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A Guide to Getting Started with Instagram Sponsored Posts

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If you are a business owner or marketer, you know that social media is one of the top ways to interact with potential customers and get your brand out into the public eye. You have probably used Facebook to interact with existing and potential customers, and likely have heard of Instagram as an advertising and interaction platform.

Did you know that there are 1 billion active users monthly on Instagram? Of those 1 billion, at least half are engaging with not only friends, but with brands, too. Instagram users actually engage with brands 10 times more than they do on Facebook.

Using Instagram properly can make a huge difference in the engagement levels your business sees each month. One way to increase your brand awareness is through Instagram sponsored posts.

What Are Instagram Sponsored Posts?

Instagram sponsored posts are organic posts made by you on the Instagram platform that you can then use as an advertisement for your brand, so long as you put money behind it. Unlike traditional advertisements, you will use an existing organic post and all of its engagement to reach more Instagram users.

These will look like any regular Instagram post, but will say “Sponsored” next to your company’s name. Like this:

If you want to be able to target a specific audience, you should make use of true promoted posts. These posts will only appear on the Instagram platform. But, you can target them to a specific audience based on age, location and interests. You can add your website URL and even an action button to help drive potential customers to your website.

If you want to run engagement-oriented sponsored posts, you can choose a past Instagram post from your profile and use the targeting options that are available for typical Facebook and Instagram ads. The benefit of this type of sponsored post is that all engagement on and off platform will be transferred to the original post while the sponsored post is running. This increases your user-generated content (USG) and helps to spread the word of your brand.

How Are Sponsored Posts Different than Other Types of Instagram Ads?

Promoted and sponsored posts both focus on promoting existing posts as they currently are. This includes all user-generated content. Other types of Instagram ads focus on brand awareness, lead generation, conversions and traffic.

These ads will create new posts even if you are using the same image and caption as an existing post; they will not carry over comments left by users in the past on similar/identical posts. By creating a blank slate, you can’t capitalize on the engagement that exists on the original post.

When you initially create your sponsored post, you will be asked what the objective is for that post. You can choose from the following options:

  • Traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • App installs
  • Messages
  • Video views
  • Catalog sales
  • Conversions
  • Store visits

The option you choose will determine who sees your ad. Both Instagram and Facebook will only show your ad to people their algorithms identify as most likely to take your desired actions. This means you may have a hard time getting more engagement while also getting new leads by creating just one sponsored post.

Creating Instagram Sponsored Posts in Ads Manager on Facebook

Because Facebook owns Instagram, you can create sponsored posts that can populate both platforms. The Ads Manager is extremely easy to use when creating a sponsored post.

Narrow or Broad Target Audience?

First, you will go to Facebook’s Create Ad page and choose “engagement” as your objective. Once you have chosen your objective, you will then begin choosing your targeting:

  • You may choose to create a narrow target audience if your brand will appeal to only a certain type of person.
  • Or you may choose to keep your targeted audience as broad and general as you can.

This choice depends on your brand and to whom the sponsored post would be most relevant.

While having a broad and general audience may allow you to reach a higher number of individuals with your sponsored post, having a more narrowed target audience may just get you more engagement on the post coming from individuals who are truly interested in your brand and what you have to offer them.

What to Post, Where to Post

Once you have chosen your target audience, you will need to choose your placement and determine how much you want to invest in this sponsored post. Choosing the correct platforms will affect whether people will be able to view likes, comments and shares. This can affect the overall engagement the sponsored post generates.

Once you have handled all the logistics of the post, it is time for the fun part: choosing your creative. This is the step where you review all of your previous Instagram posts and determine which organic post you would like to use as a sponsored post. In many cases, you will have a similar post on both Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you select the Instagram version of the post.

The final step is to review your ad and submit it. During this process, you will want to check that you have chosen the correct post, the correct target audience and the correct objective for this sponsored post.

When Should You Create Sponsored Posts on Instagram?

Instagram sponsored posts are not ideal for every situation; whether you should use sponsored posts or the traditional ad system will depend on your ultimate objective for this campaign. Are you looking to simply get more attention to your brand, convert engagement into profit, or increase local store traffic? Then a traditional ad may be a better option.

However, there are four cases when a sponsored post can reap benefits for your brand and business:

  • Shoppable Posts: Instagram allows business owners to tag a product in their images and create a link for users to purchase a product they like immediately. These posts only work on mobile and the Instagram platform, so you will want to use sponsored posts with Instagram-only placements.
  • More Brand Awareness and Visibility: Even brick-and-mortar companies can benefit from sponsored posts on Instagram. These posts can raise the awareness of your brand while allowing you to engage with current and potential customers. This engagement level can lead new customers to your store.
  • Accumulating More User-Generated Content: Again, using an organic post with plenty of user-generated content will gain you more UGC on a sponsored post. When people see posts that already have a ton of UGC, they are more likely to take notice of the content of your post.
  • Leverage Your Existing UGC: Chances are you have at least one post that is doing really well in the engagement department. If this is the case, you should consider using this post in a sponsored campaign, as it will likely do well with a larger audience. As a bonus, the user-generated content it has already earned will carry over into the sponsored post.

Sponsored Posts and Traditional Ads Can Go Hand in Hand

Instagram sponsored posts in conjunction with traditional Instagram Ads can help you reach a diverse set of goals for your business. Traditional ads serve to drive specific actions, while sponsored posts are available to boost the momentum of your existing organic posts. When getting started, you should test out both and see which works best for your individual business needs. You will likely see differences in the way your audience responds to each type.

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The Power of Demand Generation for Google’s ‘Zero Results’ Answers

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Google Zero Results Demand Generation - Eminent SEO

Google’s brief experiment with “zero results” answers – where simple queries would only produce a single, Google-provided result in response – struck many as a bad omen of things to come in the world of SEO.

An example from April of the temporary search engine change:

Google Zero Results Search 50 Yards To Feet - ESEOAfter all, how are you supposed to get traffic to your website when the search engine pages for your targeted keywords only display one featured snippet – and perhaps a handful of sponsored links?

While the Google zero results experiment appears to be dormant for the time being, it should serve as a sign of things to come. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Google’s new strategies, as well as how demand generation can help you take advantage of the recent changes.

Google Zero Results Show It Aims to Be a One-Stop Shop

As website owners and content creators, you’ve likely noticed that, in recent years, the amount of space dedicated to organic search results on Google’s first page has been shrinking. Sponsored ads dominate the top results now, and they are increasing more indistinguishable from the organic search results.

It’s not just paid ads boxing out algorithmic search results. Google’s own services, such as Google Flights, receive preferential treatment over similar third-party services like Kayak, Expedia and Hotwire.

Google Flights Search Box Phoenix To Boston - ESEOAnd even when Google does not have its own in-house services to place at the top of a search results page, it’s taking steps to make sure that users have no need to navigate away from a Google property.

For example, during the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, Google users who searched the phrase “world cup soccer” were shown information taken from other websites. Users would find team standings, player stats and upcoming matches, all without ever having to leave the search results page.

World Cup Soccer Google Search Results June 2018 - ESEOYes, this feature might have been convenient for the people wondering which team Brazil would face in its next matchup. However, its mere existence surely ruffled the feathers of website owners who had hoped that their coverage of the tournament would drive organic traffic to their site.

Demand Generation Puts Eyes on Your Brand

It’s clear that the search engine giant is focused on taking a larger and larger portion of total web traffic and keeping it planted right on its own web properties. If it doesn’t have to direct attention your way, it won’t. The only winning move is to build so much demand for your brand that Google has no choice but to defer to you in order to satisfy its users.

Many SEO experts are calling this new strategy “demand generation.”

5 Winning Demand Generation Strategies

Here are five of the most effective steps that you can take to increase demand for your brand. When implemented effectively, these tips force Google to shine a spotlight on your products, services or your website in general.

1. Up Your Content Creation Game

Creating and sharing awesome content is an integral part of any successful demand generation strategy. If you already maintain a blog or publish articles on your website, consider ways that you can make your posts even more valuable to your visitors.

