aware of and tracking and analyzing the results of each and every marketing activity to ensure that marketing dollars and time are spent on those activities that lead to the greatest awareness, and ultimately highest possible number of conversions, such as sales (product purchase or engagement for services), and inquiries.
  • Ensures that marketing creative (messaging and design) is consistent across all marketing activities.

What Is Integrated Marketing and Why Is It So Important?

As hinted at above, integrated marketing means that all the marketing tactics you use to promote your organization and create awareness of it are cohesive, and therefore “mirror” each other. All tactics included in a strategic integrated marketing plan/campaign to promote a particular product or service should:

  • Contain and repeat the same key messages of the campaign
  • Reflect the same product or service promise and your competitive differentiators
  • Have a similar appearance as far as logos, design, color, and graphics go

For centuries, those who have succeeded at growing an organization have known that you have to hit the audiences whom you think will be the best target/users of your product or service numerous times to create both awareness and sales. Target audiences need to hear and see the same message multiple times for it to both stick and resonate. If you shake things up too much across your various marketing tactics and vehicles, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to expose your targeted customers to the same messaging and look and feel and you’ll also CONFUSE them.

Check out this blog post from marketing guru, Neil Patel, to read about integrated marketing campaign examples. And, read our blog post that explains how and why content marketing and integrated marketing are different. Or, use the search tool found on our “Ponderings” blog main page, to search for other posts that contain helpful info. on integrated marketing.

Help For Creating, Executing, and Implementing An Integrated Marketing Plan and Campaign

At Results Communications & Research, we bring more than 30 years of experience of implementing effective, integrated marketing campaigns, including ones that contain both digital and more traditional tactics such as outdoors (billboards), print, transit, movie, mall and broadcast (radio, TV) advertising. We can help you develop a strategic integrated marketing plan that outlines the various marketing vehicles and tactics we believe you should employ in a particular campaign, based on what we learn of your marketing objectives, challenges, and target audiences. Then, we’ll work with you to ensure proper tracking is in place to track the effectiveness of each of the various marketing tactics to help inform what tactics to employ in future campaigns or reallocate existing campaign $$ and/or pivot mid-campaign, based on what results are showing. So, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We love developing, executing, and analyzing the results of integrated marketing campaigns!

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Why Business Success Depends On Knowing Your Primary Target Audience and Catering To Their Needs and Wants

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for several months now — while folks were still wearing shorts. You’ll learn why shortly (hah, hah, see what we did there?) But, fortunately, it was a very busy summer at Results C & R, and when it’s busy, we always put our clients’ marketing work above our own.

Earlier this summer, I visited my local “Paper Store,” and while perusing and admiring their clothing items for women, I was extremely surprised to see how short their various short offerings were. I had always assumed The Paper Store catered to women of my age, i.e., women aged 40+ and that their “sweet spot” as far as target audience went was women 45 – 65. These assumptions were likely based on the following:

  • What I observed to be the demographic of other shoppers when I visited various Paper Store locations
  • The fact that, despite their rewards/coupons program, their prices for various items like clothing, toiletries, and accessories, are higher than what you would pay at a discount store like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, or Marshalls. And, therefore, younger generations (who in many cases would have lower income than the above middle-aged group) might be less likely to shop or make a purchase at a Paper Store.

I decided to take a poll on LinkedIn (which I also shared with my Facebook connections) a few months back to to see what other consumers believed The Paper Store’s primary target audience to be and to inform my planned blog post.

