In today’s world, you have undoubtedly heard of SEO and PPC. The terms are unavoidable in our digitally, Internet-focused world. Everywhere you turn, there’s a new article detailing new SEO strategies and exploring how PPC will enhance your overall web strategy. We won’t lie: it can be confusing. Step one to successfully using SEO and PPC in your marketing efforts is to understand the similarities and differences between the two.
There are strategic reasons to utilize PPC and SEO practices. Both PPC and SEO are part of SEM (search engine marketing), which is one of the tools used for online advertising. Although different methodologies, each of their goals is to generate more traffic and ultimately lead to an increase in conversions (phone call, form submission, etc.).
First, let’s look at each of their definitions. PPC, meaning Pay Per Click, is a form of advertising that involves bidding on targeted keywords through an ad platform in order for your ad to show up at the top of the search engine results page. SEO, meaning Search Engine Optimization, is optimizing your website in order to make it more relevant to natural or organic search terms.
Now, let’s examine the benefits to each practice. PPC can yield instant results and connects you with people who are looking for what you are offering. PPC offers targeting to reach specific groups of people, perhaps with specific interests and/or in geographical areas — ultimately a demographic that may be more likely to purchase. Finally, PPC guarantees a steady stream of visitors and allows you to promote a specific deal, product or service. Alternatively, SEO has multiple benefits. For example, SEO’s return on investment will continue to rise over time and is, therefore, better in the long run. SEO relies on organic searches which consumers tend to trust more than sponsored advertisements. In addition, SEO helps your website show up more often in relevant organic searches.
Knowing the benefits to both PPC and SEO, it is also important to understand the limitations to each. For example, PPC does not improve organic search rankings. PPC requires testing campaign variables to improve conversions and overall ROI. In addition, PPC requires continual monitoring to optimize performance. Some of the limitations to SEO are that it requires more time in order to generate results. SEO also requires ongoing upkeep, and a lot of factors are simply out of your control. Finally, SEO requires dedicated time to monitor through various tools and make content adjustments or add additional content.
The decision to utilize PPC or SEO is contingent on your business’ goals and which practice makes the most sense to fulfill those goals. In an ideal world, the use of both marketing practices would be beneficial for accomplishing short- and long-term goals. However, each practice on its own offers respective costs and benefits for a business’ search marketing capabilities.
Have you ever considered why your customers or clients stick around or keep coming back? It’s because you’ve invested energy and time in building a relationship with them – and the personal touches you’ve added to your marketing efforts along the way have resulted in a long-term relationship.
If you haven’t begun to develop a long-term relationship, now is the time to start. There is one key element that will help you, and that’s to provide extraordinary and personalized customer service.
Once you’ve secured a relationship with a client or customer, don’t stop marketing to them. Continue to work diligently to retain them day in and day out. Actively communicate with them, and do it often. And, there are many ways you may achieve this–use social media platforms to your advantage–and gifting is a memorable, personal touch. Gifting keeps you top-of-mind and can go a long way toward building a positive relationship. And, it’s sure to make them feel important!
If you think relationship marketing has no benefit, think again. It’s a win-win for everyone. Your customers have a reliable service provider and you have a loyal client or customer who will promote your business by word-of-mouth–now that’s priceless free advertising!
The concept behind relationship marketing is to create customer loyalty. A loyal customer is one likely to stay with you and your company, and refer others to your business. The reality is that it takes time to cultivate a relationship, take the time today. Remember, your company’s success is all about relationships, relationships, relationships!
So, how much have you invested in customer retention?
In today’s mobile age, reaching potential clients is now easier than ever, but you’re also facing the constant challenge of excess noise with the endless amount of content being served at any given time. The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and brands that don’t evolve with it will no doubt get left behind. So, how will you stand out from the crowd and do it better in 2018?
Here are three trends you should utilize to make this your best year yet:
Scroll through just about any social media feed, news article or website, and you’re sure to see video. From live streaming to how-to clips to promotional content, it’s clear video is taking over the digital landscape.
Video has been an emerging trend for the past couple of years, but it really gained momentum and took off in 2017. We live in a smartphone world, where we’re constantly being feed content, and video has become a way to stand out from the crowd to get (and hopefully keep) potential clients’ attention.
For 2018, try adding a video content strategy to your digital planning. You can share interesting facts about your brand or industry in short, sharable six-second videos. Try showing off your best services and client experiences with a 30-second testimonial. Or, if you’re hosting an event, go live and share the experience with your followers on Facebook Live, Instagram Stories or Snapchat.
Professional networking social media site, LinkedIn, is finally getting its time in the spotlight. With over 500 million users, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to connect with right-fit referral sources, express your knowledge as a thought leader in your industry through published posts and reach a targeted audience through the site’s advertising platform.
