Google My Business and SEO in 2021

In 2021, the world of search engine optimization will be different. Google My Business SEO is already changing and evolving. What does this mean for you? How do you keep up with Google’s constant changes to their algorithm? This blog post addresses these questions and more!

The first thing to know about Google My Business SEO is that it’s interactive. This means you can customize your GMB posts and optimize them for the search engines. This means every post you publish on your GMB page is going to be optimized for SEO.

The days of getting a few links and ranking number one are over, Google has changed the rules of the game. The best thing you can do today is build high-quality content that speaks directly to people in your niche. That way when those users search Google, they will find your content!

If you have a product or service to promote, and want more exposure, this is the perfect avenue for you. Make sure to add an image, use links in your post, and get creative with the title. If you’re a business owner that has not taken the time to create any content on Google My Business, now is the perfect time to catch up! Use keywords in your GMB posts so when people search those keywords they find your page, but make sure not to over do it with keywords you do not want to be spammy.

Another great feature in GMB is the products section. This is where you can showcase any products or services that you have to offer. This gives potential customers an opportunity to see and purchase from your company!

If Google My Business SEO sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s not too hard once you know how it works. With the right content marketing skills, and a little bit of patience, this is the best SEO strategy you’ll ever use.

For more information on Google My Business SEO contact us at (303) 952-4900. We are ready to help you get started right away!

Marketing your Business – Why nothing has really changed

The year was 400 B.C.   Phil just finished putting the finishing touches on his new invention.  It was a piece of Yak intestine, about a foot long, that when tied around his bison ear moccasin helped keep the shoes snug and secure on his feet.  1,000 years later they called it a shoelace.

denver seo and digital marketing costsPhil knew he had something of value.  Something he could trade for things he needed, like fresh food, water or a beard trimmer.  He just needed to get the word out.

For thousands of years marketing has been the number one challenge for businesses.  To sell your goods or services, businesses need to know how to bring their message to the market and it will cost them something to do so.

20 years ago a local business would think nothing of spending upwards of $50,000 a year on a yellow page ad. You could spend twice that in a local newspaper.  Radio and TV, still an effective means to market today, have rates that really have not changed much in two decades.

Why would we think because it’s “the internet” it should be cheap or even free?

Good marketing and advertising costs money.  If you are not ready to spend at least 5% of your revenue on marketing, you don’t have a real business (and it should really be closer to 10%). In the digital age there are many ways to target your messaging: Social media, SEO, digital ads, YouTube and countless others.  The wonderful thing is unlike traditional media, you have the ability to see the data and track your ROI.

With all these options to market in the digital world, it can get confusing.  Consider using a digital agency that can help guide you in this essential aspect of your business. Because like it has always been, “The Medium IS the Message!

Get Found Fast is a top-rated Denver SEO, digital marketing expert that has been serving companies locally and nationwide for many years!

Google My Business – You Need to Do This Now

google my business from denver seo expertsGoogle is always evolving and the latest changes with Google My Business are huge for local business owners.

Google+ Goes Bye Bye

As you may recall, Google had a product they called Google+. It was their effort to create a social platform. It never took hold. Facebook and Twitter held that position and Google never got any real traction with it. Call it “Social Media Fatigue” but people were not willing to have yet another social media platform to keep up with and where they needed to post their lives. In August of 2018 Google reported a hacking of the Google+ database and with that found their excuse to announce the ending of Google+.

Google+ Lessons Learned

From Google+, Google learned some big things. One thing they learned is that they can own business owners online like no one else. Facebook is social, Twitter is news breaking, Google is business!  The Google search platform is incredibly valuable to every business and business owner. The Google My Business (formerly known as Google Places) information was the entry portal into Google maps and Google reviews (perhaps the most valuable assets).

Google My Business Social Changes

Google has incorporated some of the social aspects of Facebook and Twitter like encouraging posting about your business, making offers, featured offers and more. They have also provided expanded areas to talk about your products and services, photo areas for you and your customers to post about your business.

Optimizing Your GMB (Google My Business)

Your company can optimize your GMB quickly and easily. Just start at the top and complete every section available. Google My Business sections can vary slightly from listing to listing but generally the sections to complete are:

  • Posts – start posting! Google wants you to do this and do it regularly.
  • Info – this is a large section and perhaps the most important to complete accurately and carefully. This is all your business address, website, phone, hours, products and services, descriptions and photo’s.
  • Reviews – this section is where you go to respond to reviews and YOU SHOULD! Every review, good and bad should be recognized by the business. A hearty thank you if positive and if not, some recognition and response also.
  • Messaging – turn on this feature to be notified if someone tries to reach you via text through the GMB
  • Photo’s – this is where you can add lots of photo’s of your business, your customers, your products and more. Load it up with images you took. Avoid stock images here – keep it real.
  • Website – this is a new area that may become more valuable and useful in the future. We guess Google has big plans for this. Right now it’s not too compelling of a website but Google likes things that keep users in the Google system and this does that. More on Google Websites soon.
  • Create an Ad – this redirects you to the Google Adwords area that Google would love to make simple and effective for business owners. Anyone who has built an ad campaign in Google knows “it’s complicated”. They are working hard to make it easier and more effective for the average Joe to execute. Still a ways to go here too…

This article could be a book if there was time to write it. Google My Business opportunities for your business are evolving and now is the time to get in there and max it out. Start making it a part of your marketing strategy because most people are not…but Google wants it to be.

If you need help maximizing your GMB, this is a big part of what we do and we can help. Give us a call and we can put together a plan just for your business. We are experienced Denver SEO providers and full service digital marketers.

