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Geared Up to Market Blog

By Mark Baker 06 Apr, 2017

Advertising and public relations. They’re pretty much the same, right? Is there a difference? Try to answer the question without Google. I mean, there’s a chance you used it to find this article… um… well, now that you’re here, I’ll just explain.

You shouldn’t feel too bad. Marketing, advertising, and public relations are often mistakenly used interchangeably in everyday conversations, loosely defined as strategies used to increase a company’s brand awareness and generate sales. They’re all related to that idea, but they have distinct differences.  Let me break it down for you. 

Think of marketing as a lovely fruit salad. The fruit salad has various fruit ingredients, similar in their general fruitiness, but different in color, texture, flavor, and nutritional value. In marketing, two important ingredients are advertising and public relations, and one could argue that comparing advertising and public relations is like comparing apples and oranges.

Now, the fruit salad lives in a bowl. In this analogy, the bowl represents the media. Marshall McLuhan wrote legendary research arguing that the medium is the message, meaning that what you have to say and the method by which you’re going to say it are inextricably intertwined. Whether you consume your fruit salad in a bowl, on a plate, with your hands, or through an IV, you transport it through something, and what you choose as that medium affects the overall experience of the fruit salad.

Media—including television, radio, search engines, social media, newspapers, trade shows, snail mail, and even word of mouth—transport the message of your brand to your audience. Both advertising and public relations typically utilize the same avenues of the media, but with different intent and strategy. Advertising jumps into the conversation, and public relations entices the target audience to jump into the conversation themselves. I’ll discuss how you can use the media for both your advertising and your PR efforts as I describe the difference between them.

 

Advertising  

Advertising—the action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements (Merriam-Webster)

Advertising is a paid message tailored to a target audience, and it specifically requires creating appealing audio/visual content. The content communicates to the target audience and the public through media, including taglines, photo shoots, billboards, magazines, TV, and radio spots or even practicing search engine optimization with paid search advertising .

Successful advertising promotes awareness, creates a desire for the product or service, highlights the image of the company (its brand), and encourages action. Advertising is a marketing tactic that strategically targets the people who would want to consume it. That means advertisements are essentially their own offers; your company trades money for the audience’s time and attention, and the audience trades its time and attention for information, justification, or pure entertainment.

Approximately 111.3 million people tuned in to watch the Falcons and the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2017. The majority of them watched—consciously or subconsciously—the commercials that debuted throughout game time. Aside from $1,000,000 average cost to produce a Super Bowl commercial , advertisers paid about $5,000,000 for 30 seconds of airtime and upwards of another $1,000,000 to market the commercial’s release before the game. Whew, that’s a lot of money, but the Super Bowl’s vast viewership gives power to advertising that can easily make the price worth it. They’re such a phenomenon in America that, for some viewers , the game is just something to watch between commercials.

People enjoy them because great advertisements evoke emotion. You laugh. You cry. You feel something about the advertisement and, by association, the brand. When you create advertisements, it should be a given that you root them in your company’s branding. Brand represents your company’s personality, values, skills, and everything important to your business. Guess what? Those things matter to your customers, too. And that’s where public relations become crucial.

 

Public Relations

Public relations—the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, film, or institution (Merriam-Webster)

Once released, it’s up to the recipient to decide the message’s meaning and worth. When executed properly, a good public relations strategy stretches the brand’s reach and collects loyal followers that match the brand.

Broadly, the public relations field concentrates on the relationship between the company and the public. (It seems self-explanatory now, doesn’t it?) Here at HeavyDuty, we prefer to get specific, so we call these efforts targeted relations. Targeted relations strategies increase favorability for the company and its products on a scale that advertising alone can’t do. So these strategies usually come to fruition behind the scenes. In contrast to advertising, other than production costs, you don’t pay for the spotlight—relations strategies weave themselves into your target’s conversation. Once you’ve aimed and launched your marketing campaign to the right people, ideally, they’ll circulate your message to more of the right people organically. Then, you need to be involved in every touchpoint of that conversation to keep it alive and well.

