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How to Build an Online Marketing Fire

Knowing how to build a fire is just as essential for survival in the online marketing world as it is in the wilderness. A blazing campfire provides warmth, light and a way to cook food. The fire you want to build online increases awareness and generates online leads.

Fire-Starting Tools

To start a fire in the great outdoors, you typically need a match and strike board, a piece of flint and steel or a magnifying glass and the sun. In marketing, we consider having a well-defined brand and a strategic plan as the bare necessities to ignite the flame for your business.

Your audience needs to understand who you are as a company, what you stand for and why you’re in business. Without a well-thought-out brand, you run the risk of looking like and sounding like your competitors, and you will be stuck in a continuous lowest-price-wins battle. Without a strategic plan, you’re wandering through the wilderness battling the unexpected and rather than focusing on what you need to do to reach your goals.

Tinder

No matter where you are, creating a flame can be a lot of hard work — and it’s all for naught if there is no tinder to catch the flame.

In digital marketing, your “tinder” would be your website. Your website is the hub, or the core of all your online marketing efforts. For your website to attract and retain traffic — or “catch fire” — it must be optimized for search engines, easy-to-use and appealing. Without a well-optimized and user-friendly website, you will end up rubbing two sticks together all night long with no results.

However, while tinder catches fire easily, the fire quickly dies out without added support.

Kindling

When building a fire, you need materials that provide more substance than tinder provides to keep the flame burning long enough for your fuel wood to catch. This is where kindling comes in.

In marketing, you can use search engine optimization (SEO) and online advertising. When following best practices, SEO and online advertising can quickly and easily increase awareness and direct traffic to your website. Just as kindling must be dry to work, your website and online ads must be optimized with keywords to work.

Fuel Wood

The fuel wood might take a little longer to catch fire, but it is what ultimately keeps your fire hot and burning. And if you notice your fire is starting to die down, you can throw more fuel wood on top to keep it going. In marketing, fuel wood is a mix of owned and earned channels.

Content marketing is one owned channel that can help “fuel the flame,” and it includes pieces such as white papers, case studies, e-books or webinars. Advertising such as print, TV or radio also add to the discussion, increase awareness and even drive website traffic. Additionally, email marketing can help nurture the fire and keep it going.

Public relations is one example of an earned “fuel” or channel. When your company receives media coverage from third-party sources, it helps boost your credibility and increase “buzz”. Word of mouth — whether it’s in person or online via social media — is also earned, and it can be a very powerful tool to build a blazing fire.

Building a fire is not as easy as it first appears. It involves a lot of knowledge, preparation, tools and hard work—similar to effective online marketing campaigns. Luckily, the GREENCREST team is ready to support you! Contact us today to get started.

 

5 Steps to Creating a Website Analytics Measurement Plan

 

Tablet computer and financial charts

 

If your business runs online sales or marketing campaigns, it’s important to know which activities are working and which aren’t. Accurate data is key in making smart decisions, and the power of online analytics comes into play.

Website analytics tools such as Google AdWords often include key metrics — the number of website visitors during a given time period, the average time spent on the website, and the number of views for specific web pages. The tools may also provide interesting data: the percentage of website traffic from different sources the percentage of new versus returning visitors, or the visitors’ geographic locations. In order to view the data that best suit your business needs, you may need to tailor it.

You must develop a website analytics measurement plan to decide what you need to measure and implement the data.

 

Follow these steps to begin building an analytics infrastructure:

Step #1: Determine your business goals

To obtain meaningful data, your analytics measurement plan must integrate with the business’s goals. This step must involve the decision makers in your company. Ask some important questions: “What are our business needs right now?” “Where are we headed?” “What obstacles are in the way of us getting there?”

Step #2: Define your digital strategy and tactics

Depending on your goals, the website’s purpose may vary. Websites often exist for one or more purposes: to sell a product or service, increase brand recognition and engagement, inform or entertain visitors, drive sales leads, or publish content that encourages return visits.

Tactics are the steps you take to achieve your goal. This may include a blog to help drive engagement or frequent website visits, a website or mobile app to sell products, or a video to help demonstrate a product or tell a story.

