3 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

Voice Search

Here’s a question for you.

If you wanted to know what TV channel will air Conor McGregor vs Floyd Mayweather, what would you do?

In an ideal world, you’d seek an answer from your peers. And if they fail to give one, you’d turn to Google. It’s a safe choice because Google knows everything. The search engine makes it incredibly easy to find the answer to almost any question you could think of. Just type what you’re interested in knowing into the search box and voila, you’re presented with a plethora of credible resources to seek information from.

But here’s something interesting: a significant number of people are bypassing the use of Google when it comes to finding the information they’re looking for.

Instead, they’re asking their phones to find results quickly.

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Why Your Business Should Use Digital Marketing

Why Your Business Should Use Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is more than just posting on Facebook once or twice a day. It’s having a mobile friendly website for better user experience. It’s optimizing keywords for better SEO performance (and there are different kinds of SEO too!). According to Hubspot, Digital marketing “is an umbrella term for all your online marketing efforts. Businesses leverage digital channels such as Google search, social, media, email, and their websites to connect with their current and prospective customers.” Pretty simple huh?

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Digital Marketing trends in 2017

Digital Marketing

These Digital Marketing trends are expected to rule to 2017. Which ones will you be following? 

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Mobile Vs Desktop: How To Reach The Consumer On The Go

There are few things in life that actually live up to their hype. For example: The Grand Canyon, The Internet, Tesla cars, Game of Thrones, peeling plastic off of a new electronics… And of course smartphones.

Remember when your grade school math teacher drilled long division into your head because: “You’re not always going to have a calculator in your pocket”?  Guess who has the last laugh now.

I called it a while ago that 2015 would be the year on mobile. It looks like the world is beginning to agree.

Here’s why:

During their 2015 Adwords Performance Summit, Google announced that for the first time, a long time speculation came true: mobile is beating desktop in the search game. Honestly, this should not come as a real surprise to marketers. With the growing number of apps and smartphones available on the market, and the fact people are always on the go has resulted in the growth of a mobile concierge economy. Combine that with the long awaited Mobilegeddon of Google, and you have all the makings of a coup d’etat for the digital crown.

It is an inescapable truth that mobile devices have become a fundamental part of life. It is not only the screen glued Millennial’s that sleep within an arm’s length of their phones. We feel lost and disconnected when we cannot find them. I can’t be the only one who has ever experienced a phantom vibration when I don’t have my phone in my pocket.  The world is of course faster paced today and we are constantly on the move within it. So all of this mobility begs the question:

How do you reach the consumer on the move?

You can see there are numerous trends appearing around the country now if you followed the news from SXSW, or any of the other trade shows marketers frequent. One growing in popularity that I foresee really making a significant impact in the digital world is that a number of retailers have begun installing beacons inside their stores. This technology essentially is the next level of CRM (customer relationship management) device that allows for a unique and personalized bottom funnel sale /remarketing ability exclusively to mobile devices.

For another we can look to an older medium radio for inspiration. Traditional radio is sharply declining. In its place are Internet radio services like Pandora and Spotify which bring in new listeners in droves. Why is this? Simple: mobility and personalization. Consumers want things now, and they want them, the way they want them.

^Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

People are commuting farther and more frequent these days, and to help them get where they are going (mad men nod) they are using traffic crowd source apps like Waze and Google Maps to help them get where they are going.  This is an opportunity.

It is said that there is now a Uber for everything. This rise of a concierge economy is powered almost exclusively through the prevalence of mobile. Need a cab? Summon an Uber or Lyft. Want some booze but don’t want to drive? Drizly or Saucey have you covered. Have to get some laundry and dry cleaning done? Washio has your back. You can even order a doctor or a massage using the apps Heal or Zeel.

I bring this up because each of these services has an audience that is on the go. There are advertising opportunities available within each of these, as well. Google Display Advertising can allow you to place your message within these apps giving you the ability to reach people during their commute or free time.

So which is better Mobile or Desktop?

A hard question but to answer it, I’m going to take another page out of radio’s play book. Imagine search as a Hot Clock. There are high traffic times and low traffic times. Times when you know people are more likely to be on desktop, and times when they almost certainly have to be mobile. The folks over at the IDG Knowledge Hub put together a killer graphic that goes into this with a little more detail. Click here to check it out.

