There are almost two billion websites on the Internet. If you see similarities between certain websites, it is because some use prepared template designs. These are downloadable website templates where the layout and structure have already been established.

Although this is a fast, easy, and convenient way to put up a website, it misses a very important element of effective design: Uniqueness.

The challenge for professional web designers is to conceptualize a design that is unique to its owner. Everything must come-together or align in website design. A business is an organization of people who share core values and a common vision to what the future may hold.

Design should embody; not distinguish the business and its owner. Its elements should represent the owner and support the purpose, objectives, message, and overall vision of the business.

Our Design Process At Mountaintop Web Design

At Mountaintop Web Design, we like to think of ourselves as artists and scientists. We explore the boundaries of creativity through artistic expression. However, at the same time, we respect the rules and precision of web design science. There are theories, guidelines, and principles of web design that we use as the basis for implementing artistic concepts.

We conduct research before initiating the formal design process. Research is categorized into two areas: empirical and intuitive.

Empirical Research

Under empirical research, we gather facts, relevant information, updated data, and other forms of usable and measurable inputs on the type of business and industry. We also implement best practices of web design which likewise, includes its own research. These principles go into each and every website we build.

Once we have a deeper understanding of the nature of the enterprise, we do a comparative analysis of the industry. This includes looking at the websites of the client’s closest competitors. We take note of design elements and similarities in content.

We also look through the competitors’ social media accounts. We want to see if there is alignment or some congruence between its design elements and those of the website.

Intuitive Research

Intuitive research is focused on the person behind the client. This is similar to a bank’s KYC or Know Your Customer approach. We want to know who the client is. What is his/her purpose? How did he/she get into this type of business? What are the motivating factors?

Our objective is to capture the essence of the client. His/ her personality should manifest on every page of the website. Its elements should reflect the client. When a visitor views the design and reads the content, he/she should have an accurate idea on who the business owner is.

Elements such as the use of color, spaces, angles, lines, and content will give site visitors clues on the type of person the owner is. Based on the interaction or response to the elements of design and content, the website visitor will rely on his/her intuition to formulate a profile on the business owner.

5 Popular Styles Of Web Design

There are many styles of web design. We would have to write an e-book to give you a complete rundown of every style that can be used for designing websites. Fortunately, we are not writing a textbook.

The purpose of writing this article is to give you an idea of how the design process works. It will give you a better understanding of what a professional web designer does and how to work with him/her when coming up with your own site.

In this section, we will discuss five of the most popular styles of web design. Then we will proceed to our own approach in designing websites for clients.

1. Illustrative Style

The Illustrative style of web design is highly visual in presentation. It uses drawing as the primary tool for design. We have graphic designers and artists who can come up with drawings or renditions based on an exchange of ideas with the business owner.

Renditions are visual expressions or concepts which the team believes best captures the message of the website. Creating design renditions for the Illustrative design is a close collaborative process with the client. We encourage the client to throw ideas on the design table.

As professional web designers, we incorporate principles of design to finalize the concept. Oftentimes, the client may have a different idea. Part of our job is to take the client through the design process so that he/she will get a better understanding of the principles of web design. This is how creative differences are resolved.

The final design is the one which the client feels accurately represents the business and at the same time stays within the parameters of effective web design techniques.

2. Single Page Style

The Single Page approach to web design is often confused with the Illustrative because it uses a rendition or depiction of a concept as the main design element. It can be colorful or simple. It could be vibrant or subdued.

Its overall purpose is to simplify web design. The structure is very simple and easy to navigate. You won’t find much text content on the Homepage as the focus remains on the image.

The Single Page style carries the same risk as the Illustrative in that the message of the design may not resonate with the site visitor right away. An image can look visually appealing but if used for symbolic purposes, its meaning may get lost in translation.

These styles of web design may work from an aesthetic standpoint. However, from a functional or messaging standpoint, the use of symbolic images may not deliver the desired results. That is why we do not actively recommend these styles to our clients.

We caution clients who prefer this style of design to exercise caution when it comes to the use of images as metaphors or symbolism.  As much as possible, the design concept should provide visual signals that make it easier for site visitors to understand what the business is all about; who the owners are, what they do, their purpose and vision. The content should resonate immediately with the viewer.

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3. Minimalist

Have you ever come across a website where the Homepage looks like an abstract painting? How about a website where it seems like you just landed on a maze? Outside of getting a migraine or feeling like a laboratory mouse, these designs have so much going on that its purpose and functionality are lost.

The Minimalist style removes all the clutter so all that remains are the essential elements, features, concepts, and forms. This type of design is very easy on the eyes. Good examples of the Minimalist style are websites that greatly use space. You see only black and white colors. Orientation is very clean and organized.

The Minimalist design is popular because it acts as a counterbalance to the chaos on the Internet. There is information overload; run a search query and you scroll through hundreds and thousands of websites. The Minimalist works because it focuses only on your central message.

4. Flat Web Design

If you’ve come across the Microsoft website, you’ll have a good idea of what Flat Web Design is. This style of web design combines minimalism with usability. It attempts to clear out unnecessary elements and just focus on items that greatly support usability and functionality.

Advocates of Flat Web Design typically use a combination of space with bright or dominant colors as defining areas of references. Overall design remains clean; the addition of colors with sharper hues creates better distinction among the other elements.

When we implement the Flat Web Design approach, we want the design to be prominent but not to the point that it detracts from the purpose of the website. Navigability should never be compromised.

5. Typographical

There is a good reason why recruiters generally reject resumes that are prepared using the Comic Sans font. You just won’t be taken seriously. Recruiters will always recommend Calibri, Cambria, Helvetica, and the over-used but still popular Arial.

The type of font you use is a design element that can successfully make or break your message. It triggers an emotional cue and an ensuing response. Used properly with image and text- based content, the typographical style can help you deliver a powerful and compelling story.

The drawback with the Typographic style is that it may slow down loading time. This is especially true when using mobile devices.

Mountaintop Web Design’s Approach To Web Design

Our underlying principle in web design is that best practices must always be implemented. Best practices in web design are those tried and true elements that have been proven to work. In this sense, we approach all of our clients in a similar same way. We can apply any style of web design that the client wants and which we feel strongly supports the purpose and objectives of the website.

However, our approach never veers off from the standard guidelines for effective web design:

  • The website must be mobile-responsive. Design should be able to set up seamlessly and effortlessly on mobile devices regardless of screen size. It should be accessible by large groups of people.
  • The website should have fast download speed. Our years of experience working with different clients and studying various industries have shown us that consumers are impatient. Our target is to make sure the client’s website can be accessed within 3 seconds.
  • Design should be optimized. Even if you have the best images and text content, these would have little value to your website if they cannot be found. We implement the principles of SEO or Search Engine Optimization to make sure all images and text-based content can be easily searched, found, and indexed by web crawlers.
  • Reliable security measures should be in place. We understand the value of a website for your business. Thus, we make sure all of our websites are built with the latest versions of the best security software. We also conduct regular site audits to run updates on plug-ins and address other issues that may present vulnerabilities to its security.

Case Study: Severe Weather Shelter

Severe Weather Shelter Network New website

We designed this website for a non-profit ministry. The objective of our design approach was to strongly highlight the services of the ministry. This was effectively done through the use of relevant images, the organization of the site, and the layout which were proprietary to the ministry.

The overall effect of the design was to deliver a clear message that was powerful and urgent, yet sincere and simplistic in tone and content.

The design gives website visitors an accurate idea on who the ministry is, what they do, how they operate, and helps them gain a deeper understanding of their objective. As we mentioned earlier, website design must represent the purpose and vision of the business.  

In this case, the purpose of the ministry is covered by the question , “Why did the ministry set up this organization?” The images, use of color, space, and layout, emphasize the ministry’s intent to help people in need.

We integrated the use of these provocative images with real statistics in order to compel the visitor into action. It certainly helped increase the number of donations and contributions to the ministry.

With the ideal design elements in place, our biggest challenge became the donation platform. We wanted to make sure it was easy and secure for people to use. Fortunately, we were able to implement the right platform for them and to date, the ministry continues to receive donations through its website.

If you are planning to have a website for your business or if you are thinking of having your current website re-designed, please feel free to give us a call or an email.

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Email is the comet that rendered the typewriter extinct. It made the fax machine redundant; regular mail older and slower. Because of email, real-time communication became possible. Work became more efficient and productivity soared. You could get more tasks done in less time and at lower costs. It opened a digital avenue where you can directly communicate with your target market. This is why email marketing is such an effective tool for achieving business goals.

However, like diet and exercise; two things that were intended for the greater good, the use of email became abused. Marketers took advantage of its speed, convenience, and ease of use. Scammers found a cottage industry on the Internet. From the excitement of “You’ve Got Mail” in the 1990’s followed the threat of notorious phishing schemes in the new millennium.

Email marketing developed a bad reputation. Consumers became suspicious of marketing content that landed in their inbox. 2017 was a banner year for cyber- criminals. Companies lost millions of dollars’ worth of Big Data. Investigation showed that email was the common entry-point.

Marketers made matters worse. As email marketing became popular, it became a standard feature of a digital marketing campaign. Eventually, it became subject to “The Law of Diminishing Returns”. The more marketers used email marketing, the less effective it became.

6 Worst Practices For Email Marketing

Before we discuss its best practices, it would be a good idea to cover its worst practices so you would get a good idea of which mistakes to avoid.

  1. Buying an Email List – Finding your way into the inbox is like having one foot inside the door. However, if you were not invited you are merely trespassing. Don’t buy an email list. Instead, grow your list organically. No one likes intruders.
  2. The Email Blast – Email marketing is effective when you take a targeted approach. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work. You shouldn’t fire off a large volume of email and rely on percentages. If you send out 3,000 emails and 10% respond, what do you believe the 90% thinks about you?
  3. Poor Content – The rules of great content apply even to email marketing. Content must be relevant, usable, engaging, fresh and unique. Otherwise, it will end up in the recycle bin.
  4. Ignoring the Requests of the Subscriber – There could be reasons why a subscriber wants to unsubscribe to your newsletter. Your job is to carry out the request, not to question “why”. Hiding the unsubscribe button will just make matters worse.
  5. Errors in Spelling and Grammar – Just because emails are normally short and concise does not mean you should disregard errors in spelling and grammar. These types of mistakes are inexcusable in all forms of content. It implies you are irresponsible and unconcerned
  6. Coming up with an Outlandish Heading – Imagine coming across a subject line: “Make $100,000 in 2 weeks!” then reading content that asks you to sign up for a 2-week course in sales for only $100. Don’t implement click bait strategies by coming up with headings or subject lines that are so outlandish you won’t be able to deliver on them.

