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.
FTx 360 is a full-service digital marketing agency that offers the most advanced digital marketing solutions for businesses of all industries, and that’s not all. Our digital marketing specialists are also committed to serving the greater marketing community by publishing informative articles every week.
Our July articles covered the importance of choosing the best social media platforms to market your brand, the how-tos of writing content that attracts Google bots, and the measures business owners must go to ensure their websites are both ADA compliant and mobile friendly.
In case you missed them, we’ve put together brief summaries of each article that you can reference as you market your business online. Just remember, nothing beats reading the originals, so we encourage you to check out the full-length articles if you want to get the most out of our digital marketing strategies, tips, and techniques.
Ensuring that social media marketing works for your business will depend on choosing the right platforms. Each social media platform offers users a different experience. Each platform provides brands with advantages and disadvantages. And each social platform must be carefully analyzed for its business marketing potential.
The first article we published this July compared the benefits of five major social media platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube—to help readers determine which ones will best serve their marketing goals.
A veteran social media platform that has been around longer than any other social platform, Facebook is by no means passé. Yes, there are newer, more trendy platforms out there, but in terms of ideal user demographics and the ability to connect businesses with new customers, Facebook remains an excellent choice for social media marketing. Bottom line, Facebook is an excellent platform for B2C companies that want to post micro-content to increase brand awareness, gain followers, stimulate social engagement, and convert followers into customers.
More so than any other social media platform, Instagram is all about the visual. As an ideal platform to post photos, images, graphics, and viral memes, Instagram has taken over and dominated the social media marketing space for businesses that are capable of portraying their products and services using images and little else. Instagram really isn’t a listening and learning platform. In terms of fostering conversations, it pales in comparison to Facebook, but that doesn’t mean this platform is any less valuable. Bottom line, Instagram is best for B2C retail companies, especially when those companies primarily sell on an eCommerce platform.
Twitter is an information-spreading platform that serves news outlets and organizations that either cover or contribute to current events. Twitter tends to be politically charged and entire debates can unfold within a single thread of Tweets. That being said, certain business owners can get a lot out of using Twitter for their social media marketing. Since Twitter is a real-time social media platform, every Tweet you post is equivalent to sending a group text message to the entire world. Thanks to hashtags and the immediacy of the platform itself, Twitter offers businesses a way to engage with their audiences in real time, having complete conversations. Bottom line, Twitter will serve B2B and B2C businesses that want to spread information, comment on current events, and elevate their professional authority within their industry.
LinkedIn has had a slow evolution in terms of joining the ranks of well-known social media sites. Considered the world’s largest professional network on the internet, only in recent years has LinkedIn been regarded as an authentic “social media” platform. It wasn’t until LinkedIn provided newsfeeds and the ability for users to post blogs and other content that it joined the ranks of social media. Initially, LinkedIn was used strictly as an employment-oriented online platform that connected professionals and aided job seekers in obtaining the best positions on the open job market. Bottom line, LinkedIn is best for B2B companies that can commit to regularly publishing informative blog articles. If one of your social media marketing goals is to elevate your brand’s expert standing within your industry, then using LinkedIn is for you.
YouTube exclusively offers video content, though some channels publish audio-only files with a static image that fills the video field. When an internet user wants to watch video content, YouTube is the social media platform they go to, hands down. In this sense, YouTube has virtually no competition, not even from Vimeo. If you’re prepared to create professional-looking video content, then using YouTube for your social media marketing could prove more effective than all other platforms combined. Bottom line, when it comes to which social media platform businesses should use to publish video content, no platform compares to YouTube. Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, if you want to reach a massive audience using video content, then you must publish on YouTube, period.
This article also went into great depth, helping readers ascertain their social media marketing goals, so be sure to read the full article if you want to learn more.
The next July article we published on our blog informed readers about how to write web content that will engage customers while pleasing Google’s algorithms. All digital content that’s published on your website has the potential to help elevate your website’s search engine ranking on Google. In our article, we defined the characteristics of “well written” content and described how to write content that will satisfy both consumers and Google bots.
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, so bear the following in mind to get the most out of the content you write:
Write your content as though you are speaking to your ideal customer, one-on-one, in their language with their vocabulary, remaining mindful of their interests and pain points. Use the following checklist as you write:
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:
Finally, we examined how robots.txt files can help Google crawl your web pages, and we also went over black hat SEO, cloaking, and how to avoid these major Google violations. We strongly encourage you to read the full article to stay informed.
In our third July article, we tackled the ins and outs of transforming your business website so that it meets the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Currently, there are over 60 million Americans who are living with a disability. Physical disabilities that affect a person’s ability to use a website include:
You can take action today and work towards meeting the ADA’s compliance standards by making the following simple changes to your website:
For a comprehensive assessment of where your website stands in terms of ADA compliance, use the following tools to check the accessibility level of your website:
Put very simply, in order to meet ADA compliance standards, your website must be:
A perceivable website is a site that offers both visual and auditory options for every element that appears throughout the website. For example, a blog article will also offer an MP3 playbox so that blind visitors can listen to, instead of read, the article. Embedded videos that appear on a web page will include closed captioning that displays text, enabling deaf visitors to understand what the video is talking about. In short, a perceivable website is one that provides alternative ways to consume content.
An operable website is a site that enables visitors to easily navigate through web pages via any method they choose—keyboard, mouse, automatic or manual scrolling, or touchscreen. Operable websites do not place time limits or restrictions on web pages, which would otherwise cause web page sessions to “time out.” Another aspect to consider when it comes to operable websites, is that the web pages should avoid use of physical “triggers” such as automatically running a strobe light that could cause migraines or seizures.
The basic rule for ensuring your website is understandable is this: a visitor should spend almost no time trying to figure out how to use your website, but rather spend their time on your site gaining information. Using simplistic, logical web page layouts can greatly reduce the amount of time visitors spend familiarizing themselves with your site. For example, keeping the search bar, newsletter opt-in, and chatbox in the same spot on every web page of your site can aid in presenting an understandable website.
You’ve probably heard this term before—robust web design is critical for countless reasons. A robust website will work well on all browsers and perform properly on all devices, including mobile smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices. But did you know that you can also design your website to perform robustly for disabled visitors? By including assistive technologies on your site, you can enhance website engagement with the vision and hearing impaired. The key is to continue making upgrades as technologies evolve.
Be sure to check out the full article if you want to learn the specifics of ADA compliance and website accessibility.
Our final article of the month discussed not only the importance of website mobile-friendliness, but also what you can do right now to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. Today, mobile friendliness is the one and only ranking factor that Google uses to either promote or demote websites in their search results. What this means is that if your website isn’t configured to display excellently on mobile devices, then Google is not going to rank it.
However, 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.
In the article, we introduced the following three configuration techniques you can use to ensure your website will be mobile friendly:
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, because 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.
“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.
Here is a checklist you can use to evaluate the mobile-friendliness of your website:
For additional information about website mobile-friendliness, including links to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing Tool, Google’s Mobile Usability Tool, and Google’s Speed Test, be sure to read the full article.
