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Why Guilt Is Good for Marketing and Building Emotional Response

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Why Guilt Is Good for Marketing and Building Emotional Response

Marketing strategists know the importance of hitting consumers right where it hurts. Depending on the product or service, the creative pitch and delivery should tap into an emotion. Anger, joy, dread, anticipation, doubt, fear, confidence, guilt, or shame, emotion is what drives people to relate to a given advertising message. And it’s this relatability that will hold their interest, allow them to process the message and hopefully, engage response.

We Are Glutton for Punishment

It turns out that guilt is more than a quick go-to, and I might add desperate, tactic used by parents in getting their kids to do what they’re asking. The art of persuasion in marketing is used by creative gurus to make the audience believe that they will feel some sense of guilt if they miss the advertising opportunity presented. Moreover, if the viewers give the guilt-ridden message attention, there must be a moment that resonates with them and further accentuates the guilt already in place. Here’s an example.

The Blame Game

In a society that shudders at the thought of being accountable for anything, no one likes to be reminded of a faux pas, mistake, indiscretion or a flat out epic failure. When it happens, many quickly jump at the chance to point the proverbial finger on someone or something else as being the source of the snafu. Yes, there’s a lot of finger pointing going on—just look at our politics and how the media portrays these cat-and-mouse antics that denigrate personal and business brand.

But blame seemingly raises the eyebrows of consumers getting them to stop, watch, and share the information. In fact, this isn’t counterculture anymore but the natural process of social media channels in action. Decades earlier, when it was good business practice to admit to a problem and fix it or put out a retraction correcting the misinformation, there is no such content animal in existence today. In fact, we thrive on marketing mistakes and often devise them on purpose. Remember, bad press is still – good press.

Part public service announcement, part big pharma-to-physician-to-consumer play, this TV spot hits parents and their teenagers hard by pitting them against one another through the sharing of vital health information, and laying some heavy blame. The advertiser, Merck, provides new knowledge to its audience while simultaneously shaming them for not knowing the info beforehand. Compelling as it is, this shame and indirect blame reinforces the importance of the message, leaving the audience guilty unless they act on the message… or forever be held accountable by their children. A cheap shot? Manipulation at its highest level? Absolutely. Is it effective? Just ask any parent that’s seen it on television because if they remember then it worked, right?

The Fault of Our Own

There are certain subjects that get people and their panties rolled up too tight: children, aging parents, fitness, education, personal space, and health to name a few. But when it comes to diet and weight loss, it reigns supreme on hitting people’s buttons on the woulda-shoulda-coulda rant. Though it may not always be expressed, many Americans would own the notion that they do need to lose, at least, five pounds. But oh the list of reasons why it isn’t happening. I could get rich quick if I could cite them all.

Not only is our guilt, laziness, and frustration about diet and weight loss a popular topic of conversation, it sets consumers up for the continual cycle of triumph and defeat. It’s what weight loss program developers and fat-free product manufacturers hope for and make a hefty profit on. Nonetheless, people are like sheep. And advertisers and their clients love sheep.

Dangers of Guilt in Advertising

You’ve probably run across individuals in your life who appear to thrive on misery. It must be a ‘thing’ considering the programming across media outlets echoes the sentiment. However, there is a flip side or two to this type of story. America likes a good amount of sap with their misery. It’s our way of coming out ahead, rooting for the underdog and winning, or holding on to hope, faith, and that it matters and makes a difference. This Fiber One commercial blends the bad and the good, well.

When we use guilt in marketing, it’s important to remember who the target audience is and how they are likely to respond.

Consider adding the following to your guilt-ridden messaging:

  • Happy ending
  • Humor
  • Solution-based final thought or call-to-action
  • Non-profit or charitable mention

Other than the misery-seekers and negative Nancys you may know, guilt is not usually something we like to share. Typically, we keep our guilt hidden or quickly deflect it with a good shot of blame sent elsewhere. But if you have to use guilt to give your marketing campaign the attention it deserves, make sure to give the audience a way out of feeling bad, by offering something that feels good.

