Our Blog – Arkside Marketing

18
Dec

Facebook Algorithm Update Targets Engagement Bait

Facebook announced a new algorithm update today. You already know social media success continues to elude many organizations today. It isn’t hard to understand why: The algorithms governing each social media network are shrouded in mystery, competition for attention is fierce, and it takes significant knowledge to know how to trigger engagement from the audience.

Facebook Algorithm Update: Targeting Engagement Bait

Facebook announced today that they are changing their algorithm so that posts using “engagement bait” are penalized. This effort specifically targets posts from people or Pages that ask readers to “Like” it, vote with a specific emoji reaction, or share it. Facebook has been working to find new ways of keeping its users connected to the platform while balancing the desires of their business users and advertisers.

According to Facebook’s announcement today:

So, starting this week, we will begin demoting individual posts from people and Pages that use engagement bait.

Additionally, over the coming weeks, we will begin implementing stricter demotions for Pages that systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach in News Feed. We will roll out this Page-level demotion over the course of several weeks to give publishers time to adapt and avoid inadvertently using engagement bait in their posts. Moving forward, we will continue to find ways to improve and scale our efforts to reduce engagement bait.

The goal with this December Facebook algorithm update falls in line with Facebook’s priority in recent years: authenticity. They want content to shared that creates authentic interest and engagement. It is interesting to note that Facebook will penalize people and organizations for engagement baiting behavior. The Arkside team has noticed that whenever they are making an algorithm change to try and squeeze more money out of advertisers, they don’t apply the same standards to people. In this case, they are doing exactly that. This is a sign that they want a better experience, not just more money.

Social Media Best Practices

As a business owner or manager, your social media success depends on working with a team that stays current on social media changes and trends. You can’t risk running afoul of the rules and wasting your invested time and money. This new Facebook algorithm update means that you need to create engaging content that is of true interest to your audience.

If you would like a free consultation on how our accomplished team can improve your social media results, contact our office today!

(Image credit: Facebook)

1
Nov

Statement After a Tragedy – Good and Bad

When faced with a tragedy, we are often left with a loss of words. We feel like we need to say something but we just can’t come up with the right sentiment. That’s where the phrase, “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims…” comes into play. Celebrities, news outlets, companies, individuals, and even the Commander-in-Chief use this phrase any time tragedy strikes. So what should you do when making a statement after a tragedy.

Why it’s best to avoid the phrase

The over-use of the phrase, “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims” has left it devoid of emotion or impact and has turned it into the canned response attached to tragedies. It has no meaning or attachment to the tragedy at hand; it is merely something to be said. Make no mistake: the statement you make after a tragedy is part of your marketing because it is part of the humanity of your brand.

Think of the last time you lost someone you loved. You probably heard the words, “we’re sorry for your loss” or “they’re in a better place” over and over. These two phrases have lost the heart of their meaning. They comfort the person saying them but do little to comfort those who are left trying to deal with the loss or tragedy.

But what if that’s how we feel?

In times of tragedy your thoughts and prayers may really be with the victims. You may be thinking about them, you may have a personal connection to them, you may even be praying for them. But your copywriting matters now more than ever. The English language is a vast one, and there are countless other things that can be said instead of the same canned phrase that everyone else is saying. Crafting a statement that is unique to your business makes what you have to say more heartfelt and believable. It also shows that you took the time to really think about what you had to say and didn’t just prattle off some standard response.

So what can be said instead?

Speak the truth. If you or your business has a personal connection to the tragedy, it’s usually okay to talk about that. Your audience will most likely value an open and honest description about how you and your employees are feeling.

What will you do? Many times companies will take action in light of a tragedy. Will you be hosting a blood drive in your parking lot, volunteering your time, donating teddy bears to younger victims? If you are thinking of hosting some sort of event to benefit the victims, now is a great time to share. We’ve all heard that actions speak louder than words. Sharing what you’re planning on doing shows action and a drive to help those affected by the tragedy. You should also take whatever time is necessary to ensure the effort will actually benefit victims. Donate to reputable organizations and make sure the donation is usable in a reasonable time frame.

Say nothing. As a child, we were all told, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.” The same principle applies here, if you can’t think of something meaningful to add to the conversation – don’t say anything. In times of tragedy, the conversation is already packed with statements and news articles pertaining to the events surrounding the tragedy. If you weren’t directly involved, it is completely okay to keep silent if you don’t have anything meaningful to add. If you were directly involved, a timely statement is necessary and it should also be heartfelt. Taking a moment to pause before immediately addressing your stakeholders will ensure that you’ve collected your thoughts and are prepared to present a statement that shows consideration and thought which will ultimate showcase the heart of you or your business.

Examples of a Good Public Statement After a Tragedy

On Sunday, October 1st, tragedy struck the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. The unthinkable acts of one man caused the largest mass shooting in modern history. There have been many statements of love and support for those who were impacted by this great tragedy. One statement in particular stood apart from the rest. On October 3rd, the festival organizers issued their statement about the deadly event:

“On behalf of the entire Route 91 Harvest Family, we are completely devastated by the event that occurred last night.

Our deepest sympathies go out to the injured and the deceased and their loved ones. Senseless violence has claimed the souls of our fans and we have little in the way of answers.

Our eternal gratitude goes out to the LVMPD, Emergency services, security guards, and fans for their selfless acts of bravery while trying to help those in need.

While we will try and move forward, we will never forget this day.
We will NOT let hate win over LOVE.
We will NOT be defeated by senseless violence.
We WILL persevere, and honor the souls that were lost.

