How To

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

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
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.

3
Nov

Sell the Car Experience Instead of the Car

People don’t love buying cars.
People love driving cars.

Going fast. Showing friends and family. Personalizing with accessories. Even the new car smell. You can buy it in sprays, little mirror trees, and scratch-and-sniff stickers. No one feels nostalgic for the “low” payment or the warranty. They love the experience that is uniquely part of owning a vehicle. So why are dealerships continuously and relentlessly focused on everything but ownership?

People Hate Buying A Car

“The dealership experience is as old as the car industry, roughly 100 years old. While cars have changed, the retail experience is much the same as it was 100 years ago.”
–Dr. Ian Robertson, Head of Sales & Distribution at BMW

This is what so many dealerships resist to acknowledge and are even slower to correct. They remain focused on their experience (lot layout, funneling an up, trade evaluation, price negotiation, finance, etc.) instead of the experience of their customers. Most other industries have already recognized the necessity of building an experience for the customer instead of forcing customers into an experience.

Consider these facts from a 2014 Edmunds survey:

  • 1 in 5 people said they would rather give up sex for a month than haggle for a new car
  • 44% would give up Facebook
  • 1 in 3 people would rather do taxes

That should be alarming to the automotive industry. One-third of your customers would rather deal with the IRS than you. Employees are personified as the icons of lying, cheating, and stealing. “He’s as bad as a used car salesman.”

When we meet with dealership clients, most say they want to stand out from their competition. To do that at most stores, we encourage them to look internally first. At Arkside Marketing, we have two rules we teach every client. The second one is, “never make it difficult for someone to give you their money”.

The Better Dealership Car Buying Experience

The solution is usually easy to identify. Any area where the customer is not the primary focus could be an area for improvement. Getting a customer excited is surprisingly easy for a great dealership. Expectations are already so low that exceeding them can be achieved with one or two simple actions. A dozen would blow them away!

Here are some simple changes you can make to improve a customer’s first five minutes at your dealership:

  1. Ample customer parking – Do they have to drive through rows of cars for four spots?
  2. Breathing room – Customers arrive to look at your cars, not your salespeople. Give them a 1-2 minutes to get out of the car and look around. Then send a helpful salesperson to answer questions. (If you think we’re wrong about this, read some online reviews and count how many “salesman hounded me as soon as I opened my door” comments you see.)
  3. Offer snacks and beverages – Car buying isn’t a 30 minute process. They will be there a while. Promptly offer snacks, drinks, and let them know about your play area for their kids.

Build everything around the experience of owning a car – not buying one. Your dealership is a method of delivery for a product they can buy at your competitor. You can be a dealer of a great experience. By doing so, you will generate more word-of-mouth referrals, more positive conversations and testimonials online (Facebook, Yelp, etc.) and more service drive retention. Then take those incredible experiences and make them part of your marketing. Tell the world about your success.

Don’t sell a car – offer a great car experience.


 

If you would like to know more about how to integrate your sales and marketing strategies to deliver a great car experience for your customers (and cost-efficiently for you, contact us today. Our first consultation and needs analysis is completely free.

31
Aug

Facebook Case Study: How to Increase Reach and Engagement

Tired of posting to Facebook and not getting results? This Facebook case study is here to help. Good social media is not something for your receptionist or “any young person” to handle. Facebook for your business is different than having a personal profile. You have goals to sell more widgets, promote your brand, earn new customers, turn loyal customers into fans (more on this later), and increase traffic to your website. To achieve these goals -or any others on social media- you need to understand what works.  You must also be prepared to dedicate multiple hours per day to finding content, sharing images, promoting posts, replying to comments, finding new audiences, and analyzing previous results.

Our goal with this Facebook case study is to show how we approach Facebook management (along with other social media networks) and the results we create for our clients.

THE CLIENT

Craig & Sons Termite & Pest Control, Inc., located in Redlands, CA. Their service area is approximately 35 miles from their office. They are a family owned business for many decades and provide all pest removal and prevention services to residential and commercial clients.