The FTx 360 blog is our online newsroom where we discuss the latest digital marketing trends to help readers like you promote their businesses, websites, eCommerce sites, and social media profiles for the purposes of converting web visitors into customers.
Each week, one of our digital marketing experts publishes an informative article relevant to their specialty. Article topics range from website design & development, marketing strategies & SEO campaigns, social media marketing, eCommerce site inbound marketing, and so much more!
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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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Have you ever walked into a house and fallen in love with the atmosphere? Everything from the home furnishings to the stylized decor to the archways that connect each beautifully laid out room contributed to the wonderful experience you had while there. At the time, you might not have been aware that an architect had to draw up blueprints and contractors had to construct the home, first and foremost, in order for the interior design team who came in next to paint, furnish, and decorate. You see, your experience at the house, which left a lasting impression on you, would not have been possible without the architect and the contractors who built according to the blueprints.
In the same way, the specific experience you have on any given website would not be possible without the architect of the website, otherwise known as the lead web developer, and his or her team of builders who are the web developers that actually construct the website by writing coded language.
Producing a final website is not possible without a web designer, or website design team, just as a house would never go on the market until the walls had been painted, the floors tiled, and the overall decor arranged to give the best impression to prospective buyers. Today, we are going to focus on web developers, but if you would like to learn more about web designers, check out Web Design Trends, which goes into detail on the subject.
In this article, you will learn about website developers, what they’re responsible for, and what they can do for your business. Frontend, backend, and full-stack web development skills are just the beginning of what professional website developers bring to the table. They also create the basic structure and presentation of a website using website scripting languages. All-in-all, their work greatly impacts SEO, inbound marketing, and even revenue increases. Keep reading to discover everything there is to know about web development and what hiring a web developer can do for your company.
A website developer is a skilled programmer who specializes in building “World Wide Web” applications, i.e. websites.
The anchor of a website, which is the bedrock that web developers build upon, is a URL. In today’s competitive market, all websites use “custom domains.” A custom domain, also referred to as a vanity URL, is the branded website name that appears in the address bar of every web browser. Custom domains are not free and must be purchased by a qualifying provider and registered.
There are three primary types of web developers who build out custom domain URL websites. These are frontend developers, backend developers, and full-stack developers. Let’s take a look at what each of these three types of developers do.
As you might have guessed, just as the “frontend” developer is responsible for everything website visitors will see, the backend web developer is responsible for everything that happens behind the scenes in order to make a website function. Their territory is often referred to as the “server-side,” because backend developers work on the “guts” of the website within the server, application, and database. In order to ensure excellent UX, or user experience, backend developers collaborate with frontend developers as they develop code.
Highly experienced web developers generally go beyond offering either frontend or backend development services. Instead, these developers learn both sides of the development equation. Any website developer who offers frontend as well as backend web development is called a “full-stack web developer.” Known in the industry as development geniuses, full-stack web developers do it all because they know it all.
Whether you hire front-end and back-end developers or hire a single full-stack developer, your web developers should be mindful to build MarTech into your site for you. Shorthand for “marketing technology,” the term MarTech refers to any marketing software solution that helps marketers research, strategize, execute, analyze, and optimize their campaigns across all digital platforms. MarTech combines marketing with technology, and oftentimes marketers will consolidate multiple MarTech solutions into a stack, known as a MarTech Stack. The purpose of utilizing MarTech is to improve engagement with customers and drive sales, and yes, really smart web developers will build your website with your future marketing strategies in mind.
Short for “cascading style sheets,” CSS directly impacts the experiences visitors have when they interact with a website. CSS programming language modifies and enhances HTML to define the website’s layout, formatting, and overall presentation. This programming language is considered a cornerstone technology for the World Wide Web. Like HTML, web developers are experts in CSS due to the fact that reliable, functional, well-performing websites cannot be built without this essential language.
Website developers have a massive responsibility—to provide the best user experience, or UX, possible. Since web developers construct the layout of a website, which involves working closely with website designers, they are responsible for creating visually interesting and experientially engaging web pages that load fast and perform excellently. This means that web developers take extreme care when developing landing pages and optimizing websites for their inbound marketing potential, which includes coding opt-in forms and other marketing CTAs right into the web pages
themselves. Let’s take a look.
Landing pages have many synonyms, such as a lead capture page, squeeze page, and destination page, to name a few. Whichever term is used, this type of page refers to a single web page that’s
used as part of a digital marketing CTA for lead generation. For example, when an internet user clicks on a SEO search result, marketing email, or online advertisement, they are directed to the landing page that the web developer has set up. Landing pages typically display content that’s relevant to the user’s search or the ad the user clicked. And yes, a savvy web developer will be your best bet for including lead generation capabilities like this on your website.
A savvy web developer is also your best bet for connecting effective inbound marketing channels to your website. Inbound marketing strategies include content marketing, SEO, social media, blogs, and other digital marketing methods that draw consumers into a business’ marketing funnel. Inbound marketing campaign content places an emphasis on personally connecting with consumers and solving consumer pain points, which indirectly promotes the business’ products and solutions. Put simply, inbound marketing is any strategy that helps potential customers discover a business or
As we mentioned, opt-in forms and other CTAs are coded right into your web pages by your web developer. These forms and CTAs appear on websites and function as data collection tools. When a lead fills out an opt-in form on your website, information about the lead is automatically gathered and stored for you to leverage in the future during your marketing campaigns.
Web developers, as you can see, are truly responsible for the fate of the websites they develop.
SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the objective of driving online user traffic to a website by elevating the website’s standing with search engines such as Google. Ideally, businesses want their websites to appear on the first page of Google’s search results whenever a user is looking for a company like theirs. Using relevant keywords within web content optimizes search engine ranking. Keywords are words, phrases, or questions that a Google user might type into the search bar in order to generate a list of possible websites relevant to their search topic. The term SEO only applies to non-paid, organic search results. Web developers contribute to the SEO of the websites they develop.
As a business owner, you want to maximize your daily site visitors. A “site visitor” is any internet user who lands on or navigates through your website. Websites collect valuable visitor data, including IP addresses and cookies, to determine how many unique site visitors have visited each web page, where those site visitors came from, and what actions they took while visiting the website. This is data you want, which means optimizing your website for SEO is a must. What can you do with visitor data? A lot. By analyzing the number of visitors that land on your website, you will learn important metrics such as the overall visitor frequency along with crucial demographic information. This information can then be leveraged during the creation and publication of additional website content to improve website traffic and increase sales revenue.
Launching a blog is easily the most worthwhile strategy in terms of integrating new SEO into your business website, so be sure to ask your web developer to include a blog on the site they develop for you. By featuring a blog on your website, you will organically begin to build brand awareness, improve SEO, drive website traffic, and increase revenue. Short for “web-logs,” blogs are actually considered an original social media platform for two reasons. Posts can be published frequently to immediately engage an audience, and discussions are often triggered based on the articles’ content. These discussions unfold in the comments section beneath each post. By including opt-in forms within your blog posts and automating the publication of each article, you can effectively convert website visitors into loyal customers.