It is not just search in which mobile wears the crown. Take a brief look over any campaign reports from Facebook or Twitter to see how mobile your target audience is. If you separate out the placement of your ads I would wager you are likely to see a stark contrast in the CTR and impressions between mobile and desktop.

Mobile IT purchases and when people are most active on their mobile.

So should I drop desktop entirely?

Not by any means. While I am clearly an advocate of the strength of mobile over desktop, “traditional computers” (going to coin the phrase now) will still reach a broad demographic. It depends on who your audience is and what day part you want to hit them. Be honest: how many times have you watched a YouTube video or did a little Amazon shopping while on a computer at work?

When buying things online, there is still some level of distrust from consumers. Google’s Mobilegeddon aimed to relieve some of that hesitation and make the internet a bit more mobile friendly place. The trend is that consumers are doing research on their mobile devices, but when it comes to time to buy, they return to their desktops. A integrated marketing campaign will, as always, produce much better results.

What does this all mean for digital advertisers?

Bottom line? The ability to meet your target audience on the go and where they work was once a luxury, but now, it is  essential. The traditional sales funnel is changing and we as [digital] marketers must change with it.

Looking for more analytical proof about why mobile is important? Check out this blog on StrataBlue to learn more.

Want to talk more about how to advertise inside apps and search to reach your customers while on the go?

Click here now to contact us online!

Marketing Concepts and Evolution in YOUtility

I’ve certainly said my part about modern marketing concepts such as content marketing in the past. If my posts have taught you anything about marketing strategy, then I’ll consider that a win. However, my knowledge pales in comparison to Jay Baer. Baer is a consultant, public speaker and award-winning author in the field of cutting-edge marketing concepts.

I have always said that when it comes to marketing strategy, reading longer pieces is preferable to skimming short blog posts. We’re all busy, but you’ll acquire more in-depth information from a book than you will from the internet. With that in mind, I started reading Baer’s book YOUtility. He has a quick, light humor that most business books sorely need. After reading only a chapter or two, I started looking at my own marketing strategy in new and different ways. YOUtility has really shaped how I view my clients and what I’m doing for them.

One of the coolest parts of YOUtility is the explanation of the three different marketing concepts that are at work today. Instead of using typical names for these marketing platforms, Baer uses his own language, which seems much more intuitive to me.

Top of Mind Marketing is Baer’s way of describing the traditional form of disruptive marketing. Baer seems to use the phrase top of mind because this platform only works if it’s right in front of people. In essence, disruptive marketing is the practice of shouting at consumers. The only winner is the brand that is shouting the loudest. Another problem with this form of marketing is that, according to Baer, the attention span of the average person is very fractured. Top of Mind Marketing worked well when there were three TV channels, but people have a variety of choices now.

Frame of Mind Marketing is Baer’s description for search or inbound marketing. Once search engines became so powerful, many marketers and businesses were content to optimize their search results and stop there. The issue Baer has with this marketing strategy is that people aren’t searching for related products or recommendations. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are where people ask their friends about products and services. As people turn to social media, the reach of search engines begins to shrink.

Friend of Mine Marketing is really where YOUtility begins to shine. Baer describes the challenge brands face now. They aren’t just competing against other brands for attention, but against a consumer’s friends and family as well. In order to get past this avalanche of information, Baer suggests the most powerful strategy of the three marketing concepts—being useful. He uses a lot of examples, but the key concept is that a brand should offer content so useful that a consumer would pay for it, even though it’s free. That concept is the key ingredient of any successful content marketing strategy.

Even though I am covering some of the core concepts in the book, Jay Baer will be glad to see I’m skipping some key points in the book. That’s because I highly recommend getting this book for yourself. Not only should Mr. Baer be supported for his ideas, but reading his book will refresh your marketing campaign!

Gamification: Making Your Social Media Strategy Invincible

I love games and gamification. As a nerd, I’ve had a console controller in my chubby little hands since birth.

There are actually quite a few benefits to playing games. According to the American Psychological Association, video games can actually help with problem-solving and learning. It’s also been proven that playing Tetris can curb cravings for food and cigarettes.

Millennials play a lot of games, so it’s no surprise that various organizations and brands have tried to capitalize on this. Does anyone remember those slightly unsettling Burger King video games? The process of using gaming elements in other environments is commonly referred to as gamification. It’s been used to reach students in schools and tutoring programs. Companies like SAP have also used gamification in their training materials.

gamification, content strategy, marketing strategy

Tetris can help your social media strategy!

