How To Digitally Target The DIY Weekend Warrior

By 2017, the US DIY (do-it-yourselfer) market is expected to balloon to a whopping $40.7 billion annually. So if you happen to have a product that lands in that market, your industry is on an uphill climb. All that means, however, is your market will only become more competitive and more segmented.

So what are the best target demographics for the DIY shopper? To start, let’s look at the home life of your regular DIYer. Using some of the many tools available we can come up with a buyer persona. This build out would clearly change depending on the product, but for the sake of argument, let’s pretend you’re searching for someone wanting to renovate a kitchen or another room in their house.

Read More

How to UN-Star Wars Your Google Account. *Spoiler Free*

Did you hear Star Wars is coming out? By now most people by now have seen the movie, and nearly everyone has seen at least some of Disney’s advertising for it. No matter how in your face Disney was with the Star Wars promotion, most were harmless (though perhaps overdone) and some even clever. There a few special occasions that they may have gone overboard though….

Read More

Why Your Business Is Wrong In Targeting “Millennials”

Millennials

Your business shouldn’t be targeting “millennials.” By that, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t be marketing to individuals within that age group. Rather, your business needs to stop thinking of all millennials as “millennials” and think of them as more than that.

Read More

READ.THIS.OR.DIE. How to reach the working post-grad. 22-28

Did that catch your attention? You made it this far, so it must have. But now you are starting to see this isn’t a life or death situation, and that I may have used that title to trick you into reading this blog. Your interesting is fleeting, and you are considering pressing the back button. Odds are by now you already have.

Read More

Are Your Pictures Really Your Pictures?

If an image is uploaded to the internet, it doesn’t become public property. That’s common knowledge, especially in the business world. These lines seem to have gotten a bit fuzzy on social media though, especially on Instagram.

Read More

Top 6 Reasons I Won’t Read Your Blog

Everyday brands make crucial mistakes with their blog posts. From old school ways to improper keyword research the list of reasons I won’t read your blog is endless.

To prevent this mistakes, first ask yourself the following questions before you sit down to write your blog post:

  • What do you personally look for when searching online for blog posts?
  • Why do you stay on the page?
  • What details of the blog, appearance wise, attract you to a blog?

Once you answer these very important questions you just might be ready to start writing. But before you hit the keyboard, make sure you read my top 6 reasons for why I won’t be reading your blog.

No Images

One of my biggest pet peeves when reading a blog is that there are no images. Putting content out on the Internet is all about being visually appealing and engaging. It’s pretty much a no brainer that all ‘step-by-step’ type of blogs must include imagery. Infographics, sidebar images and Sildeshares also make great imagery additions to a blog. Just think, do you thoroughly enjoy reading a short story that doesn’t have pictures?

Top 6 Reasons I Won’t Read Your Blog

Blog Tip:

Take your blog visuals to the next level with an embedded video. Here’s a simple step-by-step of how insert videos into blog posts.

Boring Headline

The headline is your blog’s first impression to its audience. A headline must be compelling enough to lure in readers. Need help creating a great headline? Check out this previous blog on engaging headlines written by one of our team members.

 

Bad Design & Layout

And now we’re back to the visuals. Can you see a trend? There’s nothing worse than reading a blog that just isnt’ ease on the eyes. Maybe it’s the background, maybe it’s the font, but sometimes a blog can just look plain ugly. When creating your blog page or updating a page, be sure you are choosing colors and fonts that are coordinating and user friendly. Make sure colors don’t clash and that the font is more practical than ‘cool looking’. If you have a designer on your team, I would suggest consulting with them on what looks best.

Top 6 Reasons I Won’t Read Your Blog

 

Pop-Up Galore

There’s a time and place for pop-ups on a blog and the first 2 seconds on the page is not the time. Strategically timing your pop-ups are essential. Think about the process of reading a blog and then base your plan around that. Just keep in mind pop-ups should engage, not annoy readers.

 

Spelling Errors

Nothing is more irritating than having to pull out your red pen and edit a live blog. Spelling and grammar errors can distract from the reader’s experience. It also decrease your credibility. I suggest having team members edit your work before you hit post.

 

Not Replying to Comments

You take the time to create and publish a blog post, but neglect to reply to someone’s comment… What’s up with that? The work doesn’t stop after the blog is up. Be sure your alerts are set to send to your email so you can reply to comments and questions in a timely manner.

