It’s hard to decide where to begin when it comes to the things we are thankful for. There are so many things that I even considered a spreadsheet to keep track. But here’s an attempt at offering an idea of the many things we have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving:
There’s a lot to worry and complain about in our world today. There’s also no doubt that there is no other country in the world that has spread freedom and opportunity like the USA has. To a very large degree, we have those who serve in our military to thank for that. We often take for granted our ability to do things like get to our jobs safely. Their impact is huge and we are grateful.
I realize it’s a bit cliché to mention family in this context. However if you know anyone at TKG, you know we mean it.
Opportunities We’ve Been Given:
Of course our jobs are a result of the opportunities we have been given. We have many friends, clients and organizations in the community to be thankful for. We’ve been blessed with many years of opportunity to grow, learn, do good work and earn a living because of them.
We aren’t perfect. We are constantly working to become better at every level in our company. I am personally thankful for a team that is working so very hard make that happen.
Of course this isn’t everything we have to be thankful for. These are just a few of the things that when we step back for a moment, we are very thankful God has done for TKG.
The holiday season is right around the corner. The Sunday paper is getting thick with ad circulars, email inboxes are filling up with holiday promotions, and let’s not forget about the looming deals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
According to research released by Internet Retailer, it is projected that a record 44% of U.S. holiday shoppers will be making online purchases in 2014—an astonishing 13% increase from last year! And we can be certain that those shoppers are going to be looking for the best deal in town.
Admittedly, before I make any kind of online purchase, I do a quick Google search for an available coupon code. I mean, who doesn’t? If you have an eCommerce business and you are offering coupon codes (and believe us – you SHOULD be offering coupon codes), here is a list of the top sites we recommend!
RetailMeNot – RetailMeNot receives more traffic than any other coupon site. They boast more than 500,000 coupons from 50,000 online retailers. Creating an account is easy and submitting a coupon code takes just a few minutes. You can upload your brand’s logo to help users recognize your deals easily.
Coupons.com – Coupons.com typically ranks just under RetailMeNot when you do a search for coupon codes. Users have the ability to search coupon codes for online shopping but they also have a section for coupons that you can clip and print to take to local retailers. Sign up was a bit hard to find (they call it their affiliate program) but once do get there, sign up takes just a few minutes.
The Mommy Insider – This is a blog-based coupon platform which means that tons of mommy bloggers, who are already out scouring the web for the best deals, might have already stumbled across your coupon code and submitted it themselves. Submitting a coupon to the site is easy and allows you to upload brand logos and product images.
PromotionCode.org – Although this isn’t the prettiest site, it has a good reputation and submitting a coupon is easy (and doesn’t require you to create an account). You just plug in your website and the name of your coupon and you are done.
YOUR Website – It’s true, try adding a page to your website that offers customers 10% off or free shipping using a code that can be found through organic search. Start by creating a landing page specific to your deal, write some catchy copy using your already existing product keywords, and give your audience the coupon code. Your website’s existing rank with Google and a brand-specific search could have your coupon code landing page ranking high on the list.
Don’t be afraid to offer coupon codes to your shoppers, if someone is shopping for the best deal in town, shouldn’t it be YOUR deal?
All year long you’ve been working on online marketing efforts, putting time and money into your website. We are sure 2014 has been one of your best years ever.
As you head into 2015 and plan to make this next year even better, there are a few items to focus on to meet your new business goals. So we polled our experts and looked back through our archives this year to bring you the top 5 things to think about for your website in 2015
If your website is not easily accessed from or adaptable to any mobile device, or if you’ve been using mobile workarounds, or if you hear the term “responsive design” and say “huh?” then it’s absolutely time for a change.
(Seriously. We cannot emphasize this one enough.)
With more and more customers approaching access to the Web fluidly from any device, it’s more important than ever that your information and products be accessible and viewable on any screen.
No matter how good your online marketing strategy is currently working for you, it’s always wise to review your efforts and update them if necessary.
For example, you might place an emphasis on customer service in your business and have your 800 number prominently displayed in your utility navigation on your website. But have you thought about capturing customers sooner with the added convenience of live chat?
Or what about the use of opt-in SMS messaging for coupons or reminders? Sending some of your online ad budget toward Clickbank or Commission Junction? Custom landing pages for specific articles or capture opportunities (e.g. grabbing customers from a trade show)? YouTube, Facebook or Twitter ads? Sponsored Pins on Pinterest? Instagram contests?
