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Marketing ROI: Is it Guaranteed?

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 12.06.14 PM.pngIf there’s one question I hear most often from business owners, it’s “how can you guarantee a ROI for marketing?” It’s a fair question, indeed, but one where the answer isn’t clear-cut. Undoubtedly, it’s good business sense to expect a return when you invest in something for your business; but when it comes to marketing, there are various factors business owners need to consider before axing a tactic that yields a low ROI.

Consider these factors when deciding if your marketing dollars are being spent wisely:

  1. What strategy or technique did you use?
    Marketing is a practice that incorporates many different tactics and techniques, and some strategies will have a direct ROI while others will not. For example, if you’re launching a lead generation campaign on Google AdWords, you can directly track the leads coming in from this source, while comparing the profit made from these leads against your budget. You’ll be able to clearly determine if the ROI is there or not. A similar approach can be used for trade shows. Did the revenue made from the show at least cover the cost of the booth and any other expenses it took to attend? Lead generation campaigns will be easier to track, but even still, some level of leniency should be applied when determining ROI. As I’ll explain, not all conversions are immediate, and this is something you definitely need to take into consideration.On the other hand, marketing practices such as branding or content marketing won’t necessarily yield a high ROI for your business. Does this mean these practices aren’t worth your time or investment? Absolutely not. These types of marketing tactics are important to keep your brand relevant and relatable for customers. No one likes a stale brand, and you should think of these tactics as a support to your lead generation campaigns.
  1. Is your pipeline robust?
    There’s value in building your pipeline. For every customer that converts into a lead, there are dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of other customers that come into contact with your brand and marketing messages. Some, if not many, of these other customers will result in future sales. That’s why consistent communication with both your current and potential customers is so important. Traditionally, it takes seven touches before someone notices and engages with your marketing message. It’s also why having a strategic marketing mix is vital to your marketing success, so customers are exposed to your brand through various mediums.Even if you have a transactional business, a well-defined brand experience will increase the chances of repeat business. And don’t forget: every customer is an influencer.

So to answer the question of whether marketing ROI is guaranteed: it depends. As business owners, it’s important we see the value in all facets of marketing that may not exactly yield a high ROI; however, I would highly recommend that past marketing initiatives be used for guidance when developing future marketing budgets. If you require assistance with developing a budget or marketing mix, contact CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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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.

The Mystique of SEO

SEO-mystiqueIt seems like SEO is big business these days – it’s the “buzzword” de jour! With more and more SEO consultants, online SEO experts, SEO packages, SEO promises, and SEO professionals popping up every day, I find myself and many of my clients bombarded with the pointed message: “Your business will die without proper SEO” (I am paraphrasing of course).

With many web companies, online providers and marketing companies all providing SEO, how are you to know which one is offering the right SEO for you? Should you buy that SEO package online or use the consultant from that SEO Company everyone is talking about? I certainly understand all the SEO confusion that exists in the marketplace.

SEO by its shear nature is continuously evolving which is why there seems to be a mystery around what it is exactly. Let’s demystify it: SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, plays an important role in your customer’s research and buying cycle. It attracts potential buyers to your website through critical and relevant keywords and phrases ranked high in search engines where searchers are already looking for information about them. SEO is about being where your customers are, and directing them towards solutions you offer them.

SEO is so important, in fact I would say it is absolutely essential to helping you grow your online business, but like other marketing tactics, SEO needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

A good marketing strategy will provide an indication of which marketing tactics should specifically target your audience. The tactics will complement SEO and in combination, strengthen and reinforce each element to grow your business exponentially. To be clear, SEO alone (i.e. without brand awareness, and a strategy) cannot help you reach your highest marketing potential.

How much you should invest in SEO, what type, and who implements, are great questions for a discussion to have with your trusted marketing agency or advisor. Although they may not be SEO experts, they should be able to help you understand why you need it, what type of investment you might be looking at, and point you in the direction of a professional SEO specialist.

Does your marketing agency provide you with SEO services? What type of successes have you had with your SEO? How long did it take for you to see results? What investment have you made? I look forward to your comments below.

Online Marketing: How To Get Found

The phrase “If you build it, they will come”, may have worked in Field of Dreams, but in online marketing, we must build something, and create the avenues that help us get found.