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7 Best Practices For Effective Email Marketing

Did our list of worst email practices make you shake your head? You must have come across a number of them and others at some point in your life. The truth is email marketing remains a viable digital marketing strategy. It should be part of your online marketing toolbox because it is a powerful driver of content. The key is to know how to harness its power and make email marketing work for your business.

Here are 5 best practices for getting productive results from your email marketing campaign:

1. Build Your Email List Organically

If you approach email marketing as a numbers game, you might play a hand that might end up costing you more than anything you can potentially earn. Don’t assume that consumers who don’t like receiving marketing collateral in their inbox will simply ignore your content.

Not only will your content end up as spam, but some may file a complaint against you from the regulating authority such as the Federal Trade Commission or FTC. Your email domain may end up getting blacklisted. These are the risks taken by those who buy a leads list and run an email blast.

Grow your email marketing list organically or naturally. Drive traffic to your website through content marketing, social media, and paid ads. Make sure there are email sign ups where site visitors can choose to be part of your newsletter campaign.

By working on your email list instead of buying it, you can be assured of greater engagement with your content. Recipients expect it and have interest in reading your content. It may take longer to build an email list, but there are fewer risks and the probability of getting positive feedback is much higher.  

2. Get To Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience will help you customize your content better. This will improve engagement levels, enhance your branding strategy, and potentially move your prospect further down the sales funnel.

You can use metrics to gather data on your audience. You will know which types of content generate higher engagement and longer engagement. Metrics will likewise give you data on where your audience comes from and the hours with the highest traffic. You will also find out how your audience wants to receive content and the best time of day to send your email.

By learning more about your audience, you can take engagement one step further. You can send them more personalized emails which are written in a way, tone, language, and type of content, that resonates better with them.

3. Give Before You Take

As the old saying goes, “The proof of the pie is in the eating.” This is one reason why sampling is a good strategy to get people to try your product. Not everyone may like it, but the fact that you put it out there for free tells the prospect you are risking your reputation to validate its quality.

Before asking your site visitors to sign up and give their email addresses, give them a free taste of what you are offering. Business consultants usually offer free white papers and research content. Fitness professionals give away free exercise manuals or diet programs. App developers provide limited time trial period on their software.

Giving free samples is a great way of building trust with your prospects. It will encourage them to buy your product and service after they’ve digested your content.

4. Analyze Your Metrics

We briefly discussed metrics earlier. Metrics are valuable because they provide you with real-time data that you can use to track the progress of your email campaign. Once you can account for data supporting specific areas of interest, you will have empirical bases for improving and upgrading your strategies.

The first step is to identify these specific areas of interest. There are programs that can help you collect data on metrics you plan to measure your campaign against. If you’re not sure on how to go about metrics, we can help set it up along with an email campaign that is customized for your business needs.

We can help you track, collect, and analyze data. We’ll take you through the process so that in time, you’ll be able to do it on your own. The correct use of metrics will contribute to achieving higher ROI. You can streamline the cost of your campaign while improving the chances of attaining the desired outcome.

5. Don’t Forget Your CTA

Even if you came up with the most compelling content for your email, what good will it do if it doesn’t tell the reader which action to take? A Call- To- Action or CTA is precisely what it is. The CTA should tell the reader what he/she should do next.

If your site visitor comes across your opt-in, what do you want him/her to do? What do you want him/her to provide? What should he/she expect by signing up for your newsletter campaign?

The same process follows once your content is delivered in the subscriber’s inbox. What do you want him/her to do next? You will need a good, effective subject line that would compel your subscriber to open your email. Once it has been opened and read, what next? Do you want him/her to try a new program or subscribe to a new service?

You could have one or two CTAs in your email. The thing to keep in mind is to make sure it has one.

6. Create Compelling Email Design

In marketing, first impressions count. Email marketing is still collateral. It should look professional, clean, and most of all, it should represent your branding strategy.

How do you come up with a professional design for an email campaign? We’ve done this for our clients. We have good experience creating designs that effectively align with the client’s branding strategy. Most of all, the content and structure corresponds with regulations mandated by the FTC.

When you have an effective design, it creates automatic recall for its recipient. They will know the email comes from your company.

7. Reward Your VIPs

Who are your VIPs? These are the people who regularly click your emails and sometimes even share it to others. VIPs are effective conduits of content. They are trustworthy; those in their community who receive your content know it has value for your subscriber to pass it to them.

Reward your VIPs by preparing a personalized email and extending them a special gift. It could be in the form of free giveaways, an extended trial period, or an attractive discount. Engagement is a two-way street. Let them know they are special. It will help build a long-term, sustainable, and mutually- beneficial relationship.

Conclusion

Email marketing will remain one of the best and most effective forms of digital marketing. It is a perfect example of a targeted marketing approach. As such, you must take a deliberate, measured, and strategic approach when designing an email marketing campaign.

Like all marketing processes, it will take time to get the desired results from email marketing. The advantage is that with metrics, you can fine-tune the elements of your strategy and make it more effective. The risks are much lower and with persistence, you should be able to attain your campaign objectives

If you are thinking of including email marketing in your digital marketing campaign strategy, don’t hesitate to give us a call or an email. We can conceptualize one for you and guide you throughout the implementation process.

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Starting your business with digital marketing in place will put you on course to achieving your goals and objectives. Marketing is the last thing many startup entrepreneurs think about when launching their business. That is a mistake that could affect them in the long-term.

5 Reasons For Digital Marketing When Starting Your Business

  1. Brand building takes time.
  2. Digital marketing is a long-term process.
  3. Gain valuable insights into your target market.
  4. Provides opportunities to start earning revenue in the short-term.
  5. Analytics becomes a more reliable measure of your business’ performance.

The Advantages Of Starting Digital Marketing Early In Your Business

Like any new venture, getting started is the most difficult stage. A startup entrepreneur has his/her plate full thinking about financing, personnel, operating frameworks and the IT infrastructure needed to get the business started. Somehow, somewhere marketing gets lost in the planning process.

For many, marketing becomes an afterthought. The popular notion of marketing is that it should only start when the business is running smoothly.

They don’t want to actively market or promote their enterprise until they are 100% certain all aspects of the business – from goods and services to processes – are to their satisfaction.

First of all, nothing in business is 100% certain. It is unrealistic to think that your business model is perfect. Why? Because markets will always be in a constant state of change. Your business model will have to adapt to changes in your market.

A key benefit to having a digital marketing strategy in place is the ability to track these changes in your market.

Before broadband technology made the Internet accessible in 2004, the marketing process was largely considered hit and miss. Traditional marketing methods comprised strategy campaigns. These methods included press releases, advertorials, flyers, streamers and other POP’s or Point- of- Purchase materials.

Businesses had no credible way of tracking performance and ROI. Traditional marketing processes were expensive, inefficient and unsustainable. This is the main reason why businesses back then were hesitant to invest in a marketing program.

With digital marketing, there is no guesswork. You have access to real-time data which means you will have an accurate measure of ROI.

Digital marketing will give your startup all the advantages it needs to become successful by creating short and long-term streams of revenues, providing evidence-based data on how to streamline costs and most importantly, by establishing your brand value proposition to your target market.

5 Benefits Of Having A Digital Marketing Strategy When Starting Your Business

If you want your products and services found, you must invest in a digital marketing strategy. We discussed digital marketing at length in our articles, “How to Increase Your Website Traffic in 2018” and “How to Setup a Low Budget but Highly Effective Digital Marketing Campaign”. You can go back to those articles to have a refresher course on what digital marketing is all about.

Success in marketing relies on the successful delivery of the message. The message of your brand carries your value proposition or “Why my product or service is better than the competition”. The last thing you want is for your message to get lost in translation.

Digital marketing gives you several channels to get your message across effectively:

  • SEO or Search Engine Optimization – Optimize your website and content so that potential end-users of your product or service can easily find your business on the Internet.
  • Social Media Marketing – Distribute your optimized content through multiple social media platforms that appeal to your buyer’s persona and fit the needs of your business.
  • Content Marketing – Create fresh, unique, relevant, usable and engaging content to generate interest from your target market. Content can be created in text, image or video format for a more holistic distribution strategy.

The question most entrepreneurs want to find the answer to is, “When should I launch my digital marketing campaign?” The best answer is, “When you are starting your business.” And here are 5 benefits you can realize by starting your digital marketing strategy during the early stages of your business.

1. Builds Your Business Brand Effectively

When you start a business, consumers would want to know more about it from the get-go. Starting out a brand building campaign through digital channels even before the product or service is launched helps create interest and awareness.

You want to give people a good number of reasons to try your brand. The great thing about digital marketing is that you can be flexible in your brand- building approach.

For example, you plan to launch a brand of guilt-free donuts called “Fear Not Donuts”. You can use Facebook and Twitter to distribute content on what your products are all about and why people shouldn’t worry about eating them:

“Do Not fear the Donut! Fear Not Donuts are zero-sugar, low-carb donuts that are big on taste and not on your waist.”

Informational content that highlights the product’s strengths, differentiators and value to the customer is an effective way of building a good-sized following. At the pre-launch stage, try to build a follower base of 3,000 to 5,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter.

During this pre-launch stage, you should expect greater engagement from potential customers because you have piqued their interest and curiosity. They will ask you questions such as:

  • “How many calories per donut?”
  • “How much does a box of glazed cost?”
  • “How do you make your donuts?”

From there, you can use Twitter to do a promotional tie-in launch with another establishment that focuses on health and fitness:

“First 50 members from Zack’s Gym who can present this tweet at their nearest Fear Not Donuts outlet will get a FREE dozen guilt-free donuts of their choice!”

Customers will undoubtedly post their comments on your social media account as well as theirs. Even if the reviews are bad, it is no reason to press the panic button.

You can use the negative review as an opportunity to inform customers that you will continue to find ways to improve the product. Besides, the majority of feedback could be overwhelmingly positive.

2. Digital Marketing For Business Takes Time

Despite the advantages of digital technology and the Internet, don’t expect to get positive results from digital marketing overnight. This is especially true for unpaid or organic forms of digital marketing.