Another effective SEO strategy involves using “dynamic content” on your website, and any web developer worth his or her salt will program your site using dynamic content. Also called adaptive content, dynamic content refers to the component on web pages that changes the page’s content based on visitor data, behavior, and preferences. Because these content changes can be automated, dynamic content keeps site visitors engaged while freeing up marketers to focus on other tasks. Changing the content naturally updates the web page’s SEO, which can improve search engine ranking.
Business owners who want to avoid hiring a web developer and who are not prepared to learn how to use HTML editors and in-line coding themselves might opt to use a WYSIWYG website building platform instead.
Instead of writing web page code and building your website from scratch all on your own, you could opt for a What You See Is What You Get, or WYSIWYG, website building platform. These user-friendly platforms come with rich text editors, drag-and-drop editors, and point-and-click editors. In other words, a WYSIWYG platform will enable you to quickly build and edit your website once you have chosen a template from their CMS. Let’s take a look.
CMS, or content management systems, provide users with technologically simplistic templates. These templates can be edited with drag-and-drop features, as we mentioned. The user-friendly nature of website builders with CMS allows the user to construct a fully functional website or eCommerce store without the help of a professional web developer. This is due to the fact that the CMS platform itself handles all of the basic backend infrastructure. Once your WYSIWYG website is established, the CMS software platform will help you create, manage, modify, and schedule all of your content in an organized, easy-to-execute manner.
Let’s take an in-depth look at “point-and-click” editors, “drag-and-drop” editors, and mobile-optimized responsive website design so that you’re fully informed in case you choose to go the WYSIWYG route.
Point-and-click editing is a design feature that empowers the user to add elements of code into web pages without having to formally program that code into the backend. Point-and-click editor allows the user to easily add plugins, source buttons, and code snippets among other widgets to the pages of their website or eCommerce store without having to rely on a web designer. Businesses can also invest in free-standing point-and-click editors to create, write, and revise their Wikipedia pages and other online business encyclopedias.
A drag-and-drop website builder enables users to create a website without having to learn CSS commands or write code. The user simply selects a basic layout theme from a library of professionally designed templates and proceeds to drag-and-drop widgets, fill in text, and make other alterations to personalize the site for their business. Drag-and-drop website builders give business owners the freedom to build their websites exactly as they want and easily update their web content without having to rely on a web designer or agency.
A mobile-optimized responsive website design template is a build-your-own-website template that has been designed to display correctly on all devices for optimal viewing. The templates themselves are coded to automatically adapt to any screen size and orientation so that the website looks great, functions well, and is easy to read on computers, smartphones, and tablets. If you opt to build your own website instead of hiring a professional web developer, then be sure to choose a web building platform that offers mobile-optimized responsive web design templates.
At the end of the day, your business website has the potential to be your most powerful digital marketing tool. When visitors land on your website, they read the home page, navigate through the entire site, and decide whether or not to purchase your products and services based on their experience interacting with your website. For this reason, making sure that your website performs excellently is the most important thing you can do for your business.
Is your website performing as well as it should? Our article, What Do Customers Look For in a Website? can help you determine where your site stands in the eyes of consumers, so be sure to give it a read.
If your website or eCommerce store isn’t performing as well as it should, you could try your hand at constructing a new site using a WYSIWYG web building platform like Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly… Or you could have the website development team at FTx 360 handle your site for you. Our web developers work hand-in-hand with artistic website designers to produce stunning websites that strike a perfect balance between beautiful and functional, and our websites always load properly on mobile devices. Contact us to check out our portfolio or get your project started with our web development services today.
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Is it time to outsource your digital marketing?
When you first opened your business, you probably did just about everything yourself. This is par for the course. In the beginning, the owners of most start-ups and small businesses handle every aspect of their day-to-day workflow either themselves or in-house by assigning tasks to their employees.
But this is only manageable for so long. As a business grows, its needs expand. Continuing to assign new tasks to pre-existing employees runs the risk of overburdening them, which could lead to sloppy work and unhappy workers.
There are certain signs that indicate it might be time for you, as a business owner, to consider outsourcing your digital marketing, which include:
● Your current staff doesn’t have the skills. Effective digital marketing includes a lot of moving parts. Trends change constantly. New technologies and platforms emerge regularly. Is it reasonable to expect your account managers to post on social media during their “down time”? Will the quality of their digital marketing efforts be very good when it’s outside of their chosen career path?
● Your digital marketing initiatives are focused on tasks and not strategy. In order for any marketing campaign to succeed, you must have a plan in place. When your team is overworked, they’ll only have time to address day-to-day tasks and their mindset will be to “get stuff done.” Digital marketing isn’t about getting stuff done. It’s about getting the right stuff done and parceling out strong campaign tactics that result in increased revenue and overall business growth.
● You’re anticipating company growth and planning for business expansion. Have you recently signed a bunch of new clients? Have you opened a second retail location? Are you about to launch an eCommerce site? If you’re in the process of expanding your business, then you might be assuming you’ll have to hire additional staff to keep up with the demand, and you’re absolutely correct. But hiring an in-house marketing team shouldn’t be your first move.
If you’re considering outsourcing your digital marketing, but are still on the fence, this article is for you. Here are the 5 benefits of outsourcing your digital marketing.
PROVIDES A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO YOUR BRAND
As a business owner, of course you love your company. But as they say, love is blind. Way-back-when you first saw your brand-new company logo, you thought it looked amazing, and it probably did. But as time passed, your love for your brand might have kept you blind to the possibility that your logo, and other marketing elements you’ve been using over the years, haven’t exactly updated to stay on trend.
That’s a problem. An outside marketing agency will add a fresh perspective to your brand. Their professional experts will be able to see the big picture of how your brand should fit into your industry’s market and make the necessary upgrades for you.
AFFORDS YOU FLEXIBILITY
Unlike the high commitment that comes with hiring an in-house employee or a team of in-house marketing associates, working with a digital marketing agency will afford you flexibility, and is therefore considered low or no commitment by comparison. This is a huge benefit. If you don’t like the finished work that a digital marketing agency provides, you can release them because you hired them on a project basis and entered into a short-term contract. Simply move on to the next agency for your next project and test them out in the same manner.
When an agency delivers results as promised after the completion of their first project for you, then you can engage them for the next project. But if they haven’t delivered or if the ROI is dismal, then you’re free to move on. This kind of flexibility will save you from getting locked into an agreement with an agency that isn’t serving you properly.
Digital marketing takes time. It can be challenging, tedious, and demanding. Creating marketing campaigns, generating awesome content, and scheduling all of your digital marketing is a full-time job. While it might seem like hiring one in-house employee to handle all of your digital marketing is a smart idea, the fact of the matter is that digital marketing is extremely dynamic.
You will be hard-pressed to find one individual who possesses all of the skills required to write flawless content, create stunning graphics using graphic design software, research trending SEO keywords, and accomplish everything in-between. Hiring an entire team of marketers in-house to address all aspects of your digital marketing could cost a fortune when you factor in salaries, employer taxes, health insurance matches, and other associated expenses. To minimize your overhead and save yourself time and money, outsourcing your digital marketing is the way to go.