Because it matters.

– BOC/Route 91 Harvest”

Another company that crafted a heartfelt statement is LiveNation, the promoter behind Route 91 Harvest. Their statement is as follows:

We are heartbroken over the tragedy that took place at the Route 91 Harvest festival. To think that anyone would want to inflict harm on a gathering of music lovers is beyond our comprehension. 

And while we are stunned and grieving over this incomprehensible act of violence, we know that this is a moment when we must come together to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring. 

Live Nation will do everything in our power to support the victims and their families through the aftermath of this horrendous event and extends our deepest gratitude to the heroic first responders who helped save as many lives as possible. To our Live Nation on-site employees, we cannot thank you enough for your bravery and perseverance over the past 24 hours and will ensure you have the resources and support necessary to heal from this.

In both cases, these companies took the time to write statements that truly reflected their brands. They gathered their thoughts surrounding this senseless tragedy and crafted something beautiful. They honored those lost, those injured, and the brave men and women who acted heroically to help those in need. Nothing about their statements feel forced or canned. These were not prewritten statements waiting in a folder somewhere to be used, these are statements filled with heart and meaning.

Need Help with Your Crisis Management?

Contact our office to learn more about our consultation, copywriting, or full-service crisis management capabilities. We can help your organization in a wide variety of capacities including press conferences, speech drafting, employee training, and customer communication.

951.579.4121
info@arksidemarketing.com

5
May

Arkside Becomes Social Media Partner with Sprout Social

Early last year, we began a search for our official social media partner. Due to the varied nature of our client list, the sheer number of profiles we managed on a daily basis, and our commitment to cross-media integration, we needed a robust platform that could grow with us and be responsive enough to handle our requests and recommendations. After testing six different platform, including industry leaders Buffer and Hootsuite, Sprout Social was our ultimate choice. Together we have grown over the last year and we are both taking our next great leaps together.

Arkside Marketing is now a Founding Member of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program!

“But what does that mean for me?” Good question. We’re very excited about the answer!

The Sprout platform has already enabled us to offer incredible results for our clients. Their content curation and posting abilities are strong compliments to our unique, cutting-edge social media strategies. When it comes to social, we strive to be a social media partner. Our clients routinely outperform industry standards for engagement every month. Now we will be working more closely than ever with Sprout and creating new opportunities. These are just some of the tools at our disposal for the benefit of our clients:

  • Direct API access to key social media networks Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+.
  • Sprout’s Viralpost audience engagement analyzer
  • In-platform image editing
  • Employee advocacy support (“brandvocates”)
  • Competitor tracking
  • Keyword monitoring
  • RSS feed integration
  • Post click tracking
  • Google Analytics integration
  • The latest social media industry news, tips, and strategy
  • Case studies and whitepapers
  • Mobile & desktop curation, scheduling, posting, and monitoring
  • Enhanced customer support
  • Access to an exclusive community of social media professionals

From Day 1, Arkside has always believed in treating our media vendors like partners. We treasure our relationships because the media is a partner in the success of our clients. That approach has paid tremendous dividends. This week is another shining example. Sprout has worked with more than 17,000 clients over the last seven years including UPS, Bentley, Hyatt, and Stanford University. They have won more than 25 awards since their founding. We are honored to be chosen in a small group representing less than 0.004% of their client roster to help launch their new Agency Partner Program.

Why Arkside as Your Social Media Partner?

There are thousands of individuals and agencies to choose from that offer social media management. As Founding Members of the Sprout Social Agency Partner Program, we collaborate with their amazing team which elevates our abilities to drive new brand awareness and revenue to your business. We offer expertise in organic and paid social media campaigns. Beyond social, we can analyze, optimize, and integrate other media such as radio, billboards, and Google into your media mix for the best possible ROI on your marketing investment.

For organizations that have an in-house marketing team, we work with seamless collaboration to ensure success. They are a vital element of content development. Our CEO and Digital Coordinator can train your existing staff (once or at regular intervals) on the latest social media best practices, internal process development, crisis management, and employee empowerment.

If you looking for a social media partner to see the best results from social media, contact us today. The consultation is free. We can even perform a confidential audit of your existing vendor to identify potential areas of improvement. Give us a call and let’s explore your possibilities!

1
May

What is Broadcast Media?

Cutting to the chase: Broadcast media is radio and television. Even amidst the pop culture dominance of the internet, broadcast media still commands the largest share of the advertising pie nationwide. Put the audio and visual media to work for you as your company earns larger market share, stronger branding, and increased sales. If you are looking for cost-efficient lead generation, you need to be looking at radio and television advertising.

Not only are radio and television the main media for advertising today, they are continually developing new ways to reach their audience. The SyFy cable network launched a show (“Defiance”) that combines interactions on a video game with the plot of a series show. Radio stations are supplementing on-air campaigns with digital media to provide on-air and on-screen promotions to those who stream the station through their computer.

Multiple studies have shown that combining radio and television can help advertisers reach audiences not achievable with only one medium or the other.

What Is Broadcast Media?

  • Broadcast television
  • Cable television
  • On-demand television
  • TV/web integration
  • Local, network, and national radio
  • On-air endorsements
  • Long-form programming
  • Multi-language programming

The Power of Radio

Radio reaches more Americans than any other advertising media. As an example, let’s look at Los Angeles, CA. It is the #1 radio revenue market in the world and generates more than $1 billion dollars in sales each year. In that market alone, more than 9 million people listen to radio each week. People are loyal to radio and love listening to their favorite DJ or talk show host. The shows become part of their routines as they drive to and from work or run errands or take kids to school. There is probably at least one conversation in your office every day that starts with, “I heard on the radio this morning…” The reason? More adults in L.A. listen to radio in a week than will visit Google+ in a month!