Organic means to generate results naturally, through unpaid channels such as advertisements. The examples of digital marketing channels that we listed earlier; SEO, social media marketing and content marketing, are among the best organic strategies you can use.

Optimizing your website through SEO techniques is not a one-time-deal. Search engines like Google routinely change the algorithm for their search rankings. If you want your website to be competitive in the search rankings, you must do your best to comply with those changes.

Social media is one of the most popular online activities. However, it takes time to build a following. You have to stay active on social media to get results. The frequency of activity would depend on the platform. How often should you post on social media per day? Buffer recommends the following schedule:

  • Facebook – Twice per day
  • Twitter – At least three times per day
  • Pinterest – five times per day
  • Instagram – Twice per day
  • LinkedIn – Once per day

Content marketing strategies likewise need time to produce the desired results. Let’s assume your first published blog was successful. It generated a good number of “likes”; it was shared multiple times and resulted in a few more followers. You should not think it was “Mission Accomplished”.

Now, your readers want to see if you can consistently produce great content. Your next blog post you should not go the way of most Hollywood sequels. It must be as good, if not, better than the first one.

As we discussed in our article, “How to Launch a $100 Digital Marketing Campaign”, digital marketing is a cost- effective strategy. The biggest investments you make are on time and energy. You need to be patient. As long as you are consistent, the desired outcome will follow.

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3. Stay On Top Of Your Business’ Buyer’s Persona

Research is one of the cornerstones of an effective digital marketing strategy. The strength of digital marketing is that it is a targeted approach to marketing. Research allows you to create a profile of your targeted buyer or your business buyer’s persona.

The Buyer’s Persona is an integral component of your content marketing strategy. When you create content for blogs and articles, it must resonate with the audience. Content must be able to address your audience’s needs, interests and concerns.

And your Buyer’s Persona does not remain static. It actively changes simply because tastes and preferences change. Your key demographic in two months might be different.

This is why you have to stay on top of your Buyer’s Persona. The research process required for digital marketing allows you to do that.

4. Generate Results Right Away

Digital marketing is not limited to organic or unpaid strategies. You have the option to use paid strategies such as advertising in order to get results right away. One of the most effective paid strategies is PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

With PPC, you pay for your ad to be seen on search results pages that are relevant to your business. For example, if you sell smartphones, your paid ads will come out whenever someone launches a search query on smartphones.

Once a person clicks on your ad, he/she will be sent to your website’s landing page. If you have the right Calls-to- Action in place such as free newsletters or free e-books, you could get e-mail addresses or perhaps inquiries about the products or services you are selling.

PPC generates immediate results because it places your ad directly in front of your target market. Therefore, the chances of someone clicking on your ad are much higher.

5. Business Analytics Has More Reliable Historic Data

If you want to have an accurate recording of your business’ history, you have to start at the very beginning. You need a deep understanding of your history because it will reflect changes in your key demographics. Those changes could be as a result of the products, services and systems you had in place.

The biggest advantage of digital marketing is that it gives you access to business analytics. These are online tools that you can use to assess the performance of your website and your digital marketing campaign. With analytics, you have real-time, precise bases for developing, revising and implementing strategies.

You will know which ones worked and which ones fell short. In terms of budgeting, you will have empirical evidence to validate funding for specific digital marketing strategies. Starting your digital marketing campaign earlier will give you more reliable historic data for your decision-making.

As Confucius said, “Study the past to define your future.”

Conclusion

Digital marketing can produce results for different goals: brand building, lead generation, build followers, improve sales conversions or enhance online presence among others.

For the reason that it is not realistic to get everything right the first time, starting the digital marketing campaign early will allow you more opportunity to fine-tune your strategies when the business is still trying to get traction. It will be easier to track results and pinpoint the weak areas in the campaign.

It is never too late to start a digital marketing campaign. However, the best time to launch one is when you are starting your business.

Do you have a digital marketing campaign in place? If so, when did you start? It would be great if you could share your experiences with our readers. Kindly comment in the area below.

And if you’re interested in starting a digital marketing campaign for your business, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an e-mail. We can help you get started right away!

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Social proof is the phenomenon whereby consumers’ actions are influenced by the experiences, attitudes, and opinions of other consumers. Let’s assume you are on the market for a new smartphone. What would influence your decision more: reading marketing copy on a smartphone’s features or hearing the experiences and opinions of a few trusted friends?

Chances are you would put more weight on the testimonies of your friends. You trust their opinions more because you know they would not give you a bad recommendation. This is an example of how social proof works and why many businesses continue to use it to build trust and reputation for their website.

6 Ways To Use Social Proof For Your Website

  1. Publish content from users.
  2. Highlight customer testimonials on your website.
  3. Cite actual case studies that addressed specific customer pain points.
  4. Find reputable influences who can endorse your product or service.
  5. Invite customers to post reviews about your product or service.
  6. Substantiate key information with actual numbers.

One of the most popular quotations on social behavior goes like this: “When someone talks a lot about himself, it only means no one is talking about him.” The same message can be applied when using social proof for your website.

The purpose of web copy is to entice the visitor to explore the website further. As a rule, web copy content must be able to present the brand’s value proposition within a few seconds. Otherwise, the visitor might just click out of your website.

Given that challenge, it should be perfectly understandable why web copy content highlights the brand’s strongest, most sellable features. However, for the discerning or discriminating consumer, such web copy content can be seen as self-serving:

“Of course, you’ll say your brand is the best. You’re trying to sell your products to consumers like me.”

By contrast, if the same consumer comes across customers’ testimonies, product ratings, and reviews, the perception of your brand will change. Testimonies, product ratings, and reviews are examples of social proof techniques that you can use for your website. They have the ability to boost your claims because like your friends’ opinions, they have nothing to gain by giving you a bad recommendation.

How Social Proof Has Influenced Business

In this day and age where the Internet has made information more accessible, it should be safe to say most consumers think that way. The Internet has shifted the balance of power to the consumer.

Gone are the days when businesses could write anything about their product or service. It didn’t matter if the product delivered on the promise. Businesses could get away with “false claims” because consumers had the platform to air their views and grievances.

The Internet changed all that with the proliferation of social media networks, chat forums, and product review sites.

Today, the fortunes of a business can change overnight with a single post or image that goes viral. Businesses have learned to stay on their toes and be more accountable for their claims and the information they publish.

Here are some statistics that show how social proof has influenced business decision-making:

  • 70% of consumers in America search and read reliable product reviews before making a decision to purchase a product or service.
  • 63% of consumers will patronize a website that publishes both its product ratings and product reviews.

If your business website has not incorporated social proof as part of its content marketing strategy, now is the time to do so.

6 Ways To Use Social Proof To Build Trust And Reputation For Your Website

You’ve probably come across all of the social proof techniques that will be discussed in this section. They are used in E-Commerce sites, social media business pages, blogs and online forums to name a few. Social proof is important for consumers because it helps them make educated decisions.

As we mentioned earlier, the Internet has leveled the playing field between the consumer and business. With the Internet, consumers can do research before making a decision to buy a product or patronize a service. The reason is obvious: They want the best product or service for their hard-earned money.

When you have social proof available on your website, you make the research process easier for the consumer. That is why they prefer to visit websites that provide social proof.

1. Get Your Users Involved

The best endorsers for your products are the end users. Customers who are happy with the consistency and quality of your goods will become loyal to your brand. They will openly promote your brand because they are proud to be affiliated with it.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms on the Internet. People love to take and post pictures! As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Businesses have taken note of this.

Companies specifically search for User-Generated Content (UGC) on image-based sites like Instagram that feature their products. Once they come across UGC about their products, they can repost it from the Instagrammer’s account.

According to a survey, 76% of consumers trust UGC more than brand marketing copy.

If you come across UGC that is related to your business, whether it is an image or a post, reach out to the person who made it. Ask that person if you can repurpose or reformat the UGC on your website and social media pages.

2. Capitalize on Customer Testimonials

Testimonials are powerful influencers because these are seen as honest and sincere endorsements of your products or service. Business consultancy firms often feature testimonials from multiple clients on how the services have helped them generate record- setting revenues the previous year.

If you want to add more power to your testimonials, put them in video format. We’ve discussed how videos can boost your marketing strategy in our article, “How to Use Video Content in Marketing”.

Videos are effective because they appeal to multiple senses: sight, hearing and of course, it can create emotional connectivity. The use of video can deliver your message faster and more efficiently than text.

A good strategy would be to produce a video that includes several testimonies from clients and customers. Then we will embed it on your website’s home page.

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3. Pinpoint Pain Points with Case Studies

The use of case studies is an example of a great target marketing strategy. We define a case study as a more detailed testimony because it relates how a product or service addressed a specific concern of a customer.

For example, if your website is a retailer of Wi-Fi routers, you could include various case studies that show how your products solved the following Internet-connectivity related problems:

  • Homes with thick walls;
  • Homes with multiple floors;
  • Single floor homes that are located in open space such as a ranch;
  • Users that connect multiple devices;
  • Users that run multiple tasks at the same time.

The more case studies you can present, the more specific user concerns you can address. You can cast a wider net and target a larger market of potential customers for your products or services. Like testimonies, case studies are more effective when published in video format.

4. Connect with Influencers

Influencers are people who are widely recognized and respected in the industry. They are generally viewed as experts and their opinions are highly regarded by consumers. Influencers create a lot of pull for products and services they endorse because consumers see it as a “seal of approval”.

Influencers are not necessarily celebrities; although Oprah Winfrey often promotes products openly without remuneration. The advantages of connecting with influencers are that you can leverage your brand with their reputation and at the same time gain access to their followers.

5. Publish Customer Reviews

Customer reviews are commonly found in E-Commerce sites such as Amazon. As we discussed earlier, adding customer reviews on your website will make the research process easier for your visitors.

Studies show that 63% of consumers tend to purchase a product from a website that features customer reviews. Another study revealed that consumers trusted websites that have customer reviews 12 times more than sites that don’t.

A secondary benefit of publishing customer reviews is that it can give you a boost in Google’s search rankings for two reasons:

  • Improves User Experience (UX)
  • Frequently provides fresh and unique content

Lastly, don’t be afraid of getting negative reviews. Consumers know there is no such thing as a perfect product or service. A business that only publishes overwhelmingly positive reviews comes across as “hard sell”. Publishing negative reviews “humanizes” your brand and makes it more relatable to consumers.