In the long run, partnering with a digital marketing agency will give you firsthand access to expert knowledge. The marketing professionals at full-service marketing agencies like FTx 360 include web and mobile app developers, SEO experts, graphic designers, copywriters, social media experts, and most importantly, campaign strategists, all of whom will comprise your dedicated team.
As you interface with your account manager, you’ll have the full breadth of support from the entire team. This includes access to advanced marketing and analytics tools, such as SEMrush, which might otherwise be unaffordable if you, as a business owner, opted to purchase a subscription. The benefits of having access to expert-level knowledge are never ending.
● The agency will accomplish your marketing tasks on their schedule, and when the unexpected arises, you will have to exercise patience until their marketers have time to help you.Tip: Before hiring an agency, ask them about their timelines for specific projects and how they will accommodate last-minute marketing requests. The best digital marketing agencies will assign an account manager to your business who will be available to help you immediately, no matter what.
● While an outsourced digital marketing agency is far cheaper than paying the salaries of in-house marketing associates, the costs can still add up depending on the agency you go with, how many experts they assign to your account, and how dynamic your projects or tasks are.Tip: When working with a new agency, really pace yourself. Don’t ask them to handle 100% of every aspect of your digital marketing. Carefully review their price points per service. Go with one or two services for a short period of time. And be sure to analyze the ROI before asking them to handle more of your marketing needs.
● Marketing professionals, especially creative experts, are known for their ability to decisively execute their creative vision. But their strong ideas for your company may not completely align with your own vision for your brand’s future. You hired them for a reason, however, and you will have to accept their directive and allow them to do what they do best.Tip: Prior to working with any digital marketing agency, sit down with their professionals and probe them to find out their creative vision for your brand, especially if you’re considering full-blown rebranding. See if they’re willing to create mock-ups of the image graphics they have in mind for your company. Vet them as deeply as possible. And understand that once you hire them, their expertise will trump your inclinations for your business. The major takeaway is that outsourcing your digital marketing will absolutely benefit your company, but it doesn’t come without risks. That being said, you can easily mitigate the disadvantages of working with a digital marketing agency by thoroughly vetting each agency you’re considering. Ask them hard questions and don’t accept sugarcoated answers. Be realistic as you assess your options, and once you decide to go with an agency, start slowly, engage them on a project-per-project basis, and carefully analyze whether or not they’re delivering the results they promised. Are you interested in outsourcing your digital marketing? FTx 360 offers a wide array of digital marketing services at affordable costs, and we never pressure our clients to turn over all of their marketing to us straightaway. Our professional marketing experts take pride in their skills and enjoy the process of proving themselves to new clients. 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 today to speak with a marketing expert about everything FTx 360 can do for your brand! Want to read more articles like this? Enter your email below to subscribe to our mailing list and be the first to know about the latest marketing trends!
On a global scale, approximately 547,200 new websites are created every single day. As of the publication of this article, 24 million eCommerce sites across the world are actively selling products. According to data compiled from IBISWorld, U.S. eCommerce sales reached $211.5 billion in the second quarter of 2020, which represents a 44.5% increase compared to the second quarter of 2019.
The eCommerce sector, regardless of industry, is extremely competitive. The market is growing exponentially. But don’t worry. Your eCommerce business isn’t automatically doomed to get lost in the fray. There are plenty of marketing strategies you can implement today that will increase sales tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.
In this article, we’ll show you how to promote your eCommerce website using 5 marketing ideas that work.
Search engine optimization is a marketing method that uses targeted keywords and longtail keyword phrases to elevate a website’s ranking on search engines such as Google. SEO typically refers to organic, non-paid keyword strategies. The desired result of any SEO effort is to increase a website’s online visibility and traffic. Check out What Is SEO? to learn specific SEO strategies, including how to generate relevant keywords.
49% of marketers report that organic search engine optimization has the best ROI of any marketing channel, according to Search Engine Journal.
Devising an SEO strategy for your eCommerce site includes three areas, each with its own steps:
● First, you’ll have to do a little research to figure out the frequently searched words, terms, and phrases that search engine users typically type into the search bar. You can identify these SEO keywords by using Ahrefs, Amazon, Google, or any SEM tool.
● Next, you’ll need to create new content with the keywords you’ve selected. You could revise your eCommerce Home Page using keywords, or spruce up your product descriptions with them. This second step of plugging fresh keywords into your site should become a periodic practice.
● Finally, you’ll need to analyze the impact of those SEO keywords, using Google Analytics or another tool that measures the success of your SEO strategy.
Multichannel marketing for an eCommerce company refers to diversifying your sales platform. Yes, your eCommerce site is obviously your primary sales platform. But in today’s competitive market, businesses succeed online when they meet their customers’ wants and needs, including their preferences for where they want to shop. Facebook has made buying online extremely convenient, and the same can be said about Amazon. By opening a Facebook Store, you can cater to consumers who want to shop there, and others that prefer to visit your website can access it through Facebook via the URL you provide.
By the year 2040, an estimated 95% of all purchases will occur online through eCommerce, according to Nasdaq.
Spread your brand across multiple channels to diversify your sales and income streams. Follow these steps to get started:
● Research where your potential customers are congregating online. Are they on Instagram the most, or do they fill up the comments sections of YouTube? Find out so you’ll know where to focus your efforts.
● Focus on the top 3 channels where your potential customers spend their online time, then develop posting strategies on those platforms. By engaging users, they will begin to view and interact with your brand, which will lead to sales through those platforms if not your eCommerce site.
● Since multichannel marketing is all about creating different paths for consumers to travel in order to get to the purchasing stage of their shopping experience, it’s okay to start small, as long as the customer journey is easy and rewarding.
If you have an advertising expense budget, the best way to allocate your funds in 2021 is into podcast advertisements. Yes, it’s true. Regardless of the overall popularity of a podcast, the fact of the matter is that podcasts garner very loyal audiences, and those audiences tend to be comprised of specific demographics. This means that the podcast itself has already corralled your ideal customers, and by buying ad space, you can speak to all of them at once.
54% of podcast listeners will lean towards buying products that were recommended on podcasts, according to Edison Research.
Narrowing down the best podcast to invest in requires a little research. Start with these initial steps:
● Contact podcasts that are relevant to your industry to find out the size of their listenership and the costs for different ad spots. The ad sales department should be able to send you a demographic report that organizes their audience by categories such as age, gender, location, and interests, among other variables.
● Choose the most affordable ad spot. This could be a shorter pre-roll or post-roll spot, which will play at the beginning or end of the podcast episode. Pricier spots typically play in the middle of the podcast when listenership is the highest.
● Lastly, you’ll need to record a high-quality audio ad that meets the technical requirements and standards of the podcast.
In terms of regularly generating fresh, targeted, relevant keywords that harness the power of SEO and directly impact your eCommerce site’s Google ranking, nothing beats a blog. Launching and maintaining a blog is a highly effective promotional strategy. Blogs expand brand reach and online presence, as well as help to validate the business as a credible authority. All of which will lead to consumer trust. For detailed tips on blogging, be sure to read Creating a Remarkable Business Blog.
