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.”

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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.

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Hello! What brings you here?

Search is the number one activity on the Internet. It all starts with a need to find information. The keywords you used to launch a query will open a results page with a list of URLs. Every URL you click onto will have content that could provide the answers to your query.

Content can be anything. It can be a tweet. A blog. An article. An email. An image or video. In short, it is a message that communicates directly with the targeted audience.

It’s how you got here.

You wanted to know more about content marketing. And we have the content to show you how to get started.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is the process of using information that is usable and relevant to the needs, concerns, or interests of the target audience. It is a form of communication whereby the message resonates with the recipient and compels him/her to take action.

Communication is very important in marketing. The message must be focused and clearly articulated so that content will resonate and be accepted openly by the recipient.

Content marketing is targeted marketing. You create content that appeals to a specific audience. It is optimized; you don’t have to find them because they will find you.

Compare that to a marketing approach that distributes flyers inside a mall or inserts them between the pages of the Sunday paper.

If you distribute 1,000 flyers, how many will be compelled to take your desired action? Some will just ignore the flyer. A good number will find their way into a garbage can.

Thus, for marketers, content marketing offers an effective and efficient way of communicating with their audience.

How Will Content Marketing Help Your Business?

If you can find a way to increase your visibility or enhance your online presence on the Internet, you will be able to achieve your online marketing goals.

With content marketing, people follow you willingly. You build an audience composed of people who enjoy your content. They see value in it and consider you a valuable resource. Over time and with consistency, great content will develop your credibility and reputation.

A successful content marketing campaign can reap the following benefits for your business:

  • Drives higher inbound traffic to your website.
  • Builds strong brand awareness.
  • Encourages brand loyalty.
  • Improves your search ranking.
  • Improves your sales conversion rate.
  • Enhances your reputation as an expert.
  • Establishes stronger relationships with your audience.

Content marketing is also a sustainable business development strategy. Great content is evergreen; it will stand the test of time. A blog that you published today can be re-published in six months.

You can even re-publish it three years later. All you have to do is update information such as statistics, new developments, outcomes, and other key data. It will cater to a whole new audience; perhaps bring in people who have not heard of your business.

Finally, content marketing will not sink your bank account. Yes, there is a cost to producing great content. However, the cost of publication is much more affordable compared to traditional marketing.

There is no cost to posting content on your social media pages or those in your network. Paid ads have a cost but you only pay every time someone clicks on your content. Now compare that with the cost of publishing content in a newspaper or glossy.

Not only will content marketing save you money, but your content will be visible to more people. Most importantly, it will be seen by the people who matter the most: Your audience.

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How To Start Content Marketing

If you’re still here, that means we’ve convinced you to push through with content marketing.

Before you sit down and start creating content, please understand that content marketing is a process. There are steps that you need to follow to ensure the success of your campaign.

1. Develop Your Content Marketing Strategy

Think of the different types of content – blogs, articles, web copy, product reviews, videos, images, and tweets –  as tools of the trade. Every business that decides on running a content marketing campaign has access to the same tools as you.

However, not everyone will succeed. Some will fail. Others will fall short of their goals.

Therefore, content marketing will only be as effective as the strategy behind it.

Content strategy also identifies the “why”; the purpose of each piece of content you create as well as the “when” which refers to the distribution and publication schedule.

Without strategy, your content marketing plan will be treading blindly into unchartered waters. There will be no rhyme or reason to the types of content you put out. Your message will get lost. Your audience will have no idea of what you are trying to communicate.

A content strategy establishes structure to your content marketing plan. It lays out the path of the journey you want to put your audience on.

2. Assemble Your Content Marketing Team

Can you create and publish your own content? Sure! The more important question is, “Should you?”

Creating content takes time. A 1,500- word blog post can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete.

Thus, even if you have the talent to create content – don’t! Instead, you should assemble a content marketing team. A rundown of the skills you need for your team would include the following:

  • Content Writer
  • Editor
  • Keyword Researcher
  • SEO Specialist

Collaborate on the content strategy with your content marketing team. Make sure all topics, titles, and posting schedules are presented to you for approval before implementation.  

3. Build On Ideas For Content

For a few days, you could find yourself knocking out one amazing content piece after another. Then without warning, you find yourself staring at a blank computer screen. The creativity well has run dry. What will you do next?