If you have an idea, a niche audience or an upcoming campaign, consider tactics that may not have once been a part of your regular online marketing strategy.
Just to get you started, here are a few articles from TKGenius:
OK, when was the last time you audited your product listings and made sure every photo was up to date, compelling and showed your product accurately? How about the last time you went through your descriptions and updated them? Or–gasp–are you still listing products you no longer carry?
What about your forms? Are you still using tiny boxes with hard to read fields, or requiring information that makes it hard for customers to fill them out easily?
Do you always remember to update your copyright year on your website? What about your profiles on Social Media? Do they currently reflect your current brand message?
Auditing your site can take time, but is well worth the effort. Here are even more helpful articles from our experts:
What message is your website REALLY conveying? Is it consistent with your overall brand message?
It’s easy for brands to overlook their messaging online. Cluttered homepages, mis-matched logos across Social profiles, and landing pages that are all text actually detract from your overall message.
We’ve often found that many businesses are really good with their print messaging, but, for whatever reason, this messaging gets lost online. Part of the problem is due to feeling like everything needs to fit on one screen, instead of strategically using content, images, SEO or other tactics to funnel a visitor exactly where you want them.
Making your product or service offering the center of attention and erring on the side of minimalism in your design is actually a better way to convey your message. It’s also easy to employ the use of sidebar stickies or custom slider photos or videos to convey your message. And don’t forget the use of your blog or Social Media to reinforce your message regularly.
Unless you’ve been ignoring the online marketing sphere for, oh, the last eight years or so, you’ve probably heard the term “content” or “content marketing” at some point. But as both consumers, marketers and Google are getting more savvy, regularly publishing compelling content that truly reflects your brand and your message is more important than ever.
So does your content truly show your brand’s personality? Is it communicating your message and promotions clearly? Is it relatable and easy to understand? Does it work in harmony on all your channels? Does it include all types of content, especially multi-media?
Here are just a few articles (of the many) to help you create your best year ever in content:
So you’re using Instagram for your business. Good idea! Instagram, like Pinterest, is doing wonderful things visually for businesses and brands.
But to really stand out from the crowd, it’s not enough to simply snap a photo, slap a filter on it and hope for the best. In fact, this approach has the potential to harm your brand more than help it. Remember, you’re competing for “double taps” (Likes) along with professional photographers, celebrities, and brands that aren’t afraid to go to extremes.
So here are 5 ways to take your Instagram account to the next level.
Include your account in your content calendar
To make the biggest impact with Instagram, always incorporate your images as a part of your regular content calendar. While one-off, spontaneous photos are always an option with the platform, having at least a general idea of the kind of content you want to post will help direct and guide your photographers throughout a week or month.
Take, for example, Saturday Night Live’s Instagram account. During the week, they take photos of the general arc of the show: first big pitch meetings, then writers working hard on sketches, then costumes and sets in progress, then celebrity rehearsal sightings. Come Saturday night, it’s all behind the scenes photos of performers running backstage, changing costumes, or joking around between sketches. All day Sunday they post follow up photos of big moments backstage, after party candids, or what performers do on their day off.
Your business may not have a similar weekly arc, but you likely have certain sales cycles, big events or other promotional efforts that you can align content around.
Use the advanced editing tools
Anyone can take any old photo and choose a filter, but to truly make photos outstanding, it behooves you to use the advanced editing tools first before using filters.
To use these tools, simply click the wrench after taking or choosing your photo from your library. Many of the adjustments available here can either fix minor flaws (low light), enhance detail, or make colors pop.
Use other apps to add a different dimension to your product or brand
If you want to add something outside the Instagram “norm” to your photos, you’ll need to edit or enhance through other apps. Aviary, Camera+, Afterlight and Snapseed bring even more advanced editing options to the table. PicStitch, WordSwag, FontCandy and Party! Party! are fun apps to bring photos together, add text or easily create .gifs. You’ll need to edit or deck out photos in these apps first, then send to Instagram.
Use video to tease other content or showcase products or services beyond stills
Instagram offers the use of up to 15 seconds of video on the platform. Some of the best uses of video are often when teasing or promoting other content (giving a short clip of a story to promote an upcoming podcast) or showcasing something that just can’t be shown in a still photo (acro yoga or hand-balancing to promote an upcoming class). Video is a powerful tool on Instagram; think carefully through how you can use video to enhance what you’re already doing with photos.