63% of online consumers in the U.S. have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
Summarizing the article on blogging referenced above, here’s how you can promote your eCommerce site by adding a Blog tab and posting on a regular schedule:
● When creating the content of each blog post, aim to follow the “information, inspiration, call-to-action” format. This means that the content should inform the reader by first addressing a “pain point” they’re experiencing and then suggesting solutions to fix that particular pain point problem. The suggestions should “inspire” the reader. And finally, the article should wrap up with a call-to-action that encourages the reader to purchase the product that will “solve” their problem from your eCommerce site.
● Be sure to work your keywords into the written content. Keep the paragraphs short so that the article is easy to read. Use headings, subheadings, and bullet points to list information, all of which ensures easy reading.
● Break up the text even more with images, photos, and graphics. Include a “subscribe” button at the bottom of each post, and as you collect email addresses, be sure to use them wisely when you promote your recently published blog posts.
Over the course of 2020 and into 2021, the use of “chatbots” has risen as a prefered method of customer relationship management and customer service. Meaning, your eCommerce site visitors would probably appreciate being able to ask straightforward questions and get fast answers via a chatbot box. There are two kinds of chatbots—purely robotic or a live person. Depending on the size of your eCommerce business, you may opt to use one or both types of chatbots. A live person might not be able to accommodate a great volume of inquiries. Remember, consumers expect fast responses, so if there’s any chance your employee will take longer than 5 minutes to reply, then the safer route would be to integrate a machine-learning A.I. “robotic” chatbot.
Roughly 50% of consumers have ended up making an eCommerce purchase after interacting with the site’s chatbot, according to Drift.com.
The success or failure of an A.I. chatbot completely depends on whether or not your eCommerce site visitor can tell they’re talking to a machine-learning robot. The point being, even if you use an A.I. chatbot, you want your website visitors to believe it’s a real, live person. Here are some tips to keep you—or your hired chatbot developer—on track:
● The chatbot should exhibit a discernable degree of empathy when appropriate. Firstly, the bot must be programmed to use language properly so that it can smoothly speak with the customer typing on the other end of the box.
● In order for the chatbot to function properly, i.e. provide appropriate, relevant, and accurate answers to customer questions, the chatbot first must be programmed with all the necessary information. Also, it should be “trained” to ask the customer to provide more details when required. Remember, better answers equal better service.
● Train the chatbot to answer frequently asked questions. Depending on the nature of your business and the products you sell on your eCommerce site, you’ve probably noticed that customers tend to have a range of specific questions. Chatbots can, in fact, be trained to answer those specific questions.
Additional marketing methods that can greatly enhance your efforts to promote your eCommerce website include:
Are you ready to get your eCommerce marketing strategy started? FTx 360 offers SEO marketing and optimization plans for eCommerce businesses. Contact us to speak with a professional marketing strategist today.
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In terms of optimal digital marketing strategies, email marketing remains one of the core channels to directly communicate with consumers.
Email marketing can be personal, informative, and lucrative. In nearly every industry, businesses of all sizes benefit from marketing directly to their customers, clients, and subscribers via email. There is a direct correlation between a company’s email campaign performance and the overall marketing success of that company.
Put simply, the open rate, clickthrough rate, and conversion rate of a business’ email marketing campaigns will make or break their business growth.
How successful are your email marketing campaigns?
In order to understand whether your campaigns are successful or dismal, you first have to look at the average email benchmarks for your industry, including the average open rate, the average clickthrough rate, the average click-to-open rate, and the average unsubscribe rate.
Across all industries, the overall email marketing statistics for 2020 were:
● 18% average open rate
● 2.6% average clickthrough rate
● 14.1% average click-to-open rate
● 0.1% average unsubscribe rate
Take a moment to check out your email marketing metrics across all the campaigns you ran in the past six months. How do those averages compare to those 2020 statistics?
Now, compare your averages to the campaign averages held by industries that typically benefit from email marketing the most:
If your company’s email campaign averages fall short, then the tips contained in this article will help you increase conversions and grow your business.
Before we get rolling, let’s first address the most important tip of all… the “Messiah of All Tips” if
Present professionally written emails, period. This is the most important piece of advice we will ever give you regarding your email marketing campaigns. You could even stop reading this blog post right now and focus solely on generating professional-level content, and your email marketing campaigns will achieve a higher conversion rate than you’re currently seeing.
Today’s consumers are smart and unforgiving. You cannot afford to launch email campaigns that contain typos, misspellings, and funky wording for obvious reasons. But it’s especially critical to use correct grammar, syntax, spelling, and punctuation, because email copy that falls short of this standard will reflect poorly on your brand and could damage your business’ reputation. Not to mention, poorly written copy generally fails to convey a clear message.
Remember: if your recipients can’t understand you, they won’t be able to engage with you.
Now that we’ve established the importance of the quality copy, let’s get rolling. In this article, you’ll discover how to use:
● Subject Line Hooks
● Intriguing Preview Text
● Professionally Written Paragraphs
● Crystal Clear Messages
● Irresistible Call-to-Actions
Let’s take a look at each tip…
The content you use for the subject line of your email marketing campaign will be the first thing your subscribers read, and if it isn’t written well, it’ll be the last thing they look at… Yup, the email will head straight for the Trash folder if the subject line doesn’t “hook” the recipient.
What is a subject line “hook”? You can think of a hook as an offer, incentive, or teaser. The purpose is to grab the recipient’s attention and compel them to open the email so that they can gain more information. Can you tell which of the following subject lines is “generic” and which includes a “hook”?
“Modernize Your Digital Identity” vs. “Our Digital Marketing Services Are Affordable”
Would you agree that the subject line “Modernize Your Digital Identity” is a bit mysterious? Reading a subject line like that, the recipient will probably ask themself, modernize… how? which will compel them to click open the email to find out!
TIP #2 MAKE SURE YOUR PREVIEW TEXT INTRIGUES
Even before your recipients open your email, they can see the first line or so of the body of the email. This “snippet” of copy is called “preview text”, and it should be just as intriguing as the subject line hook you used.
The email marketing platform you launch your campaigns from will automatically pull text from the body of your email to use as preview text. Meaning, you might not be able to change the actual copy without editing the body of your email. This is a reason to be very mindful of Tip #3.
However, some platforms will let you edit the preview text that appears or allow you to replace it altogether. When you create the email copy itself, just be mindful that the first sentence will become the preview text and make adjustments accordingly.
The importance of presenting professional-quality copy in your emails cannot be overstated. But top-notch writing goes beyond grammatical correctness. The pros use a “beginning, middle, end” content structure that flows conversationally and never sounds too wordy.
The foundational subtext built into the “beginning, middle, and end” structure could unfold as follows:
Set up the “pain point”, otherwise known as the “problem” the recipient is experiencing.
Highlight the consequence of not solving the pain point problem, and then immediately offer your own product, service, or offer as the solution.
Highlight the additional benefits of your solution, and finish with a clickable CTA.
Each segment—beginning, middle, and end—should logically inform the next segment, presenting a clear message to the reader.
TIP #4 CONVEY A CRYSTAL-CLEAR MESSAGE
Professionally written copy will deliver a crystal-clear message, as we just touched upon above, but before you launch your campaign, ask a colleague or friend to read your copy. If they can’t articulate the “point” of the email, then you haven’t conveyed a crystal-clear message.