The 1999 film The Blair Witch Project grossed $248,639,099 during its initial theatrical run, and along the way, it sparked a new trend for the horror genre, on a $60,000 production budget. The film follows three college students filming a documentary about the legendary Blair Witch in the woods of Maryland. To create hype before the film’s release, creators Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez handed out a few clips of the film around US universities, and the students spread them like wildfire. Myrick and Sanchez also published missing persons reports for the main characters, hosted an amateur website about the story, and submitted the piece to film festivals as a documentary. Thus, the creators fueled the horror factor and the intrigue, securing their substantial viewership by convincing their target audience that the events actually happened—and they absolutely, positively did not. But to this day, people still Google “Is the Blair Witch Project real?” The public recognizes The Blair Witch Project not only as a cult classic with an ongoing following, but also as the catalyst for a new trend in horror—found footage. By taking advantage of the media and the chilling, mysterious nature of the product they sold, The Blair Witch Project made its mark on the industry.

You can do the same. Whether you realize it or not, your brand already has an identity, and you have resources at your disposal. Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram have dramatically strengthened and shortened the communication path between a brand and its customers. A customer can instantly broadcast a company’s brand message, which in turn can spread around the world in moments, at basically no cost. That can work for you or against you, so make it work for you with consistency in your tone, attitude, values—all the things that make up your brand identity. And when you mess up—and you will—be quick to respond with sincere respect. Your real-life friendships require transparency, personal connection, and effort. Your brand’s relationships work the same way.

 

You Need Both

Advertising might seem like PR on steroids, and PR might seem like free advertising. But that’s like saying that an apple is just a red orange—sure, they’re both fruits, but they’re different fruits. You need to push advertising to acquire your audience. You need PR to keep your audience. Advertising and public relations have to partner up to support your marketing as a whole.

By Mark Baker 08 Mar, 2017

Finding a marketing team is like finding a spouse. Marketing agencies (good ones, at least) hope to grow a lasting partnership with you. But not every agency will be compatible with your business. The last thing you want to do is waste your valuable time and money on an agency that fails to provide what you need or doesn’t value their relationship with you… beyond your money. Any marketing team you bring on should easily fit in with your company, forming one team devoted to a common goal.

To help the process, we’ve compiled five steps to guide you in finding a full-service marketing agency for you.


1.     Know what you want.

You need to know where you want to go. You don’t need to know how you’re going to get there, but you definitely need to know where “there” is. Ask yourself and your team: What are your goals and challenges as a company, division, or brand? What results are you looking for? Dig deep. Come up with something more specific than “get more sales.” For example:

  • Decrease the average time it takes to close deals by X days
  • Boost comparable sales by X%
  • Leave the trade show with X closeable leads
  • Increase customer spending on online orders by X%

Great marketers are strategically creative. If you’re specific about what you hope to achieve, your marketing firm can take your challenge and design measureable solutions that meet your goals and objectives. When you find the right team for your company, they might even talk you out of some of your proposals. Maybe your company has grown bored with its logo, but it still makes your customers happy. A great marketing team will veer you away from wasting your money and instead find solutions that optimize it. Like when you take your best friend shopping with you, and she tells you honestly that the dress does, in fact, make you look fat.


2.     Know and share your budget.

More than once, companies have come to HeavyDuty without a budget. It’s like asking a contractor to build a home for you without specifying how much you want done. They could build a modest one-story cottage or a bona fide mansion, and you would have to pay for it. The sky is not the limit.

Don’t hire a marketing agency if you don’t know how much you’re willing and able to spend . You definitely don’t want to spend your marketing dollars on creative ideas that you cannot afford to put into action, and you also don’t want to find out that you could have reached more people if you had aimed higher. And, unfortunately, there are those that will try to swindle you into unnecessary ventures and charge you more than their services are really worth.

Once you know who your marketing partner will be, you can trust them to use their expertise to build or refine your plans according to your budget. A good agency should honestly demonstrate how they use each dollar you spend, and they should prove how your budget is better spent with them. You should spend exactly enough with them to achieve your goals. No more, no less.


3.     Look for relevant experience.

Has the agency taken another company where you want to be? A marketer doesn’t need expertise in your specific industry to be the perfect fit, but you want a firm that knows how to handle challenges similar to yours. They might have an impressive repertoire with companies that have thousands of employees, but they might not know how to make solutions suitable for your 15-person powerhouse.

For example, if you want to increase your network of distributors, look for ways they’ve assisted other companies to do just that. You will then have peace in knowing that they can bring aspects of their time-tested strategies to the table while developing solutions unique to your business. Savvy marketing agencies typically have online portfolios and case studies where you can see their previous work for yourself.

The ideal agency should be a pragmatic, seasoned team of marketers and creatives who develop and execute innovative strategies, in-house or through a rich network of trusted affiliates. Their work should show versatility and precision. That way, you only have to search and hire once. You can be confident that when a new challenge arises, you have the power to conquer it. One of your needs could be crafting an advertisement while another could be building a trade show booth—very different.