If you’re new to LinkedIn marketing, a great place to start in 2018 is with an audit of your own profile on the network. Is your profile information complete and current, including a professional headshot and captivating summary? Have you connected with colleagues and others within your industry? Have you joined LinkedIn groups where you can share your knowledge?
LinkedIn is no longer just a place for job hunting; it’s positioning itself to be a major contender within the professional community online, as a social media network and a B2B marketing channel. Establishing yourself, and your brand, on LinkedIn will take time and thoughtful effort, but with its fast-growing network, it’s definitely a platform worth having a presence on in 2018 and beyond.
Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t, but either way, geo-fencing is changing how marketers reach their target audiences. Geo-fencing is a form of mobile marketing that uses a location-based technology to provide brands with the opportunity to hyper-localize their target audience. This is done by setting up parameters around locations such as your business, a competitor’s location or any other places you think your ideal client might frequent.
The integration of geo-fencing into your mobile marketing plans can help you achieve a variety of goals. You can present ads, relevant content or promotional coupons to potential clients. These ads are fired off when a potential client enters your virtual parameters with a mobile device with built-in GPS. Once picked up, geo-fencing allows you to serve your ad or promotion to any specific audience(s).
So, why leverage location-based targeting in 2018? You’ll reach potential clients when they’re on the go and when they’re potentially in need of your services, keeping your brand top of mind throughout the decision-making process.
We see it every day: the revamp, refresh, reimagine or relaunch of movies and TV shows from 10, 20 and 30+ years ago. Oftentimes, these new versions are met with protests from a fan base unwilling to allow the update or alteration of the classic worlds and beloved characters the fans have come to know. Similarly, refreshing a corporate brand, while necessary from time to time, may bring resistance and protest from supporters, both internal and external. Using Hollywood as our guide, let’s go through a few tips to ensure a smooth brand revamp.
- Ensure that while your look may be different, the product or service remains the same.A common question that comes up after your rebranding may be, “So, what are you doing differently?” Unless you are introducing new products or services, it is important to reassure existing and potential clients that although your look has changed, you remain committed to your original mission and level of service. For example, the remake of “Annie” doesn’t contain a curly, red headed lead character. Although that doesn’t change the story or content, advertising for the upcoming film will be necessary to reassure audiences that they will fall in love all over again.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel; stay recognizable. You don’t want to lose your brand awareness.For some, change can be scary, no matter how big or small the change. One of the major complaints heard about the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie is that the turtles look very different from the widely popular versions from the early 1990’s. Make sure that when rebranding, the company name is strong and large, and if you’re changing the company name, make it identifiable. When Consultants in Marketing rebranded in 2009, CIM Marketing Partners was the next logical company name, as CIM was already its well known abbreviation.
- Make it good! You never want anyone to say, “You spent money on THAT?” or “Who approved this?”Finally, one thing that is always discussed about remakes in Hollywood is that many are just not good. Sometimes, the freedom to recreate goes too far, and the end result is less than appealing. There is no way to please everyone, but get second and third opinions to make sure that your new brand is attractive, strong, clear and true to your company.If your rebranding is done correctly, you’ll hear more praise than critique, and the new look will catch the eye of new clients, and make the process completely worth it.
Do we need some PR? Someone asked me why she couldn’t find us on Facebook. I feel like we’re being left behind in social media. Should we do that sponsorship? Maybe we should do something. Maybe we need a plan. It’s time to move the dial on our business plan…wait, we haven’t updated “the plan” since 2009. The New Year may be a good time to start. Let’s set a meeting to talk about our marketing.
We hear it routinely when meeting with clients and prospective clients. Everyone seems to know they could benefit from marketing and PR efforts, but often they’re not sure what to do, how to do it, how much they need to invest to make it worthwhile, who should be involved and what, exactly, the plan should be.
What we’ve done for years is proven to work, year after year, for clients who stay the course and invest in marketing in the good times and bad. Here are some STOP IT NOW steps to take:
- Stop not being clear on who needs to be involved in decision-making regarding marketing/PR activities. Figure it out!
- Stop not having a marketing budget to invest properly, and regularly.
- Stop getting yourself into analysis paralysis mode, being confused and discombobulated about what to do. Get help from professionals who can help you get moving on the right, consistent pathways.
- Stop only doing random acts of marketing. Have a plan and operationalize it.
- Stop worrying about what everybody else is doing and start figuring out what YOU will be doing from this point forward.
Once you have a solid plan and it’s put in motion, it’s amazing how much easier it is to then tackle new potential marketing activities as they come along. You’ll be doing marketing and enjoying the measurable results. You’ll be building the value of your company. You’ll be much more active in determining the future of your company instead of just letting things happen to your company. And…you will have shed that analysis paralysis that has frozen you for who knows how long.
