Google is the largest and most popularly used search engine on the Internet. When consumers want to find information for specific products and services, they launch a search on Google. In fact, Google has grown so big, it has become a verb. How many times have you told someone to “Google it”?

Everyone knows it. Businesses sign up for Google’s services to get the best results for their online marketing efforts. Marketers will focus their strategies to conform to Google’s ever-changing algorithm. Thus, it can be a very competitive marketplace.

You will need a competitive advantage and this is where having Google reviews come in.

If you’ve heard about Google reviews, we’re here to tell you more about it. We will tell you everything you need to know about Google reviews: why your business needs it and how to get them.

Are you worried about getting bad reviews? Don’t worry! We will show you how to deal with them. Just read on!

What Is A Google Review?

Google Review is a feature that allows consumers to share their experiences with a product or service by writing a review on a business’ Google page or search map listing.

Why did Google decide to introduce a review feature?

The search engine giant has always been big on User Experience (UX). Google wants to provide its users with the best options to address their wants, needs, and concerns.

Reviews are powerful influencers. They have the same effect as client/ customer testimonies. The reason reviews are so powerful is that they are organic. They are perceived as honest and sincere assessments of a business’ product and services. Unlike paid endorsements, the customer has nothing to gain by posting a review.

That is why product views are part of a customer’s research process. They trust consumer reviews. When you look for a specific item at Amazon, it is standard procedure to go through the reviews of the products shown on the search results page.

You tend to gravitate toward the items with the highest number of 5-star reviews and ignore those with low review ratings.

Strong Google reviews will have the same effect on your business.

Let us assume you own a restaurant that serves authentic Thai food in the area of Cherry Creek, Denver, Colorado. Like other smart business owners in the area, you had your restaurant listed in Google My Business and Google Maps.

Over the years, your restaurant has catered to many customers. You may not know it, but some of your customers may have given your restaurant a review.

When someone who is interested in dining at an authentic Thai restaurant in the Cherry Creek area, he/she would patronize the establishment with the highest ratings and best reviews.

If your restaurant is fortunate enough to get the best reviews and highest ratings, it should attract the most number of diners in your area.

Why Are Google Reviews Important For Your Business?

In the previous section, we showed you how Google Reviews benefit the customer and how favorable ones can translate to better business for you.

Now we will discuss the benefits of having Google Reviews for your business. Specifically, why you should encourage more customers to post reviews about their experience with your establishment.

Let us go back to our earlier example.

Put yourself in the position of the customer. Which of these reviews would have the most powerful influence on your decision?

  • “Best Pla Rad Prik I have ever tried! Better than the one I had in Thailand a year ago! The Pad Thai is to die for!” – 5 stars.
  • “The Gaeng Mussaman was too rich. The Pad Kra Prao made the visit worthwhile.” – 3 stars.
  • “Don’t bother! You get a better deal with the microwave stuff they sell in the supermarket.” – 1 star.

Definitely, you would go for the restaurant with the 5-star review. You may decide to dig in deeper and compare other reviews.

The bottom line is, the product reviews got your restaurant noticed. The high ratings and positive reviews immediately increased your visibility.

Aside from enhanced visibility, what are the other benefits of having Google Reviews for your business?

1. Google Reviews Will Improve Your Trust and Credibility Standings

We touched on this benefit earlier in this article. Customer reviews are perceived as honest and sincere. In ways, customer reviews are similar to word-of-mouth advertising.

If you ask a friend for his/her recommendation for the best Thai restaurant in Cherry Creek, you could take him/her up on the suggestion. In fact, 84% of consumers trust reviews as they would the opinions of their friends.

In the case of Google reviews, you can read through a larger volume of recommendations and opinions. And of course, Google is a trusted source of information. The search engine has always placed UX front and center whenever it decides to change its ranking algorithm.

Therefore, by generating consistently good Google reviews, you can effectively improve the trust and credibility standing of your business.

2. Google Reviews Will Influence the Decision-Making Process

The Internet has created a more discerning generation of consumers. They have more access to information and many will go to great lengths to justify their decision to choose one brand over another.

Again, going back to our example, in the event that there are other 5-star rated Thai restaurants in the area, the users will use the posted comments and factors such as location, parking, and seating availability as deciding factors.

However, the reviews and ratings have already pushed your restaurant ahead of the rest of the competition. It has made the decision-making process easier for them and more advantageous for you.

3. Google Reviews Will Increase Your Local Search Ranking

As we mentioned earlier, it is natural for consumers to give more focus on products and services that have been thoroughly reviewed. The more reviews you get, the greater the probability of potential customers searching for your business.

Positive and glowing reviews are indicative of how well your business is managed as well as the quality of its products and services. They will help your business stand out from the rest of the competitors and lend support to your brand-building strategy.

computer graphic - curious about the website services we offer

How To Get More Google Reviews

Hopefully, by now, you have come to a great understanding of why Google Reviews are important for your business. The question is, “How can I get more Google Reviews on my listing?”

We are assuming that you have already listed your business in a search engine directory. Definitely, Google My Business should be on the top of your list. If you want to learn more about search directory listings, you can read our article, “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines”.

