Smart Digital Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

Trends change and they change pretty fast. This is a rule that governs businesses both big and small. When you have a small business, it’s important to have a strong digital presence. This helps keep your business fresh and alive. However, just what is needed to build a good digital presence?

That is what we’ll be discussing today.

Advertise on social media and search engines

As you have realized, social media is a pretty powerful tool. They’re easy to access and can yield a lot of good for your business. When you advertise on social sites like Facebook or Instagram, it’s important to think your campaign carefully. Your campaigns should target customers within the city your business is in or the community where your store is located. Aside from your website, your social media presence should be felt as the customers and immediate community are the most relevant and important targets for your business.

Make sure that you include relevant keywords which include your business’ physical address. Check and study the results of your ad in order to ascertain which keywords are bringing you some business and which have become outdated. Always keep a sharp eye out for trending keywords that are applicable to your business.

Make use of relevant landing pages

One of the dangers that should be avoided are irrelevant landing pages. When your ads run and get clicked by potential clients, the information they should be led to must be related to what the ad was showing.

Ads ideally need to connect your clients to relevant information within your online shop or website. So when clients click on them, they should be taken to what they are looking for. As such, your landing pages need to be well thought out. If you need to craft new landing pages for specific ads you have, it’s best to do so.

Make sure your website is up-to-date

A common error that a lot of small business make is letting their website information become outdated. Always make sure that your flagship website is loaded only with current and the most relevant information that your clients will need.

Your business’ most recent deals, offers, address and contact information should be presented. Your website’s design should also be relevant to the trends that permeates the market. Be on the lookout for web design trends and apply them to your website. Test it out if it fits your brand and alter them to suit your needs.

Always post relevant and shareable content on your business blog regularly to increase your chances of appearing in the first page of engine result pages. Also, make sure that your site has a responsive design and is optimized for mobile so customers can easily buy from you regardless of the device that they may be using.

Induce backlinks

A lot of small business owners would be amazed at how high-quality backlinks can help their brand’s credibility. This isn’t something you can’t bribe from people. You can get the attention of bloggers by drafting a shareable infographic that’s relevant to your own business.

Start by searching related topics in your industry which you think people will find interesting. Use search tools like Google Trends and Google AutoComplete to make your job easier. Write down all the points you want covered in the infographic then hire a professional to get it done for you. Once it’s done, you can email it to news sites, blogs, and influencers. If they decide to talk about it in their blogs, you’ll surely get visitors and customers flocking to your site.

Always track your progress

Analysis is always the key to finding weaknesses in your digital marketing presence. Find out which strategy helped give your business the return of investment you were targeting. Then tweak your digital marketing strategies based on the results.

Small business need a competitive digital marketing presence. By making use of the tips above, your business can expect a leg up over your competition.

Digital Marketing Tools That No Longer Get The Job Done

In the world of marketing, particularly digital marketing, there is always one thing that you can always count on: the only constant thing is change. When you have a business, you understand that everything is a race. The first to get word out and cultivate interest about a new deal, promo, event gets the biggest piece of the consumer pie. With this as the goal, it is ever important to understand which tools can help get the job done.

So today, we discuss some digital marketing tools that are no longer as effective.

Email Blasts and Campaigns

Sadly, yes. Email blasts have been one of the first digital campaign tools to emerge with the advent of the internet. It was fairly simple to create and easier to send out. However, trends have changed. The market has changed.

Now the market, in general, don’t really want to be smothered by wave after wave of emails. Yes, even from places they subscribed from. What they want now is more compact and tailor-fitted information.

Instead of doing batch blasts, the trend is shifting toward personalized and one-on-one approach. This is possible now with smarter software and trend analysis. So if your company is still heavily reliant on email blasts, it’s best to rethink your strategy ASAP.

Twitter

A tad shocking at first but no, not really. Twitter has been in trouble for quite some time now. So far, it still has some sort of foothold in reaching consumers. However, a lot of digital marketers misuse the platform by simply putting out information and not really engaging with their demographic.

