Morgan Flores, Search Marketing Manager
Are we going to be okay? A common thought as we face these uncertain times and most unusual challenges. Should we double down on our marketing budget or gut it entirely? Let’s be honest, the marketing budget is typically first on the chopping block. When faced with such tumultuous times business owners and executive leadership are forced to make some very difficult decisions. Get rid of this, cut that—we don’t know what tomorrow brings and therefore we should ‘err on the side of caution.’ Not so fast, the decisions you are making, are they backed by data or are they a knee-jerk reaction to the uncertainty that awaits? If your answer is the latter, consider this; how many successful businesses operate by a system of purely gut feelings? While intuition certainly has its place, you should always have baseline data to defer to.
MARKETING IN A DOWNTURN
Adapt to survive. While wise to contain certain costs, failing to examine core customers’ changing needs can jeopardize performance over the long-term. Take a scalpel, not a cleaver or a sledgehammer to the marketing budget. Recognize the need to adjust strategies and product/service offerings in order to not only survive but thrive in times of an opaque future. While this particular health crisis may be new, this isn’t the first or last time the world will face an economic downturn or volatility in the market. One thing remains the same, customer psychology. Businesses that aim to survive a crisis will focus on customer needs and position themselves as helpers, not opportunists.
PIVOT, PIVOT, PIVOT.
Imagine you’re moving a couch up several flights of stairs. The elevator is out. Left. Left. You’re lifting the couch over your head. You’re turning, turning, turning. Then, along with a couple of your friends you pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Pivot. Nope, won’t fit. Things don’t always go according to plan. You may even cut the couch in half or scrap the idea entirely.
So, how should you pivot your search initiatives? Where do you begin?
TAKE A MICROSCOPE TO YOUR DATA
If you’ve been paying attention to the shift from print to digital, your website should have a Google Analytics account (at minimum). Print media is declining—that’s an indisputable fact. What is your business doing to shift to expanding consumer behaviors and what mechanisms do you have in place to track success? A perq of digital marketing is that you can effectively track conversions and engagement, it’s not some antiquated estimation built on counting new paper clippings or media impressions.
Let’s begin with the basics. The OG (original), no I don’t mean wading through server logs, I’m referring to Google Analytics. Consider viewing not just overall conversions or users, but also cost per conversion and conversion rates, broken down by campaign. If you're noticing conversion rates falling by 10% or more when looking at the same campaign performance, start digging deeper and determine if that's a campaign that should be paused or funds can be allocated in different directions. Consider the audience being targeted, the amount of users, and other on-page characteristics.
Every phone number clicked, every email address, every form filled out on your website must be tracked. Analyzing your conversion tracking, making informed decisions using data, and specifically honing in on key performance indicators will guide this decision making. Just counting the number of sessions or users year over year is not an efficient measurement of achievement nor does it allow you to strategically plan for the next few months or years. For example, it is critical that you view CAMPAIGN v CAMPAIGN, not just overall spend when analyzing paid ad success so you’re comparing the same audience performance.
Read, ‘Top 5 Takeaways on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Communications.’
EXAMINE PAID EFFORTS
If you’re running any pay-per-click (PPC) ads, now is the time to review them. Is the ad copy still relevant to your audience and sensitive to the current situation? Are you able to fulfill orders or deliver services that you’re advertising? If the answer is no, then turn off those ads immediately. Determine what products or services you can deliver. For example, if you’re a hair salon, shift to online product sales. Build your messaging around how these products solve an immediate problem. With salons shuttered across the nation, many individuals will be forced to perform their own haircuts and manicures at home.
REVISIT THE BLOG CONTENT CALENDAR
Much like with your email campaigns, evaluate the content you are pushing out on your blog. To quote one of the most influential hip-hop artists of our time, Ice Cube, ‘check yourself before you wreck yourself.’ And to quote another famous figure, the legendary investor Warren Buffet, ‘It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.’
Is your message commiserate with the current climate? The blog posts you had scheduled to promote, are they still relevant although many businesses are closed? Take this opportunity to generate new blog posts that your target audience will connect with and find valuable. A successful blog post will engage your target audience online through multiple mediums. Your blog content should function as an anchor pulling people from various channels online back to your website.
HAVE A PLAN
It is imperative that you have a two-month flexible plan for future messaging given the pandemic. While COVID-19 is a fluid situation, you should plan for this time of isolation to go through the end of May and have tertiary plans just in case stay-at-home orders extend past then (in many states this is quite possible). If you did not have a business continuity plan previous to this, consider reaching out to a local company near you for guidance.