Start by asking yourself if you are providing content with original information, or if you’re just rehashing information that users can find elsewhere. Be the first one to shine a light on new trends and data. Or better yet, be the first one to the party by performing and sharing your own original research.

2. Share Your Best Stuff for Free

A key element in building demand for your product or service is cultivating trust between your audience and your brand. One of the best ways to build trust is by providing consumers with your very best stuff free of charge.

Earn Googles Attention With Demand Generation - Eminent SEO

This might seem counterproductive, but if your audience knows that you create things that add value to their life, they will be sure to view your brand as a valuable resource in the future. Additionally, those who value your free product, tool, resource or service are more likely to share it with others in their extended network. The recipients of your free giveaway thus morph into de facto ambassadors for your brand.

3. Cultivate Client Reviews

When it comes to demand generation, there is perhaps nothing more valuable than cultivating positive client reviews. The reasoning behind this one should be pretty intuitive. After all, it’s easy to hear a business owner’s big talk and dismiss it as empty bluster. A verified client testimonial, on the other hand, is much more credible, for obvious reasons.

Whether it’s a landing page testimonial, case study or customer interview, the voices of satisfied clients are powerful demand generators and should be part of any complete marketing strategy.

4. Guest Posts Get the Word Out

 If you are looking to branch out and reach a new audience, publishing guest posts in popular publications in your space can produce fantastic results. Guest posting is great because you have the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader in your field while also drawing attention to your own brand.

When guest posting, it is important to remember that publications with a large following will generally only accept content from established writers, so it helps to start by submitting to smaller outlets before working your way up the ladder.

5. Social Media Is King (for Demand Generation)

There are few tools more powerful than social media when it comes to demand generation for your business. By regularly engaging with your audience through channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you can cultivate a loyal following that associates your brand first and foremost with the product or service you provide.

To make the most out of your social media presence, it is important to constantly test which kinds of posts generate the most response. It’s going to differ from industry to industry, so you will probably have to tinker with it for a while until you find the sweet spot.

Reshares, likes and comments are a great metric to measure a post’s impact, allowing you to zero in on your target audience. And once you know what works, you can make use of automation tools to schedule future postings, ensuring that you share content at the optimal time.

Start Generating Demand Today!

Now, demand generation might not be necessary for every industry, but if you want to thrive in today’s search engine landscape, you now have a better sense of how to get started.

Learn How Long SEO Usually Takes

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Vol. 79: How Well Do You Understand the Buyer’s Journey?

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Understand The Buyer's Journey Vol 79 Newsletter - Eminent SEO

Get Familiar with the Buyer’s Journey

You’ve probably noticed that consumers today are more cognizant and wary of sales pitches than in decades past. It’s becoming more and more difficult to walk up to a person and try to sell them your product. In fact, approaching them in such a direct manner may ruin any chance of selling them something they otherwise might be interested in.

“Don’t call us; we’ll call you,” might as well be today’s mantra among consumers. This is why it’s so crucial for sales and marketing teams to understand the modern Buyer’s Journey.

Companies may differ on how they interpret today’s buyer’s journey, but at Eminent SEO, we believe it progresses in five distinct steps:

Five Stages Of The Buyers Journey - Eminent SEODo you want to make that sale, after all? Then you have to be patient and feed your target customer the knowledge they need to make that purchase – likely weeks, months or possibly a couple of years down the road.

Once you get a grasp of the buyer’s journey, you will start to determine how long it usually takes to close one of your leads into a sale, and what you need to do along the way. You will also start to figure how to qualify your leads better and provide them with useful resources.

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Buyer’s Journey Takeaway

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The buyer’s journey is a long road, and sales teams need to understand that leads don’t close overnight. They also do not want to be sold. A solid strategy requires an integrative sales and marketing nurturing approach.

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Resources to Further Understand the Buyer’s Journey

Understand The Buyer's Journey To Convert Leads Into Sales - Eminent SEO

How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

See the Full Article

Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

How to Build an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

See the Full Article

Business & Marketing Tips

Here are some simple steps to consider when nurturing leads or developing a lead-nurturing strategy for your sales team:

  1. Segment your leads.
  2. Build a lead-scoring strategy and score your leads.
  3. Develop canned responses for your sales team.
  4. Invest in more targeted content for various buying stages.
  5. Start the conversation.
  6. Remember that less is more (simple landing pages).
  7. Automate as much as possible.
  8. Be timely in your responses.
  9. Be personal.
  10. Align your sales and marketing strategies (see the “Related Reads” section above).

Buyer’s Journey FAQ

Q: In which stage of the buyer’s journey do most Facebook ad referrals fall?

See the Answer

Through Facebook Ads, you can now target users who will then directly message you through Facebook Messenger.

Over the last year, our team has extensively tested this process. What we have found is that most of these leads are in the Awareness or Consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.

This means most people are eager to share the problem they are running into, but they are rarely ready to purchase anything right then and there. This lends credence to the fact you have to nurture your leads and remain patient.

 

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The cannabis industry – medical and recreational – is blossoming and becoming quite competitive. So, how can new cannabis dispensaries and businesses raise awareness for their brands and get in front of potential customers?
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Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

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Understanding The Buyers Journey To Convert Leads Into Sales - Eminent SEO
Sales … leads … where do I begin? So many businesses are finding it difficult to generate qualified leads. Many businesses are also generating the wrong types of leads and not converting them into sales.

As a business owner, you’re probably wondering how to:

  • Generate new leads for your business.
  • Convert existing leads into deals.

The good news is an effective digital marketing strategy will be able to produce qualified leads for your business. We’ve been successful with all of our clients and achieving their goals for lead generation. The drawback is businesses have to invest into managing the leads properly and leading them through the extensive buying process.

Getting to Know Lead Life Cycles and the Marketing/Sales Funnel

First, you must understand that there are different types of leads and respective life cycles. A lead life cycle is defined as the life of a lead or prospect.

Website Visitor/Prospect

This is not considered a lead yet. This is someone who is doing their research and came to your website through a marketing campaign.

Marketing Qualified Lead

These leads are doing their research still. They may have come from Facebook or an eBook offer download on your website. These leads aren’t ready to be sold. They are looking to be educated.

Sales Qualified Lead

These are leads that are ready to make a buying decision. They have already done their research on your product or service and are sold on it.

The New Marketing And Sales Funnel Pyramid - Eminent SEO
All they need to be sold on is the fact that you are the company that can fulfill their needs.

Opportunity

This is when a lead has transitioned into an opportunity to become a client.

Customer

When the opportunity has paid for your product or service!

Track Your Leads Down to the Source

How we determine different types of leads is:

  • Where the lead originated from
  • The content the lead engaged with

This is where lead tracking is SUPER important. If you don’t have call tracking or lead tracking of any kind, you need to get that first.

When there is proper lead tracking installed on the website, we can tell where the lead originated from down to the source of the call with dynamic call tracking. By knowing where the lead came from, our team can dissect the data to understand user intent. That’s where the sales and marketing funnel comes in.

Depending on the lead source and content they’re interested in, you can determine their stage within the buyer’s journey.

The Buyer’s Journey Breakdown

Let’s face it, the sales process is VERY long. Now that the internet exists, buyers want to see everything possible before making a decision.

By understanding the buyer’s journey, you can learn what to expect for the duration of closing a lead to a sale. You will also know how to qualify your leads better and provide them with useful resources.

Awareness Stage

This is the stage where the prospect identifies there’s an issue and that they need help. They are not yet educated on what that solution is, but they are aware that an issue exists. This is the stage where users will normally convert on offers such as eBooks, blog posts or newsletter sign-ups for more information.

Consideration Stage

This is the stage where the prospect has started doing their own research for the problem they need help with. They will usually engage with offers such as:

  • Case studies
  • Downloading a brochure about your service
  • Browsing your products or services
  • Learn more about your team

It’s important to educate them extensively about your specific offering during this stage.