Bonus tip: If one of your objectives is to increase social media engagement in any way, check out the agency’s own social media accounts. Now, if they have stylistic differences or a different tone of voice from how you perceive yourself as a company, it’s not necessary to worry. But, come on, multiple grammatical errors, poorly communicated writing, shoddy graphics—those should signal you to reconsider their expertise.


4.     Get to know them as people.

Prior to a discovery meeting with the candidates that you’ve selected so far, get together with your own team and prepare a list of questions for the interviewees. Don’t ask solely about your specific project. Find out how the agency gets any project started, how they treat their client relationships, and how they handle logistical tasks like billing. Great questions allow both parties to get a better understanding of whether or not you’ll be a good fit for each other. This is a relationship. When meeting with agency candidates, try to get an understanding of their culture and values. You might think of your company as family. You might pride yourself on your attention to detail. Your business partner should share those values.

When you meet with prospective agencies, is the atmosphere harmonious with yours? Or can you sense someone’s personality traits—especially if they’ll be working with you directly—clashing with members of your own team? It could become a bigger issue than you realize at first. If you value your timeliness, how would you feel about a company that doesn’t give you deadlines? If you think of your company as family, how would you feel about a company that only cares about profits? A company’s core values and personality give insight into your future relationship. Culture compatibility increases the potential for a successful collaboration, and with the right firm, it should spark a personal connection.

Our favorite question to answer is “Why do you do what you do?” One value that you should look for in any company, regardless of industry, is a results-driven attitude. Plenty of marketing teams have brilliantly creative minds and high accolades but fail to focus on the goals of the campaign. They’ll try awesome, wacky solutions that might garner attention in the short-term, but in the long-term, cannot sustain your brand alone. Don’t go with an agency that just wants to get its own creative fix. Choose a team that will do what it takes to see you succeed.


5.     Make your decision.

The selection process requires knowledge of the firm: their culture, their team, and their capabilities. Hire based on how the company has demonstrated their creativity, ability to achieve results on budget, and their values as people. After you’ve checked off your requirements on paper, hire the marketing team that you feel in your gut is right.  

To see how HeavyDuty does things as an agency, schedule a free 30-minute meeting with me .


By Mark Baker 24 Feb, 2017

Personal branding is more important than ever, but the term is not new. Tom Peters, an expert of business management practices, introduced the idea of a personal brand to the world in 1997 in his iconic article “ The Brand Called You .” Think of yourself as a product that the world needs. Identify what makes you special and use the knowledge of your talents and characteristics to brand yourself, just like you would if you were trying to sell one of your great ideas.

Whether you’re trying to get a job, promotion, client, funding, or you just want respect and admiration from your family, friends, and peers, it is essential to become your own PR expert. Every interaction is a distinct opportunity for your personal brand to grow. Before you do anything, determine your defining characteristics. What makes you different from other people? What are your strengths, passions, and goals? What are your core values? Your answers lay the groundwork for your personal brand. Only then can you begin the heavy lifting.

By Mark Baker 14 Dec, 2016
You might know the basics of optimizing your website for search engines, but today knowing the basics isn’t enough. Competition on the Internet is intense and gaining rank organically is difficult if you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing. Paid search marketing is one way to drive traffic to your site while you develop its organic ranking; but when you stop paying, you stop seeing results. Here are a few lesser-known SEO tips to help your website gain rank organically; they might not produce incredible results overnight, but they are an excellent first step in ranking higher on search engine results without paying for ads. 


1. Keywords – Don’t be Afraid of Getting Creative

If you’ve been producing content for a while, you might have a bit of crossover with your keywords. However, Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner aren’t your only option for finding terms. If you’re having trouble, try using other sources to find new and exciting keywords around which to build your content. Sites like Reddit , and Wikipedia can be used to discover keyword options you might have passed over or not considered.

Another way to improve your keyword selection and ranking is to use LSI keywords. LSI keywords are semantically-related terms to your keyword. Be careful, they’re not necessarily synonyms of your term because they have to take into account the context of your keyword. For example, suppose your keyword was “Bee” because you were writing a piece of content about DreamWorks’ 2007 film titled “The Bee Movie”.

