Guide to Guerrilla Marketing Strategies

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Guerrilla marketing may be scrappy, surprising, and fast, but it requires careful thought and planning. Successful guerilla marketing tactics “strike” your audience—not randomly or whimsically, but strategically—so as to make a high impact. In this post we’ll go over the six key elements of guerrilla marketing strategies. Considering these elements will help you to come up with tactics that are creative and unconventional enough to be considered “guerrilla”, yet still in line with your your business’s brand and goals.

1. Your Core Marketing Message

What makes your business stand out? What is a key differentiating factor for your business? Guerrilla marketing tactics quickly and effectively capture the interest of your audience, so it is crucial to identify what it is that you want to convey to them once you have their attention.

A general feature or benefit is not going to cut it. Guerrilla marketing strategies need a core message that stands out. To come up with your business’s core marketing message, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself.

  • What do you do that is different?
  • What does everyone else in your industry do, that you don’t?
  • What do you know that your competitors don’t?
  • What misconceptions are there about your product?
  • Are there any industry standards or “rules” that you break?
  • What is the core need of your audience that you want to appeal to? Time, health, money, ease of access?
  • Are you the fastest or the first with something?
  • Is there something you always do?

2. Your Brand Essence

In addition to conveying a core message, guerrilla marketing strategies should also center around revealing the essence of your brand. What is the main quality that defines your business? Are you edgy? Extremely thorough? Reliable? Gentle?

Your brand essence is typically derived from your company’s mission and values. It is also closely related to your core marketing message. The way you convey your core message—the colors, fonts, actions, and methods you use—will help to reveal your brand essence; and the essence you reveal will help set your core message apart.

3. Your Target Audience

Knowing your audience is a fundamental requirement for all marketing activities, but it is especially important for guerrilla strategies. Given the risky nature of guerrilla marketing, you can’t afford to overlook any details; and given the fast, one-time nature of guerrilla marketing, you have to connect with your audience as much as possible.

First of all, which audience are you targeting? Is it your general audience or a niche market? Once you have identified the group you are focusing on, it’s time to do a deeper dive. Some questions to ask yourself to ensure you really know your audience include:

  • Who: Who do they spend their time with? Who do they live with? Who will they be with when you have their attention?
  • What: What are their problems, pains, or pet peeves? What do they like? What are their hobbies?
  • Where: Where do they spend their time? Where do they work? Were will they be when they see, read, view, or engage with your campaign? Where are you performing this campaign? Are you guerrilla marketing online? Outside? Inside? In the city or suburbs?
  • When: What time of day is the best for resonating with them? When do their pain points occur? When will they see your marketing campaign?
  • Why: Why should they care about you? Why might they go to one of your competitors?
  • How: How do they think? How do they get around?

Knowing how your target audience behaves will help you to predict how they will react to, engage with, and perceive your guerrilla marketing activities, so put some good thought into this when forming your guerrilla marketing strategy.

4. The Impact

Another important consideration for forming guerrilla marketing strategies is the type of impact you want to have on your audience.

  • Is it to feel a particular emotion?
  • If so, do you want to shock them with a statistic? Tickle their funny bone? Make them feel empowered?
  • Is it to get more familiar with your brand?
  • Is it to learn about another aspect of your business?
  • Is it to become aware of a new product or service?

Asking the questions above will help you to ensure that you’re not just grabbing their attention or resonating with your audience, but that you’re connecting with them in a powerful way that will stick and inspire action.

5. The Action

Guerrilla marketing tactics package up your core message and brand essence, and convey them in a way that resonates with your audience and has an impact—but for what reason? Guerrilla marketing strategies aren’t complete without an ultimate action. Determine the action that you want the combined elements above to inspire your audience to take, and cater your tactics to that action.

The ultimate action you want your audience to take could be:

  • Call you
  • Sign up to be contacted by you
  • Learn more
  • Go to your website
  • Stop by your store
  • Buy your product
  • Sign up for a program
  • Request a consultation

These are examples of calls to action that are fundamental to marketing campaigns of all types. Guerrilla marketing strategies that focus on an action will enable you to not only optimize your campaign for that action, but also to measure your success.

6. The Results

Guerrilla marketing strategies require defined goals and objectives so that you can strive for and measure results. You want more customers, but every business wants more customers. The question is, how will you get more customers? Is it through increased social media engagement? More traffic to your website? More calls for consultations? The more specific you can get with your goals, the more accurately you can measure the results.

Track and measure the results of your guerrilla marketing campaigns using platforms such as Google analytics and tools such as conversion tracking.

Guerrilla marketing can be a fun way to market your business and get your creative juices flowing. Incorporating the above elements into your strategy will ensure that you also experience the joys of campaign success and business growth.

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

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Every customer has their own preferences, expectations, desires, and wishes. In a perfect world, you would satisfy every customer; but in the real world, you can’t; and in the digital world, anyone can publish an online review of your business.

The power of online customer reviews can seriously impact your business’s reputation and customers’ decisions. While you cannot control what other people post online about your business, you do have some control over the outcome of a negative review. This post will go over how to respond to negative reviews, so that you can mitigate the damage and protect your business’s reputation.

Preparing to Respond to Negative Reviews

As a business owner, you want to provide a response, and not a reaction, to negative online reviews. This requires some preparatory work to help you get into the right mindstate.

Think positive.

You’re passionate about your business and you care about your customers, so negative reviews are going to sting. However, a negative state of mind will only make the situation worse. So take a big step back and a deep breath in. Remind yourself that negative customer reviews don’t make you a bad business; they are an inevitable part of running a business. Think of them more positively as a challenge to tackle and an opportunity to learn.

Think of the customer.

The best way to respond to negative reviews is to work with the customer on their terms. Prepare for this by thinking about your customer beyond just your business—their lifestyle, personality, mindset, habits, occupation, pace of life. This can help you to understand their side as much as possible, enter the situation with the proper empathic mind state, and communicate with them in the most productive manner.