Low impact tweet and overselling are often common issues that consumers have against this digital marketing tool. So while the tool may still be viable for future marketing campaigns, the way it is utilized needs to be reviewed.

Keyword SEO Reliance

Gone are the days where articles or content peppered with SEO focused keywords would be the best weapon in the digital marketer’s arsenal. Most search engines now have smarter  software to determine which articles are made for quality and which ones are keyword-stuffed.

You may notice that most keyword heavy articles rarely breech the first 5 page result of a Google Search. Instead, properly placed keywords that are contextually strategic are given priority instead. It is the quality of the content presented as a whole and not just one article that will give you the edge over your competitors.

Clickbait

While clickbait articles and campaigns have had their heyday, nowadays they end up being overlooked and outright ignored. Let’s face it, content is the best way grab the attention of the consumers. So it seemed like a stroke of genius when people started developing articles with titles like “She did X and you will not believe what happened next!”

Consumers eventually caught on about this tactic and now actively ignore such content. Even video content has gone on to try the clickbait context in their grab to reach viral status. What digital marketers need to place importance on the ROI rather than the clicks or views their material gets. It’s no longer viable to tell your boss that your promo garnered 100 likes on Facebook. How will those likes translate to conversion of sales? That is where the true focus should lie.

Top 5 Benefits of Harnessing Social Media for Marketing

While for many the quotation “slow and steady win the race” can be quite comforting, in the fast-paced world of marketing, this is hardly the case. With consumers becoming increasingly reliant upon their smartphones and other mobile devices, it is necessary for companies to have marketing teams to come up with strategies and plans to make the most of this event.

Today, we’ll be discussing the top 5 benefits of harnessing social media for marketing.

#1 Your company will lower any existing marketing costs

In previous years, it was the norm for marketing teams to rely on the distribution of flyers, securing airtime on radio stations, or even TV networks to get the word out on their deals and promotions. Today, all it takes is a dedicated computer in your office and someone to man the company’s Facebook page and other social media profiles. It would be as easy as sending a Tweet or uploading a new short video on Instagram to reach your intended audience. So instead of having to rely on other bodies to get word out about you, your own people can develop content to help generate interest and have it grow organically.

Facebook and Twitter both have paid advertising deals that still come off as cheaper than what it usually takes to launch a marketing campaign. Just be careful on who you designate as your social media manager as they are at the front line of engagement between your brand and your potential clients. All it takes is a one typo or a failed comprehension of a question to damage your brand.

#2 Increased brand visibility

With the easy access that people have now, it would be in the best interest of any company to build up their brand over social media. An instantly recognizable logo, a memorable catchphrase, and others are just a few ways in which social media can help your business. As there will still be businesses that make use of radio and TV to get their brands out, making use of social media helps put you on an even playing field for significantly less.

#3 Easier access to customer feedback

One of the key sources of understanding how your brand and services can improve is through the feedback of your clients. Those in retail, food, and the like can fully take advantage of this. Feedback also enables any marketing team to get a clear idea of whether or not a certain campaign is effective or not. It allows your clients to be your very own soundboard when it comes to promos or new items.

#4 Easier cultivation of brand loyalty

One sure way to keep your current set of clients happy is to have promos for those who are already aware of your brand. Those who follow your social media profiles are the very people you want to keep. So it would be wise for any business to offer special promos to those clients. It also helps build the interest of those who aren’t already aware of your brand. Large companies like Forever 21 make use of their social media pages to provide discounts to a limited set of their followers through promo codes.

#5 Bigger potential for enriched customer experiences

Much like how Elon Musk captivated the world with his speedy response to a customer complaint, having your hand or your marketing team’s hand in social media enable this to be possible for your brand as well. There is nothing more than a consumers love than hearing back for a complaint or a praise. Affirmation is a potent drug and your brand can give that to an eager audience.

So, there are very little pitfalls to using social media in your marketing strategies and campaigns. If your company isn’t already part of social media, what are you waiting for?

