How to Talk to Your Customers about the Coronavirus and Build Brand Trust

Coronavirus: An opportunity to build customer trust, not to push sales.

With COVID-19’s rapid spread, the bull market constantly bucking up and down, and the recent declaration of national emergency from the President, consumers are becoming increasingly anxious about the reality that is about to face them. Panic buying is rampant, schools and universities are closing, and offices are asking workers to work from home.

Certainly both online and offline businesses are feeling anxious as well. For some businesses, sales may be surging because of supply hoarding, until the bull-whip effect sets in and no supply remains on the shelves. For other businesses, sales have dipped significantly as consumers guard their wallets and spend on essentials first, as they nervously watch the unpredictable market rise and fall.

So: what’s a brand to do?

Over the next few weeks, things will more likely than not continue to get worse before they get better. While sales may be down for your business, there is still a huge opportunity to win with your customers by building their trust in your brand, especially if you are an online retailer with an email list or any business with an engaged online community.

7 Ways to Build Customer Trust During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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1. Send an email to your list or a post to your online community with a statement on your business’s approach to coronavirus.

Sending a thoughtful email to your list outlining what your brand is doing in the wake of the coronavirus is a great way to build trust with your customers. You should avoid being promotional in this email. Its purpose should instead be to establish expectations for your base for any orders placed in the coming weeks and to quell any anxieties your customers may have about deliveries, supply chain, or your production process. Another best practice is to address your customer by name directly or to address your brand’s community as if in a formal letter and to end your message with a warm sign off from a member of your team. We love the email sent by DTC brand GEM below.

Dear GEM Family
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2. Keep customers updated on how you are handling any potentially unstable supply chains.

After your initial email to your base with your plan for handling supply and demand, keep your list updated if anything changes in your supply chain. If stock on a popular product runs out, try and give a reasonable estimate of when it will be available next. If you don’t know, be honest about that too, and recommend any alternative in-stock products to your customers. Put honesty and transparency above all else, and the consumer will trust that you are doing everything you can to resolve their issues. When you are honest and transparent, they will also understand when certain things are out of your control.

3. Give them your brand’s promise, whatever it may be.

If you refuse to price gouge even when demand is high in the market (see: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes), let your customers know. If you foresee any issues with delivery, assure your customers that they will be fully refunded if the product does not arrive to them within a certain time window in the event of supply or delivery issues caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Finally, remind customers of any existing promises your brand has made in the past that you plan to stick to, like abiding by certain regulations, practicing a sustainable supply chain, giving back X% of proceeds to your chosen charity, etc. Just make sure the promise you make is a promise you can 100% keep.

4. Share with them what your business is doing to combat coronavirus.

If you feel comfortable doing so, share with your customers the practices and precautions your own brand is taking in order to care for your employees and their loved ones. It is an excellent “we’re all in this together” approach. If you have introduced a new work-from-home policy or guaranteed sick leave for employees, share with your customers that your brand is doing its part in containing the virus as well.

5. Assure them that they will be taken care of.

Customers want to know that they can rely on your brand. Remind them that they remain a top priority, and that your brand will do everything they can to make sure orders are met. If supply or delivery circumstances change, have a plan to address customers that may not receive their order when expected, including refunding an order or providing store credit for future purchases.

6. Offer an outlet to voice any concerns they may have.

Along those lines, inform customers about how they can best reach a member of your team to voice any concerns or ask any questions. If you have multiple channels of outreach (phone, social media, email, etc.), let them know which channels will get their questions answered the fastest. Additionally, give them realistic expectations of wait time given the changing circumstances, as well as a promise that your team will get back to them as soon as they can.

7. Provide educational content to help them in this time.

Thanks to the coronavirus, the lives of many Americans will be changing drastically over the next few weeks to next few months. No matter what business you are in, there are a number of ways you can address the coronavirus in a way that provides extra value to your audience and puts them more at ease.

Blog content is a powerful tool because it can be flexibly used both to nurture your existing audience and to draw a new audience to your brand. At a time when most consumers are not buying as much, you can focus on filling the top of your funnel with new email leads for your list by promoting gated content.

Need ideas for content, or content itself? We’ve got you covered.

Because the coronavirus on everyone’s minds today, it’s a topic that any industry or brand can find a way to relate to. However, coming up with content ideas may be difficult. That’s why we’ve broken down some content ideas for you below!

We’ve listed a few examples below, but you can find a comprehensive list of 30+ content ideas for coronavirus communications here.

  • Content on reducing stress and mental health best practices
  • Ideas for staying connected even when practicing social distancing
  • At-home workout routines or tips for working at home
  • Positive round-ups of some more uplifting stories from the past week
  • Tips on keeping healthy & hydrated to ward off illness
  • Discover even more great ideas here.

Written by Celia Quillian for Matcha and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Annie Spratt

7 Reasons to Hire an Ecommerce Marketing Agency

If you own or manage an ecommerce company, you’re probably aware that the competition is pretty fierce, which is why strategic and aggressive marketing is crucial to stay afloat. Unfortunately, most of the basic ecommerce marketing tactics take a lot of time to learn and perfect. And when you have other essential duties to manage, dedicating the right amount of effort to your ecommerce marketing may not be possible.

But don’t bury your head in the sand just yet. There is a way to kick your marketing into high gear without you having to drain all your own time: hire an ecommerce marketing agency.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hiring an agency is too expensive.” But that’s just not true. Any ecommerce marketing agency worth its salt will be able to pay for itself and then some by reaping untapped revenue from PPC campaigns, SEO, email marketing campaigns, and more.

In this post, we’ll outline some of the best reasons to partner with an ecommerce marketing agency, including making more money than you spend.

Top 7 Reasons to Hire an Ecommerce Marketing Agency

1. PPC Management Experience

Without prior experience, the mere idea of setting up and managing paid campaigns can be a scary notion. After all, it’s more than just writing some copy and handing your credit card over to Google. In reality, a successful PPC campaign requires lots of thought and scrutiny—even after the ads are set up.

Hiring an ecommerce marketing agency to handle your PPC campaigns will save you a lot of time and agony (not to mention money). This is because they have already managed thousands of campaigns just like yours, and they know how to set up, adjust, and budget your ads so that they bring in the most bang for your buck.

However, it’s important to note the distinction between an ecommerce marketing agency and just any old marketing agency. If the agency you’re interested in has no prior experience working with ecommerce companies, it may be a red flag. Even if they’ve helped dozens of tech companies achieve their goals, that’s a whole different beast. For example, an agency without ecommerce experience might know how to setup and manage Google Shopping campaigns correctly.

You need an agency that has already worked with other ecommerce clients so that you don’t have to be the guinea pig. In addition to the ability to write compelling copy that entices users to click on your ad when they see it in search results, the agency should also be able to create a high-quality landing page that matches your ad. Be sure to ask for testimonials or case studies from their other ecommerce company success stories.

2. An Understanding of Creative Design

Another perk of hiring an ecommerce marketing agency is that they often have a team of designers that can work with you to create custom creatives that match your brand theme and standards. High-quality design is the key to making your company stand out and look good to consumers—especially if they’ve never heard of your brand before. Plus, an experienced designer will know which types of creatives work and don’t work, saving you from cumbersome redesigns.

For example, if you were running an ad on Facebook, you’d want to use bright colors that attract people’s attention. While a simple, black and white ad may look sophisticated, people will most likely scroll right by it without even realizing it’s there. A good ecommerce marketing agency will be able to showcase your products in a well-designed, alluring creative that attracts new business and brand followers.

An ecommerce marketing agency will also be familiar with a variety of design types and formats. For example:

Retargeting Ads: These types of ads can be used on various ad platforms. They are displayed to consumers who have already shown an interest in your product, which should be reflected in the copy and design. Retargeting ads should introduce a sense of urgency and convince people to follow through with their purchases before they miss out.

Display Ads: Display ads are banner ads that are shown on the display network of the advertising platform you use. For example, the Google Display Network. Because consumers often ignore these types of ads, it’s important that they use click-worthy images and copy to attract attention.

Facebook Ads:

  • Carousel: Similar to a gallery, these ads are made up of up to 10 slides with separate copy and images or video. These types of ads are ideal for showcasing multiple products or different versions of the same product.
  • Single Image: These 1200×628 pixel ads are the probably the ones with which you’re most familiar. They use just one image, which should be both click-worthy and capture the essence of your offer.
  • Video: Video ads are known for their ability to drive engagement. Videos can be up to 120 minutes—though videos under one minute perform best.
  • Slideshow: Unlike carousel ads where users click through the images on their own, slideshow ads play more like video.
  • Canvas: Canvas ads are immersive video or image ads that display in full-screen. These ads are only for mobile devices.
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Aside from the visual aspect of your creatives, it’s also important to have well-written copy. While the image is what gets people to stop and take notice, the copy is what convinces them to click through to your website and make a purchase. Be sure to hire an agency with a content team that writes concise, engaging copy that also clearly defines the product you’re selling.

3. Facebook Marketing Knowledge

There are a variety of perks to advertising with Facebook, particularly since an ecommerce company. For starters, billions of active consumers can be targeted by anything from their age to what kind of car they own. In fact, the targeting features in Facebook are so accurate that it’s a bit mind-blowing once you really start to comb through them. But while Facebook can be an incredibly lucrative marketing tool, you may not see much benefit from it without the help of an expert.

With so many active users on Facebook, it can be difficult to narrow down your audience to only those who will be most interested in your product. An ecommerce marketing agency will be able to use your sales data to determine common demographics, interests, and behaviors that they can use to target new consumers. They’ll also be able to set up a Pixel on your site so that you can run retargeting campaigns. Retargeting campaigns display ads to consumers who have already visited your site and shown an interest in your products. This is a highly beneficial tactic since it helps you close sales that you may have otherwise missed.

One fatal mistake that many newbie Facebook marketers make is setting up their ads and then just letting it roll for a couple of weeks before checking in. An experienced ecommerce marketing agency will never leave your campaigns unattended. Instead, they will monitor them on a daily basis, adjusting your ads and budget when needed. Plus, they’ll run A/B tests with Facebook’s many different ad formats to see which types of ads get the most conversions for your business.