6. Validate Your Claims with Numbers

In ways, creating marketing content is like applying for a job. The resume is your marketing tool and you need to impress the Hiring Manager enough to grant you a job interview. Hiring managers will not spend more than a few seconds on your resume.

One of the most effective ways to attract their interest is by citing your accomplishments. However, citing accomplishments without substantiating them with actual numbers is tantamount to committing hearsay.

Consumers want to see how your business has contributed to the success or well-being of its end users. A good example would be the job search website Elance; now known as UpWork, which proudly proclaimed it helped freelancers earn over US$1 Billion.

A good strategy would be to validate testimonies with actual numbers. Going back to our example with the business consultancy firm, a client could state that the service helped their business generate 400% more revenue over the last two years.

Conclusion

Social proof is a proven way of building trust and enhancing the reputation of your website. Today’s consumers are more discriminating. They will harness the power of the Internet to find information that will help them make educated decisions.

By incorporating social proof on your website, you make the research and decision-making process easier for your site visitors. You may be rewarded with a purchase but most certainly, social proof strategies such as product reviews, video testimonies, and case studies will result in higher rankings in Google.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by including social proof content on your website. Even negative reviews can have a positive effect on humanizing your brand.

Did you enjoy the article as much as we did writing it? If so, please don’t hesitate to share it with your family and friends. And if you have experiences, information or opinions that you want to share with our readers, please feel free to use the comment section below.

If you want to know more about the benefits of social proof and how to include them on your website, please give us a call or drop us an email.

We would love to hear from you!

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Who isn’t on social media? The latest estimates show social media attracts 3.028 Billion people everyday. That means 80% of the 3.8 Billion people who use the Internet on a daily basis are on some kind of social media platform. This is why social media marketing is a powerful and effective strategy for delivering content to grow your business.

Here is a rundown of some of the best social media marketing networks for business:

  • Facebook – The largest social media community with more than 2.13 Billion members and 1.15 Billion active daily users.
  • YouTube – Largest video streaming network with more than 1.5 Billion members and is owned by the world’s largest search engine, Google.
  • Instagram – Video and image-based platform with 800 Million members. Facebook owns Instagram.
  • Twitter – Popular short messaging system has 330 Million users.
  • Pinterest – Fast growing image-based network with 200 Million users.
  • LinkedIn – Professional networking platform that is popular with recruiters, job seekers and executives has a community of 106 Million members.

Top 8 Benefits Of Social Media Marketing For Business And How To Use Them

Chances are you are probably a member of more than one of these popular social media networks.

It’s a nice way to reconnect with friends, family and acquaintances and browsing through social media content can be a pleasant way to relax from the stresses of work.

But social media is no longer just for posting your review on the latest Hollywood blockbuster or workout videos. Businesses soon got on the bandwagon and realized that social media marketing could help them achieve targeted profits.  

Here are the top 8 benefits of social media marketing for business and how to use them to attain success:

1. Improves Website Rankings in Google

Combine social media marketing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to give your website a boost in Google’s search rankings.

We’ve discussed the benefits of SEO for your business in a previous article, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Right Now”. SEO helps your content get found on the Internet and one of its base strategies is the use of keywords.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have search features. The strategic use of keywords will greatly increase the visibility of your content within your community.

For example, if you provide carpet cleaning services, you can write keyword-rich articles on the following topics:

  • Health benefits of regular carpet cleaning;
  • How to clean different types of carpets;
  • Top 10 tips to remove stains on carpets and upholstery.

When posting content on social media, always include a link to your website. This will make it easier for readers who enjoyed your content to find your services on the Internet.

Here’s a tip: If you want to give your website a boost in Google’s search rankings, stay active on YouTube. Attach a link in your YouTube channel to drive more visits to your website.

Why?

Since Google bought YouTube, it has become a ranking factor in its revised search algorithm!

2. Increases Rate of Sales Conversions

Every time you share content on social media, you create an opportunity for potential end users to find your products and services. Remember the first step to generating sales is to attract a market or build a community of followers.

Social media marketing offers you a variety of ways to build your market. You can post videos or blogs; share articles and other relevant content.

A good example would be a Personal Trainer. His/her job is highly visual in nature. Not only should a PT be in good shape but exercise performance is best presented in video format. Video and image-based social media networks such as YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest would benefit personal trainers:

  • Personal Trainer can open a YouTube channel and post videos on exercise performance, workout and diet tips, product reviews and contest footage.
  • Personal Trainer can set up an Instagram account and upload inspiring training photos of clients’ before and after images.
  • Personal Trainer can post inspirational exercise quotes on Pinterest or create a community “Pin Board” for clients to post messages and photos.

In each network, always include a link to your website. In our previous example, social media marketing was used to show prospective clients what the Personal Trainer can do for them.

3. Drive More Traffic to Your Website

We wrote about PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising in our article “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business”.  PPC is one of the best and most effective ways to drive more traffic to your website. Best of all, the traffic you drive comes from your targeted audience.

Search engines like Google and social media networks such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter offer Paid Ad options for businesses. Paid ads are placed where your target audience can immediately see them. People who click on the ad will be sent to your website.

Facebook Ads is one of the best paid ad options for businesses. The social networking giant will ask you to provide it with information about your target audience or a description of typical Buyer’s Profile. Facebook will use the information as a guide so it will know where to place your paid ad.

The biggest advantage of Facebook Ads is that they will run your ad through multiple sites: Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. In addition, Facebook Ads has the Audience Network feature which will position your ad in other websites and apps that are patronized by users who fit your Buyer’s Profile.  

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4. Generate More Leads to Your Business

Businesses need to constantly generate leads in order to create new markets and find potential end users of their products and services.

One of the most effective ways social media marketing can help you generate more leads is through regular engagement. This is another reason why you should stay active on social media.

For example, if you have been consistently posting great, relevant and usable content for your pet care products business, you could expect to elicit the following comments:

  • “Where can I find your products and services?”
  • “How can I reach you?”
  • “Do you deliver?”
  • “Do you have a price list?”

These comments are all entry points for you to bring more leads through your sales funnel. Once they land on your website, you can use call-to-action strategies such as free e-books and newsletters to get their email addresses.

5. Build Brand Awareness for Your Business

Your brand identifies who you are and what your business is all about. Branding creates your business identity which helps attract targeted end-users. But establishing a brand does not happen overnight. It takes consistency and dedicated effort to create an image that is strongly associated with your business.

Social media marketing gives you different conduits for your branding strategy. A business that retails fashion apparel and accessories can use Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to promote their brand.

In their Facebook and Instagram pages, they can share videos and images of how their products are made or a typical day in the office and factory. Other ideas include videos showing employees attending seminars and workshops or company officers participating in socio-economic activities.

In Pinterest, the fashion retailer can create a community “Pin Board” where employees can share ideas openly, post tips and give suggestions on sales tactics and how to improve processes.

These types of content give your audience a better idea of who you are and the type of culture that thrives within your organization. According to Nobel Prize winning psychiatrist Daniel Kahneman, consumers will patronize brands whose values and cultures they can align with.

6. Create Strong Relationships with Your Customers

Social media networks allow you to create business pages which you can use for more than just posting content.

You can include relevant information about your business: product listing, physical address, website, email address and list of services offered among others.

Platforms such as Facebook has a chat feature through its Messenger app. Customers who want to address an issue or concern privately can do it through Messenger.

Responding within 24 hours and finding immediate resolution will go a long way in improving your image and business reputation in the industry. Some customers are so happy with customer service that they share the conversation in their own social media community.

You can also use the business page to invite customers to collaborate with you on new products or give suggestions on how to improve services. This is another great way to build your brand and establish strong, long-lasting relationships with your customers.

7. Enhance Your Business Reputation

Social media marketing gives you the platform to share your experience and expertise to your community. A person who decides to follow your Facebook page, for example, is interested in your products or services.

Sharing information on what you can do will not only enhance your business reputation but may help convert followers into paying customers.

What types of content should you post to boost your reputation as an expert and valuable resource in the industry?

  • Latest developments in the industry;
  • Opinion pieces on current issues;
  • “How To” articles that provide valuable and usable tips;
  • List- type articles that summarize recommendations and product reviews;
  • Informative articles that address the present day concerns of your audience.

Twitter is a great network for building your business reputation. Frequently check threads in your community. If you come across a subject of discussion that falls under your specialty or business competence, jump right in and provide possible solutions.

8. Social Media Marketing is Cost Effective

Signing up for the basic features in a social media network will not cost you a cent. However, if you want to use more advanced features, you will have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

But the great thing about social media marketing is that you can design a campaign that will fit your marketing budget.

You can learn more about managing a successful low budget social media marketing campaign in our article, “How to Set Up a Low Budget but Highly Effective Digital Marketing Campaign”.  

Here are a few quick tips on how you can stay within your social media marketing budget:

  • Choose only 2 to 3 social media networks;
  • Sign up for the basic features or the free membership;
  • Start out slow by publishing content at least three times a week;
  • Use the Buffer app to publish your content according to schedule;
  • Don’t hesitate to repurpose old content; it can help you find a new audience.

Conclusion

Whether your business objective is to increase sales, generate more leads, improve your website ranking in Google or to enhance your reputation as an expert in the industry, social media marketing can provide you the best options to achieve your goals.

Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are great for publishing blogs. YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are effective vehicles for distributing video and image based content.

Twitter is a wonderful tool for launching store promotions and like Facebook, can be used to strengthen your customer service channels.

Social media marketing is a strategy that will continue to remain relevant and valuable as business and consumers increasingly become more dependent on the Internet and mobile devices to address their various needs and concerns.

Did our article give you more insights on what social media marketing can do for your business? If you have experiences and other social media marketing tips that you want to share, please feel free to comment below.

If you want to learn more about social media marketing, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or an email. We will get back to you right away!

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A popular saying in business is “It’s not what you know but who you know that matters.” The obvious connotation is that having connections will help your business go further and stay ahead of the competition. Assuming the playing field is equal in skill and technology, your ability to network and establish the right contacts in the industry could be the difference maker. Thus investing time in networking activities could help your business grow.

What Is Networking?

Networking is the process of interacting with people within an organization where there is a shared interest of establishing mutually beneficial relationships that could lead to business opportunities. Once you have acquired a sizeable network, your objective would be to leverage these connections to open up new streams of revenues for your business.

