Advice

Is It Time to Update Your SEO Strategy?

seo-896175_1280Have you ever searched your business on Google and wondered why your website didn’t come up first? Are you frustrated that your competitor ranks better than you? As a business owner in today’s high-tech world, having an online presence is essential for the success of your business. But did you know that in order to reach your target audiences through search engines, you need to have a top-notch SEO strategy?

In case you’re unaware, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Keywords used to be all the rage in SEO strategies, but the tips and tricks to reach the top of search results have changed since the beginnings of SEO.

Many businesses have marketing strategies that include regular updates to their website so that it is always modern, user-friendly, and bug-free. However, I’ve seen many gorgeous websites from successful businesses fail to reach the top of relevant search results because they forgot to update their SEO strategy.

To help bring your SEO strategy into the present, here is a comparison of SEO strategies of the past and what SEO strategies should include today:

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Now that you know the latest in SEO best practices, remember to integrate them into your quarterly or annual marketing plan. Create a content schedule and stick to it, because when you regularly post engaging content, search engine crawlers are triggered to visit your website more often to potentially improve your ranking. And I strongly suggest using an analytics platform to track your website traffic, so you will know if your SEO strategy is successful or needs to be revamped.

If you would like some help customizing an SEO strategy for your target audience, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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What We Should Learn from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Fiasco

facebook, social media, marketing, marketing agencyIf you have accessed social media or any news source recently, you are likely just as dismayed as I am to hear about Facebook’s recent data breach.

If you’re not in the loop, here’s a rundown of what happened.

Even if you don’t avidly use social media for your business (which you may still want to consider), there is much to learn from this scandal. Here are my takeaways from a marketing perspective:

Continue Collecting Data

Whether you collect data from surveys, social media, loyalty programs, or any other form of data collection, don’t let Facebook’s data breach deter you. Data collection is essential in marketing. With it you can send customized offers and gain valuable product feedback for future improvements. Marketing without client data is marketing while blind.

Be Honest

When conducting a survey or asking clients to register for your loyalty program, it’s obvious to them what data you are collecting. What isn’t as obvious is what you will use the data for. I suggest including a disclaimer at the bottom of the survey or loyalty program confirmation email that states your intentions. Is there a chance that you may provide their information to a third party? If so, say so. It’s better to be honest now and get one less survey response than to be hit with a lawsuit later.

Review Your Privacy Policies

Now that you know some best management practices for client data collection, ensure that your existing privacy policies meet your clients’ expectations. If they don’t, now is definitely the time to update them with a fine-toothed comb.

Many of your clients likely won’t mind sharing personal details in order to receive some discount or other benefit from your business, but they are entrusting that data to you and only you unless you state otherwise. The trust between you and your clients is essential for your continued success; don’t squander it.

If you would like to discuss how data breaches might affect your business, call CreativeWorks Marketing today!

Celebrating a Milestone this Year? Make it a Marketing Success!

MilestoneCongratulations, your company is approaching a significant milestone! This is cause for celebration. You’re hyped, your employees are hyped, but how can you turn this into a marketing opportunity that also gets your clients hyped?

I believe that an anniversary milestone is a great way to highlight your legacy and communicate with clients what has led to your success. Here are a variety of different initiatives I would suggest to mark the outstanding occasion:

Update Your Brand

If the milestone you’re celebrating is an anniversary, it may be time to consider updating your brand. Your target audience, the market, and technology are constantly changing – perhaps you should too. I’ve seen many businesses keep stale brands for far too long, resulting in clients showing decreased interest.

You are your brand, and it is likely subconsciously analyzed every time a client visits your website, social media, trade show or conference booths, etc.  Updating your brand is a simple yet effective way to inform clients of the milestone and to let them know you are a leader of the future, backed with years of experience.

Generate Leads

I personally think that all businesses should make it their priority to learn as much as they can about their client base and target audience. The celebration of a milestone is an excellent opportunity to urge potential clients to submit their personal information for a chance to win a prize. Social media contests are proven to drive traffic and awareness of the company, so I suggest utilizing all of your existing social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. If you aren’t already on social media, now is the time to start!

For your existing clients that can’t get enough of you, show them your appreciation and generate new leads with a referral promotion. Offer a discount or another milestone-related incentive if they refer a new client.

Client Appreciation

As a thank you to the clients that helped you get you to where you are today, I recommend organizing a time-sensitive sweepstake, during which anyone who reaches out to you receives a small prize. And of course there’s no better way to show client appreciation than to invite them to a party! On the official day of the milestone, invite staff and clients to a celebration with food, drinks, music, and games.

