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Embrace the negative… keywords, that is

By: Kelly Borth

As the owner of a Google Partner marketing agency, my digital team has taught me to love and embrace the negative … keywords, that is.

By now, many smart business leaders are familiar with keywords and search engine optimization or SEO. But not many are aware of negative keywords. What are they, and why do they matter?

Keywords vs. negative keywords

Keywords are words or phrases that are relevant to your business. They are words that people use when searching for your product and/or service on the Internet. When marketers identify the relevant keywords that are used most often in online searches, they strategically add them to your website and online advertising campaign. That way your website will show up in search results.

Negative keywords are words or phrases that get added to your campaign to prevent your online ads from showing up on the search results page when a search is not relevant to you. Negative keywords are like bouncers: They help filter out who will see your ads and who won’t, depending on what people are searching.

The benefits of being negative

There are many ways you can use negative keywords to help improve your campaign performance.

  1. Add names of products or services you do not offer.
  2. Add terms or adjectives that don’t describe your product well. For example, if your company focuses on quality more than competitive pricing, you might include “cheap” or “discount” as a negative keyword. Therefore, if someone searches for “cheap” your ads will not display.
  3. Add negative keywords that don’t apply directly to the goal of your advertising campaign. By adding terms such as “job,” you prevent your ads from displaying when someone searches for a job in your industry.
  4. Use negative keywords to help ensure your most relevant ads display for the right search terms. For example, you might have multiple ad groups promoting different products. When people click an ad, they go to that specific web page on your website. Therefore, it would be a good precaution to add negative keywords that would describe alternative products you offer to lead people to the right part of your website.
  5. Use negative keywords to filter out pop-culture references. Sometimes, you might have a keyword that is the title of a popular movie or song. It’s important to add negative keywords that prevent your ad from displaying for popular, but irrelevant, searches.

The more negative, the better

It is a good practice to add more negative keywords to better optimize your campaign over time. Many search advertising platforms such as Google AdWords have a report where you can see the actual search terms people are using to find your ads. When viewing this report, you may find that some search terms people have used are not at all relevant. It would be a good idea to add those terms as negative keywords.

Are you looking to add digital marketing to your marketing strategy, or enhance an existing AdWords campaign? GREENCREST can help! Contact the experts at GREENCREST today.

 

Use content to generate leads in the sales cycle

After understanding consumer behavior in different phases of the sales cycle, smart businesses hopped onto the content marketing bandwagon to create valuable information to connect consumers to the answers and solutions they need — when they need it.

Marketing teams around the world have realized that to make the best impact, different types of content should be used for different stages of the sales cycle.

An important stage of the sales cycle is lead generation. In this first stage, your primary goal is to attract the attention of prospects and get them interested in your product or service.

In this early phase, prospects are researching their problems and possible solutions for them. For this audience, your goal is to increase brand awareness, appeal to their main pain points and provide them with more information to bring them closer to finding a possible solution based on what you offer. Be a good Samaritan.

Here are some helpful tips to follow when creating content to increase lead generation:

Recognize the content’s importance

Great content creates excitement and awareness among prospects and will build a compelling business case to potential customers.

The type of content you create is one of the most important steps — it should be helpful, informative, relevant, and easy to consume. It should focus on what your target audience needs to solve its problems, not the detailed features of your specific product or service.

Target your content to the right people

Regardless of what your business sells, it is important to identify the right audience and then tailor your content to their wants and needs. Your content should be authentic and offer the same message in a variety of ways to appeal to every prospect.

Choose the right content

Create content that will help build awareness about what you’re selling. In the lead generation stage, you want people to learn about what your business can offer and why it might be a good choice for them.

Blogs and white papers can help address problems and solutions. Using ads from search engine platforms that lead prospects to download your content pieces allows you to leverage marketing automation tools to send informative and helpful emails about your business or product to your lead prospects.

While mastering all stages of the sales cycle is important, it all starts with the attraction stage. It’s simple — if you want to gain business, you first need to attract it! Therefore, create a content strategy.

People want to learn about a business or product to see if it’s beneficial to their needs before they commit to the (sometimes long) sales cycle that we commonly see in business to business sales. Make sure you’re using content marketing efforts to your advantage and enjoy the results.

Need help with your marketing efforts? GREENCREST is your team! Contact us to learn more about content marketing and how GREENCREST can help with your lead generation.

Google AdWords for B2B Companies: Yes or No?

B2B Adwords

As a Google Partner agency, we get asked if it’s worth running a Google AdWords campaign for B2B companies. My answer is always yes but do so with caution.