Two Trending Online Marking Strategies for 2017

A lot of businesses, both small and large, will agree that 2016 was a heck of a year for online marketing and it hasn’t wound down one bit. Its a few weeks into 2017 and a lot of savvy businesses are gearing up to see what online marketing strategies are going to be hot this year.

Marketing has always been a field dominated by those who have the foresight to plan ahead, see changes as they occur, and pounce upon trends before their competitors do—so if you have a business and are hoping to make the most of your online marketing strategy, take note of our list which will touch upon two online marketing trends that will make it big this year.

Live Video Streaming

Apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and even Facebook have all rolled out the ‘Go Live’ feature last year. A lot of companies took advantage of this and strong marketing teams are coming up with new ways to use this feature every day.

Other than using this feature to show off a latest product or even a “behind the scenes peek” at an event, businesses also make use of live streaming in other ways. Some of these include holding a Q&A with their audiences and patrons. The company Experian uses this method to chat about credit, student loans, and tips on how to improve credit scores. Other companies also make use of the live stream feature to hold customer support Q&A to address the more common issues.

It is to be remembered that live streaming isn’t something that is ‘produced’. The reason why it’s pretty popular with their audiences is because the brands and the people behind them are humanized and made organic. Live Streaming is the opportunity to get a hold of your existing supporters and reaching out to new ones—ask your followers questions, listen to feedback, and have them talk to you. This builds a stronger sync between a business and their market.

Ephemeral Marketing

If there was any lesson to pick up from 2016, it would be less is more—particularly when it comes to your digital content. If you aren’t familiar with ephemeral marketing, it’s time to brush off the dust and join the 21st century! Snapchat, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Live have all opened the floodgates for a unique way to present content grounded in real-time.

If you asked anyone in the marketing field a couple of years ago about a marketing campaign that lasted less than 24 hours—you’d probably be laughed at. However, that’s precisely what ephemeral marketing is. It offers businesses and brands an opportunity to dole out ‘exclusive’ promos and deals which expire after a certain amount of time. Nothing says urgency and limited like ephemeral content. This type of campaign reaches those who are already involved and follow your brand and uses them to get the word out about you in a faster and less costly manner.

For example, McDonald’s used the stories feature of Snapchat to craft an overachieving storyline which unfolded its new product at the end. Taco Bell has made use of stories to not only promote new products but to also showcase the customer experience of visiting a physical branch. Ephemeral marketing is used to increase awareness and drive a specific marketing action from your target audience.

Characteristics of an Effective Marketing Team

For any company that generates income through any service of any sort, the marketing team will be a crucial component for generating and landing leads. If you don’t have a good marketing team, you’ll be missing out on events and sales—and that is the stuff of nightmares for any business and not just yours! Just what are the key characteristics of an effective marketing team? This is what we’ll be diving into today.

First of all, an effective marketing team should share the same vision as you do when it comes to the direction the company is heading toward. It would make little sense to have a marketing team that goes their own way while you have your own vision about the company. To have a cohesive and meaningful effort, all those involved need to have and share a clear vision and direction. It is safe to say that if the people of your marketing team do not share you vision, it’ll be quite disastrous in the end.

Second, an effective marketing team will showcase the merits of understanding and respect between each other and yourself. It’s a no-brainer that having disrespectful people on board will lead to friction. It is better to nurture a marketing team that exhibits the capacity for mutual understanding and respect. When trust and respect are established, dealings will be smoother and there shall be little fear of any untoward dealings occurring. Also, if you want to collect and maintain contacts in your industry, having a respectful marketing team is a key component to that.

Third, an effective marketing team possesses effective communication skills to better facilitate information between all parties involved. Miscommunication can lead to the death of a business deal or a potential sales lead. So you better check if the members of your management team all have the capability for proper, professional, and proficient communication.

Fourth, effective marketing teams will have a high standard when it comes to lead quality. Well-established companies all have a strong marketing team that is able to identify high quality leads and immediately dismiss substandard ones. It is this ability that saves big companies millions of dollars and hours of manpower that might have gone to chasing a dud lead.