Decision Stage

Prospects that are ready to make a decision will simply call, email or chat with you directly. They have made the decision to move forward with a certain company, and hopefully you are that company. You still might need to do some nurturing for prospects in this stage, but they are definitely sold on the idea they need your product or service. They just need to be sold on your specific offering and company.

Service Stage

When the prospect has converted into a paying client, it doesn’t mean the nurturing stops. You have a reputation to maintain and a client to keep happy now. This stage is very important to maintain a happy relationship with your client by providing a superior customer service experience.

Brand Advocate Stage

When you have a happy client, they automatically turn into a brand advocate for your business. Get them to follow your social media platforms to give you street credit about your product or service. Positive reviews from happy clients create assets that you can use for your business long term. The other benefit is, other people will read them and consider your company!

Five Stages Of The Buyers Journey - Eminent SEOLead nurturing should never stop after they decide to purchase from you. There are many ways to stay in front of your current clients and nurture them into purchasing from you again or promoting your brand to their friends and family.

Understanding Lead Sources and Buyer Intent

There are various sources that generate leads if you’re investing into multi-channel marketing for your business. Sources are where the lead actually originated from, not where they converted from.

For example, your lead came to your site originally from a Facebook ad. Then they visited your blog, your services pages and left the site. They come back in a month after they’ve done their research and Googled your brand. They initiate a chat with you on your website.

The original source of this lead is still considered the Facebook ad. They’ve just been nurtured along the buyer’s journey to get to the Decision stage where they Googled your brand directly to make that next step. The lead source is not your website chat.

Here’s a breakdown of a few digital marketing sources that generate a large volume of leads:

Google Organic Search

This one gets a little tricky because you can have users from any stage within the buyer’s journey come to your website from here. What we typically like to look at the most is what type of content the user came in to see. If it was a blog post, for example, that user would be in the Awareness stage, because our blog post strategy is typically less salesy and more focused on educating.

If the user entered via a service or product page on your website, that means they’re typically searching more Consideration-type keywords and are looking to assess your company for that product or service.

Google Paid Search

Google paid search is very similar to Google organic search. Most companies like to bid on the keywords that are going to produce conversions. If that’s the case, then the majority of these users would be in the Consideration stage. Some might even be in the Decision stage and are Googling your brand directly to make that phone call.

Read More on Modern Paid Marketing

Facebook

Facebook has spent a lot of time and money optimizing its platform so businesses can connect directly with their distinct audiences. With Facebook ads, you can actually target users to message you through Facebook messenger.

Our team has tested these campaigns substantially in the last year and learned that these leads are more in the Awareness or Consideration stages. Most people want to chat about the problem they’re running into, but they’re not necessarily ready to buy.

A snapshot on the various sources that you may consider for a marketing campaign:

Multi-Channel Marketing Venn Diagram - Eminent SEO

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96% of website visitors aren’t ready to buy yet, according to Marketo.

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How to Nurture Leads to the Next Stage

Lead nurturing can be extremely effective when done correctly. The problems we often face are:

  1. Marketers don’t understand the business well enough to do the lead nurturing for the business owners.
  2. Sales teams don’t understand how to nurture leads by utilizing digital content.
  3. Sales teams don’t have a process for closing leads into sales.
  4. All the above.
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Converting a lead to the decision stage is only the beginning of another process: the sales process.

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We have laid out some simple steps to consider when nurturing leads or coming up with a lead-nurturing strategy for your sales team:

1. Segment Your Leads

First things first is to segment your leads into the correct buckets. Remember the marketing and sales qualified life cycles? You need to segment leads into those two buckets, at minimum. You can always expand into more lead types if your business has many more.

Marketing qualified leads should be sent more informative and education-related materials. These materials may include eBooks, quizzes, videos, blog posts, infographics, etc.

Sales qualified leads should be sent more consideration related materials such as brochures, case studies, team bios, product samples, etc.

Each week, have a dedicated employee sort through the leads and determine which type of lead they are.

2. Build a Lead Scoring Strategy and Score Your Leads

Each business is unique and requires a custom strategy for this to work. Your strategy should include all of the digital assets you currently have and which assets you need to expand on to help nurture your leads along.

Digital assets can be considered:

  • Blog posts
  • Website landing pages
  • Videos
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • And more

After you have a strategy built with the content you want to provide, you must also develop a lead scoring strategy for the various life cycles of a lead. Develop a tagging system to tag your calls and messages, so that you can easily sort these leads at a later date when it comes time to follow up.

3. Develop Canned Responses for Your Sales Team

To make their job even easier, you can help them by developing canned responses for frequently asked questions. If you’ve owned a business for a while, you probably already know the basic questions your prospects often ask. Have those answers ready with the appropriate content and call to action for those various lead types.

4. Invest into More Targeted Content for Various Buying Stages

If you find that certain digital assets are not helping your team close the deal, you have to invest into better targeted asset and content development. Digital assets will benefit your brand and website for years to come. Develop assets and content for each buying stage based on what your prospects are asking/wanting.

5. Start the Conversation

With today’s generation wanting instant gratification, your prospects do not want to be sold. Being more conversational and personal in your approach to customer service is extremely important. Instead of sharing salesy materials (unless they ask), share a quiz for them to take or a new book to read. They want to be provided with the materials to self-educate.

6. Less Is More

Since people want instant gratification and have an attention span of a 3 year old, the best way to approach any landing page is to provide fewer options for the prospect. Always have one clear call to action on the landing pages you deliver during your lead-nurturing process. That way, they aren’t distracted by everything that’s irrelevant to your conversation, and they’re more likely to convert on that CTA.

7. Automate as Much as Possible

There are many tools out there today that can help your business automate your sales- and lead-nurturing processes. These tools make it easier for your sales team to send out emails, automatically respond to website chats and messages, create proposals, automate unqualified leads through a funnel and manage the lead pipeline in one dashboard.

8. Be Timely in Your Responses

According to Hubspot, leads are 21 times more likely to enter into the sales process as a qualified lead when contacted within five minutes versus 30 minutes after a touchpoint on your website or social platform.

9. Be Personal

The digital age is full of automation. There’s a fine line between automated and manual responses. When your team is responding to an email or a Facebook message manually, make sure to always keep the responses personalized. It’s all about personalization and providing relevant resources to what the prospect is asking.

10. Align Your Sales and Marketing Strategies

This is probably the most important part. If your sales and marketing teams are not communicating regularly, you have a problem. Marketers today have much more insight than sales teams because they are the ones reading the data every single day while your sales team is out selling.

Marketers can and should:

  • Provide the sales team with existing targeted content to share.
  • Develop more content for certain types of leads.
  • Help automate the sales process.
  • Help with canned responses.

Read More on Aligning Sales & Marketing Strategy

Your Turn to Convert Leads into Sales

This post might seem overwhelming, but the main takeaway is to know that not all your leads from digital marketing campaigns are ready to buy. In fact, the majority of them are not ready.

The buyer’s journey is a long road, and sales teams need to understand that leads don’t close overnight. They also do not want to be sold. A solid strategy requires an integrative sales and marketing nurturing approach. Good luck out there!

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 76: Find Your Way to Sales and Marketing Success

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Find Your Way To Sales And Marketing Success - Eminent SEO Newsletter Vol 76

Synergy Between Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Whether you have an in-house marketing team or you use an agency, your sales and marketing teams must work in tandem. Yes, there will be some crossover as far as which team handles which duties. But ultimately, the two teams need to serve distinct (yet interrelated) roles.

Your marketing agency or in-house team is essentially responsible for delivering business leads, and then it’s up to your sales team to close those leads and produce revenue for your company.

This sequence is futile if the two sides don’t communicate well. The sales team must continually report and provide feedback on the quality of the leads. If the leads are mostly calling about general info or asking off-the-wall questions, then it’s up to the marketing team to refine its tactics and target a more specific potential buyer.