Radio offers a unique method to achieve Top-Of-Mind-Awareness (TOMA). As people listen to radio advertising and don’t rely on visual cues they would get from TV or a website, your ad is playing in a “theater of the mind”. For example, the phrase “a soft pillow” could conjure an image of a white silk pillowcase on a down pillow for one person whereas another person could be thinking of the cute yellow pillow they had as a child. That openness for interpretation means the quality of your copywriting is vital to success. You have an opportunity to connect with a listener through their own experiences, ideas, and dreams.

The Power of Television

We just mentioned a unique power of radio to achieve TOMA. Television advertising -another part of broadcast media- is the most powerful medium currently available to put your brand at the forefront of your customers’ minds. The combination of audio and visual messages allows for a dual delivery of your marketing message.

Television Advertising Choices

There is a huge range of choices when it comes demographic targeting with television advertising. The most basic is network vs. cable. Attach your brand to the prestige and authority of companies such as ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox. Take advantage of the huge variety of cable networks that enable you to selectively target viewers based on income, hobbies, ethnicity, favorite sports, gender, sexual orientation, education level, or any combination you may need.

Much has been said about the impact of TiVO/DVR devices and people skipping commercials. Multiple studies have shown that advertising on TV continues to be one of the most effective marketing methods available. Only about 50% of DVR-owning households actually skip commercials. And many of those that skip have been shown to retain what they see in fast-forward or -most importantly- see something that catches their attention and will go back to watch the full ad.

The newest addition to television advertising success is the multi-screen viewer. Millions of Americans watch TV while also surfing the internet on their desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. These potential customers can see your add on television and surf immediately over to your website to learn more about your company or product. Conversely, a potential customer can share reactions on Facebook or Twitter to their favorite shows and see your mobile or other online ad appear. A great example of this was the recent airing of “Sharknado” on the SyFy cable network. This B-level movie on a low tier network generated more than 300,000 live Tweets while it was airing.

How Do Radio and TV Help My Company?

  • Credibility via popular media
  • Branding to a loyal audience
  • Association with customer’s favorite show/actor/DJ/host
  • Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA)
  • Unique demographic targeting
  • Multi-screen engagement

Contact Us Today

9
Apr

The Value of Promotional Items and Custom Apparel

If you can put something in their hand, it makes the job of remembering you a lot easier. Most people (60%) who receive a promo item will keep it for two years and use it regularly. (Relevant Insights, 2013). Are you looking to make an impact with great promotional items and custom apparel?

Promotional items and apparel can help you greatly improve the presentation of your company. Your image becomes more professional and memorable. So let’s explore how your logo on a product or apparel item can help your marketing.

First Impressions

You never have a second chance to make a first impression. When your prospect is first introduced to your brand, make use of every tool at your disposal. Enable your employees to be brand ambassadors with each meeting or introduction by giving them branded apparel with the company logo. Can they hand out a custom pen to a prospective client or a balloon with your restaurant logo to every child who visits?

Show customers you care by making an investment in their relationship with you. Promotional items and customized apparel are excellent examples of how to make a great first impression.

Lasting Impressions

You know a first impression is important and you want it to be a good one. Now how do you make that good first impression last longer? A survey from LJ Market Research showed that people recalled the name of a company on a promotional item (76%) more than a company they saw previously in a print ad (53%). Like an app for a smartphone, promotional items can stay with your customer even after they’ve left. It is something they can carry around with them forever and keep your brand in their daily lives. For example, a tow truck company should give out key chains so their customers don’t have to wonder about who to call in an emergency. Or a law firm can send employees to a national conference wearing custom polo shirts with the firm logo and give them custom golf balls to distribute.

This makes remembering your company a lot easier. It also shows the inherent value in a well thought out promotional product gift and professional apparel for giveaway or employees.

According to a recent study, the industries with the best (not the only, just the best) recall rates were: financial services, retailers, apparel brands and electronics manufacturers.

How To Choose Promotional Items and Custom Apparel

According to our newest catalog, there are more than 300,000 promotional products and apparel for sale today. There are literally thousands of choices available and some of them are perfect for your business. You should keep the following in mind when making your promotional items and custom apparel selections:

Promotional Items

  1. Does the item fit my company brand? (A car dealership shouldn’t hand out custom flasks.)
  2. How many will I need?
  3. What is my budget for promotional products?
  4. Do they need a case/bag for distributing?
  5. What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)

Custom Apparel

  1. Are these for employees or customers?
  2. How many will I need?
  3. Do I know what sizes I will need?
  4. Imprint on front and back?
  5. What do I want to promote? (Logo? Website address? Famous quote? Slogan?)

To ensure you are getting the best product at the best price and the most creativity, speak to an Arkside representative today.

15
Mar

How to Measure Advertising Results

It should be said first and upfront: you can measure advertising results from every media. Traditional, digital, subliminal, online, offline, experiential, indoor, outdoor, audio, video…all of them.

With that out of the way, I want to briefly explain why I am personally authoring this blog post. Arkside Marketing was born partially out of frustration. Through my experiences in all three sides of the marketing industry, it became apparent that many people in this business are limited. Some by choice, some by employment (restrictive companies or bosses), and some by ignorance. I do not mean any of those as an insult. Just facts. Calculating the Return on Investment (ROI) of your advertising is critical. Marketers have inaccurate or partial views of how to craft a message, what media(s) may work best, or how to properly quantify results. That last item is what we will address here. Being able to track or source results is so vital to effective marketing that it is a core element of Rule #1 at Arkside, and we only have 2 Rules. Additionally, it is foolish and arrogant to believe that marketers of the past simply threw their money against a wall in radio or television and did not accurately measure the revenue generated. Let’s look at some of these shortcomings and how they can be addressed.