But many people get frustrated with networking. They view the activity as a waste of time because nothing was accomplished. The problem is they view networking as a social event not a business building opportunity.

So they take off from work and attend a networking function. They enter a room packed with industry movers and shakers. For the next 2 hours they shake hundreds of hands and collect a stack of calling cards. A few drinks and platefuls of hor d’oeuvres and they call it a night.

What has been accomplished? The success of a networking event cannot be measured in terms of calling cards collected. A calling card is nothing more than a piece of paper with a name, address and contact details printed on it. There is no relationship with a calling card. The question to be answered is, “How did your interactions create opportunities for business growth?”

As John Bennett, director of the Master of Science and executive coaching and assistant professor of behavioral science at the McColl School of Business at Queens University at Charlotte said:

“Between 60% to 80% of jobs are found through personal relationships.”

Keep in mind that not everyone who attends the function can contribute value that will move your business forward. That is why networking should be approached with strategy and purpose.

You should be mindful about your interactions; the people you meet, the relationships you establish and how you navigate these connections to achieve business growth. Everything that you plan to do at the networking event must be driven by your intent to expand your business.

Online Networking: Reach Out To More Qualified Connections

The Internet has made networking easier, convenient and more efficient through social media, email and professional networking sites. You can reach out to key people in your industry and connect with potential customers from the comforts of your own home.

In fact, with online networking, you don’t even have to actively seek out connections. If are consistently publishing and sharing content that are well-researched, keyword-rich, relevant and usable, people within your industry or community will be the ones to reach out to you.

And there are other advantages with online networking:

1. Qualify Your Connections –

Networking through online channels gives you the benefit of qualifying the people you want to connect with. For example, at LinkedIn, you can set the parameters of your contact search based on the following criteria:

  • Industry
  • Designation
  • Country of Origin

Once you type in the details, LinkedIn will curate a list of candidates that fit your desired profile. You can also join focus groups that are involved in your industry.

Active members of these focus groups will frequently start a discussion on a topic that could be trending in your industry. Share your expertise by regularly participating in the group discussions.

2. Network At Your Own Convenience –

You can set aside time in the day or night for your networking activities. If you plan to use social media as your main avenue for networking, studies have shown there are preferred times for engaging in each platform:

Social Network:Days of the Week:Times of Day:
FacebookSun, Thursday, Friday, Saturday9am, 1pm and 3pm
TwitterWednesday12pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm
LinkedInTuesday, Wednesday, Thursday7am, 12pm, 5pm
PinterestSunday, Saturday2pm, 9pm, 2am
InstagramMonday, Thursday2am, 8am, 5pm

Come up with a fixed schedule for networking. You can allocate one hour in the morning, afternoon and before bedtime. If you’re not posting or sharing content, try to connect with at least five people in the community every day.

Networking is a game of probabilities. If you send out 150 invitations to connect in LinkedIn every month and assuming a low success rate of 20%, you should have 30 new contacts.

3. Build Up Skill Levels –

Online networking is the ideal option for those who are not comfortable meeting people for the first time. Exchanges are done through the platform usually through engagement, personal messaging or InMail as with LinkedIn.

If you or your contact schedules an online call, you can prepare a set of questions, rehearse your approach and have notes about the contact and your business available nearby.

However, most if not all first time interactions online are done through video. While chat messaging is perfectly fine, face-to-face interactions come across as more sincere and authentic. Popular video conferencing sites include Skype, WebEx and GoToMeeting to name a few.

Networking online would be a great way to build up your interpersonal skill levels. Put it this way, you would probably attend two traditional networking events every month. But you could be having video conference calls on a daily or weekly basis.

5 Benefits Of Networking: How Networking Can Grow Your Business

Most people limit their networking activities at the startup stage. Once the business starts to gain traction they pull their foot off the pedal and shift their focus on running day-to-day operations.

Truth is you should never stop networking because there will always be opportunities available to grow your business. Networking helps you find these opportunities before your competition does. And it’s always just about finding new clients and customers.

Here are 6 benefits of networking that will help grow your business:

1. Generates Referrals

When people say they network to get connections, they mean it helps them generate referrals. To grow your business, you need to look at both sides of the profitability equation: cost and revenues.

Networking will introduce you to other businesses that can reduce your costs or add to your streams of revenue.

When you are frequently networking you are bound to run into someone who can refer you to an associate, a colleague or a supplier that can provide what you need at lower prices or prospects who may be interested in your kind of services.

The best part of networking is that the referrals have been pre-qualified. They can give you a personal introduction or endorsement to improve your chances of securing a meeting. There is no need to get past the gatekeepers who make it difficult to reach the main decision-makers.

2. Opens Opportunities

One of the best ways to network is to join organizations, associations or focus groups that are specific to your industry or have a common interest. These types of organizations are usually composed of highly motivated people who want to find new avenues to grow their business.

For example, you are thinking of crowdfunding an idea. A networking event is the appropriate venue to share your concept, vision and purpose for the product or service. You may meet people who would be interested to invest in your idea and bring it to fruition.

Another example would be if you are looking for strategic partners for your business.

Let’s say you want to streamline operating costs by outsourcing back-office work. By engaging regularly with an outsourcing focus group on LinkedIn, you may find a third party services provider that can effectively handle all of your Accounting, Human Resources and IT needs.

3. Helps You Gain Valuable Insights

Many networking events particularly those hosted by chambers of commerce invite key resource speakers. These are highly-successful business people who have made an impact in their respective industries.

Networking gives you the unique opportunity to meet up with these influencers up close and personal. You can learn their secrets to success particularly how they survived and thrived during the most difficult economic periods.

You can also connect with them on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Every few days you will receive useful advice from the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

But it’s not just from the tycoons that you can learn valuable lessons from. Within the community, there are people who have gone through adversity and difficult times while running their business. You can likewise gain valuable insights and share commonalities from their stories and experiences.

4. Enhances Your Visibility

As you attend more networking events or engage frequently with your social media community, you enhance your visibility. People will have a better understanding of who you are, what your business is all about and your capabilities in the industry.

You stay top-of-mind with many community members that if they hear or know of another business that needs your expertise, they can easily give you a referral. Regular networking can also lead to more website visits and additional likes for your social media pages. It might even give your website a boost in the search rankings.

5. Increases Confidence

Do you believe in the saying, “Personal growth precedes business growth?” What this means is that if you want to take your business to the next level, you have to first overcome your personal fears and self-limiting beliefs.

Networking can be a nerve-wracking experience for those who are not used to circulating within a community. But like every other skill, you must network constantly to become more proficient at it.

As you gain confidence, your networking approach becomes more natural. You will notice that people become more receptive to your ideas. The more you network, the more the process is hardwired into your system.

Conclusion

The key item to remember about networking is that you should focus on building relationships first. If you go into a networking event with your marketing machine firing on all cylinders promoting your business, chances are you will drive away opportunity before it knocks on your door.

A good way to view networking is to think of it like a dance. You have to lead your partner to where you want him/her to go.

Become a good listener, process the information, identify opportunities and once you find possible alignment, interject your value proposition.

You may end the evening or the online conference with nothing more than an assurance that they will keep your business in mind. Don’t feel dejected. It now becomes a matter of following up; nurturing the seeds that you planted so that your business will grow.

And it certainly is better than acquiring a stack of calling cards.

Do you have networking experiences or tips that you want to share? Please feel free to comment below.

If you want to know more about networking and how it can help your business grow, please don’t hesitate to contact us or send an email. We would love to hear from you!

If you want to capitalize on the opportunities presented by the Internet, setting up a website for your business is the best way to go. People use search to find what they need online. And if your website ranks high in the results page, more people will be encouraged to click on your link and learn more about your business. But in order to climb up the search rankings, you need to increase your website traffic.

A study done by online advertising company Chitika showed that the top position in Google’s search ranking gets 33% of the traffic. The percentage distribution of online traffic decreases as the websites go down the search ranking:

Image courtesy of Search Engine Watch

With more than 1.3 billion websites serving over 3.8 billion Internet users, competition could be very tough. Would it still be possible to move your website up the search results page?

The answer is “Yes”. If other websites can do it, there is no reason why you can’t. But the first step is to create more inbound traffic to your website.  The more traffic you get, the greater the probability of converting a visitor into a paying customer.

4 Cornerstones To An Effective Digital Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing remains an effective strategy for driving more traffic to your website. It organizes all the online tools and processes into a system that is focused on accomplishing your marketing objectives.

The big advantage of going digital is that you can customize your online marketing strategies to meet the needs and concerns of potential end-users of your products and services.

You are not blindly distributing marketing collateral to the billions of people on the Internet. Instead you are target marketing to a specific audience or segment that has the highest probability of being interested in what your business has to offer.

We advise that before you identify the processes you want to include in your digital marketing tool box, you should first build its foundation.

The cornerstones of your foundation will ensure that best practices will always be carried out when planning and implementing your digital marketing strategy,

Here are the 4 cornerstones to an effective digital marketing strategy:

1. Create A Buyer’s Profile

A buyer’s profile summarizes the qualities and characteristics of a potential customer for your business. It will help you determine the best topics to write about and the most effective channels to distribute your content.

2. Update Your Research

Research is a crucial part of business development whether you are a small or large enterprise. If you want to remain competitive, you have to be constantly updated on developments regarding your industry, your market and of course, your customers.

3. Stay Active

If you want your digital marketing efforts to reap dividends, you have to stay active. This means you have to commit to a schedule for creating and distributing content, building networks and engaging with followers. The more active you are, the greater the chances of your content being read by your audience.

4. Use On-Site Analytics

Perhaps the biggest benefit of digital marketing is the availability of on-site analytics. Analytics gives you valuable data on your website: the number of visitors per day, the most read content and where your traffic is coming from. These types of information can be used to fine-tune your digital marketing strategy.

These are the key principles to keep in mind when running your digital marketing strategy. They will help your campaign stay current and on track of the marketing objectives you want to accomplish.

Best Digital Marketing Strategies To Increase Website Traffic In 2018

In order to increase traffic you should build “roads” or “avenues” that make it easy for Internet users to search and find your website. The processes that we discuss in this section continue to be go-to strategies for digital marketers because they have consistently delivered results.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of using a variety of online tools and techniques for the purpose of improving your website’s ranking in the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.

We’ve written extensively on SEO and discussed its many benefits in our articles, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Right Now” and “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business?”.

