Have your eCommerce sales plateaued? Have they dropped off altogether? What if your eCommerce sales are barely increasing?
There’s actually a lot you can do to drive online traffic to your website and boost eCommerce sales. We’re talking about digital marketing. Implementing the right digital marketing strategy can effectively increase the number of shoppers who visit your website as well as increase the number of sales transactions that occur daily.
You might be thinking, what is “the right digital marketing strategy” exactly?
The answer to that question is tricky, and could depend on the nature of your business and your target audience. For example, if you own a B2B company, then the strategies you use to target potential customers will be different than if you own a B2C retail store.
That being said, there are a handful of digital marketing strategies that will deliver powerful results regardless of your industry or market.
Here are five marketing tips and ideas for your eCommerce site to help you drive website traffic, turn visitors into customers, and increase revenue.
Your eCommerce website visitors will not be able to touch, examine, or handle the products you’re selling, which is why the visuals you provide on your site are so important. Even if you’re selling SaaS or other services on your website, we recommend that you enhance the visuals as much as possible. What do we mean by that?
Instead of merely using a few product photos, include many high-res photos and a zoom-in function that visitors can use to examine the product in question. If possible, use 3D images of your products as well, and integrate “turning and rotating” capabilities so that shoppers can get a 360° view of the items you’re selling.
Try including a video tutorial or virtual tour of your SaaS, if applicable. When potential customers are able to watch a video demonstration of how your cloud-based software interface works, they will gain a better impression of the platform and be more likely to subscribe, enroll, or buy.
Digital marketers know that it’s far easier to retain an interested customer than it is to interest a brand-new one in shopping for the first time. This fact is true for both brick-and-mortar retailers and eCommerce websites, which is why all types of businesses dedicate a substantiation portion of their marketing efforts to targeting their existing customer base.
Your eCommerce site should have built-in features that enable shoppers to create their own secure accounts. These accounts should also have a Wish List feature that shoppers can use to “save” items to their Wish Lists. You can design personalized email marketing campaigns to remind customers about their Wish List items.
This marketing idea works best when the Wish List reminder emails contain detailed, relevant information. For example, don’t just remind a recipient that they never bought the sneakers on their Wish List. Instead, include customer reviews of those sneakers, offer the recipient a “buy this product now” discount code, or provide them with another incentive that will reward them for acting fast.
User-generated content is any digital content that is created by users, consumers, and “regular people” and not by a company or brand. User-generated content is typically found on social media platforms, but you can also find UGC across the internet. For example, a Google My Business customer review can be considered a type of UGC.
User-generated content that features your products or services is a form of word-of-mouth marketing. When business owners like you recycle user-generated content on their own platforms, it has the same effect. UGC tends to resonate with consumers. Consumers trust the opinions of other shoppers far more than they trust traditional advertising claims, which is why you should definitely incorporate UGC into your marketing strategy.
Try turning five-star customer reviews into social media posts. Retweet and repost UGC that features your products or services. Partner with social media influencers and ask them to post “unboxing” videos that feature them opening your products and using them in such a way that inspires their social followers to try your brand.
In an article we published earlier this month called How to Set Up an Instagram & Facebook Shop, we discussed the importance of why eCommerce retailers should set up Shops on both of these social platforms, and you should definitely check out the article when you have time. The biggest point we made was that when eCommerce retailers decide not to set up social media “shops,” they actually miss out on a lot of sales.
You’re probably thinking that you don’t need mini-eCommerce shops on social media when you already have the real-deal i.e. a fully-functioning, responsive, mobile-friendly eCommerce website. We get it. But we’re here to tell you that, nope, you’re wrong #sorrynotsorry. For today’s consumer, convenience is everything, which means that unfortunately, your Instagram visitors might not be willing to navigate out of the IG app just to shop on your eCommerce site.
The marketing possibilities that will result from having an Instagram and Facebook Shop are endless. Once your Shop is functioning, you can tag specific Shop items within your social posts, Stories, and even in the description boxes of your Facebook Live broadcasts.
Our final marketing tip today will help consumers emotionally connect with your brand, which is necessary if you want to gain and retain loyal eCommerce customers. Feature your company’s values in your marketing campaigns. In other words, we recommend that, first and foremost, you advertise what you stand for. Once you convey to your audience your brand’s ethos, then you can suggest relevant products that they might be interested in buying.
Of course, not all of your marketing campaigns and social media posts need to be focused on the issues that your brand cares about, but a portion of them should be. This will benefit your sales, too, because while the sneakers that you sell might not be a “conversation starter,” the social issues that you care about certainly will be.
The more comments, likes, and engagement your social media posts accumulate, the faster brand awareness will spread online. And the resulting brand recognition will attract website visitors and increase eCommerce sales.
Do you need help marketing your eCommerce website? FTx 360 offers a full suite of eCommerce site development and marketing services that can help drive online traffic to your website and convert visitors into customers that return to shop time and again.
Our web designers work with scalable, easy-to-use eCommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce. Allow our skilled experts to revamp your site to optimize conversion rates.
If your website already functions beautifully, but your conversion rate is low, consider trying our digital marketing services:
● Organic SEO—Our affordable SEO services will insert targeted, relevant keywords into your website content to generate organic, refined, and consistent eCommerce traffic.
● Local SEO—Our local SEO services can optimize your web pages according to the location or locations that you want to rank in to drive organic traffic.
● Social Media Marketing—Our social media specialists can design and implement outstanding social media marketing campaigns for your company that will attract users, convert followers into customers, and turn customers into brand ambassadors.
● Product Copy Creation—Our creative content writers can produce accurate, SEO-friendly descriptions for your products and services that will engage your website visitors and boost your sales.
● Payment Gateway Integration—Our webmasters can integrate the leading payment gateways into your eCommerce site so that you can provide your online shoppers with multiple payment options and secure transactions.
Across all B2C and B2B industries, the average email open rate is 21.33%, according to MailChimp.com. Once emails are opened, the average CTA click-through rate across industries is 2.62%. These are only a few statistics, but they provide valuable insights about how challenging email marketing can be.
Interestingly, 49% of consumers prefer to receive marketing offers via email, as opposed to other direct marketing methods such as snail mail, in-app mobile push notifications, and mobile SMS texts.
If approximately half of all consumers prefer emails over other methods, why then do so few recipients actually open those direct marketing emails?
There are many reasons, which include the frequency of emails sent among other factors, but the biggest reason of all has to do with the email subject line.
Intriguing, personalized, and relevant email subject lines directly impact email open rates. Generic, bland, and random email subject lines are the reason emails wind up unopened in the Trash folder.
Marketers know this, which is why 87% of them prefer email marketing to any other digital marketing method. But digital marketers are skilled experts at crafting clever-sounding email subject lines with such great hooks that recipients can’t help but click.
By the time you finish reading this blog post, you will also have enough tricks up your sleeve to know how to write click-worthy email subject lines.
Here are 8 tips for creating the best email subject lines.
People are always looking for ways to make their lives easier. If there’s a way to streamline it, DIY it, or just plain simplify it “for dummies,” consumers want to know all about it!
When you include “How To” in the subject line of your email campaigns, the open rate of that campaign will naturally increase. The reason for this is because people understand that there is no downside to checking out a new way of getting something done.
How To Stretch After An Injury
This email subject line is clearly selfless. The sender isn’t trying to sell a product. Anyone who wants to learn how to safely stretch after they’ve had an injury will definitely open this email, and even more amazingly, a lot of recipients who haven’t experienced an injury will still click and read so they’re informed in case they injure themselves in the future.
Intrigue counts for a lot when it comes to email subject lines. A good hook will get just about anyone to click. But crafting a hook that truly works can be challenging.
In order to write a great hook into your subject line that is mysterious yet relevant enough to get recipients to open the email, we recommend that you first figure out the message of your email and then reverse-engineer the subject line into a relevant hook.
Does Your Dog Love THIS More Than You?
An email subject line that contains a question is naturally thought provoking, and amazingly, when the question itself is missing a key puzzle piece, the recipient will feel compelled to open the email just to find out what that missing puzzle piece is all about. In the case of our example above, the recipient will want to know what “THIS” is referring to, and they’ll also wonder if their dog could love anything more than his human-parent. By opening and reading the email, they’ll discover the full question, “does your dog love our massager-brush more than you?” And they’ll also discover how to buy that massager-brush product.
The scarcity principle works. The scarcity principle is a sales tactic that suggests to consumers that there is a limited quantity of goods and that those goods are in such high demand that soon there won’t be any left.
Whether or not goods truly are limited is actually beside the point. Using the scarcity principle to your benefit will cause your email recipients to psychologically react with urgency. They will not want to miss out on the deal, discount, sale, or item, and will hurry to buy… or at least hurry to open your email.
Only 5 Spots Left!
Assuming that the “spots” or tickets that are remaining for purchase are relevant to the email recipient, this type of email subject line can be extremely effective in terms of motivating your recipients to open the email. Scarcity emails have actually been around for a while, and consumers have become familiar with the unadvertised benefits, which can include discounts, freebies, and front row seats, among other rewards for acting fast. Curiosity alone could be what pushes your recipients to open this type of email subject line.
Similar to how the “scarcity” email subject line has the power to create a sense of urgency in the minds of recipients, the “countdown” subject line has a way of lighting the same kind of fire under your email recipients, shall we say, rear ends.
This type of “countdown” subject line works best when it’s used in a campaign series that includes no fewer than 3 emails to your recipients.
Ending in 3…2…1… Don’t Miss Out!
Based on your recipients’ familiarity with your email address and brand, they should be fairly curious about what will be “ending” and when exactly the “end” will take place. But what we love most about this subject line is how it combines mystery and urgency into one powerful CTA.
In 2021, there is so much more to email personalization than including the recipients’ first names in the subject line.
Today’s consumers are desensitized to one-dimensional personalization. In fact, some consumers have become downright jaded about it! Instead of simply using a first name, try using as much creativity as possible, like we did in this example.
Becky Loves Fiction, So This Book Is For Becky
The personalization of this email subject line goes way deeper than using the recipient’s first name. We’re willing to bet that Becky’s first reaction when she read this subject line was something like, “my local drug store paid attention to the fact that I like to buy romance novels throughout the summer?” What will she do next? Probably open the store’s email to find out the name of the book they recommend that she buys.
Using “emojis” in your email subject lines can add a touch of fun and humor, but there is one caveat. There are certain recipient email domains that automatically “flag” and send-to-Spam any email subject line that contains an emoji, so you’ll want to do your research before you try this method.
That being said, including emojis in email subject lines has become popular in recent years. The trick to using this strategy is that you must replace a word with an emoji. Meaning, the emoji can’t be decorative. It has to be practical, like the one used in our example.
May We Have This?
Why do we love it? Who wouldn’t love finding a flamenco dancer in the subject line of their email? Assuming that the recipients have shown interest in dancing in the past, when they receive an email subject line like this, they’ll definitely click to find out who is asking them to dance and the rest of the details.
How could we blog about subject line tips without including this classic idea—the “promotional” subject line? The fact of the matter is that, as a business owner, you’re using email marketing to boost sales, which means a large majority of your campaigns are going to be purely promotional.
That’s perfectly fine! Just make sure to punch up your promotional email subject lines so that they sound fun, creative, and mysterious, instead of bland.
