Creating emails your subscribers will actually open

Creating emails your subscribers will actually open

The “less is more” rule applies to many elements of online marketing, including email marketing.

Did you know that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day? When you send out a newsletter or a special offer you are competing for your reader’s attention, which now sits at an average of about eight seconds.

While there is no magic formula for how long your email subject line and body should be, there are some simple things you can do to increase your email’s readability.

Here are some tips:

  • Keep it simple. Don’t use complex words where simple ones will do. For example, instead of “utilize” try “use.”
  • Don’t use too many filler words. You’re not writing a novel, no need to get too descriptive and flowery.
  • Break up blocks of text into sections.
  • Organize information into bulleted lists.
  • Keep the subject line to six or seven words – anything longer won’t display on mobile.
  • Don’t use images that will interrupt the flow of the text.

Of course the design of the email makes a difference too. If you can, send a test of the email to yourself and check it on your mobile device. How does it look?

Want to test your message before you send it? Try this Free Readability Test Tool. You can simply copy and paste your text, then it will give you a readability score and tell you what that score means. For example, this message scores at an 8th grade reading level.

If you want to get really technical the tool will also give you statistics such as how many complex words and average number of syllables are in your text.

So how readable is your content?

Get more marketing tips on the ISJ Media blog.

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Use of video in marketing

Use of video in marketing


Hello fellow marketers!
This week I’d like to talk about the increased use of video in marketing.
With the increasing quality of cell phone video and the accessibility of drones, GoPros and other devices capable of shooting high resolution video, it’s no surprise that the popularity and effectiveness of video marketing is on the rise.
All you have to do is login to Facebook and scroll through your news feed to see the effect video is having on marketing. Recipes, how-to’s, product reviews, product demonstrations, animations, feel-goods, and more, video is everywhere.
So how does this affect your small business?
Attention: Consumers are beginning to expect content to be in video format. Recent studies have shown that people have the average attention span of a goldfish. People want to know what it is, how it works, how it can benefit them as soon as possible. Video can grab people’s attention and get the point across quickly. When video and text are paired side by side, chances are people will watch the video before the read several large chunks of text.
Personal: It can help you create a personal connection with your customers. Consider recording a short video introducing yourself, talking about what you do, your business, contact information, etc. for your website and social media channels.
Emotion: Video can connect with people emotionally more so than any other kind of media. Music and visuals can evoke emotion and pull viewers in.
Facebook loves video:  In 2016 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that there was a company-wide plan to make the popular social media channel “video first.” Zuckerberg predicts that within five years video will be what is mostly consumed online.  Click here to read the article.
Clarity: Most people are visual learners. Explain your product or service in a video, speaking as if you were face to face with a customer, don’t use too much technical jargon), and your message will be more likely to “click.”
How to create engaging videos:

  • Add a call to action such as “subscribe here,” “share this video” or “comment below.”
  • Tell a story. Studies have proven that storytelling engages our brains and taps into emotion. People and situations in the videos should form an emotional connection with the viewer.
  • Consider that your video may be played without sound. How often have you seen a video pop up in your Facebook feed that you’d like to view but you don’t dare click on it because you are in line at the grocery store or in a meeting (sorry bosses)? When creating your video, be sure to add captions or be sure that the images alone will tell the story.
  • Customize your video for the platform. A 15 minute video may be fine on YouTube, but a video that long is not likely to be watched on Facebook.

ISJ Media and ISJ Video
Our digital marketing and video experts can take your concept and turn it into a beautiful and professional video. Video services we offer include animations, documentaries, mini-documentaries, commercials, real estate video, employee training videos, videos from photos, business profiles and much more.
Contact our video expert, Jordon Beesley at 208-239-6009 or jbeesley@journalnet.com or visit isjmedia.net or isjvideo.com for more information.

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Announcing Facebook Business Manager

Announcing Facebook Business Manager

If your company’s Facebook page is like ours, you probably have one employee’s email that you all use to sign in and update your feed, create ads, etc. That’s because Facebook has required that every business page be linked to a personal Facebook account — until now.
The folks at Facebook have recently introduced Business Manager, a way that multiple people can be administrators of the same Facebook page and/or ad account without necessarily being linked to their personal Facebook page.
Here’s how it works:
An administrator for your Facebook page will go to https://business.facebook.com and create a business account. The page you administer should automatically link up. The administrator will then need to add all of the other Facebook pages your business manages.

Facebook’s Business Manager dashboard will show basic analytics for all of the pages you manage all in one place.
If you utilize Facebook advertising you’ll need to connect your Facebook ad account.  To do this go into your Facebook ad account and find your ad account ID. It is an 8-digit number. Then go back to your business manager section and select the option to add your ad account. It will ask you for your ad account number. Your ad account will then be added to your business dashboard.
This is important because now you can grant different people different levels and areas of access. For example, your book keeping folks can be added as administrators to the ad account, but NOT the pages. Others can also be granted permission to create ads for your page, but not as admins of the ad account. Employees can be added to the business account, but with different permissions including editor and admin. You don’t want everyone to have admin access, but you want multiple people to be able to update your page.
This new Facebook Business Manager also has several cool features including a projects section that allows for file uploads so that multiple people can collaborate on business assets.
There of course is a lot more to it than that, but there is a handy-dandy setup guide that will walk you through everything. Create your business account and then you will see it in the top right hand corner of the page.
Do you have a digital marketing question or a topic you’d like us to discuss? Email me at jhopkins@journalnet.com or call 208-239-3532.
And visit ISJ Media at isjmedia.net for more digital marketing tips and to learn more about the services we offer.

 

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Use audience extension to reach your target audience online

Audience extension advertising campaigns, also known as retargeting, are advertisements that are placed online on sites other than the client’s own.  These ads can be targeting specifically to the client’s target audience and show up on top web sites such as CNN and Auto Trader.

Website browsers such as Google Chrome use cookies to track user data including demographics such as age and location, as well as interests, purchases and more.  When an audience extension campaign is set up, digital marketers can assign certain parameters to the ads, such as show to people in zip codes A, B and C, display to people ages 18-40, etc.

Audience extension campaigns ensure that only people in the client’s target audience are being exposed to their message, which is cost and time efficient. And, because the campaign is charged only when the ad is served, no advertising dollars are wasted on people who would most likely not be interested or being charged regardless of if the ad is actually displayed or not.

And the client picks the budget, so they are guaranteed not to spend more than they want.

Here’s how it works:
The client has a budget of $500. For $500 they are guaranteed at least 62, 500 impressions. An “impression” is counted each time the ad loads on a website. The impressions are won in a bidding process. Ads compete for the ad spaces on the website by offering to pay for that space. Whichever ad bids the most for the spot gets that space. This is all determined in milliseconds as the page loads.

The higher the client’s budget, the more they can bid on add space and the more impressions they will receive.  When the $500 budget is exhausted the ads stop bidding.

Digital advertising tactics such as audience extension have changed the way clients reach potential clients in many ways. No longer do advertisers only have options such as billboards and radio spots, where the message is places and they can only hope their target audience sees and or heard their message.  New technology allows for more specific, targeted campaigns that yield greater conversion rates and over all success.

If you would like to learn more about audience extension and how it can help you get your message to your target audience,  please contact Jenny Hopkins at jhopkins@journalnet.com or 208-239-3532.
 

Free lunch every month at our Lunch n' Learns

Free lunch every month at our Lunch n' Learns

Hello and good afternoon fellow marketers!

There is such a thing as a FREE LUNCH! Read on . . .

Here at ISJ Media we spend a lot of time doing a lot of research on the latest and greatest digital marketing tools and trends. It's what WE do.