First of all, don’t panic. It happens even to the best content writers. Creativity comes from ideas. And ideas are initiated by inspiration. Sometimes you just need to find good sources of inspiration to pour in new ideas into the creativity well.

Here are five good sources of ideas for content creation:

  • Customers – Reach out to your audience. Find out what issues and concerns are of interest to them. Conduct surveys in your social media pages or through email marketing.
  • Competitors – Visit your competitors’ websites and social media pages. What are they writing about? Which types of content are generating the highest levels of engagement?
  • Influencers – Influencers are movers and shakers in the industry. They know the pulse of the market. Subscribe to their content so you can get daily updates.
  • Sales People – If you’re in retail, your sales people directly engage with your customers. Invite them to a brainstorming session and find out which topics would be of interest to your audience. You might even want to consider asking a few of them to contribute content for your website.
  • Social Media – With more than 3 Billion sharing content every day, you’ll never run out of ideas in social media. Join interest groups and take note of topics that trigger active discussion among members.

4. Create Your Content

What processes are involved in creating content?

  • Topic research
  • Title research
  • Keyword research
  • Fact checking on sources
  • Hyperlinks/ citing of references
  • Submission and review of drafts
  • Draft finalization
  • Spelling and grammar check
  • Plagiarism check
  • Optimization of content

All told, there are at least 10 steps required in content creation. The process can be longer if multiple drafts were needed before the finalizing the draft.

As we mentioned in step #2, content creation takes time. If you are planning to publish multiple content pieces every week, you could have a log jam in your schedule.

This is the value of having content strategy in place. Before creating content, establish a content writing calendar.

For example, a blogging calendar for a real estate company can include the following types of content:

  • How-To articles
  • List-Type articles
  • Informative articles
  • Opinion pieces
  • Management practices
  • Leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Inspirational

In order to maximize the effectiveness of the calendar, it should have a publication schedule in place.

Let’s say you planned to publish 16 blogs every month. A good strategy would be to create informative content for the first four topics. This could be How-To and List-Type articles. The purpose is to highlight the expertise of the real estate agency and how its services can be of value to potential clients.

The fifth article could be an Opinion piece on a topic related to the most recent List-Type article. For example, if you published an article entitled, “How To Get Approved For A Home Loan”, you could write an Opinion piece on why lending rates should be lowered.

The purpose is to provide the readers a break from assimilating highly-informative  content to one that encourages greater engagement and discussion.

By having a content creation calendar in place, you can manage your time better. You will be able to produce high-quality, unique blogs that are well-written, thoroughly-researched, informative, engaging, and optimized.

Best of all, you will stay on schedule.

5. Promote Your Content

You’ve invested time and effort on your content. As an asset, you want it to reap dividends. Where you promote your content will determine if your content can give you solid returns.

An effective content promotion strategy should involve multiple distribution channels. This way, your content will be assured to reaching a wider audience.

Here are five of the best distribution channels you could use to promote your content:

  • Social Media – Choose no more than 3 networks for easy monitoring. Come up with a posting schedule for each network. If you have a content marketing team, they will probably share your content to their community.
  • Paid Advertising – PPC brings your content directly in front of potential end users. It is highly-effective and cost- efficient as you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  • Email – Once you’ve built a good-sized email list, send them short but informative and useful content pieces every month.
  • Blogging Communities – Guest blogging is another effective distribution strategy. Your content will be discovered by a new audience and it may trigger faster growth.
  • Comment Sections – Don’t just post links to your content in the comments section. Build relationships first through regular engagement. When you’ve built credibility and trust with the site, you can post links that are relevant to the conversation. This means, don’t just post your links but include other sites as well.

There are other channels and techniques that you can use to promote your content. These include Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Display Ads, and Content Syndication.

You don’t have to use all of these channels to distribute your content. Determine which ones are more aligned with the types of content you are promoting. Initially, select 3 to 4 channels and assess its performance.

If the numbers fall below your target ROI, then you should consider changing tactics by choosing another distribution channel.

Conclusion

As you’ve just read, writing online content is a whole new ballgame. It’s not enough to be a good writer. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done because you want your content to stand out from the rest. You need to combine creative writing with the precision of optimization techniques.

