It’s a time of growth here at Eminent SEO. We’re close to launching our website makeover, and that’s just the start of what we’re cooking up for the rest of 2017.
We’re also expanding our marketing capabilities by bringing on talented new creators, aiming to do even bigger and better things for our clients.
Speaking to our growth, our CEO Jenny Stradling pointed out that:
“Our ability to test, track and make real-time adjustments to our marketing strategies and websites has been the key to our success.
“You have to be flexible. You must have the ability to grow. This may seem simple enough, but plenty of companies miss it. With SEO and PPC, it’s evolve or die.”
With that in mind, this month’s newsletter will touch on business growth topics and how digital marketing can help your company stay relevant in a rapidly changing digital world.
Your Industry News Roundup
The idea of “growth” is a broad concept that can mean very different things to different organizations. For some, growth may mean bringing on more qualified specialists to the team. For others, growth may merely be measured by a change in revenue.
Regardless of your definition of growth, digital marketing is bound to play a major role in the following ways:
Expanding your customer base (the right way) is an integral part of business growth. (Search Engine Journal)
Aligning SEO data with social media is necessary for brands seeking relevance in the digital age. (Marketing Land)
The best way to think about SEO is as a business investment, not a luxury. (Forbes)
Business and Marketing Tips
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the ways that marketers are spending their budgets have changed drastically over the past four decades. The changes reflect considerable shifts in consumer behaviors, particularly the shrinking relevance of television, radio and direct mail.
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Related Blog Articles
You’ll find more useful tidbits in these recent blog articles from Eminent SEO. We hope our latest discussions about SEO and digital marketing inspire you to shake up your strategy for business growth:
Business mentality has shifted. Profitability remains important. Notoriety is often more important than profitability, as good and bad attention can help drive profitability. (Reputation management can fix the online backlash.) Perhaps now, more than ever before, what you do in business is second to how you do it.
Why the collective enterprise shift? Why is going green in business good?
Millennials. According to the Census Bureau, millennials outnumber baby boomers. In order for businesses to be competitive and stay competitive, their product or service offerings should appeal to the millennial mindset.
Because millennials possess a DIY mentality and appreciate acquiring knowledge, knowing how to save time and financial resources whenever possible will provide you with some clues. Certain business practices will also need to align with cost- and time-effectiveness on a local, national and global scale. After all, the accepted business mantra is “Think Local, Grow Global.”
So how do we do this, attain, maintain and grow financial success without sacrificing human consciousness? Be green.
Being green in business today is far different than it was 10 years ago. Your green initiatives must go beyond a mere positioning statement. It has to literally define your existence. Seriously.
Being Green Before Was the Seed for What’s Blossomed Today
If you were in business within the first decade of the year 2000 or worked for a company back then, having the ability to say you were a “green” corporation was all the rage. There were changes to the way employees experienced the office space, eliminating the use of paper, unnecessary lighting, and low-flush toilets.
This was all a very big deal. Companies wanted to boast about these changes. So they’d do a press release about how green they were. They’d add a tab on their website menu dedicated to their green initiative so that the public would know how important the environment was to them.
Green in Business Is Good and Even Better for Industries
Construction and real estate companies seized the opportunities available in green. Energy efficiency was proving to be big business. Properties, both residential and commercial, that had low-e windows, artificial grass or solar panels seemed more attractive to buyers and tenants who were looking for built-in ways to lower operating costs. But this wasn’t enough – and that’s a good thing.
Public Outcry and Government Support Create a Brighter Hue
“The use of green products generated more than $500 million in energy-efficiency savings and more to come in 2017.” Inc.com
The spiritual floodgates of consciousness have opened up about thinking greener. With government programs now supporting the private sector in selling green products to consumers, the opportunities appear, in a word, limitless. Business, maybe even your business, needs to step it up.
What was good enough before isn’t enough today.
Baby Boomers, Millennials and Generation Z Demand More
Many of today’s baby boomers came from a more holistic approach to living. Remember hippies? For them, in the 1960s and 1970s, life was all about peace, love and harmony. Those desires still live in the hearts and minds of many mid-lifers and young seniors.
Millennials and Gen Zers invoke a deeper consciousness about the products they buy. They don’t take our natural resources for granted. Water is treated like a gift: It is used for washing and rinsing in the sinks and showers of America but turned off during those moments in between. Additionally, if your business, at its core, doesn’t have an environmental social consciousness, your product or service – no matter how good – isn’t even considered.
Green Today Must Translate to a Greener Tomorrow
Consumers want to feel comfortable in the products and services they sign up for, not just for today but how they impact tomorrow. It’s a strange paradox really. Although people don’t want to “own” anything, when they do make a decision, it should make a positive difference to someone else down the road, whether it’s their family, friends or strangers abroad. Doing business green-minded allows this to play out, naturally.
Green Is Good for Business Profitability and Longevity
If you watch what’s trending (and who doesn’t), people are demanding that feelings matter. Many business success stories are not led by how magnificent their sales are but by how their business connects people. The sales funnel lives in the relationship-nurturing process.
So is there room for sentiments in business? Absolutely, and sharing them through your green philosophy is a great way to communicate them.
Going green in business is good for producing cost and time efficiencies in logistics, production, employee head count, and more. When businesses can minimize operating expenses and increase customer satisfaction, not only do they have a better ability to expand their market share, but grow positive brand awareness and existing customer loyalty, which collectively goes a long way in building longevity.
Incorporating green into your company doesn’t have to be a long-winded, complicated process. For example, allowing employees to work remotely lessens gas consumption and pollution. There are little modifications that can be made to help all of us realize the big picture: Together, we can create a more sustainable way to live and thrive.