As shown above, poll results indicated that I am not the only one who believes The Paper Store’s primary target audience is women over 40. If the aforementioned is really true, then why didn’t The Paper Store offer longer shorts — shorts that hit you one, two, or three inches above the knee — to its shoppers this summer? Either The Paper Store overlooked their primary target audience’s needs and missed out on an opportunity to sell them a summer staple, or women 45 – 65 really aren’t their primary target audience (or, at least not their primary target audience for shorts). Or, based on our poll results, there’s a big misperception about who their target audience is. Regardless, one or more of the following seems to be at play:

  • The Paper Store is hoping to reach and sell to a younger demographic/consumer and is moving in that direction by selling clothes that appeal to younger audiences — and perhaps, they are achieving that goal. Only they know the answer to that.
  • The Paper Store isn’t giving enough thought to their primary target audience’s needs and what they will and won’t wear.
  • The Paper Store is targeting numerous target audiences at once as part of their overall target market, but only targeting certain products to particular target audiences, as indicated in part by the fact that they offer:
    • A very large collection of Vera Bradley and Lilly Pulitzer products which I see most used by middle-aged or older women vs. teens or 20- or 30-something women because of the price associated with those products
    • Alex and Ani bracelets or other jewelry items which I’ve seen worn by both younger and middle-aged women, but primarily by women under 30
  • In keeping with the above, there is no pecking order when it comes to the various audiences The Paper Store serves; therefore, there is no one true primary target audience – just lots of smaller target audiences to whom various distinct products are targeted
  • Being a “gift store,” regardless of the age of the actual primary “purchaser/buyer/consumer,” The Paper Store needs to offer gifts that can be bestowed on anyone of any age — baby/toddler, child, young adult, etc.

The Paper Store’s website has been updated for fall and at the time of this post, homepage images showcase women who appear to be aged 40 at most, and who could possibly be and pass for 30-something and younger. So, I’m left thinking my bulleted thoughts above are accurate. Did/do I and others have their primary target audience wrong or is the retailer just trying to move away from that older audience, and attract younger consumers/shoppers? Or, are they just trying to offer something for everyone?

Products, Services and Marketing Creative Must Meet Needs Of And Resonate With Primary Target Audiences

Ultimately, what I hope you will take from this post is this. Whomever your primary target audience is, if you want to maintain them as customers and grow the amount of business they do with you, you have to offer products and services that make their lives better and easier, and your marketing creative (messaging and images) should reflect those audiences and what they hope to accomplish with your products and services, i.e., their reasons for buying them. If, for whatever reason you want your primary target audience to shift, i.e., you want to cause a new audience with different demographics (this could be based on age, location, gender, income level, and more) to become the primary consumers of your products, you need to make sure that products and services resonate with and provide solutions to problems of that new audience and your marketing creative speaks to that new audience and their needs.

Know What You’re Good At And Who You Serve

We’ve always been of the mindset that “you can’t be all things to all men.” You need to know what you’re good at and understand what the demographics of the audience who will be most interested in your particular products and services, i.e., your primary target audience, will look like. That’s usually a best practice when it comes to deciding what products and services to offer and how you market them. But, in the case of The Paper Store maybe trying to be many things to many people is working for them? Regardless, I won’t be visiting The Paper Store again to purchase shorts. I hope that was The Paper Store’s intention/objective.

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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, fundraising/development, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, keywords, landing page, landing pages, marketing best practices, Marketing Planning, Nonprofit Marketing & Communications, Objectives Setting, ongoing digital audits, online advertising, online presence, paid search, pull marketing, Search Engine Optimization, search terms, SEM, SEO, strategic planning, Strong Ad Creative, target audiences, Target Marketing

Growing Your Nonprofit With A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant

Knowing that I and my Boston-area digital marketing agency team help clients obtain, maintain, and optimize Google Nonprofit Ad Grants, a few weeks ago a fellow digital marketing consultant asked me if I ever had a client utilize the entire $120,000 in free Google Ads search advertising available thru the Grant. While I knew generally that a few of our nonprofit (NPO) clients who offered products and services across all of the U.S. (vs. in a smaller city/town or state geography) were able to really capitalize on the free advertising $/media buy available annually via their Grant, it prompted me to both dig deeper on what % of their Grant dollars were being used, and to detail in this blog post, the various ways our marketing agency’s Google Ad Grant clients have used their search-advertising funds.

I hope that, by documenting here the types of nonprofits we’ve worked with who have obtained a Grant and successfully employed Google Nonprofit Grant monies, I might inspire other NPOs to either apply for a Google Grant, or use their Google Ads Grant differently or better to maximize it.