Fifth, an effective marketing has a sharp eye for trends (both outgoing and incoming). A good marketing team will have members that are pros when it comes to picking up on a marketing trend that’s dying or one that’s about to emerge and immediately implement new plans or campaigns to take advantage of the fact. “Thinking on their toes” is the more popular way of expressing what this attribute is.

Lastly, an effective marketing team is proactive. The old adage ‘why fix something that isn’t broken’ doesn’t carry through in the world of marketing and never so in an effective marketing team. A good marketing team will always have the mindset of “how can we make this better”. An effective marketing team does not rest of the laurels of an already established process. They will aim to actively refine and pursue better ways of doing their tasks.

An effective marketing can become the heart and soul of any business so it’s important to ensure you have the right people in place. Now looking back on the characteristics of an effective marketing team, does your marketing team possess them?

Identifying 7 Traits Of Great Leaders

Positions of leadership dictate that leaders should always work on themselves to ensure they always are effective. Therefore, a leader is expected to have several qualities that show his or her worthiness of being is such a position. Without further ado, here are 7 traits of great leaders worth noting in those tasked with such positions.

  1. Focused And Accountable

Those in leadership are expected to be focused and organized, able to plan ahead and direct the rest on what to do, when and how. A focused leader can think through several scenarios and their impacts before making any decision and is accountable to those decisions as well as the actions and responsibilities of his or her juniors.

  1. Humble Yet Not Timid

A timid person is often mistaken to be humble yet the two are very different traits. Humility is a virtue very few people have or appreciate in themselves or others. Being timid is the opposite of this, and people note it in others and take advantage of this for their gains. A greater should be humble enough to be able to fit and guide the subordinates yet not coming across as timid.

  1. Strong And Decisive

Leaders are expected to offer direction and make tough decisions whose finality may not please everyone. Such strong and resolute actions should nonetheless foster unity and collaborative approach to addressing whatever issues are at hand as opposed to being unilateral. A great leader will know how to execute such traits without appearing as impolite.

  1. Excellent Communication Skills

Those under leaderships tend to look up to their leaders for guidance for them to work effectively as a team; this calls for effective communication. A great leader should not only have excellent communication skills but also advocates for communication between him and the juniors and amongst the subordinates.

  1. Exudes Empathy

A lack of rapport between the leader and the juniors makes it hard for the team to be efficient. A leader should be empathetic to the various issues that his or her subordinates raise or face. If the team knows that their leader understands and sympathizes with their concerns, then it will be inclined to work with the leader and share in his or her vision.

  1. Exudes Optimism

An optimistic leader fosters the same level of optimism to the juniors thus is a source of positive energy. Such a leader will have excellent communication skills and often is genuinely concerned about the team’s welfare. The leader knows what to say to reassure and inspire others to give their best even when under pressure to deliver.

  1. Relentless

A leader should not only know how to ask the right questions but also be ready to give answers to issues the team is unable to resolve. A great leader understands that the team will not always have all the answers and is willing to work with the team so as to plug the gaps and increase the team’s effectiveness.

The 7 traits of great leaders are such a select few of the qualities that people in positions of leaderships are expected to have and portray.  They are characteristics or qualities that need constant re-evaluation and working on for those in such positions to be effective and efficient leaders.

UnME Brand Marketing

UnME Jeans’ Brand Marketing

UnME Jeans is an up and coming business in the junior denim market.  UnMe’s lettering, standing for “you and me,” was designed to encourage women to create their own unique identities and to foster tolerance and appreciation for the diversity of peoples’ opinions and tastes.  The jean line included fashion-forward jeans with highly decorated designs containing glitter, jewels, and metalwork.  These jeans could be purchased at upscale department stores and specialty retails stores across the United States and sold at a slight premium to comparable brands because of their image.  UnME jeans were seen as a very valuable brand because of their uniqueness.  The jeans were produced in small lot sizes, making each jean style a limited edition that would not be seen again.  The UnMe brand targets women ages 12 to 24 who are trend setters and style leaders in their schools and communities; these individuals are the “popular” women that lead the way when it comes to socially fashionable attire.  In regard to advertising methods, UnME Jeans used 30 second TV ads, 60 second radio spots on the Top 40 radio stations, a corporate website, online banner and display ads, and targeted search “keyword” ads on sites like Google.