Can You SEO Your Own Website? Yes!

You’ve started your own small business, built a great website and now you need to find a way for customers to know what you have to offer, but you don’t have a lot of marketing dollars. A daunting task awaits you. There are a lot of things you can do that take time, but don’t cost you any money and you are probably aware of several of them. You can post regularly on the appropriate social sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on.

Did you know that you can SEO your own website? If you are not afraid of getting into the back end of your site, we have some simple pointers that are the first steps to getting found in the Search Engines.

insights into Denver SEO

Google Is Still The Biggest Player

Most of our clients have over 90% of organic clicks to their website come from Google, so we optimize for Google. Google likes several basic things:

  • Rich Content
  • Lots Of Content
  • Optimized Meta Data
  • Natural Language

Rich Content

While many folks like to keep the content on their websites brief and the pictures and videos extensive, Google likes words. They like lots of words that talk about the products or services you provide. You need to give Google those words.

So, the first thing you need to do is find out how people search for your type of business. SEO companies like our have tools that we pay for to provide lists of appropriate keywords that people use to search. Most companies do not want to invest in that type of software. A simple way to build a keyword list is to search for your product or service and see what Google suggests below the search line. You can also go to the bottom of the page and see the ‘Searches relate to’ section. Then search with those terms and build a list of top methods that people use to search for your company.

For example, if I search for ‘hybrid batteries’ the related searches include:

Lots Of Content

Companies that provide SEO services, like Get Found Fast, can invest in products that help us to write content that is robust enough to compete for the front page real estate in Google. We see competitors for our clients with 1000 to 1800 words on a page they are trying to rank. The issue for most companies is that they need to market effectively and succinctly to the customer.

How can you get all these words on the page and not turn-off a prospective client? Put the content below the fold, i.e. keep the well-designed user experience at the top of the page and then add a section just before the footer to include several paragraphs with the relevant, rich content to give Google the verbiage they need to know what your company is all about.

Optimized Meta Data

Meta Data is just a fancy word that tells Google and the other Search Engines what is most important on the page.

The first place that Google looks is at the Title Tag. So, if you want to get found for your Company Name, put that in the title tag. Your website will have an area that relates to SEO and will give you a place to put the title tag for every page. If you are trying to sell Used Hybrid Batteries Online, then that would be the first part of your title tag.

The Second place Google looks at is the Meta Description. This is usually next to the Title Tag area on the website. Each page has a Title Tag and a Meta Description. The Meta Description is the brief sentences that show up below the website url in your search results. Make the description brief, captivating, and include you most important keywords.

An example for a company selling hybrid batteries might be:

XYZ can save you money with competitively priced refurbished hybrid car batteries. We specialize in Toyota Prius, Honda Batteries and the best replacement battery options..

The Third place Google looks is at your headers. At the top of the page, include an H1 tag that includes one of your most important keywords. Then before each of you paragraphs include an H2 or H3 with secondary keywords.

Natural Language

 In years past, companies would fill their pages with keywords and repeat the most important keywords on the page many times. Google doesn’t like that anymore.  Google likes to see well-written natural content and the spiders that crawl your website will pick up all of the relevant keywords throughout the page. If you are selling hybrid batteries and want to mention all of the important brands you would not need to say ‘Honda IMA Battery, Toyota Prius Battery, Lexus Hybrid Battery’ and so on. You can mention all your brands and then talk about the hybrid batteries elsewhere on the page. The Search Engines can put the pieces together for you. The point is, write well and write naturally.

These suggestions are just the beginning of good website optimization. There are many other steps that those of us in the industry do to optimize a site. If you find this too overwhelming, we are happy to review your site and let you know what needs to be done to your website to give you the best shot at getting found by the Search Engines. Get Found Fast specializes in all areas of digital marketing nationally and has a great reputation as a top Denver SEO provider.

 

The Blogging Guide Every Start-Up Needs

Blogging Guide

Why start a business blog? What elements does your blog need to be effective? How can you capitalize most effectively on the marketing opportunities a blog creates?

We’ll answer all of these questions in our relatively brief but comprehensive content marketing and business blogging guide for start-ups below. You’ll learn some of the most important markers of quality for an effective blog, how to develop a content marketing strategy that translates blog traffic into real leads, and what factors promote your search ranking (SEO) success.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Why Bother With a Business Blog for Your Start-Up?

Having a business blog.

Simply put: a business blog is an effective tool for achieving all of your most important marketing goals. It can:

  • Augment your other marketing efforts
  • Warm people up to your brand
  • Generate awareness for your startup
  • Work people into the start of your marketing funnel
  • Help you develop relationships with loyal visitors
  • Much more!

Creating a blog differs from traditional advertising techniques in that you expect the leads to come to you. This approach is referred to as “inbound marketing,” and it’s incredibly effective in an era where most of us are straight up burnt out on ads.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, small businesses that have a blog earn 126% more lead growth compared to businesses without one. A blog can also convince 61% of surveyed U.S. online consumers to make an eventual purchase. On top of that, HubSpot notes that blogs can earn your business 97% more inbound links, effectively multiplying your site’s traffic potential.

Since a start-up needs as much attention, awareness and clicks as possible, content marketing through a business blog seems like a no brainer!

So where should you start when planning your future blog? By planning and forming a strategy with your audience firmly in mind.

2. Conducting Audience Research

Your blog is first and foremost for your audience. If they hate or don’t care about what you’re writing (the second one’s actually worse!), then you won’t accomplish any of your business goals.

Search engine algorithms have also been refined over the past decade to provide results they think the audience will like. Things that hurt the audience experience, like writing misleading headlines or ripping off articles verbatim from other websites, therefore also tend to hurt your search engine ranking.