Even if your business doesn’t directly fall into the following types of industry, you can certainly think of ways to use them to help your company’s environmental stance.
Sustainability businesses include:
Printer Ink Recycling
Home and Commercial Property Improvement
These Companies Should Make You Green with Envy
There are three different companies that I’d like to highlight as complete purveyors of green. I believe their missions will serve to inspire and remind us all that it’s never too late to do business better.
Every business that uses water, plastic or fuel, with the right alternative, can strengthen their green. Here are a few examples of how it gets done.
With its consumer focus on the millennial market, Airespot took a look at urban living and wanted to make it more proficient for professionals and local businesses. They’ve done it with one seamless app. The Airespot app is available for those living in specific high-rise apartments where getting to and from anywhere can be a challenge.
The purpose of the Airespot app is to connect apartment owners or property managers with their tenants and also put them in touch with local service providers who can make their life easier, all at a discount. Dog sitters and walkers, cleaning services and restaurants are part of the mix.
Through app use, residents can get what they want with a swipe, but what makes this even sweeter is that the more people that use the same business service, the deeper their discount. Residential logistics issues are solved.
Dynamic Water Technologies, LLC
Large-scale enterprises like resorts, hotels, industrial and manufacturing plants need expansive water systems to keep their businesses running. Over time, these systems require upgrades to sustain safety and health requirements, costing millions of dollars in new equipment and production delays.
Dynamic Water Technologies in Scottsdale, Arizona, part of Universal Environmental Technology (UET), provides businesses a cost-effective and time sensitive solution. Through best-in class technology and sustainable engineering, chemical additives to water are removed and water consumption is reduced. In fact, Dynamic’s clients experience up to 80 percent in water savings and up to 40 percent in energy savings.
The Plastic Bank
Imagine combining two of the world’s largest problems and solving them with one multifaceted idea: world hunger and oceanic pollution, eradicated. The idea behind The Plastic Bank is for people – in both private and public sectors – to work together to remove the plastic waste in our oceans and prevent it from ever getting there. But who and how?
Some of the worst offenders in oceanic plastic waste come from the most impoverished countries. The Plastic Bank offers the poor a way to generate income and sustain their own livelihood, simply by cleaning up the plastic.
Individuals can bring plastic to designated recycling centers where they have the option of being paid in local currency, or in green-generated goods or services. Sustainability drives The Plastic Bank’s entire business lifecycle.
Is Your Business Green Enough?
Truly green companies use sustainable solutions at every possible opportunity. How green do you think you are? Could your business pass the judgment of your customers on this subject?
If you’re not sure, use the following questions as a guideline:
Does your business give back to the community in every business transaction?
Does your business represent a green mentality in operations?
Does your business represent a green mentality in its culture?
Does your product or service (in its use) support a lower carbon footprint?
Do you partner with other green-minded corporations?
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.
There’s probably nothing more generic than the phrase, “Let’s go shopping”! Over the years, how people go shopping has changed just as much as where they go shopping because with online purchasing, the how, where, when and why of shopping shifts – in an instant.
Consumers demand choices, more than ever before. With Generation Z moving into the forefront of retail business owners’ minds (as they should), the face of the retail online shopping experience is only part of the larger picture in targeting consumers’ wants to equal product niches and availability.
Retail Websites Need to Drive Intrigue, Not Just Sales
Some U.S. retail hubs, like JCPenney, have totally missed the mark on changing consumer behavior. Sure, they have websites, but doesn’t everyone?
If your web presence isn’t more than a poster board for your corporate culture or a lengthy display ad for your wares, what is it really doing for you? Better yet, what is your website really doing for your customer?
According to senior national retail consultant Catherine Mountain, brick-and-mortar retailers have been closing their doors in record numbers in recent years because they were, and are still, “homogenized.”
“Generation Z wants a compelling reason to shop at your business,” said Mountain. “There has to be a good why. They have the money, but they don’t want their time wasted. When they figure out what they want, which might take a while, they are ready to act and don’t want to wait for delivery.”
Even online retail giant Amazon.com is opening physical stores, as Mountain pointed out.
If retail online shopping experiences don’t create interest or provide content that engages the viewer and leaves them wanting more, all you really have are multiple landing pages, a destination. Generation Z wants so much more. They want the journey.
Gen Z Craves Unique Experiences Where Retailers Provide the Tools
Though there are exceptions, as a whole, each generation comes with a mindset or unspoken cultural guidelines. The young people of Generation Z are fueled by innate intelligence and seldom take things at face value. Why should they? What gets their attention is unabashed authenticity, and more.
Generation Z appreciates:
Meaningful customer service
Purchases with cause
Discriminating? Perhaps. Selective? Undoubtedly.
Where did this mentality come from? It came from them, honestly. In fact, it’s how Gen Z was raised.
Childhood and Parenting Play a Role
There is an interesting oxymoron embedded within Generation Z. On one hand, they are dedicated to social consciousness to a point where if you don’t have it, you’re just not good enough.
On the flip side, they want to be taken care of through a level of service that is more than attentive, but actually intuitive. Is this an impossible expectation?
Let’s dive deeper.
Digital communication for Gen Z is not a choice, but their only reality. The intuitive nature of the internet shopping experience over the years has blossomed and is somewhat oversaturated with deceptive pay-per-click ads and data-mining techniques that mirror online consumer behavior, to a point. Gen Z desires change, not merely for the sake of change, but with purpose. It’s just how their minds work.
Their parents believe in entrepreneurship and, more than likely, both are working. Helicopter moms were replaced by empowering role models that pushed coping skills instead of protective barriers.