Find the root of the problem.

This does not mean finding out who to blame, but finding out where the breakdown occurred. Being able to explain the breakdown shows the customer that you cared enough to look into the issue, and may even get them to see the situation differently. It will also help you to come up with the most effective solution, as well as prevent it from happening again with other customers.

Keep in mind that your initial response to negative customer reviews will not likely contain this information. There is a time and a place for providing your findings, which we will cover later on in this post. There will also be times that you can’t find a breakdown on your end. Even still, you should still approach the situation with the same willingness to take responsibility.

Responding to Negative Reviews

Now that you’ve achieved the right mindset and gathered the important information, you’re ready to actually respond to the negative customer review.

Apologize…

Regardless of what went wrong and why, always apologize to your unhappy customer. Your initial message when responding to negative reviews is that you feel sorry that they are in distress, and would like to work with them on changing that. Apologize promptly to show that you care, and concisely (long explanations will come off as defensive).

…Publicly

This initial response to negative online reviews should take place on the platform on which it was made. This will help with your online presence, and allows you to show both your customer and other visitors to the site that you are prompt and proactive with your customer service. Responding to negative reviews online is particularly challenging, as online communication can easily be misperceived, so make sure your message is clear.

Then take it offline.

After promptly, clearly, and publicly expressing your apologies and willingness to take action, you should then propose to take the conversation offline. Offer to reach out via phone or email for a one-on-one conversation. This enables a deep dive into the situation, and eliminates noise such as additional comments by other users. It is also during this more in-depth conversation that you can share your findings about the root of the problem.

Repairing after Negative Reviews

Once you have prepared and apologized to your unhappy customer, it’s time to take action: first to make the customer happy and second to get your business back on track.

Make the Customer Happy

The priority when responding to negative reviews is not your company, it’s the customer. Therefore, your response should always include some form of compensatory action. You might provide a refund, offer the same service free of charge or at a discount, give a gift certificate, or an additional service at no additional cost. Find out out from your customer what will make them happy, and serve that need to the best of your ability.

Compensatory action in your response to negative customer reviews could mean the difference between simply satisfying your customer and actually retaining them.

Get More Positive Reviews

A proper response can lead customers to edit, remove, or even replace their negative online reviews. Some customers even turn into fans of your business! However, this isn’t always the case. While you cannot delete reviews made on other platforms, you can reduce the review’s prominence. Obtain positive reviews to push the negative review further down the timeline. If it is on a mixed media platform, publish additional content such as stand-out blog posts and company updates to increase the amount of positive and beneficial content.

Also, remember that negative online reviews are not entirely a bad thing. Visitors who see a negative review with a prompt followup and positive customer reaction may favor the transparency over a competitor that has only positive reviews.

Stay on Top of Online Reviews

You can’t respond to negative online reviews if you can’t find them! With the power of online reviews today, reputation monitoring is crucial to your business success. Use reputation monitoring to stay on top of what customers are saying about your business online, to make improvements where necessary, and to identify strengths to harness.

Knowing how to respond to negative reviews, especially those that occur online, is the key to customer relationships and continued success. Negative online reviews are not the worst thing in the world, and when handled properly, can be turned into opportunities to better satisfy your customers and improve your business.

Forming a Niche Market Strategy

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The strategy of marketing toward a specific group of people well suited for your business is known as niche marketing. Niche marketing can benefit small businesses by reducing competition, enhancing customer relationships, and increasing brand awareness.

However, when it comes to using niche marketing, it’s important that you put careful planning and thoughtful execution into your marketing activities. A niche market strategy helps you to find a profitable niche for your business, to properly serve and market to that niche, as well as to maintain other aspects and values of your business. This article provides some guidelines to consider when forming your niche market strategy.

1. Do Your Research

If you think you have found your niche market, it is important to do your research first to ensure that this niche market is lucrative. Are people actually buying products or services within that niche, or is it just a popular or trending topic? If they are engaging in purchases, is the size of the market or level of demand high enough? Delve into the demographics, social trends, and surrounding competition in both your location and industry to make sure that your niche will be profitable.

2. Assess the Change

Oftentimes, a business has a particular niche in addition to its more general services and audiences. If you’re considering a niche, think about how different the marketing tactics and strategies will be in relation to your current practices. Will you need to change the current strategy altogether to incorporate both? Will you need to perform the same activities for your niche, but with slight variations? If your workload is going to double, do you have the time to do it? When forming your niche strategy, think about what it will take to market to your new niche, and to convey your specialization.

3. Determine Your Positioning

One of the pillars of niche marketing is that by specializing in something, you can stand out from your competition. Therefore, a major part of your niche market strategy will involve distinguishing yourself from your competitors. Will you be the only, the best, or the first provider of a particular service in your area?

In order to determine how you will position yourself against your competition, you must first get familiar with how they position themselves. Find out who your competitors are, then look at their ads, brochures, pricing, and websites to identify key selling points and characteristics. In addition to all that you can learn from your competitors, a competitive analysis can help you to refine your niche market strategy.

4. Always Be Learning About Your Niche Market

The more specific your audience is, the more important it is for your content and messaging to resonate with them. With such a small audience, you can’t rely on mass appeal, and you can’t afford to lose out on business opportunities.

To keep your niche market strategy effective and up to date, perform as much research on your niche market as possible. Find out where they spend their free time, what they read, to what associations they belong, what websites they visit, where they communicate online, and where they congregate offline. You want to know the exact problems they face, and particular preferences they have so you can satisfy their needs and keep them coming back for more.

5. Be a Part of Your Niche Market

Data, analytics, and research can help you to learn about your niche, but one of the best ways to familiarize with your market and stay up to date on changing behaviors and trends is to actually interact with them. Participate in their Facebook groups and online forums, immerse yourself in their communities, go to events they are attending and hosting.