Writing for your audience is therefore essential to get the results you want from your blog.

There are a few research methods that can help you understand your audience better:

  • Common traits within your current prospecting list and lead opportunities (you can even survey them!)
  • Social mentions of your brand through social listening tools
  • Existing reviews and press coverage of your brand
  • Profiles of your competitors’ current client/customer list; these can also help you determine the subtle variations between their audiences and yours!
  • Research of audience traits on forums, popular industry blogs, and trending social topics related to your core business

There are many other ways of conducting market research to define your audience — including hiring a firm to do it for you outright — but your own customers and experience within your industry can often be your best resource.

3. Developing an Audience-Focused Blog Strategy Through Personas

Audience blogging strategy.

Once you have a good view of your audience, separate them into a few key segments. Your segments should encompass all the shades within your audience’s buying tendencies, especially if different segments buy different products.

For example, maybe computer repair stores are ideal targets for the regular tier of your workbench and job ticketing software, but enterprise-employed IT heads are targets for your top-tier.

Using your segments, create buyer personas. These distill each of your segments into a single, imaginary person.

Now, write content for your personas! Pay close attention to the things your personas care about most and the type of content they seem to read most voraciously. Helpful topic prompts include questions they may have about your industry and “how to…” articles for alleviating related pain points.

Note that no piece of content will likely cover 100% of your buyer personas, and that’s ok! Just be sure to cover each equally (or in proportion to their priority) and provide a little something to encourage each one to read if they see your latest posts.

4. Have a Sensible, Effective Keyword Strategy Based Around Persona Intent

Your keyword strategy should be an extension of the things that motivate your buyer personas. After all, keywords are intended to serve as signals for search engines related to queries, and they also send signals to human brains that “this is relevant to me and worth clicking.”

A good practice is to use a keyword generator tool to come up with a list of keywords related to your current website, your competitors’, or a generic subject prompt. Then, plan how each keyword would relate to your segment.

For instance, searching “IT ticket software” on the free tool keywordtool.io generates many related results, including “trouble ticket software open source.”

Using our two generalized buyer personas above, let’s imagine how two different segments might use this query:

  • General Manager of a Small Computer Repair Workshop
  • Searches “trouble ticket software open source” because they want a free tool and likely don’t have much of a budget
  • Motivation: get a free piece of software
  • Suggested content suited to intent: “8 Best Open Source Trouble Ticket Software Products”
  • Possible CTA: “…many open source tools are limited in their functions, though. See why going free could actually cost you by downloading our ‘5 Factors That Hurt Computer Repair Store Profitability’ now!”
  • Head of IT for a Medium to Large Corporation
  • Searches “trouble ticket software open source” because they are curious what is out there and want to weigh their options
  • Motivation: make the best choice for their organization, including both money spent and end results
  • Suggested content suited to intent: “Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Open Source Trouble Ticket Software”
  • Possible CTA: “…but our product offers several advantages over open source, even when considering cost. Watch our brief video to see the advantages XYZ Product offers!”

From this exercise, you can see that keywords can guide a lot more than just where you stuff things in your content. In fact, don’t keyword stuff at all, but instead, use intuitive keyword groups and variations on your focus keyword to get the best results.

18% of top-ranking results for high-volume keywords don’t even have an exact match keyword anywhere in the body text!

So let keywords be a launching pad for playing into the search intent of keyword use, and segment your content ideas based on what motivates your buyers’ personas.

5. Make a Few Important Business Decisions

Making business decisions.

Knowing your audiences and the keywords they use as important intent signals are the most important foundational steps to starting your start-up’s blog.

After getting oriented, you can make a number of decisions with the end goal of satisfying your audience personas:

  • Will my blog be branded differently than my main site? Separating your blog with its own brand can help win your audience’s trust, but it adds complexity to your strategy. Consider the pros and cons as you research well-branded blogs like Adobe’s CMO.
  • How often will I publish? Your publication schedule is dictated by A) Your bandwidth, and B) The typical amount of news coverage in your industry. Also keep in mind your capacity to do “theme days,” such as posting a video every Friday recapping one of your most popular blogs.
  • Who can I network with to promote my content? Email and social will be effective channels for content promotion, but getting amplified by someone with a lot of traffic/followers is even better! Identify blogs that allow for syndicated content or submissions, and identify micro-influencers in your niche so you can write content they’d be likely to share. (Hint: it never hurts to quote that person and tag them when you share your blog!)
  • How will my blog lead to the next stage of my marketing funnel? Every blog concludes with a call to action (CTA). Strong CTAs command the reader with an action verb to perform a simple task that provides a concrete benefit. Tailor your CTAs to your segment and their approximate buyer stage. As a general rule of thumb:
  • If they are further away from a purchase, invite them to sign up to your mailing list to download premium content pieces.
  • If they are closer, invite them to get a quote, schedule a demo, or take a direct look at your product information.

6. Monitor, Measure, Analyze, and Optimize

Your blog will be an evolving creature that adapts to the signals your audience sends you.

Pay close attention to the data you get from readers, both on your website and with any promotional announcement, such as a social media post. Your data will reveal things like which headlines get the most clicks, which articles get the most shares, which CTAs convert most effectively, and overall which types of content people prefer.

Use this data to revisit your content strategy and tweak it to find better success over time.

Should You Outsource Your Start-Up Business Blog to a Writer or Content Agency?

Performing all of the above steps yourself can help you understand what your content needs to find success. But even then, you may wish for better performance, a more efficient process, or for someone to take the task of writing, publishing and promoting completely off your hands.