$50 Today, $250 Tomorrow
We love this subject line because it’s both straightforward and intriguing. We would want to know about any $250 product, service, or class that only costs $50 today, and because we would definitely open that email to find out more information, we’re confident that your email recipients will, too.
ECommerce shopping cart abandonment is a part of life, which is why it’s important for business owners to have a system in place of recouping those lost sales.
This is where the “follow up” email campaign comes in handy. The fact of the matter is that follow up emails work, but only when the subject lines are eye-catching enough to compel recipients to open and read. Let’s take a look.
Psst… Did You Forget Something?
This email subject line is intriguing without sounding creepy, which is why we love it! Most consumers appreciate being reminded of things they forgot to do, and if you also include a “buy now” special discount code, your shopping cart abandonment follow up email campaign will succeed at recovering sales before that revenue is lost for good.
There you have it! Try these email subject line tips and measure which ones deliver the highest email open rate for your marketing campaigns!
Are you new to email marketing or looking for a digital marketing agency to handle your next email campaign? Give us a call or visit the FTx 360 website to discover the wide range of digital marketing services we offer. Our marketing specialists have worked with both B2C and B2B businesses of all industries to increase customer engagement and sales, and we can do the same for your company. Contact us today to get started!
Automation is the process of replacing manual, human tasks with technologies. Setting up an online auto-debit to pay for a monthly bill is an example of automation. Instead of having to remember to pay that particular bill every month and going through the online process of electronically submitting a payment, you instead set up an auto-debit, and the online banking platform will handle the work of paying the bill on time every month.
Saving time and effort, and reducing human errors, are just some of the benefits of using automation.
Your marketing tasks can also be automated to save you time and effort, and reduce human errors. Marketing automation is defined as any technology that manages the digital marketing processes you ordinarily handle by hand. Marketing automation utilizes artificial intelligence to a degree, as well as machine-learning strategies, and can streamline multifunctional, omni-channel campaigns for you.
Implementing marketing automation at your business enables you to interact with potential customers as well as loyal customers across email, web, social media, SMS text message, and any other method you would like.
Nowadays, automating your digital marketing is typically done via a marketing automation platform.
Any online platform that offers marketing automation in the form of Software as a Service, or SaaS, is considered a marketing automation platform. These platforms provide marketers with the tools to upload, organize, and schedule all of their digital marketing content and campaigns, including automating social media posts, blog article posts, and email marketing campaigns. Marketing automation platforms also integrate with content management systems (CMS) and customer relationship management (CRM) software to centralize all marketing into one software solution.
In this article, we are going to focus on the two most popular forms of marketing automation that business owners like you can benefit from using, which are social media marketing automation and email marketing automation.
If you’ve already done your research and know all about marketing automation, and would like to discover the marketing automation solutions offered by FTx 360, we invite you to sign up for a free 30 day trial with our agency. You will only be asked to supply your business name, email address, business location, and telephone number. No payment information is required and there are absolutely no strings attached to this incredible offer.
Social media automation refers to automating various aspects of your social media marketing, which can include automating the publication of your posts, automating your responding comments, and automating the lead generation aspects of your social media advertisements, if applicable.
By automating certain aspects of your social media marketing, you can grow your business and optimize ROI while saving time. Social media marketing automation can also effectively support your efforts to spread brand awareness, engage potential customers, and gain social followers, all of which help promote your business.
Though there are indisputable benefits of using social media automation, many marketers believe that automating your social media marketing defeats the purpose and beauty of social media in the first place. Simply put, these marketers feel that social media marketing automation is actually anti-social, because it involves replacing human interactions with machine-programmed actions.
The social media marketing specialists at FTx 360 both agree and disagree. Yes, the beauty of social media is that social platforms enable users to socially interact with each other. But the fact of the matter is that if you want to post multiple times a day and every post generates a ton of engagement, you will not be able to keep up with interacting with every single follower. That’s just the way it goes.
You can greatly alleviate the amount of manual attention you give your social media accounts by automating your posts. This way, your social media posts will automatically publish. If you schedule your automatic posts days, weeks, and months in advance, it can free you up to spend your “social” time manually replying to comments and quickly tending to any customer service messages that come into your DMs.
To provide deeper insight regarding your social media content, we would like to introduce you to the 5-3-2 Rule. Any of the content categories we propose below can be automated. Then, as your social followers comment, reply, and interact with your posts, you can engage them further by responding.
This social media posting rule can be used as a content guideline. The types of posts you make should be diverse and surprising so that your followers remain engaged. For every 10 social posts you publish, here is the content ratio breakdown you can schedule:
● 5 out of 10 social posts should consist of relevant, shared content from third parties
● 3 out of 10 social posts should consist of original content with the exclusion of hard sales pitches
● 2 out of 10 social posts should consist of personal, opinionated, or ruminative content that humanizes your brand to help followers relate to you
As you can see, there is virtually no emphasis on using social media to make hard sales pitches to your audience. And equally important, about half of your social media posts should be shared links from other websites. That being said, you can schedule just about all of these social posts ahead of time using a social media scheduling calendar like the one that can be found on our resources web page.
Our resources web page also includes a free download of our Marketing Automation Playbook, a how-to ebook that will help you discover all the ways in which marketing automation can help you capture more leads, convert leads into customers, and increase revenue.
Whoops, we didn’t mean to digress. We just really love our social media scheduling calendar…
Another aspect of your social media posting schedule that you can automate is sharing your latest blog articles.
We all know that maintaining a blog is an excellent way to generate new SEO and attract new web visitors to your website or eCommerce site. You can maximize your business blog’s engagement factor and digital virality by posting the article links to Facebook, Twitter, and other relevant social media platforms.
Best of all, you don’t have to do this manually. Rather than copying and pasting the URL links of each blog article to your social media accounts as articles are published online, instead you can automate this process by linking your RSS blog feed to the social media accounts that you want those articles to appear on.
Depending on the blogging platform you’re using, connecting your blog feed to social media should be fast and easy. Just be sure to run a few tests to check the formatting and make certain that the article web links auto-generate the blog information that you want to appear in the social media post. Ideally, you want the article’s headline and primary image with a few lead-in sentences from the article to appear in the post itself. That way, your social followers will be intrigued, click on the link, and read the full article on your business blog. If the headline and image are thought provoking, you may discover that your social followers begin commenting right away, even before they read the article!
Automating your email marketing campaigns is by far the most popular form of automation. All digital marketers use email automation. There are many different types of email automation that you can implement, which we will cover in a moment.
First, we want to make the point that manually and personally sending out emails is ideal, but impractical. If your business is brand-new, you might be able to get away with manually sending every email and you might even love it, but composing a personal email every time simply isn’t scalable. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to implement email automation for certain workflows, and that’s okay. You can still retain as much personalization in your emails if you follow our advice.
The most helpful email automation campaigns to set up include:
● Abandoned Shopping Cart Emails
● Welcome Emails to New Subscribers
● Subscription Email Newsletters
● Promotional Emails
● Lead Magnet Onboarding Emails
● Re-Engagement Emails (After a Recipient Hasn’t Engaged for 3 – 6 Months)
By automating some or all of the above mentioned email campaigns, you can save a ton of time and effort, and that’s not all. You will also provide your visitors, customers, and subscribers with the professionalism they expect. You see, most people really enjoy receiving automated emails because these emails provide them with valuable content without the added pressure that usually comes with receiving a personalized email from a business owner.
Just remember to always include a CTA in your automated emails, no matter the reason for the email.
Then, the further along the sales funnel or customer journey someone gets, the more personalization you can give them. In fact, at a certain point in the customer journey, automation is no longer appropriate, so you should take customers out of the automation channel and email them directly to authentically engage them.
Are you convinced that using marketing automation to support your social media and email marketing campaigns will benefit your business? Good!
But how will you know which marketing automation platform to sign up for? That’s a great question. Not all marketing automation platforms are created equal or priced the same, which is why our digital marketing specialists put together a helpful research check-list you can reference while you shop around.
If, for some reason, you cannot find answers to these questions on a marketing automation provider’s website, then we strongly encourage you to call the provider and speak to a sales representative. Do not assume that the platform will meet your business needs and sign a contract before you know what features and services will and will not be included.
● What is the minimum licensing fee?
● What services are included for the minimum fee?
● How many contacts can you have for the base rate?
● What are the tiered rates and the number of contacts you can have for each tier?
● What is the minimum license period?
● Can you auto pay in monthly installments or do you have to pay for a full year up front?
● Have other businesses like yours used and loved the platform?
● Does the platform offer user training? Is training free, or does it come at an additional cost?
FTx 360 can automate your marketing activities across multiple channels. Our marketing automation services include platform selection & setup, and automation strategy & integration with your website or eCommerce store.
Our developers can assess and select the best APT platform for your unique digital marketing needs, and implement appropriate sales software such as HubSpot, SharpSpring, Salesforce, or Marketo on your business website for you. For custom efficiency, we use focused targeting, lead generation & management, and customer segmentation to keep your sales funnel organized and your leads converting. The right email marketing campaigns will be segmented, personalized, and automated when you partner with our marketing specialists.
The digital marketing specialists at FTx 360 publish a lot of content each month in the form of blog articles. These articles are designed to help business owners like you implement effective digital marketing strategies that benefit their brands.
In case you missed them, the informative marketing articles we posted this month were:
You can click to read any of these full, original articles to learn in-depth information about the specific digital marketing topic listed above. Otherwise, check out the summaries of each article below.
Instagram has not stopped evolving since it was launched over a decade ago. Today, Instagram users can shop, video chat, watch IGTV channels, and engage with other users on the platform in countless ways. Businesses can advertise and interact with potential customers, all while building their brand and social media presence.
Instagram has launched many improvements throughout the first half of 2021, and more features are yet to arrive as summer turns to autumn later this year. There are upwards of twenty Instagram updates, upgrades, improvements, and new feature launches to watch out for in 2021—far too many to cover in one article. So, we focused our first August article on the following five new Instagram features that are most relevant to your business account:
● Messenger API Update
● Professional Dashboard
● Option to Hide “Likes”
● Suggested Posts
● Interactive Stickers for Stories
This back-to-school season, retailers like you want to deliver a marketing campaign that actually resonates with consumers. Your current customers, as well as potential ones, aren’t interested in hearing about your products and services unless your campaign messages speak to them personally and address their wants, needs, interests, and pain points.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to place your products and services in the background of your ads, this adjustment will help you convert consumers into paying customers. Your promotional content and messages should focus on personalization with the aim of conveying relevant offers that speak to the unique needs of each shopper.
With that in mind, try one, some, or all of these back-to-school campaign ideas:
● Email Marketing Campaigns
● Google Pay-Per-Click Ad Campaigns
● Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns
● SMS Text Message Marketing Campaigns
● Responsive Web Design Landing Page Campaigns
● Referral Code Campaigns
Integrating social media into your business strategy will afford your brand countless benefits, including helping you to spread brand awareness, expand your customer base, encourage online engagement with your brand, and increase the virality of your business.
Social media is such a powerful tool for business growth, in fact, that you don’t have to use every platform under the sun. Simply maintaining accounts on one or two social platforms will be enough to support your business needs and social media goals.
But how can you specifically utilize social media for your business? In our third August article, we suggested the following strategies:
● Schedule Organic Posts on Social
● Provide Customer Service Options on Social
● Run Sponsored Content on Social
● Cross-Promote Your Social Media Accounts
● Alter Your Social Content for Different Platforms
If you run a pet company, you understand that the love pet parents have for their furry friends is boundless. Pet parents delight in doting on their dogs and cats, taking photos of their pets, and connecting with other pet lovers online.
