Last week, Twitter announced they are rolling out a new feature. Users are now able to record their own audio and share it on the platform as a voice tweet. It appears that “voice tweets” is currently an enabled feature for a limited number of users on Twitter for iOS but will be available to all iOS users in the coming weeks.
Let's look at some of the logistics of using a voice tweet:
With an eye toward how we can implement this new feature on behalf of our clients and our firm, our Founder & CEO @sjryanjr took to Twitter to crowdsource initial thoughts and reactions about voice tweeting and experimented with it a bit. Check out the feedback below:
Our CEO Steve Ryan (@sjryanjr) tested out a voice tweet and asked his followers for feedback. Overall, responses from Steve's followers were positive. Individuals responded about the sound quality and liking it more than they expected. Some users remarked that it reminded them of a podcast and others are hopeful that all Twitter users will have the opportunity to try this out soon. Twitter hopes "people will use this to make their voices heard and add to the public conversation."
Some Positive Takeaways for Using Voice Tweet
More Content: You can fit a lot more content in 140 seconds than you can in 280 characters; be careful you don't start rambling, though. You might even consider scripting yourself to ensure you fit your entire message within the allotted time. If you have a lot to communicate, Twitter provides the option to create threads with multiple voice tweets in a row, if you're looking for longer-form voice content.
Humanization: It's easy to scroll through Twitter quickly without stopping. You may find yourself unsure of who you are following, how you knew them originally, or what their priorities might be. Voice tweets put a name behind the face and a voice behind the name. This humanizes your Twitter account and your brand.
It's New: Who doesn't love a new feature on a social media platform? This is exciting and time to experiment, try something new and innovative, look for ways to make it work for your brand, and be a trendsetter as opposed to letting other companies push forward and leave your Twitter account in the dust.
Things to Consider Before You Jump All In
Visuals: As previously mentioned, Twitter pulls your profile picture and background color for your voice tweet. As a user, you do not have control over imagery/visuals to correspond with the voice tweet functionality. So, if you have particular brand guidelines, you have to be willing to budge when using this functionality.
Headphones: According to recent reports, 80% of active users access Twitter via mobile. Remember that they likely have their audio turned off or don't have headphones in, so they really have to want to listen to your content if they push play. This is why it's still important to introduce the tweet via text.
Text: Transcription or text overlay would be a great add-on to this functionality so that users don't have to listen but could still consume the content without audio (understanding it defeats the purpose of voice tweets).
Access: From reading between the lines, voice tweet functionality appears to be only available for iOS users in the initial rollout. You will need an iOS device that will allow you to record and utilize the functionality.
Ideas for Leveraging this Feature
Quick Hit Updates: Want to showcase yourself as a thought leader or have a quick update or mini tip to share? Voice tweets give you the time to put your thoughts together and talk through a topic.
Company News: If you have something newsworthy to share, use a voice tweet of your company spokesperson or senior leadership to share. Maybe it's reading a press release or responding to a crisis or sharing something fun, putting the voice behind a brand is powerful.
Mini Podcast: Don't want to commit to long-form content or in-depth recordings? Voice tweets could give you the solution you need to launch a podcast, maybe it's daily for 140 seconds or weekly or even monthly. Choose your topic, brand it, publicize it your audience, create a branded hashtag, and commit to trying it on a timeline that works for you.
Still not convinced or unsure how you might use voice tweets as part of your social media strategy? Schedule a free consultation with a member of our social media team.
Social media has become a digital marketing must for businesses across the globe, but if you didn’t grow up in the “social media age” or aren’t familiar with all of the capabilities, social media can be daunting to determine how to apply it to your business and even more so how to measure return on investment. There is a common misconception that to be on social media means you have to have a presence across all social media platforms. That is not the case. It all depends on who your ideal audience is and what your goals are. So where do you start?
IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE
Taking a deep dive into the nitty-gritty of identifying your audience is vital to the success of your social media efforts. Who is your ideal consumer? Where are they located? How old are they? Are they shopping online? What do they like to do? Where are they spending their time on social media? These are all important aspects to explore and consider when developing and executing your strategy. You may be producing great, creative content but if it isn’t relative to your audience, how will it convert?