You’ll see the most success if you communicate with your niche market as an understanding member, not an outsider. Therefore, your niche market strategy should involve experiencing their needs—not just knowing them—so that you can learn how to best serve them. Knowing their communication style, common lingo, and typical behaviors will help you to choose which communication channels to use, and to show that you truly are an expert in your niche. In addition, it’s a great way to increase social media engagement.

6. Monitor Reviews

If people trust online reviews written by total strangers, you can imagine the power of online reviews 
written by someone that a person knows or who is very similar to them. Since members of a niche market tend to flock together, monitoring reviews is an important part of your niche market strategy. This helps you maintain a positive reputation among your niche market’s community, and to form long term relationships with your customers. Respond to negative reviews promptly, and comment on the positive ones too! This will help show that you don’t just care about your reputation, you care about your customers being happy.

7. Pay Attention to Trends

Take note of the financial profile of your niche market. Are purchases high in profit but low in volume? Does this market only come alive during a particular part of the year? Knowing the patterns within your niche market is an important part of your niche market strategy, as it will help you identify where and when your larger target audience or more general services are needed.

8. Avoid Hyper Focus

If you are choosing to specialize in a particular service or population in addition to your more general practices, it is important to make sure that your efforts toward both are balanced. While a niche market has its benefits, small changes can have big impacts on your business. Your niche market strategy may involve periods of falling back on your broader target audience or more general services to compensate for or offset dips in niche market success. Therefore it is important to make sure that the quality of the products and services of the more general market are up to par, and that honing in on a niche doesn’t compromise the quality of other products and services you offer.

Successful niche marketing can yield excellent results for your business, your customers, and your own skills. Use these guidelines when forming your niche market strategy, to ensure that you can reap all of its benefits.

Best Practices for Landing Pages

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Landing pages are a great way to increase the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, whether via email blasts, search engine marketing, social media channels, or more. Since every company, campaign, offer, and target audience is different, there is no one magic formula for the perfect landing page. However, there are certain design and marketing fundamentals that every landing page can benefit from. Here are 11 best practices for landing pages that can guide you toward getting the best results.

1. One page, one goal.

One of the biggest benefits of landing pages is that they increase conversions by facilitating a specific action by a user. As a result, it is a best practice to make sure your landing pages are designed around a single offer and single action as much as possible. The action you want visitors to take should facilitate one marketing goal, and the steps for completing that action should be as clear and convenient as possible. Extra links, multiple calls to action, more than one offer, and social media sharing buttons can be distracting, and may detract from the goal your campaign is trying to accomplish.

2. Customer-focused.

While the value of your product or service will help influence a buyer’s decision, it is ultimately the benefit it has to them that they are most interested in. Make sure the specific benefits that users will experience as a result of your offer are loud and clear on your landing page—their problem that your product or service will solve, their difficulty that you will eliminate, or their desire that you will meet.

3. Balance features with benefits.

Speaking of benefits, it is a landing page best practice to make sure benefits are balanced with features. Without features, people will not know how they will receive benefits. Without benefits, a customer will not realize the importance of the features. A good landing page employs the right mix of “what” (benefits) and “how” (features).

4. Be Concise.

As landing pages are designed to facilitate a particular behavior, it is essential for the content on the landing page to be concise. Users shouldn’t have to fish through information to understand the offer, its benefits, and how to obtain it. In fact, they won’t. The more fishing they have to do, the more you are distracting them away from the action you want them to take. Get users who have landed on your page to stay—and act—on your page by answering the most pressing questions up front, and providing the necessary information in the most efficient way possible.

5. Be persuasive, not pushy.

Persuasive content will help facilitate the behavior your landing page is centered around. However, keep in mind that the goal of persuasive content is to encourage users to move through the steps to the call to action because they have decided to, not because they were forced or tricked into it. Persuasive content uses the right balance of information, instruction, and urgency to help users feel comfortable and confident in moving forward.

6. Design for skimming.

When users land on your landing page, before they decide to take the action you want them to take, they must first decide whether to stay on the page. Is it worth their time? Skimming doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t reading your content. Skimming allows them to make a quick assessment of the page to see whether they should stay or leave.

If your landing page is skimmable (such as with headlines and bullet points) and the information extracted from a skim is effective (concise and persuasive), users may either go back and read the details, or may even be ready to take action!

7. Use simple, everyday language.

Your landing page should not include fancy industry words or jargon, but rather the terms an average person might use when searching for your product or service. Not only does this help your landing page get found via online search, it allows the page to better resonate with users. Yes, you want to be an expert in your field, but you can show your expertise in other ways, such as in your blog. When it comes to landing pages, being able to relate with customers and speak their language is far more important than showing your expertise.

8. Make it responsive.

People check their email, monitor social channels, and perform searches from devices other than just their desktop computers. As a result, it is a best practice to make sure your landing page is responsive. This means that it renders properly on all devices so that users can get the same information and perform the same actions, such as filling out a form, no matter where or how they ended up on your landing page. With the amount of tablet and mobile usage today, a non responsive landing page can cost a business several conversions.

9. Make sure the landing page matches the source.

It is a landing page best practice to ensure that the look, feel, and content of your landing page matches that of the source that links to it. This helps to create a positive user experience for the searcher. If someone clicks on a link from an ad, banner, or email and the page they land on looks completely different, they are likely to assume they are in the wrong place and leave. Also, for search engine marketing campaigns, the more closely a landing page copy matches the ad copy, the higher its relevancy score will be.

10. Use lots of landing pages.

The one page, one goal approach will result in a lot of landing pages. This is not a bad thing! It is a best practice to have a separate landing page not only for each marketing campaign, but each channel being used to promote that campaign. For example, the landing page someone arrives at after clicking on a pay-per-click ad will be different from that which they land on after clicking a Facebook ad, even if they both promote the same offer. This allows you to cater each landing page to the users on each channel, as well as to identify which channels are yielding the most success.

