Thomas J. Armitage

Digital Marketing Consultant | Utica, NY

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Which Digital Advertising Program is Right for Me?

Which Digital Advertising Program is Right for Me?

Online Advertising

Which digital advertising program is right for me- (3)

The advent of the Internet has opened up so many digital doors to marketers today. And at the same time, many of these opportunities are available to small business owners at affordable rates. From big sites like Amazon to your local newspaper’s website, you just need to know what’s available and what you’re doing.

I’ll admit it. It can be a little intimidating to read the many blog posts out there on online advertising, leading you to become quickly overwhelmed. So I’m here to help you figure out which advertising platforms might work best for you based on your specific situation.

You goal and target audience, working in unison, will be the driving force behind the decisions you make in the advertising world. The platform. The filters. The spend. The design. The ad copy. Everything. So let’s tackle things this way. I’ll suggest a goal and then present you with the potential solution that may fit your needs.

First, let’s look at your options. When we talk about digital or online advertising, there are so many today. Some have their own platforms where you would create an account, sets up payment details and manages ads within. For others, you may use a third party tool or work through an ad representative. Though there are hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands if you count individual websites) of different advertising opportunities, here are the main options that most marketers might suggest today:

  • Google Adwords
  • Yahoo/Bing Ads
  • YouTube Ads
  • Amazon Ads
  • Mobile App Ads
  • Social Media Ads
  • Game Platform and In-Game Mobile Ads
  • Remarketing Ads
  • Audio Streaming Ads
  • Video Streaming Ads
  • Email Content Ads/Gmail Ads
  • Website Banners
  • Native Advertising/Sponsored Content

Now let’s look at instances where some of the above might come into play…

Goal: I have a B2B product or service and a very niche clientele. I want to drive them to my website so they can learn more and hopefully convert. A conversion to me would be a phone call, an email link click, or a request for more information through a form.

You Might Want to Consider: Google AdWords, Yahoo/Bing Ads

AdWords AdsI recommend Google AdWords to most clients, only because so many audiences use Google, it is extremely flexible, has any type of budget options, and you can be as niche as you want. For B2B companies, this is often the best place to start. Because when seeking a vendor, product or service, the first phase of research almost always starts with a Google search. AdWords is a great way to beat the organic results to the punch and appear higher and with more options (call extension, site links, ratings, etc).

Consider different dynamics to make sure you are reaching that specific audience like time of day, desktop vs mobile, location, and search vs display. Although it takes some set-up, once you’ve found your footing and have identified the best keywords for an ideal budget, AdWords can be a nice way to consistently bring in qualified visitors, unaffected by the other marketing activities taking place within your mix.

Goal: I’m looking to target young teens. And want to raise awareness for my product. It’s a relatively new product so I just want to introduce it to them right now. They likely can’t buy it themselves but having them know it (and eventually recognize it), will lead to having a parent purchase later on.

You Might Want to Consider: Audio Ads, YouTube Ads, In-Game Ads

14908Today’s teens (the plural generation) use the Internet very differently than others. Even different than their older siblings who are often Milliennials (which there is tons of research out there on!). These youngsters are addicted to their smartphones and tablets (88% have them), do not use email or Facebook, and are very comfortable with any and all new technology that comes out. SnapChat and Instagram are king and some of the most popular activities include music streaming and gaming. Because of this, you might want to consider audio ads on platforms like Spotify or Pandora. Make sure you target by location or music genres to get in front of the right teen listeners. Consider today’s popular musicians.

Also, don’t pass on YouTube ads, with placement before today’s popular music tracks. It might be disruptive to the listener but, over time, the brand/product becomes recognizable. And don’t forget about platforms like Xbox, PS4 and games on mobile devices. Each of these offer advertising options to have ads play during breaks or right within the games themselves. Gaming is the single most popular activity for teens, shared by both males and females. And gaming ads is very hot right now. In fact, last year, Zynga (FarmVille, Words with Friends, Draw Something) generated more than $153 million in revenue!

Goal: You are a local business owner. You’ve had it with TV and radio ads, they just aren’t working for you and they are expensive. You want to remind your local consumers who you are, what you do, and get them to come in for a visit to eventually drive in-store sales.

You Might Want to Consider: Local Mobile App Ads

Mobile AdsOf all time spent on a mobile devices, 89% of it is spent in a mobile app (the remaining 11% is on the mobile web). This has continued to increase each year. First, you need to identify your audience and understand what type of apps they use. Bleacher Report? Hulu Plus? Yelp? Knowing the most popular apps among your target audience is a great starting point. By using a major ad platform like InMobi or AdMob, you can set-ups ads, select your targeting features (age, demographics, location, apps) and manage ads from one interface. These can be run similar to Google AdWords and are based on a pay-per-click (PPC) model.