I often find that celebrating important milestones boosts your employee morale, encourages client engagement, and increases your sales, propelling you to towards your next milestone goals. If you require assistance with your milestone marketing plan, give CreativeWorks Marketing a call today!

Has Q1 Come and Gone with No Real Marketing?

Screen Shot 2018-02-20 at 2.40.10 PM.pngWe’re already two months into 2018, and if your company has been playing the guessing game when it comes to marketing, it’s time to take action! Even if marketing wasn’t a focal point of your annual strategic sessions, or if you don’t have the time or resources to make a robust annual plan, there’s one thing you can do, in particular, to ensure your marketing is as effective as possible: create a quarterly marketing plan.

Here are some reasons why I recommend creating a quarterly marketing strategy:

  • Quarterly results provide the motivation to continue. Although a quarterly marketing strategy is more detailed than a simple checklist, it is still a checklist of sorts. Once each part is completed, you earn a sense of accomplishment that urges you to continue.
  • Quarterly goals are less intimidating. With annual goals, it’s easy to delay tasks until the following week, month, or couple months down the road. Many of us are prone to bouts of procrastination if we allow them. Don’t allow them! Procrastination kills goals.
  • Quarterly goals give direction. If you don’t plan out where you want to go, how can you expect to get there? Going with the flow without a map could lead you to a dead end.

How to Start Your Quarterly Marketing Plan

  1. Identify your target audience. If you haven’t already done so, it’s important to define who is most likely to purchase and use your product or service. Market research is one of the most effective methods of figuring this out.
  2. Learn their behaviours. Is your audience online, or are they more prone to seeing your brand through traditional mediums such as print? You want your message to appear where your target audience is most likely to see it.
  3. Compile a list of key dates for the upcoming quarter. Do you have an upcoming tradeshow? Undoubtedly, you know you’ll need collateral for it. Running a webinar? With no promotion prior to the event, how else do you expect to drive attendance? By outlining upcoming initiatives or events, you can better plan what’s required to allow you more time to focus on attaining your goals.
  4. Set realistic goals. Marketing is intended to support the growth of your company. With that said, aligning business goals with marketing goals makes sense, and it ensures accountability for the entire company that does not rest solely on the marketing team.
  5. Make it a one-stop shop. Include all upcoming campaigns, ad buys, content posts, and other relevant promotions that provide both a macro and micro look at the quarter. This approach will help you allocate resources where need be, and will ensure you stay organized with all things marketing-related.

Remember, a quarterly marketing plan will be more beneficial than having no plan at all. Once you’ve hit your quarterly goals, don’t stop! Marketing isn’t a temporary, one-time solution. Stick to the plan you’ve made and make changes to it if necessary.

There’s no doubt in my mind that you will start to see better results from your marketing once you have a blueprint to follow. As always, if you need help with developing a quarterly marketing plan or anything else related to marketing, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

Here’s Why You’ll Want to Introduce AI to Marketing in 2018

hand-2722107_640.jpgIf you’re looking to keep up with the competition in your market, there’s no doubt about it; artificial intelligence (AI) is where you need to be. But what exactly does it mean, and how can you introduce it to your marketing mix? Introducing something new to your business can be intimidating, especially if it’s technology related, but AI is surely one of those things you don’t want to miss out on.

What is AI?

Simply put, AI is any intelligence displayed by a machine that mimics the natural intelligence of humans. This might be displayed through any function that we typically associate with thinking, such as learning, problem solving or decision-making. Have you recently visited a website that had a chat box pop up from what appeared to be a real customer service rep? Were they helpful? Maybe. Were they real? Probably not. This example is simply one application of AI, but there are various other applications that can be used to optimize the marketing of your business.

So, why should you introduce AI to marketing your business this year?

  1. You’ll know your customers better

I often hear from business owners that they know exactly who their customers are. While I don’t doubt that they have a solid understanding of their average customer, they’re likely just scratching the surface when it comes to knowing their purchasing habits and other influential factors. With AI, you’re not only able to analyze more data, but different types of data too. What this means is that you’re able to learn more intricate details into the lives of your customers.