These children and young adults are self-directed and do not have the fears that many millennials carry. If a Gen Z child wants to know something, there is no hesitation in asking. Their individuality is the new norm, as conventional attitudes are not only so yesterday, but offensive.
The Evolution of Shopping
For decades, there was an art in shopping known as salesmanship. Today, people don’t want to be sold, convinced or coerced into a single purchase. Generation Z personifies the compilation of generations before it.
Baby Boomers want their shopping experience to be simple, Generation Xers want it fast and millennials don’t want the purchase to involve any work.
Meanwhile, Generation Z wants all of the above – but honest, transparent and specific to their needs, every time.
Many retail online shopping experiences include special rewards programs or referral incentives. These fall flat on the Generation Z population. They know that these programs are geared to benefit the retail business more than the customer, as businesses are trying to pursue customer retention and build their list of prospects.
Ernst & Young learned in a 2015 study that only 30 percent of Gen Zers thought that a rewards program made a store worth their attention, compared to 45 percent of millennials. To gain customer loyalty from Gen Z requires the retailer to show them respect and loyalty first. It appears that the adage “respect is earned, not given” is resurfacing.
Cause and Conscience Matters
Even the way business engages social consciousness has transformed. In the past, many companies included a charitable component as an afterthought or a requirement to garner tax benefits and positive press from the media.
Generation Z can see through it and demand that altruism is an integral part of a business’ platform. Even Stevens, a local sandwich shop in Gilbert, Arizona, fulfills the Gen Z requirement. For every sandwich it sells, the owners donate a sandwich to the hungry. To date, Even Stevens has provided more than 1.2 million sandwiches to help eradicate hunger in America.
What’s Your Story?
When you appeal to Generation Z, your marketing world opens wide with possibilities. This is the target audience that yearns for a good story. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and if your product/service and company culture resonates with them, they will be your best marketers.
Your brand voice will become their brand voice, socially sharing their consumer experience every step of the way. If you have an on-site retail center or store – the benefits are even better.
The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping
With research and inquisitiveness leading the buying lifecycle of Gen Z, many retailers are fulfilling the need for more a personal touch with the redesign or new construction of actual on-site stores.
International retail chain AllSaints has addressed the changing needs of the consumer to positively engage Generation Z. Young people can go to any AllSaints location, after ample research online, and gain more product knowledge from hipsters who live in big cities and speak their proverbial language.
AllSaints’ website, physical stores and customer experience engage interaction through a consistent, no-nonsense brand voice, displays, and high-end, private-label products.
Brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t a dinosaur. Generation Z has provided the reason to bring it all back in the form of shopping with purpose.
If your business needs an online refresh or strategic update to align with new target audiences, Eminent SEO can help! Give us a call at 800.871.4130 today to learn how.
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.
Earlier this month, several reports stated that Google started issuing a specific warning to various webmasters. The message hit at one miscue: “unnatural” outbound links.
Google reportedly first started sending this message out on Saturday, April 9, via email and Google Search Console. While it probably took some webmasters aback, others likely knew they had it coming.
In either scenario, the webmaster is going to have to make some clear changes before submitting a “reconsideration request” to Google in order to get his or her rankings back.
Let’s look further at the heart of the issue plus what the best practices are when it comes to outbound linking.
What the Outbound Link Warning Said
Google warned certain webmasters that it detected a “pattern” of outbound links that is “either unnatural or irrelevant,” violating the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore, the search engine applied a “manual spam action” to the website in question.
Google added that the unnatural links it detected appear to be trying to “artificially boost” other sites’ search engine rankings. Basically, to Google, it looked like the sites that were flagged were trying to pass so-called link juice to other websites, among other suspicious practices.
How Webmasters Were Directed to Fix It
Google’s stern warning about outbound links was essentially a penalty upon the sites that were flagged. Receiving a penalty either hurts a website’s search rankings or kills them altogether. The penalty won’t be lifted until Google does a manual review of the site.
For the websites that received this latest warning, the webmasters behind them were directed to either manually remove the links in question or add “nofollow” tags to each one. The piece of code for asking search engine crawlers to not follow a link, if you’re wondering, is rel=”nofollow”. Once the webmaster has sufficiently addressed the outbound linking issue, Google advised sending a reconsideration request.
What Is an Outbound Link?
Just to be clear about what an outbound link is, it’s any clickable link that takes the user to an external website, which is why it’s also called an external link.
In today’s SEO climate, it’s recommended to be very judicious about how frequently you include an outbound link on your website. Any link (internal or external) that you don’t add “nofollow” to will be taken into account by search engine crawlers, making it a “dofollow” link, effectively.
If you’re linking to a low-quality website, a dofollow link could actually hurt your SEO value. Also, too many links (whether internal or external) could lower the search rankings potential of that particular webpage. Therefore, it’s best to use nofollow tags every so often when you’ve got a webpage with an abundance of links and/or if you’re linking to sites with low domain authority.
When Google issues a manual spam action on a website, it can apply to either a site-wide match or a partial match. A site-wide match means Google detected an issue on every page of a website, likely in a sidebar, the header or the footer. A partial match means the issue applied to just a single webpage or a certain set of pages on the site in question.
How Certain Websites Ran into This Issue
For quite some time, a common website practice was to link to several other websites either through text or images placed on a sidebar or in the footer of a page. Granted, this was never an SEO best practice, but some webmasters did this either as a partnership with other websites or because they simply liked those sites and wanted to give a subtle shout-out to them.
These type of links could often be paid for as kind of a one-way means of drawing some SEO power from an authoritative website. In other cases, the two sites linked to each other in a type of affiliate marketing scheme.