"But how does that affect me and my business?" Glad you asked.

We do the research so you don't have to. But how do we pass that valuable information on to you, the business owner? With our free monthly Lunch and Learns! Did I mention it was free? Oh, and we've got your lunch covered too.

The next Lunch and Learn will be held on Tuesday, March 14. We offer a session at 7:45 a.m. and 11:45 a.m. to accommodate different schedules.

Previous topics have included:
 

  • Getting your page to rank higher on Google search results
  • The importance of having a responsive website
  • Why Facebook is NOT the same as having a website
  • Advertising on Facebook: Is it effective and tips for getting the most bang for your buck
  • How to capitalize on "micro moments," those spur of the moment things that cue an online search for a product or service. 


This is NOT a sales pitch. Really. No-one will pressure you to buy anything. We want you, the local business owner, to succeed. Interested? Want more information? Contact Jenny Hopkins at jhopkins@journalnet.com or 208-239-3532. RSVP by March 9.

See you there! 

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Free website set-up through February 

If your small business is like most others in Southeast Idaho it does not have a website. But the thing is, you don’t want to be like all the other businesses in Southeast Idaho. You want to stand out! You want to be noticed! You want people to think of you as the local leader in your industry!

With more and more consumers turning to online for advice, product reviews and shopping the business with a strong online presence are much more likely to grow than those that do not.

Starting a website sounds like a lot of work, and frankly you don’t have time to build one yourself because, well you have a business to run of course! We get it. And we want to help you out by waiving the startup fee for our basic web design through February. That’s right, we’ll build and setup your website for free. That’s a $295 savings!

These websites include:

    •    Connecting social media profiles

    •    Photo selection

    •    Customized, professionally designed web site with your choice of layout, back ground, fonts, header image etc.

    •    Search Engine Optimization

    •    Built-in analytics

    •    Google map integration

    •    Email address

    •    Address

    •    Phone number

    •    List of payments accepted

    •    Mobile website

    •    Email and phone support

    •    Built-in analytics

    •    Manage your own updates


Design options include:
    •    Photo galleries

    •    Slideshow

    •    Menu

    •    Blog

    •    Audio

    •    Coupons

    •    PDF file upload

    •    Contact form

    •    Company logo

    •    Wufoo e-commerce can be added for additional charge.

    •    If you already own your own domain we can transfer it over to your new site. Or we can purchase a domain name for your new site at an additional charge.

Once the site is set-up and running the monthly cost is $50. You, the client has full editing access to the site so that you can make updates whenever you’d like.

Want to learn more or get started? Call Jenny Hopkins at 208-239-3532 or email jhopkins@journalnet.com

 

Storytelling in Content Marketing

Storytelling in Content Marketing

By Jenny Hopkins

“It was the best of times and it was the worst of times . . .”

The opening line of the Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities” could be used to describe Content Marketing – it could be really good or really bad.

Speaking of tales, have you considered the art of storytelling when creating brand content?  A good story invokes emotion and relatability. Unlike simply writing a press release that states the when, what, why, etc. a story involves the reader and grabs his or her attention.

So how do you write good storytelling content for your brand?

First of all, consider what your service or product offers to your customers. Why should a person care about what you are offering? Remember, you are not selling a product; you’re selling a solution to a problem.

Then think about your competitors and what sets you apart from them. Think about hero action movies; they all have the same basic plot line: Good guy is minding his own business, bad guy decides to rob an art gallery, good guy sets a perfect trap for the would-be robber and saves the day. Yet we still love these movies because of the differentiators. Each hero is different. Maybe the hero came from another planet and has super powers, or maybe she has a tragic backstory.

What is your brand’s hero? Have you been around longer than the competitors? Does your brand have better reviews? Any lawn mowing service will come mow your lawn, so what makes yours different? Senior discount? Every tenth mow is free? Make your “superpower” unique to stand out.

Also be sure you know your customer. Remember, your content needs to be relatable to draw interest. You can’t relate to someone unless you know him or her to a certain degree. For tips on this read this Marketing Pros article: “Three Ways That Personas Take Your Marketing to the Next Level.”

Once you know your customer you’ll better understand their “conflict.” Good stories have conflict and conflict resolution, that’s what keeps us reading. The conflict is the customer’s problem. The conflict resolution is what you can offer to solve this problem.

When I think of a great storytelling campaign I think of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.

The conflict: Girls are bombarded with images of women that have been extremely touched up and develop insecurity and shame issues.
Why it’s relatable: We know those images are touched up, but do we ever really stop to think about how it’s affecting our children? This pulls the heartstrings.

Conflict resolution: This purpose of this campaign is to show that Dove is working to end this problem by exposing it and featuring women of all sizes and colors in their ads.

 

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Business blogging tips

ISJ Monthly Marketer
November 17, 2016

Blogging on your business website is a great way to show that you are a leader in your industry by providing free advice and tips pertaining to your customers’ interests. It also keeps your website fresh with new content which will help to boost rankings on search engines.

So how do you get started? How often should you blog? How long should blog posts be?

Here are some tips from the experts:
• First find a blogging platform. There are countless to choose from, including WordPressMediumBlogger and Wix. Check out the article “How to Choose theBest Blogging Platform in 2016 (Compared)” by webbeginner.com to help chose a platform. Your current website service may already have a blogging interface built in also.
• Update it at least a couple times a month, once a week if you can. Google “bots” constantly skim the Internet for fresh content to update search engine results. If your website content is stale, the bots have no reason to check it out and your site will fall in search rankings.
• Stay on topic. Remember what your audience is interested in and focus on that. Don’t lose their interest.


Wondering how long your posts and titles should be? Check out the article “The MostShared Brand Blog Posts: Length, Language, and Title Trends” by MarketingProfs for additional tips. 

Why your holiday marketing should include digital

Why your holiday marketing should include digital

We’re barely recovering from the Halloween chocolate hangover and we haven’t even carved the Thanksgiving turkey, but if you’re a small business owner or marketer you’ve already started thinking about holiday shopping.
For years Black Friday has been the most well known shopping day of the year, but with the ever increasing popularity of mobile shopping we now also have Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.
Data collected from Signal.com, holiday retail sales on smartphones jumped 96% in 2015, and are forecast to grow 50% in 2016. Here are some additional statistics generated by signal.com:

  • 43% of people say that digital ads on a website or mobile app influence their holiday gift buying.
  • 47% of consumers started thinking about gift ideas before November.
  • One-third of consumers say ads help them get discounts or deals.
  • 52% of holiday shoppers are likely to take advantage of tailored product recommendations received through email, and 42% through a mobile ad.

Not surprisingly Amazon.com is king when it comes to online shopping and buying. No small business is going to compete with them, however, you can take notes on and implement some of the things people love about Amazon into your own marketing.
Why do people love Amazon? Consumers report that ease of use, product reviews and easy returns as some perks.
Site retargeting is another thing in which Amazon excels. When a consumer views a product on Amazon.com and then leaves the site to continue surfing the Internet, an ad for that product shows up on the sites the consumer is currently viewing. It seems like magic, or maybe legalized stalking, but either way you look at it this tactic has been proven to increase conversions.
But more people shopping online does not necessarily equate to more purchases online. Most online shoppers are looking for deals and doing product research before they go to the physical brick and mortar store to make the purchase. Added conveniences such as buy online and pick up in store increases a consumer’s likelihood to buy. Stores are crowded, being able to order online, go in, pick up the goods and get out is a huge selling-point.
Some takeaways from this research:
  • Start planning for the holiday shopping now if you have not already.
  • Consider adding digital into your marketing strategy. You can bet your competitors are, don’t miss out!
  • Make sure now more than ever that your website is easy to navigate and is mobile optimized.
  • Your physical business location is just as important as it’s ever been. People will most likely come to your store to make the purchase, but first they have to have a good reason for picking you over competition. Special deals advertised online will bring them in.