If this is the case, working with a content marketing agency could be the answer for you. They can use your research, branding, and guidelines to develop content suited to your unique flavor. Weigh your options, and then decide what will ultimately be best for your business and especially your audience.

If you need help getting started with your business blog contact our office today. Get Found Fast

Are You Making These 7 Mistakes When Writing Blogs?

Blogging Mistakes

Blog writing can be an incredibly effective digital marketing strategy when the creator pays close attention to all the markers of quality. These markers include both technical and artistic elements as well as the context your blog plays within your overall marketing funnel.

Ignoring any part of this equation will leave you with a less-than-satisfactory result. Your audience will either disregard your content outright or any audiences you successfully build will fail to enter your marketing funnel as intended.

Luckily, plenty of companies out there are doing it right. 78% of B2C companies using content marketing say they are “moderately” to “extremely” successful with their content marketing efforts. 2 out of every 3 also say that their performance is better now than a year ago.

So what are they getting right? Most likely, they are avoiding the following seven common business blog mistakes that can hurt performance. Read the list below to ensure that you can find success and avoid the common pitfalls that hold content performance back.

Using Outdated SEO Techniques That Hurt Readability

Outdated seo techniques just do not work.

If you find yourself demanding that your blogs include exact match keywords listed within a certain saturation limit, take a step back and look at the data.

According to the Google themselves, keyword stuffing is strongly discouraged. Instead, include keywords naturally within the text, and don’t be afraid to vary how they are used or arranged. Google emphasizes that keywords should match up with user intent, giving the example that a long-time soccer fan will know to refer to important world matches under the “FIFA” acronym, while less-knowledgeable viewers may search for “football playoffs” instead.

Having your keywords appear naturally is key! Google recommends that you avoid “inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines but are annoying or nonsensical to users.” Try to write your content in a style that could get published on a popular industry blog instead, where any bizarre keyword use would be distracting and likely cause an editor to send your piece back.

If you find it hard to let go of bad keyword habits, recognize that search engine algorithm tendencies have changed. According to an extensive study and comparison-based research from SEMrush, 18% of domains that rank for high-volume keywords don’t even have an exact match keyword appear anywhere in the body of the text!

You can therefore rank without having to desperately overuse keywords. Instead, create keyword groups centered around your concept. You can use the AdWords keyword planner for suggestions. Your audience — and the search engines — will thank you!

Not Picking Topics That Have Value or Interest for Your Audience

Your company blog is not another place for ads! People will visit it only if it provides the same quality of content they would expect to find on a publication site. If they see that your “article” is actually a glorified pitch for a product, they will most likely hit the back button.

Ensure that your topics could meet the interest of a casual reader. Your own website visitor data can tell you this by revealing which articles get the most views and lead to the most time spent on site. You can also look to industry publications, mentions of your market niche in mass media, or your own competitors’ blog views for guidance.

Social listening is another useful tool. Social media can be your best source of new blog ideas, in fact. Looking for terms like “can I get a recommendation for…?” and other questions related to your product/service area is a great start. You can also source common questions your sales reps and customer service employees field.

Missing Out on Opportunities to Engage

If you have a comment on your blog or someone sharing it with their added input, recognize that this is an opportunity! Someone who was interested enough to comment or share took time and effort to interact with your materials. Continue the conversation, address their thoughts, and at the very least offer a “thank you!” for their effort.

This tactic is especially important if your typical engagement rate is slim. If you regularly get comments and other feedback on your posts, then choose 3-4 of the most interesting or valuable takes to interact with.

Responding to comments rewards these interactions, but ignoring them can feel like a punishment! People may eventually stop responding or even reading, but you have the power to encourage engagement instead. People love attention online, even if it’s just a brief nod from a brand they care about.

Being Too Scattered With Your Topic Choices

Don't be a scatterbrain.

News moves fast these days, and we are often inspired in the moment to cover a certain topic on our blogs. However, you should balance out these improvisationally chosen subjects with a regular body of ongoing themed, evergreen content.

For example, does your blog have a “101” series for your industry? If you are a lawyer, for instance, does your blog take the time to cover the basics of your area of practice? Then, does it answer common questions people have regarding a typical case?

Articles like these have evergreen appeal, meaning they can continue getting traffic long after their publish date. You can also link to this content within your other pieces, building strength for your SEO and domain authority. Using the lawyer example, a law blog can highlight the word “negligence” the first time it is used in each related blog and link that term to a “What Is Negligence?” intro post.

You can also structure your foundational knowledge posts into a useful section of your website. Intuitive navigation encourages additional page views per visit, and it can strengthen your domain authority to help you rank higher, according to Google.

Not Planning Out Careful Customer Journeys

Every blog you write should not only cover a relevant, interesting topic but also lead the reader to a logical next step — or a choice of next steps.

A strong example of a bad way to do this is writing an article that tells someone everything they need to know about your profession. Let’s say you are a pool maintenance company, and you exhaustively list every chemical test and piece of equipment you use in a comprehensive blog.

This article will no doubt get a lot of views, but then what would they need your company for? Instead, the company can give an example of pool treatments and note that “every pool is different” or that “doing it yourself is time consuming and can lead to mistakes!” That way, the audience knows that even though they could DIY, they’ll get better results from you.

You never want to shoot your own value proposition in the foot, so to speak.

Similarly, guide the reader intuitively from their content view to the next step in their journey. That could be to “download our guide to winterizing your pool” by submitting their email, which gets them on your marketing list. Or, you can encourage them to “get a free estimate and assessment for what we can do to your pool” as a wrap-up call to action (CTA).