What Types Of Nonprofits Qualify For A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant

Let’s start with the types of nonprofit organizations we’ve helped obtain and/or capitalize on their Google Nonprofit Ad Grant:

  • religious organizations
  • organizations that offer training programs/coaching to at-risk women/women in-transition
  • organizations serving those with special needs and/or disability
  • organizations that serve financially challenged/at-risk teens in both the U.S. and abroad
  • arts organizations
  • environmental organizations

Most non-profits who apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant will qualify for one unless they are a government agency/entity, a healthcare provider like a hospital, or an education institution (philanthropic arms of colleges and universities may qualify for a grant). We’d be glad to coach you thru the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant application process. The initial part is pretty simple, and starts with applying for a Google Nonprofit Account and joining Tech Soup if you haven’t done so already. But, you do need to know how to set up a campaign that effectively meets certain Google Nonprofit Ad Grant search advertising requirements, including using certain available advertising features.

Does Anyone Ever Use Their Entire Annual Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Funds?

The answer to the above is likely “yes,” or close to it. As alluded to above, the broader the geographic area in which a nonprofit offers support, services, and products, the more likely they are going to be able to employ much of the available monthly $10,000 in free paid search advertising, particularly if the volume of individuals searching on terms relevant to what the nonprofit offers is significant.

We just conducted an audit of several of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients who are able to offer all or some of their products and services across the whole U.S. All three of them sell products and services that are available for purchase by anyone in the U.S. For example, one sells mass cards to fund the great work they do; another sells curriculum and online training programs; a couple have online gift stores whose sales allow them to provide the services they do to constituents. One client will likely use 70% of their annual Google Ad Grant dollars ($120,000) by year’s end; another about one-third; and another, about one-third. It’s not easy to properly and effectively employ those large search advertising budgets, but it shows it is possible! And, of course, we’d be glad to brainstorm with you to come up with creative ideas for optimizing Grant dollars.

A Happy Google Nonprofit Ads Grant Optimizer

How Can I Use My Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Dollars?

Many of our Google Nonprofit Ad Grant clients are using their Google Grant in a number of simultaneous ways, including the following:

  • Drive sales of products, therefore, tangible goods, such as those available in an online store/shop that fund their good work in our communities
  • Cause use of the organization’s on-site services or online/virtual services
  • Recruit volunteers for their organization
  • Through general/branding messaging, create awareness of their organization among appropriate audiences in an attempt to secure donations (keep in mind that ads specifically asking for donations aren’t effective; but letting individuals and orgs. that are interested in your cause know about you can be effective with development efforts)
  • Support attendance at paid or free events, including webinars, seminars, workshops, courses, and classes
  • Cause target audiences to visit/read/use resources/information on their site, or download information
  • Cause appropriate individuals to fundraise on the organization’s behalf/participate in the organization’s fundraiser
  • Cause target audiences to be an advocate for the organization’s cause or the general/broader cause with which the organization is associated
  • Cause other desired “conversions,” i.e., desired behaviors, such as:
    • e-mail/e-newsletter sign-up
    • podcast listening
    • visits to organization’s physical site for a variety of reasons
    • survey taking

We think Google Nonprofit Ad Grants are a well-kept secret and are often under-utilized by nonprofits — either because they don’t apply for and employ one to see if it will work for them, or they obtain one and don’t use it for the many purposes they could or should.

As an affiliate member of the MA Nonprofit Network, the team at Results C & R gets great satisfaction from helping nonprofit organizations obtain and maximize their Google Advertising Grant to support achievement of a variety of objectives. Want to learn more? Set up a complimentary time to chat today! And, check out these two additional resources:

Watch A Video About A Google Nonprofit Success Story.