Shame and Guilt, the Double Whammy

As risky as it can be, there are inherent benefits to using guilt in your marketing as it is representative of some of the twisted aspects of our interpersonal relationships. Think of a best friend, partner, or spouse. In the best of circumstances, you have gained a level of trust where you feel ‘safe’ in sharing exactly how you feel.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just about the compliments, thoughtfulness, praises and other displays of appreciation. It also includes those moments that really put you in disbelief, shock, and awe. And it is in these moments that we may not feel empathy or sympathy, but are compelled to remind the other person of their idiocy. Yeah, reality bites.

Alka-Seltzer found the sweet spot in this human condition and nailed it on their award-winning campaign from decades ago. Some may say that the copywriter and creative director were way ahead of their time. Although, I’m thinking that indigestion is timeless.

Watch What You Say and the Way You Say It

When did having ‘no filter’ be more acceptable than common courtesy? This positioning trait can be effective in advertising. But before you lead with content that emotionally shakes consumers without giving them any positive recourse when it’s over, ask yourself and your marketing team this: How would it make you feel? Do they enjoy eating a crow sandwich topped with guilt-flavored jelly? Does it shame them into making a change? And if they simply start sobbing, blame it on the writers. It’s always our fault.

Ask Us to Review How Your Brand Speaks to Your Clients

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Top 5 Marketing Trends to Add to Your 2019 Growth Strategy

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Top 5 Marketing Trends to Add to Your 2019 Growth Strategy

It’s hard to teach an old dog, new tricks. And for the seasoned marketing professional, dusting off last year’s creative and SEO must-haves isn’t easy – especially if you’ve experienced success with your current strategies. But laziness isn’t the true mantra of a media agency with any clout. So make room for the latest and greatest tidbits of online marketing services for 2019 to help bolster your business marketing efforts into the next plateau. Here’s our fistful of knowledge.

How Compelling Is Your Story?

This is, perhaps, the most exciting part of where brand marketing is headed in 2019. We’re back to all that’s golden in advertising and marketing — it’s about ideation. Remember that? Creative gurus and strategists are ideas people at heart and this year, we get to lead with that. So set up your conference room with the right amount of snacks and design a think tank made up of your best and brightest and let the light bulbs of creativity shine.

Truth Be Told

Drama fuels viral marketing. And unfortunately, drama also fuels what people find newsworthy. But it goes beyond that. We all know too well how media outlets don’t really put out news stories anymore and have been replaced with opinion segments impersonating what should be raw and real.

While we may never get back to news in the truest sense of the word (and industry) the essence of story will take center stage more than ever, with a twist.

Consumers crave what they can’t or don’t have and in that, we all want to feel validated in our concerns, heard by others, seen by many, and have the ability to touch and elicit change on a global scale. To accomplish this, online marketing needs to bridge the gap between consistency and change while simultaneously providing a seamless, personalized, sensory experience.

No Such Thing as a Sensory Overload

Brand Messaging

With the advent and overuse of mobile and stationery screens, consumers may not be getting real or truthful experiences (i.e. filters, reality TV that isn’t reality, etc.) but they want to believe that they are. It’s the need to create a more palatable reality than what’s in front of us, similar to why many people get sucked into drug and alcohol use.

The more humans feel, the more they mask the feeling.

If you have a team of SEO marketing experts, you know that content marketing is strengthened by the right link building services. On the face of it, you are helping stories cast a wider net, hopefully within a niche. Here’s what you need to keep in mind going forward.

Top 5 Marketing Trends for 2019 Growth Strategy

What you do to your brand and your business this year will undoubtedly carry over into subsequent years. In fact, I cannot say this strongly enough. Unless your products or services only have an audience abroad and don’t touch U.S. consumers, the upcoming elections will bear down on social media presence.

While your business may not have anything to do with the American Presidency, social media will dictate that it does, with or without your consent. (Facebook and the Russian interference…)

The best way to try and keep your social marketing nose clean is to abide by these 5 marketing trends.