Good LSI keywords would be “Bee Movie”, “DreamWorks” or perhaps “animated films,”, instead of a synonym like “insect” or “bumble bee.” LSI keywords help give context to your main keyword to make sure you’re only competing for searches that are connected to your subject. Here’s a handy tool to help find LSI matches for your keywords.




2. Build Your Website for Success

To help each page of your website stand out, it’s important to make sure each webpage has its own unique title. Try to keep your URL’s under fifty characters and test out using your keywords to build the URL (example.com/my-exact-keyword). Another good tip is to create compelling metadescription tags – Google will sometimes pull these to use as snippets on search engine results pages.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure you have privacy and terms pages that are easily found on your site. This can help you stand out from illegitimate sources and lend your site more authority. This might not have a direct correlation to higher rankings with Google, but is always an effective way to build trust with potential customers and leads.



3. Make Social Media Work for You

Hopefully by now your company knows the power and value of social media and is using it in your marketing. However simply running accounts on different platforms doesn’t mean you’re truly optimizing your social media presence and the ways it can help your website. First, make sure your social share buttons are easy to find and use. Generally, it’s a good idea to have links to all the platforms you use and have the share buttons at the top of each webpage or as moving links that follow the website visitor’s mouse.


It can also be very helpful to develop a posting schedule for your social media to ensure the greatest interaction and reach. Most of the various social media platforms have data regarding the optimal time to post and what days content reaches the most users. Don’t be afraid to try out a few different times and days and find which works best for your content. Depending on the audience you wish to reach, your peak times and days might vary.



4. Use Internal and External Links to Help Legitimize your Content

Links are your friend so don’t be afraid to use them! Embedding internal and external links in your content is a wonderful tactic. By linking to your own content internally, you create another path for a visitor to stay interested and engaged in your brand. On the other hand, linking to outside content is a good way to legitimize and strengthen your presence in the eyes of readers and Google. Linking to influencers or trusted figures in your industry will not only lend your own site authority, but can also help build relationships with other brands and inspire them to link back to your content as well. Linking your content, and in turn encouraging others to link to your content improves your ranking and increases the likelihood that consumers will find and absorb the content on your website




5. Make Your Content Appealing

The importance of quality content cannot be overstated. It might seem like tired advice but relevant and appealing content is invaluable to a digital marketer’s campaign. Research shows that articles over one-thousand words generally perform better than their competition, and in-depth pieces generally outperformed ones that only skimmed the surface.

Another good practice is to create a schedule to re-launch older content. Hubspot found that by re-publishing content they’ve more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts they’ve optimized. They also increased the number of monthly organic search views of old posts by an average of 106%. Good content can take a while to produce so don’t be afraid to use what you’ve got. Sometimes it might take a little bit of editing, but it is certainly less time consuming than creating new content entirely. So focus on creating solid, in-depth content, and repost as you wish.


If you follow these SEO tips, your website can begin to gain rank organically on search engine results pages. It may take time to implement these best practices, but the results are rewarding and well worth the effort.
By Mark Baker 07 Dec, 2016

Maintaining engagement with your audience is increasingly difficult as the digital landscape evolves. From social media posts to blogs to newsletters, the amount of opportunities for customer engagement has grown tremendously. Where content marketing was once a great bonus, it’s now become a requirement for building a successful digital presence.

So what exactly is content marketing ?

Content marketing is the link between brand awareness and lead generation. When executed properly, content can build trust, familiarity and loyalty with current and prospective customers. However, in order to reap all the benefits content has to offer, you must first develop your content marketing strategy. By following these five steps you’ll be well on your way.

1. Document Your Goals, Budget and Strategy 

What goals are you hoping to accomplish with your content? How much are you able to spend on content marketing? What kind of content will you be producing? These questions may seem obvious but they are essential to developing a quality content marketing strategy. Goals, budgeting and strategy all go hand-in-hand. A marketing plan without direction is destined for failure. The goals you set for your content can range from developing brand awareness to driving traffic to your website. Once your goals have been identified, it’s important to set up a strategy based on a budget. Larger budgets allow for more expansive strategy options while smaller budgets may require a bit more creativity to execute. No matter the amount of money you can spend, the strategy is ultimately what will determine your success.

2. Identify Your Target Audience 

Content marketing is less about selling and more about educating, entertaining, or otherwise informing your readers. In order to accomplish this best, you should identify exactly who your audience is across your social media channels, blog readers, or anywhere else you plan on posting your content. Once your audience has been established, the next step is to understand their needs and market directly towards them. For instance, if your target audience consumes content from YouTube more than any other channel, then producing the best video content should be a top priority. Keep in mind that you’re creating content that appeals to your consumers and not yourself; by focusing on their needs you’ll be in a better position to capitalize on their interests.