Ask yourself, what do you want your recipients “to do” as a result of reading your email? Probably click the Call-to-Action you’ve included at the bottom of the email, right? Then the “message” of your email has to convince the reader why acting on your CTA will benefit them.
If you used one heck of a subject line hook, made sure the preview text was intriguing, and composed professionally written copy that conveyed a crystal-clear message, then your CTA will automatically be irresistible to your recipients.
But make sure the exact wording you use for your CTA really pops. Can you tell which of the following CTA text is “generic” and which is “irresistible”?
“Register for Webinar” vs. “Join the Conversation”
We’re willing to bet you agree that “Join the Conversation” sounds far more interesting than the other, generic CTA.
It’s true. The frequency with which you contact your email recipients will directly impact the overall open rate of each campaign, but this isn’t to suggest that the more you email your subscribers, the more likely they will be to open, read, and click.
In fact, the opposite is true.
The more you contact your subscribers via email, the more likely they will delete your email before opening it. Why? Because receiving too many emails can be annoying for the recipient, or worse, they can come across as “spammy”.
If you’ve noticed the open rate of your recent campaigns going down, it could indicate you’ve been emailing too frequently.
Be very careful not to overcorrect this issue, however.
If you slow your email frequency way down, you will inadvertently increase the risk of your campaigns winding up in your recipients’ Spam folders.
This is especially true when the sending email address contains “donotreply@” or suspicious characteristics such as a lot of numbers. Even using emojis in the subject line could trigger the recipient’s malware to automatically route your email into the Spam folder.
Play around with how often you contact your subscribers. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and successful frequencies will vary from one company to the next depending on the industry and whether the company operates within the B2C or B2B market.
Interested in increasing the open rate of your email campaigns, but aren’t quite sure how to put our tips into practice? Let us handle it! FTx 360 offers email marketing services that include content writing, campaign handling & strategy, and marketing automation.
The value of implementing content marketing campaigns as part of your overall digital marketing strategy cannot be overstated.
Traditional advertising is costly, impersonal, and frankly, going out of style.
Digital content marketing is economical, highly personal, and wonderfully conversational in a way consumers love.
But in order to quantify the real value of content marketing, business owners must first understand what it is.
As the name suggests, content marketing is a form of digital marketing that uses content—both written and visual—to attract internet users to a business’ website for the purposes of converting visitors into customers.
Generating successful content involves pairing excellently written content with stunning visuals, such as intriguing photos, engaging graphics, entertaining videos, and impactful multimedia.
Examples of content used for digital marketing include:
web pages, product & service descriptions,
blog posts & email newsletter content,
in-app notification content & SMS text message content,
podcasts & webinars,
e-books & educational articles,
and even social media promotions!
Once the finalized content is published online, the content’s built-in SEO keywords will prompt Google and other search engines to recommend the published content web pages to consumers who type those very keywords into the search bar.
There is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between publishing quality content online and gaining loyal customers, which is why content marketing has quickly become one of the most popular digital marketing strategies around.
But popularity spawns competition. As more and more companies discover the value of using dynamic content marketing strategies, the higher the “bar” rises in terms of quality. What does this mean for business owners who want to stand out from the competition and win loyal customers using content marketing specifically?
Shape up or ship out.
If that sounds severe, it should. The competition is cut-throat and consumers have short attention spans. The next website, eCommerce store, hashtag thread, YouTube channel, or podcast is only a click away, and if you do not hook your visitor the moment they land on your page, they aren’t going to stick around.
But there’s good news for all you ambitious entrepreneurs who want to roll your sleeves up, throw your hats into the ring, and fight to gain loyal customers before your opponents do!
In this article, we’ll lay out exactly what you can do to up your content marketing game so that you can take advantage of all the benefits that content marketing has to offer!
By implementing content marketing strategies, a business can differentiate their brand from their competitors and stand out within their industry marketplace. Content marketing, as a method of communication, develops customer trust and improves brand credibility within online communities, social media circles, and even major search engines like Google.
Talk about value! If you can convince Google you’re the leading expert within your industry, the sky will be the limit in terms of how much web traffic will funnel to your site!
You might be tempted to err on the side of caution and only dip your toe into the content marketing waters, but if you want to make a big splash, engage your audience, and earn big bucks, we recommend you dive headfirst and implement these four content marketing initiatives:
● Website Content
● Product & Service Descriptions
● Blog Posts
● Email Newsletters
Let’s take a look at each…
For businesses of all sizes, increasing web traffic is an integral aspect of growing a solid customer base. This is especially true for eCommerce stores and other companies that rely on web-based platforms. A company’s web content, whether intentional or blissfully accidental, contains SEO keywords, which essentially magnetize Google users to the company’s website, which is great!
But did you know that your website is in danger of aging? Websites containing stale content that have not been updated in a year or more actually slide down Google’s ranking system. Just because your website is on the first page of Google’s search results today, doesn’t mean you’ll stay there. If you don’t revamp your website and publish brand-new, SEO-rich content periodically, it will only be a matter of time before your site slides down to the 5th, or 50th, page of Google’s results!
Keep the high ranking you’ve earned and stay on the first page of Google’s results by updating your entire website with fresh content at least every six months.
A great way to publish updated website and eCommerce store content without investing in a major site design overhaul is to frequently update the descriptions of your current products and services, and also publish new products and services descriptions on your site as soon as they’re ready for purchase. Even short, well-written descriptions of only three sentences can provide enough trending SEO keywords to keep your website relevant.
The trick is to first research and select the best keywords for your products, audience, and industry. If your descriptions are going to be a strict 30 words, don’t attempt to plug too many keywords into the verbiage or you’ll run the risk of sounding awkward. Try using only three keywords, or one longtail keyword phrase plus one keyword. Once you have those, be sure to compose the content using an expressive “voice” that captures the tone of your brand.
Customers naturally connect with content that is written in a personable, expressive manner, because the conversational tone helps them relate to your brand. As opposed to customers that don’t connect with your content, you will always forge deeper, longer lasting relationships with customers that relate to your brand.
One smart way to regularly publish SEO-rich content that will drive traffic to your website or eCommerce store is to launch a blog on your site. Blogs are a cost-effective way to promote your company and build your online presence. Best of all, blogging can validate your business and establish your brand as a leading authority within your industry.
The one caveat that you must respect if you want your blog to succeed at keeping your website ranking high on Google and other search engines is that you must commit to a publishing schedule and stick to it. Be realistic. Know your capabilities and limitations. Can you commit to drafting, editing, and proofreading one blog per week? Will that leave you enough time to also create stunning visuals such as graphics, photos, and multimedia images to go along with each weekly article?
When it comes to blogging, it’s better to post once a month without fail—or once every two weeks without fail—than it is to post once a day for two weeks and then not post again for two months. Consistency is everything. If you can maintain a consistent publishing schedule, offer an e-newsletter opt-in, and begin collecting subscriber contact information, the value of your blog will soon become immeasurable.