  1. You’ll communicate with personalized content, in real-time

Now that you know who your customers are, this means that you can curate highly personalized content to target them. According to a study by Demand Metric, 80% of marketers say personalized content is more effective than “unpersonalized” content. Gone are the days of annoying, irrelevant pop up ads, because now, online ads will be personalized to the interests of shoppers using data from several of their tech devices.

What’s more exciting is the ability to communicate with your customers in real-time. With certain applications of AI, stores are able to send real-time discount offers to customers. Instead of waiting to entice customers with a future promotional offer, businesses can capitalize on customers making a purchase the moment they search for a related item.

  1. You’ll save time and money

By introducing AI to your business, you’ll save countless hours on traditionally time-consuming tasks like data analysis and crunching numbers. Additionally, AI will allow you to respond to consumer requests quicker than ever before. Even large tech giants like Facebook have recognized the importance of this, and have recently introduced auto responses for inbound messages received through a company page. With AI, you’ll shorten the length of your sales cycle and convert more viable leads.

Although AI can help you better know and interact with your customers, it won’t be necessary in every aspect of your marketing strategy. Not everything needs to be automated—automation works best when the task being completed can be done so more efficiently by an AI than by a human. Designate simpler or more repetitive tasks to AI systems so that you are freeing up more time to dedicate to the really difficult challenges of your business strategy that require human input. Are you ready to jump on the AI bandwagon? Contact CreativeWorks Marketing today to discuss how AI can be introduced to your marketing strategy for 2018.

Setting Your Marketing Goals for 2018

shutterstock_578273836With 2018 now in full force, it’s likely you have your strategic business goals prepared and ready for execution. Hopefully, the marketing aspect of your business received just as much love during strategic planning sessions for this year, but in the off chance it didn’t, or if you’re looking to optimize your marketing plan for the new year, read on!

When setting your marketing goals for 2018, I highly encourage you to consider these points. In doing so, you’ll have a robust plan that is easily understood, integrative, and ready for execution:

  1. Identify what did and didn’t work in 2017

Like anything in life, it’s best to learn from your shortcomings; the same mentality should apply to your business and how you market it. Begin by reviewing any marketing or campaign-specific data you may have from the year prior. This data may stem from Google Analytics or any other web analytics tool your company may use, social media analytics, email marketing results and lead tracking (web or otherwise). Upon reviewing the data, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where did these leads come from? Did they result from a campaign or organic search?
  2. Was the messaging tailored to a unique audience?
  3. Was my website, landing page, or collateral optimized for conversions?
  4. Did customers interact with my brand the way I intended them to? Did I follow-up with them as often as I should have?

You may notice that while you had great campaign ideas, the execution was off. Slight tweaks of the same campaign based on answers to the above questions could result in an entirely different outcome!

  1. Consider your resources

As small businesses, we often don’t have the luxury of having a marketing department or team. Your marketing team may only consist of a coordinator or manager, or perhaps even just yourself! Bearing that in mind, make 2018 the year you introduce automation to your business. With automation, you’ll provide your marketing personnel with more time to focus on tasks that really matter, such as strategic planning and business development.

Or, if finances permit, expand your marketing team. Get specific with what you need. Do you require a generalist who can complete as many different tasks as possible, or is a specialist of some sort what you require? You may consider hiring a marketing agency that has all of the above and more, and can be more cost-effective than hiring an additional full-time staff member.

  1. Be realistic

First things first, yes, all companies want to grow and make more money; however, it’s important to remain realistic with the amount of growth you achieve and how quickly you attain this growth. Remember, good marketing takes time. While you’ll want to see a direct impact on your ROI, the fact of the matter is, revenue growth from new leads and customers will not be noticed until the next quarter or even later on in the year; or, years to come. Of course, this all depends on the type of business you have and the industry you’re in, but the importance remains that you should be focused on building your funnel at this time.

What are you waiting for?

I too often hear from business owners how they require assistance with marketing their business, yet it somehow is always placed on the back burner. By setting your marketing goals now, you’ll have a clear and concise plan that you can refer to throughout the year. If you require assistance with developing a marketing plan or executing marketing tasks, give CreativeWorks Marketing a call today!

What Went Wrong: Kendall Jenner and Pepsi

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Image courtesy of New York Daily News

In our next series, coined “What Went Wrong,” I’ll be discussing recent controversial marketing campaigns and providing an analysis of why I feel they may have failed.

My goal of this series is to share my analysis of a campaign so that you can see that even the ‘larger’ brands don’t always get it right and also to give you an opportunity to learn from these mistakes and avoid them when it comes to marketing your business.