A B2B search advertising campaign is different than a B2C campaign. One major reason for the difference is the length of the sales cycle. B2B sales cycles tend to be much longer, which makes attaining leads and conversions a little more difficult.

B2B companies are at a higher risk of losing money with a Google AdWords campaign if it is not set up properly or doesn’t use the best strategy. However, with the right strategy and structure, AdWords can be a B2B workhorse and generate sales and leads.

Reasons for Running a B2B Google AdWords Campaign

B2B companies run search advertising campaigns for many reasons. Many choose to run an AdWords campaign alongside a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign in order to maximize results. It may take some time for businesses to show up at the top of the Google search results page after implementing a new SEO strategy or campaign. However, with search advertising, a company can immediately show up at the top of page one.

Businesses that sell popular brands or products to other business often see great results from an AdWords campaign. With this type of campaign, prospects who are searching for these specific products typically already know what they want and are closer to making a decision. This results in more leads and higher conversion rates for the advertiser.

Some companies use search advertising to accelerate their content marketing efforts and target prospects who are still in the research phase of the sales cycle. If a business is investing a lot of time and effort into creating valuable content such as white papers, e-books or educational videos, it may pay off to promote the content in search results. These ads lead to a landing page where the user can download the content in exchange for a name and email, thus generating a lead.

Initial Investment for B2B Search Advertising

B2B companies often expect numerous and immediate leads from their Google AdWords campaigns, but this is not typically the case. Even if the campaign is structured perfectly, it often takes time to optimize the campaign with the best keywords, negative keywords, ad copy and landing pages. This is why testing is critical. Once the campaign is well optimized, it is wise to take another look at the budget to see if it can be cut back or if it needs to be increased.

Finding the Right Strategy

Every business is unique and requires a different strategy. Remarketing ads, for example, work really well for some companies with long sales cycles. Only people who have visited a specific website will see these ads, and it keeps the advertiser top-of-mind.

To answer the titular question, yes! Search engine advertising works really well for B2B companies, as long as they employ the right strategy. Look for a certified partner in Google AdWords and one that has experience running B2B AdWords campaigns, like GREENCREST.

Are you looking to add digital marketing to your marketing strategy, or enhance an existing AdWords campaign? GREENCREST can help! Contact the experts at GREENCREST today.

 

Initiating a Call to Action

As CEOs, we want results from our marketing investments, but sometimes we forget to guide prospects to take action. A call to action, or CTA, instructs prospects to perform a desired action such as “learn more,” “call today,” or “download the e-book.” The most effective CTAs relate to where your audience is in the sales cycle (lead, prospect, new customer, returning customer).

Different Call to Action Types

Companies use call to actions in every medium including websites, emails, print ads, television ads, videos, or direct mail pieces. In the end, the goal is to persuade the consumer to take some sort of action, depending on the company’s objectives with a target audience. There are several different types of CTAs.

Attract Interest

When consumers are at the beginning of the sales cycle, they turn to the Internet to research solutions to their needs and wants. This is often when advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) come into play. Marketing pieces that are meant to grab the audience’s attention and educate will often include CTAs such as “learn more” or “read more.”

Generate Leads

Most online marketing leads are generated through form submissions. Having an engaging call to action button is proven more effective than a simple “submit” button. For example, if you use an online white paper download form to collect prospects’ names and emails, a good CTA on the form would be “Download Our Free White Paper.”

Encourage Decision

Smart businesses use content marketing to help nurture prospects in order to generate more sales. You may offer a free trial to help those who have narrowed down their choices and are close to making a decision. A good CTA for this audience would be “Start Your Free Trial.”

Close the Sale

When your audience is at the bottom of the funnel and ready to make a decision and purchase, it is time to close the sale. Call to actions that are most relevant to this audience include “Request a Quote,” “Contact Sales,” or “Call Today.”

Stay Connected

It is important to maintain a relationship with your current and past customers. This is often done through email marketing and social media marketing. Include social media icons and a CTA such as “Connect With Us.” You may also want to introduce current customers to other products or services. In this case, an appropriate call to action could be, “View The New Features.”

Best Practices

When it comes to choosing a CTA for a particular marketing piece, it’s important to keep some best practices in mind.

  • Use imperative, or command, verbs to instigate action.
  • Make sure the CTA stands out visually within the piece.
  • Keep the CTA clear and concise.
  • If it’s online, make sure users understand what will happen when they click on it. And make sure they are taken to a page with content they were searching for.

