Category : Marketing

outbound-v-inbound

Rocks – Paper – Scissors…Hammer – Magnet

Comparing inbound marketing to outbound marketing is like playing a game of rock-paper-scissors.  The age-old dilemma always begs: if rock crushes scissors, scissors cuts paper, and paper covers rock, then which is the strongest?

pickyourpoison

Our answer: none of them.  We prefer to use more advanced tools for marketing.

For much of the 20th century, outbound marketing practices have been the standard—cold calls, direct mail, print advertising, and email blasts.  Unfortunately, consumers have more ways of avoiding marketing messages than ever before, drastically changing outbound marketing trends.  Do you like watching TV ads? Do you enjoy receiving junk mail? While the answer might be no, we firmly believe that outbound marketing will never die.  Video didn’t kill the radio star, after all.

With outbound marketing methods already intact, a solid inbound marketing plan can offer any campaign a shoulder to lean on and create warmer leads.  Like a magnet, inbound methods take advantage of digital mediums such as blogs, YouTube videos, Search Engine Optimization, websites, email blasts and social media pages to attract a focused group of consumers based on their interests and internet consumption habits.  Such methods allow consumers to interact, ask questions, comment, like (or dislike), share and learn more about the product or service.  More importantly, digital marketing success can be quantified and measured, allowing marketers to understand what works, what doesn’t, and why.  Inbound marketing tactics foster relationships between a consumer and a brand, and according to the Corporate Executive Board, via inbound marketing, buyers come 57%-70% through the sales funnel before they contact the seller.

  executive board - inbound marketing

So, if inbound marketing is like a magnet, luring people in with the unstoppable force that is dynamic, relevant content; and outbound is like a hammer whose repetitive knocks might distract you at first, but are only the first part of something bigger; then Strategis has a clear advantage in the game.  Unlike a game of rock-paper-scissors where only one tactic wins, Strategis prefers to join forces, combining the hammer and the magnet, inbound and outbound, to create brands that are founded on trust, cooperation and integration.

 outboundinboundleaf1

webdesign_header

On Good Websites

In today’s digital age, your customers are expecting a website, for branding’s sake!  (pun intended).  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again:  a website can make or break your brand.

So, what makes a good website?

Funny you ask—we were just getting to that.  Of course, what makes a website great depends partly on what it will be used for.  A school’s site, a personal webpage or blog, an e-commerce site — the quality is defined by different characteristics.  Below you’ll find a little insight from some of Strategis’ marketing and media mavericks on what they think makes a worthy website, regardless of the purpose it serves:

 

1)    Strategy

Design, meet Content.  Content, meet Design.  Marrying aesthetically pleasing, yet functional design to engaginstrategyg content rife with the appropriate copywriting is no task for the lighthearted, but as our graphic designer, Randi, put it: “content informs design.”   A good website knows that and isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftop.  Consider implementing this content-before-design strategy for all of your online marketing efforts.

 

2)    Usability

Remember, you’re not creating a website for you, but for your audience.  You might have thought that a scrolling feature would keep all the important information on one page, you might have thought that that snappy video was absolutely necessary, and you might not mind stretching your fingers over your smartphone screen in order to read the text clearly.

dilbert comic strip - usability

However, I’m with Creative Director, Juli, when she says “usability comes before design.”  We love sites that are easy-to-read, easy-to-navigate, and easy-to-understand.

 

3)    Personality

We know – there are some really well-designed and inspirational websites out there; but, we’re more interested in what your site says about your brand.  uniqueMaybe you prefer light colors and straight lines, or maybe you want vibrant patterns or interesting fonts.  Clean and simple does not have to be boring, nor does colorful and patterned have to be cluttered.   Account Manager, Lindsay, stresses that “your website should tell your story,” and most importantly, “your website should be cohesive with your brand.” From the get-go, a well-designed website is more than a mere appendage of your brand, it is your brand.