3. Create a Content Execution Plan 

Once a strategy for your content marketing has been determined, create an execution plan. The execution plan adds stability to your efforts, and ensures that you can track the progress of each piece of content at every level. The plan itself should include a schedule, a brainstorm session or outline, and the creation of the actual content.

Assessing your target audience should provide you with some context on how to schedule your content. If your audience is extremely engaged, then you may want to post relevant content weekly or even daily, based off the audience consuming it. Creating a calendar for your content allows for accountability and consistency.

When it comes to the creative process, certain people should be responsible for regularly contributing content ideas. However, the development of your content should be transparent so that anyone who has a great idea can contribute. You don’t want someone to keep an idea to themselves because of restrictions. Once an idea is approved, you can move along to creating it.

Since content creation is the last part of the process, there should be defined roles for all involved. A typical execution process begins with writers and designers who expand upon the ideas developed during the idea phase. Once the content is written it is passed off to a copy editor who may then pass it along to designers. Once the piece is reviewed by all those involved in the process and revisions are made, your content is ready to go!

4. Determine Key Metrics 

Measuring the metrics of your content is integral to determining the success of your strategy. The objectives you initially set for your content marketing strategy will dictate the metrics you value. Examples of metrics that can be measured include website traffic, leads, or sales. These metrics help prove the value of your content strategy efforts on a larger scale, which is extremely valuable when dealing with stakeholders who either aren’t exposed to the content marketing side of your business, or who are skeptical of its value.

5. Evaluate and Refine Your Strategy 

The key to success in content marketing is the ability to evaluate your strategy and refine it based on performance. In addition to determining metrics for your content marketing strategy, you will need to establish a regular schedule for tracking the performance of your content. Maintaining a schedule for analyzing data allows for you to objectively evaluate your current processes. With digital marketing constantly evolving and new platforms arising, it’s vital that your strategy adapt as well.

There you have it: a guide to content marketing. By leveraging these best practices, you can create an effective content marketing strategy or fine-tune the one you already have in place. It will take some work to build when you’re just starting out, but it will be worth it in the long-run.

 

By Mark Baker 30 Nov, 2016
Odds are if you own a business with any sort of marketing plan, you’ve heard of paid search marketing or search engine marketing. Basically, paid search marketing is the process of gaining website traffic by purchasing ads on search engines; or in English, buying digital ads for your company on platforms like Google and Bing. Paid search marketing for most is a win-win relationship; it connects your content with searchers actively seeking what you provide. First, companies enter into an auction and bid for a spot in a search engine’s sponsored links for keywords related to your business, and then you pay the search engine a small fee for each click on the ad.

1. Why should you use paid search campaigns?

You might ask, “why should my company pay to rank on a search results page when my homepage can rank organically for free?”, and it’s a good question. However, it’s important to remember that ranking organically isn’t free – it takes enormous time and effort to gain top spots on a search results page and these resources aren’t free for your company. Also, even if you have the resources to devote to improving your organic ranking and creating content , it’s a lengthy process and certainly won’t happen overnight. Paid search marketing provides immediate results for your company. Additionally, tracking is extremely accessible, spending can be easily monitored, and the ability to schedule ads and segment your audiences makes paid search marketing essential to a strategic plan.

The three main platforms that provide paid search marketing are Google Adwords, Yahoo Advertising, and Bing Ads. Here’s a little more about each platform and what they specifically provide.

2. Google Adwords 

Adwords is the Google network’s paid marketing platform. The platform contains two different paid marketing networks that a company can choose from: the search network and the display network. We’ll focus on the search network because we’re concerned with paid search marketing in this article.

The search network on Google Adwords is a pay per click (PPC) platform, designed to be advantageous to Google, companies, and customers. The system is fairly simple. Companies create ads and bid on the most relevant keywords to their advertisements. Google then assesses their bid and the quality of the ad and provides it with a ranking. To asses the quality of the ad they’ll review your click through rate, the relevance of the advertisement to the keyword, and the landing page your ad leads to. The top ranked ads will then appear at the top of consumer’s search engine results page (SERP) when they’re looking for a product. Adwords rewards the most relevant, well targeted PPC campaigns by charging them less for ad clicks, so the more specific and useful to a customer your ads are, the better they’ll perform. Here’s an example of the Google search results page with the ads they gave a top ranking.
By Mark Baker 16 Nov, 2016

Creating a robust strategy is vital to an effective marketing campaign. There are lots of ad formats and types to choose from, but one important one to remember is the retargeting ad.
What are retargeting ads? They’re ads that are directed towards people who have already visited your website and interacted with your brand. Unlike display ads, which are shown to everyone, retargeting ads allow you to anonymously follow your website visitors around the Web and display your content in useful and effective ways, helping to turn potential customers into qualified leads.