SEARCH MARKETING, CUT OR NOT TO CUT?
There are winners and there are losers. Many of the winners will double down on search engine optimization (SEO). Thinking about creating a lead-generating download enticing visitors to give their email for a case study, white paper, ebook, template, or guide? That’s a great idea! But how are you going to drive demand? The users that were once searching for you by brand name are now occupied with other activities at the moment. Creating a profitable demand on an opt-in email list or lead-gen download is dependent on organic and paid strategies led by the needs of consumers. People still need products and services, the key is to understand how your products/services can fulfill an immediate need, articulate that need, and package it in a friction-free way for mass consumption.
As a business owner or executive leader, you are forced to get creative with tackling new obstacles and your employees look for you to lead the charge. The critical component is to know when to shift strategies and to do so with conviction. One thing to remember as you remain nimble is that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. Stay true to strategies that are working, laying the foundation for future success, and focusing on conversions at all levels of the funnel.
You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen.” -- Michelle Obama
If you find yourself in need of a gut check on your current marketing strategy, please feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to help.
Eileen Kennedy, Social Media Manager
Many of us are looking for the “right” answers about how we should be handling coronavirus (COVID-19) and what we should be communicating to our clients. At the onset of the pandemic, many of us decided to pause our communications to figure out strategic next steps.
If you’re still in that phase, we’re here to tell you now is not the time to go dark.
Your doors may be closed and services may be paused, but there are plenty of things you can be doing on social media to foster connection and support within your community.
First things first, people are on their phones, computers, and other devices more than ever with shelter in place orders across the country. According to eMarketer, Facebook saw a 70% increase in its app usage in March. During this time of social distancing, people are looking to increase connections, so meet them where they are already spending most of their time - on social media!
Be transparent. The media can be very overwhelming and sources of anxiety for many and people are looking for distractions. Social media is the place for your business to share your truth, be a beacon of hope, and a place of information and inspiration for your audience. Let your audience in on what you are doing during this “downtime,” how you are supporting your employees, and share your plans for the future.
Any resources within your community or elsewhere that could be helpful for your audience (like work from home tips, at-home family activities, medical information, donation opportunities, etc) should be considered share-worthy even if it is not directly related to your business. Be discerning, don’t just share everything you find, but sharing accurate information from reliable sources or information relevant to your audience will be well-received. If you want more guidance, read our Top 5 Takeaways on Coronavirus Communications.
NO SERVICE? NO PROBLEM.
With many doors closed and some services on hold, the reality is we may not be getting as many conversions as we’d like to see on social media, but this is time to focus on growing and strengthening your community and brand sentiment. Your goal should be to frame your business as a resource and thought leader.
Social media “live” capabilities are a great, creative way to communicate in real-time with your audience, answer any question they may have, allow them to see your face, see that you’re working, and see that you are there for them during this unprecedented time. Don’t try to hard-sell your products or services - just be there to relate to your audience, educate them, and offer support.
If you have customers asking how they can support your business during this time, Instagram recently rolled out its gift card option. Stay tuned for more fundraising opportunities from Instagram.
KEEP YOUR FINGER ON THE PULSE
Instagram has created a sticker series for users to not only stay connected during this time of social distancing but also to gather important information on the virus.
There is also an abundance of hashtags that you can search or use to find conversations and connect with others during this time. This is a helpful tool for joining discussions already in progress.
Your customers want to hear from you. They want to see you and they want to know that you're optimistic about the future. Give them updates, resources, and support. Social media is a great tool to connect with followers and provide them with quick updates and valuable information.
People are home. People have phones, tablets, smart TVs, laptops, and desktops. People are working remotely and might have a few extra minutes on their hands. They're turning to the internet - online video gaming, streaming services, social media, and browsing the web. I know in our house, Disney+ might be streaming every minute the kids are awake, so we're definitely contributing to the increased usage for streaming services. In residential areas across the country, we're seeing a surge of 20% of internet browsing activity.
If your website was redesigned in the past 4-5 years, your business is likely using responsive design technology to respond across all devices appropriately, built on a content management system that allows you to make updates as necessary. It likely has a modern design that won't offend a visitor when they land on your site and is hosted on a reliable server that can withstand a traffic surge. So, in this scenario, you're likely ready for a surge in traffic, but you should still make sure that your website and all of its functionality responds accordingly on mobile, tablet, and desktop views.