4. SEO Expertise

In order to improve the authority of your site and increase your ranking in search results, you need to have a solid SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy in place. The higher you rank in search results, the more organic traffic you’ll receive. A quality ecommerce marketing agency will be able to improve your on-page and off-page SEO through extensive keyword research, backlinking, site structure, and more.

Some standard SEO elements and tactics:

  • Keyword Research: The keywords you choose to target should be longtail keywords (three or more words) that are relevant to your content. You should also aim for keywords with a decent monthly search volume and low to medium competition. In general, it’s much harder to rank for keywords with high competition.
  • Keyword Optimization: Keywords are just for sprinkling into blog posts. You should include keywords in alt tags, meta descriptions, page titles, headers and subheadings, site copy, product descriptions and names, image names, and URLs.
  • Site Speed: Site speed also has an effect on SEO. This is because if your site is too slow to load (more than three seconds), visitors will quickly bounce off your page and click on a different search result. You can improve site speed by switching to a different, more powerful CMS (HubSpot, for example), or by reducing the images and files on your site.
  • Site Errors: Check for broken links, duplicate content, and 404 error pages since these can negatively affect your site’s SEO value as well.
  • Site Structure: Because of the many products, ecommerce sites are known for being a little unwieldy. However, a poorly structured site that’s hard to navigate both for visitors and search engines can negatively impact your SEO.
  • Link Building: Building external links back to your site can help boost your search value—but only when done correctly. Blackhat practices, such as spam comments, will do the exact opposite. If you do choose to post on another blog or forum, you should focus on contributing something of value to the conversation. Don’t just paste your link and click post. In fact, most sites ask for your web address in your user profile, so you don’t even have to include a link at all. You can also build links by contributing content on other sites (so long as it includes a link from your site).

If you decide to hire an ecommerce marketing agency, they will take the majority of these responsibilities off your plate. Plus, you won’t have to worry about improper execution (which could potentially harm your SEO value). Choose an agency that has prior experience with SEO for ecommerce and be sure to ask them to provide specific examples of how they were able to achieve prolonged improvements.

5. Professional-Level Content Marketing

Content is one of the most crucial elements of an ecommerce marketing plan, and yet many companies don’t put half the effort into it that they should—especially since it can be difficult to keep up with new posts and video that appeal to your target market. This is where an ecommerce marketing agency with a talented content marketing team really comes in handy.

Typically, your content marketing strategy should include blog content, videos, premium content (like informational ebooks and buyer guides) and a distribution and promotion strategy. Ask you agency to provide you with a monthly content calendar that outlines when content drafts will be delivered, when final drafts will be published, and which platforms they’ll use to promote them.

Before you begin creating content either on your own or with an agency, it’s important to determine a few things first:

  • What are my goals? The content you produce should have a specific, predetermined purpose. For example, you could produce content to build brand awareness, to increase conversions, to get new subscribers etc.
  • Who are my customers? Create a buyer persona to help you get a better understanding of the demographics, interests, and behaviors of your target audience. This will help you to create content that they will enjoy.
  • What does my average customer’s buyer journey look like? Most buyer’s journeys have three stages: problem, need, and want. In order to nurture leads through your funnel and get them to make a purchase, you need to have content that appeals to them at every stage of their journey.
  • How often will we be publishing new content? Determine your goals for how much new content you’d like to produce each month. For example, you could start with two long-form blog posts and one piece of premium content. Monitor performance and adjust your strategy. Your content calendar will help you stay on top of your monthly goals.
  • Where will we promote this content? Promotion is key. Without it, your content won’t get the traffic it needs in order to be effective. Decide where you want to promote your content, whether that be organic social media, paid advertising, a combination of the two, etc.

6. Email Marketing Expertise

While email has been around since the dark ages of the internet, it’s actually still a very useful marketing tool. In fact, consumers prefer to receive emails from companies over any other form of communication. Plus, while email marketing costs hardly anything (aside from skilled copywriters and email automation platforms) it produces a significant ROI—about $38 for every dollar you invest.

Consumers check their email regularly for personal use and work, and mobile phones allow you to reach them at any time and place. But, because they receive so many emails per day, you need an email marketing team that knows how to craft emails that capture attention. Some important elements of email marketing include:

  • A captivating subject line. The subject line is the pickup line of your email. You don’t want to lead off with something lame like “November Newsletter.” Write something that will compel the viewer to click open and see what you have to say. One good way to do this is to create a sense of urgency that makes the consumer feel like they might miss out on something great if they don’t have a look. For example, “Hurry!” “Last Chance,” and “Today Only!”
  • Engaging body content. Once you’ve got the consumer inside the email, your goal is to keep them there long enough to discover your offer and click through to your website. Be sure that the content is entertaining while still being relevant to your target audience. For example, puns might work well for a toy company, but a law firm may want to use a more authoritative tone.
  • An attractive design. If your email design looks boring or unprofessional, you may cause a lot of people to ignore your offer or even unsubscribe from future communication. Create a template that is attractive and reflects your brand. Just be careful not to get too fancy with it—certain servers may block emails with large image files or videos.
  • Segmented contacts. While it may be easier to create one mass email and just hit send, it’s not the best method for email marketing. Instead, you should have segmented contacts lists for different emails. This way, you can ensure that your subscribers only receive emails that they’ll find most relevant and enticing.
  • Personalized and automated emails. You can easily personalize your emails by adding a contact’s first name to the subject line or body content. Something as simple as this can actually help increase open rates. Additionally, sending automated emails can help you maintain regular communication. For example, you could set up an automated thank you email for people who make a purchase. You could also send out abandoned cart reminders when a consumer has left an item in their cart for a few days.
  • A clear CTA. It’s important that the email recipient is never left wondering what action they’re supposed to take after reading your email. In addition to clearly stating your call-to-action in the body content, you should also have a CTA button. Hyperlinking your header is also a useful practice.
  • Non-promotional emails. Not every email you send needs to be a purely promotional message. For example, you could offer your subscribers free content, such as buyer guides or ebooks. While this type of content doesn’t explicitly advertise your products, it does help the consumer see you as an industry expert.

An ecommerce agency will be able to help you make the most out of email marketing by creating compelling marketing emails that engage your subscribers and lead them toward conversion. They’ll also be able to setup automated workflows that send specific behavior-triggered emails at different buyer stages.

7. It Can Actually Save You Money

Because an ecommerce marketing agency has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the areas outlined in this post, there is less room for error and wasted ad spend—whereas handling marketing responsibilities on your own requires a steep learning curve that can eat up your budget. In fact, the purpose of hiring an agency is that their efforts will pay for the investment.

Final Takeaways…

Trying to take on the many marketing responsibilities for your ecommerce company in addition to your other business-crucial duties can result in watered-down efforts with little to no benefit. By hiring an ecommerce marketing agency, you can be sure that all the items outlined in this post are competently managed.

This article originally appeared in Seven Atoms.

Written by Andy Beohar for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Business2Community

Blog SEO: Easy Ways to Optimize Your Content for Google Search

When it comes to getting your brand and content in front of the right people, you’ve got a bunch of different options. You can pay to promote it via digital ads. You can share it on social media. You can build an email list and send regular newsletters.

And you should be doing all of the above!

But as you build your list and promote your posts, don’t neglect one of the most powerful discovery tools in existence: Google.

SEO is 100% free, and you don’t need an owned audience to do it. By focusing on SEO, or search engine optimization, you’ll boost your rankings for important search terms and help consumers find your website.

And if you can score that elusive top-ranking spot on a Google search results page, you’re beyond golden. The average clickthrough rate is a mindblowing 30% for the top-ranked page in a typical search on desktop, while the 10th-ranked term averages a still-impressive 5% CTR.

In today’s lesson, we’ll cover SEO best practices are proven to help growing brands improve SEO and get in front of the right people.

The secret to SEO is there is no secret

If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find thousands of articles boasting SEO hacks.

Well, we’ll let you in on a little secret: There’s no such thing as an SEO hack. These so-called hacks are fine advice at best and sketchy “black hat” SEO techniques at worst. As much as we’d like to be able to wave a magic wand and get on page one of Google, that’s just not possible.

Fifteen years ago, things were different. It was pretty easy to game the system—and competition was far less fierce.

But Google has come a long way since then. Now it’s all about creating good, keyword-rich content that your audience wants to read. And that’s a good thing for businesses and consumers alike.

In this article, we’ll look at some SEO best practices you should follow if you want to help more of the right people find your content on Google.

Of course, there are professionals whose entire careers are dedicated to search engine optimization. Since you’re not one of them, let’s stick to the basics. Today, we’ll cover three important SEO topics.c

  • Getting started with SEO: What should you do if you’ve never even thought about SEO before today? Where does a brand new small business begin?
  • Optimizing your content for search: How do you optimize each and every original article you publish to improve your rankings on Google?
  • How licensed content impacts SEO: What role does licensed content play in an SEO strategy?

Important note: This article is focused on SEO for your blog content rather than your online store. If you’re looking for ways to optimize your e-commerce store for search, we recommend Shopify’s guide to e-commerce SEO.

Free SEO tools

Let’s say you’re setting up a brand new website. What kind of infrastructure do you need to make sure it’s optimized for search? We recommend setting up Google’s suite of free online marketing tools, as well as an SEO plugin for your blog.

Blog SEO Plugin
An SEO plugin will help you optimize each piece of content for search. If your blog is hosted on WordPress, you can’t do better than the Yoast SEO plugin. If you use another platform to host your blog, ask them what they recommend for onsite search engine optimization.

Google Search Console
Search Console has a million and one powerful features, but don’t get too bogged down in it as a beginner. Start simple by using it to submit your sitemap to Google and identify any errors on your website that might prevent search engines from indexing your pages (i.e., making them searchable).

Google Analytics
With Google Analytics, you can see how people are finding and engaging with your website in incredible detail. This is another tool that offers a ton of functionality, but it’s surprisingly easy to use for SEO research. To get started, check out this straightforward guide to Google Analytics for SEO, written by the always-brilliant Neil Patel.

Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner was built for paid search engine marketing, but it’s an amazing tool for SEO and content planning because it can help you identify the keywords that your target audience is searching for. Then, you can use these keywords to inform your content strategy and make sure you’re publishing stories that people want to read.