This type of advertisement can prove particularly important; studies note that 73% of all business to business leads are not sales-ready when they first interact with your brand. This suggests a need to continue to reach out to help them along the buyers journey until they’re ready to make a purchase. Email marketing is one tactic to consider, but online digital retargeting is another great way to remind and re-engage your customers.

Here are a few best practices to consider when you’re creating retargeting ads:


1. Integrate Retargeting Ads into Your Marketing Budget

Marketing results will reflect how much time and planning you put into the campaign. In order to be effective they need to be comprehensive. Planning your retargeting ads and budgeting for them correctly is an excellent way to make sure your marketing plan is robust and compelling. This may seem obvious but simple tactics often are the best. If you are thorough in your budgeting and planning, it will show in your performance.

It’s also important to make realistic and trackable goals for retargeting ads, as well as your entire campaign. What do we mean by realistic? Think direct conversion and click through rates, or a quantifiable number that you can track. Create goals that will actually measure if your ads are effective by making them simple, trackable, and precise. And remember, when we say track, we mean early and often


2. Choose the Right Platform and Type 

Once you’ve set your budget and created your plan, there are a number of platforms and types of retargeting ads from which to choose. The main platforms are Facebook, Google, and Bing. The platform you choose should reflect what kind of company you are and the habits of your ideal buyer. If your brand has a lot of personality and embraces a strong community presence, Facebook is probably the right platform for you. If you want to appeal to a more professional audience, you might be better suited for Google or Bing. Each platform has different steps to set up the ads, but are all three are generally straight-forward and user-friendly.

Next, choose which of the two types of retargeting ads will work best for you. The first is called list-based. These ads are generated for people who have voluntarily given your company their contact information for your database. The second and more common type are called pixel-based. This type of retargeting ad tracks anonymous site visitors and redisplays your advertisement once they’ve left your page.


3. Segmentation is Everything  

The importance of segmenting your audience cannot be overstated. This is true for retargeting ads and just about every piece of your overall marketing plan. Segmenting your audiences for your retargeting ads allows to you speak directly to where potential leads are in the buyers journey, and target them with products they’ve already expressed interest in. With Pixel based retargeting ads you can create different ads for the different pages and products that site visitors browsed. If visitors looked at something specific you can make sure the ad generated for them is for the product they were searching for. It’s rare, delightful and effective when ads are tailored specifically for potential customers and what they uniquely were searching for.

Another important point to consider is the destination URL connected to each ad you create. Instead of linking every ad directly to your home page or product page, tailor the link to match the subject matter of the ad.


4. Don’t be Annoying 

Repetition can become annoying, and if your retargeting ads are following site visitors all over the Web, they could quickly become bored with the messaging. The last thing you want is to turn interest in your product into aversion or dislike. Frequency caps are a useful setting that can prevent oversaturating your target audience and make sure they only see the ad a few times; enough to tempt them but hopefully not overwhelm or annoy them.

Burn codes are another useful tool you can use to make sure your ads are only working for you and not against you. Burn codes are little snippets of code that you can place in your post-transactional page where leads are taken after they make a purchase. They allow you to make sure you don’t run these ads for visitors that have already been converted to customers, so you don’t waste your spend budget on people who are already fans, and don’t get annoyed after they’ve made a purchase.


5. Analyze Your Ad’s Results 

Analyzing your ad is paramount to its success – and by no means should you wait until after the campaign is over to start doing it. Create ads with different copy, different images, new CTAs and track how they perform in your retargeting ads. Only change one element at a time so you can be sure of the effect of each change, but don’t be afraid to test everything. It’s probably a good idea to switch up your audience segmentation every now and then too, just to make sure your retargeting ad is doing the very best that it possibly can.


In conclusion, retargeting ads are a must-have for any thorough digital marketing plan. With the help of these best practices, your retargeting ads can become the foundation of your digital lead targeting strategy. Remember, planning beforehand and analyzing your results throughout is the best way to make sure your campaigns work successfully.