You can also connect with pet lovers online, boost your brand, and build your customer base, which is what this FTx 360 article was all about. To summarize, here are the best marketing strategies for pet companies that you can start using today:
● Create Educational Posts About Products
● Make Sure Posts Sound Personal and Not Promotional
● Ask Customers to Leave Reviews on Facebook
● Create Carousel Posts to Increase Viewing Time
● Launch a “Caption This!” Challenge to Boost Engagement
● Use “Insta Grid” as Tiles to Create a Bigger Picture
● Use Branded, Trending, and Location-Based Hashtags
● Encourage ReTweeting to Get the Word Out
● Tweet Photos of Adorable, Adoptable Dogs
● Create Grooming How-To Videos Featuring Your Customers’ Pets
● Use “Before & Afters” in Your Pet Care Tutorials
● Feature a Series on How To Register Pets as Service Dogs & Emotional Support Animals
● Cover Relevant Health Topics & Common Pet Health Issues
● Publish Articles Featuring Your Customers’ Pets
● Include a Newsletter Subscription Sign-Up Button
Customer experiences culminate in either satisfaction or disappointment. The result that ultimately follows is either increased business revenue or dismal eCommerce sales. Customer experience, or CX, is that critical.
You want your customers to have positive experiences when engaging with your brand online, but you might not necessarily understand what eCommerce elements will contribute to providing your website visitors with such an excellent customer experience that they successfully complete the online checkout process.
In this original article, we supplied in-depth steps and went into detail about the following five strategies you can implement to improve your eCommerce site’s customer experience.
● Offer Personalized Website Navigation
● Provide Customized Browsing Experiences
● Feature Customer Reviews & Testimonials
● Enhance the Checkout Process
● Build Brand Affinity with Valuable Content
There’s no alternative to getting serious about professionally marketing your business online, but what if you have no idea where to start?
Should you hire an in-house marketing team? Should you outsource your digital marketing to an agency? Most importantly, what is it really going to cost to launch digital marketing campaigns that successfully expand your customer base, retain loyal customers, build brand presence, increase revenue, and ultimately deliver a worthwhile return on investment?
If these critical questions have crossed your mind, then you’ve come to the right place.
In the full article, we went over how you can plan a marketing budget that will work for your brand. We strongly suggest you check out the original blog post if you want to specifically learn about:
● Why You Need a Marketing Budget
● How To Plan Your Marketing Budget
● Specific Digital Marketing Campaigns to Fund
● The Benefits of Hiring In-house Marketers ss. Working with a Marketing Agency
● How to Determine Your Overall Marketing Budget
A/B Testing, also called Split Testing, is a digital marketing method that uses two different versions of a single campaign to determine which content version performs better in terms of increasing social engagement and improving conversion rates online.
One version of the campaign content, called the A group, is the “control,” and the other version of the campaign content represents the B group, which contains the variation content. Testing different campaign content in this manner can inform a marketer like you which campaign version we should focus on and invest our marketing budget in.
In the world of digital marketing, the desired result is usually conversion, whether it be converting website visitors to newsletter subscribers, newsletter recipients to monthly subscription customers, or monthly subscription customers to brand ambassadors who use word-of-mouth marketing to successfully refer their friends and family to sign up for monthly subscription packages. You get the idea.
The use of A / B Testing can help you achieve tangible business goals, such as:
● Increasing Website Traffic
● Increasing Conversion Rates
● Lowering Bounce Rates
● Lowering Cart Abandonment
Our full article went over the steps you can follow if you want to ensure the best A / B Test results. To summarize, those steps are:
● Identify the Problem
● Identify Your Goal
● Pick One Variable to Test
● Create the Control Campaign (Test A) and the Challenger Campaign (Test B)
● Split Your Sample Groups Equally & Randomly
● Monitor the Results Throughout the Test But Do Not Alter Anything
One of the most powerful marketing tools you have is your website. Whether you have a B2B website, a B2C eCommerce site, or an SaaS platform that’s meant to target both B2B and B2C consumer groups, your website should be designed to pull in web traffic and keep visitors engaged long enough to do business with you.
Older, outdated websites simply won’t serve your digital marketing needs, and you’re probably aware of that. But what you might not be aware of is that your website could be outdated even if it isn’t that old.
In our final August article, we laid out how you can determine whether or not your website is up to date, and we also included the measures you can take right now to update your website if you determine that it’s outdated. But in summary, here’s what your business website or eCommerce site must include in order for it to be considered up to date by today’s standards:
● A Responsive Web Design
● A Call to Action On Every Web Page
● Fast Website Speed & Easy Site Usability
● Social Media Integration
● An Active Blog
Are you interested in partnering with a digital marketing agency? FTx 360 offers a wide array of digital marketing services at affordable costs. Whether you need web design & development, eCommerce marketing services, social media marketing, content marketing, blog articles and blog management, organic and local SEO, email marketing, marketing automation, PPC marketing, or reputation management—we do it all and love every minute of it! Contact us to learn more about what FTx 360 can do for your business and brand!
If you run a pet company, you understand that the love pet parents have for their furry friends is boundless. Pet parents delight in doting on their dogs and cats, taking photos of their pets, and connecting with other pet lovers online.
You can also connect with pet lovers online, boost your brand, and build your customer base. We’ve put together the best marketing strategies for pet companies that you can start using today.
As a pet supply store owner, your day-to-day operations revolve around assisting customers, stocking inventory, and making sure your prices are competitive. You might not be thinking about your brand’s online presence because it might not be immediately obvious how online consumer awareness about your brand could impact your business sales. Or perhaps you’ve ruled out social media marketing, having assumed you don’t have the time, money, or patience to deal with an additional hassle.
Lucky for you, getting into the swing of maintaining a Facebook business page doesn’t have to be a hassle and it doesn’t have to cost you a dime unless you use paid advertisements, which isn’t even necessary when you’re first starting out. By simply creating a Facebook business page that includes your store location and contact information, you can increase sales at your pet supply store. But how? The fact of the matter is that Facebook is a local search engine in its own right; one that’s on par with Google, in fact, and you should treat it like one.
Thanks to Facebook Graph Search and the fact that Facebook added a keyword search function as well as hashtags, having a Facebook business page is as valuable as having a Google My Business page. If you only have time to maintain one social media account, it has to be Facebook.
If you’re exceedingly busy, how can you get the most out of your Facebook business page while dedicating as little time as possible to posting? Here are three tips to focus on to get your page up and running on all cylinders.
Share your pet industry knowledge by posting expert tips that both educate and inform Facebook users about your experience-based insights, recommendations, and anecdotes. By creating educational posts about your products, you will subtly and effectively imply that your pet supply store is the best place to find the products you’re featuring on Facebook.
We really can’t stress this enough—sounding salesy will backfire. Your Facebook posts shouldn’t look or sound like advertisements. Frankly, Facebook advertisements that actually work don’t look or sound like advertisements. Instead, aim to present personal-sounding posts that focus on pet-parent lifestyles, the joys of having dogs and cats, and other pet-loving messages that only gently suggest your products belong in the overall picture.
Creating Facebook posts where you remind customers to leave reviews on your Facebook page is a good habit to get into. Depending on the privacy levels of your Facebook followers, you can actually tag their handles as you respond to their comments and thank them individually for their business. If it’s clear that a follower has recently shopped at your location, make a Facebook post just for them that asks them to post a customer review on your page.
Instagram offers its users a magnitude of personal entertainment, but personal socializing is no longer the primary reason people scroll through Instagram. Today, there are more than 25 million business profiles on Instagram. Instagram paid advertisements have the power to pull in more revenue, on average, than most traditional advertising campaigns. For pet retailers, Instagram can be an excellent tool to introduce your brand to users, engage with customers, and showcase your products, services, and pets for sale.
That being said, maintaining a personal Instagram account is not going to cut it in terms of marketing your pet retail business on social. So, make sure to switch your account to a “Professional Account,” which will make posting, commenting, DMing, and advertising far easier.
The trick to making Instagram work for you is to focus on the quality of your content first and foremost. Yes, posting regularly plays an important role, too, but Instagram values—and rewards—quality over quantity any day. And you’ll want to post a variety of content media, such as photos, videos, and graphics, on both your business profile and in your Instagram stories to increase interaction with your followers. Once you get the hang of this rudimentary, immediate form of interaction, you can try stepping up your Insta-game by using “Live,” a feature that broadcasts video content to your followers to watch and comment on in real-time.
If this sounds complicated, don’t get discouraged. You don’t have to use the most advanced Instagram features straight out of the gate. Instead, try the following content ideas.
Carousel posts are single Instagram posts that include up to 10 photos that users can swipe through. Instagram carousel posts are one of the most versatile marketing tools you can use on Instagram, which is why we’re mentioning them first. The longer a user is engaged with a post, the higher Instagram will rank the post. When posts rank high, Instagram will recommend them to users. By virtue of the fact that swiping through ten photos takes more time than scrolling past one, Instagram carousel can help your posts rank higher so that Instagram starts recommending them.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, a “caption this” challenge is when you post a photo that depicts a curious, humorous, or downright puzzling scene and ask your followers to caption the photo to help bring clarity to what’s being depicted. Posts featuring dogs and cats interacting in funny ways are excellent “caption this” subjects. As your followers caption the post photo in the comments section, you can respond to increase social engagement.
Post presentation is everything on Instagram. When users visit your Instagram business profile, they will either click the follow button or bounce away from your profile based on the initial impression your profile delivers. Using an Instagram layout template such as Insta Grid’s “Puzzle” can help you make an excellent first impression. With this particular layout, Instagram will “chop” a single photo into six posts so that once all six posts are published, all of the posts’ “puzzle pieces” form a larger, complete picture.
Animal shelters are busy organizations. Often staffed by volunteers, animal shelters and rescue organizations are pressed for time, have limited resources, and tend to be solely focused on the important objective of placing rescued pets into loving households. If you own and operate an animal shelter, you may not believe that marketing on social media can benefit your business in terms of assisting the pet adoption process. But this isn’t the case when it comes to the social site, Twitter.
Twitter has evolved a great deal since it first came on the scene over a decade ago. Today, Twitter users can post photos, share articles, and even include calls-to-action, or CTAs, in the footers of their posts. Though Twitter will always have a character limit—which means you’ll have to be short, sweet, and to the point in every post—the fact that you can include hashtags makes Twitter the ideal platform to connect rescue animals with prospective pet parents.
Twitter can even help your business to go one step further than marketing the adoption options at your animal shelter. Using relevant hashtags and location check-ins, you can recruit volunteers, build your list of foster homes, promote fundraisers, and connect with other animal rescue groups in your area, such as non-profit veterinarians that will neuter and spay your incoming feral animals from off the street.
Experiment with the following Twitter tips as part of your outreach strategy and before long, you’ll consider Twitter an invaluable tool in your adoption toolkit.
It takes a bit of research and a lot of creativity but using hashtags in your Twitter posts to get the word out about your upcoming animal adoption events is a must. Aim to include about 5 hashtags in each post, and use a combination of trending hashtags, location-based hashtags, and one of your branded hashtags. For example, #petadoption, #adoptdontshop, #petsofinstagram, #yourcityandstate, #youranimalsheltername will be more than enough hashtags to get the word out on social and get potential pet parents to your event.