DEVELOP YOUR GOALS
Before you continue posting because you feel as though you have to be on social media, identify what you are looking to achieve. Each of your social media channels should have a purpose that directly aligns with your goals. You don’t have to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or other social platforms if it doesn’t make sense for your business. Are you looking to social media as a customer service tool? Twitter is ideal for real-time, immediate conversation with your followers. Maybe your goal is product promotion? Instagram is a great visual platform to showcase your product and create engagement with your following. Perhaps you want to grow your customer base? Facebook engagement ads allow you to target your ideal audience and encourage them to follow and like your page to continue seeing your content.
PAID VS. ORGANIC
With social media algorithms changing frequently, businesses can utilize social media organically, with paid promotions, or a mixture of both. There is no right or wrong answer to whether or not paid or organic is the right choice. Often the most effective is a combination of both; however, it goes back to your goals.
Organic social media takes time, not dollars as the investment. By continuing to invest time in posting on social media, your audience wants to hear from you consistently. Organic content flows in the feeds of your audience to stay top of mind and keep your audience informed about events, promotions, and organizational updates. These are your regular updates, when you share a sale that you're having in your store, a photo of a new product that just arrived, highlighting an employee, or sharing an article about a local fundraiser you are supporting. It's also when you're engaging with your audience by liking and commenting on posts of other businesses and individuals. The investment is time.
Paid social media efforts allow you to hone in on and target specific demographics. With all of the sophisticated targeting capabilities, you can be sure that your content is being seen by your ideal customers; this is a monetary investment. One way to utilize paid advertising is if you have a major product or content push you want to be sure is being seen by your target audience. Boosting your existing organic content on Facebook allows you to reach more of your target audience who may not be following your page, but match the profile of your “ideal customer.” You can also create specific ads to promote awareness and increase your reach or send traffic to your website, if you have an online store. Instagram has similar advertising capabilities but allows for more creative visuals to accompany your ads. Twitter ads allow you to further promote existing content on your page but is more heavily used for creating engagement and soliciting clicks and traffic to your website. Paid social media can also be used to build up your following with real, relevant followers and increase brand awareness and traffic to your website. If you’re struggling with what sort of content to include in your paid advertising budget, try starting with organic content to see how your audience engages and that has proven successful for your business. Start with the content you are already seeing a return on with your audience.
It’s good to create a conversation with your content, but it is also important to join conversations already happening online about your business and industry by simply listening. Sprout Social defines social listening as, “the process of tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries, and leveraging your insights to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.” Social listening offers businesses the opportunity to monitor, analyze, and listen to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, Google+, Reddit, blogs, forums and news sites for conversations happening online about your business, brand, or specific keywords (like the many shoe brands you carry within your store or online). That being said, the insights gained go far beyond researching hashtags and manually scrolling through news feeds to gather data. With all this consumer research, social listening ultimately gives you the tools you need to develop and drive an effective content strategy to optimize consumer reach and propel your business towards a successful future.
Read, 'The Power of Social Listening.'
If you’re not seeing a return on your social media investment, oftentimes, it not because of your product. It’s because you’re not telling the story of who you are as a business in a way that relates to your customers. All too often we see brands promote products by saying, “We’re the best! Buy our product!” But why are you the best? Customers are so used to the same old, “We’re the best, buy our product” language. Differentiating your business in a way that is easy for your customers to understand will make them more inclined to give you a shot. Simon Sinek argues that “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Social media has the power to reach a wide range of customers and tell the story of your business, why you do what you do, create a connection with your customers, and ultimately make them want to do business with you.
Read, 'Maintaining Your Social Presence During COVID-19.'
It’s important to keep track of your social media metrics month over month and year over year to ensure that your social media strategy is hitting the mark and that you are achieving your digital marketing goals. Some vital metrics to measure include engagements, followers, and of course conversions.
Engagements represent the number of clicks, likes, comments, and shares of your particular posts. Engagements are important to track as they affirm that your audience is interested in the content that you’re posting. You may be posting creative content, but if your audience isn’t resonating with your posts, it can prove to be unsuccessful. Maintaining a significant following across your social platform is also something you want to be aware of when measuring brand health. Having a substantial number of followers is a sign of credibility and trustworthiness when users come to visit your page. This data shows that people have an interest in your business. That being said, the quality of your followers and who you are following is very important too. A follow from a consumer to your page is a way of saying I care what you do. The same goes for your business. You want to be sure your “endorsements” are reflective of who you are as a brand, to maintain that credibility and trust with your audience. Conversions represent a response to the call to action you are soliciting with your message, turning that lead into a customer.
