SEO

The Missing “Link”

LinkedIn is one of my favourite social media platforms to use. Like many of you, I use it to conduct business development activities, discover potential new talent, and find out what some of my peers are working on. As a business owner and marketer, I also use it as a platform to target my potential clients and “tout” my expertise through the sharing of my company’s updates as well as industry-related articles.

LinkedIn has two distinct options: the LinkedIn profile page which most of us have to showcase our personal “resumes”, and the company page that is set up for your company.

While I know many business owners and marketers have an LI profile, many small businesses still do not have a company LI page. So what exactly is the difference between a profile page and a company page on LinkedIn? A LinkedIn profile is probably the most powerful tool you can use for business development as it allows you to highlight your professional experience, connect with your peers or potential clients, join industry-related groups, post your blogs or other articles, and share awards and updates.

I have seen many companies use the profile page as their company page, but LinkedIn has a distinct company page that provides your business with the opportunity to engage with followers with targeted and regular news and activities, share career opportunities, and expand your online brand presence.

If you are a business owner or marketer with a B2B business, an LI company page is a must! If you have a B2C business, it is still a good idea to have some presence on this platform, as this platform is great for SEO and for expanding your reach to influencers.

Here are some reasons I‘d recommend considering using an LI company page for your business:

1. Show How You are Unique

In the description on your company page, emphasize how you stand out from your competitors. You might want to include company news and share information about your company culture. This will help you reach potential customers and also new hires. Support the content with professional videos, or images to help you show how your company is different.

2. Improve SEO

We all hear about SEO, but did you know that Google and other search engines rank LinkedIn company pages and posts highly in the search engine results pages? Having the page and posting on it frequently will help you increase your SEO and increase site traffic.

3. Share Content

It makes sense that you need to write posts that your viewers want to see and share with others. The more you can engage your viewers, the more likely you are to expand your global reach and influence. You can also link your post back to your website for more information and to convert them into a warm business lead. It’s a good idea to create a media mix on this platform as well, so consider using different formats such as SlideShare business presentations, blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts and videos.

4. Measure Success

Like most social platforms, you can view analytical data about your company page to help you gain deeper insights into your page performance.

Having a LinkedIn company page will help you network and prospect to a targeted audience for quality sales leads, while establishing your business’ public image on a global scale as a reputable and trustworthy organization. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer!

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Does My Business Really Need A Blog?

Blogging-for-Business-The-Ultimate-Guide The marketing industry kicked off 2016 by announcing it is the year of content marketing. One of the most valuable content marketing tools that businesses have to engage and connect with customers and share relevant information is a blog.

A blog is a key aspect of your content marketing efforts, offering fodder for your business’ social media and online content in the form of Facebook and LinkedIn posts, tweets and email newsletters. Not only do blogs fuel SEO, as search engines love valuable content and will reward you for it. According to a HubSpot survey, 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly.

In addition to marketing reasons, there are compelling ROI reasons for having a business blog, yet so many business owners are still reluctant to start a blog because the time commitment and level of writing expertise required. There is no doubt that blogs require an investment of time for planning and of course writing, but the benefits of blogging (creating content and sharing it online) far outweigh these downsides which is why you need a blog.

Here are the top 5 reasons why every business needs a blog:

  1. A blog creates a two-way conversation with customers, prospects and industry peers, positioning yourself as a subject area expert and thought leader, and encourages interaction, comments and feedback
  2. A blog builds confidence, relationships and sales. Customers will look to you as a reliable resource for information on your industry, then come to you to buy.
  3. Helps you stay ahead of the curve. You have to stay on top of news, trends and competitors to be a successful blogger. It helps you be a leader, not a follower.
  4. You can tell your brand’s story. It gives your company a voice. A blog is a great place to offer more insight into your company, philosophy, employees, and ideas. Tell your customers why you’re in business and how you can help them.
  1. Blog analytics allow you to track readers, click-throughs, popular topics, shares and comments. You can even tell what day of the week your visitors prefer to stop by.

If your business doesn’t have a blog, and as the CMO or CEO you don’t feel you have the time or skill-set to write one, consider hiring a marketing agency with a solid content development team. In addition to helping you create a content strategy, they can create a blogging schedule for you, write the blogs, categorize them for you, and also post them with appropriate visuals that are all in line with your brand and business direction.

Have you made blogging part of your content strategy? What are you looking to get out of your blog?

The Rise of Digital Marketing

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 1.26.20 PMThe digital world is tied directly to data, and data is everywhere. When it comes to marketing, data informs marketers about audiences, their interests, intentions, and where they choose to interact. I believe that being able to analyze big data, create original content and having a sound digital strategy are three key factors a company should consider while aiming for success in the current digital climate.