Can You Source Sales from Marketing?

Yes.

The answer is that simple without any qualifiers. I will boldly go further by stating that any professional marketer who claims you can’t measure advertising results either doesn’t know how or is lying. The former can be fixed. The latter is an operational danger to your company. Important information can be gleaned throughout the marketing and sales process and this has always been the case. Today’s technology has exponentially increased those capabilities. They are more accurate and educational.

To fully measure the ROI of your marketing investment you need to implement tools which empower you and remove hurdles that restrict you.

How to Measure Advertising Results

This list is by no means complete, but these are some of the most accurate and engaging methods by which you can calculate your marketing ROI and obtain data to optimize future campaigns.

Old School ROI Methods

Unique Phone Numbers – Arguably one of the most effective and well-known ROI measurement tools in the business. Simply give each media outlet its own phone number. If you get a call on a particular number you know what ad generated it. You can do the same with each creative in an A/B test as well. Make sure you calculate call volume against the cost of each individual ad. You also want to track the sales quantity and profit margin of each call to determine the value of leads from the individual media. WARNING: Do not do this across online directory listings or social media. Ad campaigns are okay, but your phone number must be consistent on all of your online profiles.

Coupons – “Bring in this ad to receive…”. Not much easier than this. It can teach you a lot about your audience if you gather the right data. Where did they come from? What else did they buy? How long were they in the store? Male or female? Etc. But beware of misinterpreting your data. A coupon can have high or low redemption rates for a variety of reasons: offer value, time sensitivity, geographic distance, competitive offers, bad timing (alcohol coupons after election day are good, steak dinners the first Friday of Lent are not so good).

Limited Time Offers – A cousin to the coupon, but with an added hook. Give customers an incentive to help you suddenly sellout. “Come in before this Saturday  to save 50%!”. Limited time offers are usually asking people to adjust their schedules so make sure you are providing sufficient enough incentive (a.k.a. savings) to do so. Keep in mind that these can be done in-store or online. Don’t feel limited on how or where to send people.

Codes/Words – If Jane wants her free tote bag, she needs to say “Happy Strawberry Day” at checkout. Keep an audio (if legal to record in your state/country) or written log and count how many bags were given out. Staff training on this is critical. They need to understand the value of the campaign and should not be handing out bags without the code. Again, this can be applied online as well: Enter the code at checkout or upon arrival to reveal a unique coupon.

Referral Bonus – This particular tracking method encourages both new sales and existing customer loyalty. It incentivizes your customers to refer their friends and family. If your product or service price can absorb a small dent, a referral bonus empowers your customers to become “brandvocates” and your most effective sales force. Remember – word of mouth is your best form of advertising. Referral bonuses are great because the referrer is usually very diligent about making sure the referral gives them proper credit. This greatly enhances your trackability.

Ask For a Specific Person – This one requires delicate deployment. If you have more than one person, the best way to use this is to advertise a product or service that only one of your staff is able to represent. For example, if Sally is the only person in the company who knows about the new Widget3000, launch an ad campaign that says “ask for Sally, our Widget3000 expert!”. Not doing so may still bring Widget3000 customers but you know those that ask for Sally saw or heard a particular campaign or media. It also achieves the goal of inspiring the customer because they are working with an expert that can answer their questions. Finally, it can expedite the sales process which enables greater quantities sold per day, higher total commissions (which makes Sally happy), and is more likely to result in a positive review from the customer.

Loss Leader Pricing – The most well known examples may be car dealers. You’ve all seen low priced vehicles with the famous “one at this price” disclaimer. The concept is straightforward: drastically discount one unit with the goal of attracting attention and opportunities to switch the customer to a regular-priced unit or higher-priced item. This is very effective for tracking purposes as you can monitor how many calls, emails, in-store requests, or social posts you receive for the offer. It works well across traditional and digital media.

New School ROI Methods

For most “new school” or digital tracking methods, you will have multiple added data points to make future decision making more informed. You can receive demographic, geographic, experience, and perhaps even psychographic data in addition to raw response and engagement rates. Make sure you have detailed tracking tools installed on your site such as Google Analytics. You can’t know too much and knowing too little costs you money.

Unique URL and/or Landing Page – These two tactics are related and can even be the same thing. A Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is just a website address. Could be as easy as “www.ArksideMarketing.com” or something longer such as “www.arksidemarketing.com/why-fox-should-not-have-apologized-for-x-men-billboard/”. For online campaigns, sending traffic to a unique location is very effective at funneling traffic, tracking response rates, controling what information is seen, and beginning to source your new lead.

UTM Codes -As strange as it sounds, UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module” because it was invented by a company called Urchin Web Analytics. They were bought by Google in 2005. They created a way to attach information to a URL. If you saw that you were receiving traffic from “mail.yahoo.com” to your website, you would know people were clicking a link in from their Yahoo! email account. But with UTM codes, you could see traffic from “mail.yahoo.com?utm_source=campaignA&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=widget3000discount”. Each part of that code tells you an additional piece of information as well as enabling you to launch multiple campaigns simultaneously, do A/B testing, and separate identical campaigns that may have launched at different times. UTM codes can be extremely lengthy but they have no impact on the user’s experience. It only provides you data.