Keyword planning

Once you’re all technologied up, you have everything you need to build your first keyword list.

As you might guess, keywords are words or phrases that people search for online. They can range from shorttail keywords (e.g., surfing) to longtail keywords (e.g., best surf spots in Southern California). These are the words you’ll be optimizing your posts for.

A few tips for smart keyword research:

  • Identify a variety of relevant keywords. Your keyword list should be made up of a healthy mix of branded keywords (like your company and product names), product keywords (like ‘best surfboard for beginners’ and ‘wetsuit cleaner’), and broader audience-focused keywords. Most likely, the majority of your content will be mapped to audience-focused keywords. That’s because your content should be more about your audience than your brand or products.
  • Find your sweet spot. Make sure you look at each keyword’s search volume (how many times it’s Googled per month) and competitiveness (how hard it is to rank for). Words with high volume and low competitiveness are your sweet spot for organic search. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on more competitive keywords, nor should you ignore niche search terms if they’re relevant to your audience. It’s all about balance.
  • Look at keywords your competitors rank for. Most paid SEO tools will show you your competitors’ search rankings—and therefore, give you the chance to swoop in and steal their keywords out from under them. (And if you don’t have room in your budget for a premium SEO tool, you can always sign up for a free trial and cram all your research into the trial period. Whatever works!)

Here’s an example of some basic keyword planning in action. Let’s say you have an online store selling surf gear, and you’re launching new products geared toward beginners. What are they searching for online, and how can you use those keywords in your content to attract them to your website?

When you type the term ‘surfing for beginners’ into Google Keyword Planner, here’s what you’ll find.

Google Keyword Planner
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As you can see, ‘surfing for beginners’ surfaces similar terms that are searched more frequently, like ‘surf school’ and ‘how to surf.’ So, hypothetical surf shop owner, you now know that these are keywords you may want to focus on.

SEO experts like Rand Fishkin of Moz recommend taking Google’s search volume estimates with a grain of salt—but even still, Keyword Planner is a great starting point as you plan your content and keywords strategies.

When you have your SEO toolkit and your list of target keywords complete, you can start creating and optimizing your content. We already covered what it takes to build a content marketing strategy and publish great content in Lessons #1 and #2, so let’s dive right into onsite optimization.

Checklist: Optimize your content for search

For the most part, every original article you publish should be optimized for terms on your keyword list.

If you’re writing an article and you can’t map it to a keyword, ask yourself why you’re writing it. If your answer is that it’s a relevant topic that your audience cares about—that’s great! Validate your assumption with keyword research, and then add the topic to your content strategy. But if you’re struggling to explain how the topic maps to your strategy at all, then it’s probably time to go back to the drawing board.

Once you’ve decided what keywords you’re optimizing for, make sure you follow these SEO best practices for each original article.

Content

  • Post should be at least 600 words long
  • Include keywords in title (H1)
  • Include keywords in headings (H2)
  • Include keywords in first and last paragraphs

Note: You should also use your keywords throughout the post, but never in a spammy way. Your content should always be written for the humans who read it, not the bots that crawl it.

Meta description

  • Page title should be under 60 characters
  • Meta description should be under 160 characters
  • Include keywords in meta description

Note: Meta descriptions are the snippets of text that appear on the Google search engine results page. For more information, read this article from Moz.

Image optimization

  • Image titles are descriptive
  • Alt tags are descriptive and include keywords if relevant
  • Images have relevant captions

Linking strategy

  • Add limited internal links to other pages on your website (3-5 max)
  • Add external links to other relevant websites

Following these best practices is the minimum for ranking well on Google. Just because you check all these boxes doesn’t necessarily mean your webpage will shoot to the #1 spot overnight. SEO, much like content as a whole, is about the long game. Your ranking depends on a lot of different factors, including how established your website is. More on this next.

Finally, let’s bust the myth that licensed content hurts SEO—it doesn’t!

Quick refresher on terminology: Licensed content is content created by a trusted, professional publisher that’s available for you to use on your own blog or website.

Licensed content is a great way to fill out your content calendar and bring the right people to your website by telling stories people care about. And the best part? You don’t have to write any of it yourself.

Unfortunately, there’s a prevailing myth that licensed content hurts SEO. Not so!

This concern comes from an old practice in the early days of Google, when some unscrupulous webmasters would “scrape” content (i.e., plagiarize articles) from other sites without approval and place it on their own site to climb in the search rankings. Of course, Google caught on, and they’ve since changed their algorithm to penalize this behavior and ensure the original publisher receives all the article’s “SEO juice” (gross term, we know, but that’s actually what it’s called).

When you legally license an article, as you can do in the Matcha content marketplace, the content includes canonical tags.

Canonical tags are bits of code that tell search engines two things:

  1. Who the original publisher of the content is
  2. That you’re not trying to claim this content as your own to gain an advantage in search rankings

It’s these canonical tags that keep search engines from penalizing you for using content that may have been previously published elsewhere. So, no—licensed content won’t hurt your SEO. In fact, it can even help.

The blog post itself won’t rank in search, so you’ll need to distribute it via other channels. (Good thing you’re already a Facebook and email expert!) That being said, licensed content will help your SEO in other ways.

  • Site traffic: Increased website traffic improves SEO. By using ads, social media, and emails to drive traffic, Google will reward your domain with better rankings.
  • Publication frequency: Regularly publishing content is one of the most powerful actions you can take to influence SEO. A week or month’s worth of licensed content can be published in a few minutes, making it possible for even one-person marketing teams to publish consistently.
  • Social sharing: People share great stories, and Google rewards your site when people share your content. The more shares and backlinks you have to your website, the higher you’ll rank.

And really, that’s what it all boils down to. Get to know your audience. Tell great stories. And promote them strategically.

That’s how you build your brand, grow your community, and set the stage for growth.

Written by Shauna Ward for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Business2Community

31 Marketing KPIs to Use In Your Campaigns

Key performance indicators (KPIs) help measure the impact of marketing in an organization.

They’re used to gauge the impact of marketing initiatives against pre defined targets.

For example…

Target = Generate 1,000 leads per month

Initiative = Paid search campaigns

KPI = Cost per lead

At the beginning of every client engagement, we build a measurement plan that clearly lays out the KPIs for the engagement.

Throughout so many engagements, we’ve built a lot of KPIs. I’ve decided to publish them as examples in this post.

The marketing KPIs are organized into 4 buckets:

  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Lead Generation
  • Intent to Purchase
  • Engagement

**NOTE: I’ve also included the Google Analytics reports, segments and dimensions to view the KPI. For most KPIs, there are multiple reports, segments and dimensions you can use to pull the data. The ones I’ve listed are my personal preference.**

KPIs to Measure Return on Investment

1. Cost per Visit

  • Good For : Measuring campaigns, campaign targeting, ROI
  • Report : Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium + Cost Data
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
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. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

I love KPIs that measure cost – these are the measurements that help calculate digital ROI. When working with costs, you’re going to need more than Google Analytics. You will need to pull data from anywhere you’re spending money: Facebook advertising, Twitter, AdWords, Outbrain, PPC, etc.

Take that cost data and crosswalk it with traffic data in Analytics. For example:

  • Cost from Facebook Ad Set 1 / Visits from Facebook Ad Set 1
  • Cost from PPC Keyword 13 / Visits from PPC Keyword 13

You can get as granular as you like with the calculation – ad set, medium or campaign, they’re all gold!

EXPERT TIP :

Most analysts stop at campaign data. I like to go one step further.

SEO has costs – whether you’re paying an agency or not, someone within your organization is allocated to drive organic traffic.

That needs to be accounted for. I like to use:

  • Monthly cost for SEO / Visits from Organic

2. Cost per Sale

  • Good For : Measuring campaigns, campaign targeting, ROI
  • Report : Conversions > eCommerce > Sales Performance + Cost Data
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
sales-Performance-Google-Analytics-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

How much does each sale cost your business? In other words, are you getting a positive return on your marketing spend?

3. Sales per Channel

  • Good For : Measuring campaigns, campaign targeting, ROI
  • Report : Conversions > eCommerce > Sales Performance
  • Dimension : Traffic Medium
  • Segments : None
sales-Performance-Google-Analytics-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

How does each marketing channel impact your top line? This KPI will answer that question for you.

4. Sales per Visit

  • Good For : Measuring campaigns, scaling campaigns, ROI
  • Report : Conversions > eCommerce > Sales Performance + Cost Data
  • Dimension : Traffic Medium
  • Segments : None
sales-Performance-Google-Analytics-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

How much is each website visit worth to your business? Knowing this metric is huge. It allows you to scale (or descale) efforts.

5. Purchase History

  • Good For : eCommerce sites, understanding customer behavior, purchase intent
  • Report : Audience > Custom > Custom Variables
  • Dimension : eCommerce (depending on site type)
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
average-order-value-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Tracking purchase requires eCommerce implementation in your Google Analytics account. In addition, you’ll have to implement custom variables. Your configuration will look something like this:

_gaq.push([‘_setCustomVar’,5,’PurchHistory’,’1-3′,1]);

6. Cost per KPI

  • Good For : Measuring campaigns, campaign targeting, ROI
  • Report : Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium + Cost Data
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
cost-per-kpi-google
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Arguably my favorite KPI! How much are you paying for your website’s key actions? See tips from cost per visit KPI above.

7. Time to Conversion

  • Good For : Measuring product performance, sales cycle
  • Report : Conversions > Muti Channel Funnels > Time Lag
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
time-to-conversion-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Time to conversion is a great KPI to understand your sales cycle and how long it takes visitors to convert.

8. Cart Abandonment Rate

  • Good For : Measuring conversion optimization, customer pain points
  • Report : Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization
  • Dimension : Goal (the one you want to evaluate)
  • Segments : None
cart-abandonment-rate-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

If you own an eCommerce website, out this KPI at the top of your list. This measurement will let you know where customers exit the funnel – it’s your job to find out why.

9. Average Order Value

  • Good For : eCommerce sites, understanding customer behavior, purchase intent
  • Report : Audience > Custom > Custom Variables
  • Dimension : eCommerce (depending on site type)
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
average-order-value-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Tracking order value requires eCommerce implementation in your Google Analytics account.