At Eminent SEO, it’s our goal to not only increase the number of your leads through digital channels, but to deliver highly qualified leads in the process. We strive to build positive rapport with your sales team to open up a constant dialog about the quality of your leads. It makes all of our jobs easier – and ends up with a better ROI for your sales and marketing dollars.

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Inspirational Quote

“The objective of all advertising is to buy new customers at a profit. Learn what your customers cost and what they buy … Spend all of your ammunition where it counts.”

– Claude C. Hopkins, “Scientific Advertising” (1923)

Website Highlights: Is Your Business Aligned for Sales and Marketing Success?

Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

In her latest blog entry, Eminent SEO cofounder and CEO Jenny Stradling gets into the specifics on the roles that your marketing and sales teams play in achieving the overall goals of your business.

“What is the difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a sales-qualified lead?”

“How do I track sales back to their originating source?”

“Do I need to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool for my business?

“What do I need to track in a CRM?”

See the answers to these and other relevant questions, along with insight into how to align your sales and marketing strategy, in the full article:

Sales & Marketing Alignment Advice

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Answer FAQ

At Eminent SEO, we love to educate our clients, fellow small business owners and the wider public on the basics of SEO, marketing and business needs. In talking among ourselves and to our clients, there are dozens of unique terms, abbreviations and slang we use quite often. Without a knowledge and understanding of the terms, how can you – as a business owner – understand how they affect your bottom line?

What is a website landing page?

Landing Page – A landing page can be any page on a website that is accessible to search engines or that can be linked to directly. Most times, a landing page suggests a specific page on a website that is meant to attract new website visitors through both organic marketing and paid marketing efforts.

What are long-tail keywords?

Long-Tail Keywords (Long-Tail Keyword Phrases) – Keywords grouped in three or more words that are more specific and generally less competitive. These are used in the SEO industry with the intent of getting better conversions since the terms are usually more targeted than higher search volume keywords that are overly broad.

Example: “Find an Internet Marketing Company in Arizona” is a long-tail keyword versus “Internet Marketing,” which is general and likely overly competitive.

 

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SEO & Marketing Terms to Know

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Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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How to Build an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

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Sales + Marketing = SUCCESS - Eminent SEO

In this post, I want to explore how and why sales and marketing strategies must align. I also want to share some tools that will help you build, monitor and track your campaigns and marketing ROI.

Who Does Sales and Who Does Marketing?

Generally, a business that doesn’t have an in-house marketing team will look for an agency, such as ours, to partner with. In this scenario, they are the sales team and we are the marketing team. Seems simple enough, right? Sadly, no.

Little Girl Suspicious Look - ESEOYears of working with sales teams both internally and those responsible on the client side has taught me that the roles and responsibilities aren’t always as clear as you’d like them to be.

There’s one more thing: The sales and marketing goals aren’t always aligned.

When misalignment exists, leads slip through the cracks and become lost. While it’s impossible to create THE end-all perfect lead generation pipeline with a 100 percent closing rate, maximizing the full potential of ALL marketing and sales efforts means you’re getting as close to perfect as possible.

The key is through effective communication between both sides.

The Need for an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

The sales team needs to know AND fully understand what kind of performance data the marketing team relies onto measure success, and vice versa.

The marketing team needs to make sure every lead they’ve generated has the capability to seamlessly transition into becoming the sales team’s responsibility to close.

If the teams are using any automated tools, both need to understand how the other side reads the data – and how to use it to maximize efficiency.

According to The Aberdeen Group’s report:

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In 2017, 92% of organizations reported below-average lead conversion rates because of misalignment between their marketing and sales teams. @eminentseo https://www.eminentseo.com/blog/build-aligned-sales-and-marketing-strategy/

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Similarly, the sales teams who were top performers in their field were 76 percent more likely to report a “complete or strong alignment” with their marketing team.

A campaign where both halves understand each other’s differences in roles, responsibilities, goals and overall strategy – and have successfully aligned their efforts in a cohesive manner – will be losing fewer leads overall. That’s a win for both sides.

Tracking Every Customer

I get it, we all want MORE SALES! It’s true, but not all businesses have the ability to track their sales to the source. It’s easy if you’re an eCommerce business and the entire sales transaction happens online.

But, what about the brick-and-mortar stores who are using digital marketing to get people into their shops? I guess you could have the cashier ask them how they heard about you, but in the end, is a handful of responses indicating “Google” as the lead source really going to empower you to make better marketing decisions?

I doubt it.

As marketers, how do we even begin to work toward getting “more sales” if we don’t even know which key performance indicators (KPIs) to focus on?

Marketing Key Performance Indicators

Marketers need DATA! The only way any of us are ever going to provide a client with an accurate lead generation report is to have the proper tools and processes in place.

Typical campaign KPIs we track and report on include:

  • Organic marketing keyword impressions and rankings
  • Website traffic data, per source type (direct, organic, referral, social, paid, etc.)
  • Website traffic trends and user behavior
  • Conversion rates, per type (phone calls, form fills, eBook downloads, chats, subscribers)
  • Off-site marketing conversion rates, per type (email opens, social followers, fan submissions)
  • Marketing platform insights, such as increased page likes and followers
  • Marketing return on investment (ROI)

In order to track these metrics, we use:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • Keyword tracking tools
  • Call tracking tools
  • Website and social platform chat tools
  • Platform insights
  • Other paid reporting tools

Sales Key Performance Indicators

These KPIs and reports are certainly useful and important to the sales team. But, among those responsible for conversions, you will hear this time and time again: “We only care about sales”.

Sales can be nearly impossible to track for some businesses without the sales team entering data into the tools. How can your marketing team track sales if they only happen offline?

If you are an addiction treatment center, for example, and you take phone calls as a primary lead source, what happens after the call? Do you make notes in a call tracking system? Then what? Does the “lead” get manually placed into a CRM? Do you have a CRM?

If you are a call-centric business or if your sales cycle isn’t completed entirely online, then you MUST have a CRM.

What is a CRM?

A CRM is a customer relationship management tool. This is where you can house your contacts and manage your leads.

Do I still need to notate my call tracking tool if I have a CRM?

YES! Your CRM will help you manage your leads.

If a lead closes and it came in from a phone call, you should always go back to your call tracking system and enter in the conversion information. This allows the marketing team to export the calls and determine which ones converted into sales…and which ones didn’t.

And not just calls, but the source of the call. Don’t you want to know where your conversions are coming from? Was it the Facebook ad campaign or the email marketing?

By scoring the calls and entering in conversion data, the sales AND marketing teams will know what is and isn’t working.

Website Leads Website Sessions Comparison Report Chart - Eminent SEO

The Difference Between Marketing and Sales Qualified Leads

Now that we all agree the marketing team can’t perform its job without the sales data and input from the sales team, how do we know who is responsible for what?

Marketers generate leads.

Sometimes, however, lead generation focuses on different stages of the buyer’s journey. This means not everyone is ready to BUY NOW.

So, we develop various funnels and lead capture opportunities to catch the various buyers at every stage in the journey.

We then group the leads into two types:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Sales Qualified Leads

Marketing qualified leads are typically website visitors who downloaded a gated asset, such as an eBook or brochure, in exchange for their email info. They can also be newsletter subscribers, quiz participants, event attendees or webinar signups.

Really, an MQL can be anyone who connected with us and provided contact information, but has not yet requested a call or more information from the sales team.

Sales qualified leads can start as a marketing lead and turn into a sales qualified lead when they explicitly express interest in purchasing.

Similarly, they can start as a sales qualified lead if they:

  • Call
  • Initiate a chat
  • Request more information
  • Fill out a sales form (such as insurance verification, intake form or consultation request)

As marketers, we need a system and the right tools to generate and nurture the marketing qualified leads. We can then convert them into sales leads through a manual process, or we can work with the sales team to align the systems and tools to automate the lead-management process for reduced human error and better lead management overall.

Generally, this system is a CRM.

