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.
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.
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 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:
To ensure you are getting the best product at the best price and the most creativity, speak to an Arkside representative today.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contests – There are so many different ways to run contests that I can’t list them all here. Basic guidelines are as follows:
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Don’t limit yourself to sales. Your investment can be used to achieve one or more goals.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Beyond 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.
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.
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.
Twentieth Century Fox apologized last month for an “X-Men: Apocalypse billboard because it shows Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Mystique, being choked by Apocalypse (a male character). The outrage over the X-Men billboard began when actress Rose McGowan posted her disappointment on social media after seeing the billboard in Los Angeles. After the public flogging, Fox issued this statement:
In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women.
The offended people and 20th Century Fox are both missing the point. When analyzed from a marketing perspective, both groups are making a mistake.
Of course. Everything is offensive to someone. The legendary “Got Milk?” ad about the assassination of Alexander Hamilton may have offended people. Budweiser’s Clydesdale ads offend people against the use of animals in advertising. Does that mean they were bad or mean-spirited? No. Marketing is a combination of art and science. It should be understood that “you can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time” (John Lydgate, adapted by President Abraham Lincoln). The important issue is whether or not the offense or the size of the offended party merits attention in your marketing.
In this case, the size of the offended group and their voice were extremely small until Rose McGowan used social media. After that, the size of the offended group remained small but they had a larger megaphone to broadcast their grievance. They became a very vocal minority. It can be said with some certainly that most people understood that the latest installment in the X-Men movie franchise had violence in it. Why was this violence so offensive?
It is worth noting that the image depicted on the billboard is taken from the movie itself. It is an actual scene in which Apocalypse battles Mystique. But only the advertising was vilified. Why is the on-screen “violence against women” not decried yet the advertising depicting the violence is maligned? According to Ms. McGowan and followers of her cause, they didn’t feel it was right to have the image “forced” upon them (especially their children).
Some facts need to be added for the sake of marketing analysis and public perception:
It seems counterproductive to criticize a billboard for violence against women when that movie has a strong, female lead character who defeats all the men that stand against her.
Furthermore, the same level of outrage was lacking from Ms. McGowan and her fans when Mystique was killing military personnel in previous films or when she was beating up men at all. A double-standard in objecting to violence seems inappropriate.
Fox’s mistake came not in the billboard, but in their apology for the X-Men billboard and removing it from the campaign. As marketers, we fully appreciate the pressure on major corporations to walk many fine lines to please customers. In this case, we would not have advised Fox to apologize or remove the billboards. It is our opinion that they should have stood behind their campaign, the strong female lead character, and the film’s PG-13 rating which deems it appropriate for most of the world’s population to watch.
For parents, the billboard is an opportunity to have a positive discussion with their kids. They can explain Mystique, her strength, her redemption, he leadership, and her triumph over evil. Tell them Apocalypse is an evil character who thinks it is okay to use power over people instead of helping them.
The X-Men, like the Fantastic Four, and many other comic book characters are about good defeating evil, equality among all, and justice reigning supreme.
Fox could have told that story instead of apologizing for it.
Wondering how to engage with your target audience and tap into a larger audience of potential customers? TV is a great way to do it. “But wait,” you say, “isn’t this about Twitter?” The following Twitter case study will show you how Arkside Marketing can use Twitter to harness an engaged TV show audience and make it work for you!
22.1% of adults text friends/family about content while watching it.
By now, you have probably heard of “live tweeting”. Fans from around the world can connect in real-time over their favorite TV series or live event. For advertisers, it is a great way to connect with an audience of loyal, interested fans. Go on Twitter during a Monday night showing of The Bachelor and you’ll see hundreds of thousands people tweeting their dramatic reactions and raw emotions to what is happening on screen. Shows like the Biggest Loser, Scandal, and The Walking Dead have huge audiences that follow along on Twitter. These are called “multi-screeners”. They utilize two or more screens simultaneously; Twitter and television, in this case. Some shows take matters into their own hands and have cast members live-tweet during the show to enhance the conversation. You can participate and join the conversation as an expert! When done professionally, your involvement can expose you and your business to a new, captivated audience of potential customers.
12.3% of adults Tweet about a show’s content while watching it.
Our goal with this Twitter case study is to show we approach Twitter live-tweets and the benefit it brings our clients.
A medically-supervised weight loss program in Riverside, CA. Their program uses a combination of high quality meal replacements, appetite suppressants, exercise guidance, and dietary management.