Today, this practice is going by the wayside, and Google may have just delivered it its final blow with the recent penalization of sites with unnatural outbound links. For a good example, let’s look at the website behind the screenshot that seemingly every media site is featuring when reporting on Google’s outbound link warning: SammiTheBeautyBuff.com.
While nothing looks amiss when you first land on the homepage, if you scroll just a little ways down, you’ll see a right sidebar that features several logos that link to other websites – all under a section called “Memberships.” Inside each review, there are also several product links (or that may have been for undisclosed free samples – but more on that point later). At first glance, this area may be what earned the website a penalty from Google.
The webmaster of this beauty products blog must have gotten the message, because if you dig into the source code of the homepage, these are all nofollow links. If they weren’t before, they are now.
Say Goodbye to Blogrolls
If you used WordPress to create a personal blog in the past, you were practically encouraged to add a blogroll to your site. Also known as a links menu, a blogroll is a way to list other blogs and sites you find valuable or that are relevant to your specific blog. The blogroll can be easily added using a widget in WordPress, and it will show up in the footer or sidebar of your blog or website, depending on the theme you use.
Here’s an example of a blogroll in somebody’s sidebar, without calling out the site that is using it:
WordPress is far from the only content management system or website builder that features a blogroll option. But, no matter which content management system you use, a blogroll or links menu is a feature you’re going to want to ignore going forward – if you care at all about search rankings.
A More Recent Development: Penalties for Exchanging Links for Free Products
After Google started issuing outbound link warnings, the tech giant eventually clarified why it was handing out penalties. According to Search Engine Land, the penalty appeared to be targeting free product reviews. This is because companies that provide product reviewers free merchandise are often looking for a dofollow link from the reviewer’s website to theirs.
So, Google has effectively put the kibosh on this practice. Can product reviewers still receive free stuff and write about it on their blog or website? Certainly. Google just asks that they disclose when they receive free items and then nofollow any links to the company that provided the product. This explains why the aforementioned Sammi “The Beauty Buff” was called out by Google earlier this month.
If, in fact, only free product reviews were the target of Google’s recent penalties, then most of these penalties would likely be classified as partial matches. An individual product review is generally going to take up only one webpage, rather than resulting in a site-wide external link just for the free item(s) provided.
Did Google’s Recent Warning Apply to Inbound Links?
So, for the most part, websites weren’t getting penalized for having another site link to them, no matter how spammy or irrelevant the backlink appears to be. Instead, the sites hosting such a suspicious link are the ones that primarily landed on Google’s radar.
What to Do About Your Outbound Links
Even if you’re not a product reviewer, now is as good a time as any to review your website’s outbound links, since Google will certainly continue to target suspicious linking practices.
If your website has a static, site-wide sidebar, are there any external links featured? You can ask the same about the footer. It’s time to nofollow those links or contemplate if they even need to be there in the first place.
Other than those areas, you can also go through some of the individual pages of the site and the blog to see if there’s any area where someone happened to link to a plethora of external sites. You need to go in and nofollow most of those links, if they aren’t already, and consider if each and every link is even helpful for the user in the first place. If not, remove as necessary.
If your website has a partnership with another in the form of a dofollow site-wide link to theirs, tell them that current SEO best practices call for you to get rid of the link. Or, perhaps, you can compromise with them and turn it into a nofollow link – and maybe decrease the number of pages it shows up on.
Are ‘Nofollow’ Links Still Helpful?
Perhaps your site has scored a link on an authoritative website, but their webmaster wants to remove it in light of recent SEO events. See if they can just nofollow the link to your site instead.
Yes, the link juice goes away when someone adds a nofollow tag, but that doesn’t mean the link can’t still have value in a different way. If the hosting site draws tons and tons of visitors, some of them are eventually going to see and click the link to your domain, resulting in increased traffic for you. The number of clicks on your link per visitor is probably going to be pretty small, but it’s still better to give them that option than to not have it there at all, right?
But What if I’m Linking Back and Forth Between Several Interconnected Sites?
If you have a main website and a few microsites, or just several “sister” sites, it doesn’t hurt to feature links to all related sites in the footer of each one of the properties. Google is pretty savvy at understanding when sites are related. You don’t even have to nofollow the links in this case.
However, if we’re talking about dozens of websites, no matter how well they go together, you should avoid interlinking them, even with nofollow tags. In a 2014 Search Engine Watch article, Google engineer and video personality Matt Cutts was quoted as recommending only up to five links in the footer to other related websites. He added that if you operate 50 to 100 related websites and are thinking about interlinking them all, don’t do it – or, at best, only link to the four or five most relevant sister sites.
Internal and External Linking Strategies with Eminent SEO
Need help with evaluating which links to remove from your site and then actually getting it done? Eminent SEO can clean up not only your outbound linking strategy, but we can optimize your site’s internal linking strategy as well. We also can remove and disavow spammy or low-quality links that lead to your site, as well as help you recover from any search engine penalties you may have suffered.
We have been helping clients with their internal and outbound linking strategies for more than 11 years, and we’ve been updating our processes with every step of Google’s evolution. To learn more about optimizing your website with proper linking practices, contact Eminent SEO today at 800.871.4130.
A sale is a sale. You may have different ways of getting there, but as long as you make the intended sale, the means of getting there hardly matter, right?
Well, if you’d like to consistently make more of those sales, understanding your target market and the best strategies to employ are going to be imperative. First of all, are you hoping to sell a specific product or service to another business, or is your product for mass consumption? In other words, are you in a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) organization?