Marketing and Sales Automation Tools

It might sound complicated, but it’s really not that difficult to manage the tools once you set them up properly and the teams are both trained on how to use them.

Unfortunately, there isn’t one singe tool that will provide the sales and marketing teams with everything they need.

As outlined above, your marketing may rely on several tools to track and report on your multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Today, most of the paid tools open up their API so developers can code integrations. Still, this does require an expert who understands the technical side of things if you want to automate the process.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

You can automate most of the marketing and sales funnel, but there will always be some pros and cons when doing so. Automation tools are pricey and require a professional team to setup and manage.

On the other hand, you can manually manage your leads and save costs on automation tools and supporting marketing materials – but at what cost to your bottom line? How many leads get forgotten when there is no CRM to store and manage them? How much time is wasted manually emailing leads that aren’t qualified for the sales team?

Automation costs more on the front end to set up and manage. But in the long run, you’ll save on:

  • Avoiding human error
  • Automating lead capture
  • Paying an employee to follow up with the unqualified leads
  • Automating lead nurturing
  • Reusing emails and assets in automation campaigns
  • Leveraging the tool data in the marketing strategy development

Even if you decide not to automate, you still need to manage and track your leads. And unless your business gets less than a handful of leads a month and you can manage them in a shared Google document or other free tool, you should consider getting a CRM.

There are free CRMs, such as the HubSpot CRM FREE, that allow you to test using a tool to manage your sales pipeline without making a huge investment into customization and integrations. It’s literally free, forever. We like that.

Free Hubspot CRM Landing Page - ESEO

Creating an Aligned Marketing and Sales Strategy

We begin by outlining all of the marketing channels. This should include both digital and direct marketing sources:

Multi-Channel Marketing Venn Diagram - Eminent SEO

We then like to think through the possible conversion actions, per source. This includes:

  • Calls
  • Chats
  • Downloads
  • Subscribes
  • Likes
  • Messages
  • Submissions
  • Form fills

All of these user actions or conversions are trackable with:

  • Call tracking
  • Chat tracking
  • Website form capture
  • CRM lead capture
  • Social insights
  • Email tools
  • Reporting tools

The sales team is responsible for:

  • Scoring calls
  • Scoring chats
  • Managing sales leads
  • Entering in sales conversion data
  • Providing feedback to the marketing team

The Marketing Team’s Responsibilities

The marketing team is responsible for:

  • Ensuring the tools are set up and integrated properly
  • Monitoring social messages
  • Generating leads
  • Nurturing marketing qualified leads
  • Reporting on marketing and sales KPIs
  • Using sales data in developing the marketing strategies

Marketing keeps the channels up to date with branded assets, such as:

  • Content pages
  • Images and graphics
  • Videos
  • eBooks and white papers
  • Blog posts
  • New landing pages
  • Infographics
  • Quizzes

Marketing also performs ongoing strategy development and campaign management tasks, such as:

  • Organic outreach
  • Guest blogging
  • Email campaigns
  • Paid ads
  • Social engagement
  • Media buys
  • Keyword research
  • Technical SEO
  • Editorial calendar development
  • Competitive analysis

When both sales and marketing agree to the strategy, we upload it into a shared Google doc and privately share it to the various members of the teams. This way, we all have an open, shared document to reference that outlines the marketing channels.

Using a Google doc also makes it easy to add columns for identifying who is responsible for which leads, the tool used, steps in the lead workflow management, and final “house” for the lead once it’s converted (or dead).

Lead And Sales Lifecycle Strategy Google Spreadsheet - Eminent SEO

Defining and Measuring Your Marketing and Sales Goals

Each business is unique. Your service offering, your product, your marketplace, your competition, your history, your mission – these are all defining variables. It’s important for your sales and marketing teams to review all of the data, put the data in context and create a shared short- and long-term set of goals.

You’ll need to review:

  • What your unique value propositions are: What sets you apart from your competition? Why are you special?
  • Who your audience is: Are they searching for your brand or products? Where do they “live” online? Is there a demand for your services?
  • Who your competition is: What are they doing with their website and marketing? What do you have to do in order to compete?
  • Your existing website and digital assets: Are they optimized for the engines and your audience? Do you need a new design as well as marketing materials?
  • What your brand says to the world: Who are you and what is your mission? Does your brand and reputation say “work with me”?

Depending on your overall existing digital footprint, you may need to factor in a bigger budget or a longer amount of time to reach your goals.

Aim for a Mix of Short-Term and Long-Term Victories

It’s possible to speed up the process of lead generation with paid ads and low-hanging-fruit opportunities. The only time these shortcuts wouldn’t apply is with your organic marketing, because there is no amount of money you can spend to speed up the process of building trust within your niche. Trust comes with age, and age comes with time.

With a multi-channel marketing campaign, your goals should be aimed at short-term wins and long-term gains. Even paid ad campaigns take time to mature and gain better quality scores for improved ad placement and click-through rates.

You should aim for month-over-month increases in the important marketing KPIs, but you should estimate marketing ROI for a full campaign on a quarterly or yearly basis.

Goals vs. Objectives

Your goals may be specific desired business results, such as:

  • Adding more sales funnels
  • Automating the sales cycle
  • Gaining a specific percentage of repeat customers
  • Generating a specific number of leads

Whereas, the overall marketing objectives may be broader, such as:

  • Brand awareness
  • Product awareness
  • Fan and social follower growth
  • Marketing lead generation
  • Lowering the cost per acquisition
  • Growing market share
  • Reputation management

Although it may seem like a good idea to target all of these objectives in your strategies, you may want to focus on one or two at a time and create a plan to expand into additional areas as you go.

Setting SMART Goals

Once you’ve developed a strategy and have a clear plan on which marketing objectives you want to focus on, it’s time to create the SMART goals.

SMART marketing objectives are:

  • Specific: The goals are clearly defined and prioritized.
  • Measurable: The goal KPIs are established and tracked.
  • Achievable: The team agrees these goals are within their abilities.
  • Relevant: The goals relate to the overall brand purpose and mission.
  • Time-Bound: The goals have a timeline, milestones and deliverables.

SMART Acronym For Marketing - Eminent SEO

Final Tip: Assign a Leader

We’ve found the sales and marketing teams work best as a functional unit when there is one primary decision maker. Ultimately, the person who makes decisions on budgets, marketing KPI’s, business objectives and sales goals should understand the strategy and be empowered with the correct data to make an informed decision.

Once you’ve established your short- and long-term goals and have a strategy and a team in place, stick with it! The leader should give the team the freedom to work on its individual expertise, but always regroup and share strategy updates with both sales and marketing in order to ensure a continued, cohesive strategy.

Main Takeaways for Building an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

An alignment between your sales and marketing strategies is crucial for generating high-quality leads and better conversions. When there is a failure in alignment, leads get lost in the pipeline; they slip through the cracks and never reach the closing stage.

To ensure alignment:

  • Build a solid line of communication between the teams.
  • Develop and manage one strategy plan with clear processes.
  • Use tools to monitor and track your progress.

If you are just getting started or your sales and marketing teams have already learned how to work independently of each other’s goals, this may sound like an arduous task. However, once the plan is developed, the tools are set up and the teams are communicating well, you will be thankful you took the time to align your marketing and sales strategies. And, better yet, your bottom line will benefit.

Anchorman Jumping Hooray Meme - ESEO

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Body Language Tips: How to Carry Yourself in Job Interviews and Professional Conversations

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Body Language Tips For Job Interviews Professional Conversations - Eminent SEO
You walk into a meeting room with an interviewer. From that moment, the person is unconsciously noticing the expression on your face, whether you are slouching or standing tall, what you are carrying in your hands and what you are wearing.

While we rarely consciously think about body language cues, we recognize when someone is demonstrating positive business etiquette, showing confidence or communicating weakness. Carrying yourself well in interviews, business presentations and other professional conversations gives you an advantage in how you are perceived.