How does all of this relate to your marketing strategy in social media? The principles of gamification can easily be implemented into any content strategy plan to garner amazing results. Here are a few common examples of gamification done right.

Comment Ranking is one of the simplest ways to add gaming concepts to your content. Made popular by sites like Huffington Post and Reddit, comment ranking allows users to vote for the best comments on an article or page. Users who comment often or for extended periods become veterans or super users. This ranking system can easily be added to any WordPress page and will give your users a sense of competition and fulfillment when interacting with your blog or website.

Quizzes have become a large part of our social media landscape thanks to sites like Buzzfeed. Quizzes are not new to the internet, but their popularity continues because they allow users to discover and explore in order to gain more data. Quizzes are also helpful to web traffic for the brands that use them. These quizzes can easily be added to a brand’s Facebook page or website. They can also be used to acquire emails from potential customers.

Facebook Games started small on the social media site, but the addition of Farmville dramatically altered the field. Now, a large part of Facebook is devoted to these games. Facebook games are popular due to their innate fun, but also due to their social features. Facebook players can easily share their scores, trade game items with others and invite friends to play with them. Social features make these games quite attractive to players.

Pins fulfill a need many gamers have to complete tasks and earn reputation. Perhaps the greatest example of pinning in social media is Foursquare’s extensive badges. Foursquare users can gain badges for visiting beer breweries or completing a certain number of check-ins. Brands can easily create badges for their customers through Foursquare’s advertising platform.

What gamification elements do you use on social media? Have you tried any of these systems for your own brands? Please tell us about it below!

What’s Your Social Marketing Voice?

Recently, we recorded the first ever StrataBlue podcast. As I was listening to a recording of the StrataCast episode with a couple of my coworkers, one of them asked, “Do I really sound like that to you guys?” After a few seconds, the rest of us replied, “Yep!”

I knew exactly what she was talking about. It can be a little strange hearing your own voice coming from a set of speakers instead of your own mouth. Our brief conversation about her actual vocal qualities got me to thinking about the topic in a broader sense.

In our roles, we’re responsible for representing and upholding the voices of client organizations across a wide range of markets and industries. For skilled communicators, this voice adaptation happens instinctively and seamlessly. However, the importance of doing so effectively cannot be overstated. A company’s voice underlies every piece of communication that it presents and greatly impacts how they are perceived.

Think it through. Before jumping directly into posting and interacting on social media, take the time to intentionally consider how to best represent your company’s existing voice. Imagine your brand being a person. What type of personality do you want to portray? A polished, suit and tie-wearing professional has a much different voice than the fun, easy-to-chat-with guy/gal next door. Selecting the appropriate persona depends on your particular industry and the intended audience.

This is a great way to think of your brand’s voice. Tone, on the other hand, can be thought of as a subset of your voice, adding different flavors depending on the channel, audience or situation. For more assistance in the initial stages of voice and tone development, take a look at this handy 4-step guide from Social Media Explorers.

Voice 1

Steady wins the race. In any form of communication, written or verbal, the recipients filter others’ words through their own experiences and perspectives. This is a common source of misunderstanding. Being consistent and clear in the way you communicate while carefully choosing the words you use can help ensure they hear (or read) what you intend.

To complicate things a bit further, larger organizations sometimes have multiple individuals who distribute content on the same channel. In these cases, it’s critical that brand and marketing communication guidelines are in place so that everyone has a consistent tone and voice. Followers and fans can easily pick up on small changes. Remember, the goal above in step one is to portray a single voice.

Don’t be the stereotypical used car salesman. This tip applies even if your purpose for being active on social media is to sell more used cars! There are few things less appealing than feeling like you’re being coaxed towards a cash register. Ending a tweet or post with “click here to purchase our great widget” or “contact us today to schedule your 30-day trial” are acceptable once in a while, but not as the norm.

Instead, strive to provide worthwhile, engaging content with calls to action that focus on the benefits to the audience. For example, you might develop a social campaign to educate and inform your audience about the important changes taking place in the widget industry landscape. End those messages with a call to action that invites those interested to visit your blog or subscribe to your email list. Social marketing is a great way to have frequent contact with customers and leads while gently moving them along your sales funnel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it can replace the entire process though.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on social marketing voice portrayal. What companies have you encountered on social channels that effectively match their social voice to their broader brand voice? What specifically did they say (or not say) and how did they say it to accomplish that? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments below!