User Experience = Customer Experience
Websites, much like businesses, need to continue to innovate and expand their customer experience. In a traditionally focused in-store, retail environment, you can make face to face customer connections, develop relationships, and foster positive brand sentiment. Why can't you do that online through your website? Provide your customers with an experience that matches what they would see in-store. Allow your customers the ability to see products, purchase merchandise, connect with a staff member virtually, or request more information. For B2B companies, focus on telling your story, sharing what separates you from your competitors, and inform why someone should work with you. What's unique about your company that would make someone want to convert and work with you? This content is relevant and necessary to answer the questions of those who are already online and landing on your website.
Bells and Whistles or Necessary Functionality?
There is a lot of debate among website designers of what add-ons are too much and what is necessary for businesses to include on their website. Our take is really what does your business need in order to be successful, and before that, what is the overall purpose of the website. Your website should be the foundation of your marketing strategy and initiatives, digitally and offline.
That being said, you want your website to be the foundation of all of your marketing efforts - online and offline. The website should be configured to allow for conversions to happen (even when no one is around to answer the phones at the office).
A few opportunities to consider:
1. Develop a content strategy that provides responses to the many frequently asked questions your business receives from potential clients.
2. Consider adding a chatbot or live chat feature to your website to allow questions to be asked from those who are almost ready to convert.
3. Look into a book a consultation or calendar integration to allow for customer meetings right through the website. These strategies will help you filter out unqualified leads as well as streamline the conversion process.
However, if you're a retail storefront that is looking to increase revenue consider, taking the customer experience a step further and add an online store to your website that provides a new revenue stream opportunity. You don't have to add all of your inventory at once, perhaps it's five to ten products to test the market. When built on a scalable platform, this could easily take less than a week to implement and go live with an opportunity to convert customers after hours.
SEO v. User Experience
Myth: you have to choose one or the other.
Fact: you don't have to compromise the user experience on your website with a solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
The two components of your website are not mutually exclusive. Don't compromise your design, don't forget about being found through search engines. Rather, some designers do not have the SEO knowledge and know-how to successfully implement a solid SEO strategy on a beautifully designed website.
Revisit the keywords that you optimized for previously. Times have definitely changed and the keywords you are ranking for might have dropped off significantly. Develop quality content over quantity of content - focus on long-form blog posts when necessary. Or take some time to add case studies, white papers and client testimonials throughout your website.
Making sure that your website is updated with the right content, will convert with a spike in traffic, and strategically positions your company for growth should always be a priority.
Ensuring that your website is technically sound is an integral part of both SEO and user experience, marrying the two together. Your website needs to load quickly for end users on mobile devices, tablets, and computers. A timely load speed encourages users to interact with the graphics and content on the website, and ultimately impacts your search rankings. One common issue found is a lack of image optimization that slows down your website’s load speed. Check with your designer or use a plugin to address image compression and cacheability.
Not sure if your website is equipped to handle the new demand? Want a complimentary website assessment? Click here to get your FREE analysis.
It's been 11 years since the United States economy has seen anything even close to what we're going through right now. Eleven years of fairly consistent growth with some bumps here and there, but nothing prepared us for COVID-19 to hit the United States and change everything nearly overnight.
While it's easy for businesses to completely cut marketing spend in times of crisis, we in the industry look at these times a bit differently. There are hard decisions that are going to need to be made, but I'm hoping this can shed some light on strategies to explore that can get you through hard times, and come out the other side in a strong position to rebound efficiently.
So what's the solution? What we suggest companies do to combat a sales and lead drought is to look at where potential customers are now spending their time. What we have observed already is that more time is being spent indoors and online. Diverting marketing funds from travel, conference fees, sponsorships, and wining and dining potential buyers and putting them towards digital marketing efforts (PPC, organic SEO, etc.) will continue to produce leads in the absence of in-person networking events. If you let your sales and lead funnel completely dry up right now, it's going to be exponentially more difficult to fill up when the world economy is starting to move again. Don't stop your momentum, shift it to a new medium.
B2B Industry Shifts
In the B2B industry, we're seeing more content being consumed than ever before, whether that be in the form of case studies, white papers or videos. This makes sense because potential consumers have more time on their hands, and with a lot of businesses tightening their purse strings, at least for the time being, sales timelines can be increased. It's worth noting that for many of our clients, we've noticed conversion activity that used to be done M-F from 9-5 occurring sporadically at varying times throughout the week and weekend with the line between work/life balance becoming increasingly blurred.