Call to actions are critical elements in almost every marketing piece, so it’s important to understand your goals, audience, and CTA best practices when finalizing the piece. This will help you generate leads, make a sale and encourage repeat sales.

Contact the GREENCREST team and let us help you create powerful CTAs in your marketing and advertising campaigns!

 

How to Choose the Right PR Agency for your Company

Choosing the right PR agency

Regardless of your business or brand, having the right Public Relations (PR) agency is the only way to make sure your successes are being shared throughout your industry.

You work hard to make your business successful — putting in long hours, taking on more work and making tough decisions. When the hard work pays off and your company achieves a new goal or level of success, it only makes sense that you want to share that excitement. However, to get your story told to the right audience, you have to find the right PR agency that knows how to do so.

Here are the most important things to look for in a PR agency to make sure you’re making the best decision for your company:

Agency Size

Whether you’re a small, family-owned business that is just starting out or a multi-departmental corporation, it’s best to find the right agency for your needs. Whether the agency is small or large, if they have a dedicated PR team with enough staff to handle your needs, you’ll be set. In the end, it all comes down to what your goal is and how intricate of a plan – and team – it will take to get you there.

Agency Approach

When looking for the right PR agency, you should consider the approach that the agency tends to take with its clients and its work. A good agency will approach each unique client with custom solutions that will help cut through the clutter of everyday news releases and pitches, to help get the company’s story heard. This will help you get a better understanding of the agency’s overall approach and help you determine if it will work for you and your business’ goals.

Agency Connections

In order to have your story heard by the right audience, it’s important that you choose an agency with a variety of media connections. This will ensure that no matter what your company’s area of expertise, the PR agency will have a reporter or contact that specializes in the same thing. If you are a B2B company trying to reach a market about a new industrial product you’re releasing, you want to work with an agency that is familiar with your trade and will be able to find media connections in your industry and geo-target.

Agency Price

While having the best representation is very important, so is your budget. Discuss all of your needs with the agency to determine if it can do everything you want within your budget. However, if the price doesn’t match immediately, don’t fret — most agencies are willing to work with their clients to create a plan that is both effective and budget-conscious. After all, a good agency will want what’s best for its clients and will do whatever it takes to achieve that for them.

The better the understanding and relationship you have with your agency, the more likely the agency will be able to fulfill your expectations. Consider these four points when seeking out an agency, and you’re bound to find the perfect fit.

Interested in seeing if the GREENCREST public relations team could be right for you? Contact us today with questions or to set up a meeting.

 

Tips for Increasing Social Media Post Engagement

Noticing a consistent trend in ‘likes’ on your social media posts but not a lot of other engagement? Our digital screens are filled with an overwhelming amount of content clutter — so how do you entice your audience to stop scrolling and interact with your posts?

Sharing relevant content is always important, but consider including new posts into the mix that stray from your normal content and encourage your audience to be part of the conversation.

Contests

Contests are a fun way to get your audience excited about your brand, and there are several different ways you can ask them to enter to win:

  • Like the post
  • Share the post
  • Comment on the post
  • Post a picture in the comments

The ways to enter are endless, and you can even offer an entry for each different action they take. Just make sure you’re complying with regional and national sweepstakes and contest laws.

Video Contests

Are you looking to ramp up your marketing by adding some testimonials to your website? Hold a contest for your customers to interact on social media by submitting a video saying what they love most about your product or service. Not only will you get engagement from your followers, but you’ll have authentic content to use in your marketing collateral.

Polls

Polls are a great way to get feedback from your audience. Whether it’s a question about your product or service, the industry in general, or even just an entertaining survey to kick off the weekend, polls are a fun way to get your audience to participate.

Facebook and Twitter both have polls you can integrate into your posts. Trying to gauge which products your customers are most interested in? Ask them what they’d like more information on. It’s a great way to make them feel included as part of your brand.

Tag a Friend

Encouraging your audience to tag a friend who may enjoy your post is a great way to create buzz around your brand. For example, if you’re a travel agency sharing a blog about the top five places to visit in the U.S., consider adding “tag a friend who could use a vacation” in your post.

Regardless of which tactic you decide to use to engage your audience, make sure you’re engaging back. The more you make them feel like part of your brand, the more likely they’ll be to continue participating in the future.

 

Need help coming up with a great content strategy for your company’s social media marketing? Contact the experts at GREENCREST with all of your social media and marketing needs.