This week, we’ll look at Pepsi’s Live for Now advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner.

If you haven’t yet seen the “canned” commercial, click here to watch it.

Here are my reasons for why this campaign may have failed to resonate with consumers:

Issue One: Wrong message at the wrong time

It’s no secret that the U.S. is currently in a hyper-politicized state. The intended aim of this campaign was to provide commentary on the current social and political injustices in the country. How Pepsi chose to do this though, in regards to their solution to these injustices, is what led to public outcry.

Shots from the advertisement appear to mimic Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, with a particularly well-known image of protestor Iesha Evans facing two police officers in Baton Rouge. When Kendall Jenner simply hands a Pepsi to one of the police officers, the outcome is joy and applause; if only solving racial injustices was that easy.

Advertisements that choose to make a commentary on societal issues must address them with empathy and sincerity, or risk coming across as tone-deaf, or worse, exploitative.

Tip #1: Be mindful and cautious of the stances you take on politically charged issues, even if your heart is in the right place.

Issue Two: Utilizing controversial celebrities

Celebrity endorsement is nothing new when it comes to selling products or services, especially for big brands. But selecting Kendall Jenner to be the new face of Pepsi proved to not be so wise. While Kendall Jenner has achieved tremendous success in her career, she has also received criticism in the past for appropriating black culture and for copyright infringement.

Businesses must be extremely careful that the public figures that represent their brand have not been involved past controversies. These past missteps should have been taken into account, especially in an advertisement that seemed to mimic Black Lives Matter protests.

Tip #2: Similar to celebrity endorsement for large brands, you may want to choose influencer marketing as a marketing technique. Before selecting an influencer, ensure the influencer you choose aligns with your values and is free from controversy that may tarnish your brand.

Issue Three: Not learning from past mistakes

In 2013, Pepsi-owned Mountain Dew released an advertisement featuring an injured woman on crutches identifying a criminal from a police lineup of 5 African-American men. The ad was immediately criticized as insensitive towards the serious issues of violence against women and systemic racism in the criminal justice system. It’s crucial that businesses understand feedback and criticism and ensure that past mistakes are not repeated.

Tip #3: It’s always important to publicly address negative criticism in the online world. If your business has received a negative comment or review on a social platform or search engine, take some time to respond to the unhappy consumer by addressing their concern and providing any assistance in resolving the manner. That is, of course, if the comment does not contain obscene wording or profanity, in which case deleting the comment would suffice.

As a small business, it’s important that your marketing is executed in a strategic manner. As we’ve seen with this controversial story, one wrong move could lead to the demise of your business. Contact the professionals at CreativeWorks Marketing today for assistance with your marketing campaigns!

What Does It Really Mean Series: Mobile Friendly

electronics-1851218_1280Next in our “What Does It Really Mean?” series is the term Mobile Friendly. I admit it sounds odd to think of mobile in terms of it being friendly or unfriendly. However, the reality is that for most businesses to succeed in this competitive marketplace, understanding what Mobile Friendly is all about is very important.

What does it mean to be mobile friendly?

We typically think that mobile friendly means responsive design – a website detects the screen size of the user and delivers your site’s content in a way that’s optimized for that screen size. However, mobile friendly refers to more than just websites; it means that all aspects of your marketing and sales efforts play well on mobile devices. After all, don’t you engage with your customers via email and on a variety of social media platforms? These forms of engagement can all be impacted by mobile.

According to Google, a website must include the following features to be classified as “mobile friendly” by their Googlebots:

  1. It avoids software that’s not common on mobile devices (like Flash)
  2. Uses text that is readable without zooming (don’t make users pinch to zoom)
  3. Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  4. Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped (design for the fat finger)

Why is it important for your company to be mobile friendly?

Last year, the CRTC stated in its Communications Monitoring Report that there are 28.8 million wireless subscribers in Canada. As well, a new Pew Research report states that 67% of Canadians own a smartphone. As the use of mobile devices increases, Canadians are spending more time on mobile apps than ever, even as global growth in mobile app use slows down. And, you need to be where your customers are – on mobile devices. According to Flurry, Canadian mobile app use grew by an average rate of 74% in 2016, far exceeding the global average of 11%. The top five categories of apps all had 55% growth or more:

  1. Health
  2. Fitness
  3. Shopping
  4. Business
  5. Finance

How being mobile friendly improves the customer experience

The best way to differentiate your company from the competition is by providing an exceptional customer experience. Being mobile friendly is an increasingly important part of that customer experience. With more of your customers engaging on mobile devices, you have to ensure that not only your website, but your company, is mobile friendly. Your customers’ experiences have to be consistent across all devices. You want your customers engaged and coming back for more. Unsatisfied customers look elsewhere.