Committees. Depending on your experience with one, you may think they’re great, or maybe a total waste of time. In a nutshell, some get results, some don’t. Here’s the tale of two types of committees. Both are real examples spanning years.
Marketing Committee #1: Twelve years ago, we met with a sizeable law firm’s marketing committee to assess their situation and make recommendations to position and grow their firm. There were 12 committee members present. During that meeting, one of the members told us, “We’ve been meeting once a month for 10 years and we’ve never done anything.” And he meant it literally. We followed up by doing our research, presenting our findings and making clear recommendations for a path to move forward. We returned to their office twice more to “sell” our recommendations and start our typical partnership. It went nowhere, as the committee was never able to reach a full “yes” vote of 12 (yes, ALL had to agree before anything was done from a marketing standpoint).
Where are they now? The firm has fewer attorneys than it did 12 years ago, and I think I’ve seen the firm name mentioned in business publications twice during that time. There’s virtually no sign of a presence: No stories, no articles, no new hire announcements, no community involvement PR, etc. It’s pretty safe to say they’re not actively marketing their firm or their legal talent.
Marketing Committee #2: Several years ago, we met with a law firm that had been “holding steady” for years, a small, but solid group of attorneys with a solid book of business. They had always wanted “to do marketing,” but hadn’t known what to do. Their committee of two was open to being educated as to what marketing and public relations can and cannot do, they had a budget and they were ready to go. We aligned their firm business goals and expectations with a myriad of marketing/PR action steps, and within a year had made huge progress: A professional firm logo/brand, a full series of sales tools, including brochures and e-brochures, a new website that served as a business development tool, a new office in another state, speaking engagements that generated significant new business, business-to-business outreach with prospective clients, cross-selling newsletters, and on and on. They had always had the legal talent, now they have a brand presence to enlarge their number of clients, matters and profitability. They invested, and continued to invest, and are now reaping the rewards.
If you are part of a marketing committee, ask yourself a few questions. Does it have a clear mission? Does it have the power to implement? Does it seek advice and guidance from marketing and public relations professionals? Does it have a budget? Does your group actually do anything?
In late June, Google announced that it would begin providing domain name registration services. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it will impact the big players like GoDaddy, Network Solutions and 1&1, to name a few. How so?
- Private registration will be included with the domain name registration fee. Big players currently charge extra for this feature.
- Google will provide branded email services with their registration fee ([email protected]). Some of the big players include email with their packages, but many use email service as an “add on” and charge for it.
- Google has developed relationships with several web-based, drag and drop website building engines that plug in to their domain services. [Note: Just because this tool is available doesn’t mean everyone should be developing their business website. Believe it or not, there is significant thought and expertise put into successful websites.]
You can read more about the features of Google Domains by visiting https://domains.google.com/about/features.html#resource-records.
Google Domains is currently in beta (by invite only) and not being made available to the masses just yet. Stay tuned; I am sure this will create a buzz in the online community very soon.
“Anyone can do marketing.” Yes, it’s true. Anyone can do marketing. Problem is, being able to “do it” doesn’t equate to being able to do it well.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with a prospective client and had an exchange like this:
“Historically, what have you done from a marketing/public relations perspective?”
“Well, we’ve tried a little of X, and last year we did Y.”
“So, last year, for example…what did you do and how much was your marketing budget?”
“Well, we really don’t have a marketing budget, per se. But a radio sales rep presented us with an unbelievable radio package, so we did that…and we sponsored a table at the XYZ symposium.” Etc.
“So, all totaled up, you say you spent about $90,000 on various marketing initiatives last year, but you feel like you made no business growth progress?”
“Yeah, I can’t believe we spent that much, but I guess we did.”
That’s what happens without proper strategic planning, specifically for marketing a business or organization. There are so many “opportunities,” ways to spend or invest your marketing dollars. Whether you have a set budget or make it up along the way as “opportunities” appear before you, it sure makes sense to run those options against your specific business goals for the year to see if a given expenditure makes sense from an anticipated results angle.
You may like to tinker with cars, maybe even add a quart of oil when the Low Oil light goes on, but you leave the Check Engine light to the trained mechanic. You may think a “standard contract” from the Internet might be adequate for a business transaction, but then you thank your lucky stars when you have your attorney review it and ultimately save you from potential disaster.
It’s the same with marketing. You may be intrigued by some of the more exciting elements of marketing, but here’s a recommendation: Play a role, but don’t overdo it. It’s not only appropriate, but encouraged, for clients to be involved with their marketing, particularly at a helicopter level. Give input, understand what initiatives are planned or underway and see how it all supports the supports the business goals. Be involved, but trust professionals with decades of education, training and experience to do what they do best, while you do what you do best.
Don’t be the one who reflects back on the past year, realizing you had no strategy, no plan and no results…yet you sure did “do” marketing.