Step #3: Identify the data that matter most

What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are most meaningful? What numbers help determine the campaign’s success? If you have an e-commerce website, a KPI is the amount of revenue generated. If you have a lead-generating website, you may be interested in the number of forms or inquiries submitted.

Step #4:  Decide how to segment your data

Properly segmented data is more relevant to your business and enables you to make wiser  decisions. Segmenting analytics by marketing channel shows which source sends the most website traffic or drives the most conversions. Segmenting by geographic regions shows the visitors’ locations. This information can help determine success if you’re running a campaign specific to a certain region or looking to open a new brick-and-mortar store.

Step #5: Determine your targets

Once you select the KPIs and data segments, identify your target metrics. If online form submissions are important, what’s the value of each submission and how many per month (or quarter) are considered a success?

 

Properly done, website analytics become a critical part of daily business activities and decisions. A measurement and implementation plan should always be a cyclical process in order to meet changing business needs.

 

Contact the GREENCREST experts for help with your business’ website analytics today!

 

3 Remarkable Stats that Prove the Power of Video Marketing

3 remarkable stats that prove the power of video marketing

2016 has been heralded by many as “the year of video.” According to Cisco, more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be video content by 2019. Video marketing isn’t just the future, it’s now: 96% of B2B organizations use video in some capacity in their marketing campaigns, and 73% report positive results to their ROI, according to a survey conducted by ReelSEO.

With so many incredible stats, it’s hard to believe some companies still have not added video to their marketing plans. If you haven’t yet added video to your strategic marketing plan, maybe these numbers will change your mind.

3 Reasons to Include Video in Your Marketing Strategy:

 

1. Branding

The best way to tell your brand story is through video. Not just telling, but showing users who you are while eliciting an emotional connection to your brand through video will turn prospects into customers and raving fans. A customer loyalty study by Mori found that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend the brand, three times more likely to re-purchase, are much less price sensitive and are less likely to shop competitors. (44% rarely or never shop around)

 

2. SEO

Websites with video will experience higher rankings in Google because video is considered rich media and valuable user content. According to older reports, video is 50 times more likely to get organic page ranks in Google than plain text results. In 2016, Brightcove found that video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engines.

 

3. Conversions

Video can improve rankings, increase traffic and quickly explain brands and products, but can it actually convert?

  • According to Eye View Digital, having a video on your landing page can increase conversions by 86%.
  • Vidyard reports that 70% of marketers using video claim video produces more conversions than any other content.
  • Another study found that using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.
  • 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

 

Interested in learning what video marketing can do for your numbers? Contact GREENCREST and talk with a video marketing specialist today.

 

 

5 Essential SEO Tips to Improve Your Rankings

Search Engine Optimization SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an integral part of any company’s digital marketing strategy. With Google’s ever-changing algorithm, SEO tactics are evolving, growing and changing the way we build websites. It is important for your company to stay ahead of the curve because, otherwise, what good is a website that your customers can’t find?

Here are five essential tips for SEO success with your site:

1. Mobile

Having a mobile-friendly website used to be a luxury. Today, it is mandatory. Google announced last year that there are now more searches performed on mobile devices than on desktops. Users will be seeing your website from their tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Is your site ready for this? Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, or your rankings will suffer, drastically.

2. Optimization

Not only do you want to make sure your site is built to be seen across devices, you want to make sure it is built so search engines can read it. This includes adding meta data, alt text, h1 headers and enough of the keyword-rich content for a search engine to understand and place your site in relevant search results. Optimizing your site can boost your rankings, which places your website towards the top of the search results.

3. Content

Content is everything. How would we know what a site was for without content? We wouldn’t, and neither would Google. High-quality, relevant content with the right keywords is the simplest way to implement SEO best practices on your site. Unique content is key. Using duplicate content can hurt your rankings. Be sure to include at least 250 words of content on each relevant page of your site.