If you’re not sure, you’d better figure it out pretty quickly. But, you probably do know, so let’s get deeper into the differences between the two outlooks. Keep reading to find out how the strategies of B2B and B2C companies differ when it comes to marketing and ultimately making a sale.
The Target Markets of B2C and B2B Companies
B2B-oriented companies usually boast a specific offering or set of offerings, and, therefore, they tend to have a narrow, highly targeted audience. For example, a company that produces large medical machinery will likely target hospitals and perhaps some private practices. There’s no reason a business of this sort would market to individual consumers, who would have no need for these appliances at home.
B2C businesses, however, usually market to a large audience of individual consumers. While there are ways to home in on a more-focused audience, these companies generally have to market in a way that has mass appeal. Some companies design products with a specific end user in mind, while others churn out products that are really for anybody and everybody. Whichever type of business it is, it’s all about making that sale and keeping revenue coming in.
The Logical Vs. Emotional Appeal
Although B2B and B2C companies both want to offer a product that solves a customer’s problem, the paths they take to get there are often very dissimilar. When it comes to B2B sales, companies generally make a logical appeal to try to sell to other businesses. These organizations put more time into building relationships and providing educational resources, hoping those efforts will elicit a sale. B2B firms tend to offer products or services that are more complex and expensive than what B2C companies provide, but the former group must spend more time educating prospective clients how the product can help their business.
A prime example of how to market a B2B business is the social media agency Social Quant, which actually focuses exclusively on Twitter. Many businesses are on Twitter, but many businesses don’t know how to use Twitter, especially when it comes to building a high-quality following. That’s where Social Quant comes in.
The Twitter-focused agency doesn’t spend all of its time making a pitch for its services, though. Its blog posts and eBooks offer innumerable tips on how to use Twitter, which any user (business or individual) can benefit from. Ultimately, Social Quant is educating the public and building up a certain level of trust that will eventually lead to a few businesses inquiring about social media help. The company’s useful advice is available to anyone, but when it comes time to who’s going to pay their bills, it’s other businesses who have taken the relationship one step further.
Meanwhile, B2C businesses generally don’t spend as much time schmoozing a client and building a relationship prior to the initial sale. Instead, the marketing departments of B2C companies often make an emotional appeal to consumers, hoping that their products provide some kind of instant gratification to the buyer. Building a relationship in this case consists of offering a trustworthy product that consumers buy over and over, or on which they stock up at one time. B2C companies need to focus on providing great customer service, concise education and special deals so they can flourish and earn repeat business.
Check out the emotional appeal and attention-grabbing strategies at work in a commercial released earlier this year by a B2C company, Hefty.
Similar to Super Bowl commercials, the concept of this ad has just a faint connection to the product being peddled, but Hefty has successfully grabbed the viewer’s full attention while helping build brand recognition. They’re probably hoping that you’ll equate the quality of the commercial to the quality of their products. This type of ad should appeal to a wide age range, as well. Next time you’re in the grocery store, you may just opt to buy some Hefty plastic cups over those ubiquitous red Solo cups, and Hefty’s hilarious commercial may have something to do with it, overtly or subliminally.
Differing Sales Cycles
As a rule of thumb, B2C companies operate on a short sales cycle. They need to catch a consumer’s eye and perhaps provide a quick bit of education prior to the point of purchase. Additionally, if they want repeat buyers, they’d better offer a product that the customer enjoys. For example, if a company makes an all-natural food products that sits on a shelf in the store next to similar items, that company needs to have packaging and even some quick literature (such as, “Why is all-natural better?”) that piques the buyer’s interest. Most consumers make purchases from B2C-oriented companies every week, even daily, and many of them are made with little prior research, if not on a whim.
On the other hand, B2B organizations operate on a long sales cycle, sometimes taking several months before turning a lead into a sale. In these situations, businesses have to be vigilant in nurturing a relationship through the entirety of the sales cycle, building brand loyalty along the way. From initial engagement to the point of purchase, B2B companies need to continually educate and hold a lead’s interest, making sure the prospect doesn’t develop cold feet or disillusionment with the process prior to the final sell.
No matter if you work in a B2B or B2C company, you must start to develop an idea on your ideal buyer, how long it typically takes to make the sale and what motivates the buyer to purchase from you. There is some crossover between the two types of companies, and some businesses do a little bit of both (selling to individual consumers and other businesses), but any organization ultimately will thrive if it understands its audience and figures out how to market to them accordingly. For any skilled marketer making a job move, the transition from a B2B firm to a B2C company (or vice-versa) probably shouldn’t be too difficult, but there certainly are separate techniques to master, and it’s best to know the differences ahead of time.
What’s New in SEO: Google Keeps the Top Spot to Itself in Local Search
Early in August, Google implemented a fairly big shakeup in its search results by making its “local pack” more exclusive, as we explained on our Eminent SEO blog. More information about the local search feature has come down the pike since. Not only are there now only three spots in the local pack, but the box is featured in the first or second spot of the non-paid results much more often than it used to be, essentially meaning Google-approved businesses will always show up before any other.
A new report by seoClarity says the old local 7-pack only used to appear in the number one slot of the search results 25 percent of the time. However, the results box has been showing up in very top spot 93 percent of the time ever since shrinking to three featured businesses. Moreso, the local pack now shows up either in the first or second spot 99 percent of the time, versus just 31 percent before the change-up. The move to a 3-pack means there is more territory on the first page of results for organic listings, but it appears they all will almost always fall below the local pack now. For more on the eye-opening study, see seoClarity’s report.