Geo- location targeting can also enhance the customer experience. A mobile device can identify its location and report it to an ad server that maintains a database of location data and ad campaigns. When a customer enters a particular location, the ad server will send relevant ad notifications to their mobile device. Have you ever walked in a store and immediately got a text message offering you $10 off on your next purchase of $50 or more? That’s geo-location targeting.

Marketing campaigns use geo-targeting to reach the right audience because location does impact demographics and buying behaviour.

In order to reach your customers on all devices and provide them with a stellar customer experience, I believe that it’s important for every company to be mobile friendly. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming mobile friendly or are ready to take the plunge, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today. We have the technical expertise to ensure that your customers are engaged and coming back for more. And we’ll be to explain everything to you in real people-speak and work with you to determine the best approach for your company.

Influencer Marketing: 3 Tips For Finding The Right Influencer For You

photo-634069_1280.jpgIn my last blog I discussed if influencer marketing is right for your business. I highlighted how 94% of those who used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective. It appears that when an influencer speaks about a product or service it comes across as a genuine recommendation, not an ad or marketing campaign. It’s believable and people respond. So baring that in mind, I’ve outlined below my three tips for finding the right influencer for you:

  1. Look for an influencer that speaks to your audience. Social media has many of us believing that bigger is better, but this just isn’t so with influencer marketing. Sure, you want an influencer with a big following, but you’re trying to reach a targeted audience – not everyone. Is their audience relevant to your brand? An influencer that speaks to your audience will have the biggest impact on reach, engagement and the bottom line. You’re looking for quality, not quantity.
  2. Evaluate the quality of content they post. Is the content high quality? Does it reflect your brand? Would this person be a good representative of your brand? Are your values aligned? How do they communicate with their audience?
  3. Engagement is a key indicator of what type of results you can expect. How often do their followers respond, comment and share? How active is their social presence?

Influencer marketing takes time. It takes time to find the ‘right’ influencer, evaluate what the value of their content is and also what type of results you may be able to achieve when working with an influencer. Some influencers cost money and, therefore, you do need to invest the time before you decide where to invest.

There’s no doubt though that influencer marketing works, and if you are new to the game and need some help getting started contact CreativeWorks Marketing. We can harness the power of influencer marketing for your company.

Influencer Marketing: Is it Right for Your Business?

CWM Aug 1We all know that in the digital world the only thing constant is change. It seems that every day I hear about a new social media platform emerging and with it a new “superstar”. These “superstars” are not famous for anything except their ability to influence online buyers making them in some ways just as or more powerful than that of actors, actresses and athletes. They have millions of followers on various social media platforms who hang on their every word and accept what they say as gospel. Leveraging these influencers to promote your product or service can be extremely lucrative for your company, but is it right for your business? I’ve outlined below some information on influencer marketing and a few tips to get you started.

What is influencer marketing?

If you are wondering what is influencer marketing; it engages key individuals with large followings to leverage influence among their followers. In essence it’s about having a person of influence drive your brand’s message to a larger market in a way that’s perceived to be authentic and organic. As people ignore traditional ads in ever increasing numbers, the most lucrative opportunity for companies looking to drive brand awareness and sales is influencer marketing.

Does influencer marketing work?

When an influencer speaks about a product or service it comes across as a genuine recommendation, not an ad or marketing campaign. It’s believable and people respond.

  • 94% of those who used influencer marketing believe the tactic to be effective (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Influencer marketing’s top benefits entail creating authentic content about their brand (87%), driving engagement around their brand (77%) and driving traffic to their websites or landing pages (56%) (Lingia’s State of Influencer Marketing Survey)
  • Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. And of those that were acquired through word-of-mouth had a 37% higher retention rate (McKinsey)
  • Twitter reports that 49% of consumers seek purchase guidance from social media influencers
  • 40% of Twitter users said they had made a purchase as a direct result of an influencer’s Tweet
  • 20% said that a Tweet from an influencer inspired them to share their own product recommendation

Now that you know what influencer marketing is and that there are solid stats to support that it does work if done properly, stay tuned until next blog when I’ll outline a few tips on how to get started.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the power of influencer marketing contact us today!