KPIs to Measure Lead Generation Campaigns

10. Product or Service Page Conversion Rate

  • Good For : Measuring visitor intent, content performance, content messaging
  • Report : Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
  • Dimension : Pages / Session
  • Segments : Goal completions
pages-report-conversions-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

I use this KPI to measure how my services pages and blog posts are performing. I have opt in forms on all pages – I like to layer the conversion segment on top of the pages report to determine if my copy is persuasive enough to drive submissions.

11. Newsletter Sign Up Conversion Rate

  • Good For : Measuring content performance, content messaging, key site action
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Report 2 : Conversions > Goals > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
newsletter-conversion-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

If your newsletter form does not redirect to a thank you page on submission, you’ll have to set up Event tracking.

However, once an Event is created it can be tracked as a Goal. I strongly recommend converting all Events to Goals because the depth of reporting is 100 times better.

12. Landing Page Bounce Rate

  • Good For : Measuring paid traffic performance, content performance
  • Report : Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
landing-pages-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Bounce rate is a valuable measurement that needs to be analyzed properly. A bounce is defined as a user that visits your site and leaves without viewing another page. There are dozens of key actions a user can take on your site while remaining on the same page (time on site, submit a form, share on social media, comment, etc). I strongly suggest you look at bounced visits as a segment – analyze the actions those users did (or didn’t take) before leaving.

13. Form Conversion Rate

  • Good For : Measuring paid traffic performance, content performance
  • Report : Conversions > Goals > Goal URLs
  • Dimension : Goal Previous Step
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
goal-urls-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

If you don’t sell anything on your website then form submissions are “macro” conversions. I like to add the previous URL dimension when reporting – it helps to visualize the content that drives the most conversions.

14. Form Abandonment Rate

  • Good For : Measuring paid traffic performance, content performance
  • Report : Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization
  • Dimension : Goal (the one you want to evaluate)
  • Segments : None
form-abandonment-rate-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Perhaps more important than % of form completed are the % of users who begin to fill out a form and abandon it.

You can get great insights on how to improve form UX, form UI and overall satisfaction from this measurement.

Note: My website’s forms only have a one screen so the screenshot is a bad example. This KPI works best with forms that have multiple page submissions.

15. Email Open Rate

  • Good For : Measuring data quality, lead generation efforts
  • Report : Non Google Analytics – use your email provider’s data
  • Dimension :None
  • Segments : None
email-open-rate-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Email open rate = # of emails opened / # of emails sent.

It gives you insight into the quality of leads you’re generating.

16. Email Click Through Rate

  • Good For : Measuring data quality, lead generation efforts
  • Report : Non Google Analytics – use your email provider’s data
  • Dimension :None
  • Segments : None
email-open-rate-report
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

More important that email open rate is email click through rate. This measures the number of subscribers that click the links in your email.

This gives you tremendous insights into the quality of your lead generation efforts.

If users aren’t engaging with your email content you need to take a closer look at your lead gen campaigns.

KPIs to Measure Intent to Purchase

17. Branded Keyword Visits

  • Good For : Measuring brand exposure, brand demand, offline advertising efforts
  • Report : Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization > Queries
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
branded-keywords-report-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

You can also run the report Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords but you get jammed up by the (not provided) data.

The report I’ve outlined is my way around it.

18. Direct Visits

  • Good For : Measuring intent to purchase, brand exposure, brand demand, offline advertising efforts
  • Report : Audience > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Direct Traffic
direct-traffic-report-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

“Direct/None” traffic confuses the crap out of a lot of marketers.

If you’re tagging all outbound URLs (as you should be) then direct visits are straight forward.

  • Results of offline advertising (people typing in your URL directly)
  • Results of referral traffic (from domains Google doesn’t recognize)
  • Results of people returning directly to your site (generally to make a purchase or contact you)

According to Google’s case studies, direct traffic is responsible for more sales than any other medium. Direct traffic is a good thing!

19. Store Locator / Contact a Sales Rep Usage Rate

  • Good For : Measuring visitor intent
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
store-locator-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Some businesses require customers to make purchases in a store, warehouse or through a rep. These business types should have a store locator widget on their website and they should be tracking usage through custom Events.

Widget Usage Rate = # of Events triggered / Sessions

20. Direct Email Rate

  • Good For : Measuring visitor intent
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Source
email-contact-rate-kpi-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Your website should have a direct contact email.

You can track these by setting up an Event that triggers when a user clicks the link or by counting the number of direct emails you receive.

Direct Email Rate = # of Emails Received / Sessions

21. Call Rate

  • Good For : Measuring visitor intent
  • Report : Acquisition > Overview + Call Data
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
call-tracking-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Call tracking is easy from mobile (click to call) but more difficult with desktop. If you’re an organization that relies on phone leads, you should have a system set up.

There are a number of vendors that offer call tracking and analytics. If you’re on a budget, simply get an 800 number that is only displayed on your website.

Call Rate = # 800 Calls / Sessions

KPIs to Measure Website Engagement

22. 301 Redirect Rate

  • Good For : Measuring offline advertising efforts
  • Report : Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
measuring-301-redirect-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

This is HUGE for businesses that advertise offline.

When you advertise, you should always include a call to action that drives traffic to a web property (your site, micro site, etc).

The best practice is to create a short vanity URL and 301 (permanent redirect) that URL into a landing page on your site.

Here’s how to measure that in Google Analytics:

  • In Google’s URL Builder Tool enter the URL of your main site using “Redirect” as campaign source, “Offline Ad” as campaign medium and name of vanity URL as campaign name
  • Change the .htaccess file on the vanity URL domain server with a rewrite rule, replacing parameters as needed
  • Enter the URL you generated with the URL builder Tool

301 Redirect Rate = 301 Campaign Sessions / Sessions

Now you can measure the reach and effect of offline ads!

23. 301 Conversion Rate

  • Good For : Measuring offline advertising efforts
  • Report : Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns
  • Dimension : Goals
  • Segments : None
301-redirect-conversion-rate
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Ready to really see the value of your offline efforts?

This is it.

Measuring how many users visit the vanity URL (provided in the ad) and then come to your site and take meaningful action will _ change the way you look at advertising _.

301 Conversion Rate = 301 Campaign Goal Conversions / Sessions

24. Inbound Links

  • Good For : Measuring content performance, link outreach validation
  • Report : Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : None
Referral-Traffic-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

So many SEOs neglect Analytics and it drives me crazy.

I check this report daily to see if my content has generated any inbound links.

If it has, I check the domain to make sure it’s a link that I want – in today’s SEO, not all links are good links!

25. Visitor Loyalty

  • Good For : Measuring purchase intent, content performance
  • Report : Audience > Behavior > New vs. Returning
  • Dimension : eCommerce (depending on site type)
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
new-vs-returning-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Visitor loyalty is defined as a visitor who returns to your site within a certain time period – I like to set the cookie at 30 days.

This is a highly underrated KPI – people who return to your website show signs of purchase intent, lead intent or they really like your work.

Either way, all good things.

26. Exit Survey Completion Rate

  • Good For : Measuring brand management, customer data
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Report 2 : Conversions > Goals > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
newsletter-conversion-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Like newsletter sign ups, exit surveys will need to be tracked as a custom Event.

27. Follower Growth Rate

  • Good For : Measuring content performance, micro conversions, community building
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Report 2 : Conversions > Goals > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
newsletter-conversion-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Follower Growth Rate = # of social media follows / Page Sessions.

This is a great indicator of how your audience reacts to your content.

Tracking it can be tricky – the way I do is by setting up a custom Event that fires when a user clicks one of the ‘follow’ buttons in my blog SEO.

28. Social Media Share Rate

  • Good For : Measuring content performance, micro conversions, community building
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Report 2 : Conversions > Goals > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
newsletter-conversion-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Social Media Share Rate = # of social media shares / Page Sessions.

See social media follow rate (above).

29. Comment Rate

  • Good For : Measuring content performance, visitor engagement
  • Report : Behavior > Events > Overview
  • Report 2 : Conversions > Goals > Overview
  • Dimension : None
  • Segments : Traffic Type (optional)
newsletter-conversion-report-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

Comment Rate = # comments on a page / page sessions.

Comments need to be set up as a custom Event before being tracked as a Goal.

30. Pages per Session

  • Good For : Measuring content performance, UI performance, overall website engagement
  • Report : Audience > Overview
  • Dimension : Pages / Session
  • Segments : Layer segments based on your analysis (traffic source, page ID, etc)
pages-per-session-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

This is a web analytics 101 measurement, but still very useful to determine content quality and user engagement.

31. New Visitors

  • Good For : Measuring brand exposure, content performance, campaign performance
  • Report : Audience > Overview
  • Dimension : % New Sessions
  • Segments : New Users
new-visitors-report-google-analytics
. Business2Community

Additional Notes:

I read a lot of Analytics blogs and a lot of them try and downplay the important of traffic.

That’s horse crap.

Traffic is the most important measure of your website’s success. Without traffic, nothing else is possible!

Written by Ryan Stewart for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Nadine Shaabana

Does Brand Awareness Matter for Ecommerce?

The logic is so simple, it’s almost circular: before someone buys from you, they must know about you.

Here enters the metric known as “brand awareness,” something marketers everywhere are striving towards and at which every CFO is rolling their eyes).

In ecommerce, where it is often difficult to truly differentiate purely on product features, we often have to fight for mind share and an emotional connection.

Why, after all, does one choose a Casper mattress over a Purple mattress but for branding?

The question, though, is how do we actually measure brand awareness? Hint: there are many different, sometimes conflicting methods.

Additionally, can we correlate brand awareness campaigns to actual dollar sign business goals?

We’re going to help you try to answer those questions here. First, let’s get a grasp on the terminology so we’re on the same page.

What is Brand Awareness, Anyway?

Brand awareness is “a measure of a brand’s relative cognitive representation in a given category in relation to its competitors.’

In essence, it is a quantitative measure of how well your brand is known by your target market.