Part of our strategy for the client was to increase their brand awareness and explore opportunities with new markets. Shortly after the strategy was approved, we learned that the TV show, My Diet Is Better Than Yours, would be airing their season finale. This was a high profile opportunity to introduce the doctor (proprietor of the business) to his unreached audience. The client was briefed on the logistics and agreed.
My Diet Is Better Than Yours is a television show on ABC that pits weight loss experts and their diets against each other to see who really has the best diet technique for their “patient”. The diets combine diet and exercise to see which diet can yield the highest percentage of body fat lost over the course of 14weeks.
The client would watch the show live and text his thoughts to a member of our digital team. These texts would then properly condensed and hashtagged with appropriate account tagging to be tweeted. Our team member would then monitor the account for engagement: Likes, Re-tweets, and inclusion in conversation. They would then reply as appropriate from the client account.
We live-tweeted the finale of My Diet Is Better Than Yours, which lasted 2 hours. The client was prepared by our team with what type of reactions would work best and how our team would convert his reactions into tweets. Our team member made sure that every tweet contained the hashtag for the show, and made sure to tag appropriate parties in each tweet. Each tweet went out no more than 60 seconds from when the doctor’s reaction was received. If someone mentioned the client in a tweet, our team member would then engage in a conversation with that person on behalf of the clinic. If any questions came up that needed an expert opinion our team member would promptly text the doctor.
Over the course of the 2 hours we:
This is the highest monthly engagement rate achieved on the client’s account as of this live tweeting event and nearly double the engagement rate of the previous month.
Summary: As you have seen in this Twitter case study, engaging with your target audience can be achieved when done professionally. It takes an understanding of Twitter best practices, experienced staff, and a strong relationship with a client. Most importantly, it can be enjoyable for everyone involved. Seek out the interests of your target market and align your efforts accordingly. Doing so creates a better relationship with your current audience and can help earn new, relevant relationships.
If you would like to learn more about how Arkside Marketing can help your business find success on Twitter and how to integrate with your other marketing efforts, contact our office today. The first consultation is free and we will analyze your social media at no charge.
“One on-air personality said management’s view was ‘if we build it, they will come.’ They didn’t.”
As we routinely tell our clients, the days of “if you build it, they will come” ended after Field of Dreams.
The notable and relatively new entrant to the American news mediascape, Al Jazeera America, is scheduled to shut down by April 30, 2016. While there are heaping reasons for this abrupt termination, the vast majority involve marketing failures. From a doomed name and laughable Al Gore connection to a poor understanding of the market and public management failures – all roads pointed to a disastrous conclusion.
Al Gore became a joke after surrendering the 2000 U.S. Presidential election to George W. Bush. His one-note-Johnny routine about climate change while owning a massive energy-swallowing home, sexual harassment of a masseuse, and separating from his wife, led to a steep decline of his stature in politics and environmentalism. He also was a partial owner of Current TV, a low-level cable television network in the United States. It was the sale of this network that not only allowed the foothold for Al Jazeera America, but helped to further erode Al Gore’s reputation. He was harshly criticized for selling an American media company to terrorists.
Strangely, no one cared about Current TV before it’s sale to Al Jazeera – with one notable moment of exception. Two of its journalists were arrested after crossing the North Korean border in 2009. Their investigative reporting skills did not include map reading. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (the former boss of their current boss) secured their release. Thus ended the newsworthiness of Current TV until it was sold. At it’s height, the network reached a paltry 31,000 viewers per day. Total. To Gore’s credit, he was able to sell the network with almost no audience to the Qatari government for $500,000,000. (That’s $16,129 per viewer!)
Within the first two months of Al Jazeera America, it shed nearly two-thirds of that audience and reached a pathetic 13,000 people per day. Total.
Even MSNBC was over 120,000 per day.
For reasons that continue to elude employees, observers, and the American public, Al Jazeera’s management never seemed to fully understand the poison pill presented by their name. Given the public hesitation to anything Arab or Muslim after September 11th, it should have been easy to grasp the need for a more acceptable brand name. Presenting an Arab news network with an Arab name and a terrible reputation in the United States seemed puzzling. Unfairly, most Americans only associated Al Jazeera with their occasional broadcasts of propaganda from Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden. But perception was reality and perception began on day one.
This brand crisis was only magnified by their Arabic logo. America is a melting pot and has learned to listen to foreign names all the time. There are Arab construction companies, racing teams, and many other Arab-named entities in the U.S. But to actually use a logo written in Arabic was a visual reminder that Al Jazeera America had nothing to do with America. It is difficult to convince anyone you’re American if everything about you is not.
Their brand was an American disaster visually and audibly.