Don’t forgot about local apps or apps that offer reviews like Yelp or UrbanSpoon (depending on your industry). These focus strongly on local web searches and can be a great avenue to get in front of people that are just about ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. Mobile apps are used by a lot of people, so without filtering the right audience, you will end up spending a lot of time and money with no results. Target like crazy.

Goal: You only care about one thing: leads. You get a substantial amount of people to your website but feel that your return-visitor numbers are low. You are a B2B company but the buying cycle is relatively short, they often purchase on the second visit. You need to get them to come back and move beyond the research phase to the consideration phase, and help get them to pull the trigger.

You Might Want to Consider: Remarketing Ads

bruno-img-nlHave you ever shopped for a product on Amazon. Then, like two days later, you saw the same product being featured in an ad on Facebook? Remarketing uses cookies to track you and recalls different web pages that you’ve visited in the past. By doing so, advertisers can serve up extremely targeted ads to you. By using remarketing for your website, you can catch the attention of people who have already visited your site.

Use a platform like Google AdWords, AdRoll or Multiview and manage your ads for an audience that’s already beyond the awareness phase and in the midst of decision-making. Be strategic with your visuals and ad copy and consider an offer or key selling point to drive them back to your site for a purchase. Remarketing generally sees high click thru rates at an affordable cost, since you are only advertising to folks who already know who you are. You can even track on a page-by-page level so your ads can be specific to the products/services they are genuinely interested in.

Goal: I blog for my company and want my content to be viewed by more qualified people. I put a lot of time into writing and the purpose is to help with my SEO efforts, appear in more search results, and generate more traffic. I’m consistent but I’m not seeing the results I want. I want more views.

You Might Want to Consider: Social Media Ads, Sponsored Content, Email Content Ads

facebook-ad-tests

Let me guess. You blog like crazy. Pour hours of blood, sweat and tears into your posts. You then check your Google Analytics and your post gets viewed by like 25 people. Been there, done that. It can be very hard to develop a strong blog following. Of course, great content, published on a consistent basis is the first step. And don’t forget about working it into other marketing activities like email marketing or lead nurturing. But sometimes you can use a little advertising to give you an extra boost. Set-up social media ads to promote the posts that feature your blog content. Make sure you apply the right filters so you are getting those posts in front of the right people (consider influencer lists!). Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter can all be used to target qualified people –  consider industry, group, professional status, age, geography, etc.

Secondly, think of trade publications that your target audience reads often. Ask if they have sponsored content opportunities. Supply them with your blog post and for a fee they will run it on their site, getting much more shares and views and engagements than it would on your own company website. Or, see if you can agree to a deal where they feature your blog post in their next email campaign. It will lead to more views by the right people.

The Blunt and Brutal Honest Truth About SEO

The Blunt and Brutal Honest Truth About SEO

Search Engine Optimization

There is no other marketing effort more complex or changing at a faster rate than search engine optimization (SEO). It takes a great deal of time to just keep up with the trends. Something you learned six months ago can be outdated today. And it’s unique in that you no longer really perform SEO on its own – it’s grown to live in unison with all other digital marketing practices. I’ve only been [directly] involved in SEO for a few years, but boy has there been a lot of changes in that time related to best practices and effective tactis. So I wanted to clear up a few things and also highlight what my biggest takeaways have been since my first encounter with SEO.

SEO Is Not Dead

Young digital marketers are usually passionate advocates for SEO. But old-school thinkers are the first to wave the white flag.

How many times have you been to Google today? It’s 8 am at the time of this writing and I’ve already logged about 10 searches. Guaranteed, by the end of the day, I’ll be looking at close to 100 between desktop and mobile. Not to mention all the other ways I’ve navigated around the internet today.

We rely so heavily on search engines, and the results they feature, that I don’t know what we would do without them. The top results [usually] serve our needs. And that’s because the algorithms have been refined to feature the best and most accurate answers. So becoming one of those top answers is naturally an important goal for any business, since it will lead to high levels of high quality traffic.

Plus, SEO today is much more than just organic visitors. Consider searches from retail sites like Amazon, referral traffic, direct traffic, conversions outside of your website like on local listing pages, Twitter links, news feed links, site links and more. I’ve been around the world and back again before I even finished my morning coffee – because it’s just so easy to get around online. How can SEO be dead? SEO is helping affect everything I just mentioned.

As long as the search engines continue to serve a purpose and as long as there are things we, as marketers, can do to bring qualified visitors into our site, SEO will prevail as an important piece in the digital marketing puzzle. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t changing.