Big Data

Because of the rise in available data, digital media has become an incredibly integrated part of consumers’ daily lives, and digital platforms are constantly updating themselves in order to provide the best user experience.

Being able to analyze and report data is a key component to any marketing strategy (at least it should be). Everything will be enhanced by the growth of big data – get ready!

Content

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “content is King”. When content is relevant and interesting, consumers cannot wait to read and share your brand’s content. This includes video content too (Instagram recently introduced a looping feature on their videos!).

Also, blogs are making a comeback because SEO matters now more than ever, and you need content to post on your social media sites – what better content than your own, right?

Digital Strategy

The changing digital landscape means digital marketing is constantly evolving, and marketers, like myself, are forced to learn how to use new software, how to use different platforms (including mobile), how to apply new techniques, and how to manage and optimize marketing efforts.

Location matters more now too. As the Internet grows at an incomprehensible rate, users are looking for more local experiences. We’ve seen the emergence of companies, like Uber and UberX, providing local goods and services at the push of a button. Being able to offer customers a local experience (that’s easily accessible via their smartphone – think convenience) keeps you relevant. This means we should see a rise in the amount of geo-targeted advertising, and social content created.

Content creation, SEO, and social media, shouldn’t be treated as specific departments, but rather as skills that exist inherently within your marketing agency (or internal marketing team).

What does this mean for businesses today?

Before you, or your company, settle on a marketing budget, I recommend you look at the latest trends and technology, and understand which of these your customers use so you can create a plan that leverages all available data. The success of today’s marketing campaigns largely relies on sound marketing strategies that have adopted new digital technologies.

If you’re unsure of where to start or if your marketing strategy is outdated, please contact me at info@creativeworksmarketing.ca to see how I can help your business.

Does your company have a digital strategy in place? What are your biggest challenges with digital marketing? Comment and share your thoughts with me!

Marketing Trend Predictions for 2015

2015 TrendsNearing the end of 2014, we sat down to make a few marketing trend predictions as to what brands should be on the lookout for in 2015. Here are our predictions:

Shareable Social Content

Be informed about what your audiences like and where they spend time. In 2015 brands will have to delve into customization and personalization for social channels, because the most shareable content (thus the most beneficial for your business!) is content with social value.

Original Content Marketing

Using content to market is an old strategy that has always been around. However, the topic of content marketing seemed to attract an abundance of attention in 2014, with regards to efficacy and about how hard it can be to produce quality content in large qualities. Marketers have been challenged to create more original content for more channels (websites, social, blog, newsletters and more) that is also valuable and educational.

Inbound Marketing

Similar to content marketing, inbound marketing relies on earning people’s interest instead of buying it. Creating quality content will attract people to your company and/or product. By aligning your published content with your customers’ interests, you will naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert and close over time. Publish the right content in the right place at the right time, and your brand will become relevant and valuable to your customers.

It’s a Smartphone World

Simply put, more people are spending time on mobile. Millennials especially – their phones never leave their side (it’s rare). Information and images should be optimized for mobile viewing. It may even be a good idea to start with mobile and plan to scale up content for desktops and laptops!

Use Video to Cement Relationships

Yes, video production if done professionally is expensive and time-consuming, but it really is worth it. Good content is conversational and creates a “human” aspect to a brand. Not only will brands have to explore more creative ways to produce content, they will also have to understand how to be trustworthy and authentic. Their chosen content, matched with a human touch, will help build the trusting relationships that help consumers keep brands at the forefront of their minds.

Advanced Analytics

In 2015 we should expect to see companies adopting data-driven strategies that go beyond accessing “big data” to actually integrating that data into everyday marketing decisions, campaign strategy, and product development. Brands will dig deep to uncover those actionable insights they can leverage to generate growth, sales, and identify prospects.

Do our predictions make sense to your business? Which trends would you like to implement in 2015? What are your predictions for 2015? Share your predictions with us in the comment section.

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.

Top 3 Tips on Getting Started with Your Content Marketing Campaign

As I mentioned in my blog post last week, The ABC’s of SEO, many SMB’s who have been practicing SEO for years are now using content marketing; a new, innovative approach to help them increase their marketing reach.

Content marketing’s basic premise is to “provide some valuable information or entertainment – “content” – that stops short of a direct sales pitch or call to action, but which seeks to positively influence a customer in some way.”[1]

As a marketer, the idea of content marketing is very exciting as it means having the ability to use less intrusive means to gain a potential customer’s trust before they buy your services or products.  This often takes the shape of providing e-newsletters, whitepapers, social media posts and yes, even blogs to potential customers.  Content marketing does not ask audiences to buy anything or give us anything in return, it only provides information to build trust.  So instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent.