There’s no point in putting in all the work into any content without determining if it’s actually effective. While you could splurge on a robust tool like Simply Measured, some free tools can give great insights into how photos are performing on the platform. Iconosquare (formerly Statigram), is a free tool that gives insight into follower engagement, spread rate, filter and hashtag impact and account growth. You can use other tools like Klout to cross reference which content seems to be resonating best with your audience, as well.
Once you are monitoring your Instagram content regularly, adjust your tactical approach as necessary. If fans are responding well to certain filters or hashtags add more into the mix, while phasing out content that has lower likes or engagement.
And of course, never be afraid to try something new and creative by showcasing your brand, product or service from a unique angle. Instagram users are hungry for great content to consume and tell their friends about!
Sometimes I feel like it’s lost in all of the talk about content.
Wait, isn’t content supposed to be about writing?
Seems that content is often more about creating buzzwords and catchy titles over great messages and words. Anything to reel in a few good clicks, right?
Surely you know the catchy titles that over-promise while luring you to click and under-deliver once you get there: “10 mind-blowing tips” or “5 things you didn’t know that could hurt you – you’ll never believe #2!” Anything to get the reader to bite, right?
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, talked about this phenomenon recently in a session at Content Marketing World.
“Tell true stories well,” she told the group of a few hundred in the audience. “Put the customer at the center.”
Seems simple enough. Why isn’t everyone doing that already? Why are we in a race to produce things that don’t have meaning?
Handley went on to give some tips on how to create content that follows those rules:
Have a goal and follow a writing GPS.
Write with a strong, unforgettable voice.
Write to just ONE person.
See content moments everywhere.
Give customers gifts (who doesn’t love gifts?).
All great and valuable lessons in content creation, right? Certainly tips that anyone producing content should be following and living by in order to produce great content.
But what she said next made me sit up straight in my seat.
“Writing is not grammar; writing is thinking.”
YES! What a perfect way to frame the shift in thinking that needs to happen in content marketing. We need to think beyond just creating content and actually start writing.
Anyone can write words (ehhh, well, most people…). But it’s the thinking that goes behind the words that carry the most value.
Thinking is why we (should) have content departments. Content writers should be there to think through what needs to be written, considering subject, tone, voice and messaging. Secondary to that thinking is getting the perfect words on the page.
“Better writing means better marketing,” Handley said.
Social media use is at an all-time high, and doesn’t seem to be dying down any time soon. Today, it is more important than ever for businesses to stay connected with their consumers online and in the social space.
Here are the top three ways companies can optimize their websites to help promote social engagement:
Add Social Share Buttons
Whether you want your audience to share your latest blog post, newest product or most recent press release, social share buttons help encourage your online audience to interact with your content across platforms.
Keep these tips in mind as you add social share buttons to your website:
Draw visual attention to your social share buttons to help encourage clicks and shares
Try not to overwhelm your audience with too many social sharing options
Include social share buttons on mobile and responsive sites, so they are easily accessible across all devices
Embed Social Feeds
Embedded social feeds publish posts from your company’s social media accounts directly on your website. For example, if you place a Facebook widget on your website, it will display all of your company’s photo posts, video uploads and status updates directly on your homepage, in real-time.
Here are a few tips for embedding social feeds on your site:
Only embed content from social channels that make sense for your audience
Post photos and videos on your social channels, to incorporate added visual elements on your website
Include copy within your website that encourages engagement with the embedded social feed
Establish a Company Blog
A great business blog could become the social foundation of your website – if you do it right. To promote social engagement, publish sharable content that is relevant to your target audience, and include interactive elements like social share buttons.
The more your readers connect with your blog, the more likely they will be to engage and interact with its content.
As you create your company blog, keep these tips in mind:
Ask questions in your blog posts to promote social engagement
Curate content from other reliable sources to help establish credibility
Invite industry influencers to guest blog, to represent a variety of voices and opinions
How do you create social engagement from your company’s website? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
It has been challenging for many B2B companies to make the transition to online marketing. Many B2B businesses still rely on old school methods to generate leads, including cold calls, trade shows and direct mail. While there is still a place for these efforts, it is proven that over 85% of B2B customers search the web before making a purchase.
The reason is very simple. Your buyers are changing their purchasing methods. They no longer want or need to meet with sales teams prior to making a purchase. Rather, they conduct their own buying research online – and it’s faster and more efficient! In fact, 77% of B2B buyers indicate they don’t talk to a salesperson until after they have performed their own independent research – online.