Form Submission – Another multifaceted tracking tool. You can already count how many forms are submitted via your website. But have you gone deeper on their value? Form submissions not only give you raw response rates, they can also tell you the value of the path to the form. Some website visitors may go from your home page, through a couple product pages, over to your portfolio or testimonials, abandon a shopping cart or two, and then finally request more information via a form. Others may go from a custom landing page straight to a form submission. Both paths generated a lead, but if you analyze the flow path more deeply, you may discover that people going straight to a landing page are submitting forms at a lower rate than those who “wander” around your site. Those who wander may feel more comfort or trust with your brand and are therefore more likely to contact you. Perhaps the landing page isn’t providing enough information and your page menu doesn’t allow them to go elsewhere on the site. The point is getting a form submission isn’t nearly enough data for future decision-making. It is a starting point for your analysis.

Click Through Rate – We’ve referenced the value of knowing what and how certain things prompt a response. Tracking a click through rate (CTR) helps you understand the final effect of a user experience. Monitor what pages, forms, ads, and media are generating higher engagement. But make sure you are tracking ALL clicks: ad click, call-to-action item click, form submission, menu clicks, internal links, etc. You need to understand what your customers are looking for on your website, social media, videos and, most importantly, why they are looking for it. Tracking each available CTR can help you understand that.

ROI Methods Effective in Old and New School Media

Contests – There are so many different ways to run contests that I can’t list them all here. Basic guidelines are as follows:

  1. Make sure your entire contest is legal: methods of entry, prize(s) given, winner selection, winner notification, legal disclaimers, etc.
  2. Offer a prize that will entice your audience to enter. Just because you want to promote it doesn’t mean your audience will care enough to enter a contest for it. Think about it from their perspective.
  3. Promote it through all relevant media channels and encourage staff to do the same.
  4. Use the winner (and presentation event, if you have one) as another promotional marketing tool
  5. For results measurement, track all relevant engagements including number of entries, website traffic, in-store entries, calls, sales opportunities, sales (quantity, margin, and secondary purchases), and media impressions.

Spot Time Alignment – This method allows you to sync your digital and non-digital media. If you have a TV or radio spot airing at 10:02am, track your website traffic, social engagement, calls, and in-store visits immediately after the spot. People tend to be curious about something after hearing about it. This data can be a critical element when doing your ROI calculation and making decisions about future marketing investment. Two media may generate similar sales volume, but knowing which produces a more research oriented customer can help you refine your sales process and capture the higher hanging fruit.

Product/Service Profit Margin – I have already referenced it multiple times in other tracking methods, but it deserves its own explanation. It is vital to understand how a particular marketing lead impacts your profitability. Selling 100 more Widget3000s is great, but if your radio leads are more likely to also buy accessories or your Facebook leads are more likely to be hagglers, that data should factor into your future decision making. Fox Business viewers may be more profitable than HGTV viewers. You won’t know this unless you match each customer to their lead process. It can mean the difference between thousands or millions of dollars in revenue.

Collecting Customer Data

We have covered a huge variety of ways to track every media in existence. There is no advertising you can’t track with the right approach and execution. All of that tracking relies on collecting customer data. Digital media are great at providing basic demographic and geographic data, but you have the ability to go deeper. Consider the difference between these three questions:

  1. How have you heard about us?
  2. What brought you in today?
  3. Why did you decide to purchase today?

Each question gives you a unique and valuable piece of data. All three help you better understand who your customer is, how your brand is recognized and perceived, and where your sales strengths (and potential weaknesses) are. Here are a variety of ways you can gather customer data at multiple points throughout your marketing and sales cycles:

  • Online surveys
  • In-store surveys (not very reliable, but can be part of the process)
  • At point of purchase (“Can I get your zip code, please?”)
  • Loyalty program enrollment
  • Focus group
  • Beacon tracking
  • New customer/client enrollment form
  • Website traffic tracking (Google Analytics)

Make sure you are honest with your customers and potential customers about what you’re collecting and what you’ll do with it. Privacy policies are required by law in most places so make sure you are compliant.

You Can, You Should, and You Must

Moving forward, don’t ever let someone tell you that something can’t be tracked. In the 2,500+ words above, I have show you how to do so across every possible media. I have also shown you how to collect additional data to enhance the total value of your marketing and improve your sales. And I will leave you with one final point:

YOU MUST DO ALL OF THIS.

The successful companies of the future will be disruptive. They will know more about their customers than ever before because their customers know more about them than ever before. Knowledge is power. Understanding their emotions and decision-making process is what can separate success from failure. Your competitors can be smart or you can. But someone will go out of business and it will be the company that knows the least.

Don’t believe me? Think about how much Amazon knows.

1
Mar

How to Deal with Online Reviews

Reviews, both positive and negative, come with the territory of being a business and online reputation management. Some reviews are positive and say wonderful things about your business. Others are negative and detail customers frustrations about their experience. Regardless of whether a review is positive, negative, or somewhere in between, each and every review should be responded to in a timely manner. Many people we speak with want to know how to deal with online reviews. About 82% of American adults read reviews before they purchase something for the first time. That’s a lot of eyes looking at your reputation, so if you make sure your voice is present in the conversation you are able to help explain the negative reviews and encourage more positive ones.

Reviews as Part of Online Reputation Management

You have probably had a variety of experiences with online reviews. You may have received good ones, bad ones, or posted your own about business. They’re important. When it comes to handling ones posted about your business, there are best practices we recommend to obtain the best outcome. In most cases, you want to reply for a variety of reasons. There may be reasons to send a private message (when possible). In other circumstances it may be best to do both. Finally, the one everyone hopes for, just report the review as spam and watch it disappear. We’ll cover all of these scenarios below.