In previous blogs, I’ve outlined some marketing approaches and the importance of knowing what to look for, what marketing tools you might require and what social media you might use on the journey to increase brand awareness and grow revenue. In this blog, I’d like to get back to basics and outline what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) activities are, and how they can help you to attain your online marketing goals.

The term SEO is frequently bandied about for show, these days, but let us never forget what it really means:  the process of improving the visibility of your website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural,” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”), search results. (Wikipedia)

SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by targeted audiences.

The goal is to increase your SEO to achieve the highest possible rankings for searches that are relevant for your business.  In simple terms, you want people to find you by typing certain words into Google or Yahoo or Bing.

Here’s some tips to help you better navigate the world of SEO.  If you need some more clarification on how best to increase you SEO, consult with a marketing agency you trust to advise you on the best strategy for your business.

1. Get indexed

The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Search engine crawlers may look at a number of different factors when crawling a site. Not every page is indexed by the search engines.

Crawlers cannot read Flash sites.

2. Increase prominence

A variety of methods can increase the prominence of a webpage within the search results.

  • Cross linking between pages of the same website to provide more links to most important pages may improve its visibility.
  • Keywords
    The language of the search engines is keywords. Based on the words or phrases searchers use, search engines determine the most relevant fit and rank results accordingly. Writing content that includes frequently searched keyword phrases, so as to be relevant to a wide variety of search queries, will tend to increase traffic.
  • Meta data
    Adding relevant keywords to a web page’s meta data, including the title tag and meta description, will tend to improve the relevancy of a site’s search listings, thus increasing traffic.  Use your keywords properly in your page titles, page headings and alt tags (image descriptions).

3. GO BEYOND YOUR SITE

Search engines give significant weight to what happens beyond your web site. This is often referred to as off-page SEO. Updating content so as to keep search engines crawling back frequently can give additional weight to a site. The premise is that they place more trust in how credible you are to others, versus how you present yourself.  Off-page SEO means web sites, and other sources, directing (linking) interested parties back to you. The greater the number of credible back links to your web site, the higher your search engine ranking.

4. USE SOCIAL MEDIA

As with off-page SEO, the search engines place more weight on how you are perceived online.  Social media is another opportunity for your site to be indexed and increase your rankings. Social Media influences search engine rankings, so keep up the frequency of your posts. The more you post, the more there is to index, and the higher your rankings.  Search engines also take into account any content created or accessed by people in the searcher’s social network.Search engine optimization is something you need to take seriously if you want increased visibility and more inbound leads: build it, create the avenues, keep it fresh and they will come!

Have any SEO questions or stories you’d like to share?

Why do we all need advice?

We all want it and need it, but as small to medium-sized business owners we may need it most of all, but are more likely to steer clear of it.

The fact is all of us, regardless of what you do for a living, have some level of expertise on that topic.  You don’t have to look far for evidence of this – there are columnists whose opinion matters; reality TV shows where we see individuals sing to the best of their ability or perform some talent; in social media blogs like this one, or FaceBook posts or LinkedIn profiles, and even how-to videos on YouTube – we find experts.   For business owners, there are expert associations, Boards of Trade, or peer advisory boards like The Alternative Board.  There are quite literally thousands upon thousands of experts giving advice on everything from soup to nuts.

advice, advisors, Creativeworks, marketing

Do you really need an advisor?

Unless you really do know everything, then yes, you do need an advisor. From Prime Ministers to the Queen of England, we all need to consult with a person we feel knows more than we do on a certain topic, or can at the very least, offer us insights and a good ear for us to walk through an approach or plan we’ve been considering.  As business owners, we all need help to strengthen an area of our business whether that is marketing, employment hiring practices, or operations and management.

Having an advisor is NOT admitting defeat, it’s substantiating your value: knowing what you do well at and what you want to improve on are two of the pillars of success.


How do you find the right advisor for your business?

The answer to this question is found by asking yourself a few pointed questions: what do you need advice on? How would that advice help you in your business and what do you expect this advisor to do for you?

Once you are clear on exactly what you need, how it will help and what you want as a result, you are ready to hire your advisor.  Here are a few tips to help you in your search.