Once you have listed your business in a search engine directory, it is time to shift your focus to getting more Google Reviews:

1. Make Sure Your Listing is Updated, Complete, and Looks Good

Image-based content will attract attention faster than text-based content. This is why it is important that your Google page looks good and visually appealing. Use high-resolution pictures of your products and retail outlet. If you have the budget for it, hire a professional photographer to take the pictures.

It is also important to make sure the information posted on your Google page is updated and complete. Always check the details on your business address, contact numbers, and email address.

2. Invite Your Customers to Write Reviews

Ask and you shall receive.

If you want more Google Reviews, then ask your customers to write them. This might place your business in a dichotomous situation because not all reviews will be positive.

You should expect to receive negative reviews.

Why? For the reason that people’s tastes and preferences are unique and individual, it is not realistic to expect that 100% of reviews will be positive despite your best efforts.

According to a survey conducted by Street Fight, negative experiences result in more reviews than positive experiences. In fact, 95% of people who had a bad experience with a business shared it with others compared to only 87% of consumers.

Given these statistical data, would it still be wise to invite your customers to write reviews? Yes!

Encouraging your customers to write reviews shows that you are genuinely concerned about their happiness, satisfaction, and overall experience with your business.

The best way to extend your invitation is to simply tell them what the Google Review is for. You want feedback from your customers so you can find ways to improve your products and services.

By inviting customers to write reviews, you are creating a personality for your business. It adds a welcome degree of humanity to an entity that consumers know was established for the purpose of earning a profit.

3. Engage Customers Who Have Posted Reviews

As the popular saying goes, “Any review is a good review”.

Even a negative review is a positive development for your business. It means someone took the time to express his/her dissatisfaction or poor experience with your establishment.

The key is how to engage customers who have posted negative reviews.

Here are a few helpful tips for you to consider:

  • First, don’t panic. Breathe. Relax. A negative review is not the end of the world.
  • Look into the review and see if it has merit. If possible, run a Google search or due diligence work on the person who wrote the review. Check your customer records. There is always the possibility of getting a bogus review.
  • Once you have verified the review, tell the customer that you are thankful for their review; specifically, for taking the time to write and post it on your Google page.
  • If the complaint is legitimate, apologize and request that you be allowed to give private messages or to respond via email. Inform the customer that your purpose is to present a resolution to the issue.

Of course, you should likewise respond to positive reviews. State your appreciation for the review and give them real assurances that you will continue to improve your offerings and services.

4. Promote Your Google Page in Social Media

Social media is a great way to reach out and connect to a wide audience. People spend more time on social media than any other website. Make sure you promote your Google Page in your social media business and personal pages.

If you have a website, include the button to your Google Page and encourage your site visitors to write a Google Review. Include a Call-to-Action which states the purpose of the review.

Conclusion

Google reviews are a great way to enhance your online presence. Likewise, it can be an effective tool for building long-term relationships with your customers that are based on trust, transparency, and a commitment to provide excellent user experience.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, use it to encourage your customers to write reviews. Entice them with discounts or special promos for every review they post on your Google Page. Make sure they can present proof of the review.

Does it matter if the review is favorable or not? No. If the review posted is negative, getting together face-to-face with your customer is an ideal situation for you to address the problem directly.

If you’re interested in getting more Google reviews for your business, leave it to us! We have helped our clients get reviews for their business. At the same time, we have expertly managed, moderated, and turned around negative reviews.

Give us a call or drop an email. We will get back to you right away!

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in blue - larger

Digital technology and the Internet have made it easier for retail locations to be found by customers. Before broadband technology made the Internet accessible to everyone on the planet, it was hard for consumers to find businesses that had what they needed. Your fingers would get tired walking through the Yellow Pages. You would have to waste precious time burning the telephone lines calling one retailer after another. With the Internet, it became much easier to build a strong local presence.

The Value Of Having A Strong Local Presence: Does Convenience Trump Branding?

If you forgot your wife’s birthday in 2003, you would be in trouble. Today, you can easily search for the nearest retailer that has her favorite perfume in stock. Likewise, today’s retailers can thank the advances in digital marketing for making it easier for customers to find their businesses.

Unfortunately, very few retailers have taken steps to harness the power of the Internet. According to a survey conducted by SurePayroll, only 26% of small businesses have a website.

There are business-owners who still believe that their digital marketing efforts can achieve results even without a website. They believe running social media and email marketing campaigns will be enough to bring their businesses to the forefront of the consumers’ consciousness.

While social media and email marketing strategies do generate positive results, they are more effective when used as part of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

Instead of using these processes as independent sources of traffic, you would be in a better position to optimize their full power if both social media and email marketing were utilized as channels to drive inbound traffic to a website.

In our previous example, if you did forget your wife’s birthday, what would be the first thing you do? You would probably do a quick Google search. If your wife’s favorite perfume is Chance by Chanel, you can run a Google search query for “stores with chance by chanel near me”.

The search results page will feature a list of websites belonging to physical retailers within your area that currently have Chance by Channel in stock. You click on the website that appears first on the search results page.

If the website has chat support, you can engage the agent and find out the perfume’s availability, price, and ask for discounts or promotions. If not, you could simply look for the store number on the website and contact it from your mobile phone.