Why Respond To Positive Reviews

Did you know: 68% of reviews on Yelp are 4 or 5- star reviews? If your reviews mimic this trend, that’s 68% of your customer base that you are ignoring if you only take the time to respond to the negative reviews. Another benefit of responding to positive reviews, is that it helps build a better relationship with your customers, especially your “brandvocates”. If you receive a great review from Tami -a single mom, who you made feel at ease when you fixed her refrigerator- and take the time to respond to her review, you have continued your relationship by showing that you care about her opinion. People looking for refrigerator repair will see that Tami felt at ease with your service and will be more likely to hire you. Instead of just telling five of her friends that you did a great job, Tami just told thousands of other people about her experience which results in a huge group of potential new customers. Although Yelp doesn’t allow you to respond publicly and send a private message, there are times when it is good to do both. Do so on those sites that allow it. If a customer has been extremely loyal for a long period of time or referred significant business, we recommend doing both. In most cases, a public reply is sufficient.

Why Respond To Negative Reviews

Responding to negative reviews also benefits your business. By responding to negative reviews, you are proving that you hear your customers’ complaints, care about their experience or concerns and will do something to make it right. You may respond to Mark, who visited your restaurant and felt his hamburger was too dry. By replying to Mark, you acknowledge that you hear his complaint and can offer to comp his next meal or let him know you’ll speak with the staff so Mark will be more willing to give you another opportunity to earn his loyalty. By showing those reading your reviews that you are willing to make a situation right, you are demonstrating a commitment to customer service and great experiences.

In some cases you may not need to make amends. Often, the customer just wants to be heard and know that a problem is being addressed. An important guideline is to not take reviews personally. The public doesn’t want to see you get upset because they will think your next outburst could be directed at them.

On those sites that allow you to post a comment and send a message, doing both may be a bad idea. Ideally, you want them off the review site. Continuing your disagreement on the site is counterproductive. Be wary of the situation and act according to how you feel they will be most likely to react.

How Can I Remove Fake Reviews?

Sometimes businesses receive reviews they don’t deserve. This is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to how to deal with online reviews. For our clients, we have seen reviews posted by their competitors, customers who never actually had work done, and outlandish requests that are impossible to fulfill. These are some of the few examples of reviews that can potentially be removed. They are fraudulent in one way or another. Understand that all review sites are very reluctant to remove reviews. They aren’t interested in a factual dispute between two parties. This is true even when facts are not in dispute. You don’t have to make amends like you did with Mark, but make sure they feel heard. People are reading their review and do not understand the circumstances surrounding it. In some cases, you can explain the situation through your response but with others it allows you to get your voice into the conversation and just acknowledge that you understand how the reviewer feels.

Conclusion        

While replying to reviews may take a few minutes out of your day, it can vastly improve your appearance to potential customers. By taking the time to reply to reviews in a timely manner you show you care about your customers, value their opinions and concerns, and are willing to stand behind your business or product. Want to learn how we can help you with online reputation management? Contact us today!

2
Feb

2 Rules of Marketing

As we celebrate our seven year anniversary in February 2017, we want everyone to understand a basic fact: You only need the 2 Rules of Marketing. The marketing industry can become extremely and unnecessarily complicated. Whether sifting through data, managing opinions, or exploring media options, the number of ways to get overwhelmed is staggering. I have seen this phenomenon as I’ve worked on all three sides of the industry – media, client, and agency. It is one of the primary reasons I created Arkside: to be a one-stop shop for an organization’s marketing needs. Achieving that goal required simplification of the typical approach to marketing. My years and depth of experience led me to two rules that can be applied to all situations resulting in simple decision making.

Marketing Rule #1: Marketing should be always treated as an investment.

Think about stock investments. As I remind guests at my lectures, no one throws darts at a Wall Street ticker symbol and decides to put their money there. Even 401(k) plans are managed by professionals, and the investors who invest in them rely on the knowledge of the fund managers. The bottom line is that a positive return is expected on the investment.

Why would you treat your marketing any differently?

A proper campaign should be a combination of great creative and data-based strategy, all intended to align with an organization’s goals. From business card layout to multi-network TV ads, you should expect a return on your investment. That Return on Investment (ROI) can be measured in a variety of ways but should always be aligned with your goals.

Types of Return on Investment

Don’t limit yourself to sales. Your investment can be used to achieve one or more goals.

  • Brand awareness
  • Media share of voice
  • Direct sales
  • Job applicants
  • Website traffic
  • App downloads
  • Event attendance
  • Newsletter subscriptions
  • Offer/coupon redemption
  • Social media following and/or engagement

The first step in a marketing campaign should be to establish its goals and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Only then can you measure success. That success is your Return on Investment. If, and by how much, you achieved your goal is your success…or failure.

Failure is An Education

Many years ago I adopted my attitude toward life: “I only have two kinds of days – good days and educational days.” Learning is the key to success. The only way I can have a bad day is if I didn’t learn something. Failure is an education. It will teach you how to not repeat the mistake. It can show you how to try something in a new way.

After you have done your research, identified your target audience(s), selected the proper media, and crafted a great message, what happens when you don’t meet your goals? That should teach you something. As our client Chris Surdak says, “reports should be an input”. The failure you experienced will certainly be disappointing but it should be used to do better the next time. I have heard marketers blame the media and, frankly, I feel that is lazy. Statements like, “I tried radio and it doesn’t work” or “we dumped a bunch of money into Google and got nothing out of it”. While I don’t doubt their results were bad, I am always skeptical that the tried-and-true media formats are to blame.