To capitalize on this shifting environment, reconsider the goals you're asking users to complete. Instead of hoping a user will Request a Demo or Sales Call, shift to producing content designed to collect email addresses and names, and putting in place a lead nurturing system designed to stay top-of-mind for potential buyers. When things eventually normalize, having a list of leads can make or break the rest of 2020 and how your company is positioned to grow in the future.
B2C Industry Shifts
In the B2C industry, we're noticing some of the same patterns, but some notably different ones as well. The after-work or weekend conversions that we were once used to seeing are moving to mid-day. Companies aren't filtering websites for workers stuck at home, and users aren't in an environment where a boss or coworker might look at their computer screen throughout the day. There's also a huge shift to shopping local that we're noticing now more than ever. With "non-essential" shops shutting their doors to the public and restaurants ceasing dine-in service, now is the time for smaller, local businesses to ensure their e-commerce stores are up and running with clear messaging on their websites and across social channels.
Speaking of social channels, the consumption of social content is also spiking across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Etsy and almost every other platform. Small businesses that have an active presence can stay top-of-mind for local customers now and in the future. Consider using your most engaging social channels in new and interesting ways, such as restaurants going live to teach how to make a famous dish or a yoga studio going virtual once a week for a beginners class catering to masses. Now is a great time to tackle the projects you've been putting off, even if it seems unconventional or if it might not have an immediate impact. Often is the case that in times of crisis (and honestly, in times of stability), businesses that can innovate and pivot quickly are the businesses that not only survive, but thrive. After all, Venmo, Groupon, Instagram, Slack and Uber are all businesses that were born during and came out of the 2008 financial crisis.
The search environment is changing. It sounds obvious, but keyword volume around external events like movie showtimes and sporting events are plummeting, but Instagram Live, Facebook Live and Zoom are skyrocketing.
People are hungry for content - not just written, but live content, videos and how to's, and DIY/at home projects.
I can certainly understand how the day-to-day change in business dynamics can be overwhelming, but now isn't the time to shut down all marketing. Unforeseen hurdles are part of every business' existence. The adaptable will survive and the current crisis is a new opportunity for creativity, fresh ideas, and new strategies to maintain your momentum. You can capitalize on that momentum when things get back to normal - because they will get back to normal.
Huge traffic dips, major traffic gains, certain industries aren't quite sure how to respond - is this the new normal or will these spikes level out? The search volume volatility is coupled with the fact that internet traffic is spiking nearly 50%, according to Akamai. Individuals across the globe are home, in front of their computers and mobile devices, and turning toward search engines for news, shopping, information, updates, and data.
Searchers are changing their habits, even with more time spent online. We're seeing increased demand for grocery related searches and productivity tools, whereas the travel and hospitality industries are taking a drastic hit in their search traffic and interest. Brand searches for two major hotel chains are seeing significant drop offs in the past thirty days and a more than 60% drop in search traffic since the same time last year.
Shifting Marketing Dollars
When traffic falls drastically in such a short amount of time and the demand for brand name searches is no longer there. Brands and companies need to stay relevant and in front of their target audience, even in times of uncertainty. This is where these companies can shift marketing dollars to paid remarketing campaigns to target visitors who have already visited their website, invest in strategic paid social and other push marketing efforts to remain top of mind. Additionally, content strategy needs to shift in an effort to capitalize on the change in search volume by targeting keywords that have seen an increased spike in traffic and interest. As illustrated below, "how to travel safe" surged in the same period of time. A change in content strategy to develop appropriate content would still draw searchers to the website and potentially make up for lost search volume around branded keywords.
Capitalizing on Opportunity
With the transition to work from home, businesses around the world are trying to figure out how to stay connected, see their teammates and clients, and use video to replace in person meetings. Individuals and businesses turn to search engines to determine what will be the best piece of software or equipment to implement as the transition continues with a remote workforce.
If we take a look at the major spike in Google Trends data around the search for "video conferencing" just over the past 90 days, the increase in volume is drastic. There is no way that major video conferencing providers were ready for the onslaught of searches and interest in their products and services for the new remote workforce.
That being said, these businesses are quickly trying to capitalize on the increase in interest and demand. Take a look at the number of paid search ads that appear at the top of SERP results for this specific keyword. These businesses were quick to react and shift their marketing dollars from paid search campaigns to try to convert the new surge in searchers into customers.
Missing An Opportunity
Throughout the State of New York, "Are fast food restaurants open today" skyrocketed 3950% according to Google Trends data. Yet, the content that appears on SERP results are news articles that may or may not answer the question. Local restaurants, offering carryout or delivery, and fast food chains are missing an opportunity to drive traffic from their content strategy or paid search advertising answering this question that New Yorkers are asking, which could drive business and traffic.