A properly planned and executed content marketing strategy will bring your company closer to achieving its targeted goals. This is the reason we offer content marketing services to our clients at Mountaintop.

By outsourcing content writing to us, we eliminate the guesswork for you. We develop the ideas, come up with the topics, titles, and make sure these are supported by well-researched and fully- optimized content.

If you’re interested in starting a content marketing campaign, reach out to us. We will take you through the process and show you how our content has helped clients achieve their business objectives.

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WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world. More than 500 websites are built daily using WordPress and it has been the most dominant CMS the last eight years. Overall, WordPress runs nearly 30% of all websites operating on the Internet.

There’s a reason for this; and that is because WordPress is easy to use. Business owners can manage content on their own. They have their choice of plugins which they can use to improve design and functionality. Google loves WordPress websites because its code makes site content easy to read and index.

However, technical issues can arise which could affect the performance of your website. For example, you may want to improve certain features such as its download speed, accessibility, and level of security.

It is no different than a physical office or retail outlet that wants to improve efficiency and security. It may improve the office or store layout and introduce stricter and more elaborate security measures.  

Improving site performance while enhancing security are good enough reasons for you to seriously consider getting an Extreme WordPress Care Plan.

What Are Extreme WordPress Care Plans?

Extreme WordPress Care Plans are customized sets of maintenance and repair options that have been put together by our web development professionals to help you manage and protect your website according to individual need and budget.

Continuing our analogy with a brick- and- mortar business, a physical office would hire professionals to cover its needs for security, accounting, legal expertise, cleaning and maintenance services.  

With your website, care and maintenance are best left in the hands of web development professionals who have the experience and expertise managing WordPress platforms.

What could happen if your WordPress website does not undergo regular care and maintenance procedures?

  • Your website will not function properly, which will make it difficult to access, also site speed speed and security could be compromised.
  • Your message queue has grown considerably and you have a backlog of comments to attend to.

None of these incidents can be good for business. Instead of becoming a platform for development, the website has made it difficult for you to build business.

Our Extreme WordPress Care and Maintenance Plans have been proven effective and highly successful in ensuring the performance of our clients’ WordPress websites.

Let’s find out what our clients have to say about our Extreme WordPress Care and Maintenance Plans:

Testimony No. 1

Client – Randy Bowman

Website – www.sqrdup.com

“I was very concerned about SSL security. As an online retailer, I wanted to make sure customers would feel very confident and assured when using our site. We were paying another company a lot of money for untold hours of work that did not meet expectations.

I was about to give up until Josiah and the team at Mountaintop advised us to sign up for their Extreme WordPress Care Plan. Josiah suggested we give the plan a try. We did and it was the best decision we ever made for website security.

It is great! I don’t have to think about this part while going about my busy days! Life and work are so much easier! Mountaintop’s Extreme WordPress Care Plan is fantastic. It takes all the worry off my shoulders.”

Testimony No. 2

Client: Christy Smith

Website: halloweeneventsco.com

“As a first-time owner of a business website, I needed to know my site was well-maintained and secure. Purchasing the Extreme WordPress Care Plan was a no-brainer. Everything is done in a timely manner and what is promised is exactly what you get!

The work Mountaintop does is amazing! I am very satisfied with their excellent customer service and how they have taken care of my website. If you want to secure and protect your website, sign up with Mountaintop’s Extreme WordPress Care Plan.

The prices are very reasonable and Mountaintop goes the extra mile to make sure you get your money’s worth. Mountaintop has the experience and expertise to make sure your website is running and functioning properly.

Most of all, you will have peace of mind knowing your website is safe and sound under experienced and expert hands. I highly recommend their services to anyone who needs a website designed and managed.”

Testimony No. 3

Client – Lynn Ann Huizingh

Website – www.swshelternetwork.com

“Our previous web provider was very frustrating to work with. It was a difficult website to update and frequently I could not figure out how to do what I wanted to do. Customer service took more than 48 hours to hear from and they very rarely answered my question.

I spent hours trying to get done what I wanted to do and it didn’t always work like I thought it should.

After building a website with Mountaintop, we decided to sign up for Mountaintop’s Extreme WordPress Care Plan. It has been a totally different experience! The design process was fun and easy for me because Josiah is so easy to work with.