Another excellent habit to get into—from time to time, try quoting one of your previous Tweets with the caption “ReTweet if you agree!” This Twitter strategy can increase engagement, build awareness about an animal rescue issue, and encourage conversations. You can also reward followers for retweeting your Tweets by offering a discount on your pet adoption fee with proof of a retweet.
Without a doubt, the most advantageous reason to use Twitter to market your animal shelter is that Tweeting photos of your adorable, adoptable dogs and cats will help you place them in homes. Unlike featuring rescue dogs and cats on your website, which can be cumbersome for web visitors to share, a Tweet is fast and easy to share on Twitter. A single post about a recently rescued dog, for example, can get retweeted exponentially in a matter of seconds.
People love watching pet videos on the internet. On Facebook and Instagram, short videos of adorable animals result in higher engagement rates than videos featuring other content. But YouTube has changed the game for pet and animal video content. As a video streaming social site that offers a multitude of video lengths, YouTube has become the home of a wide variety of pet video categories, from short DIY videos featuring pet care tips to reality TV shows about dog trainers, cat psychics, and horse whisperers.
For any pet care company that’s considering launching a YouTube channel, the undertaking will have its challenges, and once you get into the swing of things, you will notice obvious pros and cons. Firstly, understand that this is a crowded space. There’s a lot of pet content on YouTube. But if your business objective is to establish your brand as an authority within the pet care industry for the purposes of gaining local customers, marketing your pet care business on YouTube should bring you more benefits than drawbacks.
Offering viewers quality videos is hands-down the most important aspect of using YouTube to market your pet care company. This means using a professional-grade camera and the best lighting and sound equipment you can afford. You don’t need to aim to produce Oscar-award-winning content, but you should be prepared to meet YouTube’s standards of visual and audio quality if you want to convert viewers into customers. Posting regularly is equally important, and of course, being sure to put out content that pet parents want and need will be tantamount to your channel’s success.
Let’s say you have a camera, enough natural light, a decent lavalier microphone, and a brave employee who’s willing to be on camera… What are you actually going to shoot? Here are some content ideas to get you started.
If you’re just starting out on YouTube, producing 3 to 5-minute videos rather than long-form content is a reasonable goal that you’ll be able to manage. How-to videos will never go out of style on YouTube, which is why we recommend you aim to produce a series of short videos on how to groom dogs, cats, and even exotics. The viral potential of a chinchilla grooming how-to, for example, is immeasurable.
Another excellent short-form video content idea is to use “before & after” transformations of dogs, cats, and exotics. By using the time-lapse feature of your camera, you can show a complete makeover from a muddy puppy to a cleaned-up pup in a matter of 60 seconds. Include real-time footage of basic pet care, too, and present certain grooming steps in a tutorial format so that your video is both entertaining and helpful.
People greatly appreciate getting step-by-step assistance when they’re trying to accomplish a task that they know is over their heads. If you have any expertise concerning the paperwork and protocol of registering a pet as a service dog or emotional support animal, then offering viewers a detailed how-to on the subject is a must. Nowadays, more and more people have a real need for emotional support animals, but registering an appropriate animal through the proper channels can be intimidating. You will definitely boost your brand if you post videos on this subject.
Veterinarians are as important to pet parents as pet supply stores. Though pet parents may not take their dogs and cats to the vet as frequently as they pick up pet food, pet care products, and pet toys from their preferred retailer, the relationships they have with their pets’ veterinarians are no less valuable.
As a local business that provides in-person services, veterinarians must carefully geo-target their digital marketing efforts. Creating and maintaining a Google My Business page is a must. When you create a GMB listing, your veterinarian business and its location will appear on Google Maps, which means that anyone who is using Google to find a vet for their pet will see your business’s page, along with your website and other contact information, and get in touch.
You can enhance your online visibility by launching a blog on your veterinarian website and regularly posting each blog article’s URL to your Google My Business page. For example, if you publish one blog article per week, simply use the published article’s URL to create a Google My Business post. The content will automatically populate on your GMB page, and best of all, Google will assess the article’s SEO and elevate your GMB page accordingly.
Sounds easy enough, but what if you’ve never written a blog before? Where should you start? What should you write about? How can you get the most out of launching and maintaining a blog? Here are some pointers to start you off in the right direction.
When a pet parent realizes their furry friend isn’t feeling well, the internet is the first expert they consult. In other words, people use Google to diagnose potential pet problems even before they pick up the phone to make an appointment with their vet. By covering relevant health topics and common pet health issues on your veterinarian business blog, you can drive website traffic and influence local pet parents to choose your business the next time their pet is sick or injured.
Of course, you’ll need to get permission from your customers first, but featuring the dogs and cats of your real-life customers in your blog articles can do wonders for increasing online engagement and marketing your pet company. This community-building strategy will help other customers feel connected to your clinic, especially if you include a comments section beneath your blog articles where pet parents can discuss the topics at hand.
Including CTAs at the bottom of your blog articles is a must, and one of the most important CTAs to include is a newsletter subscription sign-up button. By collecting your readers’ email addresses in this fashion, you can let them know every time a new blog article is published, which can spark immediate web traffic and online engagement.
We barely scratched the surface in terms of the marketing strategies that can build your pet company’s brand online, but hopefully, this article has given you some ideas to market your business. If you’d prefer the social media experts at FTx 360 to handle marketing your pet business, feel free to contact us anytime. We offer pet shop website design and development, social media campaign handling, and content creation that’s based on pet industry market research. Grow your social audience and provide your customers with the pet information they want most.
In 2021, social media has gone way beyond digitally connecting friends online and providing a place for them to socialize.
Social media platforms are in large part providing businesses with secondary, virtual, operational hubs.
Take Facebook for example. Within this single social media platform, a company can promote products, maintain an eCommerce store, and handle customer service inquiries, all while posting regularly and engaging with followers.
If you’re a business owner who isn’t using social media as an extension of your everyday operations, you’re missing out on a major business opportunity that has the potential to expand your customer base and increase overall revenue.
Integrating social media into your business strategy will afford your brand countless benefits, including:
● Social media can spread brand awareness
● Social media can expand your customer base
● Social media can encourage online engagement
● Social media can increase the virality of your brand
Social media is such a powerful tool for business growth, in fact, that you don’t have to use every platform under the sun. Simply maintaining accounts on one or two social platforms will be enough to support your business needs and social media goals.
If you need help determining the best social platforms for your company, we recommend that you take a moment to read our prior article, Which Social Media Platforms Are Right For Your Business?
If you’re already clear on which social platforms will best serve your business needs, it’s time to get even clearer on how you can use those social platforms to grow your business, which will be the focus of this article.
Before you can really get started utilizing social media for your business, be sure to complete the following actions so that your social accounts are ready for action:
● Fill out your social profile(s) with your company’s telephone number, email address, and other contact information, and be sure to include a concise description of your business.
● For your Instagram account, add to the description box any affiliated IG account handles your company has, such as your customer service and help desk accounts; and be sure to add your branded hashtags as well, if applicable.
● For your Twitter account, keep your bio short and personable, and don’t forget to include your website and the Twitter handles of your affiliated accounts, if applicable.
● For your LinkedIn account, connect your business profile page to your website blog, if applicable, so that published blogs automatically post to your page.
Once you have all of your social media accounts set up, the next critical step is to add social media icons to your website, email signature, newsletter footer, and any other digital marketing tool your company uses. These social media icons should have clickable links that will direct users to your social media account.
Are your bases covered? If so, let’s dive into the specifics of what you can do to make the most out of your social media accounts.
You will experience far more engagement and social success if you regularly and consistently publish posts on your social media accounts, as opposed to only publishing posts ad hoc when the mood strikes you. Business profiles that consistently post twice a week end up generating more valuable social interactions than businesses that post three times during a single day and then fail to post for eight consecutive days. Adhering to a realistic posting schedule should be your first step towards effectively utilizing social media for your business. We recommend that you specifically integrate the following types of social posts into your organic posting schedule:
● Products & Services Posts that Use “Tags”—1x per week
● Contest or Giveaway Promotions—2x per year
● Posts with Hashtags that Target Your Audience & Location—1x per week
In addition to these specialized posts, be sure to develop a consistent posting schedule that features the kind of content and conversation starters that best represent your brand.
This social posting idea only relates to Facebook & Instagram, or any social platform that offers an in-app eCommerce store. Assuming you have set up your business’s social accounts as well as in-app eCommerce, the biggest benefit of using product tagging in your posts is that the click-through rates of your posts will increase, which will help you gain visibility and increase direct sales.
When a social media contest or giveaway is executed properly, it’s a powerful way to build immediate social engagement and long-term followers. Social users might not automatically know that your brand exists, but by including the right hashtags in your social contest, social users will quickly find out exactly who you are!
Did you know that every social media post has the potential to target your audience? By including specific hashtags you can help to target the audience you want. Location tagging can also help draw in the right audience, especially if your business has a brick-and-mortar location.
Businesses that use social media to the fullest provide their social visitors and followers with the option to shop directly on their platforms, ask questions, and leave comments. In other words, these savvy businesses provide customer service to their social visitors. Directly within the platforms, customer service representatives can respond to questions and concerns, as well as shift public customer service conversations into private DMs when it will best serve the customer. By providing social media users with customer service avenues on social platforms, businesses are able to meet customers where they are, which ultimately results in better customer satisfaction. Here are three tips you can use when integrating customer service into your social accounts:
● Amp Up the Human Connection by Being Personable & Humble
● Carefully Compose Any Auto Replies You Set Up
● Use Direct Message CTAs at the Bottom of Your Social Responses
The most important tip we can give you when it comes to integrating customer service avenues into your social accounts is to designate a real-life employee to manage the interactions and responses in a timely fashion.
The days of generic auto-replies are long gone, but unfortunately, a lot of businesses still use these canned, antiquated responses when it comes to social media. Yes, Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms provide you with auto-reply templates that can be used in your DMs and Chat Messages, but unless a real-life person is overseeing them, it could backfire badly.
If your staff is really pressed for time, then compose FAQ responses that they can choose from, and remember, as time-consuming as it may be to personally respond to every social question, comment, and DM, replying with personality and humility will get you a lot further in terms of building customer relationships than letting a chatbot spew out nonsense replies.
As your customer service representatives monitor your social accounts for the purposes of responding to user questions, comments, and concerns, they will need the option of shifting the conversation from the public feed to a private DM, or Direct Message. This option is now available. Your customer service reps can include a DM link to the bottom of their responding comments when interacting with users on social.
For as little as $20 per day, you can run sponsored content on Facebook & Instagram for a fixed duration of time and see a massive ROI. “Sponsored content” is a type of native advertising that is available to marketers on Facebook & Instagram. Chances are, you’ve seen more than your fair share of sponsored content on these joined platforms, and you may have even formed opinions about why they work. By placing sponsored content ads, you can target your niche demographic within a location radius, which means that your promotional advertisement will definitely reach your ideal customers. There’s really no downside to running sponsored content on the social media platforms Facebook & Instagram, especially if you run your ad for a limited time and with a specific business goal in mind. We recommend using sponsored content to promote “social only” discounts and to collect email addresses for your loyalty program, newsletter, and other marketing needs. But above all else, respect Facebook’s new “Personal Attributes” policy or your ad will never see the light of day.
● Obey Facebook’s “Personal Attributes” Policy or Perish!