You may also want to use different landing pages for different buyer personas, and even for each social media network. For example, a person coming in from a link in a Twitter post is likely to be in a different mindset than someone coming in from a Linkedin post.

11. Use tracking

Tracked links and conversion tracking for SEM campaigns enable you obtain individual metrics for each landing page so that you can measure campaign success and identify which channels and even page elements perform the highest. To utilize conversion tracking for your landing pages, you will need a unique URL for every landing page or a link tracking tool or dashboard.

Effective landing pages will vary for each business, and take time, testing, and trial and error to achieve. These best practices for landing pages will help in making the most of that time, as you hone in on the right design for your business, that yields the most success for marketing campaigns.

Two Essential Tools for SEM Campaigns

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When you are looking for a product or service, especially one near you, what is one of the first things you do? If you’re like most consumers today, you Google it (or depending on your preferred search engine, you “Yahoo” it, or “Bing” it). With such widespread use of search engines today, Search Engine Marketing has become a powerful way for businesses to enhance their visibility and grow their customer base.

With SEM campaigns, businesses pay to have their listing or ad show up in front of people who are searching their product or service. As such, SEM Campaigns are synonymous with paid search or pay-per-click advertising. Since this is a form of paid advertising, it is important to make the most out of an SEM campaign. This post will go over two essential tools to enhance SEM knowledge and drive campaign success.

Related: 3 Tools Your Competitors Are Using to Advertise Effectively

Tool #1: Conversion Tracking

What is a Conversion?

A person’s journey from online browser to paying customer is rarely a direct path or overnight event. This journey typically involves multiple forms of engagement with a business. 

The completion of actions that are meaningful to your business is called a conversion. There are many different actions that a given business may define as a conversion. A conversion could be a direct sale or a consumer engaging with your business in some other way that ultimately will drive revenue for your business, such as submitting a form, making a call, or scheduling a consultation. The key is determining what actions performed by users are valuable to your business.

Why Use Conversion Tracking?

When running an SEM campaign, someone may click on your ad but then take no further action. Or, they might not purchase or download the item you’re advertising, but might engage in a different activity on your site. Tracking the actions performed by people who have clicked on your ad is known as event tracking. Tracking those actions which you have defined as a conversion is called conversion tracking. 

Uses of Conversion Tracking

Conversion tracking is an essential tool for SEM campaigns. Conversion data allows you to see which campaigns are performing successfully, or more specifically, which ad copy, keywords, or landing pages are driving the most activity. Conversion tracking also enables you to trace purchases back to specific ads. This gives you a clear view into the return on your investment for the campaign.

Benefits of Conversion Tracking

When you know which ads, demographics, or keywords are performing best, you can learn a lot about your target audience—their behavior patterns, what appeals to them most, how to serve them best. You can also make data driven decisions. For example, if you need to cut down on your budget on a particular month, you will know exactly which demographics or keywords to shut down or continue running in order to maximize your spend.

Conversion tracking is an SEM campaign tool with two benefits: 1- It provides data and analytics to drive campaign success, and 2- It provides valuable information with respect to your budget and target audience.

Tool #2: A/B Testing

The second essential tool for enhancing the success of SEM campaigns is A/B testing. If an SEM campaign is yielding weak results, how do you know what to change? Perhaps it is one small tweak. Or, if a particular campaign is bringing in leads and increasing conversions, how do you know that it can’t bring in even more?

What is A/B Testing?

A/B testing enables you to create multiple versions of something to find out which version performs the best. With SEM campaigns, A/B testing can be used on the ad itself or its associated landing pages to find out what yields the most success. While it may sound simple, careful consideration is required for A/B testing, such as with how many factors to test at once, and how long to run each test. The data from A/B testing will not be useful if it is convoluted or insufficient.

What to A/B Test

With regard to an SEM campaign, there are various components of a pay-per-click ad that can be tested. These includes the headline, description, call to action (CTA), destination URL, punctuation and capitalization, the time of day the ad runs, and the devices it targets. A/B testing enables you to determine which words and additional details encourage users to click and convert.

SEM Campaign Success

SEM Campaigns increase your online presence by putting your business in front of the vast amounts of people who use search engines, and driving potential leads to your website. With tools such as conversion tracking and A/B testing, you can gain important insights to enhance the benefits of an SEM campaign and maximize your ROI.

For example, one particular ad may be receiving a lot of clicks, but not a lot of conversions. A/B testing would allow you to see that something like changing the image on the landing page is all it took to get more conversions out of those clicks. Or perhaps the landing page is well designed, but tweaking the ad copy itself to better match the landing page is what was needed.

SEM campaigns require ongoing maintenance and monitoring as products, audiences, and platforms evolve. Conversion tracking and A/B testing is a combination that allows you to find out not only what works, but what works best and how to optimize SEM campaigns accordingly. With these tools, you can keep track of conversions, keep up with changes, and keep striving for improvement. You will also learn more about your target audience which can help with other digital marketing channels as well.

What Makes a Good Landing Page?

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Advertising your business online is an effective way to get in front of people where they spend most of their time, and turn users into customers. With online advertisements, good ad copy may get users to click on your ad, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will turn into leads. Generally speaking, landing pages serve to increase conversions, but the number of conversions depends on the quality of the landing page. This post will go over the elements that make a good landing page, and how to align each one for campaign success.

What Makes a Good Landing Page?

When designed right, a business can experience the many benefits of landing pages. Of course what characterizes a landing page as “good” will depend upon the action it is centered around and the campaign it is supporting. In general, however, a good landing page is one that converts visitors to leads by effectively providing the information and steps a person needs to perform a desired action. Good landing pages have an attractive offer and strong call to action that is targeted toward the user.  A good landing page—especially for Search Engine Marketing or Facebook advertising campaigns—is one that clearly conveys an offer, quickly communicates its benefits, and causes users to contact your business. 