Top 6 Reasons I Won’t Read Your Blog

 

What really grinds your gears when it comes to blog posts? Let me know in the comments below! (I promise I’ll reply.)

5 Dos and Don’ts to Create Awesome Email Marketing CTA Buttons

In any type of digital marketing campaign, some form of Call to Action (CTA) is always necessary. Calls to Action make your campaigns purposeful for both for the consumer and the brand advertising. One area in particular where I’ve seen the importance of a strong CTA is in email marketing.

In my naïve days as a novice digital media account manager, it wasn’t entirely clear to me that a CTA was necessary within an email. I just thought a similar “Visit our Website” tag would simply get the job done. But boy was I wrong. After testing several different types of email strategies using Call to Actions, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes a bold, clickable button is the best way to increase click-through rates.

Questions we here very often are: “What makes an email marketing campaign successful?” “What are good open-rates and click-through rates?” The short answer: it depends. A lot of factors come into play. MailChmp offers the most comprehensive benchmarks for opens and clicks and break it down by industry and company size. Click here to learn more.

You may think this epiphany is pretty silly, but you would be surprised at how many big brands aren’t utilizing this simple idea. Don’t fall victim to low click-through rates. Follow my Do’s and Don’ts for foolproof clickable email call to action buttons.

1. Do: be big, bold and clear

The whole point of your email is to have your audience take action and click. When creating your button go big or go home. It’s important that people know that they are supposed to click, so make the button stand out by using colors and bold fonts.

Email marketing CTA buttons drive cheap conversions!

2. Don’t: overwhelm your audience with too many CTA buttons

Don’t confuse your email subscribers! They trust you. Be sure to narrow down what you would like the user to click or you risk no click whatsoever. This will be made evident by the click results at the end of a deployment.

3. Do: use Google URL Tracking

This habit has almost become second nature to me. Trackable urls that are linked to your Google Analytics account are extremely important for reporting and measuring success. Doing this two minute URL tracking setup will absolutely make a difference. You can create Google URL tags here.

4. Don’t: use the same color button over and over

The greatest thing about marketing is the ability to test different methods to see what works best. Try using different colored buttons to see which receive the best CTR among your audience. You may be surprised!

button2

5. Do: be specific

Nothing can be more frustrating than a vague message. Let your users know exactly what their getting themselves into when they click your button. Here are a few examples:

  • Book Now
  • Download Now
  • Buy Now
  • Learn Now
  • Find A Store Near You
  • Get Directions
  • Shop Now
  • Speak to an Expert

In the end, the difference between being tacky with your CTA buttons and being strategic all depends on the deliverable and goal tied to the campaign. A great button is well thought out and has a specific purpose. I urge you to always be testing your use of Calls to Actions and use that information to build even better campaigns. I also urge you to not miss out on the opportunity to use clickable buttons!

Want more tips on creating top-notch email marketing campaigns? Check out this post on 5 Email Marketing Tips to Help You Increase Engagement.

Or, if you’ve read enough and are convinced we are email marketing experts, contact us today to talk strategy. Click below to get the conversation started!

Managing email marketing campaigns can be time consuming.

4 Tips for Creating a Successful Instagram Marketing Strategy

Using Instagram is more than just posting photos via the mobile app and adding cool filters. If you wish to build your brand’s digital presence using the social media platform, you better be thinking strategically. Follow these tips to ensure you have a successful Instagram marketing strategy.

1. Find A Clear Goal

What are you looking for by starting an Instagram account? Are you wanting to increase brand awareness? Increase your sales? Or are you looking to explore connecting with a new demographic that you haven’t already reached with other digital media platforms? By first addressing what you wish to accomplish, you can better hone in on exactly what to post and your voice will be better heard.

2. Be Consistent

Many brands fall into the trap of not regularly posting. As an Instagram user this is definitely a red-flag to unfollow. Most users are looking to follow accounts who post at least two times a day with relevant and engaging content. Don’t fall victim to the inconsistent posting patterns that a lot of brands do.

3. Balance

Balance is key to creating an Instagram campaign that is engaging and also informational. People who use Instagram are interested in viewing photos that are aesthetically pleasing and shareable. All too often I see brands solely promoting their products rather than trying to tell a story.

Instagram marketing using hashtags.

Lilly Pulitzer used the branded hashtag #lillyfortarget to promote their collaboration line.