I never heard, ‘I can’t’. I have often heard, ‘Let me check into how we can make that happen’, although he already knew the answer. Josiah has the ability to point out the rare problem before I noticed it. He would fix it and tell me after what happened and how they approached the problem.

Updating content is so much easier! If I wanted some pages and the format updated, Josiah is just one email away and he would give updates within a 24-hour period.

The plans are also very affordable. We set up an auto-pay system so we don’t have to worry about paying the monthly fees on time. The coverage of our plan included support for web updates and coaching.

So grateful! I highly recommend signing up with Mountaintop’s Extreme WordPress Care Plan.”

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FAQs: Extreme WordPress Care And Maintenance Plans

Q: We’ve come across other companies that offer WordPress care plans. Why should we go with your company?

Testimonies are the most powerful forms of validation. As you have read from 3 of our clients, they are very happy with their decision to sign up for our Extreme WordPress Care Plan. We can assure you of our expertise in website management and excellent customer service as proven by our large number of loyal customers. With Mountaintop, we provide high-value service for only a small monthly cost.

Q: Once I sign up for your WordPress care plan, what are the next steps?

When you are ready to take the next steps, let us know and we can setup a website evaluation. We typically charge $150 for one of these website evaluations as we like to dig into the website to see what is going on.

As part of the evaluation, we will give you a report containing information like a list of pages & posts, users by security level, plugins, themes, speed of your website, possible security issues like malware, broken links, Google’s mobile friendly test, Domain authority, and we make backups of the site.

We will also include our recommendations on how to make the website faster and better overall. We want to make sure we have your website needs covered from start to finish. Once your website goes live, we will work to keep it secure, up to date and functioning properly.

This way, we can keep track of your site’s performance and become more accountable for the work we’ve done for you.

Q: What kinds of security measures do you provide?

We work hard to stay on top of current WordPress website best practices. We use a combination of plugins/code/server changes that make your website stronger against potential attacks.

We also run regular backups of your site as well as malware scans as another line of defense. We want to make sure we can identify potential vulnerabilities and have them addressed as soon as possible. You can be assured that if something goes wrong, we are ready to take care of the situation before it becomes a full-blown problem.

Q: Can you manage e-commerce websites?

Yes, on the top two care plans we work with “WooCommerce”. If your website uses another ecommerce platform, get in touch with us and we can discuss requirements.

Q: I have multiple websites. How would you manage them?

Managing multiple websites will not be a problem. We have the experience, expertise, and professional know-how of using the correct tools and processes to manage and monitor multiple websites for many of our clients.

Q: Are you particular about the web host services provider or can you work with anyone?

We prefer a host that allows us to have the most access to the hosting platform. We work quite a bit with GoDaddy and that is our preference, however we do work with lots of platforms. These Extreme WP Care Plans are not limited to a single platform.

Q: Can you fix a hacked website?

This one is tricky. Yes, we definitely can. However, depending on how bad a website has been hacked there might be extra work to get the website safely operational before the Care Plans can maintain it.

Please note that we will fix hacked websites if they are on our care plan (prior to being hacked) at no additional cost.

However, if a website that is being moved over to us for care has been hacked, we would probably have to charge you to have the site cleaned first. For the purpose of transparency, we will provide an estimate before we cleaning the website.

Q: What are your standard response time and turnaround time?

The standard response and turnaround time is 24 to 72 hours. However, we do our best to respond within 24 hours. This would be contingent on the amount and level of clarity of the information that is given to us.

Q: Are your services available 24/7?

We have hosting support that is available 24/7 for technical issues. With our WordPress Extreme Care Plans, we will not rest until your website is working properly!

We work hard to keep those going. If you have questions, you are free to email us at any time. Mountaintop has a global team working round-the-clock to make sure all of your concerns are addressed right away. However, as we are a smaller organization, we might not be able to get back to you for inquiries or concerns sent at 2:00am.

Conclusion

As a business owner, having a website is a step in the right direction. By going online, you can reach out to a wider market of potential end users of your products and services.

Your marketing and promotional strategies will have a larger ocean to cast its net; an ocean of more than 3.5 billion daily Internet users. A website will help you grow your business by capitalizing on opportunities available on the Internet.