The premise of this type of marketing is intertwined with the content of a Brand’s equity. Users will become engaged and create a positive correlation experience with said Brand, making them more likely to purchase said Brand.

As the owner of Creativeworks, a marketing agency dedicated to increasing marketing results for SMB owners, my clients have started asking a few questions about how to get started with a content marketing campaign.  Here are a few tips on the key things you might want to consider before getting started with your campaign.

Note: Before creating any marketing campaign, make sure it is tied to your marketing strategy.

Create It

Content is king, as they say. Spend a good deal of your time mapping out exactly what you want to say. This type of marketing is not a one-off, so you’ll need to think of creating a content schedule for a long-term campaign.  For example, if you are writing an e-newsletter, one issue will not work to gain and build customer trust. You’ll need to think of creating regular content.

Publish It

Clearly the intent is to attract an audience to your content. The overall goal is to connect content with its intended audience. There are various means to accomplish this, including social media, e-newsletters, blogs, display advertising and content sharing tools like Pinterest, Yelp, and Pixable.

Measure It

To gauge whether your content marketing is working, you’ll need to see if you are gaining an audience. You can do this by looking at: the impressions, open rates, website analytics, customer actions and response and finally the ROI including the actual sales or customer impact as a result of media and engagement.

It’s important that equal amounts of time are spent on measuring the impact of content, as well as the actual content development or management.

Finally, we must remember that content marketing is yet another marketing tactic in your marketing toolbox. As such, it, like all marketing tactics, needs to be tied to a marketing strategy to realize long-term gains, build brand recognition and increase ROI.

How About You?

Are you thinking of trying content marketing?  If so, what made you decide to try it? I look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.

The ABC’s of SEO

seopuzzleWe all know the Internet is becoming increasingly competitive and it can be tough these days to get noticed on the web. This competition has spurred many changes to how we write, design and list websites. It has also introduced the need for ongoing web support to ensure your site is indexing properly and staying on the first page of search engine results.

As a SMB owner it seems as though companies who perform SEO have a decided advantage in visitors and customers, so how does a SMB get seen these days?

Before I go any further let me briefly describe what SEO is: SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a web site in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page, key words in your site tags and descriptions to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.

Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are only as successful as their ability to provide a user with links to the best websites related to the user’s search terms.  If your site uses those search terms then it has a higher chance of being listed by a search engine. The trick and all the buzz about SEO is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of companies all doing the same thing; competing for the same key terms. Your job is to find a way to show search engines that your site belongs at the top of the heap.

As the owner of Creativeworks, a marketing agency dedicated to increasing marketing results for SMB owners, I have a few SEO tips I’d like to share with my fellow SMBs to help you better understand and ensure you’ve covered the SEO basics on your website.

Write for SEO

The most important component of SEO is excellent content. Without strong content, SEO tips and tricks will only provide a temporary boost in your site’s ranking (at best). That said, your site won’t rise to the top of every search engine’s results based on content alone.

Get Listed

If you have a new website, submit it to the major commercial search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo!  If your site cannot be found by search engines, or if your content cannot be put into their databases, you’ll miss out on incredible opportunities available to websites provided via search.

Create Search Terms

Search terms (or key word terms) are the words that users type into the search box at Google, Bing or Yahoo and they carry extraordinary value. Search engine traffic can make or break an organization’s success. Investing in SEO, whether through time or finances, can have an exceptional rate of return when compared to other types of marketing and promotion.

Organic vs. Paid

In the world of SEO, organic does not refer to the use of toxic and persistent synthetic pesticides and fertilizers! It refers to listings that will appear because of their relevance to the search terms. Paid SEO is using key search terms tied to adverting which may have your website appear on the first page as well, but as advertisement listings. A common Pay per click (PPC) (also called cost per click) advertising tool is Google AdWords.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention another term gaining popularity these days: content marketing.  Many companies who have been practicing SEO for years and want another approach to help increase their rankings are now turning their attention to content marketing.  I’ll discuss this in more detail in next week’s blog.

Depending on your time commitment, willingness to learn, and complexity of your website(s), you may decide you need an expert to handle things for you. But no matter if you hire a SEO firm, marketing agency or handle your SEO yourself, the right SEO can net you thousands of visitors and attention.

I am always interested in hearing from you. Is your website optimized?  What types of rankings have you experienced? If you are not listed on the first page search results, is that acceptable to you?  Let me know in the comments below.