Do you want to implement some of these tools but you aren’t sure where to start?  Call or email us here at ISJ Media and we can help put together a customized digital marketing plan based on your business needs and goals.
At ISJ Media we offer:
Site retargeting
Contextual retargeting
Audience retargeting
Hyperlocal targeting
Mobile and app advertising
Website advertising
Web design
Email marketing
Text marketing
And much more . . . .

 

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Wedding plans start now — so should wedding marketing

Wedding plans start now — so should wedding marketing

Couples who are getting hitched should start planning their wedding six to nine months before the date, according to realsimple.com

Since most weddings take place June through September, couples — and wedding planners, photographers, etc. should start planning, well, now.

This is great news for business involved in the wedding industry. Businesses like photographers, florists, bakeries; vacation and travel services and wedding venues should take advantage of this early opportunity to get the attention of both the bride and groom.

So how can you make your service or business stand out during the early stages of wedding planning? Here are some tips:

1. You must have a digital presence.  There is no bend here. If your wedding planning related business or service is not online, and more importantly available on mobile devices, you’re not going to be successful in this market, period.

Think about your target audience.  According to mentalfloss.com the average age people in Idaho get married is 26.5 for men and 25 for women.  Do you think these people are scanning billboards for photographers and wedding dresses? Nope, they are on their mobile devices — a lot.

Is your website mobile-friendly? Does it need an overhaul? Now is the time to check.

Considering advertising on mobile apps and for mobile devices. Ad campaigns can be designed just for the purpose of reaching mobile customers, and mobile campaigns have proven to be highly effective in east Idaho.

2. Sell the solution, not the product. This applies to any business or service, not just the wedding industry. Identify your target customer.  You need to go beyond the simple “I’m targeting brides.”  Create a customer profile, for example, Julie is a 25 year-old getting married in June. She wants a modest dress with a removable train that won’t break the bank. Does your shop sell modest dresses? Don’t just advertise that you sell dresses, offer a solution by offering modest dresses, free adjustments etc. Solve a problem.

3.  Provide information too. Consider providing a blog with weekly wedding planning advice or a wedding planning checklist on your website. By showing that you are an expert in your industry you’ll build brand loyalty and increase your Google search ranking.

Do you need help planning a mobile campaign? Contact www.isjmedia.com at 239-3532 for a free consultation.
 

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Content marketing tips for small businesses

Content marketing tips for small businesses

Content Marketing is a way of communicating with your customers and potential customers without selling. Instead of selling your products and services you are providing valuable information and content in order to build brand loyalty and awareness.

It's a tactic that is used by many large brands, including BarkBox.com. BarkBox is a service in which the subscriber receives a box monthly filled with dog toys and treats for his or her canine companion. A percentage of the proceeds are donated to canine rescue groups and animal shelters. BarkBox also produces a newsletter that features news stories about dogs and the animal rescue groups. The newsletter is not selling their product, but provides a service by giving subscribers feel-good stories about something that interests them – canines.

Content marketing also helps your website get picked up by search engines like Google. Search engines use “bots” to “crawl” the web and catalog elements such as keywords in order to create their search rankings. If a website does not get updated the “bots” have no reason to come back to the site and it will drop in the search rankings. Sites that are updated more frequently appear higher in search rankings, so creating fresh content for your site plays a crucial part in getting your site recognized by search engines.

Of course we don't all have time to create a weekly or monthly newsletter, and hiring a content marketer is not in the budget. But there some things you can do right now to create fresh content, some of which you may already have.

1. Shoot a quick video: Content marketing does not have to be text-based. It can be photo and video too. Try taking a quick video that features a new employee or a behind-the-scenes of your business. How-to videos are huge right now, so try creating a quick how-to video that relates to your business or service without directly selling it. You don't have to be a professional videographer to do this, every cell phone has a camera built in nowadays, and there are countless free video editing apps available on Google Play or the App Store. Just remember to not make the video too long, a minute or two is good, any longer than that and your viewers are likely to lose interest.

2. Add some history about your business: You already know how, when and why your business got started, and of course you're proud of it, so why not tell the world! Write a mission statement, a little information about the inspiration behind your business's beginnings, or a time-line of events and milestones.

3. Add photos: Take some quick behind the scenes photos of your staff or a step in the process of creating whatever product or service you offer. Did your business recently have an employee retreat or volunteer in the community? Take some photos to post on your website and social media. Show your human side.

4. Use curated content: Create a round-up of links to articles that relate to your industry. Save your audience time by bringing the best articles and information regarding your service or product to them in one place. If your business is home décor, for example, create a list of articles about the latest home design and Do-It-Yourself trends. Make sure you link back to the original source.

5. Encourage user-generated content: Wouldn't it be great if you could get people to interact with your business or service for free? Well, you can, but only if you ask for it. Try prompting your audience to share a photo of themselves enjoying your product or service or asking them to tweet about how your product or service has benefited them. Don't be vague, pick a specific theme. Going back to the home décor, for example, you could ask people to share a photo of their best fall decorating projects. Use a hashtag that corresponds with the theme to encourage others to participate. You'll get more response with some than others, but don't get discouraged, try different prompts until you find the ones that click. Try offering a prize for participants to increase participation. Pick a random participant to win or offer a discount to all.

Have you had success with content marketing? Tell us how you did it!
 

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Search Engine Optimization tips

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is taking steps to making sure your website ranks highly in search engine results.
When you perform a search on Google, Google uses its own algorithm to match websites with the words in the search and ranks them starting with the best match.

As technologies update and evolve so do the search engine algorithms. For example, now that more people are using their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to surf the web and search for information, Google has changed its search algorithm to recognize that the user is on a mobile device and will only provide results for web pages that are mobile optimized. Google knows not to waste your time by showing you a website that will not display well on your phone because you typed in the search from your phone.

That is just one of many factors Google takes into account when compiling search results. Here are some other major factors that help your page get picked up:

• A complete landing page. This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we get so caught up in design, updating social media, etc. that we forget that the devil is in the details. Make sure the home page of your website includes all the basics: Phone number, address, services provided, map and or directions and social sharing buttons. The more “complete” and informative your home page is, the more it will get Google’s attention.

• Add or claim your business listing on Google. Go to https://www.google.com/maps and type in your business name. Does the map zoom in to your business location? If it does, there will be a “claim your business” option in the column that appears to the left of the map. Follow those steps to create your Google business listing. This helps your business in several ways. First, you can control what the Google map search result says about your listing. Your phone number, website, hours and more show up right there on the map. You can add photos to your listing and customer reviews will appear as well. And of course, this helps the Google search engine find your page. If your search of the map does not reveal your business, you can create a Google business page first and then plug in the address. Click here to get started building your Google My Business page. Just an FYI, you’ll need to verify your business page. After all, you don’t want just anyone to register as your business. You need to prove that you are really you. It’s easy to verify your business, once you create your page Google will send you an automated phone call and give you a special code. Then you just need to type that code into the designated place on your listing. Easy peasy.

• Update frequently. Just because you built it does not mean they will come. Update your website on a regular basis. If your page has not been updated since the invention of the smartphone your page ranking will drop. Include keywords in your blog posts and pages. Most websites have built-in search engine optimization tools. On the back end of your website there should be an area where you can type in keywords. This does not show up on your site, but putting in words that describe your services will help it get picked up. Think about what words you would use to search for your business.If you have a blog for your business make sure to add “tags” or “labels” with key words. All blogging platforms have a built-in area for this purpose.