  1. Start with some research both on and offline.  Ask your fellow business owners if they have advisors; search the blogs, FaceBook and LinkedIn on the advice topic you are seeking. e.g. small business peer advisory
  2. Narrow down your list to the top 3 and then contact them to see their response times, style, and general “fit”
  3. Once you’ve made contact, meet with them. Much like a job interview, go prepared with questions you have about their experience, other similar clients, success stories, and if applicable, their training and education.  If this is a Board of Trade, you can go to one of their scheduled meetings.
  4. During this meeting you should determine if the personality is a good fit for you.  An advisor needs to understand you and be able to identify with you and your needs.  Make sure they do.
  5. After you’ve met with all three, you might want to ask them to send you a quote on how they feel they can help you and how much it will cost. For Boards of Trade, you will need to look at the annual or monthly dues and time commitment.

advice, advisors, Creativeworks, marketing

As a marketing advisor, a few years ago I was looking for a business advisor; someone who could help me keep my business on track and provide advice and guidance as business issues came up like: what my bookkeeper should take care of, do I need a noncompeting agreement for my staff; what is the protocol for employee incentives and so much more.  I found TAB, a peer advisory board of individual business owners like myself who meet on a regular basis to help each other in our businesses.  I also have one-on-one coaching sessions. It was not what I was looking for but it’s a thousand times better than what I could have even imagined.

This experience has taught me something so critical – we all need help and there is literally someone for everyone.

Do you have an advisor?  Can you share your story?

What the heck is Google AdWords?

We’ve all heard the term and some of us may have even received a Google “gift card” in the mail, but what is Google AdWords and what can you expect from a Google AdWords advertising campaign?

Google AdWords is sort of like advertising in the printed Yellow Pages: it simply helps your customers and potential customers find you.  However, unlike the Yellow Pages, Google does not search for businesses using the alphabet, it searches using keywords or searchable terms that describe your business or offering.

Google AdWords is an advertisement using only words called “keywords” that best describe your products or services.  Once you have your keywords, you can create your advertisement and then decide on exactly how much money you want to spend on this advertisement. With Google AdWords you can set a daily budget or a monthly budget and you can also adjust it as you go.

There has been much discussion about Google’s pricing for these ads, as you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.  This means for your ad to be successful, people will click on it, come to your site and hopefully buy what you have to offer.  However, if nobody clicks on your ad, although you wouldn’t have spent any money, you also wouldn’t have increased your site traffic or realized any revenue from it. To me, Google AdWords is a great marketing tool but like any tool, you need to know how to use it correctly to ensure your desired results are realized.

Here are a few tips you might want to consider from this marketing expert before jumping on board:

Tip 1
Planning your marketing:  Make sure that your online marketing plan fits well with your marketing strategy.  In other words is this the only online marketing you will be doing or can you tie this into another campaign?

Tip 2
Keywords are key: Do you know what your keywords are for your business?  Ensuring the proper search terms or keywords for online advertising is crucial as these are the words that people use to search Google for your business. You’ll need to spend the most amount of time at this stage establishing clear and decisive keywords for your ad campaign. You might want to consult an expert for this.

Tip 3
Target the ad to your audience: Potential customers tend to search by topic and location whereas current customers are more likely to search for your business by name.  So when creating your ad, you need to be clear about whom you are targeting including where they are located. Do you want to run a local, national or international campaign?

Tip 4
Clearly identify your goals:  What do you hope to achieve using Google AdWords? In other words, are you hoping to use Google AdWords to increase traffic to your site, increase revenue, or just increase brand recognition?

Tip 5
Monitor your budget: Like any advertising campaign, you need to track its success; with Google AdWords it is very easy to burn through your “Google gift card” amount in minutes, so keep an hourly eye on your Google campaign and adjust as you see fit.  Remember the great thing about Google AdWords is you can stop the campaign whenever you want.

Setting up an effective Google AdWords campaign can absolutely drive traffic to your website, increase your brand recognition and generate interest in your business, but to make it an effective campaign you’ll need to invest time and resources. If you’re a small business without internal marketing resources, you might want to consult with an expert to ensure your ad will meet your goals.

Has Google AdWords worked for you?  I look forward to hearing your success stories!