● Offer “Social Only” Promotions
● Use Lead Generation CTAs
Let’s take a look at the specifics of these three pointers:
The Facebook Personal Attributes Policy was recently added to the list of “prohibited content” that Facebook restricts. If you’re going to run any kind of ad on Facebook, we strongly recommend that you become intimate with this policy. In essence, Facebook’s advertising policy prohibits the use of mentioning the “personal attributes” of the viewer, including but not limited to their ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and the list goes on. Think you can type the words “you,” “your,” “you’re,” and “other” in your ads? Think again… and read the policy.
A great way to generate, track, and analyze social engagement is to run a sponsored ad that features a discount or deal that’s only available to social users on social media. Exclusivity has long remained a strong promoting factor when it comes to successful sales campaigns, so by making an upcoming sale exclusively available on social media, you can gain followers, increase engagement, and boost sales, all in one fell swoop.
One of the easiest ways to organically grow your social media followers and get the word out about your brand is to occasionally remind your followers that they can find your brand on other social media platforms. An effective way to cross-pollinate your audiences is to highlight the variety of content your other channels provide. For example, if you primarily manage Twitter and YouTube accounts, you can interest your Twitter followers in checking out your YouTube channel by highlighting the long-form video content you’re offering exclusively on YouTube. By providing different content on different platforms, which will be the focus of the next section of this article, you will give your followers a reason to follow you on every platform you use for your business. Apply the following tips to your cross-promotional goals:
● Use a Content Scheduling Calendar
● Expand Your Online Presence
● Make Trending Topics the Focus of Certain Posts
In addition to applying the specific tips we just listed, be sure to use social media to network with non-competing businesses and brands. By building your own professional network on social media, you can cross-promote with other brands to reach their audiences and vice versa.
Planning the publication of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly social media marketing posts can be daunting, which is why we strongly recommend you use a content scheduling calendar, like this one offered by FTx 360—2021 Content Schedule Calendar. By relying on a content calendar to organize your social posts, you can take the guesswork out of planning, which will bring you one step closer to reaching your marketing goals.
Using multiple social platforms has the power to expand the online presence of your brand, so long as you don’t spread yourself too thin in the process. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, pick only one or two social platforms to focus on and be sure that you’re offering unique content on each one. The more you interact on social media and the more you include your social handles in your emails, newsletters, and other digital correspondence, the quicker you’ll get the word out about your brand online.
If you’re struggling with a bit of writer’s block in terms of trying to figure out what type of content to post, try incorporating topical, timely, trending conversations into your scheduled posts. Depending on what’s going on in the world, what’s popular in the media, and what’s recently gone viral on social media, make a post about it! There’s only one caveat: do your best to stay away from controversial topics such as politics and religion.
As we mentioned in the last section of this article, offering different content on different platforms is one of the smartest social media marketing moves you can make. One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when managing accounts on multiple social platforms is repeating identical content on every channel. Think about it, if the content you present is the same across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, why in the world would a single individual need to follow all of your accounts? They certainly won’t benefit from it if they do. Just because every Facebook post you publish could automatically post to Instagram, doesn’t mean you should actually use this function. Instead, tailor your content for each platform, or better yet, publish unique content on every platform account you manage. As you do, bear these rules of thumb in mind:
● Maximize the Visual & Minimize the Text
● Use Social Media Optimization Strategies
● Prioritize Building Relationships Over Gaining Followers
Before we take a closer look at each of these, we want to take a moment to emphasize that every social post you publish could and should feel like the start of a personal conversation with your followers. Inviting each follower into what feels like a personalized, one-on-one conversation will yield the greatest customer-relationship-building results.
Speaking in broad terms, all social media platforms are more visual than readable. Meaning, social posts that feature photos and videos perform much better than posts that only feature written text. Even Twitter, which has always been text-centric, has incorporated photos, GIFs, polls, surveys, and graphs to help users add visual elements. This is why we recommend that you amplify the visuals of your social posts and streamline your captions.
Social media optimization simply refers to using your social media networks to manage and grow your business’s online presence. There are specific ways you can accomplish this as part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Key optimization tactics include using social media to direct visitors to your website, promoting the eCommerce offerings of your social account to convert followers into customers, and integrating lead generation forms into your promos and ads to collect valuable customer information that you can leverage in your future email marketing and / or SMS text message campaigns.
The final piece of advice that we’ll leave you with is to not be so hard on yourself when it comes to growth on social media. Social media automatically places a very high premium on followers, and there’s a user perception that social accounts with millions of followers are “better” than social accounts with only hundreds. The reality, however, couldn’t be further from the truth. Rather than obsess over gaining followers and trying to attain thousands of followers as if doing so will give your brand clout, instead we recommend that you focus on building genuine relationships with your social followers, even if you only have one hundred. Remember, not every follower you have on social media will be your customer, but every relationship you build on social media with a follower will produce a customer for life.
Have you hesitated to look for a digital marketing agency to handle all of your social media and market your brand online? Have you assumed you wouldn’t be able to afford management services or a marketing specialist to develop your next social media marketing campaign? What if we told you that FTx 360 can work within any budget to create a stunning online campaign that influences people to love your brand? For more information about the social media marketing services at FTx 360 and how our team can benefit your bottom line without breaking the bank, contact us today.
Yes, it’s August, but it isn’t too late to strategize and market your back-to-school promotional campaigns.
If the very thought of spearheading your own back-to-school marketing campaign overwhelms you, give us a call at FTx 360. Our marketing strategists can work with just about any budget and no campaign timeline is too short.
For those of you who are ready to tackle your own back-to-school marketing, this article is packed with the best advertising strategy tips to help you market your back-to-school sales, drive website and in-store traffic, and gain appreciative customers who will keep shopping with you into winter and next year.
This back-to-school season, you want to deliver a marketing campaign that actually resonates with consumers. Your current customers, as well as potential ones, aren’t interested in hearing about your products and services unless your campaign messages speak to them personally and address their wants, needs, interests, and pain points.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to place your products and services in the background of your ads, this adjustment will help you convert consumers into paying customers. Your promotional content and messages should focus on personalization with the aim of conveying relevant offers that speak to the unique needs of each shopper.
Rather than use salesy ads that feature products with discounted prices in a straightforward manner, instead, highlight the relevancy of your products and convey how your products will make your customers’ lives easier.
If it’s not immediately clear to you why some of your products would be relevant to certain segments of your shoppers but not others, then it’s time to dig into your CRM software data. Your CRM data—or Customer Relationship Management data which is associated with your online or in-store POS—contains the purchase histories of all of your customers along with other insightful data. By grouping your customers into segments, you will be able to identify the products, services, preferences, spending thresholds, and interests of each segment. Once you understand your customers’ pain points and know what they like, want, and need, you can speak to them in a manner that will seem personal to them, using “the three Ts of relevancy.”
Rather than present your product in a straightforward manner within your back-to-school marketing campaigns, instead, present your shoppers with a topic that’s relevant to one of their pain points. By addressing a specific topic, providing information on that topic that’s relevant to your shoppers, and presenting your product as the solution to the topic at hand, your marketing campaigns will resonate with shoppers.
For example, rather than post a photo of a notebook with a “60% off” sticker on social media, which is as uncreative as it gets, instead, feature this shocking fact in your social post:
“Students that use a pen and paper to take notes in class are 62% more likely to remember lessons in the long term than students who use laptops.” —Princeton University Study
That’s a conversation starter right there! As the social media conversation takes off in the comments section under your post, a byproduct will be that parents, students, and teachers rush off to purchase notebooks before they’re sold out… at your store.
In terms of marketing products and services that consumers need right now, promoting back-to-school offers during the back-to-school season is ideal timing, obviously. But we recommend that retailers go the extra mile by researching the return date for your local public schools, private schools, colleges, and universities.
Public schools tend to open earlier than private ones, for example, which means the back-to-school season in your region could begin in late July and extend through September.
To amplify personalization, you could launch different digital back-to-school promotional campaigns for each educational institution using school-specific social media hashtags, for instance. A little research will go a long way in this regard.
The third and final “T” of the 3 Ts of Relevancy has to do with the type of promotional marketing campaign you deliver to your customers. Our quote above states, “This is the format I prefer!” What we’re referring to here are the campaign delivery methods. Not all of your shoppers are going to want to hear about your back-to-school sale via email newsletter, but a lot of them will.
The next sections of this article will focus on the various campaign formats you can use to reach your current customers as well as new ones. This is where personalization is key, however. If you want shoppers to act on your back-to-school sale, you have to deliver your campaigns in the formats they want. You might discover that certain segments of your customers want one format while others want a different format. As a result, you might need to launch back-to-school campaigns in multiple formats, and that’s okay.
These are the most common promotional campaign delivery format methods:
● Email Marketing Campaigns
● Google PPC Ad Campaigns
● Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns
● SMS Text Message Campaigns
● Responsive Web Design Landing Page Campaigns
● Referral Code Campaigns
Let’s take a look at how you can use each one.
EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN
Never overlook the promotional power of an email marketing campaign. Why are email campaigns so effective? Because the recipients have already agreed to receive emails from you. In fact, you can bet that emails are their preferred format in terms of hearing from you. Anyone who signed up for your email newsletter or supplied you with their email address to enroll in your loyalty program wants to hear from you via email!
Using personalization to promote the most relevant back-to-school items to your segmented email recipients, consider launching a campaign similar to this one we composed for a pet supply store:
Subject Line: A Back-to-School Bundle Just for You, [FIRST NAME]
Email: Get Fluffy ready for back-to-school season with these hand-picked items bundled just for your furry friend and you!
Relevant Product Bundle: Cat calming treats, an assemble-yourself cat tree, and a cat-themed adult coloring book
When it comes to finding the best back-to-school deals in town, a lot of consumers rely on Google to find stores near them. If you have yet to set up a Google My Business account, or don’t understand why you should, we’ve written an entire article on the subject, Making the Most Out of Google My Business, which will guide you through the process. Once you’ve set up your Google My Business account, Google’s geographically specific algorithms will start recommending your business in location-based search results. Then, link your Google AdWords ad to your GMB Page.
The best Google AdWords campaigns are attention-grabbing and hook the viewer right away. Bear in mind the 3 Ts of Relevancy when composing your PPC AdWords content, like we’ve done for this fitness center:
Web Page Title: Sara Dance Center | Last Chance to Join for $1
Web Page Description: Professional ballroom dance competitor-turned-instructor, Maria, is looking for 10 dedicated students to whip into shape this back-to-school season at the low cost of $1. Click to find out how you can participate in Maria’s 30-day Salsa program hosted by Sara Dance Center!
Taking photos of the kids on the first day of school and sharing them on Facebook and Instagram has become an annual ritual for most parents, and the back-to-school fun doesn’t stop there. In fact, parents and students alike use Facebook and Instagram to find deals on school supplies as well as search for apparel, accessories, and fashion styling inspiration. Running an ad campaign on Facebook and Instagram is a good idea for both brick-and-mortar retailers and eCommerce shops. Just remember that when you create your back-to-school ad campaign in Facebook Business Manager, use detailed targeting so that your paid ad isn’t wasted on the wrong users.