The Handshake Is Your First and Last Impression

The first and last contact you have with an interviewer is the handshake. What you convey in that handshake is vital to creating a positive lasting impression. A handshake, when it is done well, conveys a sense of trust. A firm grip conveys confidence, while a weak handshake conveys weakness.

Ironically, a painfully firm grip conveys that you are compensating for a lack of confidence. Combine a firm handshake with a smile, and look directly into the other person’s eyes. Altogether, this gives a sense of a confident, likeable, trustworthy person.

Use Mirroring to Rapidly Create Rapport

Psychology tells us that we tend to like people who like us and share similar beliefs and attitudes. Two people who are sharing a similar emotion will tend to mirror each other’s gestures and postures. When you intentionally mirror the body language of the person you are talking to, you create an unconscious assumption in the other person that you agree with them and are “in sync” with what they are saying. This creates a positive feeling for you.

Another benefit is that the effect also works in reverse. When you mirror an interviewer, manager or colleague’s body language, you come to experience the same emotions he or she is experiencing, thus deepening the unconscious bond between you. If you both are seated, sit at a slight angle from the individual so you both aren’t directly facing each other, which can get uncomfortable. You’ll also want to make sure to situate yourself at a comfortable speaking distance from him or her.

The key to using mirroring in a professional conversation is to avoid crossing the line into mimicry. Your mirroring should be a sincere expression of the fact you are in agreement and share similar thoughts on a subject. When used well, mirroring rapidly creates a sense of rapport between you and an interviewer.

Hand Gestures Facilitate Convincing Speech

Many of us are prone to fidget when we’re nervous. We may play with our hair, click on a pen or crack our knuckles. Nervousness also shows in our speech with the “um’s” and “uh’s” we insert without thinking about them.

Incorporating hand gestures into your speech not only gives you something productive to do with your hands, but it also facilitates the area of the brain responsible for speech. This helps eliminate many of the empty filler words we say while searching for the right phrase to say.

Make sure your gestures aren’t wild. Keep your hands close to your body and don’t overuse them in conversation. When the other person is talking, place your hands flat on the desk or in your lap if you have a tendency to fidget.

Finally, don’t overuse gestures, or rely on them as a substitute for having something useful to say. In general, making positive use of body language opens up a new channel of communication to convey positive feelings, create rapport and build professional relationships.

Body Language Tips: What NOT to Do

Now that you have ideas on how to carry yourself in a business environment, please peruse the following infographic for body language habits to avoid in interviews and other professional conversations. The infographic comes courtesy of The Website Group and Swiss Canadian Capital.

Business Etiquette And Body Language Blunders – Infographic

Read How Rudeness in the Workplace Can Sabotage Company Culture

See the Consequences of Workplace Incivility

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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GIF Images Are Clever Tools in the Right Marketer’s Hands

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Beginners Guide To GIF Images In Marketing - Eminent SEO

A Graphics Interchange Format image, better known as a GIF, consists of picture files compressed to decrease transfer rate. GIFs possess several pictures in one file to create an animated effect. GIFs are prevalent in modern day cyberspace because the images are quick to download and the animations are often entertaining. For marketers, animated GIFs can be incredibly useful for improving engagement online.

We’re not here to settle the GIF pronunciation debate: Does it sound like gift without the “t,” or should it be pronounced like the peanut butter brand Jif? Instead, we want to offer you a rundown of the types of GIFs available, how you can make your own, and the legal considerations involved in GIF sharing.

Prevalence of GIFs in Social Media

Although GIFs can be used in blog posts (such as this one) and in website content, people primarily think of these animated images in the context of social media conversations. Here’s a quick breakdown of how many GIFs are posted to different social media platforms, according to the New York Times:

  • Tumblr: An average of 23 million GIFs posted every day
  • Facebook Messenger: Roughly 5 million GIFs sent between users every day
  • Slack: More than 2 million GIFs sent between users each month
  • Twitter: More than 100 million GIFs shared in 2015

The Different Types of GIFs

Not all GIFs are created equal. Before you go attaching a GIF on a social media post or your website, it’s best to know the different types of GIF images and to make sure you’re using the right one for the right situation.

1. The Replay GIF

David Tyree Giants Super Bowl CatchThere was a time not too long ago when sports fans had only a couple  of opportunities to watch a replay of their favorite touchdown catch or slam dunk. It was either shortly after the play occurred via instant replay, or later during ESPN highlights. If you missed those windows of opportunity, your last option would have been hoping someone recorded it on VHS.

In the age of YouTube, those days are gone. GIFs, however, let fans replay highlights in a condensed format. The replay GIF changes the game by continuously looping virtually any notable footage – from last night’s game winning field goal to even a memorable scene from your favorite movie.

On Twitter, the official accounts for the NFL and NBA were recently using a high volume of Vine videos for replays. But with Vine supposedly on its way out the door, the NFL and NBA are slowly turning to GIFs and native Twitter video to highlight must-see moments.

Replay GIFs are not limited to entertainment. This style of GIFs can be helpful for the marketer who wants to share current company news or connect a current event to their business.

2. The Reaction GIF

Chris Pratt Andy Parks RecreationEmotions are studied on replay with the reaction GIF, which is arguably the most popular style on social media. Film and TV are the industries most responsible for content you’ll see in most reaction GIFs. Outside of Hollywood, reaction GIFs serve marketing industries by replacing textual replies with animations. For example, a creative GIF could be used as a social media reply.

Reaction GIFs are typically used to enhance whatever comment a user is making online. These looping images express whichever emotion the user is feeling or trying to convey at the time. No matter the emotion, reaction GIFs typically elicit a laugh out of the viewer, especially if the image is used in a clever way in reaction to a particular topic.

3. The Cinemagraph

Chicago Traffic CinemagraphThe cinemagraph is the black-tie affair GIF. More formal than its GIF relatives, the cinemagraph GIF is a still shot-animation hybrid. The viewer of this GIF doesn’t experience one event in a loop, but one event continuously progressing through time. In a cinemagraph, one element of the image is in motion while the rest stay still.

Because cinemagraph GIFs have a limited number of moving parts in the image, the viewer is left with a tranquil feeling. Travel and fashion companies gravitate toward the cinemagraph GIF because of its professional appearance and quiet tone. The visual benefits and complex consistency of the cinemagraph GIF demand advanced editing skills and usually begin with footage captured by a camera on a tripod.

4. Technical GIFs

Sea Level Pressure United StatesBrowsing through the internet for useful marketing data is no longer a painful chore thanks to technical GIFs. Technical GIFs transform boring figures into engaging content. These types of GIFs are especially useful for marketers who want to include statistics, diagrams or graphs for product summaries.

Technical GIFs are interactive, as opposed to a black-and-white graph on a PowerPoint slide. Video marketing combined with a technical GIF creates an even deeper animation experience.

5. The Perfect-Loop GIF

Max Monster Rainbow Loop - Eminent SEOWhereas the cinemagraph GIF is still and serene, the perfect-loop GIF is active and busy. This GIF consists of a seamlessly looped camcorder recording of an event. The final frame of the shot leads back to the initial frame without missing a beat. Even though the viewer relives the same 7-or-so seconds over and over, he or she can lose track of time due to the seamlessness of the GIF.

The perfect-loop GIF can be used to a company’s advantage. Since the loop is inherently nonstop, it can be used to market non-stop service. It can also be used to advertise a customer demonstration’s of a successful product.

How You Can Make GIFs Yourself

Creating a GIF doesn’t take a background in computer science, IT or engineering – nor is it limited to tech-savvy people. For example, if there’s a YouTube clip for which you can’t find a corresponding GIF, there’s an easy way to to turn that video into a looping image. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Find a YouTube clip to make a GIF out of.
  2. Type “gif” before the “youtube” portion of the URL. Press enter. This will transfer you to gifyoutube.com. You can use your originally selected YouTube video to make a new GIF.
  3. Pick the start and stop times and add a GIF title.
  4. Click “create GIF.”
  5. A preview of the GIF will appear. If pleased with the preview, use the new URL to share across the internet. If displeased with the preview, click “go back.”