• Measure your results. Check your website’s analytics. Is there a page or article that is performing very well in terms of attracting web traffic? One that’s not? Compare and take notes on what your page viewers are responding positively and negatively so that you can plan accordingly for future content.
 
  • TIP: Make sure that your basic information is the same across the Internet. If the business phone number, address, etc. on your website differs from your Google business listing you’ll lose credibility and your search ranking will drop.

There are literally thousands of things that contribute to a website’s search engine ranking, but these are the biggies.

Do you have a search engine optimization success story? Let me know at jhopkins@journalnet.com

 

How to get your email opened and read

How to get your email opened and read

I get them, you get them, everyone gets them: junk mail. What used to fill the mailboxes of suburbia now fills the inboxes of every email address on the planet.

But your business has a message to share, and because nearly everyone uses email, it is a great way to reach a large audience quickly without paying for snail mail postage.

So how to you get people to open and read your email?

Here are some tips:

• Make it personal. Use a personal subject line whenever possible. GetResponse reports that emails with personalized subject lines have a 26% higher open rate than those with generic subject lines. Use direct language in the message wording, words like “you” and details such as last purchases. For example, “Your last purchase of Hello Kitty sheets would look great with our new Hello Kitty curtains! Check them out here (link to product site).

• Time is of the essence. Try using a trigger word in your subject line such as “announcing, limited or final.”

• Keep it simple. As tempting as it is to cram a ton of information into an email subject line and body it's not a good idea. With email less really is more. Keep your subject line 6 to 10 words and don't be dishonest or click-bait. Side note, click bait is just awful stuff in general! “Click here to see what these 90s era celebs look like now!” No thanks.
The email should have one purpose, so decide that before you create your marketing plan. Do you want to push online sales? Is your business hosting a food drive? Focus on one thing in five or less sentences. And remember to write like you talk, don't try to make it fancy with big words that no one uses in natural every day speech. Don't say “ebullient” when you could just say “eager.”

• Include a call to action. Face it, when you open an email the first thing you think is “how can this benefit me, what does this have to offer me?” Your message must have value. Include a call to action that offers something. Instead of “click here to learn more,” say “click here to start your free trial.”
• Timing. Believe it or not there are good and bad days and times to send email if you want it to get opened. The worst days are, not surprisingly, Saturday and Sunday. Who wants to read email on the weekends unless your sister emailed you photos of your new niece or nephew.
The best days? Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

• On the go. Perhaps the most important thing you can do to increase the open rates of your marketing emails is to make sure they work on mobile devices. About half of all emails are opened on a mobile device, so if your message looks terrible or won't display correctly you're immediately losing half your audience. Try testing your message before you send it. Check it on tablets and mobile devices. Be sure to check it on Apple and Android devices.
 

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What's new in social media?

What's new in social media?

If you feel like you can’t keep up with all the snaps, stages, tweets, boosts, videos, stickers and streams in social media, you’re not alone.  The modifications, features and types of social media literally changes on a daily basis.

So what changed this week? Here is just a snippet:

• Twitter no longer counting certain features against 140-character limit. This is not expected to take effect until September 19, but it has been talked about since May.  Twitter reports that photos, gifs, videos, polls and @names will no longer count toward the character limit. This benefits marketers and businesses by providing enough space to post photos of a product but also say enough about it to make sense. Read more about this change here.

• Instagram gets more business friendly. Instagram already allows promoted content, but now businesses with an Instagram profile can add a “contact” button. The new insights feature will enable businesses to see who is interacting with their content. If a certain post is performing much better than others Instagram will now allow you to turn that post into an ad that you can schedule. Read more about Instagram’s changes here.

• Facebook let’s you create your own canvas. I’m still reading up on this one, but I recently discovered Facebook’s new “Canvas” feature while I was scheduling promotions for the Idaho State Journal’s upcoming Business and Achievement Awards event.  The description I found of this new feature was pretty vague, so I decided to go in and make one.
                    Facebook says that the canvas feature is “a better way to tell your brand story and promote your products on mobile.”
                    Basically, you start with a theme color, which can be white, black or custom, then you pick components to add such as video, photo, photo carousel, button, text block or header. Each component is highly customizable. The font, color, size and background can all be changed in the text component, and the photos can be set to “fit to width,” “tap to expand” or “fit to height,” for example.
                    Each component adds a sort of “slide” to create a slideshow-type design. When a users views a Facebook canvas on his or her mobile device, they open it just as they would a Facebook photo and then swipe up and down to view the canvas.  Here is a photo of one I built just with some random photos I had on my desktop.Yes, that is John F. Kennedy.
                    But the canvases are only viewable on mobile! So you can build it on your desktop but in order to preview and view your canvas you must send it to your mobile device. Go here to learn more about Facebook Canvas.

• Winner, winner, Pinterest bidder! Pinterest now boasts that advertisers will get more bang for their buck now that it offers CPM-based advertising. CPM stands for “Cost Per Thousand.” The “M” is the Roman numeral for 1,000. Why it is not CPT I’ll never know.
            With CPM you only pay for each set of eyeballs that actually see your ad. You set your budget and you’re guaranteed not to go over it. Every time a webpage is opened, ads compete, or bid for the ad space on that page. If your ad has the highest bid it gets the real estate. If your ad is outbid you don’t get charged. Pretty cool, huh?  For more on this new feature click here.

Do you have any social media success stories or features you can’t live without? Let me know at jhopkins@journalnet.com
 

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Think With Google - free download

Think With Google - free download

Have you visited thinkwithgoogle.com yet?

If you are a marketer, business owner or anyone who wants to keep up with consumer buying trends in the digital world you'll be amazed at the wealth of information there.

Google is by far the leader when it comes to online — well, just about anything. Think With Google has tons of insights on consumer behavior across different audiences and platforms such as how sports fans use YouTube, for example. There is a section on mobile advertising trends including how to design a better mobile experience for shoppers and creating effective video ads.

The tools section features planning tools such as shopping insights; just type in the brand or product you'd like to research into the search bar and a map will appear that shows the areas where the product is popular as well as each quarter's sales results.

Probably most useful to business owners is The Customer Journey to Online Purchase. Select your industry, business size, country, and what channel you'd like to search (organic traffic, paid traffic, referral, etc.) and you'll see percentage results for consumers who are in the beginning, middle and end of the purchase cycle.

Consumers more often use organic search at the beginning of the purchase cycle and direct click is near the end of the cycle when the consumer buys. Knowing what stage your target audience is in will help you to better direct your advertising and promotion focus.

Today I have been reading through the section on Mirco Morments. Did you post back to school photos of your kids on Facebook? Do a quick search for movie times? Those are Micro Moments. People want what they need quickly and easily. If you can anticipate the micro moments for your target audience you can make better decisions when deciding when and where to promote your brand.

There is so much more that I could write about, but why don't you go check it out for yourself? I guarantee you will find something useful there, regardless of your business size, service or product.

Let me know what you think!

Download the free guide "Micro Moments: Your Guide to Winning the Shift to Mobile" to learn more.

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How to use Pokemon Go to attract customers

How to use Pokemon Go to attract customers

By now you've heard of Pokémon Go, unless you've been living in a cave or stranded on an island in the south Pacific.  Driving through Pocatello yesterday I saw tweens and teens walking around in groups, eyes glued to their phones (even more so than usual), looking for the cute little animated creatures.