SEO remains an integral component in digital marketing because the process will always be in a constant state of evolution as search engines frequently introduce changes in their algorithm.

Some of the more current SEO strategies digital marketers are focusing on in 2018 include the following:

  • Using Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords are phrases that are more descriptive in order to fine-tune the search query.

For example, instead of using the keywords, “bmw tires” a long tail keyword search would read, “how to maintain bmw tires cold weather”. This will produce links on the search results page which are closer to the information that the Internet user is looking for.

Thus, during the research process, SEO practitioners are starting to focus on long-tail keywords as the basis for evaluating competitiveness.

  • Updating Old Content

Search engines will reward you with a boost in the rankings simply by updating content.

Let’s say you wrote an article on intermittent fasting that was published three months ago.

If you updated the content by adding the information “Scientists have discovered that fasting for 24 hours increases the rate of autophagy by 300%”, the search engine would move you up slightly in the rankings.

It will then assess how your new ranking compares to the performance of the website you displaced. If your website does better, it will keep you at the new ranking or potentially move you up higher.

SEO is a strategy that will keep finding new ways to optimize and improve delivery of content so that more people will continue to visit your website.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing continues to be an effective strategy for increasing website traffic because people will always look for content online. This is the importance of constantly creating fresh, new, relevant, usable and engaging content and distributing them through a variety of platforms.

The more content you create and publish, the higher the probability of your materials being found on the Internet. People will voluntarily follow websites that consistently produce great content.

Blogging has remained the cornerstone of content marketing. There are many studies that prove the effectiveness of blogging as a key strategy in increasing website traffic:

But you don’t have to limit yourself to blogging. Another emerging strategy in content marketing is video content marketing which we discussed in detail in our article, “How To Use Video Content In Your Marketing”.

Videos and the use of images have become popular because they can generate immediate results. For example, if you are in the business of selling organic fruit preserves, you can upload photos or “pin” them in Pinterest. Every image pinned in Pinterest will contain a link to your website.

All you have to do is produce high quality images of your fruit preserves and hope they can entice the Pinterest community to click on your pinned product shots. If they like what they see, they can easily go to your website to learn more about your business and its products.

3. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM uses paid strategies such as PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising to increase website traffic. With PPC your ads are placed in results pages that feature links relevant to the search query.

For example, if you are a restaurant that offers pizza delivery services, your paid ad will come out at the top of the results page that features inquiries on “pizza delivery services”.

An Internet user who finds your paid ad interesting and clicks on it, will find himself/herself on your website. There you can showcase an interactive menu and navigable delivery ordering system which can help you convert visitors into paying customers.

Search engines offer paid ads as a quick-fix solution for businesses to have their websites move up the top of the search rankings. Social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube also offer paid ad options.

Facebook Ads can run your paid ad through three other platforms: Messenger, Audience Network and Instagram, which the company bought in 2012.

With Facebook Ads, you can customize your ad according to your buyer’s profile. Audience Network will place your ad in apps and websites that fit your buyer’s profile.

Having a paid ad on YouTube is a sure way to rocket up the search rankings because it is owned by Google and is a component of its algorithm.

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing can help your business increase its website traffic because it provides you with several channels to distribute content, build communities of followers and opportunities to engage potential end users.

The Internet has exploded with social media networks. Among the most popular are:

  • Facebook – Largest online community with over 2 Billion members. Facebook has its own personal messaging system, Messenger.
  • Twitter – Short messaging system assures you of high level of activity and engagement.
  • Instagram – Image-based platform that is ideal for businesses with highly visual products and services. For example: fashion retailers, restaurants and real estate.
  • Pinterest – Another image-based platform that makes it easy for members to collaborate with others in the community by setting up pinboards.
  • LinkedIn – The preferred social media network of professionals. Ideal for networking activities and connecting with key influencers in your industry. LinkedIn also has its own publishing platform where you can post your blogs.
  • YouTube – The largest video streaming network and the second largest search engine. As mentioned, it is now owned by Google which is the largest search engine on the Internet.

How can you use social media to increase your website traffic?

  • Distribution Channel

Open a business page where you can publish your blogs. Include a link to your website so visitors will know where to find more information about your business. In addition to Pinterest, use Instagram and LinkedIn’s ShowCase page feature to highlight high resolution images of your products and services.

  • Engagement Medium

Customers appreciate businesses that take the time to address their needs and concerns. If a follower posts a comment or question, use the opportunity to share your knowledge and expertise. Engagement is the first step to a relationship. In time you will develop trust with your audience. Consumers prefer to deal with brands they can trust.

  • Product Promotions  

Do you have a new store opening? Are you launching a new product? Do you have a limited-time only discount offer? Send out 12 to 20 tweets about the event via Twitter and include a link to your website so interested parties can get more details.

5. Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective strategy for increasing website traffic for your business because your content will be voluntarily accepted by the recipient. The key to the success of an email marketing strategy lies in your ability to create a mailing list.

You can create mailing lists in a number of ways:

  • Regular Engagement – As discussed in the previous section, if you engage with your audience frequently, you will develop trust and a solid relationship. You can ask them to join your mailing list.
  • Calls to Action – When you are consistently putting out great content, expect more people to visit your website. Incorporate enticing calls to action such as free newsletter sign ups or giveaway ebooks and manuals in exchange for email addresses.

Once you have built a mailing list, you can regularly send relevant and usable content to your recipients. These could be helpful “How To” tips or updates on your products and services. Always include a link to your website so they know where to go for more information.

Conclusion

Do not get complacent because the inbound avenues which you created have driven substantial traffic to your website. Stay active and constantly monitor the performance of the strategies in place.

For your business to remain competitive and relevant in 2018 and beyond, your website has to maintain a dynamic presence on the Internet so that your products and services will be found by your target audience.

If you want to learn more about increasing website traffic in 2018, please feel free to give us a call or an email. We will get in touch with you right away.

And feel free to comment on this article. We welcome your opinions and we would appreciate it if you could share some of your experiences with our audience.

If you own a startup that secured venture capital in the hundreds of thousands or perhaps in the millions, then congratulations are in order. The truth is many startups and small businesses operate on a shoestring budget. As a consequence, key business strategies such as Digital Marketing are either placed on the wayside or allocated with barely enough resources to get it running effectively. According to data collected by Small Business Trends, 82% of startups are self-funded or secure capital from personal savings or family and friends.

With limited access to capital, the small business owner becomes limited to what he/she can do to support revenue generation strategies. In this day and age where 50% of the world’s population is online everyday, it becomes more imperative for businesses to embark on a Digital Marketing campaign.

But the cost of digital marketing has been rising. Adobe Digital’s 2017 Digital Advertising Report showed that the cost of digital marketing has been increasing at a rate that is five times faster than U.S. inflation and 71% faster than the cost of television ads.

And as competition in the digital landscape continues to get tighter, expect marketing costs to climb higher.

SEO practitioners have to frequently revise optimization strategies while writers have to produce relevant, engaging and usable content for their audience on a consistent basis.   

When digital marketing costs rise, so does the pressure of generating an ROI for your efforts.

Given the capital constraints on small business owners, is it still possible for them to set up a digital marketing campaign?

5 Tips on How to Develop a Low Budget but High Performing Digital Marketing Campaign

The answer is “Yes”! The key is to set up your Digital Marketing campaign on these five principles:

1. Learn What You Can About Digital Marketing

Like what we discussed in our article, “How People Get Ripped Off by Digital Marketing Agencies”, in order to reduce the risk of catastrophic digital marketing experience, you have to learn everything you can about it. You don’t have to be an expert.

You don’t have to get certified in SEO, SEM or Social Media Marketing. All you need is to have a firm understanding of the process and how all its component parts work together to create a successful digital marketing campaign.

2. Keep it Simple

A digital marketing strategy can consist of a combination of different tools and techniques. But you don’t have to use every Internet- based platform to ensure an effective digital marketing strategy.

If you have limited funds, it only makes sense to allocate your capital to a few processes so you can maximize the return. Another benefit of small scale digital marketing is that it is easier to track performance.

3. Manage Your Time Wisely

Accounting is an important function for every business. But it is not just money that you should keep track of. You should also account for how you budget your time.

The saying is true, “Time is money”. The more efficient you are with time, the more productive you can be. As a business owner, the bulk of your waking hours should be devoted to running the core functions of your business; the activities that translate to dollars and cents in your bank account.

Digital marketing is not a discipline you can learn from YouTube or self-help books. You need more than technical and fundamental competence. You need experience. Instead of doing digital marketing yourself, outsource it to experienced third party service providers.

A digital marketing agency has the advantage of having web designers, content writers, graphic designers and specialists in SEO, SEM and SMM. Many agencies also have flexible payment options so you can stretch out your budget.

4. Be Consistent

Even if you decided to outsource your digital marketing campaign to a third party service provider, be involved by staying consistent with the strategy.

In most, if not all cases, the success of a digital marketing campaign rests on your ability to deliver results or what has been promised in your content.

If you want your audience to know that your company consistently addresses all issues and concerns, then make sure your customer service channels are on the ball at all times.

If you want your end users to remain confident on the quality of your goods and services, take the necessary steps to ensure that there is no compromise on craftsmanship or detail from day one.

Before embarking on a digital marketing campaign make sure you are committed to meet the expectations of your target audience.

5. Track Your Performance

The knock on marketing before 2004 was that it was difficult to track performance. We are referring to traditional marketing methods.

All of that went out the window when the Internet became accessible to almost everyone on the planet in 2000 and broadband technology took off in 2004.

With digital marketing you can track the performance of your campaign through web analytics. Get real time data and find empirical bases for your decision-making.

Again, this is where contracting the services of a digital marketing agency is a big advantage.

They have web development experts who can analyze data from your website and give you an orientation on how the campaign has been playing out.

They can provide you with weekly or monthly reports that you can study and use as reference for any changes in strategy. In time and with consistency, you will also become proficient in web analytics.

Now that you have the foundation of your digital marketing strategy setup, it’s time to look at the processes and techniques you can use to run your simple but effective campaign:

1. Invest in a Mobile Responsive Website

It will be difficult; almost impossible to run a successful digital marketing campaign without a website.

Even if you came up with highly-visible social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, where will the engagements terminate?

Your website is the centerpiece in the digital marketing campaign because it represents your business on the Internet. The website is the terminating point for all the inbound traffic that we hope to create through digital marketing.