A website is an important component of your local marketing strategy because the first thing the consumer would do is run a search query. The user may try to find your business on Facebook or Twitter but that would be more time- consuming.

The same can be said for email marketing. Your newsletter could be lost in the pile of emails consumers receive.

Put simply, these processes would make it difficult for you to be top-of-mind. However, as part of a digital marketing strategy, both social media and email marketing can give your website a boost in Google’s search ranking.

According to a study by Google, 76% of consumers who run a search query from their mobile phones will visit the retail location within 24 hours. The best part is 28% of those visits have resulted in a purchase.

If they run a search query and find your website at or near the top of the results page, they will click on your URL. It does not matter if the consumer has not heard of your brand or store. It is all about convenience: “Who can help me find my need in the fastest possible time?”

Let’s go back to our example one more time. If the results page shows a website of a giant retailer, it will take time for the husband to find a store locator that will show the list of locations within his area. Then, he will have to find out which of these locations have Chance by Channel in stock.

Can these tasks be done from the convenience of a smartphone? Yes, but it is time-consuming. In contrast, if your URL comes out on the results page as one of the retail locations in the area, it would make the husband’s search much easier.  

Social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, paid ads, and blogging are great ways to build your brand. However, as far as consumers are concerned, their decisions would be more motivated or influenced by convenience. If you want to fortify your local presence, make sure your business can easily be found online.

How To Develop A Strategy That Will Ensure A Strong Local Presence

In the days before broadband technology, retailers would resort to local area marketing to get their businesses found. Local area marketing strategies included traditional marketing methods such as flyer distributions, installation of posters and streamers, and setting up POP or Point-of-Purchase materials at the cashier area.

The idea was to target consumers within a radius of 5km from the location of the store. Generally, this was referred to as “within walking distance” of the location. For retailers with larger budgets, local area marketing would likewise include publishing ads in community newsletters, running cross-marketing promotions with related businesses, and getting listed in the Yellow Pages.

Traditional marketing methods were quite expensive. They were also not sustainable. Once the ad had run its course, it was discarded. Given the tools available with digital technology, are traditional marketing methods useless for developing local marketing strategies?

Not quite! The reason is some of these methods have evolved and adapted to conform to the requirements of digital technology and the Internet. In combination with digital marketing techniques, these methods can help your retail location develop a strong local presence.

learn more about website design

1. Set Up a Mobile-Responsive Website

Before anything else, you should set up a mobile-responsive website. As we discussed earlier, consumers looking for information will always run an online search first. You should establish your online presence by having an active, mobile-responsive website on the Internet.

If you already have a mobile-responsive website, ask your web developer to run periodic audits. How responsive is it? Your website should be able to accommodate various screen sizes and browsers.

Technology is evolving at light speed. Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops are consistently improving to meet the demands of the consumers.

Your web developer should also check for site speed. Consumers are not very patient. If your website takes time to download, they may abandon the search and go to your competitor.

2. Set Up Your Social Media Business Pages

Social media marketing will help bring you closer to your customers. You can post more information about your products and services, its benefits, and other useful tips.

You don’t have to set up a business page on every social media network. Choose the ones that can support your digital marketing objectives and highlights the strong points of your business.

For example, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube are best suited for highly-visual products such as cosmetics, perfumes, fashion apparel, and technology devices.

Make sure your social media business pages have the same information published on your website.

3. Get Listed In Search Engines

Think of Search Engine directories like the Yellow Pages on the Internet. As a matter of fact, the Yellow Pages are on the Internet!

Getting listed in search engine directories will make the consumer’s search activity much easier. All the information they need about your business can be found in the search engine directory.

You can find our recommendations on the best search engine directories to list your business in our article, “Why Should Retail Locations Be Listed In Search Engines?” Google My Business should be at the top of your list as Google is the biggest search engine on the Internet.

We also recommend adding high-resolution images of your store and its products to your listing. Also, try to generate positive reviews from Yelp. Google’s ever-evolving search algorithm has included favorable reviews from influential sites such as Yelp as a ranking factor.

4. Set Aside a Budget for Paid Ads

Paid ads are a good way to give your website an immediate boost in the search rankings. Anyone who clicks on your ad will land on your website. You can read more about paid ads in our article, “SEO vs PPC: Which One Is Better For Your Business”.

The great thing about paid ads is that it will appear in search results which are relevant to your industry or type of business. You can be assured that the people who see your ads will have some interest in your products and services.

5. Get Into Cross-Promotional Arrangements

Cross-promotional arrangements are traditional marketing methods that have stood the test of time. They are cost-effective and gives you the opportunity to present your business to a whole new audience. Make sure it is a non-competing business. The best arrangements are those whereby the products or services are complementary of one another.

For example, if you have a bakery, you can enter into cross-promotional arrangements with a floral shop for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas Day.

You can also run cross-promotional arrangements in Pinterest. Going back to our previous example, you can post content about the floral shop on your “Pin Board”. The floral shop will gladly return the favor and post about your cakes in their own Pin Board.

6. Get Involved with the Local Community

If you want to increase your visibility within the area, make sure your presence is felt. You can do this by getting involved with the local community. Every community strives to be active. There are always events and projects that you can be involved with.