What to Put on a Landing Page

What to put on a landing page will depend on the product or service you’re offering, the type of landing page you are creating, and the audience you are targeting. Below is a list of elements that you may put in a landing page.

Offer

A landing page is centered around getting a visitor to perform an action, which is aligned with your business obectives. This action could be signing up for a newsletter, downloading a piece of content, calling for a consultation, or even making a purchase. The offer of your landing page is anything you are giving to your visitors in exchange for their perfoming the desired action. Offers could be coupons, discounts, free trials, a piece of content, or a consultation. Offers are an essential element to put on a landing page, and must be compelling enough to encourage your target audience to act. 

Headline

The headline, header, or title, is the key message of your landing page, so it must convey exactly what is being offered. It is also the first thing a visitor reads when they land, so it should be bigger than the rest of the content on the page. The headline doesn’t necessarily have to be at the top of the landing page. As long as it’s easy to find can be consumed quickly by users, it can go anywhere.

Your headline needs to convey the offer, but in an enticing way that grabs your reader’s attention through interest or intrigue, and gives them a reason to continue reading.

Subheadline

The subheadline serves to strengthen and support the headline. It may clarify the offer in the headline, explain core benefits, or provide a supporting statistic. The subheadline should be near the headline as theses two elements are strongly associated.

CTA Button

Your headline, subheadline, and offer inform the reader of the product or service and its benefits in order to get the reader to make a decision. Once they make a decision, they need to know how to obtain the benefits you are offering. This is where the call to action button comes in.

The call to action (CTA) informs the user of the action required to obtain your offer, whether it’s to schedule, sign up, call, or download. However, general terms like these don’t make good CTA’s. They must be highly specific to eliminate any uncertainty for the reader. Examples of effective CTAs for a good landing page are “Schedule a consultation”, “Sign up for the webinar”,  “Get a free quote”, or “Download the free eBook”.

Good landing pages have CTAs that are quick and easy. That is, quickly found without having to scroll, and easy to spot amidst the other content on the landing page.  Adding urgency with terms like “today”, “now”, or “before it’s too late” can also enhance the CTA.

Image

You may want to put clear, high quality images into your landing page to increase its visual appeal and catch your viewer’s eye. In addition, a good landing page supplies the information needed to make a decision. An image can do this by showing the product or service being used in context. As with Facebook ad images, the person using the product should also be representative to your target audience, so that it resonates with users more. The size of the image will depend upon the other elements of the landing page. In some instances, a simple, appealing image can serve as the background of the entire page.

Video

Video is another element you may want to put in a landing page. Video can be used to show customer testimonials, explain a complex product or service, or showcase your expertise. Videos can be particularly useful because sometimes they eliminate reading, and can capture more emotion and personality of your brand—especially if you’re in the video.

Social Proof

What other people have to say about your business carries more weight than what you have to say about your business. Including social proof in your landing pages is key. Examples of social proof to put in your landing page include user testimonials, star ratings from online reviews, publications and media outlets that have featured your business, or logos of well-known customers.

A good landing page is informative but concise, and goal-driven but not pushy. It requires the right mix of content and images, and the right balance of information with instruction. When pieced together with the main offer as your focus and your target audience in mind, the above elements will make a good landing page. Keep in mind you may not use all of these elements, or you may use some more than once. Consider the primary objective of your ad, the action you are trying to get users to take, and the desired result of the campaign to decide which elements to use and how. Then, with tools like conversion tracking and A/B testing, you can find which combinations and variations of these elements will yield the best results.

 

The Power of Online Customer Reviews

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In today’s digital world, the online presence of any business is a priority. You build a website, you include customer testimonials, you create social media profiles, you regularly update your Google business listing. However, your online reputation isn’t just the result of what you generate on your end—it’s all instances in which your business appears online, including online reviews. With the prevalence and power of online review sites like Yelp, Google+, and Angie’s List, it is essential to understand the impact they have on your business, and how you can use reviews to build your online reputation.

Online Customer Reviews

Online customer reviews serve to highlight—positively or negatively—various aspects of your business, including products, services, purchase interactions or customer support engagements.

Online customer reviews are found in a number of different places, including but not limited to:

  • General search engines that provide local results, such as Google or Yahoo
  • Directory sites such as Yelp and YP.com
  • Niche sites such as TripAdvisor for travelers and UrbanSpoon for restaurants
  • Paid review sites like Angie’s List
  • Social media sites like Facebook

While these sites contain direct reviews and star ratings, there are other forms of online reviews, such as

  • Third party blog posts and articles 
  • Comments on your business blog
  • Social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
  • Comments on your social media posts

The Power of Online Reviews

Not only are online customer reviews widespread across the web, they are widely used by internet users to make decisions. According to recent statistics, 90% of consumers read online reviews, and 88% of them trust online reviews when considering a business. This means that by not having online reviews, you are denying 88% of your potential customers the information they consider important for making a purchase!

The power of online reviews is further apparent through additional stats from the study above. For example, 72% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more. In addition, customers are likely to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. However, 86% of consumers will decide against buying from you if they read negative reviews about you online.

You’ve probably seen the power of online reviews yourself. In addition to review scores, you’ll notice that many reviews show up in search results for your business. In fact, reviews often show up in results pages before users even get to your website!

Yelp is another indicator of the power of online reviews. Any business owner who has had a negative Yelp review knows how hard it can be for your rating to bounce back. According to the study above, a one-star increase on Yelp leads a to a 5-9% increase in business revenue, and one negative review can cost you 30 customers. In addition, a Yelp page will sometimes rank higher than a company’s actual site on a search engine results page.