Identify the error(s) in your approach and don’t repeat them.

Marketing Rule #2: Never make it hard for someone to give you their money.

This is no less important than the first of the 2 rules. Let me address something up front: Your sales and marketing efforts are not separate. They are intrinsically linked for very good reasons. Take the following scenario as an example:

You have invested many, many hours on setting your goals, doing your market research, identifying your target market, building a beautiful campaign, and launching to the public. Leads start pouring in. Your sales team wasn’t given any of the ads to review, were not prepped on the offer, and are putting all of your carefully crafted leads into a broken sales funnel.

This is not the time for the marketing department to say, “we did our job!” Sales and marketing should be working together. Sales should be providing on-the-ground, real-time feedback to marketing about what questions customers are asking, how providing key information earlier in the process can avoid unnecessary delays, and other elements that improve the customer experience. Conversely, marketing should be training sales on where ads will appear (radio stations, Facebook, direct mail, etc.), how the offers are being presented, and what they can expect customers to know and/or ask about.

Great Customer Service is Great Marketing

There are so many potential customers out there willing to become customers. So many, in fact, you would never be able to serve them all. But for those who have given you a chance to earn their business, you better not blow it. They are ready to give you their money. Are you making it easy for them to do so? Long buying processes, repeat negotiations, complicated pricing or discounts, improperly trained staff, key information buried on your website, no credit card payment options, and many more are all things that make it hard for someone to give you their money.

So how do you make it easy?

  1. Exceed their expectations…in everything.
  2. Simplify the payment process. Can you take payments online? Can invoices be automated?
  3. Be convenient.

2 Rules for Everything

These two rules form the foundation for every decision we make, both internally and the advice we offer our valuable clients. Marketing is one of the few areas of business that impacts and is impacted by every department and person in an organization.

We changed our company slogan in 2016 from “The way things should be.” to “Educate. Succeed. Repeat.”. Our 2 Rules are now a cornerstone of delivering on our mission to teach marketers, help them succeed, and repeat that cycle. Whether you are a client of Arkside Marketing or not, we want you to make the most informed marketing decisions possible. Your advertising should result in success. Once both of those are done, we hope you repeat the process.

You will be seeing “2 Rules” in all of our marketing materials and we will be using the hashtag #2Rules throughout social media. We encourage you to use it on your social media as well for any questions or discussions you want to have about marketing. We look forward to meeting and helping you in the years to come.

4
Jan

WW – Corporate Policy without Common Sense

Dealing with the large social media entities and giants of the online world can be a lot like the famous Office Space TPS reports scene. In the scene, Peter Gibbons is talked to about his TPS reports by two people, a phone call, and even his friends have heard that he has been having “problems” with his TPS reports. He simply forgot about the new cover sheet policy. With each new person who talks to him about the TPS reports, they promise to send him a copy of the memo. Everyone he encounters, with the exception of his friends, doesn’t care that he has already spoken to someone else regarding the policy and the TPS reports, but knows that it is their duty to discuss the policy with him and everyone is required to live by the policies set forth by management. This is an example of corporate policy without common sense.

When Social Media Becomes Anti-Social

This is the case when trying to get help from some of the giants of the online world, if you can even manage to get help. Recently, we encountered a technical problem setting up a LinkedIn Company Page for a client. In this case, another company in Canada had long ago setup a Page using the same name as our client. The Canadian company has since shut it’s doors. Not even their website existed anymore. We discovered this and brought it to LinkedIn for assistance in creating the Page for our client. LinkedIn refuses to allow us to move forward because the company names are too similar, even though the Canadian company no longer exists. They will not remove the other company’s Page. We have gone back and forth with LinkedIn over the issue but they refuse to deviate from their procedures by using common sense.

In a different area, Google can also be frustrating. It is now extremely difficult to get any assistance from Google, but this hasn’t always been the case. Google used to have a great feature where we could live chat with tech support if necessary. They have recently eliminated this feature for many of their services, so now phone or email are the main methods of getting assistance. A phone call sounds convenient, right? It would be if the operators spoke understandable English. When operators are difficult to understand or they are constrained by following certain problem resolution procedures without applying any common sense, the solution remains out of rech.

Moving at the Speed of Analog

This over-reliance on procedure can also slow down things that should be easy and prompt. Want to take advantage of Google’s holiday hour feature? Submit your hours and wait three days for approval and publishing. Want to remove a couple pictures from Bing Places for Business (previously known as Bing Local)? Make your changes and wait up to 14 days. Any time you want to make a simple change to your Google or Bing listing for your business there is a waiting period. Now thankfully Google’s isn’t as long as Bing’s, but in the world of fast moving data, any waiting period is inhibiting marketers and business owners from successfully promoting their business. Now, I’m not one to praise Yelp, but this is something they have done right. If you want to make a change to your Yelp listing, like inputting your holiday hours, those changes take effect immediately: no waiting period, no hoops to jump through. Just a simple click of a button. While there should be some changes that need to go through Google and Bing for verification, not all changes should which is why certain policies should be changed.

We all have Google My Business accounts to manage our Google listings and the Bing equivalent for those listings. We stewards of our brands control the dashboard; we know what is going on with our brands better than anyone else and would give our non-dominant arm to make sure that nothing happens to mar our brand’s reputation. At the end of the day that is what matters and how dare Google and Bing take that control away from us and decide if our holiday hours or a simple removal of a photo is good enough for our brand. That is up to us to decide.