For example, if have a Personal Training business, why not offer free exercise classes in the community every Saturday morning? You could also sponsor community events such as a “Fun Run” or a dance marathon.

By getting involved with your community, you increase awareness about your business and give people first- hand experience of what you can do.

Conclusion

While the Internet can give you avenues and channels to promote your business to wide, far-reaching areas, you can likewise localize your scope within proximity of your retail location.

The important thing is to focus on building a strong local presence. This is your captive market. People who reside or work within the area are potential customers. They may have need of your products or services. You should make it easy for them to find your business.

If you want to learn more about digital marketing and other ways to improve your local presence, please give us a call or drop us an email.

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in blue - larger

Digital Marketing is an effective way to promote your business. It is definitely a smart move to outsource your digital marketing to an agency. Even if you have the experience and expertise, your time is best allocated to managing key business functions. Digital marketing agencies not only have the experience and the expertise. They also have the right people to get the job done right. However, the industry is not insured against scammers. How do you know if you are getting ripped off by your Digital Marketing agency?

If you keep buying new hardware from the computer technician and your PC still does not run well, chances you are getting scammed. If your car continues to break down one week after getting it back from the shop, the car repairman could be milking you of your month’s salary. Other than the cost, getting ripped off by supposed “professional” service providers can be a very infuriating experience.

All you want to do is earn an honest living. You put in the time at work so you can generate enough money to pay off your bills, support your family, and live a comfortable life. Sadly, there are people whose business it is to live off your hard work.

They pass themselves off as honest, working-class people; proprietors of an honest business just like you. However, what we don’t see behind the beautiful website home page, the office signages, and the welcome, “sunshine smile” is the ulterior motive.

These are scammers; people who want to make as much money off you through deceptive business practices.

Scammers lurk in every industry, including digital marketing. The people who do this are not beginners. Most of them have been doing this all their lives. How else could they pull it off without remorse or guilt?

They know how to scope out their victims. Just like a shark that nudges its prey before devouring it, these scammers have ways to find out if you are ready for the taking.

If you are not careful, you could end up becoming a statistic. You may become the new notch on their belt and several thousand dollars poorer.

5 Signs Your Digital Marketing Agency Is Ripping You Off

Marketing is an essential component of a business development strategy. This is particularly true for startups. You cannot expect your business to gain traction if you do not promote it through multiple channels.

The process of marketing does not end once the cash registers start ringing. On the contrary, you will have to step it up. Now, you are part of the industry-wide race for customers.

However, you must be smart about your approach to Digital Marketing. Success isn’t contingent on the size of your marketing budget. It comes down to designing strategy, implementing it, and making sure there are contingencies in place to keep the campaign on the right track.

The fact of the matter is, you are at the mercy of your Digital Marketing agency. They are the experts. They have the experience, the knowledge, and the manpower to manage an effective Digital Marketing campaign.

The harsh reality is not every Digital Marketing agency can be trusted. This is a burgeoning industry that creates opportunities for growth for both the client and the service provider. If you are not careful, the success of the Digital Marketing agency will come at your expense.

Here are 5 signs that you are getting ripped off by your digital marketing agency:

1. No Numbers To Support Digital Marketing Campaign’s Performance

In view of all of its advantages over traditional marketing, there is one benefit of Digital Marketing that stands out above the rest. This is Digital Marketing’s ability to track the campaign’s performance and provide you with accurate numbers in real time.

Having numbers allows you to monitor which strategies are working; which ones are contributing to your targeted goal and generating ROI. Real-time data also gives you a better idea of your audience demographics and their online behavioral patterns.

Who are reading the blogs? Where do they come from? How do they access your content? Which time of day and night are they most active? How many of my targeted audience has pushed through with my Call-to-Action?

The Digital Marketing agency should provide you with numbers as the basis for assessing the performance of the campaign. A reputable agency is one that is willing to take you through the entire process. And part of the process is realizing that results take time to achieve.

An honest Digital Marketing agency is not afraid to show you that every campaign goes through growth stages. That even the best agencies in the business make mistakes.

However, the advantage of Digital Marketing is that the availability of analytics; these numbers being presented to you, makes it possible for the agency to implement changes in the campaign.

Remember the old saying in business development, “Strategy follows numbers; not the other way around.”

Curious about websites - learn more about the website services we offer

2. The Digital Marketing Agency Does Not Discuss Worst-Case Scenarios

Who wouldn’t want to have a Digital Marketing campaign that generates thousands of dollars from the get-go? However, the harsh reality is that like all ventures, Digital Marketing is a process and all processes take time to bear fruit.

Spurious Digital Marketing agencies will prey on your natural tendency to view only the rosy picture. As a matter of fact, you should be able to spot them as early as the initial presentation.

They probably used a lot of flash and fluff in their PowerPoint; presented big, extravagant keywords and industry buzzwords to convince you that success is guaranteed.

Agencies that focus only on the upsides of the campaign during their project presentation without mentioning the downsides are probably out to scam you.

There is no such thing as the “Perfect Plan”. Especially not in this age of the Internet where every consumer has immediate access to information. People’s tastes and preferences can change without warning. The demographics that were used to create your Buyer’s Persona could change during the campaign.