  1. Personalization

    Every aspect of marketing output needs a deeper imprint on personalization. From AI to brick-and-mortar experiences, emotional connection and digital intuitiveness need to meet consumers where they are, and in the moment.

  1. Sound Advice

    Alexa isn’t the only game in town. As people grow more accustomed to hands-free communication, our reliance on voice-activated technologies and messaging will play a bigger role in 2019. When you are orchestrating marketing campaigns, make sure to define and redefine your audiences. Incorporating audio-based marcom might give you an edge compared to your competitors.

  1. The Human Touch

    Rethink how you’re building relationships. I guarantee you that your audience is and will remain highly critical (and tell you so) if your messaging isn’t on point and genuine. In plain English: Don’t sell them, embrace emotional connection instead.

    You do this by integrating customer stories with your brand story. Heck, do an entire campaign on their stories as defining who you are. In reality, your customers are your best brand ambassadors so highlight them. Where they lead, others will follow.

    Tell these collective stories where they are most sought after and in the medium that people prefer: video, video, video. Vlog instead of blog. YouTube to create relevance. Dare to share moments that aren’t staged, forced or coerced. Have the courage to be real. The brands that have the balls to take off their veil, extoll their truth, and take the heat will get the attention. Isn’t that what this is all about?

  1. Cross-Channels

    People consume as much as they can in any given moment. Your marketing campaigns will get more viewer bang for the buck if you strategically place your messaging across the platforms that your target audience uses most. But don’t assume you know their media habits. Get the help from media buy and social experts before you spend your ad dollars incorrectly.

  1. Positivity

    Let’s get back to the upcoming Presidential election. The media hype is starting. The speculation has already taken root. Now, it’s only a matter of time before the negative tongue lashing begins. If we look back at the last political campaigns (all parties) no one can really claim owning the congeniality award.

    What we can say is that those social marketing impressions made politicians, and the people they hope to govern, look foolish, graceless, and irresponsible. Did anyone really win anything worth winning? Is there a positive endgame to anger and animosity amongst us?

    No doubt that there will be many unsavory, repeat performances. Though we may be well-intended, chances are that the deafening negativity could drown out the more virtuous messages and justified public outcries. And in this noise will live a dire need for peace, stability, and an underlying truth that must rise to the surface.

But we’re just marketers, right?

Don’t Squander Your Marketing Power

Consumers are like sponges. What you dish out, they will take, eat, spit out and share. Your 2019 growth strategy for marketing must be cognizant of this and maximize its advantages at every angle.

Minimizing your effect on your brand, your consumers, and potential followers is likened to negating your responsibility as a communications professional.

There is much to do in online marketing to take what’s wrong and make it right. Join us in resetting our industry standards. Help us evolve to a better place in time.

Be Part of the Marketing Evolution

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Why Agency and Client Business Marketing Expectations Disconnect

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Why Agency and Client Business Marketing Expectations Disconnect

Imagine yourself sitting at a negotiating table. You could be the business owner looking for the best way to market your company products or services to a captive audience. You might be the marketing executive, hoping to secure a new client. But no matter which side of the table you find yourself, there is an unspoken, yet crucial, aspect to forging this relationship. Hidden between the lines in even the best drafted agreement is the business marketing expectations that reside within each party. And seldom do the twain meet. Here’s why.

Not Everyone Speaks the Same Marketing Language

You may know your business, but it doesn’t mean you know marketing. On the flip side, marketing agencies know the nuances behind great copy and show-stopping design (or they should) but don’t count on them being experts at the differences between lug nuts. But if you manufacture lug nuts to a variety of industries, for example, how do you know which creative agency can help you effectively share the information, reestablish your brand, and build a following all about lug nuts? You don’t, initially.

Lug Nuts Don’t Help If They Don’t Fit

Allow me to expand on this makeshift scenario. You are the lug nut company. We Are Ego is the marketing agency looking to pitch and land lug nuts as a client. Here’s how a typical meeting might go down, whether you’re working at getting the account or desperately trying to keep it.