Negative Online Reviews

No one likes a bad review, and as a business owner, you want to maintain a positive online reputation through these reviews. Unfortunately, miscommunications and mistakes happen, and at some point you’ll get a negative online review. What can you do?
Negative online reviews are less than ideal, but they are not the end of the world. If you know how to respond to negative reviews, you can mitigate the damage they incur and in some cases, benefit from them! In response to a thorough follow up to a negative online review, for example, an unhappy customer may remove that review, edit it, or replace it with a positive one on the follow up interaction.

Benefits of Online Reviews

Positive reviews are great for business, but they do more than just make your business look good. Here are some additional benefits of online reviews that will have you crossing your fingers for the next positive review to come in!

Promote the Positive

You can say all you want about the value of your own business, but nothing is more credible than the approval of an actual customer. In addition, you can share positive reviews on your website and across social channels, amplifying their effect. Cross promotion of online reviews is a useful way to save you time and money in your marketing and gives you additional information to include on your business website.

Provide Insight into Services

External review sites are not only a highly trusted source of information, they tend to generate reviews on businesses as a whole, rather than just a specific product or service. With online reviews, customers can learn not just about your offerings, but also about what the experience of engaging with your business is like.

Another benefit of online reviews is that they give customers the ability to highlight aspects of your service that make you stand out. Online reviews often mention things that you might not have noticed yourself or thought to highlight to customers. This could be anything—a singing dentist who puts patients at ease, the accommodating tour guide who provides bottles of water, or the plumber with a funny painting on his truck. The little things that matter to customers can stand out in online reviews.

Convey Your Personality

In addition to providing insight into your services, online reviews can also benefit your business by shedding light on your brand’s personality. As mentioned earlier, how you respond to a review has just as much of an impact as the review itself, whether that review is positive or negative. Online reviews are opportunities to show your personality to the public. If you consistently take care of unhappy customers and express gratitude for positive reviews, you can convey your brand personality and show that you care about your customers.

Build Trust

If a business has a wealth of positive reviews and not a single negative mention in site, users may actually become suspicious. It is a universal truth that because everyone is different, you can rarely satisfy everyone. If your business has a few negative reviews in the mix, don’t sweat it. The negative reviews show that you have nothing to hide, and make the positive reviews more sincere. A balanced mix of online reviews benefit your business by adding elements of truth and transparency to your image, which are likely to aid with customer trust.

Improve Rankings

Google pulls data from external online review sites for its search result quality. Therefore, the more positive reviews you have on these sites, the better your rankings will be in organic search results.

Online reviews today extend far beyond just customer testimonials on your website. With the increasing number of websites, platforms, and directories, and the growing interconnectivity of these applications, it is more important than ever to monitor and manage your online reputation. With a balance of prevention, maintenance and response tactics, you can leverage the power of online reviews for growing your business.

SEM Campaigns: Writing Ad Copy

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Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) is used by businesses today to boost their visibility, increase their online presence, and drive more leads and sales. A large part of the success behind the paid search ads of SEM campaigns is the targeting. Search engine advertising platforms base ads off of targeted keyword phrases, audience demographics, or niche markets. However, while keyword and demographic targeting help get your ads in front of the right people, the ad copy (the words in the advertisement itself) is what ultimately influences whether people engage with your ad. Writing ad copy for SEM campaigns is a delicate process that can make or break the success of your campaign. This post will provide tips for writing ad copy for successful SEM campaigns.

Writing SEM Ad Copy

While the targeting and keywords of SEM ads are important, they’re not enough for a successful SEM campaign. Effective ad copy is the other half of the equation that will facilitate your desired outcome. In order to run a successful SEM campaign, the copy of the ad needs to be geared toward target customers. Like audience and keyword targeting, writing effective ad copy is quite a balancing act. The copy must be informative but not too complex; eye catching but not distracting’ and up front but not too aggressive.  Sound intimidating? Here are some tips to consider when writing ads for SEM campaigns.

Numbers and Characters

Using numbers and special characters serves several purposes for your paid search ads. Numbers and special characters are eye-catching, which serves to break up the monotony of text-only ads. Numbers also work to more efficiently convey information like discounts, ratings, and timing that may be relevant to the advertisement. Also, numbers provide more specificity for certain offers.  Good examples of numbers and characters in ad copy include terms such as “#1”, “A+”, “20%”, or “16 hour turnaround.”

The Offer

Whether you’re writing an ad for a specific time frame, new low price, or exclusive deal, making a clear offer will boost the SEM campaign’s success. The offer presented in the ad should be compelling to the audience. Typically the offer is something that solves a problem that your customer has, or helps them make the decision to click and convert. Think of the problem your business is solving for customers, or what would entice an interested buyer to make a purchase or sign up. Examples of offers include “Get a free consultation”, or “Save 30%”.

Features

Features are special characteristics of your business that make it unique and set your products and services apart from your competitors. What makes your business stand out? Perhaps you provide free shipping, custom packages, multiple plans, home delivery, extended hours, or a one-stop shopping experience. When writing ad copy, include features of your business to boost the appeal of your ad.

Benefits

While features focus on your business, benefits focus on your customers—in particular, what the customers derives from the features. What will potential customers get as a result of your feature, or the product or service you are advertising? Will customers save time? Is there a money back guarantee? Will their health improve? When writing ad copy, Including benefits is a must!

The Call-To-Action

While the above elements of the ad copy are used to influence searchers in the decision-making process, the call-to-action (or CTA) directs someone to take an action. The CTA tells users exactly what to do to obtain the features, benefits, and offers presented in the ad copy. Examples of CTAs include “Order Now!”, “Call for a free consultation”, or “Save 30% today”. 

Extending SEM Ad Copy

The above components of paid search ad copy will aid in the success of SEM ad campaigns. However, there may be additional details and information that you want to include in your ad that will not fit within the allowed character limit. This is where ad extensions come in. 