"How to cut men's own hair" has seen a 5x increase in search traffic with salons and barber shops closed. Salons and barber shops should be looking at relevant keywords right now to develop content that answers these questions. Position your business or brand as a thought leader by providing relevant information to searchers. Most of the major results to answer this question are videos. Your business could create a well optimized YouTube video to answer the question and demonstrate techniques. The YouTube video could lead to a "How to Cut Men's Hair" blog post with those keywords focused on in the meta title, description, H1s and content on the page. If your salon or barber shop offers an eCommerce store, you should link to the equipment and products needed or even create a bundled package of everything someone would need to cut their own hair.
Remain cognizant and aware of what consumers are searching, how you can provide them with the information (or product) they need which will pay dividends as soon as the barber shop or salon is fully operational. These investments now might not provide immediate return on investment financially, but are generating opportunities.
We need to realize that the new normal of individuals going online is likely to stay around for quite some time as we get past the initial influx of coronavirus related content and move into how consumers are changing their marketing approach to capitalize on their buyers being online right now. It's important to do the research and analyze the trends of search volume in specific categories as more people are confined to their homes, not planning vacations, not traveling and might be looking at more local information and insight as they make their buying decisions.
Think like your customers. What is it that they need or would find useful while homebound?
As news continues to share more information, guidelines change (what seems like) every hour, and the unknown weighing on many, businesses are moving at a fast pace to adopt business continuity plans, remote working, store closures, and more. The need to communicate remains paramount and perhaps the need to communicate multiple different times through many different channels. What your business communicated yesterday might have to change tomorrow. We need to be thoughtful, strategic, and fluid in our messaging, channels leveraged, and remaining on brand.
If we simply look at Google Trends for interest over time on search results across the United States, we see the interest growing exponentially. This is not surprising to anyone watching the news, scrolling through social media, or opening their inbox. Over the past three weeks, the news, search results, and the number of tweets has only escalated quickly.
From the many communications that RyTech has assisted in developing as well as the myriad of pieces of communication that we've received from vendors, suppliers, partners, friends, and brands, we've compiled our Top 5 Takeaways on Communications.
Top 5 Takeaways on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Communications
1. Communicate Pertinent Information. Everyone is being inundated with content and communication. Be thoughtful and strategic in what you are communicating and the need for your communication. In one day, I received 50+ COVID related email communications from small businesses to major retailers to large hotel groups. Make sure you're not communicating just to communicate, but rather that you are offering actionable insights, information that your audience needs to know, and reassure your audiences that work can still be performed (if possible).
If you are a law firm that has transitioned to fully remote work and there is no change in the quality, delivery time, or availability, there is likely not a reason to communicate that directly to your client base via email, perhaps a Facebook post would fill that need. However, if you are a bar or restaurant that has been closed by a state, you likely need to communicate on multiple channels to promote drive-thru and delivery service. You still want your audience to know how they can support your business.
2. Prioritize Your Channels. Where do you typically see the most return on investment with your communications? If you have an active Twitter account with large impressions and engagement, then you should prioritize communication there. Rather, if your email list is healthy with an above-average industry open rate, this should be prioritized. You might also find that you need communication to go out on multiple different channels; make sure your message is consistent but different language for each as your audience might be slightly different in each capacity.
Some social media channels (i.e. FB) allow you to edit your posts. If a previous post has information that is no longer relevant or out of date, edit that post and reshare it to your audience. This will prevent misinformation about your business from spreading. If you have claimed your Google My Business profile and hours of your business have changed, we recommend updating that frequently to keep those searchers out there with the right information.
3. Bandwidth for Responses. As you are sending out your stakeholder communication, make sure that you have the necessary resources and bandwidth to support the management of responses. With every social post, email, website content that is sent out to your audience, there will likely be a response. Depending upon your audience size there may be a flurry of responses or only a few likes and comments, you need to be prepared for comments, questions, and reactions. You want to make sure that you respond accordingly, appropriately, and timely. Don't let your audience wait for a response; try your best to respond in less than 24 hours. If your communications team isn't staffed for churning out this much content or managing responses, you might consider bringing on additional, temporary support.
4. Remain on Brand. In all of your communications, it is important to stay true to your brand. How you define your brand and/or your communications is unique to each business. Keep your branding alive in your posts, emails, and press releases. Use similar language that reflects your core, guiding principles. Focus on your message, word choices, and efficiently getting your main points across. Your brand is an asset at this time (and all times) and should continue to be utilized in that way.