4. Keywords

With content, come keywords. Keywords are words or phrases users will type into search engines to make your site appear. The more relevant keywords you have, the more your site just might appear. You should be able to know off the top of your head what your main keywords are, but if you’d like to explore further possibilities, using Google’s Keyword Planner can be a great tool. However, be very wary of keyword stuffing. It can damage your reputation with Google and make your rankings drop. No one likes to be tricked, especially Google.

5. User Experience

Last, but not least, consider user experience. You must take into account a user’s experience on your website. This helps not only users but your SEO rankings as well. Does your landing page have a clear purpose and call to action? Are your links broken? Is your text readable? Not only would these errors make your site frustrating for a user, they would hurt your SEO rankings.

Understanding and implementing these essential tips will ensure your website is ready for today’s search engines.

Contact us to speak with our Google-certified SEO experts and get started on boosting your site’s SEO rankings today!

 

Get in the Online Marketing Game

online marketing

Redefining Market Success

Over the past decade, three significant things have redefined what CEOs need to achieve marketing success. Online and smartphone technology has evolved, and the millennial generation has moved into influential roles within business. This has caused a shift from traditional marketing (print, outdoor, broadcast, cable, direct mail) to online marketing (website, search engine optimization, paid search, online advertising, email campaigns, marketing automation, sales automation, mobile marketing, social media).

Here is what you need to do to be part of the online marketing game. Don’t, however, toss traditional media aside—marketing success will come to companies that balance both.

Website

You don’t need to start over, but your site needs to be up to date with Web standards from a usability, search optimization and mobile responsive perspective. Since the objective of online marketing is to drive all traffic to the website and engage users once they are there, investing in a top-notch website is foundational for businesses to compete.

Organic Search and Paid Search

A link to your company website needs to display on page one or two when someone searches for products and services you offer. Otherwise, your website is not being found. Organic search engine optimization is complex and driven by keywords and phrases placed within the code of your website and optimized content marketing.

Paid search is Google AdWords or Bing/Yahoo Ads  campaigns that can put your company website on page one of a search, based on keywords typed into the search bar and a bidding strategy that displays your ad based on criteria you determine when setting up a campaign.

A best practice is to do both organic and paid search.

Online Advertising

If you have not considered digital display or social media advertising, you need to. The fact that 57% of the time a buyer has already conducted online research and short-listed potential vendors, means your company needs to be visible online.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are used to nurture relationships your company already has with prospective buyers and current customers. Email marketing rules require opt-in email relationships with your company.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is a lead nurturing process that keeps an interested buyer engaged with your company. It is a strategic campaign that combines email, content and website marketing to provide the best opportunity to generate a marketing lead.

Sales Automation

Sales automation is an online version of telemarketing that is similar but not the same as marketing automation. It automates the prospect qualification process and necessary follow-up to engage a prospect.

Mobile Marketing

Website analytics are proving that there are more people getting to company websites via their mobile device. The use of smart phones and tablets has reached market saturation.

Social Media

It you have a social media strategy, it can make a huge difference to the success you can have driving traffic to your website from your social media posts. So do it with purpose.

From Smart Business

 

 

Search Marketing: The Pros and Cons of Advertising on Search Engines

Search Marketing

Research shows that about 80 percent of consumers conduct an online search before making a purchase. In addition, 57% of the companies that contact you for more information about your product or service have already conducted research online and narrowed down a short list of potential vendors. Is there any reason to doubt how critical it is that your company has an immediate presence within the search results for words and phrases that relate to your business?

Search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo exist to help people find information they are looking for on the Internet. The search engines crawl hundreds of millions of websites, indexing specific words and phrases to produce a relevant match to the words people use in their searches.

There are two ways to ensure your website shows up within search results: search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising. And there are pros and cons you should be aware of in order to determine whether or not a search advertising program is a good investment for your business.

Search Marketing Pros

Highly Targeted

There are many settings and targeting options available within an online advertising campaign. If the campaign is set up and managed strategically, every ad click should come from someone within the desired target audience.

Immediate Results

Search engine advertising makes it possible for a website to immediately show up on the first page of search results.