The typical academic methodology used is the “brand recall survey,” in which a group of consumers are asked to name as many brands as they can in a given product category (say, live chat software). If they recall your brand at higher rates than others in that category, you have good brand awareness.

Brand awareness is sometimes confused with other brand metrics such as brand equity—the overall value of a brand and its assets—or brand loyalty—the extent to which your customers would stay with you in the presence of competing offers.

Synonyms of brand awareness are mind share and share of voice.

We can really put this into concrete terms when we think of a specific ecommerce product category; let’s say direct to consumer tea sellers. If you were to ask a sample of people shopping for tea which tea brands they could remember, a hypothetical break-down could be that 55% knew The Republic of Tea, 40% knew Teavana, and 25% knew Pique Tea.

However, things get more complicated when you begin to ask questions about the methodology.

How many people do we need to ask? Which people? What if we expanded our product category to “health drinks,” or even just “beverages?” Then Pique Tea is suddenly competing in the same category as Kombucha or Coca-Cola, respectively, which just doesn’t seem right.

These are complicated questions, but there is a short answer: brand awareness as a metric should track as narrowly as possible against your target market. Everything else is noise. Your findings should be actionable, and you should be able to track them over time and against competitors.

As you’ll see below, there are many methods marketers currently use to track brand awareness. I’ll outline them and we can judge them based on the above criteria.

5 Ways to Measure Brand Awareness

I’ll be focusing only on four of the most common ways for online retailers to measure brand awareness as well as one new way I believe is more effective.

1. Brand Recall Surveys

The most common way to measure brand awareness is by selecting a representative sample of consumers in your target market and asking them which brands they can recall in your market category.

Within this method, there are actually a few different flavors of brand awareness measures: top of mind, spontaneous, and aided.

Top of mind is when you give someone a product category cue, and you’re only interested in the first brand they say. Spontaneous awareness is simply measuring how many brands one can name without any assistance. Aided awareness is more of a recognition measure that measures how many people recognize your brand name when prompted about it.

Taking into account all of these survey approaches and despite being the most common and the most formalized and studied, I still believe brand awareness surveys may be the least useful method of any on our list. At least for the vast majority of businesses, especially those digitally-native ecommerce sites.

Basically, many brands will either cluster near the top or the bottom of a chart in terms of their salience.

At the bottom of the chart, where the vast majority of brands actually reside, there is massive variance in the brand awareness metric. This leads to low predictive validity (meaning you can’t really take action on this metric) and questionable longitudinal validity (if variance is high the second or third time you measure it, what looks like a positive or negative change might just be measurement error).

For larger consumer brands like Away or Quip, this might be a great method.

For smaller consumer brands like Winc and Chameleon cold brew coffee, your sampling needs to be much more rigorous in order to make it useful.

For most B2B brands, like BounceX or Ahrefs, surveys like these are pretty much useless.

2. Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is one of the easiest, yet least rigorous ways of tracking brand awareness. It’s really not a bad metric to keep an eye on. It just doesn’t really track what we’ve defined as “brand awareness.”

Screen Shot 2019 08 26 at 8.16.39 AM
. Business2Community

Acquisition > Channels > Direct

The big problem with direct traffic: it’s very inaccurate as an attribution channel.

If you’re using Google Analytics, know that many other channels are accidentally bucketed into “direct,” especially if you don’t follow UTM tagging best practices. For instance, what you think of as direct traffic might just be email or social traffic that has been bucketed as direct.

A second problem: direct traffic may come as the result of many things, including but not limited to:

  1. Public relations events (ex. fundraising)
  2. An increase in customers logging on to contact with customer support or return items.
  3. Your own staff working on your site
  4. Not properly installing your analytics code inside of your ecommerce platform

So, it’s not very narrowly defined, which is problematic only if we’re looking at this as an accurate construct in itself. If we’re looking at it as a directional and indicative measure, especially in relation to competitors, it’s not a bad thing.

“A huge portion of our direct traffic comes from people reaching our homepage just to log into the app,” says Mark Lindquist, marketing strategist at Mailshake.

“We have to be careful about removing app user traffic from our general traffic numbers for that reason. Otherwise, we’ll see consistent growth in direct traffic, but it’s from our consistent growth in customers, not from brand awareness or any directly attributable marketing campaign.”

This isn’t a bad thing, obviously, so keep an eye on direct traffic. Just don’t call it “brand awareness.”

3. Branded Search Traffic

Branded search traffic is one of my favorite ways to audit brand awareness, especially for competitive research purposes. This is a great metric for ecommerce sites that operate primarily online, though even those with locations may be able to tie some branded search back to brand awareness efforts.

This metric, again, suffers from its unrigorous scoping; someone may search your brand for many reasons, from general curiosity to public relation events to customer service inquiries and more.

Additionally, most search data is at best a directional estimate, which means you’ll never get a truly precise number here.

Branded search benefits, however, in its directionality and the ability to compare with competitors. Unlike direct traffic date, you can actually see what your branded search is in relation to others in your industry. Simply plug your brand and a few other competitors into Ahrefs and check out the numbers.

Screen Shot 2019 08 23 at 3.18.58 PM
. Business2Community

If you’re using this as a brand awareness metric, there are two things to know:

  1. It’s not incredibly actionable. You can’t make any near-term decisions based on this brand awareness measure (though it can help with your positioning).
  2. It’s most useful if you track it over time and in relation to competitors. Your number should be growing in relation to your competitors over time, and you can use this metric to help you prepare sales enablement materials, such as competitor feature comparisons (example from HubSpot here).
Screen Shot 2019 08 26 at 8.22.50 AM
. Business2Community

4. Social Media Mentions

I’ll give away my bias up front here: I don’t think social media mentions is a viable brand awareness metric, no matter how you slice it.

social media performance dashboard
. Business2Community

It doesn’t measure what we think of as brand awareness—neither in the sense that it measures people who are aware of your brand nor that it measures people in your target market. I believe no one should consider mentions or impressions on social in any way a reputable brand awareness measure.

First off, context matters. If you launched a great new product, you might get a spike in social mentions and impressions. You may also get a spike if your CEO was involved in a scandal. Maybe you just started posting memes and they’re really getting some traction…but with a totally irrelevant consumer segment.

Even if you tie in sentiment analysis, I still think social media mentions or impressions are a weak measure of brand awareness. That’s not to say social media is a useless activity; clearly that’s not true, as some brands have built their businesses on Instagram or Pinterest. Just don’t call social media impressions “brand awareness.”

5. SERP Real Estate

Digitally-native businesses should probably care about SEO as an acquisition channel, but I’ve proposed a way to use search as a brand awareness measure as well.

You can probably define your market segmentation or category in terms of a search keyword. For example, Winc is a “wine subscription box.” Quip is a “toothbrush.” Kettle and Fire sells “bone broth.”

As it turns out, many (many!) consumers turn to Google to discover new products in known categories or to do research and get opinions on the best product to buy. These search queries look like this:

  • “Best wine subscriptions”
  • “Best toothbrush brands”
  • “Best bone broth brands”

In almost every product category I’ve seen, these terms have both high search volume (lots of people are searching) and high intent (the people who are searching are looking to buy). This makes it a red hot bullseye arena for you to identify those truly in your target market.

If your brand isn’t to be found in these search terms, you’re not a part of the conversation, and therefore you won’t be considered when potential customers are searching.

So what’s the metric? Look at the top 2-5 pages of Google for your product category search term, and count how many of the pages mention your product. You can do this manually or you can do it by using a scraper like SEO Quake and analyzing the outlinks in Screaming Frog.

This is such a powerful metric that I built a tool in R so we could easily do this for any product category keywords:

Screen Shot 2019 08 23 at 3.31.30 PM
. Business2Community

Okay, So Does Brand Awareness Matter for Ecommerce?

Brand awareness is of obvious importance to online retailers. In fact, brand equity—of which brand awareness is a part—may be one of the only true moats for many digitally-native ecommerce brands.

As Wilson Hung recently pointed out, the golden era of DTC brands may be coming to an end. In the early days, brands were able to take advantage of decreased costs of both starting their store and scaling via paid channels.

Now, however, competition has driven ad costs up and has made it more difficult than ever to differentiate on product alone.

2019 Ecommerce 1
. Business2Community

As I’ve mentioned before, if there is a meaningful difference between a Purple, Casper, and Tuft & Needle mattress, I’m not sure what it is (and I don’t think most consumers could tell you either).

Two Ways to Build Out Your Ecommerce Brand In 2019

This rise in CAC (customer acquisition costs) leads to a logical conclusion for brands. We can focus on two things:

  1. Decreasing acquisition costs
  2. Increasing lifetime value

If I had to guess, I’d say decreasing acquisition costs will come from two primary means:

  1. The diversification of customer acquisition channels
  2. A decidedly “traditional” advertising approach for the market leaders

As for the latter, those first movers who have carved out a large customer base for themselves already may be able to double down on paid advertising and branch out to traditional media buying as opposed to simply relying on performance and direct response. This could include offline media like television, radio, and billboards, and it could also include partnerships, sponsorships, and influencer work.

Brand salience becomes an effective differentiator at the margins. In other words, if you can spend enough money and time to make it that people think “Purple equals high quality mattresses,” that’s a big emotional moat other brands will have difficulty crossing.

This, however, is a terrible approach for upstarts. If you’re a newer, scrappier competitor, you’ll almost certainly have to diversify your approach to customer acquisition. This may include non-paid channels like content marketing, SEO, social media, or influencer marketing.

Large brands will also probably branch out to non-paid channels with time as well.

The final consideration for ecommerce brands looking to stand out in 2019 and beyond is to build out a world class retention program, thus boosting LTV.

This includes the simple, low-hanging fruit like failed payment recovery, and it also includes the broader initiative of doubling down on customer service and improving the customer experience at every step of the journey.

After all, it’s 2019, and no one trusts marketers. We trust our friends, though. And I bet if you looked at your last 10+ online purchases, most of them would be driven by word of mouth.

Conclusion

Brand awareness as a concept is clearly important to ecommerce brands. In fact, brand equity may be one of the moats winning companies compete on in the coming years, now that competition and customer acquisition costs have risen precipitously.