Consumers love content marketing, as we mentioned at the beginning of this blog post. When a brand puts out content for customers to read and engage with, those customers feel a sense of personal connection with the brand. And nothing gets more personalized than email marketing. With email marketing, you can analyze CRM data—Customer Relationship Management Data—to segment your customers into highly specified groups, and customize the campaigns you send out to each group.
Create individualized content for your segmented customer groups that’s based on their unique interests, product favorites, and the informative subjects they’ve “liked” on your blog, social media, and other platforms. Email marketing can be used for many different campaign types. Retailers can use email marketing campaigns to alert customers to personalized sales they might be interested in. Law and accountant firms can use email marketing to educate and empower their recipients about important laws, rules, filing dates, and regulations, ending every email newsletter with a CTA. Educational institutions can use email marketing to promote their classes, courses, and special events. Email marketing can also be used to conduct surveys and collect valuable feedback from customers!
In short, the greatest value of email marketing is that this marketing strategy builds relationships with customers. Every email is an invitation to that recipient to engage in a one-on-one conversation with you!
At long last, your business website is completely set up. The home page is beautifully branded. Your products and services are clearly indexed. And you’ve even included a few CTAs so that visitors can subscribe to your company’s email newsletter, join your customer loyalty rewards program, and follow your social media accounts.
But how are you actually going to drive traffic to your website?
If you’re unsure how to answer that question, don’t worry. You’re not alone. In this article, we’ll go over proven tactics that will increase web traffic.
The term “website traffic” refers to the volume of users that visit a website. Unlike rush hour traffic, however, that causes bottlenecks, gridlock, and traffic jams, when it comes to web traffic, the more users on a website, the better. The actual number of users that visit your website will depend on the purpose of the site, each visitor’s reason for checking out the site, and how your visitors discovered the site in the first place.
For businesses, organizations, and especially ECommerce retailers, increasing web traffic is crucial to the success of both the website itself and the company at large. If web traffic doesn’t increase, the company probably won’t grow. And if there is hardly any web traffic to begin with, the company will struggle to get off the ground in the first place.
Increasing traffic to your website boils down to correctly using SEO keywords and longtail keyword phrases. SEO is so integral to the vitality of a website that we’ve dedicated an entire article to the subject, What Is SEO? which covers the whys, hows, and wheres of plugging SEO keywords into your web content. Be sure to take a moment to check it out when you have a chance. For the time being, we’ll assume you’re familiar with SEO in general.
The following SEO tips will help you drive traffic to your website organically, and the latter half of this article will walk you through the steps of adding SEO to the images you use on your website, which can have a massively positive impact on the volume of your daily visitors, as well as your website’s ranking on Google and other search engines.
Let’s dive in.
By far the most organic method to drive web traffic to your site involves adding new content to your website on a daily–or even weekly–basis. Generating daily content naturally produces SEO keywords, which Google and other search engines will pick up and use to recommend your website to users who search for businesses, products, and services that are relevant to yours. The easiest way to publish new content frequently and regularly is with a blog. Blog posts don’t have to be lengthy, either. You can publish short articles and reap measurable benefits. For detailed tips to launch a successful blog, read Creating A Remarkable Business Blog. The trick when it comes to ensuring your blog will promote web traffic to other pages on your website is to use internal links. For example, if you’re managing a jewelry ECommerce site, your blog posts can offer inspirational accessory advice on the latest jewelry trends that link to specific products for sale on your website.
Typically, an SEO keyword is strictly that–a single word. Is that how people use Google? Not at all, and Google recognized this fact back in 2013. As a result, Google created a new algorithm called Google Hummingbird that recognizes natural language and questions when Google users type them into the search bar. In practical terms, because Google users will type “where can I buy a cat tree?” or “puppy flea control shampoo near me”, Hummingbird will identify the “topic” or “category” that the search implies and generate appropriate search results that are relevant to local pet supply stores. Hummingbird has rendered old school, single keywords nearly obsolete. If your website content only uses single keywords, Google might not pick up on it. This is where longtail keywords come into play. Longtail keyword phrases are precisely what a Google user might type into the search bar to find businesses like yours. There’s a trick to getting the most out of this type of SEO, however. You’ll need to use high volume, low competition phrases. An excellent tool that will help you identify longtail keyword phrases that fit that description is SEMRush.
But what if you’ve been using longtail keyword phrases in your daily website or blog content and search engines like Google still aren’t picking up your web pages? Search engines might not know your website exists yet. While it takes time for Google’s algorithm to come across your website, identify which category the site falls under, and start recommending web pages to users searching for businesses like yours, there’s something you can do right away if you start to get impatient. Submit your website to the top search engines including Google through your sitemap. If you can’t find your sitemap, you may need to create one under your URL. Once you obtain your sitemap, simply log in to each search engine’s console, hit “sitemaps”, paste in your sitemap URL, and hit “submit”. For other search engines like Yahoo and DuckDuckGo, there’s no need to submit your website, because those search engines don’t have A.I. in place to suppress less popular content.
Social media marketing is critical to the success of any business, but did you know that you can use social media specifically to drive traffic to your website? It’s easy. Whenever you publish new content on your website–and we mean any new content whether it’s a blog article, new product line, revamped landing page content, or new service descriptions–get in the habit of “sharing” the link on social media. For platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you need only copy the URL and the platform will automatically pull up the web page with its headline and primary image. For platforms like Instagram, if you type in the URL within the post’s caption, it won’t hyperlink, but do it anyway, because followers who are interested in the content teaser will still visit the web page. LinkedIn is also a terrific platform, especially for B2B businesses, where you can republish blog articles and press releases.
Similar to promoting your newly published content on social media, you can also use online communities to promote your content. Internet community platforms such as Reddit and Quora, and even niche sites like Dogster.com and Goodreads.com–for bibliophile content!–are great for getting the word out about your business. Every time you share content in an online community, following the community rules of course, you will boost awareness about your brand, drive traffic to your website, improve engagement rates on your site, increase your search engine ranking, and in the long run boost sales and grow your business.
In order to get the most mileage out of the content you share on online community platforms, only use appropriate, relevant platforms. If you’re not sure which platforms are the most relevant to your business, follow these steps:
● Define your target audience
● Research where your target audience hangs out online
● Dig around Facebook Groups and join those that fit your business’ category
● Join LinkedIn Groups that would appreciate your content, products, and services
● Answer questions on Quora and link to the most relevant pages on your website
● When you join an online conversation, be sure that you aren’t providing the same information that another poster already brought to the table
So far, we’ve gone over how to use keywords to improve your SEO ranking, which addressed the written content side of your digital marketing efforts. The flip-side of using SEO to market your website has to do with your images. Every website, ECommerce site, blog article, and products & services web page includes images.
These images have the power to drive traffic to your website, but they’re used in a very different way than content SEO. Let’s take a look…
When we say “images”, we mean photos, graphics, animations, memes, videos… you name it! Any visual element such as these can be used to attract valuable consumer traffic to your website. But how?