A trustworthy Digital Marketing agency will discuss the risks in the campaign. They will not paint a rosy picture but instead, they will present a real picture of what you should expect or anticipate. Instead of hyping up results, they want to moderate expectations.

3. Contingency Plans Are Not Discussed

In line with discussing with you the downsides or risks of the campaign are the contingency plans. These are the alternative courses of action that you can take should the initial plan’s performance turn contrary to expectations.

The best way to counter unpredictable markets is to adopt flexible business strategies. This applies to marketing as well. Rigid or highly-structured, tightly-organized strategies will not give you the mobility needed to change course.

Honest Digital Marketing agencies know the importance of having flexible marketing strategies in place. They have prepared contingency plans that can be implemented at any time during the campaign.

If worst-case scenarios were discussed beforehand, the contingency plans are there to assure you the Digital Marketing team will know what to do should any of the undesirable scenarios take place.

4. Digital Marketing Agency Pushes You To “Go Big” Right Off The Bat

If a Digital Marketing agency tells you to “Go big or go home”, or passes this line by you, “Digital marketing is an investment; the larger the investment, the higher the return”, terminate the meeting right away and tell the ad agency to go home.

Another great thing about Digital Marketing is that it is scalable. You can easily add new processes to its framework once analytics validate that results are becoming more consistent. Likewise, you can remove processes that are not generating significant ROI.

A Digital Marketing agency that pushes you to do a massive, ambitious campaign right away with all the bells and whistles, is only thinking about their company’s interests.

There is a direct relationship between the size of your campaign and the needed investment. Put simply, you will need a larger budget to pull off an ambitious campaign.

Every process that is added unto the initial Digital Marketing framework only guarantees one party in the agreement of sure-fire earnings: The agency. You will be footing their bill while the fate of your campaign remains shrouded in uncertainty.

The truth is you don’t have to go big with Digital Marketing right away.

Social media marketing is one of the cornerstones of a sound Digital Marketing strategy. At Mountaintop, we advise our Digital Marketing to choose only 2 to 3 social media marketing platforms to start out with.

Having only 2 to 3 social media platforms to monitor makes it easier to track performance. We also lessen the client’s exposure to risk. With regular analytics and campaign benchmarking, we can determine with greater certainty if we should add or remove processes to the campaign.

5. Your Approval Is Sought On Every Decision

As the client, it is within reason for the agency to discuss any change in plans with you. That is, after all, professional courtesy. However, be wary if your Digital Marketing agency always seeks your stamp of approval in every decision.

Isn’t the Digital Marketing agency the expert in this arrangement? Even if the client funds the campaign, he/she will not be in the best position to give the right call every time.

When the agency seeks your go-signal before implementing a plan or course of action, it may only be doing so to pass accountability to you. If something goes wrong, the agency can just tell you, “Well, you approved it.” On the other hand, if the plan is a success, the agency will bask in the glory and take credit for it.

The keyword in Digital Marketing is collaboration. The agency is the architect of the campaign. The client trusts that his/her best interests will be served by the agency.

The agency should exhibit transparency even before the campaign gets rolling. While no one can predict the outcomes of a Digital Marketing strategy, the agency is responsible for setting expectations. This includes discussing scenarios that run adverse to the campaign and the alternative courses of action.

Conclusion

Because of the popularity of the Internet, mobile technology, and the influence of social media, digital marketing has assumed a more prominent role in the advertising budget. Companies spend millions; even billions, to run the best digital marketing campaigns through the Internet.

A successful digital marketing campaign will give you significant returns on your investment. In contrast, a poorly managed one will result in huge monetary losses.

It can happen to anyone. Even major companies like Procter & Gamble which in 2017 terminated more than $100 Million in ad agreements with agencies that needlessly wasted the company’s money.

For a company like Procter and Gamble which makes $16 Billion in a quarter, $100 Million must feel like a drop in the bucket. The same cannot be said for small to medium- sized businesses that go through unpredictable streams of income and have limited access to capital.

Digital marketing provides small and medium- sized businesses the most cost-efficient marketing option to promote their products and services.

Content such as blogs and videos can be distributed through social media and other Internet-based channels which can reach a wider audience at minimal cost. Pay-per-click (PPC) digital ads target a specific audience. You will only pay for the ad whenever someone clicks on them.

Likewise, content is reusable and therefore, sustainable. The content that you post today can be published 6 months later and still elicit positive results.

For the reason that small and medium scale businesses have limited capital, they should be more careful when dealing with digital marketing agencies. Not only will they fail to achieve their marketing goals, but they will be ripped off and lose hard-earned money.

Have you ever experienced being ripped off by your Digital Marketing agency? Please feel free to share your thoughts on the comments section provided below.

If you want to know more about our Digital Marketing services, please give us a call or drop us an email.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

For years, marketers were anxious to sound the death knell for email marketing. It seemed to have become irrelevant; its reputation tarnished by shady Ponzi schemes and by cyber-criminals eager to plant their malicious programs into your network. Every year email marketing has proven its naysayers wrong. It remains a powerful tool for driving traffic and converting leads into sales. Email marketing is very much alive and should be part of your digital marketing strategy.