If the looping image you’d like to create doesn’t have anything to do with YouTube, you can try one of these GIF-making online tools and see which one you find easiest to use:

  • Giphy Create Tool
  • GIFS.com
  • ScreenToGIF (lets you record a designated area of your computer screen)
  • RecordIT (similar function as ScreenToGIF)
  • GIF Toaster
  • GifBoom or GIF Me (for turning phone videos into GIFs)

And, of course, if you have reasonable skills in the Photoshop department, you can use that software to make a GIF out of original artwork, a series of still images, or any video file you’d like to upload into the program. Here’s Adobe’s guide on how to make GIF images with Photoshop.

Sharing GIFs: Legal Considerations to Keep in Mind

Millions Of GIFs Posted To Slack Tumblr Facebook Messenger - ESEO

Legally, individual users are given a lot of slack when it comes to GIF creation and usage. Businesses, on the other hand, are not.

Companies must be aware of the legal restrictions of GIFs. Clashes over a GIF’s origin are judged according the doctrine of fair use. This doctrine allows copyrighted material to be edited and used for alternative purposes if the copy is derived from the original and does not compete financially for copyrighting rights.

The four factors considered in the doctrine of fair use for GIFs include:

  1. The intent of the GIF: Is it for profit or not for profit?
  2. The content of the GIF.
  3. The ratio of GIF used to copyright material.
  4. How the GIF would value the potential audience.

GIFs of well-known people – namely actors, celebrities and athletes – have strict publishing guidelines. Businesses intending to post a GIF of a celebrity should gain permission from everyone in the clip, the copyright owner, and the creator of the GIF.

If a business wishes to use an athletic GIF to show a game highlight or replay, there are high hurdles to clear. The MLB and NFL are fairly strict with their GIF policies. Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee and FIFA do not allow GIFs at all. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects social media sites that post GIFs if a reporting structure is in place to eliminate content suspected of copyright violation.

For marketing companies, it’s best to follow these GIF-sharing suggestions:

  1. Obtain a written release. Contact the copyright owner and actors/celebrities present in the GIF for permission to share the GIF.
  2. Provide hyperlinks. Content shared by another should have a link to the original site. This protects the company using an unoriginal GIF and places the original site with the liability responsibility. Give recognition to the creator.
  3. Make your own GIFs. Creating a GIF bypasses the legal trouble. Instead of asking others for permission and risking legal ramifications, you won’t have to ask anyone permission to create your original GIF, and you won’t be under the threat of impending legal action.

We’re not saying you can’t use existing GIFs that involve movie scenes, sports footage, etc., but you’ll run the risk of legal action if you use one of these images with your business’s name behind it, especially if you stand to profit off anything associated with that particular image. Therefore, we advise being prudent with what type of GIF image you plan to use as well as the platform on which you will use it.

GIF Images Have Staying Power on the Web

GIF Laptop Collage - Eminent SEOGIF images can be profoundly useful when used correctly. Clever use of these animations can undoubtedly help a business reach and advance its goals. These images also add a smile and a laugh to a monotonous work day.

The graphics interchange format has actually been available since the 1980s, and tech experts have continually predicted that the format will lose favor on the web soon. Yet, thanks to Twitter and other social media platforms, GIFs have only seemed to become more popular and ubiquitous in recent years.

With so many GIFs circulating the web and even making their way into other mediums, such as text messages, these looping images have been embraced as a new way to communicate. What’s your favorite particular GIF image or style of GIF?

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Fundamentals of Logo Design: 6 Questions to Ask When Designing a Company Logo

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6 Questions To Ask Designing A Company Logo - Eminent SEOWhen starting a business, you want your logo to be legendary, memorable and to make a statement. You want it to create a buzz and help your brand become a household name.

All this is possible if you put in the time and effort as well as ask the right questions before, during and after the design phase. Here are some questions to get you started and push you in the right direction to create the perfect logo for your business.

What Is My Mission?

Any business that has the intent to be successful will first come up with a mission statement – the “why.” Company leaders will begin to refine the goal and the intention of the business, who it is looking to target, and why the business even exists.

It is imperative to revisit your company’s mission when designing a logo. Your logo should not only be memorable, but it should also convey the reason your business exists in the first place. Before you go to any graphic designer, whether in house or outsourced, you must go back to the basics and remind yourself “why” and make sure your mission is crystal clear.

What Type of Logo Do I Want?

There are a few different styles you can approach when your logo is in design. Whatever type you choose, you’ll want to make sure it reflects the personality of your business and is memorable to your audience.

Here are four main styles of logos that could help your company stand out:

1. Watermarks

Think Google, Coca-Cola or Absolut Vodka: All three logos are standalone lettering of the company’s name. All have distinctive lettering, color and graphics to represent the brand. You can probably recall each logo as you are reading this right now. In other cases, an abbreviation of a company’s name can work for this style of logo, too.

2. Letterform

Letterform logos are ones that use one or more letters that stand alone as a symbol of the brand. Some of the most famous letterform marks are McDonalds, Chanel and Honda.

3. Pictorial

Also known as iconic marks, pictorial marks are a personification of the brand. Think about it: You know where someone got their coffee from when you see a green Siren with a crown, or what type of computer a stranger is using when you see an apple on the back, and you know what channel you’re watching when you see the iconic peacock. Starbucks, Apple and NBC have all mastered the art of the pictorial.

4. Abstract

Swoosh. What comes to mind? Nike, of course! This is probably the most successful abstract logo out there. Nike has built such a strong visual identification that it is easily recognized around the world. Other prominent abstract designs include logos representing Chase Bank and Sprint.

Which Color(s) Best Represents My Brand?

Become A Know It All Color Psychology In Logos - Eminent SEOA bit of psychology goes into creating the perfect logo for your business. Human beings have a subconscious recognition of colors and their meaning. If you want to appeal to the senses, you must choose the right color that will mesh with a certain neuro-association of your potential customer.

For example, the color red is associated with:

  • Energy
  • Danger
  • Determination
  • Strength

Yellow represents:

  • Happiness
  • Joy
  • Cheerfulness.

This might be a time to refer back to your corporate mission and decide what exactly you want your customers to feel or take away when they see your logo.

In considering the color(s) of your design, take shape into account as well – whatever best represents your brand and works in tandem with the colors. Brand logos should produce emotion and communicate your message simultaneously.

How Much Is This Going to Cost Me?

There is a reason why cost was not one of the first questions listed to ask. The reason is that designing a logo isn’t a cut-and-dry process, and there are many questions and steps involved from both the clients’ end as well as the designer’s. Of course, you want to get it right the first time. This is not to say that you will never change your logo, but you should want to get it as perfect as you can the first time around so that as time goes on, you are only making minor tweaks.

If you choose to go with a professional design company, you will spend anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000. Instead of one designer working on your project, you will have the benefit of multiple designers working with and for you, which means more creativity and ideas to bring your vision to life.

Don’t Let the Price Tag Discourage You!

If those price figures gave you a mild heart attack, don’t fret. There are options to cut your costs, especially if you are a small business with a small budget. Once you narrow down your options and get a bit more specific with what you want, you can take your ideas to a freelance designer or smaller company that can give you a more accurate quote for your budget.

Expect to pay a minimum of $250, even if you go with the more affordable designer. This is, of course, the lower end of the spectrum and would be for a simple design with two options and about two rounds of revisions. If your design is more complex and requires more detail, you should expect to pay a minimum of $400.

A good designer will include extra services like multiple design options for all merchandise, letterheads, business cards, etc. They will also allow as many revisions as needed to get the job done.

How Long Will This Process Take, and Is It Feasible with My Budget?

When considering cost, you must also be realistic about your budget. If you are spending every last cent of your logo budget on this project, it may be a good idea to hold off until you have more money.