THE SITUATION

Craig & Sons had been working with a national media company (who will go unnamed) that built their website and “managed” their social media. After failing to see any meaningful engagement on Facebook and no other social accounts being used, Craig & Sons was seeking alternatives.  After explaining our approach to Facebook and other social media, we were honored to earn their business.

PRIOR FACEBOOK RESULTS

Posting Schedule: The previous company had no posting schedule. Content seemed to appear randomly: sometimes four posts a week (still less than half of what it should be) and other times once a month. In all cases, the posts would lack any images or video. Just a few sentences of text. This is completely insufficient. According to some studies, the average life of a Facebook post can be only 2.5 hours!

Audience Reach: In the six months preceding our takeover, only three posts ever reached (not engaged, simply reached), more than 100 people. This was on a page with over 250 fans. Two of those posts were posted directly by the client so they can’t be attributed to the media company.

SEO Performance: In the six months preceding our takeover, only four clicks from Google went to their Facebook Page. One substantial benefit of a successful Facebook Page is search engine ranking. Beyond linking to your website and encouraging search engines to boost it on page one, you also have the capability to have your Facebook Page rank on the first page of Google (and other search engines) to knock out a competitor.

Audience Engagement: Reaching an audience is one thing. Getting them to engage with your content and your company is another. Only ONCE did they get an engagement level of 10 people or higher. Half of that engagement was directly attributable to a post from the client.

Summary: Despite having thousands of employees and millions of dollars to develop effective social media strategies for their clients, this company approached social media as less than a hobby. Their client suffered from a wasted investment.

Remember Arkside Rule #1: Always treat marketing as an investment!

THE NEW SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

1) Understand the target market: home owners and property managers, age 35+, located within 1-35 miles of the Craig & Sons office

2a) Create accounts on Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest
2b) Optimize their existing Facebook Page (and the other networks) to include keyword-rich bios and easy-to-find contact information

3) Capitalize on the creepy factor of bugs with visual content and include educational elements so the audience becomes more aware of bugs and other pests, how to prevent infestations, and how Craig & Sons can take care of pest problems

4) Build a posting schedule focusing on the days with the most social traffic, optimizing time-of-day placement

5) Utilize social profiles for engagement, customer retention, and SEO value

6) Posts need to be image and video heavy while still maintaining the traditional “80/20 Rule”

7) Employees were trained on engagement and encouraged to Like the Page (if they had not already)

Date work began: June 6, 2015

NEW FACEBOOK RESULTS

Facebook case studyPosting Schedule: As most people don’t want to hear about bugs on a constant basis -especially a sales pitch about bug killing- we identified the days of the week most relevant to the client’s target audience. On those days, we create 1-2 posts per day. These are scheduled during “prime time” when the audience is most likely to be on. Approximately 20% of those posts in a given week link directly to the client’s website. The remaining 80% are funny, creepy, educational, or otherwise relevant content for the intended audience. Hashtags are included when appropriate as they are now searchable on Facebook.

Beyond Facebook, we also create unique content for Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. These platforms were selected due to their user demographics, capability for visual presentation, and popularity.

As a combined group, all four social channels receive relevant content customized for the intended audience. Twitter receives more posts and Instagram the least. This is based on substantial research regarding how users interact with brands on each network. All four work together to promote a cohesive brand presentation no matter which social network a potential or current customer may discover.

Facebook post reach case studyAudience Reach: Beyond taking their number of Likes to over 300, our relevant organic content now reaches more people each week than previously achieved in a month. This is without a single paid ad or otherwise promoted post. The goal is to provide information that matters to the audience so they Like, Comment, and Share with their friends.

It is worth noting that this new approach, which put much more content in front of the audience than they had seen previously did not result in a single Unlike, Hide Post, or Report as Spam action!

Facebook external referrer case studySEO Performance: The SEO improvement was extremely fast. In just six weeks we saw at least eight clicks to the Facebook Page directly from Google search results. We also began to see traffic from Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, and even LinkedIn. These demonstrate moments in which a competitor may have appeared but had been outranked by Craig & Sons’ Facebook Page.

Audience Engagement: We often describe our “Useless Army” concept to potential clients. It is the idea of having thousands upon thousands of Facebook Fans but none of them actually engage with the Page. No Likes, comments, or shares – or at least very few. So what good is an army of Fans who don’t interact with your posts? In one word: useless.