Statistics That Prove Email Marketing Is Very Much Alive

What was the first thing you did this morning after you woke up? If you’re like 60% of Americans, chances are you opened your smartphone and checked your email.

Studies have shown that people read their emails even before they brush their teeth. It’s the first thing that most people do in the morning and for at least 13% of the population, the last thing they do before they go to sleep.

In between breakfast and dinner, people continue to check their emails multiple times every day. Given its popularity of use, it is surprising to think that some marketers believe email is dead.

The truth is, statistics support the effectiveness of email as a tool for digital marketing. Here are some key numbers that prove email marketing continues to produce positive results for businesses:

The most telling statistic is that email, as a medium of communication, continues to grow. From 3.7 Billion email user accounts in 2017, this number is expected to grow to 4.1 Billion in 2021.

With such a large user base, email is an attractive distribution channel for content. It is the first thing people check in the morning and at night. In most cases, people visit their inbox five times per day.

Thus, email gives your content a high probability of being seen and opened. Having your content delivered in a subscriber’s inbox is like having your foot inside the door. All the subscriber needs to do is click through your email and let your content run its course.

Despite these encouraging statistics about email marketing, why have some marketers pronounced it dead?

The answer may have to do with a close relative in the digital marketing family: Social media marketing.

computer graphic - curious about the website services we offer

Email Marketing Versus Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing exploded into the mainstream consciousness when broadband technology made the Internet more accessible in 2004. By this time, the Internet had grown to more than 700 Million users. In comparison, 10 years earlier, the Internet was only accessible to 16 Million people.

Everyone had to be on some form of social media. People had a fun way to connect with family, and old friends. They had a platform where they could upload images and share opinions through the comments section.

Social media’s popularity opened up opportunities for new networks to build communities of users. However, it was Facebook that stood above everyone else. On any given day, there would be 3 Billion people on social media. Of the 3 Billion, 2 Billion would be on Facebook.

Businesses took notice of social media and its influence on consumers. Over time, social media evolved from a pastime and into a powerful driver of content. It seemed that social media’s popularity had swept email marketing on the wayside.

Is social media marketing a more effective distribution channel for content than email marketing?

If you ask, you may find marketers divided between social media marketing and email marketing. The best way to answer the question is to look at the numbers.

How does email marketing stack up to social media marketing in terms of performance and results? More specifically, if you had 3,000 email subscribers and 3,000 Facebook followers, which channel would produce better results for your content?

In a survey of internet marketers, MailMunch found that 60% of them found email marketing to be more effective than social media marketing in distributing content.

One reason is that social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter frequently change their algorithm. The changes have seriously compromised the organic reach of published content.

Some marketers report that only 2 to 5 out of 2,000 followers of Facebook will get to see their content. A study by [email protected] showed that the organic reach of Facebook dropped to only 6% in 2014.

In comparison, email has an average open rate of 21.73%. Therefore, if you were to distribute content via 3,000 email marketing and 3,000 Facebook followers media, these would be your projected results:

  • Email Marketing – 653 will open your email
  • Facebook – 180 will see your message

In terms of click-through rates, again email reigns supreme over social media marketing. Here are the average click-through rates between email marketing, Facebook, and Twitter:

  • Email Marketing – 3.57%
  • Facebook – 0.07%
  • Twitter – 0.03%

Another study on the effectiveness of email marketing showed that it influenced the buying decision of 66% of respondents. The study cited the personalization of content as the main reason why email marketing works so well in converting leads to paying customers.

Highly- respected business consultancy group, McKinsey & Co. likewise entered into the email marketing versus social media marketing debate. In the company’s own study, McKinsey revealed that email marketing helped businesses acquire 40 times more customers than their combined efforts in Facebook and Twitter.

Finally, let’s look at some key data gathered by OptinMonster on the advantages of email marketing over social media marketing:

Metric: Email Marketing Facebook Twitter
Total Number of Users 2.7 Billion 2 Billion 313 Million
First item checked for the day 58% 11% 2%
Daily Use 91% 57% 14%
Preferred Channel for Personal Messages 45% 4% 0%
Accepts content from a company or business they follow 44% 4% 0%
Made a purchase 66% 20% 6%
Acquired customers 7% <1% 0%
Organic Reach 79% 1 to 6% <1 to 30%
Results in Positive ROI 21% 0% 15%
Customer Lifetime Value +12% +1% -23%
Open Rate 18% (OR), 3.7% (CTR) 0.07% 0.03%
Full Ownership Yes No No

We’re not saying that in view of these figures, you should forego social media marketing in favor of email marketing. Our point is that email marketing continues to remain relevant even in this age of social media.

Email is a proven driver of content that directly gets your message to your targeted audience. Instead of ignoring email marketing, it should be included in your digital marketing campaign strategy.

Conclusion – 3 Reasons Why Your Business Should Do Email Marketing

Hopefully, we’ve convinced you to do email marketing for your business. It is difficult to disprove the effectiveness of email marketing given the sheer volume of data that further validate its overall value.