Content Marketing, Scalable Data and One Night Stands

I’m a big fan of author, entrepreneur and self-proclaimed Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik . The guy is insightful, witty and consistently shares content that entertains and educates. That’s the type of content I enjoy and like to share on my own social platforms (not to mention actually read beyond about this point in the article). In case you’re not one of Avinash’s 130k Twitter followers or haven’t attended one of his key note addresses, I wanted to share a few of his digital marketing pearls of wisdom that have led to “ah-ha” moments for me (and often, a good laugh)!

1) AK: “The metaphor I use is that the likes or +1’s are like one-night-stands. My metrics show how things went on a second or third date. How many got engaged or married to your brand? In this case, polygamy is OK. One-night-stands might feel good, but when you wake up the next day, you have nothing.”

  • Takeaway: It’s easy to get caught up in the short-term satisfaction of Facebook likes or your number of Twitter followers. While these stats are important, it’s critical to move beyond the superficial and into measurements that provide insight into areas such as conversion rate, applause rate and economic value. Guess what? Mr. Kaushik dives into this in one of his blog posts.

2) AK: “And what’s not dead? Ads that live and breathe these three strategies: entertain, inform, provide utility. The ad from Honda is a great example of Entertain and Inform. It uses immense creativity to deliver a memorable message that you might remember for a little while. Chances are also high you’ll share the ad, and increase its organic reach well beyond what Honda paid for (or could ever have paid for).

  • Take away: From a social media perspective, it’s important to share content that meets the above criteria. Sure, an SMB might not have the budget to produce a video on the same level as Honda’s. Still, before posting anything on Facebook or Twitter, always ask yourself why it’s being shared and what the goal is. If it’s not entertaining, informative or useful (and preferably all three), rethink that piece of content.

3) AK: “My keynote at the eMetrics summit yesterday was a call to arms for less obsession with data, dramatically more obsession with business (influence, experience, value) manifested via using scalable frameworks, drastic simplicity in data outputs (ex: dashboards) and use of super-amazing visualizations. The picture below represents the “notes” that [@NickSeeber] took during the keynote. See what I mean by art? Thanks Nick!”

AK picture

  • Take away: At first glance, I thought this “call to arms” might oppose the point Mr. Kaushik makes in item 1 above. However, upon closer inspection, they’re perfectly aligned. Mr. Kaushik isn’t minimizing the importance of data (he’s a data guy, after all). Rather, he’s advocating for more intelligent use and delivery of the data. When I think of scalable frameworks for example, Marketing Automation comes to mind. These platforms help SMBs track leads throughout the “sales funnel” and customer lifecycle so they can effectively deliver customized content at appropriate times.

What do you think about Avinash’s ideas? Let’s talk in the comments below. In the meantime, I’ll be working to get Avinash to follow me on Twitter. I’m not interested in one night stands though. I’ll offer him informative and useful content and try and take our relationship to the next level!

Welcome to the New Age: Marketing’s Adaptation to the World Wide Web

Being a part of the “Millennial” generation, I can proudly say that I have experienced both the new and old way of doing things in life. As a proud 90’s kid, I still remember what life was like before the age of the World Wide Web and high end technology at the fingertips of consumers. For me, growing up with hand held electronics was closely associated with the game Simon and beep, bop and boop noises.

Now things have changed and we are closer to living in a world that only science fiction had dreamed about. In this day and age, everything has changed regarding technology. For the most part, it seems that people have a mobile device that allows them to stay communicated to the outside world through videos, social media and pictures. So yes, there has been a great deal of change since the 90’s. The most interesting aspect in all this change is how marketing strategies have changed to keep up with the consumer world.

Back before the social media boom that happened in the last ten years, marketing to consumers seemed to follow a standard formula that worked for the most part. Sales and print advertising were two highly successful methods of reaching consumers and persuading them to consider purchasing a specific product. If not speaking with someone first hand, you would read about a discount in the newspaper, a magazine or even a flyer stuck on your windshield.

Now, a new formula is being used that has changed the game entirely. Marketing has found that the most successful way to reach people is online through websites due to the frequency of how many people use the internet on a daily basis. The difference in methods is that people are being sold to through social media sites. Every day, people at some point will scroll through their News Feed on Facebook and Twitter to see what is new in their world. Coming from a business standpoint, it’s the easiest way to put a small post about a weekend sale, new product or event happening. Even for a brief moment, a follower will glance at this post and that’s what truly matters.