Facebook Likes, comments, and sharesIt is our goal to encourage engagement so that the Page and its content rank highly on Facebook (i.e. – Recommended Pages) and search engines.

As you can see here, the new content immediately achieved greater engagement across all three measurements: Likes, Comments, and Shares. Such interaction helps Craig & Sons demonstrate expertise in their field, passion for their industry, and a commitment to truly engaging with their audience.  Where the previous company only achieved an engagement level of 10 people or higher one time in six months, we have done it more than a dozen times without any direct client posts. When people have great content to share, you empower them to become “brandvocates”.

What is a “brandvocate”? The term describes anyone not employed by the company that promotes your product or service without compensation. They advocate your brand to their friends and family for one simple reason: they like what you offer. They are a valuable marketing asset because they are genuine, loyal, and provide free word-of-mouth advertising. Social media gives them the ability to do this on a massive scale.

Summary: Success is a direct result of multiple efforts. It requires an understanding of the intended audience, posting schedules based on research and demographics, relevant content curated and shared by people, better search engine optimization, and new levels of audience engagement.


If you would like to learn more about how Arkside Marketing can help your business find success on Facebook or other social media, contact our office today. The first consultation is free and we will analyze your social media at no charge.

19
Mar

The Value of Marketing an Anniversary

Is it worth marketing an anniversary? As Oprah Winfrey once said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.

We, the awesome Arkside Marketing team, are celebrating our five year anniversary in 2015. Each anniversary of your company’s beginning represents the end of a chapter and the simultaneous start of another. But that is a generalized observation with arguable meaning. Of strategic importance is the marketing value of that anniversary and how it can be used with employees, vendors, investors, customers, and potential customers.

What is an Important Business Anniversary?

Let’s jump into a couple you may not have considered:

1 year – Your first year in business. You made it!
5 years – Most businesses fail in their first five years. If you’re still around, its time celebrate.

Always commemorate the traditional increments of 10 (10, 20, 30, etc.) and half-10 (15, 25, 35, etc.) anniversaries.

Also consider numbers that are relevant to your particular industry or company:

  • Investment companies could celebrate their 11th birthday since the New York Stock Exchange is located at 11 Wall Street in New York City
  • Law firms can celebrate 1 year (Supreme Court is at 1 First Street, Washington D.C.) or 9 years (9 Supreme Court Justices)
  • Casinos and any entity with the word “lucky” in its name should celebrate 7 years
  • Masonic lodge may want to celebrate their 3rd and 33rd anniversary
  • Auto shop could do something with their 5(years)W30 anniversary
  • Dentists should celebrate their 32nd anniversary (number of teeth in the adult mouth)
  • Baseball teams have 9 players on the field
  • IT companies can have fun with their 1-0 (10) year anniversary as a nod to binary code
  • If a company is Christian-focused, or there is a triangle in your logo, or perhaps you have three core elements to your mission statement, the number three gives you an anniversary to promote.

How to Excite Your Customers About Your Anniversary

These milestones give you an opportunity to reconnect with your customers using a completely non-sales touch point. You are suddenly empowered with a new way to stay top-of-mind, offer a unique incentives, and provide an experience unmatched by your competition. (Assuming they aren’t celebrating an anniversary at the same time).

The key is to share your excitement with your customers. Tell your story. Your employees may be your best source of material, especially if they have been around for multiple milestones or even from Day 1. Share trivia and experiences from the company’s history: how did the company begin? What was the last milestone like? How has your city or cities changed over time? Do you offer new products or services?