 

By Mark Baker 09 Nov, 2016
As society becomes more technology driven, businesses are forced to evolve and adjust to the dynamic nature of the marketplace. Mobile has changed the way consumers interact not only on the B2C level but also in B2B. Studies have shown that 42% of researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process , while 74% say they are likely to return to a company’s site if it is mobile-friendly . These numbers confirm that a mobile marketing strategy should be a top priority. By utilizing these four tips your business will be well on its way to success in a mobile world.

1. Assess Your Target Audience
As with any business, it’s essential to evaluate your audience before taking action, and mobile is no different. There are several questions you can ask regarding mobile implementation and your client base. How does my audience access our communications? Would a mobile app serve them well? Can my site be easily viewed on phones and tablets? By asking the right questions, you can assess your audience and determine how you can properly address their needs.

2. Make Your Emails Mobile-Friendly
According to a Hubspot poll, 51% of emails are read on mobile devices, and 74% of people say that they primarily use their smart phone for email. It’s pretty clear that optimizing your emails for mobile devices is vital to reach your audience. The first step in doing so is making your subject line short and sweet. Mobile users have shorter attention spans when browsing, which means your subject line should catch their eye quickly and encourage them to open.

Now that you’ve got their attention, make sure your email has clear and concise design. Single column templates offer great visibility and make it easier to scroll through. Lastly, avoid tiny fonts on links at all costs. Your text should be simple to read on an initial glance, with no need to zoom. Also, be sure to use buttons that are easy to tap even for those with large fingers. Below is an example of a poorly optimized mobile email on the left, compared to a well-optimized mobile email on the right.
By Mark Baker 03 Nov, 2016
Today, it is apparent that marketing on social media  is a must if you want your business to grow and your brand to thrive. Companies all over the world of all shapes and sizes are using it to connect with their customers at a very personal level. Whether to promote, educate, nurture or even to demonstrate excellent support to their clients, businesses are delivering their brand with every conversation. (In some instances, these interactions are conveyed directly through a customer's watch—a brand couldn't get any closer to their audience than that.)

Here are eight tips that every marketer or business owner should consider before venturing into social media:

1 Find Your Niche
Some companies thrive on Facebook, others on LinkedIn, others on Pinterest. If you know where you should make your social play, that is superb. If not, look at your competitors. Find out which of their social platforms have the most responsive audience. Look for the amount of likes, reactions, shares, retweets, and reposts. Focus on the platform that makes the most sense for your business.

Don't worry. You don't need to be on all platforms from the start. Make sure whatever platform or platforms you choose to participate in are ones you are confident that you can make a positive impression on your audience. You don't want to underdeliver and end up having your audience disengage with you.

2 Create Your Voice  
Develop your online “voice”. Every post you or your team may create should sound like it's coming from one voice: your brand's. A good exercise is to determine a celebrity that could speak for your brand, then write in their voice. Some companies can be fun and sassy while others have to be strictly business, whatever it is, be consistent by adhering to your definition of your brand's "voice."

Here are some examples of brand-centric social "voice":
General Electric on Instagram
Intel on Twitter  
Think Geek on Facebook  

3 Create Engaging Content
There's plenty of material that you can post on social media, (you might not see it at the moment, but you do.) That company outing next week? Is new technology being installed in your office next month that will increase your output? Your boss’ face on a birthday cake? Post it! By sharing things about accomplishments, industry news, and funny moments in the office, you’re allowing your followers to feel like they’re a part of your community and get a sense of your company’s culture without having to explain it.

Be sure not to oversell your product or service by inundating your audience with promotional messages. You want to follow the 80-20 rule when planning your content. 80 percent of what you publish should be fun and helpful content, while the remaining 20 percent can promote your goods and services.

4 Interact with Others  
Being responsive is paramount! Sometimes Facebook is the first place people look to ask a question about your company, and they’re expecting a response. In fact, Facebook now displays how responsive a page is, so a user will know how likely they are to receive a response from you.

A simple like, reaction or comment on your customer’s messages can go a very long way in demonstrating an honest connection between your brand and its followers. It suggests you are attentive and care about your customers.

5 Use Hashtags
Hashtags are searchable topics that provide a good way for people to find your content across social media. Think of a hashtag as a TV channel where the conversation is being held.