I’d caution against using some of the above metrics as an actual quantitative measure of brand awareness, however. Many of the common metrics don’t actually measure brand awareness at all and are simply emergent properties of many other functions. The two that work well—brand recall surveys and SERP Real Estate—mostly tend to be effective for larger, better-known brands.

My suggestion: Build your acquisition strategy out like you would an investment portfolio. Keep 80% of it for directly attributable, conversion-driving activities, and leave 20% open as brand equity-building activities. That way, you capture most of the upside of the persuasive aspects of brand building, while never losing out to more data-driven competitors.

Written by Alex Birkett for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Business2Community

How to Make Instagram Videos That Add Value to Your Brand

Instagram has proven to be a highly valuable platform when it comes to social media marketing. Its reach is incredible! In fact, this social media platform boasts 1 billion active monthly users, half of whom log on to the platform daily. It’s quite obvious, then, that using Instagram to reach your target market is a must.

While Instagram used to be strictly for images, the addition of video has given marketers, community managers, and all sorts of brands and businesses the opportunity to create visually stunning content to wow their audience.

Chances are you’ve already started incorporating video into your marketing strategy, which is a great first step. However, simply posting videos on your Instagram account won’t be enough in this competitive market. If you’re looking for ways to make your video content more effective, use these tips on how to make Instagram videos that stand out above and beyond your competitors.

Instagram Video Basics That Will Improve Your Marketing Strategy

If you’re posting video content on your Instagram account, then it’s very likely that you already have a social media marketing strategy in place. Of course, if your marketing strategy isn’t getting you the results you want, it’s worth going back and taking a look at some of the basics in order to maximize your impact.

Create Different Types of Videos

At some point you decided to start using video content on your Instagram feed – but did you consider the different types of videos you could include in your marketing strategy? It’s a good idea to test out different types of videos that make sense for your brand and audience. This will help you measure what type of content is more effective in terms of your goals. For example, if you only post promotional videos, give tutorial videos a shot. You may find that your followers spend more time watching these or are more likely to follow your account thanks to the variety of videos included in your feed.

Rethink Your Hashtags

By now, you’re probably tired of hashtags. If you’ve decided not to use them at all or are going overboard and using too many, it’s important that you find the right balance for your posts. Hashtags can give your videos a great boost, but not using the right tags won’t do much no matter how many you use. Creating a hashtag for a campaign or contest is great practice. For other video posts, avoid using overly generic hashtags and opt for more descriptive tags that will help your target audience find your posts. In your mix of hashtags, include some existing and relevant ones that will give your post a boost, ensuring it doesn’t get lost in the mix. Although Instagram allows you to use up to 30, you’re better off using between seven and nine hashtags per post.

Stories Are a Must

Before Instagram Stories existed, the only way to get users to pay attention to you was through posts. However, since their introduction, Stories have changed the way users consume information. Instagram users are now more likely to engage with a brand through their Stories. Video stories will be more captivating, so stick to well-made videos that are tailored to this space. Don’t forget to experiment with different types of videos in your Stories, just like in your feed. To get your audience to interact with your brand, use the different features available: ask questions, include a poll, quiz your followers, and when possible, include a ‘swipe up’ option that takes them to your brand’s page.

Best Practices for Creating Instagram Videos Worth Watching

Just like with any other social media platform, you want your content to stand out and make someone scrolling through their feed stop and give your post more than a half-second glance. With the number of posts and Stories being uploaded to Instagram on a daily basis, this task can seem near impossible.

Instead of giving up before even starting, use these Instagram video best practices to put you on the right track!

1. Focus on Your Goal

Before starting to produce any content, stop to think about what your goal is. Do you want to increase revenue, drive traffic to your website, generate leads, etc? Having a clear goal in mind will help you develop a solid video idea with a clear call to action so that your video’s message doesn’t get lost on viewers.

2. Stand Out

Creating video content for Instagram allows you to communicate with your audience in a very visual manner. To make your videos visually striking, use bold colors, keep the text to a minimum, and use animated elements to really catch their attention. You can easily create animated videos using an online tool like a slideshow maker. Add as many slides as you need and control the animation, text, images, and tons of other elements with just a few clicks.

3. Don’t Forget Branding

Just like the rest of your social media posts, your video content should reflect your brand. You want your viewers to be able to easily identify content coming from your brand. This means including your logo, incorporating your brand colors, and other elements important to your image. For short videos, consider including a branded intro.

4. Understand That Length Matters

Viewers don’t have a huge attention span, especially when scrolling through their Instagram feed. Because of this, it’s important that you keep videos short and to the point. It’s also worth noting that there are length limits for Story videos as well as timeline videos:

* Videos posted to your Instagram feed should be a minimum of three seconds long to a maximum of one minute.

* Instagram Story videos can be up to 15 seconds in length.

* Instagram Live videos can be up to 60 minutes long.

5. Tell a Story

When making video content for social media in general, don’t just make a commercial. Since social media gives you the ability to connect on a more personal level with your customers, create content that is engaging and speaks to them. Use storytelling techniques to captivate them and inspire loyalty.

Instagram Video Ad Tips to Help You Convert

Making Instagram videos is a great place to start if you want to engage your audience and get them interested in your products or services. These videos can spark some interest in those who already follow you, but you can generate even more interest and reach a wider audience by creating Instagram video ads.

Instagram allows you to buy ad space that will appear in your target audiences’ feed, or you can also buy ads that will appear as users tap through their stories. Just like with any other ad you invest money into, you first have to define your goals, plan out your ad content, and optimize the content so that it has the impact you’re hoping for. Below are some questions that can help you achieve this.

What’s Your Objective?

When purchasing Instagram ads, you can choose one of three ad objectives: awareness, consideration, and conversions. Knowing what you want to achieve with your ad will make it easier to choose a solid objective. It’s also important that you know who your target audience is, where they’re located, and other demographics and behaviors that will help you better target your ads.

Instagram Story or Instagram Feed?

Previously, ads were only featured on the Instagram timeline, but the introduction of Stories means you have two different spaces to choose from. One great benefit of Instagram Story ads is that they take up the entire screen, meaning no distractions. You don’t get a caption but the ‘swipe up’ option makes it easy for users to visit your brand’s page. Ads featured in the timeline blend into a user’s feed seamlessly and using video content can very well get them to stop scrolling. Since your post will be linked to your profile and you’re given space for a caption, users will have easy access to more of your brand.

How Should I Optimize My Videos?

For the best results, make your videos at the best resolution possible. Stick to MP4 or MOV files and keep your videos below four GB. Normal video ads should be between one and 60 seconds long, while Instagram Story video ads should be a maximum of 15 seconds long.

Sound or No Sound?

Audio can change the mood of your video, so do take some time to find the right track. Voiceovers and similar sound clips may not be worth the trouble since videos are presented with the sound off and users are given the option to turn the sound on. Because of this, your video should work and make sense without sound, but it’s a good addition just in case.

Should I Use Video Tools for Instagram Ads?

Many people put off creating video ad content because they don’t have the skills or the tools to make them. If you don’t have the budget to hire a video person, you can use an online video maker tool to get it done. These are easy to use and include tons of templates you can customize for your brand.

What Instagram Analytics Should I Be Checking?

After creating a video and posting it, you’re not quite done. The next step is to check how the video is performing, to see whether you’re reaching your objectives. From the data you gather, you can reach a deeper understanding of who’s watching your videos, if their behavior is what you expected, etc. All of this information will work to help you create more effective ads in the future.

Conquer Social Media with Striking Instagram Videos

Now that you’re better prepared to make your own video content for Instagram, you have no reason not to! Don’t let video intimidate you; use the tools available to make it all much easier and better targeted for your goals. Avoid falling behind in the game and start developing your social media marketing strategy that, of course, includes video!

Written by Roberta Camarena for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by lalo Hernandez

How Ecommerce SMBs Are Disrupting the Industry

Over the past few years, there has been a major paradigm shift in the world of retail.

Most people are aware of the massive shift in the way we buy things due to ecommerce. It’s no longer necessary to spend time going between stores in your precious free time. This can be a perfect opportunity for a working mother to get in on the action.

Despite its already massive place in the new economy, eCommerce still has tons of room to grow. In fact, it still only accounts for about nine percent of total sales in the U.S., while growing at an annual rate of around 15 percent. Small and medium-sized businesses are at the front of this surge. In other words, eCommerce SMBs are disrupting the industry. Since eCommerce is growing more than three times faster than retail as a whole, it’s safe to say this innovative way of shopping will only continue to gain influence.

Hyperlocal eCommerce

Large ecommerce companies specialize in shipping a broad variety of items at low costs. They don’t, however, do nearly as well when it comes to hyperlocal initiatives. This is one of the big ways SMBs are influencing how people are shopping online. There are a few benefits to operating hyperlocal. Consider the convenience of locally sourced and delivered goods. They can be brought to the customer with an extremely fast turnaround. Using ecommerce this way opens up a lot of opportunities for food and beverage stores. Picking up extra revenue for a business through great turnaround times can be perfect for the mother at home needing some extra income.

User Experience

More and more, online consumers want to have a shopping experience that’s, well, an experience. There’s nothing particularly engaging about the standardized search-and-scroll layout used by large ecommerce providers. Top-notch user experience is becoming the expectation for online stores.

SMBs are leading the way in this push. Their advantage in this arena comes from being able to focus on a specific niche, where large ecommerce sites need to have mass appeal. SMBs can tailor user experience to their audience. Plus, it’s now possible to build a cloud ecommerce store by selecting from a wide array of designs. This allows SMBs to create beautiful, effective e-stores.

Experiential Retail

Traditionally, a company’s product has been strictly defined as an item or service. This is gradually changing, thanks to the rise of ecommerce. Many younger people are looking for new, exciting experiences. In fact, expenditures on experiences and events has increased by 70 percent in the U.S. since 1987. Intelligent SMBs are taking advantage of this trend.

Consider companies such as Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club. These companies operate on a subscription delivery model. Customers get personalized packages delivered to their doors on a recurring basis. Getting makeup and shaving supplies doesn’t have to be laborious. With these services, it’s an experience. The great thing is there are nearly unlimited ways for SMBs to tap into this phenomenon. Nearly every portion of life can be intertwined in these types of subscription boxes from self care to fashion accessories.