 

Top Marketing Trends to Look for – and Master – in 2017

Business People Working with Technology

In 2016, the trends in content and digital marketing made great advancements. Changes in technology, social media platforms and content promotion styles were just a few of the things at the top of marketers’ minds. Moving into 2017, those trends will continue to grow and gain importance, but the new year will bring its own important trends. As millennials infiltrate the workforce and technology is ever changing, so are the marketing trends that are meant to keep up with it.

Here are some notable trends coming to the forefront in 2017 and why you’ll want to master them:

1.      Digital Content

Today, digital is everything. People go to the Internet to seek information they need on products, brands, companies and more. As marketers, we can put this information in the palm of our audience’s hands with exciting and informational content such as white papers, technical bulletins, newsletters, e-books, videos, case studies, infographics and so much more. In 2017, mastering the use of highly engaging and relevant online content is bound to increase your website visits, ROI and more. Continuing to develop these skills will pay off in the coming year.

2.      Cross-Device Marketing

The average consumer is connected through up to five devices – smartphones, tablets and desktop computers to name a few. Marketing across several devices is necessary, but it can be challenging. You need to enable data alignment and tracking capabilities, such as Google AdWords and Analytics, to make sure you’re recognizing your repeat consumers, tracking their actions across different devices, and developing personalized ways to reach them.

3.      Native Advertising

Users don’t want their sessions interrupted online, so native advertising gives marketers the chance to offer information in a format similar to the content on the site the consumer is using. Users are more likely to engage with this type of advertisement than they would with a banner ad that may come across as overbearing or out of place. These ads will help brands connect with their audience in an authentic manner, while continuing to boost their ad revenue.

4.      Live Video Streaming

It is essential for companies to present authentic, engaging content online 24-7. Marketers need to find new ways to engage their audience and keep their attention. Video marketing has taken many successful forms in the past – testimonials, webinars and Instagram videos. Now live streaming is starting to take over. Platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Periscope are making live videos the standard in their offerings, and brands need to take advantage of it. According to a survey from the Web Video Marketing Council, 73 percent of marketing professionals said video has positively influenced their marketing results, and we can only imagine this increasing with developments in live streaming. People are becoming increasingly attracted to live stream videos because they give them the chance to get an inside, unedited look into a brand or company that they may not have gotten on traditional platforms elsewhere.

Times and trends are always changing, but we all need to keep up with the changes to keep moving forward. Follow these helpful tips and you’ll be on your way to a successful marketing year in 2017.

Need help planning for the 2017 year? Contact the team at GREENCREST for all of your marketing, public relations, web design and social media needs.

 

The Secret to Creating Direct Mail Content That Works

newspaper-reading

Direct mail is meant to capture the reader’s attention, quickly get to the point and share important information. As a marketer, you don’t want to take too long to get to the “meat” of your content, otherwise you will lose the readers’ interest. A good direct mail piece creates excitement, interest, questions and pictures in your readers’ minds.

Follow these steps to learn how to create the most effective direct mail content that’s sure to spark the interest of your readers:

Readability

Making the content clear and easy to follow is the No. 1 rule when creating direct mail. Make sure your focus point is obvious and up front. People generally tend to “glance over” sales and marketing pieces, so if your message is clear, concise, and upfront, you’re more likely to keep the reader’s attention.

 

Tips for enhanced readability:

  • Use bullet points
  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short
  • Use intriguing headings and subheadings to help guide readers
  • Repeat the main point in different ways to help the message sink in

 

Strategic Angle

Find a clever way to present the information to help your piece stand out from others. Simply stating that you could save money with new software isn’t enough. Give exact figures or successes letting the reader know just how much they could save. Find a “hook” that will grab their attention and keep them reading to learn more about it.

 

Tell a Story

Storytelling can be a sure-fire way to capture (and keep) the interest of people that are reading your direct mail piece. You want to lead them through the piece so they can easily and clearly follow your message, pick out the main points, and find a way to relate to the end result. Include content that sets your product or service apart from others and why — whether it’s all of the amazing benefits, its point of distinction, or how it will solve the readers’ problems. The goal is to instill a need or desire and to have readers apply it as the solution in their own situations.

 

After creating your direct mail content, ask yourself:

  • Is it interesting?
  • Is it easy to read?
  • Is there a story or angle that your readers can relate to?

If so, you are on your way to presenting content that is sure to drive interest and help generate leads or sales!

Not sure if your direct mail content is up to par? Contact the experienced team at GREENCREST, and we can help create content that actually works.

 

Get Found Online with YouTube SEO

online marketing

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine, after Google? And it is becoming more popular year over year. Video marketing in particular is becoming a mainstay as social media and search engines give it special emphasis in search results and newsfeeds.