Here are ways for getting customers excited about an anniversary:

  • Create a special version of your logo just for the occasion
    • Add the logo to all sales or other collateral throughout the year
  • Host an open house or other party event to celebrate. All employes, family, clients, vendors, local dignitaries, and partners should be invited.
  • Create a new page on your website with the stories and trivia mentioned above
    • Include the new logo
    • Share the page across social media
    • Make sure it is linked in your main navigation
    • Add a link to email signatures
  • Create sales incentives such as “10% off” (for a 10 year anniversary) or “save $20” (for a 20 year anniversary) or “first 50 customers” (for a 50 year anniversary). Be creative and think of your customer first. What would have value to them?
  • Invest in specialty promotional products for the occasion
  • Share company trivia on a regular basis on your social media channels
  • Create contests or giveaways centered around the anniversary in which your employees can participate

These are just a few ideas to help cultivate ideas for your particular situation. Your customers will enjoy knowing about your success, longevity, and whatever may be in store for them. Most importantly, each of these steps humanize a business. The management, the staff, and the brand as a whole become more “relateable”. In other words: great marketing. Few things can help a company grow like a positive relationship with a customer. They turn into referrals. Those referrals will be around for the next anniversary and so will your business.

 

19
Aug

#WisdomWednesday – Aug. 19, 2014

This is the first of our new weekly #WisdomWednesday feature. We will share an important tip, strategy, or other sage-like wisdom each week. It is always our goal to give you actionable marketing or advertising advice that can help improve your business. If you would like to suggest content for this feature, feel free to email us at www.arksidemarketing.com/contact-us

For this week, we want to draw attention to the need for refocusing priorities. It can be easy to get lost in the minutiae of developing or redesigning a business logo. The right font, the right colors, the right alignment, the right whatever. All important. But they pale in comparison to the importance of staying focused on your customer. The right logo won’t mean anything if your customers leave due to a lack of attention.

Pick a font, pick a color, pick an alignment, pick something…then get back to work.

25
Mar

How to Make Your Law Firm Stand Out

You have years of experience.

You have a nice office.

You have a strong track record of success.

You will fight for your client.

What makes you different?

As you market your firm, you need to communicate what makes you different from your many competitors. Keep in mind that before someone chooses to hire you, they have to choose to contact you. Your marketing should give them reasons to do that. Focus on your competitive advantages, then tell the world why you stand out.

FINDING YOUR COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

We always remind our clients that they will never know why someone didn’t contact them. Maybe they didn’t like the website. Maybe the phone number in your radio ad was too complicated. Maybe they saw negative reviews on Avvo. Whatever the reason, the lost client has no reason to take time and explain how you lost their business.

Instead, tell them exactly why they should contact you. Here are some potential advantages you should broadcast to the world:

  • Graduated with special honors from law school
  • Recognition or citation from a governing/oversight body
  • 5-star rating online
  • Team of specialist attorneys
  • Large verdict in a previous case
  • Long list of satisfied client testimonials
  • Decades or centuries of firm existence

Whatever makes you stand out from the competition is a necessity to communicate. Never assume people know about you. The items above are reasons to contact you. They matter for very important and material reasons because they can help win a case. Many of them also speak to having great customer service. Firms that treat clients badly aren’t around for very long. The level of service you provide will reinforce the brand you presented in your marketing.

Attorney Level of Service

Communicating your competitive advantage will lead to phone calls and emails. Now the hard work begins: meeting expectations. Your level of service is another way to stand out from your competitors. Beyond capturing new clients, it can help you retain current clients.

Analyze the client experience with your firm:

  • How are clients greeted (in person and on the phone)?
  • Are phone calls kept on hold for more than 10 seconds?
  • Do you serve tea and coffee at your office?
  • Are letters, calls, and emails responded to promptly?
  • Does your collateral (letterhead, brochures, business cards, etc.) easily identify ways to contact you?
  • Do you send “Thank You” cards or other tokens of appreciation to new clients?

Summary

Don’t lose business because it was taken for granted. Clients always have a choice for their next attorney. Work with your ad agency to ensure that you are communicating your competitive advantages, and finding ways to make your law firm stand out. Once you have earned a call, put the time and effort into retaining more business and earning testimonials that can be used in future marketing. Small investments now can lead to large returns in the future.

 

Arkside Marketing is a full-service ad agency, specializing in heavily regulated industries such as law firms, car dealerships, and hospitals. If you would like a complimentary analysis of your current marketing efforts, please contact us today to schedule an appointment. We can come to your office or conduct the analysis online via Skype, Google Hangouts, or Join.me.