The conundrum of bad branding was strangely mitigated by a limited audience. It is hard to make a terrible first impression if you aren’t allowed to make the first impression. Just days before Al Jazeera America was set to go on air, AT&T U-verse dropped the channel. This followed prior decisions by Comcast and Time Warner Cable not to air the station at all. Their possible audience size now dropped precipitously below 100 million homes.
Technology and regulation also posed a problem. The still-successful Al Jazeera English is the English language version of Al Jazeera. It is popular on a global scale, especially it’s internet stream. But Al Jazeera was trying to build a TV network, not a stream. So they prohibited streaming to the US. That narrow-minded decision again limited their exposure and opportunities to drive traffic to their fledgling American network. The CEO, Al Anstey, admitted as much with this line from the email announcing the station’s closure: “The decision is driven by the fact that our business model is simply not sustainable in an increasingly digital world, and because of the current global financial challenges.”
Al Jazeera never succeeded but it was not due to a poorly produced product. They won every major journalism and media award possible including the Emmy, Peabody, and the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University awards. The hired top talent away from other TV news networks and other journalism media. Although occasionally accused of having a “Middle East bias” in their coverage, they were routinely recognized for being objective and presenting a unique voice in American media.
But no one will give you a chance to be objective in their home if they think it comes from the mouth of a terrorist.
Al Jazeera Management Failures
Every single one of the problems listed above could be fixed by a stable and competent management team. Al Jazeera America never found that team. They were in a constant state of management “desperation” as they made frequent changes and suffered internal drama. Every department saw departures as Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar applied constant pressure for success. Few were ever managing long enough to make a difference.
In some instances, these personnel shifts and a substantial wrongful termination lawsuit, once again brought forth the idea of an anti-American bias with preference given to Middle Eastern employees. Certainly not the desired picture when trying to appeal to an American audience.
The media landscape in America is extremely competitive. Ask MSNBC. To find success, even with a unique voice, is a challenge. But when your marketing -from your name to your HR policies- build and support a notion that you are the opposite of what you claim, you will ultimately fail. Competitors will relish in your misery and make sure your customers know. Partners will feel as though they are part of a lopsided relationship. And customers will choose an alternative.
All of this dooms what was otherwise a well-made product.
Over the years we have heard some strange reasons/excuses for advertising. The initiative is usually based in good intentions and then gets lost somewhere along the way of “where should we advertise”.
Below are the top 10 (or bottom 10) worst reasons to choose (or not choose) a particular advertising strategy:
10. “The competition did it and they’re doing great.” – Did they do great because of the ad you saw? Is there another campaign you’re not aware of? The devil is in the details and you don’t know enough about your competition’s operations to attribute perceived success to one particular campaign. And finally, maybe they’re not doing as well as you think. Could be a house of cards.
9. “It’s my favorite station.” – Don’t assume you represent your target market. It can be hard for owners to view their companies objectively. Your favorite radio or TV station, or favorite celebrity, may not resonate well with your audience.
8. “It’s on my way to work.” – Which is more important: you seeing it or your potential customers seeing it? Focus on their way to work before your own.
7. “Those colors are really popular right now.” – That doesn’t mean they work with your brand, or speak to your audience, or match your message. Choose function over form. Stay true to your own style so your customers are not confused.
6. “I’ve never clicked/called/responded to one of those before.” – You haven’t but others probably have. You may not be a skydiver, but other people jump out of planes all the time. We hear this often about Google ads. Literally millions of their ads get clicked every day and generate sales. That’s why they did more than $60 BILLION in advertising sales last year. Someone clicked.
5. “It’s funny.” – If you’re goal is to be a stand-up comedian, than this is a good reason. If your goal is to sell more of your products or services, this may be a terrible reason. If your brand isn’t funny, don’t try to make people laugh with your marketing. Humor can be a great element if it fits the overall goal.
4. “I get a free trip.” – True, but unemployment is a permanent vacation. That’s what you’ll get if you waste money on ineffective advertising. Trip or no trip, invest in marketing that will achieve a measurable goal.
3. “It worked when I did it years ago.” – Marketing changes. Daily. Most importantly – the lives of your customers are changing. They have more media options, are spending more frugally, and are more informed (and empowered) than ever. Newspapers are no longer focusing on print. Facebook has more targeting capability now than they did a month ago. Billboards don’t need to be printed. Don’t rely on old success as a barometer for the future.
2. “Everyone will see it.” – And then what? Being seen doesn’t sell more. If you’re the commercial everyone saw and hated or the commercial everyone saw and forgot, being seen didn’t help. Prioritize results above fame.
1. “It’s cheaper.” – In most cases, you get what you pay for.