As Generation Y has moved into the social media spotlight, marketers have had to think more creatively and change the ways they advertise.  Web 2.0 applications are the newest buzz.  These applications deliver software as a continually-updated service that gets better as people continue to use it.  Users upload their own data for others to mix and modify.  Wikipedia and MySpace are two companies that serve as great examples of the power of these types of applications.

Margaret Foley, brand manager of UnME jeans, must decide which social media outlet she would like her jeans to be a part of.  Her advertising agency has narrowed the list to Zwinktopia, Facebook, and YouTube.

Zwinktopia is a virtual world where people create profiles, mimicking themselves.  People can then outfit their profile people as they would themselves.  This would cost $200,000 initially and have a recurring charge of $100,000 per year.  Facebook is a social networking site.  UnME would develop a profile page in order to model the jeans on a fictional character and generate interest.  This would cost $350,000 upfront and cost another $150,000 for a 3-month advertising program on the website.  YouTube is a website that allows users to upload their own video content.  If this was chosen, three 4 minute ads would be created about teen girls who embodied the essence of UnME jeans.  This would cost $300,000 upfront and another $300,000 media buy (brand channel and in-video ads).  Foley must now decide how to evaluate the three options by measuring ROI for each.  Unfortunately, she is unsure which objective measures to use in measuring ROI.

The unrealistic part about this is the cost for the YouTube campaign.  The $350,000 up front cost is absurd – not even close to what it would likely cost in reality.  Thousands of dollars, yes, but not 100’s of thousands.

Newton Fire & Flood is one of many post sponsors who use social media as a primary method of generating interest and attracting more potential customers.

Cruise Ship Marketing

In light of the difficult economic and competitive conditions, should Cunard use a more “sale-oriented” format with more emphasis on price for its tactical advertising?

Prior to 1991, the cruise industry’s luxury segment was driven by supply, and there were only ten ships; the more capacity a company added, the more sales they made.  In late 1991 however, demand slowed, creating excess industry capacity.  This was partly caused by the Iraq War, which affected all companies with cruises near Europe and the Mediterranean.  As a result, many companies have resorted to strong sale-oriented advertising formats focusing on heavy promotion and discounting.  Holland America Lines, for example, announced a “$1000 off” sale on its entire line of four star cruises.  This type of format is price-oriented, and therefore, has the potential to damage a brand image associated with high quality and elegance.  Therefore, Cunard must alter its approach slightly.

In order to stay afloat in this tough economy, Cunard will need to implement a sale-oriented format.  However, instead of using blatant statements of sales and discounting, Cunard needs to mention price in an understated manner.  A great example of this is the “Cruising to the Sun” advertisement that Cunard ran on March 1, 1992.  This advertisement announced a sale on cruises, but did not mention lowering the price.  Instead, it stated that a second traveler could join for free if the cruise was booked on March 4, 1992; this was a more subtle approach as opposed to the aforementioned advertisement run by Holland America Lines.  So, for the time being, Cunard must mention price in a subtle way in its tactical advertising.

 

In better economic times would your judgment differ regarding the above?

Yes, if the economy was thriving, Cunard would be smart to avoid a sale-oriented format. Cunard’s target market is people age 55 and older in the top 3-5% of income for its five star cruises and people age 45 and older in the top 20-25% of income for its four star cruises.  These consumers are more affluent, and as a result, will likely be more concerned with quality than price in regard to cruises.  In better economic times, using a sale-oriented format would negatively impact Cunard’s brand image of high quality and elegance.  Cunard would be better off maintaining its strong brand image that appeals to its target market.

 

What is your recommendation to Cunard regarding the balance in the focus of marketing communications between the overall Cunard identity and image, and the identity and image of individual ships?