Read More About The Benefits Of A Google Nonprofit Ad Grant.

digital marketing agency, Google Ads, Google Nonprofit Ad Grant, keywords, marketing best practices, Marketing Planning, online advertising, organic SEO, paid search, pull marketing, push marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, SEO, strategic planning, technical SEO, website

SEM and SEO: Understanding the Difference and When to Employ Each Digital Marketing Tactic

As the owner of a digital marketing agency whose primary focus is to serve as an SEO company (a firm that helps organizations be found on Google and rank as high as possible in search engine results listings for desirable terms in appropriate geographies), I have a great passion for helping both for-profits and non-profits determine when they need to employ SEO tactics, when they need to employ SEM tactics, and when they need to employ both.

What is SEO?

So what is SEO? SEO is the acronym for “search engine optimization.” In general, when someone employs the term SEO, they are referring to non-paid-advertising tactics that are executed to support a listing with a link to an organization’s website appearing on the first two pages of Google or other search engine results for search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems that their organization offers. Sometimes, SEO will be modified by the terms “organic” or “technical” to indicate a large variety and number of tactics that can be implemented to support an organization ranking well “organically” in search engine results. These include, but are not limited to:

  • incorporation of high-volume search terms, known as keywords, in website content and behind-the-scenes website tags, known as meta tags
  • establishment of a Google My Business profile to support ranking well in “local search”
  • saving image/photos with file names relevant to an organization’s products, services and solutions that Google or other search engines can crawl/index

While SEO does not involve paying for advertising, there are manpower costs related to implementing one-time and ongoing organic/technical tactics, and depending on your organization’s staffing level and digital marketing expertise, you may need to hire an SEO agency, such as Results Communications & Research.

What is SEM?

SEM is the acronym for “search engine marketing” and refers to ads such as the one below that appear in the top or bottom four spots on a search engine results listing page, in Google Shopping Ads, or on other Google properties or marketing opportunities. Sometimes, you’ll hear the following terms used in lieu of SEM:

  • paid search
  • paid SEO
  • online advertising
  • search advertising
  • Google Ads or Google Search Ads (this is advertising bought related to ranking well specifically in Google’s search engine for relevant terms; you can also purchase such ads from Bing and Yahoo)
  • search text ads
  • text ads
  • PPC (pay-per-click) advertising

Organizations often employ search ads/paid search when:

  • They are in a very competitive environment, i.e., other organizations are running paid ads – causing up to four ads to appear in search engine results for desirable terms before organic search/unpaid results listings
  • They’ve only recently implemented tactics on their entire website or on a specific page of their site to rank well organically for relevant terms, and can’t wait for such tactics to impact ranking results
  • Their website or specific site pages aren’t optimized to rank well in search engine results
  • Competitor sites or other pages of an organization’s own website rank above the site page that an organization wishes to rank well for certain terms

Are There Times When It Doesn’t Make Sense to Invest in SEO or SEM?

In general, implementing technical/organic SEO tactics is a best practice. That said, the only way to know if an organization’s target audiences are actively searching to identify someone offering the services, products, and solutions that the organization offers is to conduct keyword research.

If keyword research reveals that, at least for the time-being, individuals are NOT conducting searches, relevant to an organization, then less time and money should be spent in optimizing a website to rank well organically in search results. And, it wouldn’t make any sense to invest in paid search advertising/SEM since there wouldn’t be many appropriate searchers to whom to serve up ads. In the aforementioned case, you’ll want to employ marketing tactics, such as Google Display advertising or social media advertising where you put the idea in target audiences’ heads vs. waiting for them to search for someone like you. We discussed this aforementioned strategy of creating awareness of the benefits and features of a particular product, service, or solution, known as push marketing, in our blog post “Why Keyword Research Informs So Much More Than SEO.”