When developing a foundation for your B2B online marketing strategy, consider the following tactics to build and expand your internet marketing efforts:
Have a well-designed, well-written website – Your website should make a positive first impression of your company and offerings. And, it should have content that engages and educates your prospects.
Know your target audience – Develop a clear vision of who your content is intended to motivate. Don’t try to be all things to all people – be an expert for your niche.
Nurture and grow your list – Develop a strategy to capture your website visitors. If a prospect lands on your website, but isn’t ready to buy, it’s important to stay in touch with them. A simple sign-up form on your website can produce great results. Consider giving people an incentive to sign-up so they are willing to give you their contact information. Once they’ve signed up, use an email newsletter to consistently send meaningful content to them.
Build new highways to your site – There are many ways for you to drive traffic to your site. First and foremost, make sure your website URL is incorporated in your communications materials, including your email signature, printed and digital marketing materials, company signage, packaging and published articles. An ever-growing highway for driving people to your site is via social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Keep creating content for your site – Most consumers find custom content useful and many believe that companies that create custom content are interested in building a relationship with them. Creating custom content can differentiate your company from competitors, nurture leads, and help prospects make buying decisions.
The above tactics are the foundational pieces for a robust online B2B presence. By implementing these tactics, you can expect to see an increase in the number of qualified leads to your website. And, it should make conversion a lot easier for your sales team. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
We get it. Sometimes content creators are departments of one. Even if you have a few more on your team, constantly creating new content can be a challenge for small marketing and content departments.
Fortunately for smaller departments, it’s likely that you have untapped content resources right in your own business. Here are five you can seek out today:
What vision does your CEO, boss or founder have for your company this year? In five years? In ten? What did he or she dream about before taking this role or position? What does he or she believe will never change about the core values of your company?It might be difficult to get a fresh blog post from a busy supervisor or leader each week, but think of creative ways you can use your boss’ voice in your communication with your customers. Key leaders within your company likely have a bigger picture of your products or services. How can you use this picture to supplement your content?
Whether you simply highlight your co-workers in an employee spotlight feature, or whether you identify natural content creators in other departments, your fellow employees can be a great help in your content efforts.We often conduct content ideation sessions with a cross-section of employees from the entire company. We’ve found that while marketers have their finger on the pulse of company messaging, other employees bring a unique perspective of the company based on their day to day dealings with customers, other employees or your product and service. How does your administrative assistant view the company? How about one of your repairmen who takes customer calls?
These individuals are key components to how your company runs, and can bring ideas you may not have thought of to your content offerings.
We often advocate on TKGenius that you poll your customers to get content ideas, or even ask your customers to supply you with content themselves. So, how are they using your product? Are they taking photos of themselves getting a haircut in your salon? Did they recently enjoy one of your events and tell their friends about it on Social Media?Not only will your customers give you great ideas for content, they are often great content creators without even knowing it. One of our clients asks customers to submit photos of themselves or their children enjoying the brand’s snack foods, then features these customers on their Facebook page. These posts are always fun, and are often the most liked and shared on the page. All the administrator needs to do is post the photo and write a quick caption.
Bottom line: your customers can save you time and give you the inside scoop on which content best suits them.
#tbt! Does your company keep copies of old newsletters? What about old photos, past versions of your products or old videos? All of this content can be resurrected to serve your current content efforts.For example, one of our clients has been in business for over 100 years. We regularly help them publish their vintage advertising campaigns, past photos and previous product iterations on both Social Media and their website. Customers appreciate these glimpses into the past, because they know they’re getting a quality product with a long history of success.
How are your products made? Are there aspects of your production you could show customers? What about how you take calls? What part of “behind the scenes” might your customers like to know and understand? Do you have an interesting inter-office culture you could showcase? What about a specific event or charity your employees like to support?Transparency, when possible, is a powerful way to build trust with your customers. While you may not be able to show exactly how a product makes it from point A to point B, you might be able to show what it looks like when you pack a box to ship, or how a salesperson greets a customer.
One of our clients will sometimes show through photos what a window installation looks like on a home. Customers appreciate this insight of the service because it both shows how knowledgeable our client is, and takes some of the mystery out of the service itself.
Want more ideas on how to generate content for your business? Sign-up for our next Breakfast Bootcamp on Content Ideation!
SMX East has come and gone and as The Value Part 1 promised in June, we’re back from the event and ready to evaluate! Our goal is to help you decide whether to attend in 2015.