DMR reports that 78% of Pokémon Go users are between the ages of 18-34 and there are 20 million active users daily in the United States alone. This is a huge opportunity for small businesses!

One of our tech guys getting in on the fun.

Here's the basics of how Pokémom Go works:
A Pokémon, or pocket monster, is an animated animal-like creature. There are different types and
some are more rare than others. When a player downloads the app and signs in, the game uses the GPS on his or her phone to create a virtual map of the area.

The goal is to catch as many Pokémon as possible, so players walk around and using the map, find where the Pokemon are hiding. When the player gets in range of the Pokémon the app uses the camera function on the player's phone to put an animated picture of the creature in the scene, so it looks like it is really there.

When the player gets close enough to a Pokémon, they try to catch it by throwing a PokéBall. See that red and white ball in the photo to the right? Players swipe the phone screen to toss the ball and catch the Pokémon. But it is not as easy as it sounds, the Pokémon move! If you miss you have to throw another PokéBall, and you only have so many.

To get more PokéBalls and other fun add-ons, players visit PokéStops, which are marked on the virtual map created on your phone.

Players can visit PokéGyms to battle other players, use incense that attract rare Pokémon and level up as more and more are caught.





So how can this help your business?
Lures.

The app offers the purchase of a 99 cent lure, a 30-minute attractant to Pokemon, to be placed at a Pokéstop. Five lures cost $4.99.

Say you own a coffee and smoothie shop that is near a PokéStop. Using your phone, go to the app and purchase a lure and place it at that location. The lure attracts Pokémon which then attracts players. For the next 30 minutes offer a special such as buy one get one free or 10% off purchase.

But keep in mind that lures can only be placed at Pokéstops. If you are lucky enough to have one at your business, great, but if not you may need to be a little bit more creative. If the nearest Pokéstop is down the street, you may need to create some signage that indicates you are offering discounts to Pokémon players for a limited time.  If your business can travel, like a food truck, simply set up at a Pokéstop, drop the lure and wait for players to come.

If your business is not near a Pokéstop there are still some things you can do to attract customers. Click here if you'd like to request that a PokéStop be added to your location. There's no guarantee it will get approved, but it's worth a shot.

Also, Fortune.com reports that people will be able to purchase "sponsored locations." Click here to read the article. 

Other ways to market to Pokémon go players include a special offer for players who have captured a certain type of Pokémon (remember, some are more rare than others), offering a discount to people who have reached a certain level and above, or even a contest such as offering a free product to the player who can catch the most Pokémon in an hour.

Click here to read the ThriveHive article "How To Get New Customers With Pokémon Go."

Have you used Pokémon Go to attract people to your business? Please leave a comment with your success story.
 

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Brand admiration and how you can achieve it — FREE download

Marketing is not just about planning, creativity, good communication skills and organization — it’s also psychology. Think about the best experiences you’ve had with brands — quick responses to your questions, courtesy, professional, fun and interesting and makes a person feel good about his or herself. Brand admiration is building a brand that customers love and respect.

Brand admiration is important for several reasons. First, customers will want to remain loyal to your brand. They’ll tell their friends and family about the great experience they had with you, and they’ll tend to be more forgiving if you make a mistake. Having great brand admiration increases employee morale, increases profits, reduces competition and provides opportunity for brand extensions.

Sounds great, right? But how do you get there?

Let’s take a look at one of the world’s most beloved brands — Nike. Nike’s television ads are inspiring and relatable. Nike ads have depicted a young child practicing a sport, being encouraged by mom and then growing up to be an Olympian. Or someone deciding to start running every morning because they want to change his or her life and get healthier. Who could not be inspired by those things? And the mom encouraging the child to keep trying really tugs at the heart strings. It’s comforting, it connects on an emotional and personal level, and they really do make you feel like anyone and everyone is an athlete. Their slogan “Just Do It” is short and simple, catchy and embodies the brand.




Another example we can learn from is Starbucks. They have more than 36 million Facebook followers and yet when someone comments or asks a question they respond. And the responses are fun too. Take a look at these examples:



One would not expect a company with that many Facebook followers to respond to individual comments, but they do! And, they make the customer feel good and important by acknowledging them by name. It’s like speaking directly to someone in the corporate office at Starbucks! The responses are friendly and fun, the way you would respond to a friend or family member. Coming from a big company that speaks volumes.

Brand admiration is not something that happens overnight, it takes time to build. Just remember to treat  your customers the way you would like to be treated by a brand. Don’t talk to people like they are a number — remember that these are all real people and the more you can treat them like real individuals and solve their problems and answer their questions quickly and in a professional but relatable way the more they will love and respect your brand and tell their friends.

If you want to learn more about Brand Admiration, check out this article.

And go to http://www.brandadmiration.com/ to download the FREE brand admiration guide.

Check out these FREE digital marketing tools


Hi there fellow marketers, and greetings from ISJ Media!

This industry is changing and evolving every day, so much so that it is difficult for even the most advance digital marketers to stay on top of the game. There are countless online courses and digital marketing companies that offer advice, resources and management — for a price. But if you're a small business owner your budget is tight. Like, submarine tight.

Luckily for us there are TONS of free digital marketing resources out there, as well as TONS of free downloads to help us get educated and organized.

Here are just a few:

• Social media templates from Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to manage several social media accounts in one place. You can create and schedule posts, as well as view your social media feeds. You can have a certain number of streams for free, I believe the limit is 3 (I use it for Twitter and Facebook), and you can add more if you opt for a paid membership.




Some of the most common marketing questions are in regards to social media. When is the best date and time to post? What wording should I use to get maximum likes, shares, retweets, etc. What a person should focus on first is setting social media goals for their business. What do you hope to gain from your posts? Sales leads? Brand awareness? Download the social media strategy worksheet to start developing a strategy. Other free downloads at this like a social media audit template (This is very helpful if you are managing several social media accounts for your company), an editorial content calendar and a social media content calendar. These calendars can help you to make sure your not missing important event posts and also to make sure your posts are not too close together. Remember to check back on your posts to see which did well! Pay attention to the wording you used and time on popular posts, this will help you to know what your audience is looking for.

• Digital Marketing Toolkits from smartinsights.com.  Scroll down just a bit on this homepage and you'll see a box where you can type in your email to register for a free account. I only discovered this website today but I already love it. Sign up for a free account to get access to a basic membership and free, downloadable tool kits including Benchmarking templates for improving your digital marketing, a content marketing checklist, social media account management checklist, an essential digital marketing tools guide that includes chapters on page engagement tools, blogging tools, a digital marketing plan template, social media management tools and more.

In addition to the free downloads there is a digital library with more resources: http://www.smartinsights.com/digital-marketing-advice/
Some of the downloads and tutorials here are for those with an "expert" level membership, which requires a payment to access.

• Google AdWords Keyword Planning Tool. You must have a Google AdWords account to use the keyword tool, but the account is free. And you don't have to create and buy a Google ad to use the tool, though it really makes it seem like you do at first. After you log in to your account, click this link to be take directly to the keyword planner: https://adwords.google.com/ko/KeywordPlanner

Then click "search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category."
Then fill in the search criteria fields, your business type, link to web site and area where your business is located. The keyword tool will bring up a list of search keywords that apply to your business and will report how many times that word was searched for on both desktop and mobile.  It will also rank the competition of the keyword from low to high. The competition of the keyword is determined by calculating the number of advertisers bidding on each keyword across Google. The higher the competition is for a keyword, the more you are going to pay per click to have your ads show up online.* The keyword planner will also then give you a suggested bid amount per each keyword.