If numbers aren’t your thing, here are 3 business development- related reasons why you should do email marketing:

1. Email Marketing Is Great For Sharing Content

To be clear, if there is one big advantage that social media has over email marketing is that it is a better vehicle for sharing content. The study conducted by OptinMonster showed that 57% of respondents preferred to share content via Facebook compared to only 4% for email.

However, the strength of sharing content via email marketing is that it is sent by the recipient to a member of his/her community who may be interested in your business’ products and services. The act of sharing becomes an indirect endorsement of your company.

2. Email Marketing Is Measurable

Email marketing is one of the easiest digital marketing tools to measure. You have access to analytics that will let you know the performance of every type of email content. By doing so, you have real-time, accurate data that will give you an idea of which campaign generates a higher ROI.

3. Email Marketing Is Cost- Effective

Email is a low- cost approach to distributing content. You don’t incur costs for printing, office supplies, and distribution. The only recurring costs may be when you decide to acquire and subscribe to email marketing services. Then again, the costs for a monthly subscription are minimal.

Email has been an integral part of life and work for decades. From its early “You’ve Got Mail” days, email remains the most popular item checked on your smartphone. And it will continue to grow over the next few years.

It is estimated that by 2020, there will be 257.7 Billion business and personal emails sent every day.

If you are interested in starting out an email marketing campaign, give us a call or drop us an email. We will get back to you right away. Mountaintop has extensive experience in helping our clients generate long-term and sustainable results with their email campaigns.

We are anxious to hear from you!

And if you have some ideas and suggestions that you would like to share about email marketing and why it is alive and well, please post them in the comments section below.

learn more about website design with laptop

The fact that video content amplifies the effectiveness of digital marketing should not come as a surprise. After all, as digital technology evolves, multimedia becomes a more entertaining experience for users. However, with the wrong approach, your video content could fail to deliver the desired results.

Video: A Powerful Driver Of Online Content

Which one would compel you to try the latest steakhouse in your town? A 30-second video on how a 16-ounce Porterhouse steak is grilled and served on a plate with baked potatoes and steamed vegetables or a one minute read?

In our article “How To Use Video Content In Marketing”, we identified at least five benefits of video for your marketing campaign. Here are three eye-opening statistics that prove including video in your content strategy is a smart decision:

100 Million – The number of hours people watch videos on Facebook.
5 Billion – The number of videos watched on YouTube on a daily basis.
10 Billion – The number of videos viewed on SnapChat

Video is a powerful driver of content because it is more effective and efficient in delivering your message.

It appeals to multiple senses: sight, sound and feel. A 30 to 45 second video can compel a viewer to take action more immediately than text content that will require a reading time of one minute.

However, posting videos for the sake of having video content on your blog or social media will not produce your targeted outcome. On the contrary, it may work against you. The key is to put thought and strategy behind your videos. Like all marketing concepts, it must have direction, purpose and objective.

7 Ways To Harness The Power Of Video For Social Media Marketing and Blogging

The great thing about digital marketing is that it allows you to focus your efforts on a target audience. If you’re offering coaching programs for running, your investment in marketing will yield low returns if your distribution channel reaches more smokers than fitness or running enthusiasts.

Digital marketing has tools that allow you to fine-tune your marketing efforts toward potential buyers of your product or service. Two of its most effective and popular tools are social media marketing and blogging.

These two strategies go hand-in-hand. You can always post your blog on your social media page and include a link back to your website.

Adding a video makes text-based content exponentially more effective. Here are 7 ways you can harness its full power:

1. Choose Your Social Media Platforms

As we had written in our article, “How To Choose The Best Social Media Platform For Your Business”, not all social media platforms can generate the results you want. Some types of businesses work with certain platforms more than others.

If you have a highly-visual product, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube may work for you. If you plan to use videos to launch promotions and to acquire more followers, Twitter and Facebook should be the platforms of your choice.

Don’t spread yourself out too thin. If this is your first time to produce videos, start out with only one or two social media platforms. Having fewer accounts to manage makes it easier to track performance.

2. Identify Your Objective

What do you want your video to accomplish? If you want your video to inform people of what your business does, you should produce an explainer video.

If you want to show your viewers what your product does, you should shoot “How-To” videos. If you want to enhance your reputation as an expert in the industry, you can set up a webinar.

You can have more than one objective, but do not attempt to accomplish all of these objectives in one video. You will come out with convoluted content; its message will go in different directions and lead to disengagement with your audience.

Instead, the best approach would be to come up with a time-table for your objectives. Then produce the videos according to your schedule.

3. Tell A Story

Storytelling remains an effective approach to content marketing because it makes it easier for viewers or readers to process the meaning of your message.

A good story turns the viewer from a mere observer to a vicarious participant. He/she is transported from the computer screen to behind your lens. Storytelling gets the audience more engaged with your content.

4. Keep Video Content Short

Videos are effective but only to a point. Whether it is text-based or video content, people have a short attention span. A study by Microsoft showed that people have an attention span that is shorter than a goldfish.

However, this doesn’t mean you should produce six-second videos. You can’t deliver your message if the video is too short. The length of your video would depend on the type of video you produce.