SEO Is A Long-Term Strategy

It didn’t used to be this way. Couple tweaks here, some link purchases over here, throw up some meta data. Voila! We got that number one spot, like Ludacris.

Okay, now let’s stop thinking about how easy it was to do SEO in 2004. (And let’s stop referencing songs from that year too).

It’s 2015 and Google has smartened up. Can you blame them? There was a lot of shady stuff going on for a long time and it greatly affected who was appearing on page 1. From the user’s perspective, you expect to find the best and most accurate results. So that’s what Google has been/is always trying to do. Think about Google Updates/Penalties as a way of helping us all, not hurting SEOs.

Poor links? Bad. Thin content? Bad. Comment spam? Bad. So what are you gonna do about it?

As a result of the many updates over the years, we’ve now arrived at a point where SEO is not easy. Actually, it’s pretty friggin’ hard and time consuming. And with that, it takes time to see results. Do the right thing on your site and make your site worthwhile to the audience. Focus on better/longer/more relevant content, site speed, mobile friendliness, social activity, rich snippets, security, etc. There a thousand factors in Google’s algorithms and many things you can do to help improve your online properties.

I did a tremendous amount of SEO work for a client two years ago and I’m just now seeing the fruits of all that labor. The timeline will range depending on the type of SEO work, the competition, the industry, and the company, but keep in mind that the days of quick fixes and short term results are gone. Do good work and you’ll eventually see results. Just be patient.

Conversions > Traffic

Let’s say your company sells t-shirts to young girls. What value is there in bringing 1,000 visitors to your site made up of 55+ men? The answer is: no value. They aren’t buying anything, and they probably aren’t there for the right reasons (yikes!). Your efforts are unsuccessful and the visitors arriving aren’t helping drive sales.

Thankfully, many of us are [finally] getting past the idea of traffic being the main metric we use to measure online success. And we’re opting to instead look at conversions. But the first step is to identify the conversions that mean most to your business.

Set-up goals and events in Google Analytics (and Tag Manager), or your preferred measurement software, and monitor them constantly. Goals can be sales through an e-commerce store, form completions, downloads, video views, pricing pageviews, and more. Anything that you deem as a value metric (just because you don’t have an online store, doesn’t mean you can’t measure ROI). Then monitor. These converters are the people who are qualified on your website.

Traffic means nothing. Stop leading your reports with it! Conversions will always be more valuable to you than any other metric. Plus, it allows SEO professionals to more accurately justify their work, by basing their progress around conversion-type metrics. Assign dollar values to your conversions and that’s where true ROI becomes evident. We, as marketers, need to do a better job at fighting the good fight against crappy metrics. Start today. Set up those goals and events.

SEO Is Only One Ingredient

I’ve worked with clients that give SEO too much attention (resulting in too little attention elsewhere) and also ones that don’t believe it in altogether. The happy medium is to first understand that SEO is one piece in the marketing mix, and a component of other marketing work. Content writing and content marketing, social media, website development – all of these tasks/projects are seamlessly integrated with SEO. And keeping SEO in mind with all of these can help you perform better.

You can’t make a cake with just flour. Similarly, you can’t expect to see online success with just SEO. If you don’t have the time and the resources to add all the other ingredients – content, social, video, photos, improved development, etc – then don’t even bother. It won’t taste any good.

The best approach to marketing is having an integrated strategy and having many different touchpoints to reach your target audience. SEO should not be your only activity. There must be many more items on your plate. Managing them well, and in unison, will have the greatest affect. No matter the audience, however, SEO should play an integral role. SEO is an ongoing activity. It’s not a one-and-done project, or a tactic that you can start and stop at any time. It’s a constant effort. It takes a ton of time. It doesn’t end. So budget accordingly.

Linking Totally Sucks

Quality links still pose as a factor in search engine algorithms to help dictate rankings and drive traffic. Problem is: Google and the search engines have struck down linking practices pretty heavily over the years because of how bad they were being abused (i.e. Google Penguin). Link farms, paid links, comment links, etc. So we also have to wise up.

Making an effort to specifically go out and get links is very hard. It can be done, but it must be very specific and strategic, getting only quality links placed on sites that you trust. My opinion today is to not focus on linking at all. Let the links come naturally. And there are a number of ways to do that.

  • Blog. A lot. Make them high quality posts and share them on social and through email campaigns.
  • Conduct PR work to garner earned media pieces that feature links back to your site.
  • Host internships and scholarships at your company where descriptions and write-ups will be posted by your local colleges, allowing you to get .edu links.
  • Participate in tradeshows or sponsor different events and submit company bios to the event websites.
  • Conduct cause marketing, like volunteering or donations, and let links come naturally from those non-profit .org sites.
  • Finally, work with your vendors and partners to be featured on their sites or blogs.