According to YouTube, more than 300 hours of video were uploaded to the site in 2015. With so much clutter, businesses can’t expect prospects to find and watch their videos nevertheless have a video go viral.

Therefore, instead of going into all the reasons why your company should be on YouTube or partake in video marketing, I will explain the basics of how to get your video found with YouTube SEO.

Think in keywords

You most likely know the importance of using search engine optimization (SEO) for your website, but have you thought about the importance of optimizing your videos with relevant keywords as well?

As with any Web page or blog article, it’s best to select a focus keyword that relates to the video topic. Make sure the keyword is in the video title, description and tags. Research to see if there are currently any videos showing up in search results for a particular keyword. If so, it’s likely a good keyword to use for your video.

Utilize video descriptions 

You have a 5,000-character limit in the description area of the video. This is the perfect opportunity to include engaging, keyword-rich written content on your video’s page. Include important keywords that relate to your video. Include external links to other videos or landing pages that discuss the same topic.

YouTube and Google use your video’s title, description and tags to rank your video. Take advantage of the high character count and include long video descriptions.

Attract views and likes immediately

Views and engagement are the most important factors in achieving a high-ranking video on YouTube and Google. The No. 1 way to attract an audience is to provide quality content with an engaging title.

By “quality,” I don’t mean it has to be professionally developed. It simply needs to address a common need of your viewers and provide a solution.

“How to” videos, for example, are becoming increasingly popular as many people prefer to watch how something is done rather than read about it. To put it simply, provide value to your viewers.

Also, share your video on social media and other online communities that can relate to or are interested in your video’s topic.

Increase your channel subscriptions

On YouTube, subscribers are essentially people who follow your YouTube channel to ensure they see your latest videos. To increase the number of subscribers, it is best to include a call to action within every video that encourages the viewer to subscribe to your channel. This can be done by verbally saying it within the video and/or by using annotations (graphics or buttons that have a call to action).

Adding a YouTube “subscribe” widget to your website and blog can also help increase your subscriber base.

 

In summary, if you want to optimize YouTube videos, it is important that you provide valuable content, create engaging titles, include important keywords in a long video description, share it on social media and increase the number of subscribers.

The more keywords and engagement you have associated with the video, the more clout you will receive from YouTube and the search engines.

 

If your company needs help with its video marketing strategies and SEO efforts, don’t hesitate to contact the GREENCREST team!

 

Boost Online Conversions with Ad and Landing Page Updates

Tablet computer and financial charts

Receiving online conversions through paid search campaigns requires efforts in more than just ad copy and creativity. Just as important is how those ads appear and where they’re sending users. When you’re focusing on gaining online conversions, your search campaigns should include features like images, sitelink extensions, reviews, testimonials and more.

We’ll explore some essential ad features and landing page updates that we guarantee will help increase your online conversions.

Ad Extensions

These helpful little tools are a simple, yet effective way to get a little more specific with your ads. Sitelink extensions allow your ad to present additional details below the ads like the brands and products you carry, services you provide, etc. and link each individual topic to its own landing page. When using sitelink extensions, it is important to make sure your landing pages are relevant and show correlating content in order to increase user experience and conversions.

Images

Including images with your ads immediately helps them stand out from the clutter of basic text ads. Google has been continuing to increase the number of images allowed to show on search engine results pages because they know people respond better when they can visually see what is being advertised. If a customer sees the product they’re looking for and follows the ad to a landing page with the same product, they’re more likely to make the online conversion because they easily found what they were originally looking for.

Helpful tip: design a campaign using shopping ads to be able to show even more images, along with product pricing, availability and more!

Reviews

Giving people the option to review your products and services provides even more opportunity for conversions because you:

  • Show users that you’re confident in your excellent customer service and deliver exceptional products.
  • Give users a chance to learn a bit more about the products from a third-party perspective rather than strictly selling the benefits and features in the ad.

Incorporating reviews in the ads and on the related landing pages helps keep everything consistent and makes navigating your site easier and more clear for users, because they’re seeing the same things from the ad represented on the landing pages.

Make sure your reviews are current and up-to-date. In order to keep your reviews showing on the ads, ask customers to review products, rate their experience and more. Reviews that are older than 12 months do not appear on the Google Search Network.

So, while the copy of your ad is extremely important in presenting users with specific information, it is even more beneficial to enhance ads with additional features to help boost online conversions.

Contact the team at GREENCREST and let us help you set up your paid search campaigns, enhance your ads, or increase your online conversions with these search engine marketing updates.