If you are a local company and want to interact with your community, use hashtags that represent your community, town or neighborhood. If you're at an event, it's a terrific idea to find out what hashtag the event is using to promote itself. Use the hashtag yourself and then interact with all the other users at that same event by searching the hashtag on social media. Adding a hashtag for your industry is also an excellent way to connect with potential customers.

We recommend only using 1-3 hashtags in one post. Stuffing a post with too many hashtags makes you look like you are fishing for likes. For example, the hashtags we would use in conjunction with this article could be #socialmediatips, #socialmediaforbusiness, and #socialmediastrategy.

6 Respond to Negative Comments  
Become known for excellent customer satisfaction. When a client criticizes your company or asks questions that seem outlandish, it’s important to respond with sympathy, patience, and a genuine desire to rectify the situation. A sincere apology when things have gone wrong speaks volumes to the client, as well as onlookers who observe the interaction. A rude or unhelpful response can turn customers and prospects away and quickly lead to a bad online rating that lives on the internet FOREVER.

By Mark Baker 27 Oct, 2016
Spending money on advertising can be a daunting task for those unfamiliar with the process. “How much should I spend?” “How do I create campaigns on the different digital platforms?” Questions like these are common, but proceeding without a clear strategy often leads to costly mistakes that may compromise your budget.

Here are some of the most common mistakes that can ruin an advertising campaign:

1. Not targeting the right audience

It is essential to know who your customer is and where they live to create a successful advertising campaign. Many companies make the mistake of assuming they should market their product to everyone, leading them to cast a wide net, which can burn through your budget at a rapid rate.

Thankfully digital advertising, such as search and social media advertising, allows for very precise targeting. You can customize your campaign’s audience by several demographics such as age, gender, language, and location. You can also create targeted audiences based on their interests and online behaviors, such as purchase behaviors or intentions, device usage and more.

The key is to use the many tools provided by the platform to ensure you spend money on reaching the right people—the ones who are likely to be interested in your offering.
   
2. Delivering an irrelevant message to your audience

If your ad creative does not speak to the audience you’ve targeted, even if the product is something they would benefit from buying, chances are they will not consume the ad. For most goods and services, a one-size-fits-all approach to your creative will not be a practical choice. Make sure there is a direct correlation between your visuals and messaging, and the target audience to ensure optimal engagement with your ad. And, make sure the message is delivered with original and quality creative.

3. Miscalculating your advertising budget

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when building your advertising campaign is creating an arbitrary number for your budget. If the data is available, one way to budget your advertising costs is to find out what the average advertising-to-sales ratio is for your industry and use that as a baseline for your spend. If this info isn’t available or if it isn’t possible financially, don’t be afraid to start small. With digital advertising, you can instantly adjust your budget according to what is or isn’t working. Grow it incrementally.

4. Incorrectly evaluating campaign performance

Often businesses tend to assess the success or failure of a campaign by comparing it to goals that are not directly aligned with the output of an ad. For example, an ad campaign promoting a Facebook page should not be tied to overall company sales. If you were to evaluate the campaign solely based on whether or not your company’s sales increased, it would not be an accurate reflection of whether or not the ad did its job—promoting your Facebook page. However, you could evaluate the effectiveness of that same campaign by looking at what percentage of people who saw the ad, clicked on it. That would tell you if the ad creative and the audience selection is appropriate or not. You could also look at what percentage of those who clicked on an ad, then liked the page. That would tell you how effectively the ad communicated what was offered and whether or not the Facebook page delivered on what was promised in the ad. These break-out metrics are known as Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s, a common term used in marketing.

You should define your campaign’s KPI’s at the very beginning of the ad campaign strategy process to ensure every component of your campaign can be measured and monitored. Make sure everyone on your team understands what they are and why you are using them to evaluate your campaign’s performance to avoid mismanaged expectations throughout the life of your campaign.

5. Not tracking the money you spend before it’s too late

Never adopt a set-it-and-forget policy when it comes to your digital ad campaign. Often, companies have the best intentions when setting up their campaigns, but then they walk away until the ad budget is spent. Later they realize that if they had changed course at some point in the campaign’s lifetime, they could have possibly received better results. Successful ad campaigns require constant vigilance. Be sure to go back early and often to examine what is working for your campaign and what isn’t. Make changes immediately.

In the end, building a successful advertising campaign is a process that requires, diligence, experimentation, and patience. What works for one business may not work for yours. By avoiding these five mistakes when planning your advertising strategy, your campaigns will be in a better position to meet the desired outcomes without breaking the bank.
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