But just like how a brick- and- mortar business goes through maintenance and repair issues, your WordPress website likewise needs regular care. Even if you had the time to monitor your website, time is a valuable asset that is best spent managing the core business of your enterprise.

Sign up for our Extreme WordPress Care Plans and leave your site’s management to us. We will monitor your website so you can successfully go about your obligations to work and family. If there is a problem, we will take care of it and send you a report detailing the issue and how we fixed it.

If you have any questions about our Extreme WordPress Care Plans, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an email. We will get back to you right away!

Contact us today by filling out our form to learn more about our Extreme WordPress Care Plans!

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

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

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

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

Our Design Process At Mountaintop Web Design

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

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

Empirical Research

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

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

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

Intuitive Research

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

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

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

5 Popular Styles Of Web Design

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

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

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

1. Illustrative Style

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

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

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

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

2. Single Page Style

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Minimalist

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

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

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

4. Flat Web Design

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

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

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

5. Typographical

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

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

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

Mountaintop Web Design’s Approach To Web Design

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

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

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

Case Study: Severe Weather Shelter

Severe Weather Shelter Network New website

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Do you own your website? It may sound like a counter-intuitive question. After all, the website is for your business and you paid for it. It follows that with an exchange of currency for services comes ownership. The rules of buy and sell are very much black and white when it comes to goods and services. However, the area of ownership gets grayer when it comes to website design.

Digital Trap: Why Website Ownership Is Very Important

It is a story we have heard narrated by clients who came to us for website design. They signed up with a freelance web designer, web development or digital marketing agency.

They are given a powerful presentation of how investing in a website and digital marketing can increase sales conversions by a hundred-fold. Encouraged and inspired, they issue payment and begin to hear an imaginary cash register ringing over and over again.

Then the unthinkable happens. Results aren’t coming in as expected. The agency starts billing you for add-on services that were not part of the original plan. The relationship starts to turn sour. The cash registers have not rung and have gathered virtual cobwebs. You want out but can’t.

In fact, you can’t even claim your website. Unless you continue to pay the monthly fees, you risk losing your website and all of its contents.  You try to negotiate for the release of your website but the agency hits you with a gigantic fee.

Your website has turned into a hostage situation.

Unfortunately for you, there is nothing you can do because you didn’t read through the fine print of your contract. Upon close review with your attorney, you realized you signed away your website for full control and ownership of the agency.

Has this happened to you? If so, don’t be discouraged. As we shared in our article, “What Type Of Website Does Your Business Need?”, having a website is crucial for business success in this day and age of the Internet and digital mobile technology.

We have helped dozens of clients get back on the digital path to business success by building websites they have full control over.

Trust and transparency are two very important business values for us at Mountaintop Web Design. This is why we are writing this article advising why you need to claim full ownership of your website.

Website Ownership: What You Need To Know

Paying for design services does not automatically give you full ownership of your website. The principle of buy and sell takes different turns when it comes to web design. In ways it is similar to buying a house.

Before the title is turned over, you have to make sure the property is clear of any liens and the contract does not have legal loopholes. There have been cases whereby a homeowner loses his house because as it turns out, someone else owns the property.

In our article, “How To Choose Your Web Host”, we discussed the process of web hosting. You need a web host to connect your website to the Internet. Essentially, a web host agreement allows you to rent space on their servers for your website. Your website files will be stored on these servers.

If your web host provides the leased premises, your domain name is your address which is given as an IP address. Therefore, technically, you don’t own your domain name. You pay the web host an annual fee so you can use it. If you stop paying, you lose exclusive rights to your domain name. It may not sound fair, but that is the reality of the situation.

What you do own are the content and materials that are posted or used on the website. These materials include text, image and video content. You also have ownership over its design and programming code.

However, you have to make sure these components are indicated in your contract and that you have full ownership and control over them.

Remember you are protected by the Copyright Law which states that the creator (you) of the website has full and complete ownership of its assets: the content, design and programming code.

If you are not happy with your current web host services provider, you can terminate the arrangement or simply choose not to renew your contract. Then you can transfer your website to a new location.

By getting your contracts squared out from the start, you get to bring all of your website assets with you to the new home.  