4)    Purpose

Has anyone ever told you to stick to the point? Well, we’ll try saying it in a nicer way:

Your website ultimately serves a lot of functions from product or service information, questions and answers, and creative portfolio, to enrollment, transactions, and contact information…the list is long, however, while a website shouldn’t be ambiguous, Randi also suggests that a website shouldn’t have frivolous information, either.  If you want them to purchase something, provide a checkout page.  If you want them to learn more, give them thorough product descriptions.  If you’re aiming for brand awareness, consider including an RSS feed or links to your social media accounts.  Establish your purpose and make sure that your content and design support it.

 

5)    Functionality

Design?                  green-check-mark                                Usability?                 green-check-mark

Content?              green-check-mark                                   Personality?          green-check-mark

Now, did you double check those links?  Are all forms error-free?  Have any facts or statistics changed over time?  Have you tested the site on other browsers?  Does everything function? Our advice: stay fresh to keep frustration to a minimum.

There will never be a “perfect” website.  There will be, however, well-designed and well-built websites that combine visuals, functionality, usability and act as a great support system for your business.  For some more insights on web design and development, marketing, success, or maverick/ninja tactics, find us here!

Mobile Marketing

2014: The Year of Mobile

Seeing how the mobile explosion will affect your marketing campaign and your business is not simply a matter of building a mobile-friendly website.  Rather, it is a question of understanding how this shift towards mobile communications ultimately affects every corner of business, marketing and consumption.   Marshall McLuhan once suggested that “the medium is the message,” that the characteristics of the medium used are just as important as the content delivered by the media.  When taking the characteristics of mobile devices—cell phones, tablets and the like—into consideration, we are faced with questions of “who?” “how?” and “where?”

cell phone marketingImagine a young twenty-something year old commuting to work in the morning.  She reads her e-mail while waiting for a coffee at Starbucks, which prompts her to click on a link indicating a sale for winter coats.  Her coffee comes; she stuffs her cell phone in her pocket and heads to work. During her lunch break, she logs on to her e-mail on her desktop computer where she then revisits the winter coat sale.  She clicks around, maybe even “favorites” a few items and logs off.  Later that night she logs back onto the site on her tablet, shares the link with her friend for approval and purchases a winter coat.

Thanks to mobile-optimized websites and responsive design, consumers are able to enjoy the convenience of their mobile devices without feeling hindered.  To the extent that an integrated marketing campaign aims to be consistent across all platforms, a mobile strategy as part of this plan should without a doubt be considered.  Both responsive design and mobile applications are ways to boost e-commerce for small businesses by allowing consumers to move seamlessly between devices and match and meet conversion goals.

local search by device

The growth of mobile users also has significant implications for search engines and local search results.  While on the go, the likelihood that a search inquiry for a local service or business will be on a smart phone or a tablet is high. Local businesses, small or not, looking for ways to incorporate an SEO strategy or a pay-per-click campaign into their marketing plan should undoubtedly infuse their ads with local name-dropping and data.

Unlike my father, who refers to Internet Explorer as the “internet folder” on his “screensaver”, Millennials—the generation of people born between the 1980s and early 2000s and on the verge of ruling the world—use mobiles to do more than search.  For Millennials, mobile platforms are a source of social interaction, a way to engage brands and boost sales.

MTV millennials

The growing popularity of mobile applications such as SnapChat and Instagram imply that image-based mobile experiences are thriving.  Pay attention to the way this consumer demographic behaves, for it will provide a light into the way images, words and products are shared, perceived and used.

Lastly, less is more.

“Excuse me?” you must be thinking, “they’re talking Integrated marketing plans, responsive designs, interactive mobile applications, local search content and mobile optimized and trying to tell me that less is more?”

We sure are.  Life is chaotic – why clutter it any more with flashy design and hard-to-use and inconsistent features?  Consumers are much more likely to return to a website, blog or even a store when the experience was positive.  Distracting visuals and over-wordy copy has no place on a mobile site and is more likely to leave a consumer frustrated.  Mobile optimization should offer easy to read and even easier to use experience that is only enhanced by a simple design.