5. Revisit the Pre-Scheduled. If your communication teams work ahead and pre-schedule social media posts, email newsletters, or other outbound communication, someone needs to make sure that each post has been reviewed to ensure it's still accurate, timely, and appropriate. What you don't want to have happen is a pre-scheduled tweet going out about an in-store event that's already been canceled or an email with untimely information confusing your audience. We appreciate the ability to work ahead, but it's also time to take a step back and make sure the communication is accurate.
Communication is critical during this time, but over-communication or communicating just to communicate is not a prudent course of action. It's also not wise to rush your communications. Make sure multiple individuals are involved in the writing, reading, and proofing of your communication. What sounds right to one person might be misinterpreted by another.
If you are in need of strategic assistance during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to our talented team of professionals. We're in it together and here to help.
Morgan Flores, Search Marketing Manager & Steve Ryan, Founder & CEO, RyTech, LLC
Previously published in National Shoe Retailers Association Magazine
You’ve been in the shoe industry for years and know your products and customers well, but to quote Bob Dylan, “The times they are a changin.” Websites are the new business cards in which potential customers go to verify your credibility, check out your products and read more about your company. And consumers won’t scour the internet and click to page three of search results to locate the perfect pair of black Nine West pumps. Consumers want to find what they’re searching for and quickly—they want immediate satisfaction. Does your website successfully satisfy the needs of consumers? How can you tell? Is your website ranking on the first page of search results when you type, “local shoe stores?”
What is Search Marketing?
Search marketing involves both paid and unpaid (organic) tactics to increase brand visibility and traffic to a website from search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. From implementing new pay-per-click (PPC) bidding strategies to investing in a sound Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy to be easily discoverable—search marketing combines efforts for maximum return-on-investment (ROI).
PPC is typically described as a faster way to get in front of customers when they are ready to make a purchase, while SEO is a more long-term approach to garnering quality organic traffic to a website. With search marketing, you can measure the number of users, gender of users, age, geographic location, how much time they are spending on each page and more—a stark comparison to billboards and newspaper ads where companies measured the probability of sales by media impressions.
PPC Advertising and Search Engines
According to Smart Insights, “In 2017 46.8% of the global population accessed the internet and by 2021 this figure is projected to grow to 53.7%.” Google being the most popular search engine, accounting for approximately 3.5 billion searches a day. The great thing about PPC is that it levels the playing field, allowing smaller businesses to compete with larger ones. Advertisers (that could be you) pay a fee each time one of the ads is clicked. The more customized, relevant and targeted the ad, the better.
Example of PPC Search Ads
How Does This SEO Thing Work?
The practice of SEO ensures that your online presence is both articulated properly and discoverable to potential customers. This is done through various methods including technical SEO, keyword research, on-page web content optimization, link building, Google My Business optimization and more to connect the right people to your business. All of which contribute to boosting search engine rankings to earn you the coveted first page ranking businesses long for. For example, the query ‘Chicago shoe stores’ receives approximately 105 searches per month. If your business is in the first few positions on the first page, this could result in highly qualified traffic and generate significant revenue. Additionally, data is being collected the entire time the user is on your website—helping you fine tune your website for increased sales and performance.
A local SEO approach is ideal for the small to midsize businesses with brick and mortar locations. This type of SEO focuses on local citation building (Yelp, Bing, Yellow Pages etc.), on-page verbiage that incorporates the store location, link building through local partnerships, Google review acquisition and optimized Google My Business listings for each location. This is an essential element of snagging those ‘near me’ queries like, ‘women’s shoe stores near me’ and being listing in Google map listings like this one:
Why Potential Customers Can’t Find You
They aren’t looking past the first page of search results. Consumers want it and they want it now! In your case, this could be the difference in not moving last season’s Ultraboost Adidas off the shelves. If your website isn’t appearing on the first page, it could be for a number of reasons.
5 most common mistakes our team encounters:
To fully understand your websites performance a website audit is necessary. Learn how your website stacks up against the rest and what you can do to make it better. A successful search marketing campaign is a combination of many elements involving several rounds of keyword research, competitor research, manual searches and data analysis. While sometimes a laborious process, it is an integral part of running an effective campaign that generates sales.
From crafting a unique marketing campaign to reporting on the results, an informed digital marketing strategy can result in lower customer acquisition cost over time. As searcher intent matures, so should your plan to capture additional customers in this growing digital world. The first thing you can do is determine how many hours per day or per week are spent on your business's search marketing efforts. Do you have the internal talent and resources to launch a full search marketing strategy?