If you do ethical work, create unique quality content, and have ongoing outreach, your backlink profile will grow. It’s just the natural effect. Take that Google!

You Can Do It Yourself!

I’ve yet to see a master’s degree available in search engine optimization. That’s because it doesn’t exist. That means that all of us – from the most experienced professional down to the recent college grad – is at a [somewhat] even playing field. We are learning as we go. On the fly. From research, reading blogs, testing, trial and error. There isn’t any piece of paper that proves we know this stuff. It’s just based on our own learnings. And that means that you can get caught up to speed. For free.

Read blogs like Steamfeed (sorry, had to), Moz, SearchEngineWatch, SearchEngineJournal and SearchEngineLand to get the daily scoop on the latest trends. Test out software like SEMRush, Raven Tools, BrightLocal and others to learn more about the art of SEO/website analysis and how to access and utilize data. Then, go to work.

It takes time to get familiar with the lingo and the technical aspects of SEO, but it’s certainly learnable over time. No one has formal education in this stuff. We’re all self-proclaimed experts. So put in the time and the work and you can get the job done yourself. And if you do not have the skills or time to pull it off, that’s where agencies and freelancers come in.

SEO still has a lot of life left in it. Though rapidly changing every day, it’s important to exercise SEO efforts in all of our digital marketing activities to help drive the right people to our sites and lead them down the sales funnels. As long as the web serves a purpose, SEO will prevail. Take these tips into consideration and prep your site properly for long-term success!

This post was originally written for and published on Steamfeed.com. To view the original article, please click here.

Here’s What “Quality Content” Actually Means

Here’s What “Quality Content” Actually Means

Content Marketing

Online content comes in many forms. But four times out of five, at least for most startup owners, the most popular type comes in the form of blog posts. Why’s that? Because static pages rarely change and more advanced forms of content (like case studies, infographics or videos) take time and resources that entrepreneurs rarely have.

Great content should be generated often. It’s one of the best inbound marketing techniques business owners can do to drive people to their sites.

Wait.

Stop me.

You’ve heard this one before.

Of course you have. We all have. It’s all marketers have been talking about for the past three years. “Content is king.” “Get blogging.” “Make sure it’s high quality.” “Do it.” “Do it now!”

This quote graphic was floating around the web last year. Ever see it?

Source: Simon Kemp (@eskimon)

 

Now, I don’t disagree with the concept of quality trumping quantity, or quality content being one of the most significant factors in driving new, qualified visitors to your site. It makes perfect sense from a marketing perspective. Because no one wants to be talked at. They want to be talked with. And they want to learn.

Blog content is a great way to introduce products and services to a potential customer base, but with a much softer sell. And it gets people talking about you and your brand. It’s so important for startups to be engaging in content marketing and blogging because the brand recognition just isn’t there yet.

But where I have a problem is making a recommendation around the creation of high quality content without giving writers (many times, the business owners and their teams) an indication as to how to arrive there. Because to be frank, it’s easier said than done. So I’m going to give you the low down…

Yes, you should be blogging. Yes, it should be high quality. And here’s what quality actually means.

Keywords

When writing blog posts online, it’s important that you take search engine optimization (SEO) into considering. SEO is the practice of improving a website (or web page) to help grow traffic levels, both in terms of quantity and quality. This includes a number of different efforts, both on-page and off-page. Generating new, relevant, rich content is one of the most important factors. Always begin with keyword research. Each post should try to focus on a few different keywords that are important to your business. I usually target two to three per post. Use some tools to help determine these – weigh in relevance, traffic volumes, competition and more. Once you’ve decided on the words you’d like to target, you can then begin to flush out your post. Take time to write a catchy post title too, which incorporates a keyword.

Length

I’ve seen marketers make recommendations around content length. “The longer, the better,” some say. Kevan Lee, one of my favorite bloggers who writes over at Buffer, noted that the ideal length for a blog post is 1,600 words. I won’t disagree that long posts fair better in search, but you need to understand why. Long post feature more information. There’s stats, evidence, research. It’s more resourceful. Google wants to be an answer engine. It wants to help its users solve problems. Don’t keep checking the word count or write lengthy just for the sake of writing lengthy. Focus on helping out your readers. If you do that, it will be the perfect length. (In case you’re wondering how long a 1,600 word post is, the post you’re reading now is about 1,500 words.)