The most important aspect of any social media ad campaign is the Call-to-Action button you include. Don’t even think about running an ad without a CTA. It won’t be worth your time, money, or effort. In our humble opinion, the most valuable CTA you can include is a lead generator. Check out this example we put together for one of our restaurant clients who wanted to enroll customers into their loyalty rewards program:
Headline: Students’ Specials for Back-to-School
Description: This August and September, [RESTAURANT] is offering swag and sandwiches to students who sign up for our customer loyalty rewards program. Power through the long academic year with meals from [RESTAURANT]. Click the Sign-Up button below to claim your loyalty swag and sandwich, and start saving!
Call-to-Action Button: “Sign Up”
Lead Generator Fields: “First Name” & “Email Address”
Everyone loves text messages. In fact, most Americans prefer texting rather than calling when it comes to relaying quick messages. The average text message open rate is 99%, and 96% of all text messages are opened within 15 minutes. In terms of marketing, those are dream statistics. While you would never want to text your customers too frequently, choosing to contact them via SMS text message during one or two special times of the year is appropriate. One of those special times of the year should be back-to-school season since it’s second only to Christmas.
Launching an SMS text message campaign to market your back-to-school sale will only work if you’ve collected your customers’ cell phone numbers, and to be honest, this marketing campaign method works best for professional services businesses like salons, spas, and barbershops. If you run a professional service business, try an SMS back-to-school campaign idea like this one we launched for our beauty salon client:
Text Message: Want to be featured in our back-to-school lookbook? Revamp your look for a fraction of the price this August & September at [SALON NAME]! We’re offering 90% off to anyone who wants to model in our future social media marketing! Reply with ‘BOOK ME’ to reserve your appointment now!
Landing pages can be used for a variety of marketing reasons to pull in customers, but they all serve one major purpose—to convert website visitors into customers who complete the entire buyer’s journey. More often than not, a landing page will offer visitors a special gift, such as a free download, ebook, webinar signup, free trial, or exclusive access to products and services. Landing pages are unique in this sense because they don’t directly market products to visitors. Instead, they trigger instant engagement by featuring a form, survey, quiz, virtual tour, or some other personalized interaction. In terms of marketing your back-to-school sale, you can think of a landing page as an interactive step that motivates website visitors to buy your products. The trick with using landing pages as part of your back-to-school marketing campaigns is to make sure you have a responsive web design in place that displays properly on all devices.
As we mentioned, landing pages can be used in a variety of ways to promote your back-to-school sale, and a whole host of different kinds of businesses use them. Here’s an example of a back-to-school landing page we put together for one of our clients that runs an academic tutoring business:
Web Page Header: There’s only one thing you need to know… you’ll never stop learning.
Content: Take control of your learning by working on the skills you choose at your own pace with our online courses for students of all levels. Sharpen your skills with over 1,000 interactive exercises. Math, science, algebra, biology, computer programming, history, art, grammar & spelling, economics…
Start learning now.
Students receive free online classes and one-on-one online tutoring throughout September 31st. Interested in tutoring? There’s a form for that as well!
(Include two forms, one for parents & students to sign up and another for tutors.)
A referral campaign, or a “refer-a-friend” campaign, is a marketing strategy that retailers use to incentivize their existing customers to recommend their store and products to friends, family, and acquaintances. Typically, referral programs of this nature will reward their customers for making successful referrals and also reward the people they successfully refer. Often a discount code is used, i.e. a referral code. Launching a referral code campaign is a great strategy for brick-and-mortar retailers who want to boost back-to-school sales, and this campaign idea is also effective for eCommerce retailers.
The fun thing about this back-to-school campaign idea is that you can deliver your referral code offer to your customers any way you—and they—would like. You can send out an email marketing campaign or SMS text message marketing campaign that promotes your back-to-school referral code, place a Facebook & Instagram ad, reword your Google My Business Page to promote your referral code, and link to a new landing page that also has the referral code. The sky is really the limit when it comes to using referral codes as part of your back-to-school marketing. Check out what we did for our health & wellness client recently:
Hook: Give $5, Get $5
Headline: Help your friends feel their best while back at school
Body: Loving your health supplements and wellness products from [RETAILER]? Share the love with your friends, family, and fellow students! We’ll give them $5 off to support their wellbeing if they use your unique referral code! And we’ll give you $5 off your next order, too! Enter your email address to receive a unique referral code and start spreading the love!
Now that we’ve laid out six back-to-school marketing campaign ideas all you need to do is come up with personalized content and launch your campaigns! But what if you need help with the graphic design and layout of your campaigns?
Attention-grabbing advertisements are an integral aspect of any solid retail marketing strategy. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or an eCommerce shop—or perhaps both—your offline and online presence must be strong if you want to expand your reach, drive traffic, and convert first-time visitors into returning customers.
In order to help retailers do just that, our sister company, FTx, has developed user-friendly graphic design software. This software, AdPro, can be used anytime at no charge. That’s right, it’s free! This software was engineered to deliver professional results. Regardless of your skill level, the advertisements you can build will look amazing and can be used for all of your marketing, promotional, and social media campaigns.
Best of all, free AdPro comes with a full library of industry-specific templates and holiday themes, including back-to-school templates and themes!
Interested in working with a digital marketing agency to handle your promotional campaigns this back-to-school season and beyond? FTx 360 can work within any budget. Our experienced social media and email marketers can handle your campaigns, target your audience, and help take your business to the next level. Contact us today to get started.
Using smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices to surf the net might seem like a no-brainer today, but that wasn’t always the case.
As recently as eight years ago, desktop computer internet usage far surpassed that of mobile devices. In fact, the shift from desktop computer internet usage to mobile-device internet usage didn’t occur until 2014, which is relatively late in Google’s evolution.
The history of mobile devices, internet usage, and Google’s ranking algorithms unfolded as follows:
2007 – 2008: Apple’s iPhone hit the market in 2007 followed by Android’s smartphone in 2008
● These smartphones featured web browsers, which introduced mobile-device web browsing to the world.
● Web developers coded the first generation of mobile-friendly sites using m.website.com addresses that were separate from the original desktop computer websites. These mobile-friendly sites did not compare to their desktop counterparts due to limited navigation, “tall and skinny” layout formats, and significantly pared-down functionality.
● Though these mobile-friendly sites existed exclusively for mobile devices, mobile users didn’t readily access them, preferring instead to use their desktop computers when they wanted to go online.
2009 – 2011: Google developed and distributed techniques and guidelines for web developers to help them build mobile-friendly sites that are discoverable.
● Google published an article on their Webmaster Central Blog about how to make mobile-based websites faster.
● Google published an article on the same blog listing helpful tips webmasters can use to properly index their mobile-specific sites so that Google elevates the ranking of those sites.
● Google proposed additional tips about how webmasters can “run” both desktop computer websites and mobile-specific website versions together.
● Google published its first in-depth guide on how to make websites mobile friendly.
● Mobile website speed testing was developed by Google, which they released as a tool in conjunction with their “first page speed tool” in 2011.
2012 – 2014: Google introduced, adjusted, and refined its algorithms, updated its ranking factors, and provided webmasters with a new Mobile Usability Tool.
● Google altered search results for mobile-friendly websites using the final smartphone destination URL in search results.
● Google introduced ranking factors that penalize misconfigured mobile-specific websites.
● Google launched Webmaster Tools, which included a tool to diagnose mobile crawl errors.
● Google expanded the “organic search performance feature” in Webmaster Tools to specifically aid separate mobile websites.
● Google expanded its Webmaster Tools yet again by adding a new Mobile Usability tool.
2015 – Present: Google shifted from only indexing desktop computer internet websites to evaluating website mobile friendliness as the sole ranking factor.
● Google announced that site usability will affect mobile search results ranking, meaning that mobile-friendliness will be an official ranking signal.
● Google announced ranking penalties for mobile-specific sites that used traditional desktop computer website features, such as pop-up boxes, because these features interrupted and frustrated mobile site users.
● Google officially switched to indexing mobile sites to rank web pages, crawl content and SEO, and display snippets of sites in the search results.
● This mobile-first ranking structure rendered desktop computer websites less important in the world of Google’s ranking algorithms since indexing desktop computer websites was gradually phased out.
● Finally, Google completely dropped desktop computer website indexing, which means that currently Google only indexes and ranks mobile-specific sites.
Today, mobile friendliness is the only ranking factor that Google now uses.
Is your website mobile friendly?
In this article, you will learn how to keep your website visible in Google’s search engine ranking by improving the mobile-friendliness of your site.
As crucial as it is to please Google by adhering to their algorithmic changes, improving your SEO tactics, and following their guidelines so that Google bots crawl and promote your website, it’s far more important to please your website visitors.
If the history of Google and mobile-friendliness that we laid out in the introduction of this article proved anything, it’s that today’s consumers prefer to use their mobile devices to surf the net, browse websites, and even buy products. Given the evolving consumer demand for mobile-friendly sites, over time Google developed web guidelines to accommodate mobile users, which culminated in a new mobile-only indexing system.
As a business owner, you also have a responsibility to meet consumer demands and ensure that your website is mobile friendly.
A mobile-friendly website will not only get crawled, indexed, and ranked by Google, but it will also ensure that consumers can visit your site from their mobile devices, encounter an excellent user interface, and have a wonderful experience while navigating from one web page to the next. When visitors have a positive experience on your website using their mobile devices, they will be far more likely to become repeat visitors, first-time customers, social media followers, and even lifelong loyal customers.
Put simply, offering a mobile-friendly website will help you gain the appreciation and loyalty of mobile device users who quickly convert into customers. Additionally, mobile-friendly websites also ensure:
● Higher page views per visit
● Lower bounce rates
● Increased customer loyalty
● Elevated search engine rankings
Not all handheld internet-accessible devices are created equal. In fact, Google categorizes devices differently depending on their size and uses. The primary reason for offering a mobile-friendly version of your website is to ensure that visitors are able to read your content and properly interact with your brand. Due to the fact that smartphone screens are remarkably smaller than desktop and laptop computer screens, redesigning your web content so that it displays correctly on mobile devices is imperative. You don’t want visitors “pinching” and “pulling” your web content whenever they view your website from their mobile device. Ideally, when a visitor lands on your website, they will encounter easy-to-read fonts, an accessible navigation toolbar, and a clean presentation overall.
Here are the four main device types and the breakdown of how Google regards each of them.
The term “mobile device” refers to all smartphones, such as iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone. These smartphones include mobile browsers that use HTML5 specifications and function similarly to desktop browsers. Due to their smaller screen size, their default orientation is vertical. Google considers these mobile devices the most popular and therefore requires that website presentation on smartphones meet their guideline standards.
Google places tablets in their own category due to the fact that tablets typically display large screens that are comparable to desktop and laptop computer screens. For this reason, tablet users assume the websites they visit will appear the same as the desktop browser version. While you could offer tablet-optimized web content, it really isn’t necessary. Plus, Google does not place tablets in the same category as mobile devices, and therefore any tablet optimization you perform will not impact the search engine ranking of your website.
Google also considers “feature phones” to be mobile devices. The browsers of feature phones cannot render normal desktop computer web pages that have been coded with standard HTML. For this reason, feature phones rely solely on mobile-friendly websites, which means that if your website is not mobile-friendly, feature phone users will not be able to find your website, period.
With the exception of tablets, all mobile device browsers, including the browsers found on multimedia and feature phones, rely on mobile-friendly website design.
Creating a website that displays beautifully on all mobile devices might not seem easy, but it can be done. You will need to configure your website for multiple devices, which will help Google and other search engines understand your site, as well as ensure that mobile users properly experience your website.