What you pay a designer should be comparable to the time spent on the project. This means that clear communication is key. The more clearly you communicate your vision, the easier it will be to nail it the first go-round. Logo design projects can get extremely difficult when the client and designer have different interpretations of what the design should look like.

Remember, time is money. You certainly don’t want to get stuck with a design you don’t like as well as no money to have it corrected. You reap what you sow. Invest in your business first to enjoy the reward later.

Did I Cover All My Bases?

Many new small business owners make the mistake of not covering all of their bases and researching their competition. Originality matched with your key points and core values are what’s going to make your logo stand out from your competitors. Do your research!

It is imperative that you research the logos of other businesses, especially your competitors, to make sure that yours isn’t the least bit the same. You’ll want to avoid confusing your audience and, even worse, throwing away sales to your competition.

Also, it is wise to take time and consider every space, place, nook and cranny your logo could possibly appear. This could mean:

  • T-shirts
  • Letterheads
  • Pens
  • Windows
  • Billboards
  • Apps
  • Your website
  • Directories
  • Social media
  • Vehicles
  • Cellphone cases
  • Etc.

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It all depends on what works best for your industry, but you’ll want to consider all possibilities ahead of time. Your logo should translate across multiple avenues of marketing and communicate the same message.

Final Thoughts on Designing a Company Logo

At the end of the day, you want your employees and other to be proud to don your brand. You want your message to be strong and hope that it seeps into the subconscious of all those it comes in contact with. You want to become a household name and make a statement without saying a word.

Designing the perfect logo for your business can be a daunting task and it’s not for the faintest of hearts. Remaining close to your mission and your core values and remembering the “why” is what will help you keep a laser-like focus during the process. Authenticity and transparency are key if you want to create the trust needed to support your brand, so choose wisely.

Need a logo from scratch? Or an update of your current graphic? Eminent SEO can help. We can evaluate your current logo in comparison to your competition and then work closely with you produce a fresh, unique and relevant design. Just call 800.871.4130 to get started, or learn more about our Business Branding Services here.

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10 Ways Social Media Can Help You Stand Out in the Job Search Process

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Social Media Can Help In Job Search Process - Eminent SEOWe live in an era of convenience where we have the ability to access information with the click of a button in a fraction of a second. Technology has allowed us to accomplish tasks and reach out to people we never thought was possible even 20 years ago.

Social media, in particular, is the beast that holds much power in our success or demise. It can single-handedly crumble a person’s reputation with a single tweet, or catapult a career with the sharing of a 20-second video. The bottom line is the user must navigate with savvy and caution.

Searching for the job you want can be exhausting. The whole process is time-consuming and impersonal, and it can difficult to show your full range of qualifications. Well, we’ve come up 10 ways you should leverage social media to stand out from the pack and look more desirable to potential employers while you’re in the job search phase.

1. Get On Board!

LinkedIn Most Popular Job Search Social Media - Eminent SEOLet’s start at the very beginning. If you do not have social media accounts and you are not close to retirement, get at least one now! LinkedIn is the most popular job search site, where an estimated 95 percent of recruiters search for candidates, and 79 percent of all employers hire based on contacts and referrals from this network.

Employers also look to social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to get a more personal take on a candidate and make sure that they fit in with the culture of their company. They also look at candidates’ social profiles to gauge who might possess the type of character traits needed to thrive and be an asset for their team.

2. Maintain Your Account

Although keeping up with your social media accounts can be a job in itself, you need to do it! Don’t forget: You reap what you sow. You should set up a strong profile and use keywords that highlight skills that potential employers may search for.  As you develop new skills or complete certifications, let them know!

Potential employers want to see that you’re keep active on your profiles, but you don’t need to get overwhelmed trying to show your activity every single day on every single site. Just a little something every few days goes a long way.

3. Become a Social Butterfly

Like Share Comment Tweet Social Media - Eminent SEOIf you’ve spent any time on social media, you know how awkward it is to get a random “like” from someone you completely forgot you have a connection with. You know, the “creeper” who looks to see what everyone else is doing but never engages? Don’t be that guy! It’s social media, so don’t forget to be social!

Remember, you have a choice of what to entertain and engage in, so choose wisely. You don’t have to put your entire personal life out there just to be seen. In fact, that disposition has the potential to deter potential employers and only serves as a distraction. Instead, it’s best to like, share, comment, tweet and retweet relevant information in your field and follow sites that interest you professionally.

Get used to putting your name out there. The more you get your name in front of businesses, the more it’ll stick and show them that you are relevant and up to speed in the industry.

4. Use Discretion

As tempted as you may be to make a comment about certain political candidates or fire back at an internet troll, it’s usually in your best interest to refrain. By all means, be authentic, but if you desire to use social media as an avenue for potential employment, you must remember that once it’s out there, it stays out there. Photos, comments and posts can come back to haunt you with a vengeance, even if you delete them, so using the utmost discretion from the get-go will only help your cause.

Also, it’s important to be mindful of the persona you illustrate online. You may be someone who can compartmentalize your life and have a “work hard, play harder” mentality, but if “play” means posting pictures of you and your buddies passed out after a few rounds of beer pong, or you showing off your new bikini in a dressing room, you should just pass. Companies want someone who can represent them professionally at all times and not compromise their reputation. If you do post highly personal photos, you should keep your account private.

5. Make an Impact

You don’t have to filibuster your way through an interview to show that you have good ideas and can make an impact. Use your social media platform to gain followers by posting information that your audience will appreciate. Gaining followers will not only show employers that you have something to say and can influence the community, it will also give you the confidence to continue to make an impact, which can allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment.

6. Keep It Positive in the Job Search Process

It’s not easy being unemployed (or underemployed). It can take a toll on your self-confidence and your ability to land a new position, so why remind yourself of that?

You can rephrase your former employment status in your profile and avoid using the word “unemployed” and instead highlight what it is that you are looking for. Your profile will sound much more ambitious and will remind employers that they need you as much as you need them.

7. Read Between the Lines

Actually, employers are the ones that will read between the lines, so be sure to cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Literally. Using the correct punctuation and grammar on your page and in your comments will show your potential employer how well you actually communicate.

Everyone loves to highlight their “excellent written and verbal communication skills” on a resume, then fail to proofread a comment left on a company Facebook page or description paragraph on their profile. If you say you are great communicator, do not pick and choose when to be great. Make sure to stay consistent with whom you describe yourself to be.

8. Get Endorsed

Ask For Recommendations Endorsements - Eminent SEOSince LinkedIn is one of the top job search engines, it is important to get endorsements from other professionals within the network. Your connections are allowed to endorse you, or legitimize your skill set. You can ask former bosses or coworkers to write recommendations for you, and you can certainly return the favor.

Creating several symbiotic professional relationships online can only help you. The more high-quality references you can get, the better. These endorsements show employers that you’re not the only one that thinks you’re great, because there are others in your field that give you a stamp of approval.

9. Keep It Simple

We know … you have so many awesome qualities it’s hard to narrow it down. But you have to. Simplicity is key in a great professional social media page. Try to narrow down your descriptors to what you want employers to know.

You may think you are offering a way to get to know you better, but all the extra words only serve as a distraction. Get down to the essentials and stick with it. There will be plenty of other ways for potential employers to get to know you.

10. Dress for Success

This seems simple, but you’d be surprised at how many people fall short with this one. Now, it’s not necessary to wear a tuxedo or red carpet dress in every photo, but your attire should lean toward the conservative, business casual side.

Social media has become a place of validation in our society, and many users look for approval from others in the looks department. Professionally, it’s an entirely different ballgame. Again, be authentic and be yourself, but if ever in doubt, err on the side of caution.

The Payoff

If leveraged correctly, social media has the power to distinguish you from your competition without having to even step foot outside of your home. You can make yourself the most sought after in your field, or you can get lost in the shuffle of mediocrity: The choice is yours.

If social media overwhelms you, it’s OK. You don’t have to do it all. Simply pick whichever social site works for you and stick with it. Something is better than nothing, and as with almost anything else, you get out what you put in.

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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