Readability

Write for the reader instead of the search engines. Writing should be natural and free flowing. SEO has changed dramatically compared to that of 10 years ago. The search engines are smarter. Try not to be overly focused on working in those keywords. It’s better to leave a keyword out of a sentence than to have the content sound odd or awkward. One technique is to write the content freely first and then go back and try to work the keywords in where they fit best. This approach allows you to focus more on readability than on keyword integration. Also, use headlines (usually H2s) and bulleted lists when possible. This makes posts easier to read and breaks the content down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Consider numbered posts, like “Top 5 Ways,” or “The Best 10 Products,” etc. Those are often well received.

Multimedia

Incorporate multiple pictures into every post. Images give visual verification to visitors (I love alliteration!) that they are indeed looking at the content they want. Consider graphs, charts, photos of people, stock photos, memes, screenshots, call-outs, quote images, etc. All of these things will visually enhance your piece. If using pictures, be sure you attribute the source or photographer (if necessary) and include appropriate alt tags based on the image and possibly the keywords for that page. If you have a smartphone or camera, try to take your own photos. And don’t forget about other media too which can also enhance your piece. Consider embedded podcasts or radio shows as well as videos or animated gifs!

Meta Data

Meta data consists of the title tag and description. You should have appropriate meta data for each blog post that you publish. Write and upload these with the keywords in mind that you’ve selected. Titles should be no longer than 60 characters and descriptions no more than 160 characters. Any more than this and it’s likely your words will get cut off in the search engines. Write naturally without any added punctuations like pipes or dashes, and avoid keyword stuffing. Use a plugin like SEO Yoast (if your blog/website is in WordPress) to add these with ease. Don’t forget to override the URL slug if you want to incorporate a keyword there too.

And don’t forget about other SEO stuff…

  • It’s important that your site is technically sound so Google respects you and each new post. Be sure that there is no duplicate content on any of your pages. When writing, make sure you do not copy and paste content from other pages to your new blog post (you’d be surprised how prevalent this is). Write unique content. If you have similar language somewhere else, try to paraphrase and use different language. If you are required to have similar or even the same content on two or more pages, use canonical tags to let Google know.
  • Try to write like an educator rather than a marketer. With Google’s Hummingbird update, they are looking for information-rich content that will help answer questions and fulfill the needs of web users. Try to ensure that the content answers a question(s) that the reader might have. It wouldn’t even hurt to explicitly state that question within the post. Write conversationally. By writing with a tone that reads less bias and more informational, it will have a stronger impact in search and be better received among your target audience.
  • Be sure to exercise linking within your content – both internal and external. If you are referencing material that is found on a different page of your site, hyperlink the reference to that page using internal linking structure. Likewise, if you have cited material or can send users to a trusted third party resource for more information, be sure to add a link. Don’t forget to go into old posts on your website and add links to the new posts you are creating. Be cautious of too many links and/or including links to untrustworthy sites. Both can negatively impact your efforts.

If you prepare great content on your site, finally, you’ll want to market those articles well with sharing techniques. Share on your social media channels. Utilize in your lead nurturing programs or email marketing campaigns. Advertise them. Publish as long-form posts on LinkedIn or share within your LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities. Ask partners, vendors or friends to share on their social media channels or to link to the post from their online content. And consider featuring the post on a guest blog or in a relevant trade publication (just make sure you use canonical tags so the search engines do not see these as duplicate pieces).

If you prepare quality content, you will reap the rewards over time. These benefits can come in a variety of ways. Here are just a few:

  • Develop a voice and brand personality
  • Increase awareness for your brand, its products and services
  • Generate new links and referral traffic
  • Gain respect by the search engines and be rewarded by boosts in rankings
  • See growth in organic traffic
  • Give past visitors a reason to come back
  • Give yourself custom content to share on your social media sites

Quality content takes time to prepare. Just from experience, I’ve found that, when taking the above points into consideration, a blog post usually takes 3 to 4x longer than a normal, “blah” piece. Budget your time accordingly. It will be well worth the extra effort.

This post was originally published in Steamfeed. To view the original article, please click here.

Three Ways to Re-Introduce Products to Past Visitors

Three Ways to Re-Introduce Products to Past Visitors

Online Advertising

3 Ways to Re-Introduce Products to Past Vistors

Seven touchpoints to close a sale, right? If that’s the case, you can’t expect that single tweet, that one video, or that lonely local TV commercial to do the trick to persuade them to make a purchase. It just ain’t gonna happen. You have to take the bull by the horns and get in front of your customers again. And again. And again. And again. You get the gist.

Consumer TouchpointsThe internet is a beautiful thing. For one, you can re-emphasize your products and services and sell digitally at a much lower cost than before. Another is the ability to truly pinpoint your audience. Through filters and targeting options within advertising platforms, you no longer have to deal with the guesswork that was involved with billboards, TV and radio. Now, you can select gender, age, interest, location and much more and get in front of the personas that you know are interested in you.