* Side note: There are thousands of advertisers competing for ad space online. When a user loads a webpage, ads that fit the criteria for that user, including demographic, lifestyle, purchasing history, etc. send a "bid" for the ad space on that website. Whichever ad places the highest bid gets the space, and that is the ad that will load on the page. That's how pay-per-click ad campaigns work. You only pay for each click you receive, but the bigger your budget the bigger your bids for ad space will be.

Google is great for providing tools and training on all of their services. Go to https://support.google.com/adwords/ for infomration on how to use the keyword planner.

Try them out and let me know what you think. And if you know of any great online marketing resources please pass them along!

Use Google to increase organic traffic

Use Google to increase organic traffic

Most small businesses have a tight budget. After paying for building maintenance, employee wages, supplies, etc. there is not much left over to pay for advertising.

There are countless services out there that offer to advertise your company online, such as Facebook and Google ads, but with a little bit of research you can reach people who are searching for your product or service by using the content on your web site.


Getting people to your web site without paying for advertising is called "organic traffic." It's a lot like word of mouth.

When adding content to your website, keep in mind the keywords that your ideal audience would type into a Google search to find your product. For example, people looking for digital marketing are searching for "digital marketing," "social media," "social media marketing," "online marketing," etc.

Make sure the content on your website is rich with keywords related to your product. Google "bots" routinely crawl the Internet and make a record of wording on websites. that's what fuels the search results.

Not sure what keywords to use? Google AdWords has a keyword tool that gives you a list of the most used keywords that relate to your product or service. Using AdWords is free, you just have to have a Google account. Using the keyword tool is free, you are not required to buy a Google ad.

Click here to learn more about organic traffic and writing quality content.

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Why Facebook is not a substitute for a company website

Why Facebook is not a substitute for a company website

Surprisingly, many small businesses do not have a website. These business owners say, “I have a Facebook page so I don't need a website.” Facebook is a great tool for small businesses because it is free and pretty much everybody uses it.
But there are some things that Facebook just can't do for your business. Here are a few advantages to having a company website:

• You don't have ownership. Yes, it is your business page, but ultimately it is still owned by Facebook. Your page may get hacked or spammed, and if it accidentally gets deleted or shut down for some reason you have to start over. Also, you have to follow Facebook's rules and guidelines when it comes to promotions, but on your own website you make the rules.

• Branding. Facebook pages are not customizable with colors, logo placement, columns etc. With your company website you can create a custom design with your brand's logos and colors. Every page looks the same on Facebook, but your website can be beautiful and custom! Also, your website will have your own personal domain name, i.e. www.myownwebsite.com

• Advertising. You don't control what ads show up on the right hand rail of Facebook, it could be an ad for your competitors! On your own website you control the content, not your competition.

• Google ranking. Facebook and Google are fierce competitors. Think about it — they are both competing for digital advertising dollars. So a Google search is much less likely to pull up a Facebook page as a result than it is a Search Engine Optimized website.

• Fresh content. Content posted on Facebook moves down on a user's wall quickly. Also, it tells readers exactly how long ago you made your last post. If you have not updated your page in weeks or even days the content that is there may appear stale. Posts on your website are not dated and do not move down a news feed. Your homepage photos, mission statement, promotions etc. stay right where you want them to.

• Credibility. What looks more official and professional for a business? A Facebook page or a website? If your competitors have a website, they may be getting more of the traffic simply because having a website makes the business feel solidified, permanent, like your business is going to be around for awhile. That is a great thing to project to your customers!

That's not to say that a business shouldn't have a Facebook page, of course it should! It's a free and fun way to reach your audience and promote sales, contests, etc. But it should not be your primary or only online presence, it should be used as an extension of your website.

Website design and hosting are not as expensive as a lot of people think. ISJ Media offers websites starting at $295 set up and $50 a month. Does your company need a website? Targeting advertising? Contact me at jhopkins@journalnet.com and let me help come up with a solution for your business.

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What is SEO and how does it apply to my business?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is making sure your company ‘s website and web presence is optimized for a user’s mobile experience.

With more people than ever using their mobile devices rather than desktop computer for Internet surfing, having a prominent and user-friendly mobile presence is critical.

SEO includes: Making sure your web site looks great on a mobile device. Sure your web site looks great on a desktop computer, but how does it look on your phone or tablet? Try it out.  Is it easy to use? Is it “clunky?” When your customers come to your mobile site are they going to get frustrated and leave for your competitor’s site?

Also, Google’s new algorithm won’t pick up sites that aren’t optimized for mobile on a mobile search. In other words, if a user searches for “pizza delivery” on his or her iPhone, and your pizza business does not have a mobile website they won’t see you.

Recent research done by a group of SEO Professionals reports that long form, in depth content is more likely to rank highly in a Google search than short, brief posts. Read more about the study here.

So how do you optimize your site for mobile?

• Responsive design: “Responsive” means that your web site’s size adjusts to fit the screen of the device the viewer is using.

• Your site is registered on search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo. Let the search engines know your site is there.

•  Create profiles on Yelp, LinkdIn, etc. Did you know you can create a profile for your business on LinkdIn? Some sites like Yelp have your business listed with basic information such as an address, but you need to claim your listing in order to ensure that the information is up to date and accurate. Many online directories also allow you to create a short profile and add photos of your business.  The more places your business is listed online the more chances you have on it being seen by a mobile user doing a search.  Creating these listings are free, but on many you can also purchase online ads.

• In depth content. Don't get carried away focusing on key words. Write for people, not for search engines. Go in depth on your topic and consider taking a little more time to write your content. Making your posts longer does not mean you should fill them with fluff, but by going more in depth on your topic the length and rankability will go up.

There are many ways to increase your businesses presence online. Try searching for your web site online on a mobile device from the point of view of a customer. Make a list of what doesn’t work, what business directories does it show up on — or doesn’t. It may seem tedious, but taking the time to improve your web site’s online presence is critical for staying ahead in a digital world.

Click here to read about the top 6 SEO factors for 2016.


Want to know how SEO can help your business? Contact Jenny Hopkins at jhopkins@journalnet.com for details.




 

2/12/16 Keep mobile in mind

My 12-year-old daughter recently asked "Mom, what's a typewriter?"

I told her of the ancient device, the keys required quite a bit of pressure to activate because you needed to push hard enough to get the metal arm with that letter plate to snap forward onto the paper. I told her that the page had to be manually rolled up and down, and inevitably getting ink on your fingers.

I don't consider myself old by any means, but wow, how much technology has advanced even since the 1980s is incredible. I told my daughter that we used to have phones that were tethered to the wall with a cord — I'm not sure she believed me.

The point is, as a marketer, blogger, business owner, etc. you must constant be willing to evolve and change with the technology in order to stay relevant. If you don't you can bet your competitor(s) will.

Take mobile for example. Does your business have a web site? Have you ever tested how it appears on a mobile device? Sure it looks great on a desktop, but how many people do you know who actually sit down at the computer to do research nowadays?

If your web site is not responsive, meaning the design adapts when it recognizes that a user is on a phone or tablet, you're losing page views.

Beyond just convenience, integrating mobile into your digital marketing plan will allow you to further narrow your target audience and increase conversions.

A fairly new marketing trend is something called geo-fencing/hyperlocal. Ads can be set so that they will appear on the mobile devices of people within a set area only.

For example, a local gym may have a sign-up special going through the month of March. They want to target people who are interested in health, supplements and of course people who are currently using a different gym. With geo-fencing, a virtual "fence" is set up around local health food stores and gyms. Just as your GPS can tell where you are in order to give you directions, the ads know where you are and will display if you are in one of the geo-fenced areas.

It seems so futuristic, but it's current, and we're doing this here in Pocatello.