First and foremost, our target market is affluent individuals.  These consumers have disposable income that they are willing to spend on vacation-like cruises.  Within the target market, these consumers can be categorized into subsets based on their varying tastes.  Consequently, Cunard needs to work from the outside in, or “drill down.”  Cunard should focus on its overarching brand first, and then focus on crafting the image of different categories of ships.  The consumers must desire to go on a cruise before they will look into what cruises are available.  So, Cunard needs to first instill the desire to go on a cruise by promoting its overall identity and image.  After that, Cunard can educate the consumers on the various categories of ships and what each ship has to offer.

 

Which marketing communications element do you believe should receive greater/lesser emphasis by Cunard?  Why?  Specifically, what about the role of direct marketing?

The travel agent/brochure marketing element should be emphasized more because 95% of Cunard’s customers booked cruises through travel agents.  The brochure describes Cunard as a company, giving a brief overview of its history and what makes it great, and the travel agent closes the sale by encouraging the consumer to book a cruise.  In regard to direct marketing, Eleanor Leslie, Vice President of Corporate and Marketing Communications, states that mailings have shown to be much more effective for targeting consumers of the five star cruises than those of the four star cruises.  In light of this, Cunard should place less emphasis on direct mail for four star cruise consumers and redirect this emphasis to direct mail for 5 star cruise consumers.  An important point to note is that each direct mailing has a statement encouraging the consumer to contact their travel agent for more information.  Combined with an increased emphasis on the use of travel agents, direct mail should have a greater success rate.

 

What are the implications of the success of the “one-day sale” for Cunard?

The most obvious implications of the one-day sale are short-term.  The revenue generated from the sale was ten times more than the cost, which is spectacular.  Throughout the company, this was seen as a great success because it caused an immediate increase in sales.  From a long term perspective however, this one-day sale faces Cunard in a direction that will eventually harm its brand image.  Cunard has an image of high quality and elegance, which is associated with premium pricing.  By offering sales on its cruises, Cunard risks diluting its brand image over time.

 

What effects do you expect of the impending organizational change to have on marketing communications at Cunard?

Currently, each ship has a marketing planning executive who has similar responsibilities to that of a product manager.  Each executive controls tactical strategy, like revenue, pricing, marketing efforts, and gross margin for his respective ship.  The development and execution of advertising and other marketing communications (strategic responsibilities), such as public relations, are completed by the marketing communications staff that Eleanor Leslie leads.

The impending organizational change would mean that the strategic and tactical measures for each category of ship would be controlled by a different marketing executive.  Leslie’s staff would maintain control of certain marketing communications activities.  Leslie fears that this organizational change will further dilute the Cunard brand because the marketing executives will spend too much money on promoting individual ships and their categories, and not enough on the Cunard brand name.  Secondly, Leslie and her staff will lose some central control over the specifics of marketing and communication.  Lastly, this new organizational structure will lessen marketing integration within Cunard and make it much more difficult to control marketing communications between the different ships and over different forms of media.

 

How would you prioritize and address the challenges facing Cunard?

The primary issue is how to maintain effectiveness, integration, and coordination of marketing efforts.  If the marketing executives do not focus enough advertising on Cunard as a brand, it will be difficult to maintain its image of high quality and elegance because consumers will develop perceptions of specific ships or categories of ships instead of relating them to the umbrella brand.  First, Leslie needs to set minimum standards on how much money to spend on advertising for the Cunard brand name.  With this measure in place, at least Cunard’s brand name will receive some attention from advertising.  Second, Leslie needs to maintain an open channel of communication with each of the four marketing executives, and have them report to her with updates on their plans and actions whether strategic or tactical so she can review them with her staff to make sure they are in the best interest of the Cunard brand name and the image of each of the ships and their respective categories.

Budgeting is the next issue that needs to be dealt with.  Each category of ships needs to be given an equal amount of money for promotion of the Cunard brand name.  Money for advertising and promotion of categories and individual ships can be given out based on the percentage of Cunard’s total sales volume; the ship with the highest sales will receive the most money.