August Eminent SEO Social Media Roundup
Max and Meg found themselves in various new situations as part of our social media outreach in August, including partaking in a popular meme near the beginning of the month. We also kept it light with some humorous posts and we shared a photo of our great team lunch at Olive Garden. Take a look at the best posts from our social media accounts in August. Which one is your favorite?
August Marketing Blog Roundup
We took our blog efforts up another notch in August, sharing timely information and tips on topics such as SEO, social media and branding on our Eminent family of blogs. Below, check out the top posts we published in August, including the aforementioned in-depth look at Google’s move to a smaller Local Pack. For more marketing and SEO news, how-to’s and tips, we invite you to follow our Eminent SEO blog.
Early in August, Google somewhat quietly shrank its renowned 7-pack in local searches to a 3-pack. While that means more competition for local businesses to earn one of those three spots, it does open up some opportunities on the first page of local search results. Read about how businesses with a local focus can take advantage of this shakeup.
If you have a hand in an ecommerce site, read these 10 crucial tips for help on getting your website to begin to shine in the search results, which will help you gain more traffic and, ultimately, more sales. Who wouldn’t want that?
When it comes to boosting your social media presence by buying followers on Twitter or other platforms, just say no! For one, there are tools on the web where anyone can look up your account and see how many fake followers you have. For other reasons why you should abstain from buying subscribers, check out this post.
How Do You Develop a Brand Strategy?
Have you figured out what sets your business apart from the competition and who your targeted customers are? If not, it’s time to get started on developing a brand strategy. See this post for some tips to keep in mind as you’re building a strategy for your company.
Featured Service: Website Blogging
Many clients do not realize how important blogging is to the overall health of a strategic website marketing campaign. When done properly, optimized blogs can dramatically increase the authority of your website. Why? Google loves to see fresh, relevant content. It tells them you care about your visitors and want to provide them with the latest and greatest information you have to offer. Because Google wants to provide its users with up-to-date information, it will give a higher ranking to sites that add optimized, unique and relevant content more often.
Since blogging is such an important part of organic marketing, why would you let an amateur handle it? Leave the blogging to the pros and watch the traffic and conversions come in.
You’ve wanted to use Twitter for your company, or maybe you’ve already established an account, but if you’re a small- or medium-sized business, you’re probably having trouble gaining interaction or any ROI on the social media platform.
Heck, even many large corporations have trouble getting many Twitter users to care about what they’re tweeting. But if you are trying to use Twitter to generate sales, leads, or interest in your brand, there is some light at the end of the tunnel: Research shows there are reasons why your company should be active on Twitter, and that the proper strategy can help you succeed on the platform.
Why Should My Business Be On Twitter?
You might think of LinkedIn as the place to put on your proverbial sport coat and start making a sales pitch, but a recent Forbes study found there’s a better place to do it. Twitter has emerged as the No. 1 platform for sales prospecting, edging out LinkedIn and Facebook, respectively, according to Forbes’ research. Jill Rowley, a startup adviser, told Forbes she learns more about a buyer on Twitter than LinkedIn – whom they follow, who follows them and what they tweet about and retweet.
How A Business Should Tweet
First and foremost, businesses should aim to be engaging on Twitter and ready to interact with any user who shows genuine interest. Small Business Trends advises companies to be personable on the micro-blogging platform. For example, if one of your colleagues is celebrating a birthday, or if your team is gathered at a recognizable venue, a tweet or two with photos of the event goes a long way in peeling back the curtain to your company and showing Twitter users you’re relatable.
However, don’t be too personal on your Twitter timeline. The Twitterverse is sort of a buttoned-down place where business can be conducted, but sharing a little TMI will almost always have an adverse effect.
As far as volume of tweets, a new Hootsuite blog post recommended not to tweet too much, and not to tweet too little. Posting several tweets subsequently that don’t build on each other is a great way to turn some of your followers off. Conversely, tweeting too little will make users bored with your brand and will reflect how little commitment you have to the platform.
It is okay to send the same tweet more than once, particularly if you have an ongoing campaign you’re trying to draw attention to, but tweak the copy or attach a different picture so it looks different each time, and don’t post the same idea more than once or twice day. Also, make sure to post a variety of tweets in between the ongoing message you’re trying to deliver. And for the best times to tweet, a Hootsuite blog post last year said many studies point to 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m., but it may be beneficial for your company to post in the evening, as well. Just consider whether your business goes for a national or local audience, and if it’s the latter.
What A Business Should Tweet
Your business Twitter account should reflect your expertise in your field. Apart from the tips and industry knowledge you possess that can be shared on the platform, feel free to share links to recent publications on topics related to your field. Your Twitter followers will appreciate the insight, even if it didn’t come from in house.
A recent Twitter blog post recommended adding value to the products you offer, such as how to use the items in ways consumers probably never thought of before. Also, invite Twitter followers into a community; tell them what you tweet about, what customers you serve and what kind of incentives they might expect. That leads us to highlighting exclusive prizes and giveaways. There’s no greater way to draw in some potential customers than to tweet about giveaways, promotions, deals and contests you’re running. Additionally, remember to include a call to action in several of your tweets. Simply saying “follow us” and including a compelling reason why can go a long way.
And most of all, remember: photos, photos, photos. Try to include photos in as many tweets as possible. Mashable reported in 2013 that tweets with photos that can be instantly seen in a user’s newsfeed (e.g. not Instagram links) garner 94 percent more retweets than text-only posts. Food photos tend to do well, as do pictures of recognizable landmarks or destinations. Memes are also acceptable to include in your tweets, provided you can make a relevant connection and not choose something that might offend your followers. As long as you have rights to whichever photos you want to tweet, go ahead and post them and make sure the text of each tweet logically ties into the image.