As Greater Boston SEO experts, we are always here to help you identify whether SEO, SEM, or both, are the right marketing tactics for your particular organization. We assist clients in making these decisions regularly, so that they maximize marketing budgets, as well as internal marketing team’s time. And, while we never guarantee results since there are so many variables at play, we’ve helped clients, throughout the U.S., who’ve engaged our SEO agency for SEO services, appear in the top two pages of Google Search results for certain terms — when they previously hadn’t — or move from page 1 to page 2 through both SEO and SEM tactics. So, please reach out for a complimentary discussion if you need help capitalizing on SEO and SEM opportunities.

blog, Blog, Blogging, brand promise, content marketing, good will creation, Google Analytics, integrated marketing, keeping up with trends, Marketing Planning, organic SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, social media, staying current, strategic planning, target audiences, Target Marketing, technical SEO, traditional marketing

A Semi-New Name for a Centuries-Old Marketing Practice

Because, in the last several months, I’ve had various fellow marketers talk to me about or take jobs in “content marketing,” or seen them post about it on social media, I thought the time was right to explain this term and marketing strategy in a blog post. Even though I’ve been aware of the term for quite some time because much of my work falls under the content marketing umbrella (particularly SEO, blog writing, social media voice, and Google Analytics data reviews), I haven’t tended to use that term with clients and prospective clients, thinking it might not resonate with them. But, perhaps, the time has come for me to do so. 2019 was called the “year of SEO” by some marketers. 2020 may be the “year of content marketing.”

While the term “content marketing” has only been in use for the last decade or so, and some individuals employ it solely related to digital/online/electronic distribution of information, one of its key premises has been around since at least the early 1700’s — when individuals began promoting products and services via the written word vs. the spoken word. And, that premise is that creating informational, helpful, desired content — which can be used across many marketing vehicles and tactics — will garner customers’ and prospective customers’ favor and loyalty.

Even though the focus wasn’t primarily or solely “online” usage at the time (the internet and social media were still somewhat in their infancy), during my tenure as a marketing leader at BMC HealthNet Plan (2008 – 2014), I wrote wellness-related copy that was able to be employed in print ads/advertorials as well as in hard-copy handouts used at events or for other purposes by BMC HealthNet Plan community outreach reps. PDFs of those handouts were then shared on the organization’s wellness section of its website.

The above is a glowing example of content marketing’s basic tenet of sharing information, that target audiences value, across numerous vehicles/tactics in order to retain or acquire audience members as customers. In this case, the target audiences were members or prospective members of the health plan, as well as community organizations or healthcare providers, who might refer them to the health plan.

Integrated Marketing vs. Content Marketing

Related to my initial comment at the top of this post that the key premises and intentions behind content marketing are not new at all, I want and need to speak to the synergies between content marketing and integrated marketing. Both aim to employ similar/the same content across numerous marketing tactics/vehicles to repeatedly expose target audiences to the same, consistent message. But, a key difference to me between the two is that content marketing isn’t just about promoting and creating awareness of a product or services through true “marketing/sales/promotional” messages. It’s about being helpful and creating good will by sharing desirable information that may or may not be directly related to an organization’s products or services (see our discussion of tangential topic blogging).

Loyalty is Priceless

Online/Digital/Electronic Content Marketing Vehicles/Tactics

Since most people who use the term “content marketing” to refer to online/digital/electronic distribution of beneficial content to create brand awareness and loyalty — and ultimately sales or some other desired conversion activity (such as signing up for an e-newsletter, making a donation, or submitting an inquiry about an organization’s products and services) — what are some of the online/digital/electronic vehicles/tactics in which content created for the above purposes can be employed? E-newsletters, downloadable white papers, podcasts, website page content, blog content, social media post content, downloadable e-books, infographics (images that contain helpful, detailed info.) and videos.

Love — Back at You!

The Love-Love Equation

The above list is not exhaustive, but provides a sense of the many primary ways organizations are sharing content electronically/digitally that they believe meets the needs of their various target audiences and demonstrates understanding of those audiences’ challenges and opportunities — all in the hopes of creating a loyal following who will show their “love” back by talking up the organization, purchasing its products, etc.

I, individuals I employ, and my expert connections have extensive experience related to both the creation and distribution of content to support an effective content marketing strategy. I hope you’ll reach out, when and if, you need our help.