So let us recap:

What You Don’t Really Own:

  • Domain Name
  • Website Platform

What You Should Own:

  • All content – text, images and videos
  • Design – text and visuals
  • Source Code

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2 Risks Of Losing Website Ownership Rights

When you lose ownership of your website, starting all over again is not as simple as it seems. You don’t just pick up where you left off because there is nothing for you to pick up on.

1. SEO Rankings –

How much time and effort did you put into your search rankings? After so many years you may have finally made it to the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Unfortunately, your website has had technical issues. Visitors complain your website is hard to access or that its download speed is very slow. Then one morning you find out your website was hacked.

You contact customer support who advised you there was no automatic backup of files. Disappointed and frustrated, you decide to terminate the agreement.

The web host service provider refuses to release your content, code and domain name because it was not stated in your contract. What happens now?

You could file a case versus the web host services provider but the reality is, you’ve lost everything you’ve worked for. You have to start again from ground zero.

2. Loss of Analytics –  

Believe it or not, an agency may withhold your historical data from you even if this was not stated in the agreement. The agency will resort to these unscrupulous tactics to get you to stay.

There are agencies that may just decide to wipe out your data once they find out about your plan to terminate their services. It is nothing but harassment, plain and simple.

Losing your historical data will deal a huge blow to your efforts to start all over again.

3 Tips On How To Protect Your Website’s Assets

With all of these scenarios in mind, is it still worthwhile to build a website? Of course! If you want to capitalize on all the opportunities available on the Internet, your business must have a website.

It all comes down to making sure your assets: text, image and video content, the source code and domain name are adequately protected. The best way to secure your assets is to address the terms and condition of the agreement with the agency before any type of work is undertaken:

1. Clarify The Conditions Right Away –

During the preliminary meeting with the agency or website designer, ask them about ownership of the website.

Before signing any document, find out how ownership is determined and the status of your proprietary assets. The response of the web designer or agency representative should be one and the same.

If the representative gives a vague answer, end the meeting right away and look for another web design agency.

2. Get Details On The Hosting Arrangement –

Did you agree to have the hosting included? If you weren’t consulted and yet it was included, you might end up with your website hosted on the proprietary platform.

This means that when you decide to say “Goodbye”, you will not be able to bring your proprietary content and the source code with you.

3. Ask The Agency To Break Down The Cost Of Their Services –

You may not be aware of it, but you could be charged with various fees in addition to web hosting services.

Again, trust and transparency are the keys to business success. It is not uncommon for agencies to add other fees and charges to their services.

Conclusion

Every time you purchase products or engage services, the transaction has to be covered by a contract.

When you buy a physical good, the invoice details the conditions of the sale. For services, these are usually covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

These contracts can appear tedious to read. You will have to go through a multitude of provisions which may contain correlations and/or addenda. Sometimes the fine print is as small as a size 8 font.

However, for your peace of mind, you have to go through the contract with a fine tooth comb. You can hire the services of an attorney. They have experience in reviewing contracts. An attorney can identify provisions which may appear onerous. You can hire the attorney to negotiate the contract on your behalf.

The bottom-line is don’t sign a contract unless you are 100% clear on what you are getting into. Once you affix your signature on a legal document, you are bound to honor it during its term.

Are you interested in setting up a website for your business? Give us a call or send us an email. We will take you through the entire process and we will uncover every stone to make sure you fully understand our web design agreement.

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Video content is essential for your business marketing strategy because it brings your brand to life. Unlike text-based content, video appeals to multiple senses: sight, sound, and feel. It is a great medium for delivering your branded value proposition. More businesses are allocating resources to video marketing. It is estimated that by 2019, 80% of online content will be done through the medium of video.

However, quality of content is not the only key to the success of your video marketing strategy. Where you upload your video likewise plays an important role in whether it will support your brand or compromise your marketing goals. As valuable as video content is, you should never host it on your website.

7 Reasons You Should Never Self-Host Videos

  1. Limited bandwidth will affect download speed.
  2. You will exceed available storage space given by web host.
  3. Slow loading video will give users poor experience with your site.
  4. You will need different versions of your video to fit various formats.
  5. It will affect the quality of the video.
  6. It will not generate the desired traffic for your video.
  7. Your video might get pirated by several websites.