With more than 77% of Americans going online daily, you can’t afford to wait for potential customers to find your business—you have to find them first.
You can learn more about search engine optimization here or reach out to our team with any questions.
Collin Sayre, Web Design Associate
Just like traditional media, a call-to-action (CTA) is an integral part of digital marketing—guiding potential customers down the sales funnel and increasing your organization’s revenue. This is especially true in today’s market where websites are viewed as necessities and are an extension of your traditional marketing collateral. Websites are no longer just nice to have, they’re a must-have if you want to foster growth and sustain success.
Why is it Important to Have a Strong Call-to-Action?
A successful CTA should promote a quality experience for the user, allowing the user to easily navigate through the site to find what they need quickly. Don’t make users guess what to do next or where to go, give them the answer in a brightly colored button and guide them to the next phase. Website users like to be told what to do, they like a bit of direction. What better way to do that than with a strong CTA?
More importantly, lead generation mechanisms (i.e. newsletter sign-ups, phone calls, form submissions, etc.) and revenue all depend on a strong CTA. There are tons of ways to use a CTA when wanting a user to take action.
Some common types of CTAs include:
Where Should CTAs Go on a Webpage?
The backstory: This particular client wanted to focus on getting potential customers to book an appointment. He knew that if he could get users to his website it meant that they were already interested in working with him. Having the CTA right away in the header nudges visitors to “schedule an appointment today,” pushing users further down the sales funnel.
Note: When thinking about where to place your CTA, consider how users will view the placement on both desktop and mobile devices.
The Backstory: This particular CTA uses a full section on the homepage right above the footer. According to crazyegg.com, a user will only stick around on a website for about 15 seconds before bouncing to another site if they aren’t intrigued by the content. If the user makes it to the bottom of the page, chances are they are at least skimming the site as a whole, so why not throw in one more CTA at the bottom of the page? In this example, we did it in a colorful way and used color contrast to our advantage, telling the user to “Contact Us Today” for a free consultation.
Does Your Website Have a Clear Call-to-Action?
Whether you’re using your CTA to guide users to other pages of the website such as a contact form, or gently steering them to the check out page—every CTA should be clear, concise and drive the user to take action! This is your opportunity to motivate users to complete a transaction or push them further down the sales funnel to convert at a later time. So, the next time you’re refreshing your website or embarking upon a complete website redesign, take the time to think strategically about what actions you want your visitors to take.
Read our website design case study, ‘Popular Consignment Boutique Website Creation’ to discover how a modern website can take your business to the next level.
Research shows that 77% of patients conduct an online search before making an appointment with a physician. Does your website, social media profiles and blog accurately reflect what you do and offer to your patients? It’s no longer enough to have a tepid social media presence and a website that reads more like a brochure. Consistency and engagement are crucial to creating a positive experience with current and future patients—sometimes before they even walk in the door for the first time.
If you are in the healthcare industry, forming a comprehensive digital marketing roadmap is more important than ever. Here are four key components to help form a successful digital marketing strategy.
1. User-Friendly Website
As you now know, many individuals will be visiting your website before making their first appointment. Your website is your first impression, so you’ll want to make sure the user can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. If they can’t find this information, they are likely to search for a different provider.
Users expect when they visit your website that they will locate contact information, medical information and be able to make an appointment online. In an effort to decrease friction or barriers to booking, your website should offer these options either on the home page or in the main navigation allowing quick access to the information they need the most.
2. Active Social Media Presence
Take some time to review the ‘about; sections of your social media profiles.
Social media is now the preferred method of engagement for many users, so it’s important to keep track of these conversations and respond to them in a timely and thoughtful manner.
3. Proactive Review Strategy
Users are interacting with their social media accounts to talk about everything in their lives, including health and medical information. Many people will visit Facebook or Yelp to read reviews about medical practice professionals. It’s an easy and fast way for people to get an idea of what your practice is all about before they make their first appointment.
It’s important to keep track of these reviews and respond as necessary. If someone is forming a first impression based on these reviews, you’ll want to make sure you engage with your followers as often as possible. Healthcare is all about trust and this relationship begins at the first impression.
Current and potential customers want to see if your organization is active, informative, helpful, and genuine through its online communications. Respond to both positive and negative reviews within 24-48 hours and have a plan moving forward to garner additional reviews from patients.