Steps in between your journey should be tempting and effortless to take. Keep your audience needs and expectations in mind, and when in doubt A/B test to find the most effective conversion methods.

Writing a Boring Headline

Your audience won’t want to click if your blog’s headline is too uninteresting or confusing. Focus a lot of your writing efforts on your headline, and regularly review data on article performance to see which headlines draw the most clicks.

You can also reference guides to writing better headlines, such as this data from Buzz Sumo and this recommended process from Moz’s Rand Fishkin.

Not Publishing Consistently

Publish content regularly.

If people show up to a restaurant that’s randomly closed, they may stop trying to show up at all. Similarly, if your blog stagnates for months at a time, you are going to eventually turn off your readers altogether.

Make a point to post to your business blog a bare minimum of several times a month. 1-2 times weekly would be ideal. Having a set content theme for certain days can also work well at drawing regular audiences.

A consistent posting schedule will help you build audiences while rewarding regular readers with a steady stream of new content. Also, don’t neglect to promote your new blogs on social!

Getting Everything Right and Avoiding Business Blog Mistakes

The bottom line with all of these recommendations is to consider your audience. When you can write for real people from the perspective of something they would enjoy reading, you will reap the rewards of better content marketing performance.

For more blogging tips check out our website https://www.getfoundfast.com

Social Media And Content Marketing Trends You Want to be Using

Social media marketing

As competing for user attention with content and social media marketing gets more challenging, keeping up with the latest trends is essential for achieving ROI on your campaigns.

According to a recent survey of 344 social media managers, almost 80% of businesses use social media to post original content. Yet, just a little over half (52%) say that they achieve revenue growth through their social efforts.

What is this half doing right? They pay close attention not just to social’s role in their marketing funnel strategy, but they also track emerging trends to stay on the cusp of social relevance. By reading the signs of the times, they can adjust their strategy to keep their social media marketing effective and achieving consistent positive ROI.

To help your business stay on top, here are four social content marketing trends you can keep track of to make your social activities a lucrative component of your overall marketing mix.

Social Listening More Important for Guiding Strategy, Finding Lead Gen Opportunities

Social listening

Social listening has been used in the past for two main things: establishing the current conversation surrounding a brand’s reputation and finding moments to surprise and delight consumers.

As more of our society’s most important conversations move to social media, social listening has evolved to become more akin to market research. Rather than just gathering brand sentiment data or springing marketing speak on random mentions, brands are actively prospecting for leads, gathering critical feedback data, and developing whole campaigns around becoming a part of social conversations.

A study from Clutch shows that 1 in 4 businesses use social listening to improve their products and service. 42% try to improve customer relationships, while 86% monitor ongoing customer requests, issues, questions and concerns.

Social listening has also spread from the typical confines of Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, YouTube and even Reddit.

When employing social listening for your own purposes, make sure the data you gather is shared across your entire operation. Make note of ongoing complaints regarding your brands, and also look for opportunities within subjects related to the pain points your product solves. Build your social media brand awareness and lead generation campaigns around this data for maximum effectiveness.

For example, Kleenex monitored social media for posts about someone declaring they were fighting an illness. A representative then contacted friends and family members of the person to coordinate a “Kleenex Kit” surprise package filled with get-well items.

The campaign not only helped create social buzz and generate positive conversations, but Kleenex was also able to gather data on how people cope with illness as well as rates of sickness reported through social.

Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Other Ephemeral Content Come to Center Stage

Social platforms

More brands are embracing the use of ephemeral content in their marketing strategy. “Ephemeral content” refers to social media posts that disappear after a limited time. For instance, Snapchat posts sent directly to followers disappear quickly after being viewed. Snapchat Story and Instagram Story posts disappear after 24 hours of being posted.

Many brands considered these platforms and temporary content types impractical or difficult to get a hang of. But, they have a strong motivation to rethink this impression, especially if they have a sizeable market within younger demographics.

Pew Research reveals that 78% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat every single day. 71% of these users visit the platform multiple times daily! Similarly, Instagram has enjoyed an increase in daily users from 51% to 60% since introducing their “Stories” feature.

Why do younger demographics like this type of content so much? “Much of Snapchat’s value comes from its support of mundane, everyday conversation among close friends,” concludes a recent study conducted at Cornell.

Ephemeral content users value the authenticity and intimacy that comes from having impermanent conversations. Instead of people broadcasting a highly polished, idealized version of themselves that will be enshrined forever on a server, they can feel like they are casually chatting with friends.

Businesses wanting to use the platforms should keep this feeling in mind when they share ephemeral content. Try to only share distinctly human moments or genuinely exciting temporary offers to your followers. For more standard promotions, you can post to your Story, which allows people to opt-in with viewing rather than being force-fed messages.

What kind of ephemeral content works best?

  • Promotional discounts or events that end after the post disappears
  • Special offers personalized towards a specific follower group
  • “Slice of life” moments during your operations, such as a hearty “good morning” or a picture of a butterfly landing on your windowsill
  • Geofilter marketing, which can be used to create gamified promotions

More Companies Looking to Partner with Micro-Influencers in Their Niche

Social media is becoming a launchpad for product discovery. Since popular accounts in communities have the most followers and therefore the most exposure potential, product recommendations from these accounts can quickly catapult awareness and demand.

Nearly 40% of Twitter users claim they have bought a product after a recommendation from someone they follow. That’s likely why 56% of brands say that influencer marketing can improve how people see them, and 48% plan on increasing their influencer marketing budgets in 2018.