Our preceding advice might sound counter-intuitive. In our article, “What Type of Website Does Your Business Need”, we summarized the many benefits of having a website for your businesses. If you want to capitalize on all the opportunities that are available on the Internet, you need a place to transact business.

We’ve described the website as your online business address. Think of it as your office on the Internet. If you are into e-commerce, selling fashion apparel, the website’s home page is like your store front window. People who click on your link would want to know what your business is all about and what your products and services are.

Therefore, given the advantages of video content that we discussed earlier, it should make sense to have a video placed on the home page.

That is correct. The videos that you find on the home page of a website are called explainer videos. The objective of the explainer video is to present the key selling points of your business in a condensed, video format; in short, a sales pitch.

According to a study by Internet Retailer, 85% of consumers purchase a product after watching an explainer video.

So yes, you should have video content positioned on your website home page. What you need to decide on is whether you should embed or self-host the video.

Embedded Videos vs. Self-Hosted Videos

There are two ways you can place a video on your website. The first approach is to embed a video which requires a two-step process:

  1. Find a Video Streaming Service – YouTube will probably come to mind right away. It is the Internet’s largest video streaming service and is the second biggest search engine after Google. You can upload videos to YouTube simply by opening a channel on the service.
  2. Copy and Paste – Find a place on your website where you want your YouTube video to appear. Copy the code from YouTube and paste it into the desired website location.

With an embedded video, you are using the streaming service’s servers instead of the server where your website is hosted.

In contrast, a self-hosted video means exactly that. You upload the video to your website the same way you would an image.

If you want to have a video appear on your website, we strongly recommend embedding the file through a third party streaming service provider rather than self-hosting or uploading it directly on your website.

7 Reasons Why You Should Never Host Your Own Videos On Your Website

You may have experienced some of the reasons we are about to discuss when you tried to play a video on a website. If you’re lucky, it may just take a while before it plays. In some case, the video will just keep buffering. For the rest, it may end up a frustrating experience as the video will not play at all.

Ask yourself how you felt when this happened to you. Were you frustrated? Disappointed? How did you feel about the website? What thoughts entered your head about the website?

Now switch roles and imagine it was your website which failed to play the video.

WordPress has features that allow you to upload videos to your website. However, just because you can does not mean you should.

An aluminum pan loaded with freshly-baked oatmeal cookies looks and smells good. It does not mean you should touch it right away because the pan itself could be scalding hot.

Self-hosting videos on your website is an easy process and seems like the best thing to do. After all, it is your video. It is only right that it should be uploaded to your website.

However, as we will explain, self-hosting videos will present problems that could be detrimental to your website and consequently, your business.

1. Limited Bandwidth

As we discussed in our article, “How To Choose Your Web Host”, there are five factors you need to consider before signing up with a web host service provider:

  • Type of security
  • Number of hosted email addresses
  • Type of data you will be storing and transmitting
  • Anticipated volume of traffic
  • Budget

These five factors will play a role in the amount of bandwidth the web host services provider will allocate for your website. Remember that a web host is like an apartment complex manager. You are just leasing space from him. And you are not the only one.

Videos are large files. Video files on HD format can easily check in at 100MB. What do you think will happen if different people click on your video at the same time?

Web host service providers have limited resources at their disposal. Other websites may also have self-hosted videos. Multiple requests for your video plus those of others on the server will stretch out those resources. Self-hosted videos will wreak havoc on the web host’s performance.

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2. Restrictions On File Size And Storage Space

Many web host service providers impose restrictions on the size of the file you can upload. Most will set the limit at 50MB per file. Right away, this restriction will prevent you from uploading a 100MB HD file or one of longer duration.

Your web host may also have included conditions in your agreement that keep you from uploading large video files. By attempting to upload videos that exceed the allowable file size, you may be in violation of the agreement’s provisions. As a result, you may find your website shut down.

If you frequently upload videos on your website that fall within the allowed file size, you will eventually exceed the amount of storage space allocated by your web host service provider.

Finally, the more self-hosted videos you have, the longer it will take to backup your website files.

3. Poor User Experience

As our scenarios played out, it can be a frustrating experience for users if the video they clicked on does not play right away or if at all.

On a single server, your website will only be given limited bandwidth by the web host. When someone clicks on your video, it will take some time for their PC or mobile device to download the file.