But it is not enough to just have a website. It must be mobile responsive or have the ability to accommodate devices with varying screen sizes. If you want to learn more about mobile responsive design, check out our article, “Why Your Website Needs Mobile Responsive Design”.

Keep in mind that 75% of all online traffic today originates from mobile devices. If your website cannot be accessed by a smartphone or a tablet, you will potentially lose business as well as industry credibility.

2. Focus on Organic SEO

Search Engine Optimization sounds so technical, most businesses think it is expensive. That may be true when it comes to paid search. But if you focus only on organic SEO, you can help your website move up the search rankings with only a few simple steps:

  • Open a Google Webmaster Account – All you need to do is register and verify your domain name. Google will point out what you need to do to boost your site’s rankings.
  • Use Keywords Judiciously and Strategically – Keywords are the words and phrases that are popularly used to launch a search query. Google prefers long tail keywords which are more descriptive. But don’t overstuff your content with keywords. The accepted ratio is 2% for every 1,000 words.
  • Write Long Form Blogs – Google rewards websites that feature long form blogs or those that average 1,500 to 2,400 words. The advantage of long form blogs is that as a longer read, your visitor would spend more time in your site. Second, if your content is informative and usable, it establishes your site as a valuable reference.

3. Build Up and Leverage Your Content

Content is the cornerstone of digital marketing. People will continue to consume more content in the coming years as they become more dependent on the Internet. Therefore you should likewise focus on building a content creation strategy.

Content isn’t just blogging or article writing. Videos are a big part of a content-based strategy.

As we wrote about in our article, “How to Use Video Content in Marketing”, the use of videos can significantly enhance your online marketing strategy. You can also leverage your content in a number of ways:

  • Share your blog on social media and link it back to your website.
  • Create an infographic or video that presents your content in a visual medium.
  • Create tiles or graphics filled with powerful quotes from your blog and share it on Pinterest.

4. Utilize the Power of Social Media

Of the 3.8 Million people on the Internet everyday, 3.03 Billion or 79% of them are on social media. While experience is necessary to be able to harness social media’s power, you can generate traction for your efforts by implementing a few simple strategies:

  • Choose no more than 2 to 3 social media platforms to start out with. These networks do not function or cater to the same audience. Focus on the platforms that are more appropriate for your business. For example, if you sell merchandise, a more visual platform like Instagram or Pinterest would offer more benefits for your business.
  • Use the analytics tool that come with the platform to track the performance of your social media efforts. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have built-in analytics.
  • Find key influencers and engage with them. Influencers have tons of followers in your industry. They present a great avenue to enhance your online presence as well as leverage your content. Share their content whenever you can and engage them as often as possible so you can establish a good relationship.

5. Engage Your Audience

When you publish content online, be prepared to receive a wide range of comments some of which may be unflattering. But in marketing, there in no such thing as negative publicity. You can still extract long term benefits from unfavourable comments through smart engagement strategies.

First, regardless of how the comment was phrased, remain professional at all times. Just tell yourself the commenter took the time to read through your content. The least you could do is be courteous and respectful.

Second, encourage the commenter to follow your page and remind him/her that all comments are welcome and appreciated. It is through engagement that you will be able to establish relationships and followers. From there you can build email lists and new social communities.

Conclusion

We only presented five strategies you can use for your low cost, high performance digital marketing campaign. The truth is there are other processes and techniques that you can use which won’t cost you much money. These include using PPC or Pay-Per-Click advertising, co-hosting an online event and investing in social networking ads.

But as we mentioned earlier, if you’re getting your feet wet in digital marketing, it is always better to start out small and keep things simple. Once you’ve added years of experience on your belt, you can branch out and incorporate other methods of digital marketing.

If you’re interested in getting your digital marketing campaign rolling, give us a call or drop us an email. We have very talented people onboard our digital marketing team: web designers, graphic artists, social media experts, content writers and professionals in the fields of SEO and SEM.

By having Mountaintop manage your digital marketing campaign, you can focus 100% of your time on your business. We will keep you in the loop by providing you with regular reports and schedule time to discuss the current performance of your campaign.

We will be more than happy to guide you through the process and answer other questions and concerns you might have about digital marketing.

If you’re planning to start a business, digital marketing should be included in your budget. It is the best way to promote your products and services to your target market. However, digital marketing costs money. If like most entrepreneurs, you have limited capital, don’t worry. In this article, we will show you how to launch a digital marketing campaign for $100!

According to reports compiled from Forrester and eMarketer by Web Strategies, in 2018 businesses will allocate around 11% of their budgets to marketing. 45% will be dedicated to online marketing strategies.

But what if all you can afford is $100? Can you still run a campaign and get 100% results?

The answer to the first part of the question is “Yes”.

One of the benefits of digital marketing is flexibility. As we will discuss later in this article, it has the advantage of having onsite analytics which you can use to track the performance of your campaign in real time.

Analytics allows you to see which strategies are generating good Return on Investment (ROI) and which ones are not.

As for the second part, even if your budget runs in the millions of dollars, there are no guarantees in marketing.

Success in digital marketing will depend on the effort you put in. With such a tight budget, your margins for error will be quite small. You will have to be more strategic and purposeful in your approach.

Always keep your budget in mind. Don’t get swayed by the latest email marketing software or pushed to purchase the most expensive keyword phrases. Digital marketing opens up a treasure chest of tools and techniques. Some of them won’t even cost you a cent.

Now let’s get started!

1. No Website? No Problem!

The website is an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. It is basically your office address on the Internet; the place where potential customers click on to learn more about your products and services.

We discussed the advantages of having a website in our article, “What Type of Website Does Your Business Need?”. Building a website will certainly entail an investment.

But even if you don’t have enough capital to fund a website at this point, you should still buy a domain. A domain is simply the name of your website. The costs of registering a domain name can vary. You can acquire one for as little as $10 per year.

Once your domain name has been registered, you can use it as your professional email address and have it indicated on your calling card. The domain can also forward to your social media accounts until such time that you have the resources to set up your website.

2. Promote Your Business Via Social Media

With more than 3 billion users per day, social media has become a very powerful driver of business. Social media marketing can help you generate leads, improve sales conversions and enhance your credibility in the industry.

There are a number of social media networks to choose from. The most popular platforms and their community sizes are as follows:

  • Facebook – 2.061 Billion
  • YouTube – 1.5 Billion
  • Instagram – 800 Million
  • Twitter – 330 Million
  • Reddit – 250 Million
  • Pinterest – 200 Million

Looking at the list, it may seem that the wise move would be to set up accounts with the largest networks. But when it comes to social media marketing, size does not always matter.

You should select the social media networks that have the features to support your marketing objectives and that match the platform used by your target audience.

For example:

  • Facebook, Twitter – If your goal is to build brand awareness and distribute content.
  • YouTube, Instagram – If you plan to integrate video and picture content in your marketing campaign.
  • Instagram, Pinterest – If your business deals with visual-heavy merchandise such as fashion apparel, jewelry and health supplements.
  • Facebook, LinkedIn – If you want to connect with influencers in your industry.

It will not cost you a cent to open a social media account. But you need to invest time and effort managing the accounts especially when it comes to creating content and engaging with followers.

3. Register Your Business In An Online Directory

When an Internet user wants to look for a specific product or service, the search will begin with an online query.

By registering your business in an online directory, its name could come up in the search engine’s “map pack”.

What is a map pack? This is the list of establishments or businesses that are included in the results page provided by the search engine.

For example, if an Internet user does a search for personal fitness trainers in Cardiff, Google would produce a map pack that looks like this:

(Image courtesy of https://www.totalcoaching.com/blog/seo-guide-personal-trainers)

As Google is the largest search engine on the Internet. It makes perfect sense to sign your business up with Google’s online directory.

This is very easy to do and signing up is for free. All you need is to register your business at GoogleMyBusiness.

When registering your business, make sure you are providing accurate and updated contact information:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • Business Phone Number
  • Website Link
  • Email Address
  • Categories
  • Business Description

Google will send you a validation code via postal mail to confirm your business address.  

4. Identify Your Target Market

Content creation is a very important component of an effective digital marketing strategy. There are many types of content. You can produce blogs, videos and even podcasts.

But the first thing you need to do is identify the target market for your content. You have to create a buyer’s profile. This is the segment of your market with the highest probability of being converted from followers to paying customers.

Assuming you don’t have a website, here are 4 ways to pinpoint the buying characteristics of your target market:

  • Review your current level of content in your social media accounts. Determine which posts have generated the highest levels of engagement, likes and shares.
  • Check out the social media accounts of your most active followers and observe the types of content they post. Instagram and Facebook are great sources for identifying customer online behavioral patterns.
  • Visit the social media pages of your closest competitors. Take note of the topics they frequently post or blog about. Find out the types of content that generate the highest amount of engagement, likes and shares from their followers.
  • Conduct a survey within your community. Ask them about the topics they would want you to cover in your blogs and articles.

These strategies will not cost you anything because you can conduct them through social media or email.

5. Sharpen Your Writing Skills

Blogging is widely regarded as the cornerstone in the content marketing process. A well-crafted blog that is informative, relevant and usable to the audience will surely help enhance your reputation as an expert in your industry. Blogs are proven drivers of inbound traffic.

But many entrepreneurs are hesitant to blog because they don’t believe they have the writing skills. The truth is everyone has the ability to write a great blog. All you need is practice!

Writing is a learned skill. Like shooting a basketball, hitting a golf ball or hitting a backhand return in tennis, you simply have to keep practicing in order to get better. The more you write, the better you will get:

  • Set a specific time in the day for writing; 60 to 90 minutes a day of uninterrupted writing should suffice.
  • Choose a topic that you are familiar with and related to your business. It should be relevant to your buyer’s profile.
  • Establish a structure for writing. For example, create an outline first. Then research for reference links.
  • Learn to write for your audience; this means avoid using technical jargon. Remember, you should assume that you are the expert and your readers want to learn from you. Write in a language they can understand.
  • Review your work and watch out for grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Ask 2 to 3 of your most trusted friends or family to comment on your writing.

The other aspects of content writing such as the use of keywords can be learned at another time. For now, focus on developing basic writing skills.

Once you have become more confident with your writing skills, start a blogging schedule:

Blogging takes time and effort. You have to do accurate research to make sure you are sharing facts that are well supported by reliable evidence. You also have to focus on writing original content. This means avoiding the risk of copying another writer’s content.