Ad extensions are a feature of advertising platforms that enable you to expand your ad copy. Ad extensions allow you to provide more detail that may influence a user to click, and also to increase the size of the ad itself. There are serveral different types of ad extensions, the use of which will depend on the additional information included in the ad copy. Examples of ad extensions include:

Sitelink Extensions: these extensions show additional links below the standardad copy, such as links to specific product pages on your website.

Location Extensions: these extensions show a business’s address, phone number, or map marker in the ad. These extensions enhance ads geared toward local search. For mobile ads, your directions can be in the form of a link for users seeking out directions.

Call Extensions: call extensions include a tracked phone number in the ad, or a button for mobile phone calls.

Review Extensions: these enable you to include a quote or excerpt from a review in an ad. Reviews must come from a reputable third-party site, approved by the search engine on which the ad is displayed.

Callout Extensions: Callout extensions are often used to highlight additional features or benefits of the advertised product or service.

Extensions can help improve ad conversion rates by immediately supplying the resources needed for customers to act. They can also improve your ad rank and lower your cost per click (CPC). Once again, however, keep in mind the delicate balance of writing ad copy. Too much information could be overwhelming or distracting, so make sure to only use ad extensions when additional information is critical to the success of the SEM campaign.

Writing ads for SEM campaigns is a delicate process that takes time, thought, and a lot of practice. Like most things in life, running an SEM campaign yourself is often a game of trial and error, but over time you’ll learn what works for your business. If you’re nervous about writing or running your own SEM ad campaigns, a certified campaign management company can do it for you!

7 Benefits of Landing Pages

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A landing page is named as such because it does just that—it drives a visitor to land on a web page. Landing pages funnel web visitors from a link within a source such as an email, social media post, Facebook advertising campaign, direct mail, or pay-per-click ad.  Landing pages generate leads for businesses by enticing interested users to fill out a form or call a business.

You may be wondering about the difference between a website and a landing page. Doesn’t your business website drive leads to your business? Well, yes, but a website has other purposes as well such as providing detailed product information, getting your business found online, and sharing case studies. A good business website is designed around actions you want your visitors to take, and that’s where websites differ from landing pages.

Landing pages have specific benefits that set them apart from a business website and make them an effective lead generating and marketing tool. Your business website accommodates various paths to take, while landing pages accommodate a more specific action. This specificity is the driving force behind landing pages. In this post we’ll go over seven benefits of landing pages for your business.

1. Landing Pages Directly Support Your Business Goals

One of the main benefits of landing pages is that they directly support your business goals such reaching a new niche market, promoting a new product, getting new customers, or closing more sales. Landing pages benefit your business because they can be catered to the specific audience or goal you are targeting, and allow you to measure success with relation to that goal.

Designed around specific actions that can be tailored to meet your business goals, landing pages can encourage people to take action such as sign up for your mailing list, provide contact information, subscribe to a newsletter, make a purchase, or request a consultation.

2. Landing Pages Increase Conversions

Just as your website contains information that influences a visitor’s decision to take action, a good landing page will do the same. A landing page sets up a clear action for users to take and makes it as easy as possible for them to take that action. This is known as your call to action. As a result, you will see more of that action being taken (also known as conversion). Landing pages benefit your business because more conversions typically leads to more customers and more money for your business.

3. Landing Pages Generate Data and Insights

When you link a landing page to a specific campaign, piece of content, action, or source, you can see which channels are bringing in the most leads, which topics and offerings are of most interest, or which campaigns are the highest performing. Tracking user behavior is one of the best practices for landing pages that can produce valuable insights. These types of insights can help you refine your knowledge of your target audience and your campaign strategies, and improve your effectiveness overall.

In addition, if your landing page contains a form, you can use the information requested in the form to learn more about your visitors, such as their specific challenges, preferred date and time for a consultation, or specific information they want you to know.

One last way that landing pages benefit your business through data and insights involves A/B testing. A/B testing is an extremely effective tools for campaign success. With data and analytics available for your landing pages, you can test out different landing page elements to see what’s most effective. You may compare the effectiveness of a video versus a picture, try out different tones, styles, and vocabulary, or tweak button colors and copy.

4. Landing Pages Improve Paid Search Campaigns

A successful Search Engine Marketing or paid search campaign depends on click through rates, and click through rates are influenced by landing pages. For example, you may use an SEM campaign to bid on keywords to have your business show up when someone searches “bathroom remodeling” into a search engine. The link from that ad could be your website homepage or a sub page on your site, but that will only get people to your website. By using a landing page, you can generate more leads than if you directed people to your website homepage.

A landing page specifically created for an advertising campaign, will bring interested people to one web page. On this page they will find information only about what they’re interested, increasing the likelihood that they will call your business or fill out a form, and become a new lead. Since this is exactly what the person is looking for in their search, and the landing page further facilitates the ultimate goal of the user, they are more likely to click on that link and follow through with all of the steps.

If, on the other hand, your advertisement directs visitors to your website homepage with general information not geared toward a specific advertising purpose, your visitors may get lost in the information or distracted by other links, making them less likely to contact your business and become a new lead.

5. Landing Pages Can Grow Your Email List

Landing pages are commonly used for lead generation, meaning that a business gets telephone calls or form submissions from interested people who then turn into potential leads. As such, a landing page may contain or link to a form that asks for a user’s information, such as name, email address, phone number, or company. If you use a form on your landing page that asks for email, your landing page can then benefit your business by growing your email list.

When someone fills out a form, you can have an “opt-in” button where someone can also ask to receive emails and offers from your business. You can add these opted in users to your email list and send out newsletters, announcements, sales, and promotions (which will link to more landing pages!), ensuring that your business stay top of mind and informative.