Your social media objectives and strategy is going to be unique to your business and will take time to develop and execute, but if done correctly can and will have a great ROI for your business.
FOLLOW RYTECH ON SOCIAL MEDIA
With the expansion of the number of digital ads, the increase in Google profits, and the advertising landscape only becoming more competitive, it can be surprising to learn that five retail stores are opening for every one that closes [IHL Group - 2018]. It would seem that as eCommerce continues to boom, so does the need for consumers to visit stores for a variety of reasons:
It can be near impossible to compete with Amazon, Zappos, and the actual brands that retailers carry in a paid campaign due to budget alone. That being said, local retailers can win in driving local, high intent traffic into your store through a well-thought-out Google Search Ads campaign. Not only can this strategy increase brand awareness in your area, it can increase customer lifetime value as well. Some basics to keep in mind when building out a Google Search Ad campaign: include what keywords you're willing to bid on, negative keywords (or keywords to excluded), your budget, the maximum you're willing to bid (per click), what you consider a conversion (and what that conversion is worth to you), landing pages being used, and compelling & on-brand ad copy.
Google Ads understands that not everyone can compete with eCommerce giants, and they've introduced a few features to be aware of as you set up your campaigns to offer a more level playing field and increase return on investment.
1. Geo Targeting
Using Geo Targeting around your city is a smart, effective and cost efficient way to ensure your ads are only shown to potential customers who are near your business. The recommended radius depends on your city - highly populated metropolitan areas will want to use a tight radius because competition is high and travel is more difficult. If you're in a less populated, more suburban or rural area, you could expand your geo targeting to 15-20 miles around your physical location as people will be more willing to travel to get to your store.
2. Ad Schedules
If the primary goal is to drive foot traffic, it makes sense that the majority of your budget should be spent during business hours. Using Ad Scheduling to turn off ads when your business isn't open will maximize your allocated spend and yield the best results.
Instead of scheduling for your business hours, schedule your ads to run 15-30 minutes before you open and to end 30 minutes-1 hour before you close. That way, people who are looking to shop early in the morning will be able to find your location, and people searching for a store 2 minutes before closing time won't see your ads.
One underutilized function in Google Ads is the Ad Extension addition. Google doesn't make this function easy to use, but it can have dramatic effects on your ad campaign if you can properly add certain extensions.
a. Location Extensions
For any local campaign, adding a location extension is vital. This involves connecting your Google My Business (GMB) account - your homepage on Google - to your ad account. By connecting a location extension to your Google Ads account, your GMB profile is able to show in Local Map Packs which promotes phone calls, directions to your store, location details, and reviews, as well as allows you to start tracking store visits.
By tracking store visits, you can get a real idea of how many customers your ads are drawing into your physical location.
b. Promotion Extensions
While local competition doesn't stack up to Amazon or Zappos, it's still important to differentiate yourself from potential competition. Using promotion extensions when you have local deals is a great, efficient way to catch a person’s attention and differentiate your ad from organic results. According to SparkToro, only 4.22% of people click on ad results as of September 2019 data, so advertisers need to use whatever is available to them to increase click-through rate whenever possible.
4. Chat Features
a. Message Extensions
The added benefit about using proper location targeting and ad scheduling is enabling messaging extensions. A messaging extension will allow potential customers to communicate with you through the Google Search Engine Result Page, eliminating the friction of going to a website or having to find directions.
b. On-Site Chat Bots
On-Site Chat Bots are a smart alternative, or addition, to message extensions, allowing potential customers to communicate with your staff - or AI - to answer questions that may be a barrier to visiting your location.
While competing with retail giants, original brands and other global eCommerce businesses can seem daunting, it can be done effectively on a local level with a fairly modest budget. Even $500.00 per month can generate 200+ clicks to your website for high-intent, local keywords (i.e. "shoe stores near me") as long as the time is taken to properly set up your ad account. The first step is identifying your target audience, defining what makes your business unique, and using those insights to set up an effective ad campaign.
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.