You aren’t going to make a sale on your first encounter with a customer. Consumers usually like to research and consider before purchasing. Even what we consider low-risk items, like food or household goods, often require awareness and consideration. Close your eyes and think about walking down the grocery store aisle. What makes you purchase one product over another? You’ve used it before and trust it? Your mom recommended it? You remember seeing an ad on TV or coupons in last Sunday’s newspaper?

There’s a number of reasons you might choose one over the other. But the bottom line is that you’ve seen or heard of the brand before. Now think about if the investment is much greater. Like a car at $27,000. A house at $250,000. Or maybe you are a purchasing manager for a large corporation and you are making a million dollar decision for new equipment within the company. Very rarely do we purchase a product or service on a whim without having built some sort of familiarity with it before. And the stronger the relationship, the easier it is to pull the trigger, especially for major purchases.

That’s why remarketing and re-introduction tactics are so important in the B2B marketing world.

And it’s not a once-and-done effort. You can’t do it in Q1 and think it’s done. It’s ongoing. Forever working. Always “on.” You need to stay top of mind and further educate potential customers on who you are and what you do. The buying cycle for your product/service could be a long time – 3 months? 6 months? 12 months? If so, you have some time on your hands to remind those folks about you and help persuade them to buy from you rather than a competitor. Okay, here’s a few ways that you can do this.

Google AdWords Remarketing

Have you ever gone shopping on Amazon and looked for, let’s say, a new baseball hat. You’re searching around and find one you like. A classic Chicago White Sox cap from 59FIFTY. You click on it to view more details.

Chicago White Sox Hat Details

You look at the images, select the size you want, and move to the checkout page to purchase. But then you get sidetracked. Your son calls you into the other room to help him with his math homework. You close down your browser and call it a night. Family comes first.

A few days later, you are browsing the web and you see an ad:

Don’t Forget About Your Hat!
Still interested in that 59FIFTY
cap? Complete your order today.
www.amazon.com

Holy cow?! How did they know I wanted a hat? Oh, that’s right, I was browsing the other day and I forgot to complete my transaction! You click on the ad, it brings you to the page you left off, and you complete the order. Go Sox!

Remarketing is an interesting tactic in the marketing world. Sites that use this tactic drop a cookie when your distinct IP address reaches a certain page on the site. Now they can remember who you are. Later, they then can serve you up with highly specific ads based on your browsing history. In the above example, Amazon is dropping the cookie on purchase level pages so if someone fails to complete their order, they can remind them and push them over the finish line.

Remarketing Banner

It’s a genius tactic and one only warranted by the advent of the internet coupled with tracking software. If you are using Google AdWords for your PPC campaigns, you can do remarketing. Just follow the necessary prompts to get it set-up (it’s a bit more complex than just running basic search ads because you need to install additional code or new tags in Tag Manager). Once it is set-up, then create ads that are specific to the pages you’ve dropped the code. The more targeted the better. It’s a great tactic to remind past visitors of you and through Google’s Ad Network, you can reach the majority of your website visitors while they are browsing elsewhere on the net.

Social Media Remarketing

In a very similar way, you can retarget on social media sites too. So, instead of serving up ads on third party websites through the Google Network, ads will appear on Facebook or Twitter. By using software like AdRoll, you can drop the cookie and target the user’s IP address. But now, the next time they are on Facebook, they will see ads for your product or service. This can be in the right sidebar or as a promoted post. Twitter has a similar function where you can offer promoted tweets to people who have already visited your site.

Facebook Ad Examples

The selection might be dramatically smaller than what you are used to advertising among on Facebook and Twitter (your 1,000,000 pool might drop to just 1,500), but think about how much more relevant they are. They’ve already visited your site and have invested time and interest. Now, your ads do not have to be awareness-based, because they’re no longer in the first stage of the cycle. They’re beyond that. Research has begun. Now, you can emphasize your key messaging and work to get them to come back again, one step closer to the sale. Focus on consideration. Since we know that your consumers are apt to be visiting social media sites, this is another great touchpoint in the buying process.

Lead Nurturing

I like to describe lead nurturing as advanced email marketing. Well, advanced, automated and much more strategic. Many companies participate in monthly e-newsletters to their loyal customer base. So watch how we take this many steps further. Like remarketing, this third tactic also relies on tracking user IP addresses to help understand who they are and how they behave on your website over time. Based on that behavior, you can then send specific email messages to further persuade them. The messages happen automatically by the actions they’ve taken on your site. Here is a scenario to help you understand better.