Instagram is meant to be a more informal social platform where it’s okay to be personable,human, and even funny. Your profile should include a well-represented mix of fun and business related content. Try these examples:

  • Create how-to videos of certain products you sell
  • Spotlight employees
  • Repost fans photos using a Repost app
  • Find creative ways to display your products on Instagram
  • Participate in iconic hashtag says throughout the week: #ManCrushMonday, #WomenCrushWednesday, #ThrowbackThrusday and #SelfieSunday

4. Branded Hashtag

A branded hashtag is perfect for giving your brand a presence on Instagram. Although it might take some time before your hashtag takes off, don’t ;et this stop you from creating one. Once your account gains more popularity, a branded hashtag will help you connect and engage with followers.

In the end, Instagram isn’t a tool to drive traffic to your website. It’s really hard to do. In fact, Instgram only allows one hyperlinked address and that’s on the profile page of an account. Rather, brands should use it to build an audience using interesting, fun, and entertaining images than are worth sharing.

Need help kick-starting your Instagram marketing and brand strategy? Let us offer our expertise. Click below to contact us today to get the conversation started.

Need help with an Instagram marketing strategy? Contact StrataBlue today!

Canva: A Social Media Expert’s Best Kept Secret

The key to becoming a successful social marketer is to constantly be thinking of innovative ideas and always work creatively. Enter Canva: a graphic design tool for everyone. Canva is an Australian based start-up that sky-rocketed back in August 2013, when they raised over $3 million from distinguished technology-based investors. It has a major emphasis on creating graphics that are friendly for all social media platforms including, but not limited to: Facebook and Facebook Advertising, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube.

Recently, I’ve discovered how to use Canva as an essential social media tool for anyone wanting to enhance their digital presence.

Canva’s Top Features

Customized Dimensions: Canva offers several types of social dimensions including ads, cards and blog post headers.

Pre-made Content: Templates make creating designs easy but you can also have a creative guide.

FREE Stock Images: Choose from several FREE stock images from a variety of categories. There are also images available for purchase.

Fonts Galore: Several fonts make creating unique designs.

Drag & Drop Tool: Users can easily place their graphics using an easy-to-use drag and drop tool.

Simple User Interface: Canva makes creating your designs easy by not including all the extraneous editing tools other photoshop tools have. This saves time because users can’t constantly second guess themselves with several filters and other art tools.

Creative Stream: Designers block? Click the Stream tab to view in real time other Canva user’s designs.

Accessibility: Canva is available for desktop and iPhone/iPad mobile apps.

Getting Started with Canva

Like I mentioned, Canva is extremely user friendly. Follow these steps to begin your first design.

  • Choose Dimension
  • Choose a Template
  • Create Content or Insert Photos
  • Let your creativity run wild!
  • Download as a PDF or Image File

How Can You Use Canva?

Canva is perfect for creating images for a client or even for personal social platforms. Even with a full-time graphic design team on your side, sometimes it’s nice to take a shot at creating your own designs. Below are some of my personal ideas for using Canva in my career as a digital media account manager:

Holiday Graphics for Social Media

Holiday Graphics for Social Media

Blog Post Headers

 

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads

Pinterest

Pinterest Graphics

Expand Your Skills

In all honesty, one of my major future goals is to develop design skills so I can be a triple threat in the industry. Canva allows me to do that. I get to use my way with words and turn them into a visual piece of art. As every social media expert knows, imagery is essential for creating top-notch campaigns: especially professional looking imagery. Using this tool can help you stand out in a crowd and even impress your clients.

What are you waiting for? Sign up for Canva NOW… It’s free!

Or, if you’re interested in other social media tools I keep in my back pocket, check out this blog on Instagram Marketing Tools or this one on Optimal Social Media Posting Times.

How To Write Top Notch Blog Posts That Your Audience And Search Engines Will Love

Please pardon the extreme irony of this blog post… a blog about how to write a great blog, when I think about it, is pretty funny. But, I have proven strategies and loads of insight that I want to share about blogs! So, here it goes:

First things first – know your audience

Demographic analysis, buyer personas … whatever you choose to call it, arguably the most important step is doing the research to understand your ideal customer profile. Chances are, there will be multiple and the beauty of it is, you can write blog posts tailored to each segment. For instance, for the sake of transparency, I’m writing this blog specifically for digital marketers who want to gain an edge when creating blogs either for their clients or the company which they are employed. The ultimate goal of any blog post is drive conversions and in order for there to be conversions, there needs to be eye balls reading the post (specifically eye balls coming from the head of a qualified lead!)