However, not just any influencer collaboration will work. Look for accounts that hold attention and sway from their followers but that aren’t full-blown social celebrities. These “micro-influencers” typically have less than a million followers and much higher engagement rates from their audience.

Also, look to data from your audiences and who they tend to look to for content in their specific community. “It really depends on individual brands’ target audiences, and who those audiences trust,” explains one apparel brand CEO.

Make sure to use social listening to look out for influencer opportunities that can land in your lap. As an example, professional artist Matt Cummings began posting adorable drawings made with Posca paint pens, and other artists like PaperBeatsScissors took up the medium with fantastic results.

Now, Posca Markers are a trending topic, with users saying things like “I feel like my entire twitter feed this week has been an elaborate conspiracy to get me to buy those posca paint markers.” Yet, the brand Uni has so far failed to take notice of the traction they are getting nor recognize an opportunity with Cummings for collaboration.

Millennial Demographics Mature, Demanding More Nuanced Segmentation Strategies

Social Demographics

“Those darn millennials” — as some of your relatives may be fond of calling them — are officially growing up. Millennial parents are now responsible for 80% of the U.S.’s annual 4 million births, for instance.

What this all means is that lumping your 25-34 year old demographic into a few standard categories is no longer going to cut it. Instead, you must recognize the differing interests, values, and subsequent purchase motivators that drive your audience behaviors.

For instance, instead of just creating a fun, youthful campaign with pop art or a “green” campaign using nature imagery, research what specific types of art or environmental causes your millennial audiences care about most.

Gathering social data on your audiences’ demographics and interest categories can help you create more accurate segments that mirror actual traits, not generational stereotypes. Then, you can build out personas based on these segments to target each piece of social content to a real category within your customer base.

“If you’re creating a campaign for a brand or product, it’s imperative to know who you’re speaking to, which users will be most engaged, and the users who will drive the success of this campaign,” urges Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO of Socialbakers. “In the past, this was done by guesswork or agency studies, but today it’s almost happening in real time.”

New Social Media Marketing Trends Mean Expanding Your Purview and Closely Monitoring Your Unique Datasets

If there is one persistent theme within all of these emerging social media marketing and content trends for 2018, it’s that brands are trying new things and not taking their strategy for granted.

By branching out and using your own data as a divining rod, you can guide your marketing strategy towards developing true relationships and inspiring behaviors among your audiences. That is the best way to achieve social media marketing success in the current times.

Contact Get Found Fast to help you start your social branding strategy.

Is Your Content Not Performing? Here’s 5 Things That Could Be the Problem

Content marketing

Content marketing has gotten bigger than ever, but not every business is reaping the benefits. When looking at their targeted marketing metrics, many are finding that their content marketing efforts fail to make the needle move.

According to a recent survey, 89% of B2C companies and 93% of B2B companies say that in 2017 their content marketing campaigns performed better or the same as in 2016. Yet, there are still 4% of B2C businesses and 2% of B2B businesses that say their content is performing worse.

So what can these organizations do to improve? They can start by considering the following five common mistakes below, which can cripple your content marketing performance and stand in the way of building audiences who can become business leads.

You Aren’t Choosing Topics That Have Value

Choose topics that have value

Too many content teams choose shallow, uninteresting or overtly sales-y topics for their blogs and other content. While these types of topics seem like they may help fulfill keyword-focused SEO goals and marketing objectives, they usually just get ignored.

Even worse, people may learn to distrust a brand or a business that consistently overpromotes. 53% of people have ad blockers installed for a reason, so any blog that feels just like an ad will get tuned out.

To create more interesting topics, let keywords be your guide. Use them to take a guess at the intent of what the search user was trying to accomplish by typing those words in.

Someone typing “family law attorney,” for instance, may be searching for answers on a situation that isn’t even close to going to court yet. Instead, they may want to know about specific legal outcomes or how the process works for certain cases.

You can get better at predicting intent by looking at things like Google’s related keywords at the bottom of the search results page. You can also look to see what topics are being brought up on open forums like Reddit, comments sections or industry-specific forums. Also, be an active reader within your industry and take note of topics that are currently trending.

Using these techniques and looking to your own data for engagement performance can help you determine what topics audiences go for and which ones they avoid.

Your Headlines Are a Mess

In many ways, the headline is the most important part of a piece of content. It’s the cover people judge the book by, so to speak. In our current outspoken era, people may even sound off their opinion or share an article based on the headline alone.

There are a few things that help headlines sell:

  • Topic Keyword Signals that trigger interest — E.g. someone frustrated with ad reach may perk up the instant they see a blog title that mentions “Ad Blocking”
  • Clarity — A.K.A., does the reader understand clearly understand what the article will be about? Each headline is a promise
  • Action Verbs — Try to eliminate linking verbs like “is” or “will,” and try and substitute strong action verbs or gerunds near the front of the headline instead. Not “According to Recent Study, Brand X Is Gaining on Brand Y” but “Brand X Pummeling Brand Y, Says Study”
  • Length — Blog headlines should be concise and clear, but that doesn’t mean they have to be short. eMarketer data shows that blogs with headlines 90-99 characters long outperform shorter ones.
  • Relevance with Article — Tricking someone into clicking on your article with deceptive “clickbait” headlines improves your views and CTR, but it hurts your goals. Always balance appeal with accuracy.

There are other quirks to headline writing that help you get clicks without making readers feel deceived. BuzzSumo has some great data on top performing headlines for B2C companies as well as B2B companies. Looking at B2B, for instance, helpful phrases like “How to…” and “___ Ways…” perform best, while the promise of emotions like “…will make you…” drives B2C clicks.