Here is a guideline you can use to determine the ideal video length:

Explainer Videos – 30 to 90 seconds
“How-To” Videos – 2 to 10 minutes
Webinars – 10 minutes
Customer Testimonials – 10 minutes
Product Reviews – 5 to 10 minutes

As you may have noticed, most types of video content top off at 10 minutes. Below is a chart of the audience engagement level for a webinar. You will see that there is an inverse correlation between engagement and the duration of video content:

Chart courtesy of vidyard.com https://www.vidyard.com/blog/optimal-length-for-b2b-video-funnel/

5. Integrate Video Into Your Digital Marketing Campaign

As effective as videos have been proven to be, it should not be the focal point of your digital marketing campaign. We recommend integrating video as part of your digital marketing campaign to give you a more holistic strategy.

A diversified digital marketing campaign will allow you to reach a wider audience. Remember, not everyone prefers videos over text-based content. Also, some audience members may have difficulty accessing your videos due to problems in Internet connectivity or web hosting issues.

It will also streamline your costs. Text-based content remains an effective medium for delivery and is comparatively cheaper to produce than videos.

Curious about websites - learn more about the website services we offer

6. Invest In Video Hardware

Producing good quality videos will require you to invest in hardware. You have to use hardware that can ensure great image and audio quality.

Now, before you think you will have to break open your bank account, advances in digital technology can make you produce awesome videos on a limited budget!

Here are some suggestions on the types of hardware you can use to produce great video content:

Smartphone – If you have an iPhone 5 or higher, you can be sure to have the ability to shoot amazing videos. For example, the iPhone 6 reportedly can shoot 4K videos which offer great resolution and audio quality.

Camcorders – There are many affordable camcorders that you can buy from online retailers like Amazon or eBay. Many of these cheaper models can still shoot great quality videos.

Tripod – You wouldn’t want your video to give your viewers a migraine! A tripod will keep your camera stable without having to ask someone to hold it for you.

Microphone – A lavalier microphone is cheap but will significantly improve the sound quality of your videos.

If you plan to shoot videos while on the move, you should use handheld sticks for camcorders or smartphones. These handheld sticks have motion-stability sensors which keep your videos stable even while you are moving vigorously.

7. Use Video Editing Apps

There’s no such thing as a perfect video but at the very least, you should try your best to enhance it. Video editing apps will help you bring out the details: color, contrast and reducing unwanted background noise.

If you have the ability to compose music, there are video editing apps that you can use to add an original soundtrack. How about closed-captioning? There are video editing apps that can do that as well. You can find video editing apps for a PC desktop or a mobile device.

It’s all about enhancing user experience. Little things such as coming up with an amazing opening credits scene, speed level changes and perfectly-executed quick cuts can turn your video from ordinary to memorable.

4 Worst Practices When Using Video For Your Blog Or Social Media

It takes time to produce a great video. Your efforts will be wasted if if cannot deliver the expected outcome. These four worst practices are often overlooked but can affect the performance of your video:

1. Self-Hosting The Video

In our article, “Why You Should Never Host Your Own Videos On Your Own Website”, we discussed two ways you can post video content on your website. Embedding a video is a better option than self-hosting a video. It will be more accessible and will give your audience a better viewing experience.

2. Failure To Optimize Video Size

When embedding a video, make sure you optimize its size to the width of your blog page. The width of the video should not exceed that of the blog’s column for the content. You’ll be surprised how observant some of your viewers are. They can easily point out these mistakes and call you out for it.

3. Absence Of Text Content

One of the guiding rules of marketing is to give your audience some context before delivering your content. It is a good idea for viewers to know what to expect before the video rolls on. You can use a closed-caption or transcription app to embed a few sentences that will set up your video content.

4. Does Not Include A Call to Action

Great content should be compelling. It should initiate action. So what do you want the viewer to do after watching your video? Do you want him/her to subscribe to your YouTube channel? Do you want him/her to sign up for your newsletter? Without a Call- to- Action, your efforts as well the viewer’s time would end up being wasted.

Conclusion

Using videos is a brilliant way of adding more value to your social media and blogging content. Integrating video to text-based content is like the one-two punch combination in boxing: it is a classic combination that will yield good results.

However, you need to spend time planning the production schedule of your video. The days of point-and-shoot, ragtag videos are over. Viewers are more discriminating of the quality of video content and its production values.

You do not have to hire a movie company to produce your video. Today’s devices, including the latest versions of the smartphone, are good enough to produce high-quality videos. It also pays to take production levels a step higher by using editing apps to make your video content really stand out.

Are you planning on using videos for your blogs or social media? Give us a call or an email and we can schedule a call or a sit-down meeting at your convenience. Adding videos is definitely a move in the right direction. We will make sure that the videos will help you achieve its intended goal.

desktop with coffee cup - learn more about website design

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.

learn more about website design

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!

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in blue - larger

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.

web design - learn more here

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!

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in yellow

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.  

learn more about web design

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!

learn more about website design with orange banner

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:
Facebook Sun, Thursday, Friday, Saturday 9am, 1pm and 3pm
Twitter Wednesday 12pm, 3pm, 5pm, 6pm
LinkedIn Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 7am, 12pm, 5pm
Pinterest Sunday, Saturday 2pm, 9pm, 2am
Instagram Monday, Thursday 2am, 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.