Greg Brady is a purchasing manager looking to buy a new piece of machinery from your industrial equipment dealership. He visits your website in early February as he starts his research. He gets busy with other projects and doesn’t come back to his search until March, now that his deadline is approaching. He’s in a rush now. He starts gathering information, downloading white papers, reading case studies. But he still isn’t ready to buy just yet, he wants to come back after the weekend. On his third visit, he’s ready to negotiate. He completes a form on your website and includes his contact information:

Greg Brady
Company XYZ
(315) 555-5555
gregbrady@xyz.com

He hits submit. And now the real magic begins.

His information is automatically entered into our lead nurturing software (think of software like Marketo, Hubspot or SharpSpring). The system will then understand the customer’s name (Greg Brady) and pair it with the IP address that he is using. Now, it looks back into that IP address’s history and we can see when Greg visited our site before. In this case, twice in March and once in February. We can see what pages he visited, how long he spent on those pages, what source/site he came from, and if he took any other actions on our site (clicked links, downloaded documents, watched vidoes, etc). We now have a better understanding of what he’s interested in.

Automation Software Examples

We can take this one step further too. We can have his name automatically entered into our lead nurturing process for future communication. Perhaps that means he is automatically sent follow up emails through the software once a day, for the next three days. Or maybe he’ll be sent our latest case study on the equipment he was looking. Each message can be customized based on the actions he took, or the pages he visited.

Let’s say Greg filled out a form on our underground drilling product page. My subsequent emails would then be aligned with his needs and talk about our drill products and how we can help him make a decision on that product. If he takes another action on one of those emails, he will automatically be added to a different list – perhaps this one is the list my sales guy uses to follow up via phone call. The possibilities and the combinations of communication are endless. It’s all based on your particular company, your buying cycle, your customer needs, and the most strategic way to lead them towards a purchase.

The most important point here is that you can stay top of mind and continue to develop a relationship over time.

Think about how many people visit your site, leave, and now you’ve lost them forever. It doesn’t have to be that way. Lead nurturing should be a very important part of your digital marketing plan. Because if you have something meaningful to share with your audience, don’t limit that distribution. Let your loyal subscribers and past visitors in on it. And use those key messages to your advantage to further them down the funnel.

Interesting in remarketing or lead nurturing? I’d love to chat with you more. Learn more about our services here at Site-Seeker, or shoot me a note.

How To Keep Your Inbox At Zero (And Other Productivity Tips)

How To Keep Your Inbox At Zero (And Other Productivity Tips)

Business

I used to poke fun at my wife because she has some OCD tendencies. For example, different foods can’t touch each other on the dinner plate. For me, I just pour gravy over everything. Or what about how the bed needs to be made just right or else she can’t fall asleep? I passed out in Grand Central Station once next to a homeless dude. Slept great!

At home, not much bothers me. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized I’m very different when I arrive at the office. Maybe she and I are more alike than I thought.

Like many, I have a ritual that I follow pretty closely each day and each week. It’s this routine that helps me stay focused, get a lot done, stay organized and my keep stress levels down. This past week, a co-worker of mine wanted to chat with me about how I manage my time so well.

I started to jot down notes.

Then it dawned on me. So many things are just habitual that I never really noticed how many small things I do regularly that add up to make a big difference in the way I work. Here are the five major work habits that I’ve identified that help me with my time management, productivity, and organization. Maybe you can find benefit from these too!

A Morning Routine

You know how some people say: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee?” I’m pretty much the same way, but with my morning activities instead of the cup of joe. Each day, I take the first 30 minutes or so organizing e-mails I received during the night (see the next section about my e-mail inbox), reading news, checking my social media handles, and scheduling posts. Unless it’s urgent, I will ignore everything else.

This helps me find my footing on the day, be in-the-know with any industry news, and clear out my notifications, to avoid any later distractions. This doesn’t get much work OFF my plate, but does do a nice job at helping set the tone and understanding needs and expectations from clients and teammates. Most people have a routine. But if it’s more coffee-related and less work-related, it’s probably not helping you much. Develop a routine that works for you and stick to it!

My Inbox Stays at Zero

A co-worker came to my desk recently and asked me to open an e-mail that he sent that morning. I asked what it was about. He said: “I just sent it. Check you inbox.” I replied, “I have nothing in my inbox. Tell me what email you are talking about and I’ll find it.”

It’s quite a shock to some when you say that you keep your inbox at zero. I know it’s not easy for everyone, but it can be done. Here’s what I do.

I develop a mailbox folder structure that’s custom to my needs. I create folders for each client, my company-related activities and most importantly, a “Pending” folder. Every half hour or so, I’ll check my email. If it’s urgent, I respond immediately. If it’s not, I’ll drag the email to the folder where it belongs.