Helps Improve SEO

Search advertising will increase website traffic, which in effect helps increase organic search engine performance over time.

Increased Name Recognition

When an ad displays at the top of the search results page, many people within the target audience will see the ad—even if they don’t click on it. These impressions help build name recognition.

Budget Control

For pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Daily and monthly budgets, as well as maximum bids, can be established so that the campaign stays within budget.

Clear ROI

Campaign goals and tracking can be established to make it easy to track when a website visitor converts to a lead or makes a purchase online. Online reports directly link marketing spend to return-on-investment for search engine advertising.

Search Marketing Cons

Highly Competitive

Popular keywords in competitive industries require bigger budgets to essentially pay to play. Typically bigger companies have larger budgets and SEO experts managing their search advertising campaigns. Therefore, companies with smaller budgets must be even more strategic to drive search results and should always engage with an SEO expert.

Highly Specialized Knowledge

To maximize a budget and campaign performance requires specialized knowledge of how to correctly and strategically set up and manage a campaign. The management platforms have complex interfaces, settings and jargon. Google and Bing offer directories of certified professionals who can help.

Time Consuming

It takes time to research keywords and create an effective search ad campaign. Once the campaign is live, it requires constant optimization—daily or weekly. The campaign performs in a live environment and needs to be reviewed, tweaked and changed to produce the best results. Also be mindful that search platforms regularly change algorithms as well as management interfaces, which requires keeping up with ongoing updates.

From Smart Business

Are You Ready? Google Algorithm Update Makes Mobile-Friendly Websites a Must

 

Google Algorithm Update 2015

Today, Google is changing its algorithm to rank mobile-friendly websites higher in mobile search results. It will also crawl content from apps to display relevant app information for a search.

What does this mean for you?

Website search traffic from mobile devices has increased by 20% within the last year, so having a mobile-friendly and responsive web design is now more important than ever. Starting today, if your website is not mobile-friendly, it will affect your search engine optimization (SEO), or whether or not your website shows up in Google search results.

Does your website pass the test?

You can test your website using this free tool from Google Developers. This tool will explain if your website is mobile-friendly or if there are issues accessing your website from a mobile device. For example, are links too close together? Are users able to click your phone number and call, or is it within an image that’s not clickable? The tool also reports whether or not your website is responsive (see below).

What is responsive web design?

Responsive web design allows a single website to adapt to different devices and displays according to the size of the screen. People can view a website from a wide variety of devices—from small smart phone and tablet screens to large television screens. It’s important to make sure website visitors can easily view and use your website from screens of all sizes. If you need help, the GREENCREST web design and development team can help ensure your website is mobile-responsive and search-friendly!

What’s this about apps?

Google is now searching apps to find relevant content to display in mobile search results. For example, if a person has the Yelp app installed on their smart phone or tablet and searches on Google for “pizza near me,” a pizza place that is listed on Yelp will show up towards the top of their search results.

Does your company want to promote its own app to mobile users? The Google Algorithm update is great news for you! Make sure your app is indexed by Google so it has a chance to display on page one for relevant searches.

To make sure your website and/or mobile app is ready for this major change, contact GREENCREST!

 

Nurture: The Fourth Step in Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers

(This BrandPro article is the fifth in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

Congratulations! You have successfully completed the first three steps of turning prospects into lifetime customers: Attract, Engage, and Convert. Now, you are ready for the Nurture phase. And, yes, you’re almost to the point of sale! However, not all leads will become customers. Depending on where they are in the sales cycle, some leads may quickly convert into a customer soon after they discover your product or service. Others may take some nurturing before committing to a purchase. Once a relationship is developed, you are more likely to realize your end goal: business loyalty.

Marketing Funnel

 

Content marketing

Content marketing is at the core of nurturing consumer relationships online. It’s the process of consistently creating and curating valuable and relevant content for your customers or leads—without selling to them. It can include engaging photos, videos, articles, podcasts, ebooks, reports and white papers. It’s anything that can help, inform or entertain your target audience. Consider it as another service you provide. Without helpful or entertaining content, it may be difficult to create effective and engaging emails. And no one would respond to or share your posts on social media. Online conversation is created around content.