Your mobile optimization speaks about your brand – if you don’t provide mobile access/support/optimization, what does it say about your brand?  If you are interested in mobile marketing and optimization services, contact Strategis today!

BLOG SEO PPC

SEO and PPC Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Last June, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) required that search engines deliberately and visibly label paid advertisements so that consumers have the fair option to click or not.  In November, we saw one of Google’s first attempts to comply with the FTC’s new guidelines when search engine results showed advertisements precisely labeled “ad” in the same yellow color as the second “o” in Google.  Some of those who saw it called it a soft roll out, and some called it beta testing, but what everybody did (or didn’t) see was Google’s reluctance to comment about this possible new feature.

 

Google HummingbirdIn 2013, with the advent of Google’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, SEO strategies were forced to shift from pushing keyword- stuffed meta tags and buying back links, to producing relevant, high-quality, and well-written content, in an uproar that was startlingly called “the death of SEO.”

So what do these changes mean for the future of these online marketing avenues?  How will “Ad” labels affect click through rates (CTR) and what will the implementation of Google’s new algorithms mean for SEO campaigns?  While many Content Strategists turn their nose up at Pay-Per-Click advertising, and many proponents of PPC scoff at the patience needed to watch a SEO campaign evolve, perhaps the most telling factor about the future of online marketing avenues is that SEO and PPC are not mutually exclusive.

 

Instead of having marketing strategy that favors either PPC or SEO, consider the following: Imagine a user searching for “apple pie recipes” in Google.

PPC Apple PieOn top the user sees Google’s golden yellow “ad” label beside a search result and clicks.  The user is met with a well-crafted story about the history of this particular apple pie recipe.  The user clicks a few more times before purchasing apple pie mix, or perhaps even a cookbook of old American recipes, like this particular pie.  Now imagine that the user scrolled past the paid ads for “apple pie recipes” to a result whose description reads “guest blogger Jane Smith shares her family’s apple pie recipe,” and clicks.  The user reads the guest bloggers story and is invited to “check out” the guest’s blog where the user then recognizes a banner similar to the one marked by Google’s yellow “ad” label.  The user may or may not click, but at least now feels that he or she is part of some unspoken network where apple pie recipes can be sold, bought, told and shared.

 

apple-pie-slice-a-la-modeIn 2014, it is safe to say that in the grand debate between PPC vs. SEO, the business who decides to employ both strategies will come out the winner.  The surge in the popularity of mobile devices and laptops means that both PPC and SEO strategies will need to focus on having thoughtful mobile sites and applications that pay attention to local searches.   Google has also started to favor content linked to Google+ accounts which simultaneously proportions interesting options for PPC display and banner ads. Pay-per-click ads can be avoided and ignored, yet they drive traffic at a faster rate than SEO.  While SEO strategies do not spend money on traffic, money is instead spent on strategy and eloquent content and the results come at a slower rate.  Use them together to have a fully-integrated, online marketing campaign is a decision that should be as easy as apple pie.

 

RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds & Their Marketing Benefits

Reading through multiple news sites, articles and blogs for information about all of your interests can be a daunting and time consuming task. This is especially true to marketers who are trying to stay up to date on the latest trends and innovations. If you find a lot of your time is lost in these searches, you may be interested in learning about Really Simple Syndication (RSS) Feeds. The RSS feed is an online tool where users can view content about their interests from all over the internet in a single spot. Basically, your RSS feeds are a one-stop shop for your entire internet search needs.

Well, how do RSS Feeds work?
RSS
RSS feeds acquire multiple files and links posted by others on trending topics, blogs, videos or articles. These files are uploaded into a feed to which users subscribe, and users are alerted about the articles when they are published in a feed reader. If you won’t have access to the internet for a while, there are web and phone apps that automatically download content for you to read later.