Social Media Presence

Just about everyone is aware of social media. These days, your grandparents are probably on Facebook. But social media isn’t just a way for individuals to connect. It’s also a way for businesses to interact with their customer base. When SMBs can effectively mobilize their social media strategy, they can find huge success in the ecommerce space. Social media influencers are often a perfect fit for SMBs. Essentially, social media influencers will promote a company’s products to their followers in exchange for payment. This can have a huge payoff if the influencer has a strong overlap with the brand. Additionally, SMBs typically have a more personal feel online than larger companies. Through these deeper relationships, SMBs can further develop customer loyalty.

While people sometimes fail to appreciate the diversity of this landscape. ecommerce SMBs are disrupting the industry and standing out in the online marketplace.

Written by Emily Green for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Working Mother

How to Create a Welcome Series For New Subscribers

You’ve already done the hard work: You built a stellar landing page with a killer call-to-action, your blog entries are informative, enticing, and even fun to read, and your marketing to bring new leads to see these things are working, and you’ve got new subscribers. So what’s the next step? Creating an onboarding drip campaign.

You’ve won over new subscribers already – they’re hungry for more information, and they are looking to you to be the authority. Subscribers even expect it: 74.4% of consumers expect at least one welcome email when they subscribe.

So once they sign up, why not take this opportunity to introduce yourself, get acquainted, and reaffirm your subscribers’ choice: They did the right thing by signing up. Now is your chance to turn subscribers into clients.

Does this seem like a heavy load to bear? It doesn’t have to be. It’s important to reach out to new subscribers with a welcome series to continue building your relationship with them. While this should be a thoughtful process, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one.

Why You Need a Series of Emails

So why should you build a series of emails? Why not just one, perfectly-crafted welcome email and leave it at that. Here’s some food for thought:

Sending a series of welcome emails yields a 51% higher revenue than a single welcome email.

Do I have your attention yet?

Even if your new subscribers have done a little research on your website, they are still getting to know who you are as a brand. Just like with any relationship, it takes a while for you to get to know each other. Your subscribers learn what to expect from your brand through your email series because they learn consistency.

And when your subscribers build a stronger relationship with your company? They’re more likely to become customers.

In general, sending welcome emails increases long-term brand engagement by 33%. But a welcome series keeps your brand at the forefront of your subscribers’ minds for a longer period of time. With multiple welcome emails, you are consistently there to be the solution to the problems your subscribers have.

Crafting Your Email Series

When it comes to the actual writing of your welcome series, what should each email look like? Every email should be unique from the others so they don’t turn into radio static. Additionally, each email should offer a different value or piece of information for your subscribers.

So what should be in each email? Here’s a general guideline for your email series. Of course, you can adjust these emails to better fit your brand. But at the core of each email, you should think about how your company can solve your customer’s problem.

Let’s take a look:

Email #1 – Welcome

This is the place to include all the metaphorical streamers and balloons to make your subscribers feel welcome – and glad that they signed up for your emails. This email should be sent out as soon as your subscribers sign up. This assures your subscribers that they’ve successfully signed up for your emails while continuing the conversation with them.

Be succinct – and personal. This is a great opportunity to not only welcome your subscribers but to thank them for signing up as well. What’s unique about your brand? This is the time to share that with your new subscribers – is it your mission to give back? Is it your ethics and your values?

Your first email (and all of your welcome emails, really) is an extension of your brand, and an invitation for your subscribers into your brand. If you’ve made an offer for new subscribers (like an informational download or a coupon), this should also be included in your first email.

Email #2 – Connect

Your second email is a great place to meet your customers where they are – and encourage them to connect with you in other ways, like inviting them to follow you on social media, or sharing more information about themselves with your company.

As you write this email, keep in mind that your emails should always be focused on your customer. You can ask them for additional information, like their birthday, their preferences, or where they are located.

This is also a great place to introduce your product categories, the service you offer. What’s special about who you are as a brand? That’s something you should definitely include in your second email.

You can schedule this email for 1-2 days after your first email.

Email #3 – Re-engage

Re-engage with your subscriber and invite them back to your site: Has your new subscriber purchased anything yet? If not, your third email can remind them of your initial offer. Another thing you can do to re-engage your subscribers? Share your origin story, or a problem you tackled through the creation of your company.

This is a great place to remember that your subscribers have signed up for your emails to solve a problem. How can your brand solve their problems? Share your solution with your subscribers – then invite them back to your site.

Here’s a tip: How frequently do you send out your regular marketing emails? You don’t want to overload your new subscribers with too many emails, so you may want to exclude new subscribers from your regular marketing emails until they’ve received each of the emails in your welcome series.

You can schedule this email to be sent 2-3 days following your second email.

Email #4 – Send Useful Resources

Do you have an exceptionally helpful blog post or downloadable guide that your subscribers might want? Your fourth email should be a useful guide or a resource that will continue to help your subscribers solve their problem.

Not sure what their problem is, or what kind of information you should share? Go back to why your subscribers signed up in the first place and start there.

And if they receive something for free, or get an unexpected value from your brand? This can become a reciprocal relationship – your subscribers will want to return the favor and do business with your company.

When you send these valuable resources to your subscribers, you are establishing trust and building a strong bond with them.

This email can be sent around a week after your previous email.

Email #5 – Get feedback

What do your subscribers want to see next? And how can you best help them? Your fifth email can invite your subscribers to share information with you – and to personally reach out to you and build a real relationship – which can help you boost sales.

One way to do this? With a set of trigger links) in your email. Trigger links are not only a great way to track what kind of subscribers you have, but it can set up a new series of automated emails. And? You can better personally engage with your subscribers when you know more about them.

This email can be sent 2-3 days after your previous email.

Your welcome email series should be a reflection of who you are as a brand, but also should be a personal invitation for your subscribers; an invitation to let you solve their problems by doing what it is you do best.

By reaching out and connecting with your subscribers in the days and weeks after they sign up for your emails, you are reaching them when they are most interested in your company. It’s a great chance for you to cement a strong foundation for a long-lasting subscriber relationship.

Written by Ashley Hill for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by You X Ventures

20 Ways to Bust through the Digital Noise with a More Human, Relevant Brand

Building a brand that is relevant, memorable and valuable online requires a lot more than fancy visuals, fast moving video or knowing how to play the last social network newsfeed algorithm.

Standing out from the digital noise requires more than hopping on the latest social shiny technology object.

At the core you must earn attention, trust and action. Social currency on the web today = attention + action. You need both. To do this you must learn how to connect with humans in a real way. You must know how to leverage the technology to be more human, make people laugh, share your story and inspire them to take action.

Here are 20 ways you can bust right through the digital noise to grow your business. Remember it always has been and always will be about the humans.

1. Be authentically you.

There is only one you, so be that person, period. The best way to attract your ideal customer which will create energy, mutual joy and value is letting your true colors shine. Don’t pretend you are someone or a brand you are not. Find your authentic voice, personality, tone and share it worth the world. Life and business work so much better when lived in high human definition with no filters. Share your story and invite, engage and bring others with you for the journey. Let them help build you. When you win, then they all win.

2. Find where your passions intersect with the opportunity to create and drive business results.

When you are ignited by your passions your energy, excitement and happiness will often exude from your being. Customers will feel this and be attracted organically to work with you.

3. Create a content calendar and plan.

Though it seem may fun to wake up every morning and spontaneously post content to your many social profiles, your results will increase exponentially if you take the time to plan your content. The more you can focus on the right audiences, goals, objectives and strategies to attract your ideal audience, the more successful you will be.

4. Know and love your audience.

Think about the brands you love. What is it about them that you love? The more you know your audience and ideal customer, the better you can create content, products and services that connect with them in meaningful ways. Personal experiences make your brand more relevant and memorable. Create consistent, meaningful and unique experiences that separate you from the crowd of status quo.

5. Know your value.

Know your greatest strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to improve. When you are crystal clear on the value you serve your ideal audience and customers, you will pop out in a crowd to them in a positive way. They’ll be thinking “hey… that brand has just what I need now!”

6. Know the goals your audience has for life or business.

We must inspire our audiences to connect with us with a goal of helping them achieve their objectives. When we do this, we achieve ours by default as they are one and the same. Inspire – Connect – Achieve!

7. Create content that helps your audience achieve their goals.

How can you help them save time, make more money, lose weight, feel better, get more sleep and the list goes on. Know what they want and then create content that will help them achieve their biggest dreams. Then create content that provides the path, roadmap and actionable steps to help them get to the desired state or level of success they are seeking.

8. Create content that inspires and empowers.

Knowledge is power. Inspire your audience to take action with content that empowers them to win! Inspiration does not equal a link to your blog post or sales page. Truly connect with the heart if you want to stomp the status quo. Create content that is easy to digest, share and remember. Inspiration quotes or short stories that people connect with are both great ways to create meaningful and inspirational content without spending a ton of time.

9. Get visual… as in really good visuals.

Don’t simply post the same ol’ same ol’ stock images and creative for your content, blog posts, videos, Instagram, Linkedin and email newsletter. By using our free content calendar template, you can be more certain that your content is organized and it will be easier to create stunning visuals that are consistent, engaging and drive you customer to the desired action.

10. Double down on one specific industry or niche.

Get laser focused on a niche you have experience and case studies. Become the “go to” leader and trusted advisor in the industry. Narrow your focus to streamline and prioritize content creation, influencer marketing and all areas of content creation, promotion, advertising and marketing.

11. Double down on one or two social networks.

In our Social Profit Factor training academy we teach our students a 3 tiered approach to prioritizing social networks. It’s always better to start with one or two social networks where you can have a major presence vs spreading yourself too thin across more than you have time or budget to achieve a measurable return on your investment. Going deep can help you connect authentically with your target audience and build a more human brand. Less is truly more.

12. Look for the cracks of opportunity competitors in your industry are missing.

For example, we hopped on LinkedIn 14+ years ago when they were still in beta. We’ve been building our community and network there since. While others in our industry are just now realizing LinkedIn is for far more than job searching, and that it’s one of the best ways to connect with professionals, we already have a solid network including 365,000 followers, and over 25,000 connections. These connections have been nurtured for more than 14 years and deliver one of the highest ROIs of any social network our agency, Marketing Nutz leverages.