Email Marketing

Email is the easiest, most intimate way to communicate with your leads online—a targeted message with interesting or helpful content is sent straight to their inbox. You know who they are, and you have their contact information. Give your email list special treatment by sending exclusive reports, limited-time offers, prizes and other value-added content. Create a two-way conversation by periodically emailing special surveys. And then later share the survey results with your list!

Social media

Social media is another great medium to nurture relationships and converse with your leads online. However, a “like” or a friendly response to a comment is not enough. Instead, offer helpful advice, tips or assistance in your response as an added service.

For example, let’s say you own a restaurant and a customer tweets, “Can’t wait for my birthday dinner tonight at @ABCRestaurant!” you may be tempted to respond with, “Happy birthday @CustomerName! Looking forward to celebrating with you soon!”

Instead, help the customer with your response, even if she didn’t ask for it. A beneficial response to the example could possibly be, “Happy birthday @CustomerName! Check out our specials on party appetizers and sangria pitchers! www.linktocontent.com/specials” or “Happy birthday @CustomerName! Here’s a sneak peek at what may happen tonight: www.linktocontent.com/birthday-song-video>”

Display Remarketing

It’s important to further develop a relationship with website visitors after they leave your website. This is possible through display remarketing. Display remarketing is an online advertising campaign that allows you to reconnect with past website visitors by showing them relevant online ads as they use other websites or mobile apps. It also helps reach leads and customers who are more likely to purchase your products or services.

Blog

Maintaining an ongoing, relevant blog that your target audience finds interesting will keep them coming back for more, and it will help develop your relationship with blog readers. Similar to social media, it’s most effective to respond to comments with more helpful information and insight to keep the conversation going. Including an RSS feed so that blog posts can be delivered straight to subscribers’ inboxes makes it convenient for your target audience to stay informed. If you develop a regular blog audience, you will be top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

Customer Service

It’s hard to talk about nurturing relationships with customers and leads without talking about customer service. Consider every consumer touchpoint as an opportunity to provide an exceptional experience. Whether it’s helping people through social media, email, instant messaging, text messaging, over the phone or in person, every interaction with your business has the ability to enhance or deteriorate your relationship. Diligently create a consistent brand experience that’s worth talking about.

If a customer leaves a negative comment or complaint online, kindly thank them for their feedback and say that you will work with them offline to resolve the issue. Stay true to your word and follow up with the customer. If they have a positive experience, they may choose to remove or update their previous comment or review. No matter the outcome, always remain positive and helpful.

Now that we’ve walked you through each phase of the Marketing Funnel, we hope you leave with key takeaways that will help you optimize your website and inbound marketing efforts. If you keep each phase and the respective strategies in mind while developing a marketing plan, you can more effectively guide your target audience through the Funnel and ultimately turn your prospects into lifetime customers.

This is the last article of our “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series. If you have questions about any phase, goal or tactic discussed, please contact GREENCREST, and a marketing expert can assist you.

 

Google’s New Universal Analytics: Evolving Online Customer Data Collection

By Kelly Borth, Chief Strategy Officer at GREENCREST

Google Universal Analytics

You have a website. You’re active on social media. You advertise. You develop public relations campaigns. You dispatch a sales team. However, all of your marketing efforts are meaningless unless you know what’s working and what’s not. It’s important to measure and evaluate performance across every marketing channel.

The Evolution of Business and Technology

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your website about 80% of tracked websites use Google Analytics. Historically, Google Analytics primarily focused on website tracking. However, as technology has rapidly progressed, consumers and businesses have evolved as well. There are multiple devices—computer, tablets, smartphones and game consoles—to engage with brands. To add to the clutter, companies are active on social media, advertise online and have mobile apps, call centers, elaborate customer databases and inventory, POS and CRM systems to store various types of information and generate reports.

In response, Google adapted the way its analytics work in order to allow businesses to understand how customers are moving across different devices and using different digital touch points to interact with a business. The result is Universal Analytics.