You Aren’t Writing in a Way That Engages Your Audience

Engage your audience

You don’t have to have Pulitzer-winning talent to get people to read your blogs; you just have to have an organized structure that’s easy to follow and a voice that sounds friendly. Try to write in a conversational tone while still being clear and providing valuable information with each sentence.

If you think someone may get lost on your blog, split up your sentences and have each one communicate a single thought. Have each thought logically flow into the next, building up each point one-by-one.

Denser topics may require formatting elements like additional sub-topic headers or a bulleted list. An illustration also tends to help.

If you need help improving beyond that, look to your competitors or hire a content writing expert for stylistic feedback. Everyone gets better over time, but you also have to recognize what makes certain writing engage more effectively.

You may also need to outsource your writing to more-experienced and knowledgeable professionals in order to get the quality your audience wants. You can always commission a test blog in order to gauge how much other writers can boost your performance.

Your Content Isn’t Focused on Specific Goals

60% of B2C companies don’t have a documented content marketing strategy, which means their team may have several competing ideas on what their content is supposed to do. Without an aligned strategy and target metrics everyone can agree upon, your content writing will be aimless rather than effective.

Consider that just 2% of the worst-performing B2B content marketers rate the alignment of the metrics they use to track performance and their overall marketing goals as “very good,” reports the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). On the other hand, over half of the best performing companies say that their metrics and goals are well-aligned.

To get content to fulfill your marketing goals, you have to focus on the conversion step you want audiences to take after reading. For instance, if you want to create more leads, then you will need to create free, highly valuable content that entices readers to submit their information to learn more.

Or, if your goal is to earn shares or other forms of engagement, you may have to embrace more topics that people have strong opinions on or ones that elicit strong emotional responses.

Always have a few focused, well-defined goals for your content, know what key performance indicators (KPIs) best represent accomplishing those goals, and create content suited to the purpose of improving KPIs over time.

You Aren’t Promoting Content Enough

Promote your content

Content marketing success requires not just a budget for content creation but also for promotion. Put simply, the more money you put into promoting your content, the bigger returns you can get from each asset.

That phenomenon is likely why companies that put a bigger budget behind their content find greater returns. According to a 2018 CMI survey, the average top-performing B2C company allocated 38% of their overall marketing budget to content, and top-performing B2B companies allocated an average of 40%. On the flip side, the least-successful B2B companies spent just 14%.

The key to successful promotion is to identify your target audiences and use ad-building tools to find them, specifically. Social media ads, for instance, allow you to serve “Promoted” ad posts within user news feeds to highly targeted audiences. You can even experiment by serving ads to two audience groups to test which one offers the best performance.

Over time, you can not only get more views for your content but get views from targeted people you want to become leads.

You Need Help From a Professional Content Marketing Agency

Get help from a marketing agency

Content marketing is complex and hard to master. Those with deep experience and more available tools stand a better chance of getting it right.

Working with a professional writing team that’s part of a content marketing agency could bring the improvements to quality, strategy, targeting and promotion that you need to meet your goals. So, if nothing else is working, consider partnering with someone who has a proven track record of content marketing success.

Contact Get Found Fast for more information on how to implement a successful content marketing strategy.

7 Ways to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Email Marketing

email marketing

Email Marketing Strategies

Email marketing has come back in full force, and brands that know their way around best practices can reap huge returns.

According to a survey of marketers conducted last summer, the average ROI from email campaigns was over 100 percent! This ROI beat out other marketing channels by over four times, including social media, paid search, and direct mail.

One study from 2015 even found that email marketing could generate as much as $38 for every $1 spent, which equals a mind-blowing 3,800% percent ROI.

For anyone trying to squeeze more out of their email marketing or turn around their lackluster campaign success, here are 7 pointers for increasing the effectiveness of your email efforts.

Segment Your List (Or Risk Being Irrelevant)

Talk to people about topics, products and ideas they are interested in.

According to an infographic by Mailigen, using segmented, relevant messaging more than doubles your open rate while driving 18x more revenue for your campaigns.

infographic by Mailigen

This approach makes a lot of sense if you have ever been to a party where someone is droning on and on about something you just don’t care to hear about or have any interest in. “Have you seen how expensive jogging strollers are these days?” they ask, not bothering to remember you don’t have kids and haven’t jogged since high school.

While the person talking may feel like they aren’t being terribly rude, to the recipient it can feel a bit more personal. “I don’t care what you are actually interested in” the person communicates. “Everyone is equally interested in what I have to say.”

Not having email segments is the same thing. Ensure your list is segmented by buyer persona so that every message is as relevant as possible.

For people who self-subscribe, you can even give them a chance to customize the content they receive by interest, product category and other choices from a pick-list. Just don’t count on them to do all the work of segmenting for you!

Using an email automation system like Constant Contact or Mailchimp is critical to keeping these segments organized, but you can also potentially do-it-yourself by just separating your mailing lists into separate content buckets.

Once you have segments established, take a moment to strategize the difference between each segment based on consumer traits, progress through sales pipeline and other situations. Then, outline the type of content that would be most relevant to each segment as well as what would be least relevant and should not be sent.

Taking a moment to get to know your audience can dramatically increase your open rates while lowering the amount of frustrated subscribers.

Use Personalization to Make Recipients Perk Up

When we hear our names — even if we know it’s someone else with the same name being called — we tend to take notice. Chances are good that your parents were pros at this technique. When they said your name before a sentence, you knew they meant business!

We have the same reaction when we see our names in an email. Personalization with a name and other details increases open rates by 26 percent, and it can even help drive brand affinity.