If it’s related to a client, for example, it goes in that specific client folder. If it is related to my company, it goes in that folder (or one of its sub-folders). And if I need to take an action on it and am in the middle of something, it goes in my “Pending” folder. Later on in the day, I’ll block out time specifically to answer e-mails, and this is where I’ll follow up on those pending items. Sometimes I can’t take an action on it right then and there, so I’ll leave it in pending or another day or two. Better than keeping it in my inbox where it will get ignored.

I bet some of you are thinking that you get way too many emails and it would be impossible to keep your inbox at zero. Here’s a few tips. First, ask your colleagues to take you off the cc of irrelevant e-mails and to stop abusing the “reply all” function. These have become habit for far too many professionals. Address the issue and nip it in the bud and I bet you’ll see a dramatic decrease in inbox notes.

Secondly, you probably get a lot of junk mail. Use a service like unroll.me to mass delete e-mail marketing subscriptions or roll those auto e-mails up into one daily message.

Finally, consider project management and collaboration tools that house internal communication. Use basecamp, Clarizen or another similar services that keep project-related discussions within the platforms and out of your inbox.

Log Your Time Daily

If you work for an agency like me, you know the necessary evil of completing time sheets and having to log hours based on non-billable or billable time, and logging hours for each of your clients so you can track time, measure performance and profitability, etc. But I don’t look at time cards as a bad thing at all. In fact, I like them.

Time sheets help me understand where I’m putting my time and what I accomplished that day. Before I leave at the end of the day, I do my time sheet. I’m actually psycho about it. I refuse to go home until it’s done. And if I happen to have an urgent meeting that takes place at the end of the day, I simply do my time sheet ahead of time to make sure it’s done.

Doing these daily helps me to be accurate with my recording, not fall behind on logging hours (which then becomes a very daunting task in and of itself), and cap off my day with another point of organization. By visually seeing where I put time, and which clients were given attention, I can better prepare for my next day and the remainder of the month. Harvest and Timely are both great.

Ongoing To-Do List 

For years, I kept a to-do list on paper. It works okay, but here’s the drawback. Things get constantly added and removed, and priorities always change. So as a result, I had to keep re-writing my to-do list, every other day or so. This went on for years. I’m not sure why I didn’t adopt a digital tool until last year, but I’m glad I did.

My co-worker introduced me to Trello, which today, is one of the most popular to-do list managers. What I love about it is that it doesn’t try to be something that it’s not. In other words, don’t expect this to replace your project manager tool or your time sheet manager tool. Trello simply helps you organize your tasks and keep you sane.

My Trello consists of five boards: “Short-Term,” “Long-Term,” “Waiting on Client,” “Waiting on Team Member” and “Other Reminders.” When I have a new task, I create a task for it and add the name and description. I then color-code it based on what type of task it is (i.e. social media, reporting, content, development, etc). You can even color code by client if you wish. Finally, I drag it to its appropriate place in the order – the higher on the list, the higher the priority.

Here’s an example. I’d create a new task: “Work on quarterly report for client XYZ.” I make it blue because it is a report. And I’ll put it at the very top of the “short term” list because it’s high priority and needs to be done today.

When I’ve completed a task, I archive it. It disappears from my board but I can retrieve it later if I need to check on my work. I also use the “Other Reminders” board to manage things to keep in mind or meeting that need to be scheduled, which previously existed as sticky notes or as inbox e-mails.

I have Trello open all day, every day, and it has worked wonders in helping keep me organized, and saves time where I do not need to handwrite new to-do lists. There are mobile apps for it too.

The Weekly Sandwich

No, I’m not talking about food, though I wish I were (I’m always hungry). What I’m referring to is an activity I do on Mondays and Fridays – so it comes full circle and helps complete my week.

On Mondays, after my normal routine, I develop my list of tasks that I’m delegating to support staff or items I need colleagues to assist with. I document them in e-mails and them off.

I then add each task to my Trello board under “Waiting on Team Members.” This helps my team understand the tasks they need to work on that week. And it helps me remember what items need to be returned by week’s end.

On Fridays, I have brief meetings with my teammates to check on progress and see what has been worked on. I see what work has been accomplished that week and understand where my priorities lie for the next week. Hold yourself and your team accountable.

By doing these activities on Mondays and Fridays, I’m able to start the week on a strong note and leave for the weekend with less stress, seeing what I finished that week and knowing that it’s all organized and well-managed.

So there you have it, my top 5 list. I’ve been exercising these tactics for a while now and there have been very few days where I leave the office with that exasperated feeling that many of us know all too well. Try to implement these, or come up with tactics that work for you, and help yourself stay productive and manage your time better.

Do you have other tips? Leave them in the comment section. I’d love to continue improving my own organizational skills!

This article was originally published by SEMrush. To read the original article, please click here.