A New Way to Observe Customers Across Digital Touch Points

Google Universal Analytics is shaping the future of digital marketing measurement as it moves toward user-based tracking. Today different devices, or “properties” are given a specific tracking ID to distinguish where traffic is coming from and pinpoint how one customer has moved across different devices when interacting with your brand. So you might see that a customer discovered your website through a search on their tablet, engaged with you on social media from their smart phone and then made a purchase on your e-commerce site from their desktop. This holistic view provides a better understanding of your ROI for different types of digital marketing activities.

There’s also a new measurement protocol that allows you to send data into Universal Analytics from any Internet-connected system. If you’ve been looking for ways to get outside data from another system into Google Analytics, this offers a solution. You can now send data from your call center, your POS system or any other device into Google Analytics. You also now have more control over the settings and have the option to create custom dimensions and metrics. These new changes allow for better business planning, adaption and infrastructure. It allows concrete data and statistics to become a core part of your organization to help you make better business decisions and measure the impact of your marketing and advertising.

Change is a Good Thing

Newly established Google Analytics accounts will now use Universal Analytics by default. Google will phase out support for “Classic Analytics” over the next couple of years with any existing accounts automatically switching over to Universal Analytics.

If you have a highly customized Google Analytics account but don’t have a dedicated Google Analytics support team, it’s recommended to engage the help of a Google Certified Partner when making the switch.

Google Universal Analytics is just one of the available platforms that provides multiple system integration. When you use these types of integrated platforms to view all of your data in one place, you will, no doubt, realize improved efficiency and campaign performance.

From Smart Business.

 

Convert: The Third Step in Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers

(This BrandPro article is the fourth in a series of five articles that discuss the process of “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers.”)

During the Engage phase of the Marketing Funnel, you maintained your prospects’ attention and enticed them to interact with your brand online. Once you have engaged a prospect, he or she is more likely to convert into a warm lead—but only if you ask them to and show them how.

Marketing Funnel

 

Website

It’s important to set your website up for success and turn it into a lead-generating machine. One easy way to do this is to incorporate calls-to-action on every web page. A call-to-action (CTA) is an instruction to website users to perform a desired behavior. Examples include “Contact Us Today,” “Request a Quote,” “Schedule an Appointment,” or “Watch the Demo.” On a website, CTAs should always link to a web page where users can perform the behavior you asked them to do. This might be a form where they submit their information, question and/or request. It might be an exclusive download. Whatever it may be, users should get something of value in exchange for their contact information.

If you send marketing emails or e-newsletters, it’s beneficial to prominently display a sign up form on your website. This is often a small field where website visitors simply submit their name and email address and are automatically added to your email distribution list. Instead of labeling the submit button “Submit,” it may be more effective to use a creative CTA such as “Gain Instant Access!”

Whenever website visitors send you their information, it’s a good idea to create a page that confirms their information has been received. Use this webpage to keep track of online conversions.

Blog

Similar to a website, it’s important to incorporate CTAs throughout your blog and blog posts. On a blog, it’s imperative to make it easy for people to subscribe and receive your emails. You may also want to direct your readers to other similar articles, white papers or e-books you have published.

Customer Service

Last but not least, your leads need to experience exceptional customer service. There is no point in collecting information from your website visitors if you’re not going to respond or deliver what you promised. Have a system in place so that the proper contact at your company receives a website inquiry and responds in a timely manner. Ensure that automatic responses and downloads are functioning properly. And don’t forget to follow up! Lastly, if a person signs up to receive emails from your company, make it easy to unsubscribe if he or she no longer wants to receive emails from you. Not doing so will violate anti-spam laws and potentially create a very frustrating customer experience.

In the last article of the “Turning Prospects into Lifetime Customers” series, we will show you how to turn leads into customers, and how to turn current customers into lifetime customers. It all comes down to fostering relationships during the Nurture phase.

 

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    GREENCREST Chief Strategy Officer Kelly Borth brings together today’s great marketing thought leaders in one book that helps business owners identify strategies to transform their business.

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