Google Analytics, integrated marketing, Marketing Planning, Results Analysis, Setting Marketing Budget, strategic planning, Uncategorized

Why You Should Revisit 2019 Marketing Results to Inform 2020 Activities

I’ve repeatedly shared in this blog and on social media that my firm’s tagline is “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I will never encourage a client to start or keep doing something on the marketing front that doesn’t make sense for them, based on available data. Data on which to make decisions can be primary, i.e., a client’s data, or secondary data, i.e., data found online about others’ experiences related to particular marketing tactics or vehicles. On a related note, the end of any budget year — and for many this is the end of the calendar year — is the perfect time to look back at which of your organization’s, if any, marketing activities have worked well for you. That should inform where your marketing $$ would be best spent in 2020. Sounds like I’m stating the obvious. That it’s a “no brainer”, right?

You’d be surprised at how many organizations continue to spend money on marketing activities that either aren’t working for them or regarding which they have no idea if leads, sales, inquiries, or other desired prospective customer or customer behavior — known as “conversions” are being generated. In fact, I was prompted to write this post because I’ve witnessed both the aforementioned scenarios numerous times with prospective clients.

Now more than ever, there are so many (actually too many for this marketer’s taste) diverse marketing activities and vehicles a marketer can invest time and $ in (we’ll be discussing this further in our next blog post). A fresh, new year is the ideal time to figure out which of these have worked in the past and/or might work in the future. Because each organization employs their own specific traditional and digital marketing tactics, we can’t address each & every piece of marketing results data you should look at in this post; however, we will provide some examples below to get you thinking about the types of analyses you should be completing and why.

Even if you can’t tackle this until the new year gets underway, to maximize your 2020 marketing budget, you or your team should:

  1. Conduct a detailed review and analysis of your Google Analytics data to get a good handle on visitor activity and behavior:
    • how/why are visitors getting to your site?
    • what are they doing once they get there?
    • which marketing activities are driving traffic to your site — this particular data set is critical to figuring out where to employ marketing $$ in 2020 — using reports under the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, you can see not only if visitors are coming to your site directly vs. thru organic search (finding you thru a search engine), but you can also see if they landed on your site due to your social media post or profile website links, via e-newsletter links, etc.
  2. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account attached to your website — make it an early 2020 goal to get one set up — you can use visitor data available thru your content management system (CMS)/website platform to look at some of the data above, but don’t expect the data to be as detailed or “rich” as Google Analytics data.
  3. If you’ve been running any kind of online advertising campaigns — whether they be social media, Google Ads, or banner ads — you should be able to employ reporting capabilities within the online advertising tool(s) to slice ‘n dice results.  Or, if you don’t have access to reporting capabilities yourself, ask whomever set up up or from whom you purchased the ads to provide you with detailed reports on 2019 advertising results.
    photo of planner and writing materials

    Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

  4. And, related to the above, even if you did achieve what you consider to be a significant # of ad click-thrus at a reasonable cost-per-click (this varies by the nature of the advertising, industry, whether advertising is business-to-business, or business-to-consumer, etc.) if you didn’t cause enough new inquiries/leads or sales in 2019 to achieve a positive ROI related to your online advertising, then you should revisit your online strategy for 2020.
  5. Using information available in Google Analytics Acquisition Reports or using data available within social media accounts themselves, look at likes/shares/comments of your posts. If you’re not getting any of the aforementioned engagement, on one or several networks, you need to revisit the nature of the posts you’re sharing, and if you’ve already done that a few times, maybe you shouldn’t invest so much time in those non-engaging forms of social media this coming year!
  6. If you send out e-newsletters or e-blasts via Mail Chimp or Constant Contact, use available data in those e-mail service tools to look at results like “open rate” and “click-thru” rate to determine if your efforts on the e-communications front are worth the time and associated dollars.

Need help analyzing available marketing data, want to make sure you have the right tracking tools in place for 2020, or need help figuring out what are the appropriate tactics and vehicles to be included in your 2020 integrated marketing plan? We’re data geeks, and would love to help, so please reach out!