The Role of Policies and Procedures

Policies and procedures are great to have. They help determine a path to take in certain situations. However, policies and procedures are not things that determine the fate of every outcome. There are some instances that need to go against policies and procedures and involve common sense. The examples described above illustrate when common sense should be applied to existing policies. Customer service agents on the front lines of support need to be empowered to use common sense when appropriate. Policies and procedures have a time and a place but that time and place should not impact the marketing capabilities of those trying to do right by their brand. A corporate policy without common sense benefits no one.

4
Oct

Promises to Rank on Page 1 of Google

How to rank on the page 1 of Google is one of the most coveted and misunderstood business goals of the 21st century. The holy first page. 93% of the eyeballs never go to page 2. Business managers and owners understand its value. This has opened a huge market for disreputable companies to make false promises we see every day. They usually arrive via email and look something like this:

“We can put you on the first page of Google!”
“Our program will have you ranked on page 1!”
“This patented system guarantees you will be #1 on Google!”
“You will rank #1 on Google within 30 days!”

As a company that offers and specializes in digital marketing, we fully understand the importance of appearing on page 1 of Google. It can boost website traffic, enhance reputation, and improve sales. But it can be done in two very different ways: right or wrong. The right way is worth an investment. The wrong way should be avoided at all costs. This false “Page 1 Promise” can cost you dearly.

Continue reading and you will learn why any company (with one exception) is lying when they make this promise.

How Google Calculates Rank

Google has confirmed that there are approximately 200 ranking factors in the calculation of a page’s rank. This is a major reason reaching page 1 of Google isn’t easy. Once they are evaluated and broken down, there are perhaps 10,000 variations that are included in the Google ranking algorithm. Thankfully, Google has been kind enough earlier in 2016 to confirm it’s top three ranking factors:

1 & 2. Inbound links and content
3. RankBrain

Links and content are listed together because Google has never confirmed which is more important. Those two elements are vital but bad links or content can also result in penalties. We’ll cover those later in this post. They are directly related to the false promises of Google rankings.

RankBrain is a machine learning artificial intelligence program which evaluates searches and the results they generate. In 2013, Google stated that approximately 15% of the 3.3 billion searches it handles every day are something it has never seen before. RankBrain evaluates those searches and the results produced. Always keep in mind that Google’s top priority is to serve the most relevant results possible. RankBrain helps Google efficiently learn about new searches and better understand what the user is searching for.

What is the Google Algorithm?

The recipe for Coca-Cola.
The formula for WD-40.
The Google algorithm. (It is called “Hummingbird“.)
The calculation of a FICO score.

These are all highly coveted targets of corporate espionage. They are secrets. Only a select group of people in the world know any one of them. That secrecy is the primary reason any company (with one exception) claiming to know the Google algorithm is lying. That one exception is Google. Much like FICO is the only company that knows the full and accurate way a credit score is calculated, Google is the only company that knows every ranking factor and their importance. It is rumored that less than 10 people at Google actually have this information. The rest of us are making educated guesses – some more educated than others.

Millions of dollars are spent every year by companies around the world trying to determine how to rank a webpage. The entire search engine optimization (SEO) industry is devoted almost entirely to this pursuit. For any company to claim they can guarantee first page ranking, they would need to know the algorithm.

They don’t.

An important element of the Google ranking system is called PageRank. It is an algorithm within the algorithm that ranks webpages within the search results. Its primary factor are inbound links to a site. As mentioned above, links are one of the top two ranking factors so the PageRank algorithm is vital to a site’s appearance on page one of Google. PageRank is also a primary means of dishing out penalties from Google.

Google Penalties

BMW logoBeyond the secrecy surrounding their algorithm, Google is very serious when it comes to people who try to “game the system”. Remember Google’s top priority? They don’t take kindly to people who intentionally manipulate the organic search results to circumvent search results. Such efforts have a material impact on Google’s quality. They publish Webmaster Guidelines which, when violated, can result in serious damage to a webpage’s ranking.

Google’s most notable penalty is a loss of PageRank. When Google discovers “black hat” SEO techniques such as artificial blog networks or paid links, it usually responds with a corresponding loss of PageRank. This has happened to companies such as BMW and even Google’s own Chrome browser website. The loss of PageRank -which, in some cases, goes to zero- can be coupled with the complete removal from search results of the offending blog network or site with paid links.

Companies that suffer Google penalties have reported loss of website traffic, loss of revenue, and a long climb back to page 1 of Google. Companies like BeatTheQuote.com, JCPenney, and Rap Genius (lost 700,000 visitors a day!) have all had to endure Google penalties.

SEO Best Practices

Obviously, you should not be buying links, using black hat blog networks, or keyword stuffing your webpages.

Focus on creating content that is valuable to your audience(s). Educate and entertain to earn visits and time. Doing so requires a deep understanding of your market.  The best SEO is organic value in the content you create. Blogs are an excellent means of regularly updating your website while providing educational or entertaining information. Pages (along with your blog posts) should be updated when needed, consist mostly of text, and include images as visual support or illustration for the material presented.

Google has a guide: ask yourself “would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” While this shouldn’t be taken literally, it should be considered whenever an SEO strategy is proposed.

Next Step to Reach Page 1 of Google

If you would like to have your current website analyzed and SEO strategy created or evaluated, contact an Arkside specialist today. Our team can provide you with objective insight, identify unrealized opportunities, and present effective strategies that maximize your search engine presence.