Don’t sound like a soulless robot in your tweets, and be engaging on the platform and ready to react to your followers or what other leaders in your industry have to say. If you’re mentioned in a tweet or asked a question, be sure to respond to it! Also, try to follow back anyone who has just followed you, as long as their account looks legitimate.
Not every tweet from your business’ account has to make a sales pitch, but such posts will be more effective as long as you are engaging and expanding your audience with a steady stream of compelling content and commentary.
Building a company is a huge investment in both time and money. Website marketing isn’t always the first thing that you think about when it is number crunching time. You have to think about employee payroll, insurance, taxes, equipment, material… and yes, marketing. Have you been hesitant to invest in website marketing services? Don’t be. Here are some top reasons why you should invest in website marketing for your small business:
More Affordable Than Traditional Marketing
With the use of social media and local marketing, you have the capability of reaching thousands for just a few hundred dollars per month. In comparison to traditional ads, like commercial and radio, you’re reaching a smaller demographic for a larger spend. Your return on investment is much higher with online marketing. The data doesn’t lie.
24 Hour Brand Visibility
When your social platforms, local listings and website are all setup and properly branded – your business is visible to your potential customers 24 hours per day. This means when a potential buyer is researching your service or product, you have a better chance of being visible to them – even if it’s the middle of the night. Make sure your brand fully represents what your company is all about and what separates you from the competition and you can literally make money while you sleep.
Your Competition is Already Doing It
If it is working for them, it will work for you too. In today’s digital age, most buyers are searching on Google or looking for a referral on Facebook or another social platform. If your website is not visible in the search results and easy to find on social media but your competition’s is, you are missing out on a lot of potential business.
Easily Target Your Geographical Area
If you have a small local business and you know exactly where your customers are located, you can target that area specifically. You can do so with Facebook ads, Google Adwords, social media and organic SEO campaigns. With the combination of all these online mediums, you have a much higher chance of reaching your target demographic geographically, which will dramatically boost your conversions.
You Can Keep in Touch with Your Customers
The beauty of online marketing is you have so many different ways to keep in touch with your customers. Email marketing and social media are two ways to easily interact with your past customers, which opens up more opportunity for repeat business. This also shows off your great customer service skills, which could really open up opportunity for new business as well.
It Grows Your Business
Everything mentioned above will help lead your business to the ultimate goal of increasing sales. Your business will grow as you progress with your website marketing strategy. Instead of simply hiring sales staff, why not consider investing more money in your website marketing services?
You need website marketing services to grow your brand and business if you want to keep up with today’s marketing trends. If you have a small business, you also might have a smaller marketing budget. Stop wasting your money on outdated marketing techniques and spend that budget building your online presence. Organic website marketing is proven to deliver the highest ROI.
Need help growing your online visibility? Learn more about our small business marketing services here or call today for more information on how we can partner and help grow your business together:800-871-4130
There are a lot of deceitful SEO agencies out there that try manipulate companies into thinking their strategies are completely “white hat”, meaning they’re up to par with Google’s quality guidelines. However, that’s not always the case. A lot of SEO agencies have given the SEO industry a bad reputation because of how they make unrealistic promises and perform spammy SEO tactics just to win your money. How can you tell if an SEO agency is legit?
Below are some red flags to help you determine if an agency is legit or not:
#1 Rankings Guaranteed
For one, no company can ever guarantee any sort of rankings. If a company is saying that they can guarantee you to the top of Google, don’t hire them. I mean what company out there can control Google, besides Google themselves? My point exactly.
Not Looking at Your Website and Marketing as a Whole
Truth is, SEO is much more than backlinks and on-page optimization. It’s content marketing, branding, social media, and design all working cohesively to create a solid reputation and brand presence on the web. If an SEO agency says that you only need backlinks and on-page SEO, you should be concerned.
Any legitimate agency is going to request an initial audit up front if you have an established website. That way they can assess your current website and marketing strategies including existing backlinks, your website structure, content, reputation, etc. Any challenges should be clearly laid out before any SEO or marketing even begins. For example, let’s say you have a foundation for organic presence, but you’re losing users once they hit the website. The SEO agency should point this out in the audit and then in the strategy suggest you restructure and properly optimize the pages of the site that are losing those potential leads.
Focuses Quantity Over Quality Backlinks
Red flag for sure. It may have worked back in 2011, but since Penguin released, it’s extremely hard to rank organically when you have even a small amount of backlinks that aren’t even relevant to your brand. If part of the strategy is saying that you will receive 1,000+ backlinks in a short time frame, chances are they aren’t going to be quality links.
There’s really no way to guarantee a specific amount of links as every link is different. Ideally you’d have a combination of brand mentions, social signals, press releases, directory listings, etc. that all serve an individual purposes. Any company that’s offering you a specific number of a specific type of links, for example200 directory links in one month, is most likely still practicing outdated techniques that are now considered spammy.
What you want to look out for is a company that’s promising quality, not specific link types and quantities. Realistically a company can’t guarantee any links because they want your backlink profile to be as natural as possible. So, when the agency is flexible with the budget and says they can’t always guarantee a certain amount of links that month, but they will use the budget to create a blog post or something relative to your services, that is actually more ideal.
Fails to Mention Anything Regarding Social Media
If building your brand is primarily done online, why is social media not part of the SEO strategy? Like I said before, SEO is much more than building links and having keywords in your content, it’s building your brand online. Social media plays a major factor in building brand awareness. Social signals are also a key ranking factor in most algorithms. So, if this part is completely ignored by the agency, chances are they are overlooking an important part of any effective SEO strategy.