There are three configuration techniques you can use to ensure your website will be mobile friendly. Those techniques are, using a responsive web design, offering dynamic serving, and providing separate URLs. In very simple terms, each offers the ability to use a template to create a mobile-friendly experience, but not all configuration techniques are the same. Let’s take a look.
The term “responsive web design” refers to websites built with HTML code that are able to render the original HTML code differently depending on the screen size of the device. Meaning, the webmaster only needs to build one website, but the code itself will dictate how content is displayed from one device to the next. Responsive web design is the most cost-effective, time-effective configuration technique because it has the easiest design pattern to implement and maintain. For this reason, Google recommends responsive web design over the other available configuration techniques.
Dynamic serving is slightly different from responsive web design. Though dynamic serving uses the same URLs on the mobile version that appear on the original website, it generates a different version of HTML code depending on the device the site is being displayed on, as well as specific users’ browser data. Dynamic serving enables a website to be fully accessible, however, Google bots tend to crawl this configuration differently than how they crawl responsive web designs, which means you would have to invest in server-side rendering as a temporary workaround for these crawlers.
This configuration method is as manual and tedious as it sounds. “Separate URLs” is a configuration technique that provides different code to each device category, each using separate URLs. First, the user’s device type is detected. Then, the configuration uses HTTP and Vary HTTP Headers to redirect users to the appropriate page. In the case of separate URLs, the mobile site will utilize a mobile-specific URL, such as an “m-dot,” “dot-mobi,” or even a separate folder altogether. A common myth is that this configuration method causes duplicate content that Google will penalize, but this rumor is completely untrue.
While Google claims it doesn’t favor one particular configuration technique over another, Google does place a high premium on ensuring that all web page assets are accessible to their Google bots. For this reason, the safest configuration technique to implement is a responsive web design.
However, implementing a responsive web design is only the beginning. Before your responsive website goes live, it’s a good idea to check, double-check, and triple-check that all of the mobile-friendly elements on your site will perform optimally.
Here is a checklist you can use to evaluate the mobile-friendliness of your website:
● Test Your Website at Multiple Resolutions
● Make Sure Your Menus, Toolbar, and Navigation Display Properly on Smaller Screens
● Check If Your Images Look Clear or Pixelated at Smaller Resolutions
● Test the Readability of Your Content
● Ensure Your Site’s Elements Provide Easy User Interaction
● Resize or Eliminate Your Pop-Ups
● Test Your Website’s Loading Speed
Now that you’ve been introduced to the basic rundown of what it takes to make your website mobile friendly, it’s time to actually test your website.
Google has developed excellent tools to help you evaluate the speed, usability, and flexibility of how your website is presented to mobile users. Let’s take a look at each tool and examine what it can do for you.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool allows website owners to analyze their home page URL, or any web page URL from their site, for a mobile-friendliness evaluation. This tool is free and will measure how easily a mobile user will be able to access, read, and navigate the website. The test results will include a pass-fail score as well as improvement suggestions that will help the website perform better on mobile devices.
Google’s Mobile Usability Tool can be found within the Google Search Console of any browser. The Google Search Console is a web service that Google developed to provide a way for webmasters to check the indexing status of their website. By offering transparent indexing status information, webmasters can make improvements to optimize the visibility of their websites. This mobile usability tool informs webmasters of the site’s crawl rate among other helpful metrics.
Remember, optimizing your website for mobile provides the following benefits:
● Improves SEO
● Improves mobile website indexing
● Elevates search engine rankings
● Offers a more streamlined user experience across all devices
● Increases mobile user conversion rates
● Offers faster download speeds
● Eliminates the cost of mobile app development
● Allows for continuous user experience improvements
Does your website pass Google’s mobile-friendly test? If not, contact us and our web development and SEO team can implement front-end and back-end modifications that will ensure Google is able to properly index and rank your site.
Our web development experts build customized web solutions with the mobile user’s experience in mind. When you work with FTx 360, the web applications and web portals of your mobile-friendly website will be stunning, streamlined, and impactful. Build a smarter brand for your business with FTx 360’s responsive web development.
There has been a fair amount of controversy in the last five years regarding how marketers should write web content so that Google elevates the search engine ranking of the site in question.
One camp of marketers insists that website content, such as web pages, product descriptions, professional services, and blog articles should be written so simplistically, straightforwardly, and concisely that anyone with a 6th grade reading comprehension level will be able to understand it. This camp believes that content should be written for people, albeit people who aren’t necessarily the sharpest tools in the toolbox.
Another camp of marketers operates as though the sole purpose of publishing written content online is to elevate website search engine ranking, and therefore all content should be composed to maximize the chances that Google bots will determine the website’s content is “valuable.” This camp believes that content should be written with as many popular SEO keywords as possible so that the content pleases Google bots and Google’s ever-changing algorithms even if doing so causes the actual verbiage to sound awkward, stilted, or downright grammatically incorrect.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of my ideal customer, neither a 6th grader nor a Google bot comes to mind… But I digress.
Does content that consumers love tend to rank poorly on Google?
Will content that’s written for the specific purpose of maximizing search engine ranking automatically repulse living, breathing web visitors?
Why do Google bots exist if they’ve been programmed to value what consumers despise and penalize what consumers value?
The answers to these questions can be summed up in a single statement: Google bots have been programmed to mimic consumer behavior and value what consumers value.
In other words, the entire “content controversy” is based on a faulty assumption.
You see, professional writers tend to insist that excellent writing has the power to render the need for SEO techniques obsolete. On the other hand, professional webmasters and SEO strategists tend to presume that strategic SEO is so effective that it can elevate the search engine ranking of even the most poorly written drivel. These two diametrically opposed mentalities have caused marketers to split into those two camps I mentioned.
If you ask me, massive egos are to blame…
The fact of the matter is that content must be well-written and also utilize effective SEO techniques. You can’t favor one over the other and expect your website to positively impact your business revenue.
Let’s cut to the chase. You want to learn the characteristics of “well written” content, and you want to understand how you, as a marketer, can ensure that the content you write satisfies the quality criteria for both consumers and Google bots.
Step one is to free yourself from the mindset of those “camps” I’ve been referencing. The rest of the steps are laid out in this article, so keep reading.
Your business is unique, which means your customers are unique individuals with unique needs. This means that the content you write should speak to your audience. You can identify your audience and understand who your ideal customer is by analyzing your Customer Relationship Management data as well as your web traffic reporting and analytics data.
Do not become seduced by the prospect of writing content for a broad audience as if doing so will result in acquiring new customers. It will backfire. Meaning, if you write your content in such a way that caters to people with a low reading comprehension level even though your ideal client holds a graduate degree, earns a seven-figure salary, and places a high premium on credentials and expertise, you will only end up turning off the people you want to do business with.
Instead, be polarizing.
There’s no real risk of excluding consumers who were never going to become your customers anyway. However, there’s a real benefit to composing your content in such a way that it exclusively addresses a niche audience. In fact, intentionally writing for a niche audience will organically boost your search engine ranking when it comes to consumers who use longtail keyword phrases to find business websites that offer very specific products, services, and solutions.
This type of consumer will be more likely to quickly convert into a customer once they land on your website, which is far more beneficial than having one hundred consumers land on your website who never buy.
Write your content as though you are speaking to your ideal customer, one-on-one. If your customer base is largely comprised of ten-year olds, then speak to them in their language with their vocabulary, remaining mindful of their limited attention span.
Use the following checklist as you write:
● Identify and use the best word choices
● Find and use high-ranking keywords
● Understand your niche audience
● Speak to your audience in their language
● Study your competition
● Write with confidence, challenge existing opinions, be polarizing
● Create a content template based on your high-ranking content for future use
If you’ve been keeping up with the FTx 360 blog, then you’ve already read several articles about SEO, including What Is SEO?, How to Spot Negative SEO, and Ways to Increase Web Traffic. For tips on how to determine which keywords and longtail keyword phrases to use, be sure to check out those articles.
Then, in order to compose effective content that Google bots will love just as much as consumers, keep the following pointers in mind as you write:
● Understand SEO copywriting
● Incorporate keywords in your headline
● Optimize for clarity
● Understand on-page SEO
● Build sentences and paragraphs that naturally utilize longtail keyword phrases
● Google boosts articles that are at least 2,400 words
● Google elevates the ranking of websites that have longer visitor engagement sessions
Ready to analyze the real technical side of your website to ensure that Google bots will love, love, love your website? It’s time to talk about Robots.txt.
The term “robots.txt” is shorthand for “robots exclusion protocol.” A robots.txt file is a website text file that’s sole purpose is to inform search engine robots, including Google bots, whether or not robots have permission to “crawl” the web page that the robots.txt file belongs to.
What this means is that Google won’t automatically crawl your website by virtue of the fact that your site exists, in the same way that your neighbor won’t automatically enter your house just because it’s right across the street. Before Google crawls a given web page, its robots will first read the robots.txt file for permission and instructions.
Do you want to permit Google to crawl every page on your website? Maybe. Or maybe not. That’s up to you. If, for instance, you have indexed your website with archived content, you wouldn’t want Google to crawl both the featured content and its archived duplicate, because Google will penalize the duplication and demote your ranking.
You can “disallow” Google bots from crawling web pages by setting the appropriate allowances and disallowances within your robots.txt files.
Where can you find your robots.txt files in order to review and modify the permissions?
Simply type your website’s URL into the search bar, followed by “/robots.txt.” Let’s use FTx 360 as an example. Type the following URL into your search bar:
You will notice:
User – agent: *
That exact information is what Google will adhere to prior to crawling our website pages.
What does yours include? Be sure to review your robots.txt files for each of your web pages and make sure that the files reflect what you want to allow and disallow.
In the rare event that there aren’t any robots.txt files associated with your website, Google will proceed as though they have full permission to crawl and index your entire site. If that’s okay with you, then there’s nothing you need to do. Robots.txt will be your friend across the board.
But if you prefer certain pages of your website not to be crawled and indexed by Google and other search engines, then you’ll need to create robots.txt files and meticulously list the permissions you want in place, blocking Google from any pages you don’t want their bots to crawl.
Cleaning up your robots.txt files is an integral aspect of ensuring that the web page content crawled and indexed by bots are elevated on Google’s search engine ranking so that visitors discover and read them.
Are you familiar with the digital marketing term, “cloaking”? If not, you aren’t alone. I’ve been writing digital content for over eight years and only recently have I been introduced to the concept of “cloaking.”
Anyone who has ever dared venture into the online dating world has likely been the victim of some degree of cloaking. You chat with what you believe to be an attractive individual on the dating platform, only to discover when you finally meet them in person that they are 20 years older and 80 lbs heavier than their profile pictures indicated…
In a nutshell, “cloaking” can be defined as falsely representing your URL content to Google’s search engine spiders for the purposes of luring online users to your website. Similar to a washed-up 45 year-old who uses his nephew’s handsome bodybuilding photos in order to score dates on OKCupid, “cloaking” involves providing Google with an inaccurate portrayal of your website in order to elevate search engine ranking and drive web traffic.
There are many reasons why “cloaking” is a big no-no in the digital marketing world, but the biggest of all is that businesses that use cloaking as an SEO tactic ultimately end up turning potential customers into infuriated website visitors.
When a potential customer uses Google to search for the best mechanic in town and your website appears in the first page of the search results, you better be a mechanic. If you’re selling used cars instead, you’re going to have one very irritated website visitor.