RSS feeds give you a variety of options to limit your search to contain only the specific content in which you are interested. You have the choice of what content to subscribe to and the websites you follow; therefore eliminating the need to re-read through multiple news sites to make sure nothing was overlooked.

What are the benefits?

The major benefit provided by RSS feeds is staying on top of industry trends and topics, a very important tool for marketers. It’s important to follow your industry or your client’s industry as it changes, and what better way to stay up to date than receiving the latest news and articles as they are published? In fact, subscribing to marketing blogs is always a good idea. Keeping up with marketing innovations and trends will facilitate your company on the road to success!

RSS FeedsAnother plus for marketers focused on SEO is that RSS feeds are not limited to your feed reader; you can also track specific Google searches. Whenever a new blog or article is written in relation to that search, it will be directly sent to you. A RSS feed can also be created for your LinkedIn account, allowing you to see only specified updates from your connections. After establishing proper internet content for your own business, you can then upload your own RSS files to expand your company’s followers and grow your brand name.

RSS Feeds are a powerful tool that can integrate many online resources into a single place. By subscribing to the appropriate feeds, one can gain more knowledge about their industry and keep up with changing trends without having to waste time exploring multiple sources. For a marketer, a RSS feed will save you valuable time and easily keep you informed on the industry and your clients.

Need help with your RSS Feeds or marketing needs? Contact Strategis!

BP-branding

Important Steps When Rebranding a Company:

Whether it’s because you made mistakes in your previous business, sales are low, or your market has shifted, it’s important to know the steps it takes to rebrand a company. You may not know what rebranding entails, but GUESS WHAT?! You will! So, without further ado, here are the important steps you should be aware of!

1. Be Ready For Change: Rebranding a business requires you to shift your way of thinking, meaning a clean break. You need to be open to adjusting the way you currently do business. After all, if you are only making subtle changes that aren’t apparent, then what’s the point of rebranding? Exactly, there is none.

2.Determine Who You Want To Be: Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve, so you can take the steps to figure out who you want to be. Why doesn’t your current brand fit who you are? What is the purpose of the business, and what are the goals? How do you want customers, staff and the industry to feel when they see your brand? How do you think you are perceived in the market place, and how do you want to be perceived? These are important questions you will need to answer.

3. Talk to People: You will need to ask your customers, employees, business partners and industry experts their opinion about your current company—it’s products, services, and brand. You will need to find out what they like and don’t like.

research-competitior4. Research Competition: First, you will obviously need to know who your competitors are. Ask yourself, “How do we want to be seen when compared to them”? What do you like about their brand? You will need to figure out what makes you STAND OUT from your competition. You will need to do both quantitative and qualitative research. Find out who your customers are based on age, location and gender. Rethink your customer base. It’s important to understand your market!

5. Create an Action Plan: Write down what is currently wrong with your business, how you want to fix it, and the timeline for implementing all these changes. Identify your niche in your market place. Identify who is going to manage this process. MAKE SURE YOU COMMUNICATE! Get employees to contribute because the new brand is going to touch everyone in the company. Be realistic with costs, and if you don’t have the resources DO NOT do it yet!

6. Inventory List: Make an inventory list of all the things you will need to update and change as your rebrand. You will need to change your logo, business cards, letter head, maybe your e-mail address and URL (if you do a name change), your website, and social media pages.

7. LAUNCH Your New Brand: You will need to set a date for an external launch. It is important to launch the rebranding internally first. Plan a “roll out” for all the items on your inventory list. Announce the rebrand with a Press Release and through social media for your customers, prospects, and local and industry news.

It’s safe to say, rebranding requires a lot of time, effort and resources, but it is sometimes necessary. Take your time, do it right and hopefully you have a good outcome!

References:
http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/11/how-to-rebrand-your-business_pagen_2.html
http://www.fastcompany.com/1771299/rebranding-101
http://blog.studiothink.com/2013/03/how-to-brand-your-business-5-steps-to-rebranding/