Over the course of three days, I attended 12 sessions devoted to various aspects of online marketing. Fellow TKG marketer, Kyle Crocker, attended 12 separate sessions. If a third member of the TKG team would have attended, they too, could have attended 12 completely different sessions. Topics included competitive research, remarketing, keyword research, Bing advertising, link building, structured data, and more.
As a recap, here’s what we hoped to gain from attending this year:
Latest Online Marketing Trends
B2B and Small Business Insights
Each item will be rated on a scale of 1-5.
Actionable Ideas (4 out of 5)
During the three days, I jotted down five full pages of notes. The more action items I can come away with, the better the show and SMX East did not disappoint! I have designated 27 bullets from my notes as needing specific action for clients. For perspective, when I attended Internet Retailer years ago, I came back with about half as many action items. Several of the sessions also included links to recommended tools, both free and paid, that assist with analytics, competitive research, and social monitoring.
Online Marketing Trends (5 out of 5)
SMX East had entire sessions devoted to specific topics online marketers should be familiar with regarding current online marketing trends. A few I really enjoyed include:
Hummingbird and the Google Knowledge Graph
While none of these topics are considered cutting edge overall, there are plenty of specific elements within the more broad discussions that were brand new to me.
B2B and Small Business Insights (3 out of 5)
This was the one area where SMX East was a little lacking. There were very few examples during show targeted specifically toward B2B websites or small businesses. Instead, many of the speakers were from large agencies using examples of what they were able to accomplish with budgets much larger than a small business would be able to invest. Fortunately, many of the sessions focused on general tips and tricks that apply to any website. Principles such as keyword research, link building, and competitive analysis can be easily scaled up or down depending on resources.
Hearing Danny Sullivan, Founding Editor of Search Engine Land, respond to questions from the audience was a highlight of the show. He’s very well respected in our industry and has his finger on the pulse of all things digital.
Overall, I recommend SMX East for anyone interested in staying sharp on the latest SEO and SEM trends. If you are responsible for digital marketing at your company, I highly recommend attending SMX East in 2015.
Maybe you’re neck deep in creating your 2015 content calendar, or maybe you’re creating a calendar for the first time. Either way, mapping out content for six months to a year can be a daunting task (here’s hoping you’re not trying to get it done in one fell swoop!).
As you look for inspiration to plan and create your content, it’s easy to run out of ideas, especially when you are immersed in the day to day activities of your brand and business.
Here are five unique ways to jumpstart your content creation when things start to feel a little rote and routine.
Move Research shows that movement and exercise helps boost creativity. So when was the last time you got up from your desk and walked around your office? Take time to notice things around your business that seem interesting.Are there facts about your building or physical structure your audience might find interesting? What about people in your organization that are new that you could profile? Or does your company have employees that have worked for a record amount of time? Does your business have a specific culture? Special days, holidays, or employee milestones you observe?
Not only will getting up from your area help get the blood flowing to your brain, it will help you notice things about your business you would never see from your office.
Use Your Audience If you are not mining your audience for content, you are missing a huge opportunity to not only connect with them, but to also create content you know will land and resonate. Informal Social Media polls, your audience’s frequently asked questions, and even more formal surveys help to give you better insight into the kind of content they want to consume.If your audience is particularly creative or active on Social Media, you can ask them to contribute their content directly to you in the form of a contest (Instagram is a great medium for this tactic), or simply as a way to highlight how they are enjoying your product or service.
I still regularly mind map for clients, friends and even myself if I want new ideas or a new perspective on a topic or problem. Mind mapping is particularly effective if you are looking to create new categories for content.The best thing about mind mapping, though, is that it’s a simple exercise to complete on your own or with a group. If using a group, invite people outside of your content department to join you…you never know what perspectives about your business they can bring!
Re-Purpose No need to re-invent the wheel if you already have a great cache of content. Instead, go back through some of your most popular pieces of content and determine if you can present the content again in a new and fresh way. Can a great blog post be turned into a script for a new video? Can a popular video be re-imagined into an infographic? Can an informative infographic be the basis for a new white paper?Use your imagination and see how you can present content that worked in your past as content that works in your future.
Get Inspired That’s right, Pinterest ain’t just for weddings! Keep boards full of photos, articles and videos that inspire you. Pin what your competitors are pinning. Follow your competitors and other companies in your niche or industry.Already Pinterest addicted? Use tools like Feedly to keep tabs on industry articles, blogs and keywords. Or use your walls or whiteboards to gather great photos. And of course, don’t shy away from simply taking in a great concert, art show or inspirational video. Sometimes our brains just need a taste of someone else’s creativity to spark our own.