Now, chances are, you would have never heard of cloaking if not for reading this article. You might be thinking right now that you’re in no danger of “cloaking” your website in order to “game the Google system,” so why am I bothering to tell you about cloaking in the first place?
Because there are unethical digital marketing agencies out there who attempt to use cloaking without their clients’ knowledge in order to “deliver outstanding SEO results.” These agencies like to boast that they’ll get your website on the first page of Google’s search results, only to end up using unethical tactics to succeed. Worst of all, despite elevating their clients’ websites on Google, they provide virtually no ROI, because deceived website visitors obviously do not become online customers.
What are the “cloaking” red flags to look out for when you’re considering partnering with a digital marketing agency? Are there warning signs that can help you avoid these disreputable “cloaking” agencies? And if you’ve recently discovered that the digital marketing agency you’ve hired has “cloaked” your website, what can you do about it now?
Let’s take a look…
Cloaking is not only unethical, but unlawful in 2021. Ethical webmasters employ search engine optimization techniques as they index the websites they build. This is fine. But how can you tell whether a webmaster has used ethical SEO techniques or illegal ones? You can find out for yourself what a digital agency has been up to by investigating their clients’ websites. Here’s what to look for:
● Check for AdWords cloaking scripts, PHP URL cloaking scripts, and URL cloaking scripts
● Review the SERP directly by turning on “Preserve Log” in “Chrome DevTools,” switching your user type to “Googlebot,” and going to the website directly from Google to compare the “Googlebot” content to the “online user” content
● Use a “cloaking checker” tool, like the one offered at Dupli Checker
Needless to say, if you discover any prospective marketing agency has used cloaking for their clients’ websites, run.
When Google discovers that a website has used “cloaking” to elevate SEO ranking, then Google will blacklist the website, period. It is very hard to bounce back once you’ve been blacklisted. Protect your business so that you don’t hire an agency that resorts to these unethical SEO tactics. Here are the questions to ask potential webmasters and digital marketers before you sign a contract:
● Will you use PBNs to increase my website’s rank on Google?
● Will you republish high-ranking web content for me in order to maintain a favorable SEO ranking?
● Will you maximize SEO and backlinks by assigning a team to leave comments under all my website’s blog articles?
If a marketing agency answers “yes” to any of the above questions, run. It’s a very good idea to familiarize yourself with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines prior to interviewing your agency candidates.
What if you recently discovered that the digital marketing agency you’ve been working with has used cloaking and other “black hat SEO” techniques, which have now backfired, resulting in your website being blacklisted by Google? Can you recover? It’s possible, but recovering won’t happen overnight. That being said, here are the steps you can take today to submit a “reconsideration request” to Google:
● First navigate to Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch, and fetch the web pages from the affected portions of your website
● Compare your web content that is fetched by Google to the web content your online users see and resolve all variations between the two so that the content is the same
● Finally, check all redirects on your site and remove the faulty ones that send users to an unexpected destination and / or ones that utilize “conditional redirects”
● Once you’ve completed the above steps, submit your reconsideration request to Google
If you do not want to attempt resolving the Google violations yourself, preferring instead to hire a reputable marketing agency, then just be sure to relay to the new digital marketing agency the specific Google penalties you’ve received. Did you receive a “partial match” penalty or a “site-wide match” penalty? Let the new agency know so that they can focus on fixing the specific violations.
Cloaking, or “black hat SEO,” is the result of plugging misleading content into Google for the specific purpose of optimizing SEO. In technical terms, this is accomplished when the marketer provides Google’s bots with a “server-side script,” i.e. a Google-friendly variation of the website. How would a website know that a “visitor” is a “search engine robot” and not a real user? Rather than digress into a detailed and highly technical explanation of how that’s done, let’s put it this way: Artificial Intelligence has come a long way.
Originally, A.I. was not developed for the purposes of helping unethical marketers to lie, cheat, and steal. But very unfortunately, mastering the best A.I. strategies in order to inform Google’s bots of URL content is what led fraudsters to invent “cloaking” in the first place.
You see, web developers, SEO strategists, and digital marketers are supposed to provide Google bots with URL information. This information must be truncated. For example, if a website sells over 500 products, the URL description that is written specifically for Google is obviously not going to include mention of all 500 products. Savvy SEO strategists will therefore choose to highlight only the most SEO-friendly products to mention within the Google-specific “scripts.” If organic coffee is the most popular product a website sells, for instance, then the “scripts” used for Google will focus on organic coffee and won’t mention the other 499 organic produce, meat, and tea products that are also for sale on the site.
Hopefully, by this point you see the distinction between acceptable SEO strategies and unethical “black hat SEO” cloaking.
The big takeaway to remember is that if real, living, breathing users love your web content, then Google bots will, too. Always write for people. Never write for the sake of pleasing algorithms if doing so comes at the expense of providing quality content to actual people. After all, Google bots are not your potential customers, people are, so be sure to keep the horse in front of the cart if you want to elevate your search engine ranking on Google.
Are you looking for a reputable digital marketing agency to develop your website, write your content, and handle your SEO? FTx 360 offers web design and development, content writing, and SEO marketing and optimization services for businesses of all industries. If you’ve been the victim of black hat SEO, we can fix it, repair your reputation, and put you on the fast track to building trust with consumers. Contact us to speak with our webmasters, content writers, and experienced marketing strategists today.
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How can you, as a business owner, help your brand to stand out from the crowded competition?
The internet is teeming with brands not unlike your own. Traditional advertisements have eaten up every last inch of adspace. Grabbing consumer attention is no easy task these days.
And yet, getting the word out about your brand and becoming memorable in the minds of consumers are not impossible goals to strive towards. The secret is that you must build brand awareness.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the term “brand awareness,” this term refers to the relationship between consumers and a particular business brand in the following ways:
● A typical consumer’s ability to recognize a particular brand,
● And the growing scope of consumers who have knowledge of, or have had
direct experience with, that brand.
The emphasis is always on increasing both the number of consumers who have heard of the brand and the depth of understanding those consumers’ have about the brand. The ultimate goal of brand
awareness is to convert consumers into loyal customers, of course.
What business wouldn’t want to become a “household name”? We can’t think of one, which is why we’ve put together four powerful methods you can implement right now to spread awareness
about your brand both online and in person.
In this article, you will learn about:
● Using Native Ads on Social Media Platforms
● Promoting Your Brand Through Local Event Sponsorships
● Partnering with Local, Complementary, Non-Competing Businesses
● Launching Automated Retargeting Campaigns
Native advertising refers to purchasing paid ad space on social media platforms and using that ad space to launch posts that match the look, feel, and purpose of user-created content.
Native ads are extremely effective because social media users that encounter these types of ads in their feeds initially assume the content was posted by one of the accounts they’re following. This causes them to take a closer look and figure out where the content is coming from. Once they do, these users become interested, click the call-to-action included in the native ad, and immediately land on the brand’s website, eCommerce store, or social media account, depending on the actual CTA.
Try these content ideas to get your native ads to stand out on social media:
● Use infographics, strong visuals, and short videos
● Include CTAs that offer demos, free trials, and samples
● Provide interactive content such as quizzes and surveys
LOCAL EVENT SPONSORSHIP
Event sponsorships are a way for brands to advertise during real-world, local events. “Sponsoring” an event in this manner involves financially supporting the event, but that financial support could—and should—come in the form of providing free products to attendees.
Sponsorship marketing works in terms of spreading brand awareness locally due to the fact that providing free items to event attendees leaves a far more positive impression on them than any traditional advertisement could. When you sponsor a local event, people will infer that your business cares deeply about the cause that the event is all about, such as the fight against hunger, breast cancer prevention, or preserving the environment. A positive association between your brand and the cause you’re sponsoring will form in the attendees mind.
These sponsorship products will spread awareness about your brand without breaking the bank:
● Have bottled water custom labeled with your company’s brand and hand
them out at charity races, farmers’ markets, and other local events
● Donate a photo booth station at seasonal community events and be sure
the exterior and interior backdrop clearly present your company’s brand and
● Supply teachers’ conventions, students’ summer programs, and other educational events with branded pens and notepads
Do you own a pet supply store? The nearby animal shelter is a complementary organization that doesn’t compete with your business. A fitness center franchise does not directly compete with athletic apparel retailers to gain members, which means these two businesses complement one another and if partnered, could increase each other’s brand awareness.
Partnering with complementary, non-competing businesses is a great way to “cross pollinate” with the loyal audiences of other brands. This method of building brand awareness is advantageous because any audience will be inclined to trust the recommendation of a brand they’re already loyal to. When the business you’ve partnered with tells their customer base about your awesome brand, including the products or services you offer, those customers will trust the recommendation, check out your business website or location, and potentially become your new customers.
For low or no cost methods of spreading awareness about your brand via partnerships with other businesses, try these:
● Forge guest blogging arrangements and publish each other’s blog articles to spread awareness about each company’s expertise
● Host Q&A sessions, interviewing one another to establish expert authority, and post the edited video and / or audio interviews on YouTube, podcast platforms like Spotify, and other social media platforms
● Display digital content, ad campaigns, and other visuals on each other’s digital signage, whether in-store at retail locations or in the waiting rooms of professional offices such as law firms, accounting firms, dental offices, and other private practices
AUTOMATED RETARGETING CAMPAIGNS
Any website or eCommerce store constantly collects data about the visitors who land on each URL page. This technology tracks and records whether a visitor becomes a buying customer or leaves the website altogether. You can launch digital marketing campaigns that target all of your website visitors who did not become buyers. This type of campaign is called a retargeting campaign.
The fact of the matter is that 97% of visitors who land on your website or eCommerce store for the first time will end up leaving without having made a purchase. Statistically, these visitors will not come back unless they are reminded of the value of the products available on your website. By launching an automated retargeting campaign, you can succeed at influencing first-time visitors to return to your website. Even if they don’t purchase anything upon returning, the campaign itself will expose them to your brand again, which will increase their awareness of your brand.
Effective retargeting strategies that succeed at driving website and eCommerce store traffic include:
● Choose one of your website’s URLs and create an automated retargeting campaign that goes after all prior visitors of that specific URL
● Segment your website visitors into groups based on which stage of the “buyer’s journey” they’re in, either the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or the decision stage; and market to these distinct groups accordingly
● Once a website visitor converts into a customer, exclude them from your retargeting campaigns, but include them in all campaigns that target current, returning, and loyal customers
THE BOTTOM LINE
Building brand awareness might be a challenge for your company. Just remember, it isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes time. But if you implement the strategies we covered in this article and take consistent measures to review campaign performance analytics and make adjustments that improve campaign reach, then you should see an increase in brand awareness that grows slowly and steadily in the long run.
How can you measure brand awareness as you go? Try using the following methods:
● Brand Recall—Where does your brand rank among the competition?
● Organic Traffic—Is your business visible on Google and other search engines?
● Social Mentions—How positive or negative is public perception of your brand on social media?
● Visitor Loyalty—Are visitors converting into buyers and returning time and again to shop?
● Email Engagement—How are your email campaigns performing in terms of click-throughs and conversions?
● Content Reach—Is your target audience responding to your branded messaging?
Do you want to spread awareness about your brand, but aren’t sure you have time to manage these brand-building strategies? FTx 360 can handle it. Our digital marketing specialists and reputation management experts can devise a personalized brand awareness campaign strategy for you based on your unique business. Contact us now to get started.
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