Know what your audience is searching for

I wrote a blog a few months ago that urged content creators to lean on their data rather than gut instinct and though I have waffled at times on that thought, I always refer back to the data before making ANY content decisions. The best way to get a pulse on your audience is to research to find what keywords their searching for. Tools I would suggest using are: Google Analytics, Google Trends, and Google Keyword Planner. If you want to take it a step further and conduct a more thorough analysis, use moz, semrush, or BrightLocal to have a full evaluation. Because time is always of the essence, I suggest using the first 3 options to expedite the research process before writing. When doing keyword research, always keep this formula in mind for selecting the right keywords:

Search Volume + Difficultly = Opportunity

Analyze search trends and volume before starting your blog post.
Google Keyword Planner will be our go-to for this. Quick tip: make sure and enter short tail and long tail variations when researching! Now, the keyword planner will give you average monthly search volume and 12 month trends as well as difficultly level but the opportunity end of the equation is what you would use moz for. However, when you see search volume, CPC information, and difficultly level all laid out in front of you, it’s pretty easy to deduce whether you should target that phrase or not.

Bottom line, once you have your topics validated with search volume and you’ve selected a phrase with a couple variations that have the opportunity to get rankings for, start writing!

Where to place the keywords when writing

This next step is often times referred to as on-page keyword optimization. This is the section that the search engines like. Though, something important to keep in mind, only 20% of keyword ranking comes from on-page optimization. The other 80% is off-page optimization which, in short, is primarily based on influencer outreach and backlinking. (We’ll cover this topic more extensively in other blog posts in the coming months.) Here is a list of places where your keywords MUST be used when optimizing on-page content:

  • Headline
  • Within the URL
  • H1 Tag (typically the first part of the body section)
  • SEO title
  • Meta description
  • Category tag(s)
  • Post tags
  • a href or link title tags
  • Hyperlinks to internal and external pages with similar keyword content
  • Inner page content used at least 3-5 times with long tail variations
  • Image URL structure (aka, save your image files in a clean, non-caps format)
  • Image title tag
  • Image ALT text

An important piece to remember when strategically placing keywords throughout your blog is to make them appear natural and human. Yes – Google loves rich content with accurate keyword usage but if it sounds robotic, your audience might get turned off. An example of this would be if I made this blog post’s SEO title: Blog Writing in Indianapolis | How to Write Blogs – or some quirky variation of that.

Aside from keyword placement on your blog post, another piece to consider is worth length in general. It use to be “the more pages that Google indexes, the better” – which still carries a lot of weight – but the trend now is long blog posts with rich content. What does that mean in regards to word count? The answer isn’t that simple because honestly, it depends. Seth Godin, for example, has one of the most popular blogs on the internet and his word count ranges from 100 to over 1,000. As a rule of thumb, always try and aim for a minimum of 500. This post will be over 1,000, I’m sure, but that’s just because I’m passionate about blogging – if you can’t tell.

Blog flow and ending with a bang

Blog writing has been mastered by Seth Godin.The flow of a blog post has a high level of importance because if you don’t have your copy broken out with sub-headers, bullet points, and images, it’s going to look like a sea of letters that nobody will have an interest in reading. Aside from BuzzFeed’s edgy way of blogging with topical humor and nostalgia, how do you think they originally went viral? Here’s a hint; it wasn’t because they wrote in a traditional manner with paragraphs, grammar, and punctuation! They pushed the envelope and wrote out lists… lists with digestible information that were funny and interesting.

Now, I’m not saying every blog should be like BuzzFeed. Though they have mastered the art of going viral, they are, as the aforementioned Seth Godin put it in a Ted Talk from years ago, the Purple Cow of the internet. They created something remarkable that gets viewed by millions of people everyday. Not many companies can say that about their blog let alone their website.

So from top down, really zero in on your blog before publishing. Since you are the author, you of course will be biased and think it’s the greatest piece of literature since Shakespeare. But before you start comparing your blog to Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, make sure it’s something that flows nicely and is approachable, readable and, most importantly, interesting and entertaining.

That “ending with a bang” I was talking about

Every blog post serves a purpose and as previously mentioned, the purpose of this post is to empower you with blogging knowledge. I’m not the only one who knows how to blog at StrataBlue! In fact, it’s something that we’re known for as an agency. If you’d like to look into options for us taking blogging off your to-do list, simply give my man Tyler Moore a call at 317-207-0195. Or, click the button below to fill out a brief online form. Thanks for tuning in and happy blogging!

Blog writing - redefined.