If you don’t have a website yet, you can use the blogging platform provided by LinkedIn then share it to your other social media accounts.

6. Track Your Performance Using Analytics

As we mentioned earlier in this article, digital marketing has the advantage of web analytics to help you track the performance of your campaign.

Web analytics are programs used to collect valuable data from your website or social media accounts. The collected data will help you better understand how your website is performing by answering these questions:

  • Where is the bulk of my traffic coming from?
  • Which pages have the highest visits?
  • What types of content are being read more often?

Analytics can identify potential problems that are hindering the campaign’s progress. It will tell you which techniques are working and which ones aren’t. This way you have solid bases for realigning your digital marketing budget. You can put more resources on strategies that result in higher ROI.

Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter have built-in analytics. You can also download offsite analytics tools free of charge.

It may seem complicated at first but in time and with consistency, you will get better at evaluating analytics.

7. Expand Your Network

Networking is a proven way of building your business by connecting with key people in your industry. One of the most effective social networking sites is LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the preferred social network of professionals. There are a number of ways you can build your business through this platform:

  • LinkedIn has a blogging feature which allows you to post blogs and share it with those in your community.
  • You can customize the parameters of your search so you can connect with community members who fit your buyer’s profile, target demographic or those who hold influential positions in the industry.
  • Sign up and engage regularly with community focus groups that are directly involved with your industry.
  • Post relevant content at least once a day in order to stay top-of-mind with your community.

Although signing up for LinkedIn is for free, its features for customizing search parameters will require a monthly subscription fee that ranges from $29.99 to $79.99.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are other effective social media networks you can use to connect with key influencers and expand your community.

Conclusion

Digital marketing gives you the most efficient way of reaching your target market by capitalizing on the power of the Internet. Because digital marketing primarily uses Internet-based tools to run its campaigns, it will be easier on your budget as most of these processes are free.

Finally, the benefit of having web analytics allows you to identify weak points in your campaign so you can further streamline your budget.

The biggest investment you will make in running a digital marketing campaign is time. You will have to spend time to become a more proficient writer. As your campaign gains traction, you will have to double up on your efforts.

If you want to learn more about running an effective but low budget digital marketing program, please give us a call or drop us an email.

We will gladly take you through the process of planning a well-thought out and highly efficient digital marketing campaign.

If a simple car battery replacement becomes a full-blown mechanical problem that requires an expensive air-conditioning fix, it would be safe to assume you are getting ripped off by your auto mechanic. The same can be said for your General Contractor if a seemingly harmless leak in the ceiling has sprung into a rooftop replacement scenario. But how would you know that you are getting ripped off by a Digital Marketing agency?

As the Internet continues to grow in influence and accessibility and as technology evolves to give us the latest in digital innovations, it becomes more important for businesses to incorporate Digital Marketing into their brand development strategy.

Put simply, if you’re not part of the digital landscape, you will be left behind by competitors who have invested time and resources to enhance their online presence.

With Digital Marketing, you leverage the power of the Internet by using its different tools and processes to connect with your target audience. We discussed the various strategies and techniques that comprise a Digital Marketing campaign in our article “How to Drive Traffic to Your Website”.

Ways to Get Digital Marketing Done for Your Business

Entrepreneurs are risk takers by nature. They like to be in the driver’s seat; take charge of the wheel and be in control of all aspects of the journey toward entrepreneurial success. It is not uncommon to find entrepreneurs manage their businesses’ own Digital Marketing campaign.

But even if you have an extensive background and experience in Digital Marketing, it is not advisable to do it on your own. Digital Marketing is a process that takes time to manifest results. As the business owner, your available hours in the day are best dedicated to activities that directly contribute dollars and cents to your bottomline.

That leaves you with two other options for Digital Marketing: Hire a freelancer or contract the services of a Digital Marketing agency.

A freelancer is an individual contractor who specializes in Digital Marketing. He/she will be the cheaper option but keep in mind two things:

  1. The freelance Digital Marketer will need to hire other contracted talent;
  2. The freelance Digital Marketer will also have other clients to manage.

With these 2 factors to consider, it will be difficult for the freelance Digital Marketer to devote 100% full attention on your campaign because he/she cannot guarantee the schedule of the other contracted talent and available time might be constrained by deadlines to other clients.

Contracting the services of a Digital Marketing agency would be your best option as it provides you with the following advantages:

  1. A ready team of experts in every area of Digital Marketing.
  2. Experience and track record for providing excellent service.
  3. Availability of backup services; if your content writer is indisposed, another one can be recommended and assigned to your campaign.
  4. More professional approach; built-in workflows and processes for reporting, record-keeping and client collaboration.
  5. Centralized system of management makes it easier to organize and oversee progress and track performance.
  6. While generally more expensive than freelancers, agencies are open to negotiate their payment structures.

More companies are outsourcing their Digital Marketing needs to third party service providers/ agencies because it is not their core competence. They prefer to leave Digital Marketing to the experts.

Plus, as a contracted service, the company does not incur additional expenses for payroll, benefits, rent and other operations-related items as they would have if they had chosen to do Digital Marketing in-house.

Over the years, more agencies have entered the Digital Marketing industry which has resulted in the dilution of the quality of work rendered.

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Digital Marketing Agencies

No doubt, some of you may have heard horror stories from well-meaning entrepreneurs who fell victim to the “Digital Marketing Agency from Hell”. Perhaps some of you have been victims themselves.

As with competitors within an industry; no two service providers are ever the same. One will always provide better service and performance than the other. In some cases, the quantity of substandard service providers may outnumber the good ones and the Digital Marketing industry is no exception.

There will always be principled proprietors of Digital Marketing and there will always be scammers out to stiff you of your hard earned money.

Here are our tips on how to avoid being ripped off by Digital Marketing agencies:

1. Learn All You Can about Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is a dynamic approach; it is always in a state of evolution because markets never remain passive.

Through the Internet, consumers have greater access to information. Tastes and preferences are much more sensitive to change than ever before. Digital Marketing has developed different terminologies and jargon that agencies may use to impress or throw you off.

Arm yourself with knowledge; learn what you can about Digital Marketing and its various processes. You don’t have to be an expert but get your proficiency up to a level that you can make heads or tails of the conversation thread.

Another option is to bring a friend or an associate with experience in Digital Marketing during your meeting with the agency.

2. Look at The Agency’s Previous Work

Before you schedule the meeting, ask all prospective Digital Marketing agencies to provide you with client references or a link to a website that shows their body of work.

Take a look at the websites they have built and designed for clients. Do they all look the same with similar content and images? Are the websites functioning well? Are they mobile responsive?

How about the social media pages they set up for clients? Is the level of engagement impressive?

If they gave you a list of clients as references, make it a point to establish contact with them and find out all you can about their experience working with the agency.

3. They Push One-Size-Fits-All Campaigns

Be wary of Digital Marketing agencies that offer you set packages. Digital Marketing campaigns do not follow a blueprint because the goals and objectives of clients will vary.

Marketing strategies must be customized to fit the needs of the client. A big part of the process is market research. A reputable agency will conduct extensive research even at the preliminary stage to learn as much as it can about your business, the industry and your target audience.

Research will be the basis of the Creative Brief or the campaign strategy for your business.

And don’t get fooled by basement bottom pricing tactics! These agencies know pricing is an important consideration for businesses trying out Digital Marketing for the first time because you want to manage risk exposure.

They will get you hook, line and sinker with an attractively priced package. Once your account is in their grasp, they’ll slowly add on to the original contract price with more charges and “unforeseen” fees.

The best Digital Marketing agencies are willing to negotiate their fees or work with you on your budget.

4. Ask as Many Questions as Possible

You don’t want to become the client that sees hard earned dollars flushed down the toilet simply because the agency could not deliver results.

Some agencies will insist on using online marketing tools or specific software programs where the subscriptions could cost you thousands of dollars every year.

What they won’t tell you is that they are earning a commission from the supplier for the continued use of the program even though you are not seeing results.

It all sounds good at the start. You can be dazzled by an amazing PowerPoint presentation. But don’t let the bright colors, fine graphics and enticing numbers on the screen fool you.

Push, prod and probe as hard as you can. Don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible. Again it comes down to learning what you can about Digital Marketing.

Lastly, don’t commit to anything until you have given the proposal enough thought.

5. The Agency Guarantees Immediate Results

If an Agency guarantees you top billing on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page after a few months, head for the door and run away as fast as you can without looking back.

The Agency is getting ready to scam you of your hard earned money. The same goes for agencies that assure you of more than 1,000 followers every week or 100% guaranteed sales conversions. There are no guarantees in Digital Marketing.

You cannot establish a time-table and identify when results will be realized. It is a process that requires consistency, constant review and frequent upgrades. As markets change, so will your campaign specifics.

To get to the top section of the first page of the SERP requires consistent production of high quality and keyword-rich content, a strategic distribution schedule, high level engagement and a consistently high performing website.

This will not be an easy task and you will be competing with other websites that may be using similar strategies.

6. They Are Not Involved in the Process

Does the agency email you with charts that you can’t make heads or tails with? Is the explanation on the report vague and inundated with terms that read Greek to you?

Agencies that flood you with reports that don’t make sense want you to think they are doing their job. Another serious red flag is if the agency does not set meetings with you to discuss web analytics or to give you a more comprehensive idea on how your campaign is doing.

It should never be enough just to send reports. A respectable agency should take the time to sit down with you and explain how the campaign is performing. They expose themselves to being questioned and are fine with it.

7. They Don’t Respond Within an Appreciable Time Frame

In business, correspondence should merit a response within 24 hours. That is enough time for the recipient to formulate a well-thought out reply.

Agencies should conduct themselves as professionals and respond to all communication from you within an appreciable time frame.

It does not matter if the agency’s days are busier than usual. It will not take more than a few minutes to craft an email or to schedule a phone call.

Conclusion

Digital Marketing is a proven way to effectively promote your business on the Internet. But its growth as a process has opened up the industry to opportunistic agencies that overpromise and underdeliver results.

Always take the time to prepare before committing yourself to a venture. Conduct research on the industry, uncover its best practices and perform due diligence on all Digital Marketing service providers who want you to sign up with them.

Time spent on preparation will save you thousands of dollars on unfulfilled objectives and expectations.

If you want to learn more about Digital Marketing, give us a call or drop us an email. We would love to help you take your business to the next level!