Fails to Mention Anything Regarding Technical SEO
Professional SEO agencies are advanced in technical SEO and understand what search engines need to see in order to easily crawl and index pages. The list can go on but it would include some of the following elements to really ensure your website is technically correct for SEO:
Website navigation is siloed properly
404 errors are reduced by 301 redirecting broken links
Duplicate content is found and eliminated
Any HTML code warnings that are causing pages not to be indexed are found and fixed
Site loading speed is reviewed and issues are addressed to speed it up if needed
Bottom line, your website needs to be set up properly in order to achieve your organic ranking goals. These are just a touch on the technical issues that can go wrong with a website and prevent the crawlers to index your pages properly. Another reason why you can see SEO is more than just content and links!
You want to make sure you’re hiring the best of the best right? If any of the red flags mentioned above come up when you’re looking over a proposal or speaking with a consultant, you might want to do more research on them in order to fully trust they know what they are doing and not just taking your money. Some questions to consider may be:
Does their website appear to be SEO friendly and mobile ready?
Do they have a strong brand and social media presence for their company?
Are they blogging and is their content high in quality?
Are they able to talk technically on the phone and point out issues that need to be addressed on the fly?
Can they address the other items outlined above?
Those are some things I would be asking myself if I was shopping around for the perfect SEO agency. However, why even look any further? You are already in the right place – our team has your back! We offer both consulting and professional SEO services with over 20 years of combined experience. Check out our services here!
“The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.” (Source)
So, now that opens up the question of why businesses only want their marketing budget spent on acquiring NEW customers. Why not focus a portion of your marketing spend to nurture your existing customers? Every business should focus at least a portion of their marketing budget to have former/existing customers become second, third, or even ongoing buyers of their product or service.
Email marketing and social media work together to create effective return customers when done right. If you have already accumulated a good amount of customers over the years and kept their information – you have the ability to reach out to those same customers in the hopes that they will buy from you again.. Staying in front of your customers is extremely important and showing them appreciation for being a customer is equally important. Here’s how to utilize these two marketing techniques to increase those repeat customers:
Stay in Front of Your Customers with Social Media
Social media can be a great way to connect with your audience and customers on a regular basis. By telling your story and giving out exclusive offers you will keep your audience, as well as past customers, influenced by your brand. Here’s how to have your customers think of your business first when they need a product or service you offer again:
Make Sure Your Customers Know You Have a Social Presence
To do this, you can put social links in your email signature. Maybe even send out a welcome email or regular newsletter to encourage them to follow your business on social media. A little blurb about exclusive deals and offers isn’t a bad idea here.
Establish Trust with Your Social Followers
You don’t want to spam your audience with a million offers a week. You want to strategically build trust which then helps build your overall brand. Building trust can be done by sharing company achievements/awards, employee stories and pictures, and useful information for your customers, such as industry news.
Promote Your Lead Generating Resources
This means landing pages that will capture customer data. If you see the same customer wanting to learn more information, they may be interested in purchasing a second time. Encourage this by sending them a follow up email asking them if they need any help. Don’t forget to thank them again for being a valued customer.
Nurture Customers with Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most effective techniques for generating repeat business with an extremely high ROI. According to Experian, for every $1 spent approximately $44.25 is the average return on investment. Talk about generating repeat business on a budget! Definitely doable with email marketing.
Email marketing is the gateway to nurturing those past customers into becoming on-going or repeat customers with personalization techniques. Personalizing your emails makes customers feel all warm and fuzzy inside because they feel they’re personally valued. Win, Win
Create Separate Email List for Previous Customers
The best way to mass-target your former customers is by separating out your email lists. This way you can personalize your emails and specifically thank former clients for being a customer! While thanking them, link to some featured products or services. You want to push for that second purchase and remind them why they chose to purchase from you in the first place.
Try to Accumulate Customer Data
I know it can be hard to do this part, but try. If you have information such as product purchase date, birthdays, etc. you can send anniversary style emails, such as the anniversary of when they first purchased from you. Did you follow up and ask for a review or testimonials? This is a great time to do so to get some useful feedback. Also, birthdays are a great time to email your customer and send a Happy Birthday card with a special discount. This will get them into your store and they may possibly order more products from you with their exclusive discount code.
Personalize Your Subject Lines
If you’re targeting a former customer, personalize it in the subject line with their name. This increases the chances of your email being opened by roughly 22%. Or, use other compelling text, such as “We Miss You, So We Have a Special Offer for You!” This can be tested, just try various compelling subject lines and track which ones get the best open rates.
Monitor the Behavior of Your Customer Email List Carefully
In order for you to understand what type of content is valuable to your customers, you should be monitoring their behavior through your email campaign tools and your website analytics. Is the content you’re sending them providing them value? In order to tell, look and see if they’ve clicked on links to specific landing pages in your analytics. How long did they stay on that page? What’s the bounce rate look like? Those are some valuable key performance indicators that will help you to know if your content is gaining the attention of your users.
Another key indicator you can use is the data of your past customers, for example look to see when the last time they purchased from you was. For past customers that haven’t purchased from you in over 3 months, send them an email blast with an exclusive offer. Monitor the conversion rates for this to see if your offer was valuable. If so, make this a primary campaign you can utilize every 3 months for past customers to get them back in the door.
As you can see, both social media and email marketing are great ways to generate repeat business. You need the social media to stay in front of your customers, but you need the email marketing to nurture those customers and turn them into repeat customers. Building a trusted relationship is the goal with both marketing techniques. Former customers trust your business more when they have a memorable experience and feel valued. On-going customer communication also encourages your former or current customers to become public supporters of your brand and recommend your product or service to their friends on social media – opening even more doors for an expanding customer base.