The We Are Ego agency believes they know everything about marketing. Its owners will tell you that as a fact. As such, they pitch you and pontificate in detail about how their knowledge and experience supersedes what you know about lug nuts. If they’re any good at their pitch, they’ll have you believing that. And if they’re just as talented at convincing your customers that you are the lug nut kings of the industry, this relationship will be golden.

But where there’s ego, there’s noise.

Your client’s customers won’t focus on the noise. Sure, they might be intrigued by the ad or promotion delivery. They could be intrigued by the marketing message or can’t get enough of the latest product offering. But the bottom line to the lug nut customer is… the lug nut.

Dialing this back a bit further, advertising agencies of the past reveled in their ability to spin their audiences through solid creative. Today, it takes a back seat to the most important aspect of marketing: The people who will consume your product or service. People are primary. Period…

…now back at the negotiating table. You’ve got two different kinds of people. How can you make them fit into each other’s square hole?

The Digital Debacle

If the lug nut company has a CTO, then you can banter beautifully about the analytics of social channels and the scalability of your preferred web design template and how it will lessen the cost and down-time in production, if they switch to your platform. Unfortunately, for the lug nut management representatives at the table representing sales, operations, manufacturing, legal, and logistics, all you’ve done is throw a slew of terminology at them that might as well be Greek. Because it is.

You haven’t impressed them. The lug nut team now feels out of step, out of touch, and belittled. How can they gage your value when they have no idea what you said? And so much for building trust. Good job We Are Ego. Great way to pitch a prospect (sarcasm overload here).

Technology and digital means of communication have allowed us to touch more people faster, but with much less efficacy. It has desensitized our ability to connect on the human level, which is where you truly need to be to reach people and make a positive, lasting impression. Isn’t that what marketing is all about? This goes for client interface too.

How did we get so lost in this data driven society?

Some People Read But Nobody Listens

Agency and Client Business Marketing This is a story of the chicken and the egg. The internet has reset the bar on how many media impressions a person can take per second and, with that, the attention level needed to take it all in. The result is that people cannot nor care not to truly digest what’s being thrown at them.

In addition, now that we (consumers) are expected to process more information at a quicker rate, we have less time to spend on each marketing message. This is a challenge for the marketing agency. Getting your creative to craft messaging that grabs the attention of the reader/viewer is the key to bringing a lug nut brand to market and growing it from there.

Unfortunately, people don’t read. And when it comes to marketing agency-to-client business agreements… these people don’t read either.

Where Egos Talk, Pigs Fly

Then there’s the art of listening. What? Exactly. People are generally more worried about what they are going to say than concern themselves with whatever it is that you just said. Right. This brings new meaning to the term circular conversation. People talk but the communication doesn’t have a purpose and seldom goes anywhere. Isn’t that productive?

We’re still at that negotiating table. While this meeting may just be an initial client pitch for their business, negotiations between a marketing agency and a client are always taking place – every time they communicate.

Swallow that truth, and you might change your communications best practices.

Marketing Agency and Client-Side Etiquette

  • Say what you mean
  • Mean what you say
  • Document it

The above points may require some extra work on both agency and client but it will save countless hours of frustration and heightened emotions along the way. And it will save your relationship, instead of having to salvage it.

If you’re the agency, perhaps you prefer boasting about your creative portfolio, stellar accounts, and trophy wall full of awards. Gloating doesn’t make pigs or clients fly. But some agencies try. They try.

Revisit Conversations, Often

Think back on the last conversation you had with your marketing agency or member of your internal marketing team. You have a recollection about a web-based initiative, the deliverables needed and the associated deadlines. There was scope creep involved but the deadlines stayed the same.

Unfortunately, that was just the part of that prior conversation that you chose to remember. The marketing guru emphatically remembers that the deadlines got pushed, because of scope creep.

People tend to remember what they want to remember especially when it serves them best. However, had there been additional conversations about the shift in scope, the misunderstanding would be caught and addressed earlier, without the agency/client standoff.