Contact us here at ISJ Media if you'd like more information on geo-fencing and other mobile marketing tactics.


Back in my day we had to wait until we got home to use the Internet. Remember that? Before we had smart phones, tablets and Wi-Fi

2/8/16 Four steps to creating compelling content

2/8/16 Four steps to creating compelling content

Now that I have had a chance to chat with a few people and research a bit about what works and what does not work as far as digital marketing goes, I have found that one of the biggest challenges facing bloggers, business owners etc. is creating the right message to send out to potential clients. That magical combination of words and phrases that will make the reader/viewer think, "wow, that's great, I want to know more."

With technology allowing people to be more and more choosy about what they watch and read, creating the right message for your target audience is more important than ever.

I recently came across an article that provides four steps to creating great content.

The four steps are:
• Create buyer personas
• Find your audience's pain points
• Create a list of proven topic ideas
• Use the CURVE method (Curiosity, Urgency, Relevance, Value, Emotion) to create content.

This article delves into how to create a buyer persona, find out what problems your target audience faces and then how to use that data to create content your potential customers will read.

The article also links to a HubSpot article with FREE downloadable content mapping and buyer persona templates.

Click here to read the full article.

12/10/15 8 Crazy Effective Display Ad Ideas

12/10/15 8 Crazy Effective Display Ad Ideas

Well, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about different ways to implement and improve your content marketing strategies… but, despite the major growth of content marketing and what’s called “inbound marketing,” where we are mostly using different forms of content to capture customers’ attention- some traditional outbound strategies are still necessary to share your immediate message or get people to engage in your content. That’s where “display ads” come into the picture. Display ads are all the ads you see on pretty much any website you visit or as you scroll through your social media pages.

In this week’s blog post, I wanted to share something with you that I thought would help to inspire some fresh new ideas for your digital ads and get you thinking of creative ways to share your message and ultimately bring people to your content.

The article, “8 Crazy Effective Display Ad Ideas” features a lot of great photo examples, so check out the link to get the full experience of this helpful article:

Read the full article here… 

12/3/15 Three Content Marketing Tips to Add to Your Holiday Plans

12/3/15 Three Content Marketing Tips to Add to Your Holiday Plans

This time of year is absolutely crazy for everyone! Business owners are gearing up for holiday sales and business opportunities while still trying to maintain their own personal holiday responsibilities like shopping for gifts, decorating the house and taking the kids to all the holiday events. So, there is constant consumption of information to get the best deals and see what activities are going on in spirit of the holidays. But, not only are consumers looking at the latest advertised deals, they are reading a lot of content!

This week’s great article offers some new insight how consumers are increasing their content consumption this holiday season and how business owners and marketers can take advantage of the opportunity by providing valuable content marketing to help ease the holiday stresses.

You may be wondering how you will even find the time to produce any good articles when the holidays are so busy! Native Advertising offers a good solution for this lack of time but great opportunity to share your information and brand with potential customers. With Native, the articles are actually written by professional writers who actually have the time to do research and produce good information for your customers to read about. So, you can have a great article about something like “How to Keep Your Savings Account Intact During the Holiday Season,” and surround this sure to be popular article with ads for your business… click here to learn more about Native Advertising.

Enjoy this week’s blog post and Happy Holidays!

3 Content Marketing Tips to Add to Your Holiday Plans

During the holiday season--in addition to increased travel and spending--people consume more content. This creates an opportunity to offer up some satisfying content marketing.

BY MICHELLE MANAFY, Editorial Director, Digital Content Next

The holiday season seems to bring with ample opportunity to sell, sell, sell. But while many businesses rely on the period between Halloween and Christmas to generate a significant percentage of their annual revenue, there are also quite a few businesses that don't have obvious holiday sales opportunities. Here's some good news for both groups: During the holiday season-in addition to increased travel and spending-people also consume more content. New research from Outbraindemonstrates not only an increase in the demand for content, but points out that demand exceeds supply.

Thus, in the same way that coupons, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales offer opportunities for retail businesses, this content craving provides a chance for businesses of any kind to connect in new ways with their customers. While it may be easier for a clothing boutique that can offer ideas on what to wear at holiday parties or the local natural food store that develops a list of tips for healthy, festive recipes there are many ways organizations can satisfy their audience's desire for holiday content.

Here are three tips to help any type of organization create content that will attract customers during the holiday season:

1. Give your customers what they need: At a fundamental level, everyone needs exactly what you do at the holidays: more time, more money, and a Zen-like calm to manage stress. Right, so this is great news for those of you offering time management tools and support, financial advice and savings opportunities, or therapeutic and spiritual counseling. In these cases, you can make a clear connection between common holiday stressors and your services by offering thoughtful tips and tools (and some inspiring survival stories!)
Purveyors of other types of products and services will need to dig a bit deeper. There may not be a tidy direct connection from what you do to what people commonly need at the holidays. That's okay. You know your customers and you are here to serve them. Right now, you can do that by providing useful information around the holiday theme. That may mean pointing to other local businesses or services that will help them manage the stresses of the holiday season. They will value this advice and it will reinforce the value of the services you provide.

2. Keep it quick and easy: Seriously, nobody has enough time during the holiday season. So while you may often compose lengthy emails or blog posts, this time of year, consider keeping things short and sweet. Keep regular communications brief and consider including useful aggregated content from around the web or information presented in the form of tips or lists. There might be a way to tie this directly or indirectly to your business, such as ways to keep your home secure while traveling from an insurance provider or ideas to dress up your table from the local design store.

But again, there are plenty of ways to leverage content on your site or in your social or email communications that demonstrate an understanding of your customers and reinforce your connection with them, even if you are unlikely to make a sale during the holiday season. A landscaping service might consider something fun around tree decorating whereas a local real estate agent might collect the easiest ways to spruce up your home's exterior. Can't create this content on your own? Find great examples from trusted content sources and offer a brief intro and a link with a few word from you about why you think it will be helpful to your readers.

3. Content connects community: In between panic attacks over holiday menus, shopping lists, and acceptable in-law conversation topics, a spirit of good will emerges at the holidays. From bell-ringing Santas to food bank service, the holiday season brings out our better selves. Odds are, that applies to your business as well: You likely have causes you support or perhaps you encourage staff to take time to give back to the local community.
Tell the story of your community involvement. Better still, you can amplify the stories that these worthy causes have to tell by sharing their good works with your audience. You can also provide matching donations to your customers for your favorite charity (and let your actions tell your story). The connection between your company and worthwhile causes won't be lost on your customers. Using content in this way creates a virtuous circle and reinforces your role as trusted member of the community-someone who will spring to mind the next time they are in the market for your products or services.

Certainly, your customers will be hitting the web to find what they need during the hectic holiday season. This time of year, content can create connections, not only by giving your customers what they are looking for, but also by building and reinforcing your role as trusted partner all year long.
 

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11/12/15- Discover Shockingly Good Returns in Native Advertising

11/12/15- Discover Shockingly Good Returns in Native Advertising

Last week's post was a great infographic covering the tight balance between reflecting the brand of your business while still engaging your customers through content marketing. Content marketing is still a relatively new topic to our area and I believe many businesses haven’t jumped on the band wagon yet- unless you are apart of a large corporation with a team of marketers… or perhaps you are ahead of the game. Non-the-less, content marketing is a term many are not familiar with or don’t quite understand just yet because it is so different from traditional outbound marketing.
One way to jump on the “content marketing band wagon” with a little bit of help from the experts and little to no work on your part is through Native Advertising. With Native, you don’t have to write any content yourself, no research, no proof reading (expect to approve your article of course), but it saves you a lot of time and effort and gets you started on the new content marketing strategies we so often talk about. With Native Ads, your sharing great content written by professional writers and your sponsoring it with your ads surrounding every article. Better yet, it can be shared in many different platforms. Want to start a blog like this one? Simply post your Native Ad each time it comes out, or post it to your Facebook page. As you will read in this week’s article, this form of advertising is great because it not only provides great information to your audience rather than just an ad- it gives them something to engage in and share for a longer period of time while still being exposed to your brand and expertise! Check out this week’s article for more detail. I think it does a great job of covering this new and simple way that you can jump into content marketing without a ton of effort.