6. Landing Pages Increase Credibility

Since landing pages are focused on one particular task, objective, or path for a user, you can optimize the content and elements of the landing page to facilitate that task as much as possible. When a user feels like their course of action is clear and you are helping them to achieve that course of action, they recognize that you understand their problems and have put thought into creating the best process for solving them.

Another way to reap the credibility benefits of landing pages is by including testimonials on the landing page for the product or service it is representing. By indicating the success that other people have had with the product or service your landing page is focused on, you help customers to feel more secure in their decision to act.

7. Landing Pages Improve Brand Awareness

When designing a landing page, it is important that the landing page style, look, feel, and copy is consistent with the content that links to it. A landing page with consistent branding is an extra way to improve brand awareness in marketing. This will benefit your business by enhancing the consistency of your branding across multiple forms of media, and giving users more opportunities to recognize and engage with your brand. When someone lands on your landing page, they’ll be more familiar with your business’s branding and more likely to recognize your business again. Since customers are more likely to make a purchase or use a service from a business they know, it’s important to make sure they remember you.

Landing pages are meant to facilitate a specific action you want a user to take in relation to your business objectives. They help to improve relationships with customers, intelligence about your business, and the success of your marketing campaigns. Try using one in your next campaign and see for yourself!

How to Increase Your Online Presence

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Online presence is crucial for every business today, even for those who don’t conduct business online. Your online presence increases accessibility to your business and supports brand awareness, audience building, and other marketing efforts—all of which lead to more customers and business growth. Three areas that contribute to your online presence are your website, online directories, and social media. This post will go over how to increase your online presence in these three areas, no matter what stage of digital marketing development your business is in.

Creating An Online Presence

Businesses who are in the early stages of digital marketing can take these initial steps to create an online presence.

Set Up Your Website

With the number of consumers online today, your business needs a website. It is the go-to source for current and potential customers, in the place that they are spending most of their time today. Having a website is like having a second location, open 24 hours.

Further increase your online presence by setting up a website that is responsive. The more devices your website can render successfully on, the more people there are that can view your site.

Submit Your Business Listings

Your next step in creating an online presence is to submit your business listings. Most search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing) now show local listings in their results pages, which come from their business listing database. Having a business listing for major search engines will increase your online presence by putting you in front of more customers who are searching for your service online.

Having a search engine’s business listing also means lots of other listings elsewhere. This is because smaller and more specified directories, such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and Foursquare, tend to automatically pull their information from the larger search engines.

Make sure that whenever you do submit your business listing, you use the same exact information every time. This helps to ensure your listings are complete, accurate, and consistent across sites.

Create Your Social Media Profiles

With the widespread use of social media today, creating your online presence requires creating social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Snapchat are the most common social media platforms today. Depending on your product or service and your audience, some channels will be more effective than others in increasing your online presence. Simply having social media profiles will increase your online presence by getting your business in front of vast audiences.

 

Building Your Online Presence

If you’ve already set up a website, business listings, and social media accounts, these next steps can help you to further build your online presence.

Optimize Your Website

One way to increase your online presence is to optimize your website for search. Potential customers don’t go to your site because they typed your website in, but because they were searching for your service online (in what is known as an organic search)

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the employment of tactics around various components of your websites to make it more visible to searchers and search engines. Your first step to improve your website’s SEO is to to include information and keywords relevant to your services. 

Update and Monitor Your Business Listings

As mentioned above, you will likely show up on more sites than just the ones you submit your listing to. However, because of this interconnectivity and automated information sharing, your online information may become inaccurate or incomplete over time. To continue building your online presence with respect to directory listings, be sure to update your business listing, no matter how small the change to your company information.

Also, be sure to monitor these listing sites regularly to stay on top of errors and respond to negative reviews. As you increase your online presence, Reputation Monitoring will become increasingly important.

Post to Your Social Media Profiles

Having a social media account increases your online presence by putting you on the map for these platforms, and enabling users to find your business and learn basic information. You can further build upon this presence by giving potential customers more than just basic information. By posting to your profiles, you can provide a taste of what your business is like—its personality, style, and values—and turn passive users into potential customers.

Increase your online presence through Social Media Optimization. Post relevant and useful content to your social media profiles such as with blog posts, company updates, and industry news.

 

Improving Your Online Presence

If you’re in the more advanced stages of digital marketing, you already have a responsive, SEO friendly website; you’ve got accurate, consistent, and complete business listings; and you’re posting regularly to social media. Is there more that can be done? Indeed there is!

Advertise Your Website

If you want to improve your online presence via your website beyond SEO, then SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is a great option for you. SEM enables you to improve your online presence through highly targeted and more immediate results. Our Introduction to Search Engine Marketing post can help you familiarize yourself with this method of increasing your online presence.

Optimize Your Business Listings

While your business listing will show up in a search engine’s local results, this doesn’t necessarily mean it will show up in the first results that are displayed. You can improve your online presence by increasing your business’s ranking in local business results. One route to List Optimization is through online reviews. The more reviews you have, the more a search engine will favor you in its results. Increase your online presence by encouraging customers to submit reviews and making it easy for them to do so.

Engage with Your Social Media Audience

To further increase your online presence through social media, you’ll want to engage with your audience. Rather than treating it like a one way street and always just putting content out there, use social media to respond to questions and comments, and converse with followers. There are many ways to increase social media engagement, such as by asking questions, running contests, and responding to feedback.

To increase your online presence, make your social media profile an interactive experience for users. The more people that are talking about your business, the more times your name is appearing online.

Another way to further improve your online presence through social media is to use Facebook advertising. Like pay per click ads (SEM), Social Media Advertising expands your online presence to a highly targeted audience.

Your online presence is a key factor in the growth of your business. Making the most of your website, online directories, and social media platforms can increase your online presence, putting your business not only in front of more people, but in front of more people who are looking for it!