13. Double down on one or two marketing mediums such as video, visual or audio.

Have you thought about digging deeper into video and/ or audio? Ready to launch a new podcast or YouTube video channel? Choose one and find ways to leverage content you already have to reach new audiences. Add another layer of context and relevancy to not only pull over your existing connections and re-engage them with your brand but also connect with new people and make new friends!

14. Tap into the personal brand YOU FACTOR!

People buy from people they know like and trust. When was the last time you woke up in the morning excited to talk to a logo on social media? Invest in your personal brand and the payoffs will be high in building relationships, earning trust and growing your business. Learn the difference between authenticity and transparency and know that you don’t have to share everything you do 24/ 7 to build a rock solid personal brand that delivers result. Prioritize social networks, content and mediums that will help you connect with your ideal audience, customers, influencers and partners you want to work with.

15. Power up with the OPC – Other People’s Content and Community.

You don’t have to embark on your digital and social media journey all by yourself. Connect with other leaders in your industry such as influencers, highly connected thought leaders both online and offline, Share their content. Build relationships. Partner up for strategic, fun and inspiring co-marketing campaigns that ignite your combined audiences.

16. Leverage smart paid media and retargeting.

Imagine capturing the attention of visitors to your website or blog multiple times after their initial or repeat visits? Tap into the power of social media paid advertising as well as retargeting to place paid advertisements in from of them on the other blogs, websites, and social networks they visit. Example would be targeting them on YouTube over the weekend while they are watching videos related to their favorite hobby. Retargeting works amazing because you can target and connect with them by increasing the brand impressions. It takes 6-7 brand impressions before someone will remember your brand.

17. Leverage data.

While your competition is more worried about looking, sounding and performing like everyone else… dig deep into the data. When the market starts to shift, find out why. When you feel you are losing your edge don’t be afraid to pivot. However, leverage the data and make the smart decisions that will help you not just survive but thrive for both the short term and long term. Often times short term sacrifices lead to long term gains. Success in business today is more of a marathon than it is a sprint. To win the marathon you must keep yourself and your team educated and on top of the latest trends and best practices to win in your market and niche.

18. Focus on the big picture and the big wins. Stop sweating the small stuff.

The right baby steps that are aligned to the bigger vision will ensure you that you keep winning. Don’t get down with small setbacks or short term losses. Imposter syndrome is real and can kill your creativity and confidence if you let it. You will win and you will lose deals and even social media followers. However, the world is big and there will be more where those came from. Stay focused on your goals and never give up.

19. Create once use many.

Create pinnacle pieces of content you can use over and over again. This doesn’t mean you post the same piece of content over and over again. Instead you create amazing pieces of content that can be sliced, diced and served up in different formats, mediums, lengths and more. Get creative and work smart. This will help you stay agile while at the same time build a solid foundation of evergreen content that can serve your audience for months and years to come. Read and listen to podcast:

20. Invest in the humans.

You can never go wrong by investing in the human beings within your community. Learn and understand who they are, why they are there, what they need, what they desire, who they hang out with, where the hang out with and more. The more you can know about them, the better you can inspire, connect with and serve them. Inspire – connect achieve! When we inspire our audiences to connect with us with a goal of helping them achieve their objectives, we achieve ours by default as they are one and the same.

Written by Pam Moore for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Business2Community

8 Ways to Promote Your Content to Grow Subscribers and Sales

Let’s just get this out of the way.

Publishing content to your blog is not content marketing.

Your blog is the cozy, decorative foyer for your website visitors to stop in, wipe their feet, and get a feel for your brand.

But for your content to do work — like bringing new website visitors, attracting and keeping email subscribers, and converting shoppers to customers — you need to send it out into the world.

That’s where your blog content promotion strategy comes in.

With smart content promotion tactics, you’ll not only get more qualified traffic, leads, and customers, you’ll do it at a much lower cost.

Here’s the best part. It’s not difficult to do.

Actually, it only takes a small tweak to things you’re already doing.

For example, if you’re running promotional Facebook ads now, just swap some of those for content ads. Do you use email marketing? Include your blog content and watch your click-through rates soar.

We’ve listed eight of the smartest places to promote your blog content. You don’t have to do them all right away. In fact, we’ve listed the ones that will have the greatest impact first.

Start with the channels you already know. Oh, and let us know how it goes.

High-Impact Promotion Strategies

If you only use three promotion strategies for your blog content, make it these. We’ve watched hundreds of online businesses use them with great results.

1. Social media ads

Feature your content in targeted Facebook and Instagram ads to reach the right people at the right moment for a low cost.

Why it works:

Your product ads are great at attracting shoppers looking to purchase right now. Content ads attract the other 98% of your audience. And they do it at a really low cost. In fact, traffic from Facebook content ads costs about 90% less than traffic from average Facebook ads.

These are people you can nurture with retargeting ads and through email.

And the best part? They’ve self-segmented.

Meaning, by clicking on your ad featuring an article about the 10 toughest hikes in the U.S., you know this visitor is a good match for your heavy-duty hiking boots.

Benefits of social media ads:

  • Target niche audiences
  • Increase brand awareness/grow trust
  • 90% lower CPC than average Facebook ads
  • Drive traffic with CPC campaigns or grow your email list faster with CPL campaigns

2. Organic search

Optimize all your original blog content for SEO so it’s the first thing shoppers see when they search relevant terms.

Why it works:

Organic search isn’t technically a promotion channel. But publishing search-optimized content is one of the most powerful ways to land a top spot on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is an extremely valuable source of traffic with a high buying intent.

In addition, the lift in domain authority you can get from publishing relevant content will also bump your product pages up the SERP.

Benefits:

  • Free marketing channel
  • The value of search compounds over time
  • Builds your domain authority, which helps boost your product pages on Google as well

3. Targeted email sequences

An email sequence is a series of emails built specifically to nurture your subscribers as they reach certain points in the sales funnel. Like abandoning a cart, for example.

Include content in sequences that target shoppers who haven’t engaged with your product pages yet, or who have just purchased and might not purchase again right away.

Why it works:

When someone abandons their cart or browses your product pages, you might send a sequence of product emails and discount emails to convince them to finalize the purchase.

But when a subscriber hasn’t actively engaged with your products yet, it’s not the time for a hard sell. A combination of product content and blog articles will result in better email open and click-through rates.

The benefits:

  • Free marketing channel
  • Automated — build it once and it runs on its own
  • Email sequences drive 16x more orders than “batch and blast” emails

Other Effective Promotion Strategies

The first three strategies are your power moves. But they’re not the only ones that will pay a dividend. Here are five more ways to promote your content and grow your business.

4. Organic social media

Post content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites to stay in touch with your followers and keep them engaged.

Why it works:

Organic reach on social media just isn’t what it used to be. But the ease and $0 cost of posting content on your social media pages makes it a no-brainer.

Organic posting keeps your fans engaged and your brand top-of-mind. But it also has another interesting effect.

Shoppers perceive businesses with active social media accounts as healthy and interesting. It’s like looking in the window of your favorite store and seeing lots of people shopping, chatting, and asking questions.

Plus, if you mix content in with your promotional posts, you’ll build trust with your audience.

Benefits:

  • Free marketing channel
  • Fill your social media calendar with interesting content
  • Reach new people by encouraging followers to share your posts

5. Newsletter

Improve newsletter open and unsubscribe rates by including content your audience looks forward to reading.

How it works:

Your email subscribers opted in to your brand, making them one of your best audiences. But if your emails are one product promo after another, those shoppers will see your brand as spammy, and you’ll lose many of your most dedicated followers.

Instead, provide helpful and entertaining content to that audience. That way, you can nurture shoppers that aren’t ready to buy and keep past customers engaged until they buy again.

Benefits:

  • Free marketing channel with high ROI
  • Balance content and product promotions to maximize engagement and sales

6. Paid search ads

Promote content that educates people about your solutions at the exact moment they’re looking for answers.

Why it works :

Some people use Google when they’re ready to buy and just want to know the best way to do it. But many are still in a consideration phase, learning about the best solutions and features to solve their problem.

Your educational content can be the knowledgeable guide that leads them from confusion to conversion. Using Google to promote that content will get it in front of the right people at the right stage of consideration.

Paid search is usually best for companies with a high average order value (AOV) because Google Ads can get pricey.

Benefits:

  • Reach people in the consideration stage of the sales process
  • Promote bottom-of-funnel content like product buying guides and gift guides

7. Partnerships

Join forces with affiliates or other brands with the same target audience who will promote your content on your behalf.

Why it works:

You’ve worked hard to build an audience. So have other complementary companies in your field. You can leverage each other’s hard work to quickly reach new audiences that might take a long time to build on your own.

Additionally, you’ll be placing your content in front of a new audience that already trusts your new partner.

Benefits:

  • Reach new audiences quickly
  • Readers are more likely to engage with content recommended by a company they know and trust

8. Forums

Promote your content on free forums like Reddit, Slack, Quora, Facebook, and beyond.

Why it works:

It doesn’t get much more niche than subreddits and Facebook groups (we’re looking at you, Ominous Tracksuit Facebook Group. If you have content that can help these niche readers, you can build trust with the perfect audience fast.

Marketer beware. Join in the conversation with the goal of being authentic and helpful. If you join only to promote your brand, you’ll be downvoted, thumbs-downed, and downright kicked out of the group.

Benefits:

  • Free marketing channel
  • Build authentic relationships

Your content works like a marketing master key. It fits into almost every marketing channel and opens the door to website visitors, email subscribers, and customers.

But if you leave that key sitting in your blog, it won’t unlock anything.

Smart content promotion techniques will unleash the potential of your blog content.

Of course, as a small business, the first challenge is finding the time to publish professional-level content. And then understanding the effect it has on your business.

That’s where Matcha comes in. In minutes, you’ll be publishing the craveable content that gets your shoppers to click and convert. Plus, you’ll see exactly how it’s impacting traffic, email list growth, and revenue.

Written by Rob Glover for Business2Community and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@getmatcha.com.

Featured image provided by Prateek Katyal