Right, Wrong and Fair

My father once told me, “Business is like life. No one ever said it was going to be fair.” The ins and outs of the marketing agency and client relationship parallel that statement. There will be times in your partnership (that’s what it should be) where volatility will rise and patience will falter. It’s okay to have differing viewpoints on what will work in marketing and what won’t. The essence of your shared dynamic is in realizing you want to achieve the same goals. How you get there may be the source of contention, which isn’t bad.

Opposing marketing ideologies keeps the agency and the client on their professional toes, acquiescing into learning new things, and staying competitive. And in that – everyone wins.

Establish the Preferred Method of Chatter

Have you heard about the 5 Languages of Love? I wouldn’t bestow those onto your business relations; however, there are languages of communication. Depending on many factors, every person will have their own preferred method for communication.

  • Text
  • Email
  • Phone call
  • Video call
  • Face-to-face

Whether the reasoning behind the preference is convenience, audio or visual sensitivity, as well as a combination of both, make sure to ask what the best form of communication is per agency and client representatives.

Restate the Obvious

Be it a phone conversation, text message, video conference or email correspondence, send a follow up communication and reiterate the major points covered in the communication. State your understanding of the takeaways from it, as well as the next steps needed. Then ask the other party to confirm your understanding or provide counterpoints that differ, in writing.

This will serve both sides well in the event of scope creep, memory loss or momentary lapses of reason during an overview of marketing budget, performance metrics or creative campaign presentation.

Nothing Can Replace a Face-to-Face

Most of us have been guilty of sending an email to the wrong person and hitting “Reply All” instead of “Forward” or “Reply”. What about your ill-thought response to a client or agency message? When you perceive it the wrong way and blew an incident way out of proportion.

Digital communication snafus happen. Often.

Derail the damage done by adding a monthly face-to-face with your client. If a client isn’t local, work in a trip to their office at least once a quarter or have them come to you. It’s the best way to get a comprehensive understanding of who they are, if they’re confident in your abilities, and whether they truly like you. Does that even matter?

Yaaass. People prefer to work with people they like. If a client has found two different marketing agencies with similar reputations and solid performance benchmarks, agency personality and likeability are the tipping point to securing the account.

Your Contract Is Your Friend

It may not be fun to enter into a business agreement between agency and client with a litigious mindset, but it’s worth its weight in preventing hassle down the road.

A well-crafted contract is your friend. A solid agreement provides the foundational support needed when missteps happen over the course of the marketing agency/client association.

But don’t think that the marketing service contract is all about numbers. Of course the budget, monthly retainer, KPIs and ROI is important. But what blurs the numbers and the mechanisms to achieve them are expectations that get glossed over from one side to the other.

Can you avoid assumptions borne from expectations? More than you might think.

Add specific provisions into the contract:

  • Cost for changes to deliverables
  • Cost for scope creep (production and timelines)
  • Call out preferred communications to be used

In addition to the above, revisit the contract (internally) every 90 days. You’ll know if you (agency or client) are in accord with the terms and conditions and can make adjustments before the other side calls you out on it. If you feel that a modification should be made to the contract, consider drafting an Addendum and scheduling a face to face to discuss the matter.

Here’s what can happen if you don’t.

The Agency Is the Last to Know

You’ve never been asked to meet with the business owner. But you received a call out-of-the-blue and now find yourself doing the two-hour road trip late on a Friday morning to get there. But you’re prepared. You’ve got the latest monthly reports ready to be presented showing the steady increase in site visits, social engagements, and followers. With any luck, you should be receiving the final edit to the latest video production creative has completed and know it will “Wow” them.

But something happened between contract and expectations that was never discussed.

You enter the conference room and find 10 angry-looking executives who scowl at your very presence. Instead of presenting numbers, representative of the fruits of your labor, you receive a lashing of untruths relayed in expletives. The core accusations?

  • Inconsistent communication
  • Skewing performance numbers
  • Missed deadlines

Justifiable? Not according to the contract. Unfortunately, the contract can be perceived in multiple ways. (Isn’t that how attorneys secure ongoing employment?)

This client/agency encounter didn’t end well, though it could have.