This will lead to unwanted pauses which come out as “buffering”. The issue will be made worse if the user has poor Internet connection.

User experience is a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. If the search engine sees that people are clicking out of your website more frequently, it will penalize you in the search rankings.

4. Tedious Video File Conversion Process

People stream videos in different ways. There are those who prefer to stream videos from their PC or laptop because they want the complete experience: widescreen and HD.

Then there are those who watch videos on their smartphones. They are probably waiting for the bus or for an appointment and just looking to pass away the time.

You will have to convert your video into formats that can accommodate the streaming preferences of your audience. Not only will this be a tedious process but your site will have a difficult time knowing which user it will send a specific file to.

5. Compromise Video Quality

This is related to the previous section. If you decide to self-host videos on your website, you’ll have to convert the file so it can accommodate different formats.

There are a number of software apps you can use to convert the file for you. Unfortunately, when converting a video file to suit different formats, you will need to use more than one software app.

Each app will have its own video file-conversion process. This means the resolution of the video; its clarity and overall quality will come out different from one browser to another.

So while your video may look great in Google Chrome, it may come out grainy in Firefox.

6. Generating Traffic and Visibility Will be a Challenge

As we mentioned earlier in the article, YouTube is the largest video streaming service on the Internet. It is also the second largest search engine; right behind its owner, Google.

By posting a video on your YouTube channel and embedding the link on your website, you can capitalize on its popularity and massive following. If you are able to consistently produce high-quality, engaging, usable and relevant video content, more people will be subscribing to your channel. Eventually, many of them will find their way to your website.

Google also included YouTube as a ranking factor in its revised search algorithm. This is another enticing reason why you should just embed videos from your YouTube channel unto your website.

If you self-host videos on your website, you will be relying on your organic and paid marketing efforts to generate traffic and enhance its visibility on the Internet.

7. Risk of Video Getting Pirated

Unless your self-hosted video files are protected from being copied, they can be pirated and illegally re-distributed on various file-sharing websites. It will be fairly easy for anyone to just copy your video’s URL, download it to their PC, where it can be re-distributed according to the needs of the cyber-criminal.

You can probably find a software app that can prevent the source code from being copied. However, you will remain at risk if the app is not frequently updated.

Conclusion

The risk of video piracy also exists when you use a publicly- accessible, video-sharing platform such as YouTube. If piracy is a big concern, there are other third- party video streaming service providers with features that prevent your content from being pirated.

All told, the advantages of embedded videos far outweigh its disadvantages. For the seven reasons mentioned above, it is a better option than self-hosting videos on your website.

If you want to know more about embedding video content on your website, you can give us a call or send us an email inquiry. We have embedded videos for a good number of clients and we can certainly do the same for your website.

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

5 Reasons For Digital Marketing When Starting Your Business

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

The Advantages Of Starting Digital Marketing Early In Your Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Builds Your Business Brand Effectively

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Digital Marketing For Business Takes Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Generate Results Right Away

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

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

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

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

5. Business Analytics Has More Reliable Historic Data

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Ways To Use Social Proof For Your Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Social Proof Has Influenced Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Get Your Users Involved

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

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

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

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

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

2. Capitalize on Customer Testimonials

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

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

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

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

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3. Pinpoint Pain Points with Case Studies

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

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

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

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

4. Connect with Influencers

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

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

5. Publish Customer Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

6. Validate Your Claims with Numbers

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

We would love to hear from you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Learn What You Can About Digital Marketing

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

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

2. Keep it Simple

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

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

3. Manage Your Time Wisely

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

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

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

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

4. Be Consistent

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

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

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

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

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

5. Track Your Performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Invest in a Mobile Responsive Website

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

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

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

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

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

2. Focus on Organic SEO

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

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

3. Build Up and Leverage Your Content

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

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

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

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

4. Utilize the Power of Social Media

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

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

5. Engage Your Audience

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now let’s get started!

1. No Website? No Problem!

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

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

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

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

2. Promote Your Business Via Social Media

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

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

3. Register Your Business In An Online Directory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Identify Your Target Market

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

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

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

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

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

5. Sharpen Your Writing Skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Track Your Performance Using Analytics

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Expand Your Network

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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