Discover Shockingly Good Returns in Native Advertising

by Daniel Wilkinson
November 9, 2015

Standing in New York's Times Square gives one the perfect visual of how display advertising works. These messages vie for our attention by trying to be bigger, brighter, and louder than other messages also trying to stop us in our tracks and take notice.
Though those messages have a certain appeal, savvy digital marketers have a different way of reaching their target audiences. One could argue that a successful online advertising campaign has many more differences than similarities to the Times Square ads. The most notable difference between the two is that online marketing has the potential to be effective even when it's subtle. In fact, one type of advertising that's gained popularity over the past few years, native advertising, is sometimes indistinguishable from the environment where it appears. And, if you have yet to discover the power and potential of this medium, you'd do well to keep reading.

The 411 on Native Advertising

"Native advertising is a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears," according to Wikipedia. Readers perusing Time magazine's website, for example, are presented with a variety of content, including articles written by Time's editorial staff, alongside those written by advertisers, like Outbrain.
The word "native" refers to the content's coherence with other media on the platform. The general rule of thumb when using native advertising is to stop thinking about advertising and start thinking more about engagement.
Some of the advantages I've seen with native advertising include...

Positive user experience. By being less
intrusive, good native advertising enhances a user's experience, which makes it desirable for brands to be associated with positive online experiences.

More shareable. When was the last time somebody shared a banner ad with a friend? Native advertisements, on the other hand, not only get their immediate audiences to take action, they even generate shares similar to well-written editorials. (See Point 3 below for the caveat to this statement.)

Better click-through rates. Due to a higher audience engagement, native advertising creates a substantially higher click-through rate than other forms of digital advertising. A person is more likely to complete Navy Seal training than click a banner ad, according to Solve Media. Our company's experience working with an unnamed university client on a native marketing campaign, on the other hand, contributed to a reduced cost per click (CPC) of 40% and an audience response rate that was 400% higher than previous online advertising campaigns.
As it is with any type of advertising, there are specific steps that must be followed to achieve the desired results.
Here are three native marketing best practices you should keep in mind:

1. Understand your consumer. One of the drawbacks of traditional display ads is that they don't discern their audience. They're there for all to see. In regards to digital advertising, and in particular native advertising, this is a pitfall that must be avoided. The more you know about the type of person who buys your products or services, what he or she is looking for, and where those people hang out online, the better your chances of obtaining the kinds of results the university client mentioned earlier experienced.

2. Understand the platform/site you're advertising on. There are hundreds of online marketplaces offering native advertising—and probably a dozen or more that have an audience that aligns with your offering. To further discern the best fit, you need to gain a better understanding of a potential marketplace's platform/site.
In the example cited earlier, we chose the Yahoo Gemini marketplace for our university client. In addition to meeting the client's audience requirements, Yahoo Gemini supports a hybrid display ad unit where images complement text and serve up as a native ad in the stream of content.
Placement is bought on a per-click basis, similar to search engine advertisements, and Gemini gives advertisers one place to purchase native ad units and search advertisements. Additionally, native ads are triggered by the content on the page as opposed to keywords for search advertising used by other marketplaces.

3. Content is (still) king. Marketplaces gain popularity by providing content their audiences find valuable. Native advertisements are an extension of that trusted relationship in that they provide additional value in a similar format as other content on the site. With that said, one of the quickest ways to break that trust is by focusing only on having a compelling headline that isn't backed up by valuable content. Even worse is using a compelling headline to bait readers to engage with your message and then switching to something completely different than what is implied in the headline.
Being genuine is paramount with native advertising. Any attempts to trick readers or viewers into engaging with your message could cause your message to become associated with a negative online experience, which could be damaging both to your company and the marketplace you're using to promote your ad. If you want to experience the full potential native advertising has to offer, make sure you don't skimp on producing valuable content.

* * *

If I painted the picture that native advertising is perfect, I did not mean to do so. As with anything else, there are drawbacks for both advertisers and publishers. You only need to look at the Scientology placement on The Atlantic and the subsequent fallout as reported on Adweek to understand some of the potential risks.
My experience, however, is that if you find a reputable marketplace that meets your clients' audience requirements and you combine that with content that provides real value to that audience, the results can be good. Shockingly good.


Read more: http://www.marketingprofs.com/opinions/2015/28820/discover-shockingly-good-returns-in-native-advertising#ixzz3rJH1xeMJ

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11/5/15- Walking the Content Tightrope

11/5/15- Walking the Content Tightrope

This week I want to share this great info graphic I found on Marketing Profs- “Walking the Content Tightrope: How to Create Content that is Shareable and Trustworthy.” The info graphic has seven great tips and stats on how to use content to get your audience engaged. A great way to share great content (not have to take the time to write it yourself) is through Native Advertising where you share content that will engage your audience while still branding your business. Learn more about Native Advertising here.

1) Reflect Your Brand- The key to content shareability is balancing subjects that are interesting to your customers, while authentic and credible for your brand. Native Advertising allows you to share information through articles that viewers want to read while still giving credit to your brand through display ads showing that your are interesting and helping and sharing your expertise.

2) Make it Inspirational & Education- Customers seek out content for inspiration and education – and if you can do both, you’ve got a winning combination. The more someone learns form your content, the more it’s trusted and shared. That’s why consistently sharing valuable information is important- keep up on sharing on your social media, website and in your advertising outside of your own platforms.

3) Be Original- With 347 blog posts published every minute, your content can easily get lost in the noise. Using stock photography or somebody else’s charts makes your content instantly unremarkable. Remember, by the time people see your post, they may have consumed 10 or 20 pieces of content on the same topic. Make your content fresh and original for the best engagement and highest trust and interest.

4) Show Your Sources- Sources are important to the credibility of a content piece. Most media outlets will never reference your content if it isn’t sourced properly. And more importantly, nearly half of customers report that credibility is lost when content uses information that cannot be verified by external sources.

5) Earn Your Attention- Having your content shared organically by customers adds credibility. According to Nielsen, earned media is by far the most trusted media form, thanks largely to an 84 percent trust in word-of-mouth recommendation.

6) Give it Legs- Making your content shareable across many platforms is a great way to start conversation. And keep it positive – a study by Jonah Berger found most people like to be the “bearer of good news” rather than a “Debbie Downer.”

7) Avoid a Sales Pitch- Not every piece of visual content needs a logo slapped on it. Brand guidelines and colors don’t need to be unmovable. Not every tweet or Facebook post needs a link to a website or latest promotion. Not every content piece need to be slapped with a branded campaign hashtag. Generally these days, consumers know when you are trying to sell to them- and it probably gets a little old day in and day out- try talking to them as though you were having a conversation with your peers and recommending something (as though it were a word of mouth recommendation) or simply sharing some great information. You don’t always need to be offering your services and asking for business outright.

This is a great info graphic that I recommend printing out and hanging in your office. It has some great inspirational information and stats to back up every claim. I haven’t listed the stats in the rewrite- but make sure to check out the article here!

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