If the Relationship Can’t Be Saved, No Need for Sour Grapes

Never burn a bridge in business. It’s short-sighted, like cutting off your nose to spite your face and almost as painful.

Regardless of how you believe the other party wronged you, this is all temporary. And if you’ve served your client well, let them go gracefully. Time will show truth. They may come back at some point in the future when they see the value of your business and what you brought to the table.

Should that happen, follow the guidelines in this blog. But before you e-sign on the dotted line, come to a place where agency/client expectations meet and egos are left at the door.

Real Communication Brings Real Results, Faster. Ask Us How

Avatar for Melanie Stern

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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How Dynamic Landing Pages Help Increase Conversion Rates

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How Dynamic Landing Pages Help Increase Conversion Rates

Is your company’s website performing at a much lower conversion rate than you are trying to target? You’re not alone. Many company sites fail to generate enough leads due to design flaws and ineffective conversion techniques. However, having landing pages that are dynamic and creative can aid your company in boosting online conversion.

What Are Dynamic Landing Pages?

Landing pages are the bread and butter of your company website. Typically, businesses use these pages as links for sponsored advertisements to drive web traffic to the site. Web designers craft the page to target a specific conversion, such as purchasing a new product or downloading a free eBook.

Standard elements of a landing page include:

  • A single, clear Call to Action (CTA).
  • Potential SEO, although not required.
  • A description of products and additional content necessary to sell the conversion.

A landing page does not have a site navigation attached to it. In addition, only one CTA can exist on a landing page since the purpose of these pages is to target a specific conversion. No internal or external links are available on a landing page aside from the CTA.

Dynamic pages, on the other hand, are web pages that are customizable to a user’s location. It displays different messages to different users based on location or keywords. Landing pages and dynamic pages can combine forces to create one effective web tool for your business: the dynamic landing page.

Dynamic pages for e-commerce allow businesses to further customize the user experience and push the conversion. A user will appreciate the tailor-made page and is more likely to convert than they would a standard landing page.

Dynamic Landing Pages and Conversion Rates

Dynamic landing pages have the potential to increase your company’s conversion rates because they are directly relevant to the user. Standard landing pages lack this relevancy. Instead of landing on a basic page, the designers customize landing pages to fit the user’s needs.

For example, say that you run a nationwide cleaning service company. If a person is searching for a cleaning service, they want to find one in their local area. A standard landing page would lead them to your site, but they may need to type in their location manually. However, a dynamic landing page will tailor results to their location specifically, showing that your company can service their home. This will make it easier for the customer to schedule an appointment with you.

A study by the UK-based firm Periscopix directed visitors to a cleaning service site to either a dynamic landing page or a standard landing page. The study found that desktop conversion rate for the dynamic landing page increased by 9.2% and the mobile conversion rate increased by 25.2% — a major increase in business for the company.

Dynamic Landing Pages

Necessary Elements for Creative Landing Pages

Investing in a dynamic landing page is crucial to increasing your company’s conversion rates. However, you should follow these best practices to ensure that your web pages direct traffic in the right direction and communicate your desired messages clearly.

  • Write a strong, well-crafted headline.

    You can create different headlines based on keywords to add the dynamic factor to your landing page. Select a handful of the most common pain points and construct your headlines around them.

  • Include a visual focus on your landing page.

    Choose an image that reflects your company culture and values. Choose an emotion to target and find large, dynamic images to match this emotion.

  • Add a persuasive subheading.

    After you grab your visitor’s attention with the headline, include more information to help them convert. Elaborate on the offer you’re trying to sell and aim to help your visitors move past their hesitation to convert.

  • Eliminate risk by adding a guarantee.

    Offer a free trial, free consultation, or product demo. You can also offer a money-back guarantee within a certain timeframe. Whatever the case, create a situation where the visitor has little to lose from the conversion.

Dynamic Landing Pages with Help from Eminent SEO

Ready to create a dynamic landing page for your company website? Contact Eminent SEO today to learn more about our web design services.

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Team Eminent SEO

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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