A key aspect to marketing that many companies use to reach consumers is through online engagement. While technically not sales, these are simple interactions with a consumer, and engagement through Facebook and Twitter can improve someone’s view towards a company.

There are several benefits to utilizing this type of marketing strategy from a business standpoint. First, interacting with followers provides the opportunity for real time updates about the company and any programs currently in place. That means the consumer is able to see what is happening right now, as opposed to looking at a newspaper ad that has been in circulation for the past month. The next and most lucrative aspect is cost. Every business is continuously looking for ways to turn a profit and cut down on quarterly spending. Through online interaction, a company is eliminating paying for advertisement design, printing and distributing to the masses. Online engagement comes at the cost of your electric and internet bill (we will let you break those numbers down), or the cost of a social media manager (which is usually significantly less than print advertising). Lastly, the value of interaction and what it does for potential consumers. Online engagement at its core is just a conversation with a hint of sales. Having a real person communicate with a real customer can have endless positive outcomes. Through engagement, a company can communicate with people on a daily basis and simply check-in to see how they are doing. Selling to a customer should be done lightly. The last thing a company wants to do is spam someone’s feed because that will quickly translate into people unfollowing a company.

Engagement is much different than old timey methods of “spray and pray” advertising. This method makes a consumer feel recognized as a person and not a sales target. In sales terms, engagement is a different take on approaching customers. For example, humor can be used in a very successful way to interact and keep a brand fresh in someone’s mind. Netflix has most notably conquered this technique by constantly engaging with customers and even joking with them using witty responses and references. In one particular case, Netflix approached a customer complaint as a make believe Captain of the Netflix ship, and maintained character through the conversation with the customer. As a result the customer was so taken back by the service provided by Netflix, they posted the online conversation to a blog, which later received a fairly large amount of attention from people all over the world. That is a true testament to the lengths of what good online engagement can do for a company.

What this all means is that the world of marketing has changed in a very big way. It has transitioned from a slow moving buggy into a face paced advertising machine that is all about precision marketing to consumers. Yes, print advertising still works, but it’s cold and impersonal. Online marketing through social media has proven time and time again that interacting with people as a company has a much more beneficial outcome not only for business but the overall brand.

Casting for a Bigger Reach

So your business has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and even a Google+ page…but do you podcast?

Have you ever thought about adding a podcast to your marketing strategy? This is a fantastic way to reach a number of people that might not have been aware of you and your business. Starting up a podcast is easier than you might think. Other than a recording device, the most important aspect of starting up a podcast is coming up with pre-determined topics you want to talk about. Without at least an outline of material to talk about, you might start rambling off the topic or the dreaded “ahhhs” and “uhhhs” start coming out, which will quickly turn off listeners.

After you have come up with the topics, the next thing you will need is a recording device, obviously! But there is no need to go out and buy an expensive audio set up, you can simply use your phone to record your podcast. Make sure you are in an area that won’t have distractions and turn your phone to Airplane mode for the recording so that phone calls and texts will not be recorded.

Having someone co-host with you helps alleviate the nervousness you might get by being able to banter with them. Another great thing about a co-host is that they also can help keep you on track if you start rambling off topic. While there is also no minimum time limit for each podcast, try and stick with a general time length. If you usually record thirty minute podcasts, then going over or under by a few minutes won’t be too big of a deal. But if you happen to record one that is ninety minutes when your listeners are used to thirty minutes, it might turn them off. If you do have a ton of information on a topic, try breaking it up into a mini-series of podcasts or at least let your listeners know that this one will be longer than usual.

When you are all finished recording and are happy with it, all you have to do is publish it through to the web. Using iTunes is the most popular platform, but there are other options available. WordPress is another popular platform that also happens to be free. Do some research and find out which platform suits your needs and skill level.

So what are the benefits of adding a podcast into your marketing campaign? I’m glad you asked

  • It is easy to download so your customers can listen to it at their convenience.
  • It is one more way to personalize your brand to your customers.
  • If you are doing a “How-to” session and giving instructions, a podcast allows them to work while listening instead of referencing a sheet of paper or computer.
  • It’s a great way to reinforce topics discussed on your website, Facebook page or blog.
  • It allows you to talk about subjects that would be too lengthy to post online.

Have you ever hosted a podcast? Do you listen to podcasts?