4. Informative Blog
According to a study by WEGO Health, over 40% of consumers say information found on social media affects how they take care of their health. An active blog is one factor that allows a website to be found when a potential customer conducts an online search. If you’re regularly posting on your blog and including pertinent keywords, you’re one step closer to reaching that potential customer that’s looking for answers. Relevant blog content captures people’s attention and encourages them to visit your practice or hospital for their healthcare needs.
Digital marketing is especially important in today’s market and allows for local private practices to compete with larger hospital systems. Whether you’re selling a product or providing a service, there are several digital marketing tactics for maximizing the reach of your healthcare organization (we’ve just named a few).
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can improve your online presence and expand your digital footprint, contact us—we’d love to hear more about your business!
Steve Ryan, Founder & CEO
After interacting with our social squad and reading through the content calendars they create on a weekly basis for our clients, I decided it was time to step up my personal social media game, especially after reading this Business Insider article about CEOs on social media earlier this summer. As a digital agency, we should practice what we preach to our clients and as I heard more and more that Twitter is a valuable B2B tool, important to humanize an organization, and it takes a lot of time and effort, I knew it was time to jump right in.
So, I spent some time thinking about my Twitter strategy, what I hoped to achieve, why was I doing this, and then began implementing my plan. I had to start with updating my Twitter bio to make it more about me, who I am, and reflect my personal and professional life.
What did I find out? Let's dive right in.
Interested in learning more about Twitter? Read, “How to Get More Twitter Followers.”
More to Say
As I thought about and defined my Twitter strategy, I realized that I had more relevant content to share, more individuals in which to engage, and more thoughts than I had originally thought. I could share personal stories, content that was relevant and I found interesting/applicable, share updates about our company, retweet others, and become part of different conversations.
Engagement is Key
While I was engaged within Twitter and sharing regularly, I also found myself looking through my Twitter feed more regularly throughout the day, jumping into conversations by replying to others, and reading tweets around specific hashtags. For example, I spent more time reading about the latest hurricane on Twitter than I did in regular news outlets online or on television. I was consumed by the content that was coming out.
To further my engagement opportunities, I spent time creating different lists on Twitter so that I could ensure that I took the time to engage with various groups. I created a list of the nonprofit organizations which we support or I serve on their board of directors. I edited a list of current clients with whom we work to stay on top of their messaging. I developed a list of RyTech team members so I could see who was using their Twitter accounts as brand ambassadors and amplify their messages.
People want to see the human behind the Twitter account. I took this very personally, and I'll admit was slightly nervous at first. I have a public Twitter account -- do I really want to share personal insights, photos of my kids? I wasn't sure at first, but my family is an important part of who I am and I needed my Twitter account to reflect it in order to fully implement my strategy. I quickly found out that my personal tweets were the ones with the highest engagement, so I continued to be personal on Twitter.
Hashtags and Tagging
As a means to amplify my tweets, I explored how to share with a larger audience aside from my followers. I made a concerted effort to look at hashtags that were relevant to the content in the tweets and that had a larger conversation. I also made sure to tag individuals who I thought might be interested in the content, originally wrote the content if it was curated, or was a follow up to a previous conversation. These tags brought tweets in front of others - it was interesting to see who responded, who didn't, and what their engagement was with the content.
While I had some significant takeaways, there were also some challenges to kickstarting and continuing this Twitter strategy. There were only one or two days when I thought to myself late in the day that I hadn't said anything on Twitter and rushed to find something relevant to share or retweet. I needed to ensure I balanced the content - it couldn't all be about marketing RyTech. So, I started using Sprout Social to pre-schedule certain tweets that I knew I could share on specific days or times.
In 60 short days, my tweets were seen more than 57,000 times, I had nearly 3000 engagements, and I increased my followers by almost 7% (thanks Sprout Social for tracking my activity within Personal Mode).
Of the 145 tweets I sent (that's more than 60, just saying), it is interesting to look back and see the types of tweets, as I relied heavily on photos as part of my strategy. I also wanted to develop conversation and not just be posting to post - that's something we advise our clients to think about as part of their strategies, so I took it to heart. An area that I can continue to work on is engagement with new contacts. I want to expand my messaging aside from those who I follow and who follow me, so what can I do next to focus on new contacts?
I'm going to continue my Twitter strategy, refine it, and see where it takes me professionally and personally. If you want to follow along and see if I keep up with my posting, you can find me @sjryanjr. My next project? My personal LinkedIn profile. Stay tuned!
Are your leadership team members on social media? Do they have an active social media presence? If not, it is time to get them on social media, engage with their followers (even your customers), and share their thoughts within their industry conversations online. RyTech can assist with strategy development, analytics, training, or management.