Unlike utilizing keywords which Google users type into the search bar in order to find your business, using SEO for images works a little differently. The goal here is to get other websites to link to your images. Yes, it would be far more convenient if Google users could search for your image directly, but in order to do that they would need your image to begin with…which very quickly turns into a catch-22. Instead, if you want your image to rank high within Google and the other search engines, you need that particular image to be so popular that other websites link to it.
Sounds complicated, right? It doesn’t have to be. This is where Pinterest comes in, and Instagram can also help…
The platform Pinterest is a great digital marketing tool. Marketers can “pin” images, collect them into categories, use hashtags and other identifiers, and ultimately help raise the search engine ranking of the images they pin. All of this is to say that you want Pinterest users to “pin” your website, e-commerce, and blog images on their Pinterest pages so that other Pinterest users find them and pin them. This is entirely within your control. Create a Pinterest account and pin your images to your page with SEO keywords as you publish online content.
As an added bonus, search engines like Google also have a “search images” tab on their sites. The search results within the specific images tab work somewhat independently from the general website search results, which means that one of your blog articles could have a below-average ranking while an image used within that same blog article could rank on the first page of Google’s image search.
In order to get this kind of popular traction, you’ll need to make sure your images are something special. Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to driving website traffic and raising your SEO ranking.
Any visual image that’s eye-catching or informative will hold a visitor’s attention, but images with a clear call-to-action tend to rank even better. Use CTAs with all of your images if possible. And remember, the most engaging images according to data analytics use facts, tips, and quotes.
This tip comes in two parts. First, you’ll need to find images, photos, and graphics that are relevant to your website content. Next, you’ll need to use a design program to overlay your own information onto the image. Let’s break this down. Do you currently have a subscription to Shutterstock, Pixabay, or Adobestock? If not, signing up for one would be a worthwhile investment. These sites allow users to license high-quality photos and graphics, which can be downloaded onto their computers for editing. Once you’ve transformed a raw image into a polished final graphic, you can use it on your website and in your social media posts. There are several free online editing sites you can try such as Canva. But we recommend FTx AdPro, which comes with industry-themed templates and pre-made designs.
Integrate your finished graphics with your written content in such a way that both breaks-up the text and supports the content’s information. Doing so will make the overall visitor experience much better when customers read your web pages. Visuals that complement the content itself greatly improve the web page’s “readability”. Visitors are more likely to retain the page’s information, and they’ll also be more likely to act on any calls-to-action they encounter on your website.
Every business needs to invest in marketing, but for start-ups and small businesses with limited budgets, finding enough capital to finance traditional advertising campaigns might not be possible.
Digital marketing, however, is a cost-effective option for smaller companies that can’t afford to go the traditional route. Content marketing, social media marketing, and even low investment PPC marketing can build brand awareness, drive website traffic, and increase revenue for businesses of all sizes, especially small businesses.
One brilliant way to implement an effective digital marketing strategy that will provide all the benefits of content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing combined is to launch a blog on your business website.
Business blogs are a cost-effective way to promote your company and build your online presence. Blogging can validate your business within your industry, and help you develop a trustworthy reputation among consumers who appreciate the expert information your articles provide. And most of all, when you regularly publish concise articles, you will organically improve your website’s search engine ranking on Google, which can lead to rapid business growth on the whole.
If you’re considering starting a business blog or if you’ve already launched one but need a bit of direction, here are some practical blogging tips to help you take full advantage of this powerful content marketing tool.
Successful blogs are informative and engaging. They hook readers with magnetic headlines, offer compelling content, contain useful subheadings, and above all, they provide readers with information, inspiration, and CTAs, or calls-to-action. We’re referring to the body of the articles themselves.
Each blog post, no matter how long or short, must impart value to those who visit your website, which means that the content itself has to provide what the visitor is looking for–information or inspiration. When you sit down to develop the topics for your articles, ask yourself, what information can I provide readers that will also reflect positively on my business, products, and services? Alternatively, if you’re about to draft an inspirational blog post, ask yourself, how can I stimulate creativity and influence readers to model the content I’m presenting?
For example, a pet supply retailer could publish the following articles on their blog:
Whether you write an informative or inspirational blog post, be sure to end it with a call-to-action. CTAs invite readers to connect with your business. A CTA can prompt readers to subscribe to your newsletter, which will enable you to collect valuable email addresses for your email marketing efforts. Or a CTA could direct readers to the Shop tab of your ECommerce site. Always include links to your social media accounts, which will serve as their own set of passive CTAs. Whatever action you would like readers to take after reading your blog, just make the CTA concise, clear, and clickable, and you can’t go wrong.
Now that we’ve addressed the meat-and-potatoes of the articles themselves, i.e. what kind of content you should aim to provide readers, let’s take a look at the practical tips you can implement to ensure your blog and its content are successful.
The goal of launching a business blog is to elevate your company’s search engine ranking, drive traffic to your website, increase awareness about your brand, expand your business’s digital footprint, and ultimately grow your client base. So, how do you get people to actually read your blog posts?
Believe it or not, how you format the content you’ve written plays a big role in whether or not a visitor will begin to read the post, and read it all the way through until the end.
In a nutshell, the most effective tip we can give you is this: make sure there’s more white than words on the page. What do we mean by that?
You’ve come up with awesome blog topics. You’ve written informative or inspiring content. You’ve even formatted your posts so that they’re easy to read. Now it’s time to make sure search engines like Google do all the heavy lifting of directing users straight to your business blog. It’s time to insert your keywords.
We’re going to assume you’re familiar with the term SEO and why it’s important, but in case you aren’t, be sure to check out our article What Is SEO?
Improving your website’s ranking on search engines is, in large part, what digital marketing is all about, and you’ll need to use SEO keywords in order to increase the chances that search engines like Google will recognize your blog posts as worthy of recommending to Google users. Choose the right keywords, and your blog will market itself.
What keywords and longtail keyword phrases should you use in your blog posts? That depends on the topic of the blog and the type of visitor you want to attract. You will need to do a little keyword research for each of your blog posts.
Research boils down to identifying user intent. For example, let’s look at the article “5 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Dog”. There’s a specific type of Google user who is going to appreciate the information in this blog post–people with anxious dogs. Consider what that Google user might type into the search bar. Whatever words or phrases that person types into Google, those are your keywords and longtail keyword phrases:
Depending on the length of your actual blog post, three keywords should do the trick, but for longer articles you could include as many as ten. Just make sure the keywords don’t stick out like sore thumbs or overwhelm the content itself.
Simply start typing your keywords and longtail keyword phrases into Google, one at a time. As you do, Google will automatically begin to suggest precise phrasing, which can give you insight to popular keywords you might want to use.
And finally, the most important tip we can give you that will ensure the success of your business blog is this: decide how frequently you’re going to post blogs, plan a schedule, and stick to it.
If you’re still on the fence about starting a business blog on your website, consider the following benefits that companies enjoy when they regularly post articles on their blog:
What else can a business blog do for your company?
Still not convinced? If you’re hesitating to launch a business blog yourself because you’re not sure you have the skills to pull it off, don’t worry. You don’t have to be a content writer, graphic designer, SEO expert, and all-around marketing extraordinaire to create a successful blog that drives website traffic and boosts sales. Let the pros at FTx 360 handle it!