Note that personalization involves more than just adding a first name to an email. The entire message should be framed as if the recipient is having a 1:1 conversation with the sender. LinkedIn has become a pro at this tactic. They use personalization in a way that makes you sit up and listen.

LinkedIn Personalization

Looking at moi? Go on, I’m listening!

The above message not only includes a name but signals that an exciting activity has happened. It says people are looking at your profile. Think of ways to mirror this effect so people get excited or intrigued just from looking at a subject line.

Segmenting your user base by the products they have bought (or expressed interest in) is another way to connect more deeply right from the subject line. “New Jeep Anniversary Fog Lights” can be a way for a Jeep Wrangler owner to have immediate interest, for instance.

Data shows that this type of personalization is table stakes for marketers with successful email programs. “88 percent of those that exceeded revenue expectations have personalization measurement systems in place,” says Inc.

Test Subject Lines Rigorously

A lot of marketers mess up promotional emails right from the moment they begin creating the subject line. You should scrutinize your subject line, get in-house feedback from a fresh set of eyes, and A/B test different subject lines before rolling out massive campaigns.

The first step is to make sure you are using some sort of subject line preview tool, like this one. Seeing your subject line visually helps you better-imagine how a recipient would react to it in their inbox.

Take special note of how the email looks on mobile devices since over half of email opens come via mobile. People tend to filter out what emails to read by the subject line alone. 69 percent of email recipients will report a message as spam based solely on the subject line.

Worst words to use include:

  1. FREE
  2. $$$
  3. Earn
  4. Guaranteed
  5. Whitepaper, journal, report

Some of the best words include:

  1. [Recipient Name]
  2. You/Your
  3. Thank you
  4. Account
  5. Monthly
  6. Subject 1 | Subject 2 | Subject 3 (e.g. “Bid Bonds | Liability Insurance | Worker’s Comp”)

Note that not every “common marketing knowledge” pointer like this list may work for you and your audience. Always test to be sure!

Promise to Not Waste Their Time by Always Signaling Value

Thinking like a recipient means coming up with ways to offer something they might actually want. For sales and promotional offers, think of the hottest product they might want or the best offer possible. Don’t just tell them there’s a “sale”; tell them what that means.

Humble Bundle Email

Humble Bundle, which offers discount video game bundles, leads with its most popular game in the package.

When offering something non-material, like information, explain clearly how the contents of the email benefit the user. It could be something deep/important like “Want More 5 Star Reviews☆☆☆☆☆?” or even the promise that “You’ll Laugh Way Too Hard at These Marketing Puns”.

Many email marketers find great results by telling their audience how they can get more out of the products or services they already use.

The New York Times has gotten this down to an art. Since there is a million different pieces of content on their site other than what you see on the homepage, they take it upon themselves to inform subscribers about how they can learn and do more on NYTimes.com.

New York Times email

Get more from my subscription while spending less time? Sure, why not?

Use Powerful Images and Video to Get a Reaction

HTML-based email templates have transformed inboxes from a boring wall of text to a gorgeous place for showcasing compact content or well-designed advertisements.

Images are especially important for mobile since they make messages more colorful and intriguing as well as easier to read. Since 80 percent of email users are expected to access their inbox via mobile at least some of the time by 2018, thinking about their needs is vital.

Kitty Snuggles

Using human-centered images like this stock photo can invoke emotion and draw the eye to certain email sections.

Make sure you have text-only alternatives for image blockers, and try not to get too overboard with the images you use. Using images in a sloppy or unappealing way can sometimes hurt rather than help.

Using video embedded within email or as a link can likewise help you improve open rates and click-throughs. According to one source, just using the word “video” in a subject line can boost clickthroughs by 65 percent and opens by 19 percent.

Tell People What to Do with a Single Call to Action

This one is simple: every email should have a call to action (CTA).

Your CTA can be nearly anything, including:

  • Go buy this product
  • Take advantage of a limited-time offer
  • Try our tips
  • Go learn/read more at this page
  • Attend our event
  • Upgrade your current service package
  • Book a free consultation

Ensure that your CTA is crystal clear and compelling. Every recipient should know exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.

Providing a landing page after clicks to direct them more linearly to an offer can help simplify the process further. That way, your real CTA is just “Click Here,” and then you can drive more complex conversions from the landing page.

Avoid conflicting CTAs or multiple messages. No matter what you say, your ultimate conclusion leads the audience down ONE possible path. This practice will help your clickthroughs thrive.

Study Email Marketing Analytics Like You Have a Test Coming Up

Lots of email marketing strategies tend to work well across the board for a majority of industries, but there is no single set of hard-and-fast rules. Instead, every company has to study their own data in order to find what their audience seems to like/dislike about their emails.

Learn how to learn more from your email analytics, and use the lessons to optimize your approach over time. Trial-and-error is the only way to truly get better at something, and luckily email gives you plenty of lessons in the form of data.

Stick to Best Practices to Drive Success in Email Marketing

Mastering email marketing takes a lot of experimentation, practice, trial-and-error and attention to detail, but by following the best practices mentioned above, you can be well on your way towards greater success.

Just to recap your keys to success:

  1. Use segmentation to maximize relevance
  2. Personalize emails to get attention
  3. Test subject lines, mind your length and think like a recipient
  4. Promise true value to the recipient through your word choice and messaging
  5. Use emotional images in your layout
  6. Direct people to act with a single strong CTA
  7. Use analytics data to optimize your approach over time

Pay attention to what your data tells you, and keep up with the latest email marketing trends and advice on our blog to learn best practices that make you an email genius over time!

For more information on how our Denver SEO agency can help you market you business effectively contact us today!