Caring is Always Smart Marketing

 

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This time of year brings much warmth with the colder temperatures and biting December wind (ok, not so biting this year). And marketers, clad in their ugly Christmas sweaters and spiked hot cocoa in hand, are quick to turn this good feeling into a branding opportunity. The best branding forms an emotional connection, so how could you do better than attaching the benefits of peace, love and happiness to your organization?

We’re used to seeing the crafted vignettes as the art of story-telling is professionally pushed close to its limits with grateful grandparents, caring parents and hopeful kids learning life lessons in a loving scene. We know they are contrived, but most of them still hit home, after all, t’is the season to care.

I don’t begrudge them their opportunity to gain what they can. They’re doing their best to stay in business and meet customers needs, and Christmas is when Canadians get very serious about shopping. Most retailers and charities rely heavily on the Christmas period to generate much needed revenue. Their holiday strategy starts in October and they often try to stretch it well into January; although by then most of us are too stretched financially.

But anytime is a good time to care, and corporations have long found that it can be both gratifying and rewarding — consumers appreciate a brand that includes kindness and caring. Many organizations put this front and centre with their mission or vision statement. Some use it as a rallying force (even recruitment perc) for staff. Others take advantage of their social media accounts to share their activities, and even include consumers in charity initiatives. Many others do so privately, simply because they feel it is the right thing to do.

However it is done, genuine caring acts by organizations are appreciated. They have the great benefit of doing the initial good, making staff feel good, reflecting well on your brand… and each of these can cause ensuing good deeds and sentiment. Spreading the warmth and goodness round seems to manifest at this time of year, but many organizations make it a year-round priority.

Despite the Christmas-centric marketing that we are bombarded with, each faith has its holidays of festivity and celebration, and a common message of “be good to one another.” Caring for each other is a human condition, and one that we can each continue to embrace year-round.

Happy holidays to you all.

Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

To be or not to be Social? That is the question

When I first started working in Social Media, it was still an option to be or not to be social. Some companies chose to remain off the radar in social media (and might have suffered, let’s remember the Toyota recall crisis) and others like Starbucks, went all out on social and offered any possible fun thing to do to their customers. Nowadays, it is no longer an option not to be on social media. Although some have tried (and failed) to take down Facebook or offer another alternative, like Ello, it has become an apparent truth, in the last year, that social media, and its advertising, are here to stay and have become an important part of any online strategy.

Last year, I wrote an article about what to prepare when doing your first social audit. Since then, I have worked with different clients in different industries and one thing constantly came up: Managers all want to do the audit and recognize its value but have no time to look over competitor accounts and the hundreds of posts that are being published and shared. Another thing that became obvious was that a social media audit cannot only be done once at the beginning but should be part of a strategy and an exercise that is done throughout the year.

So, instead of going through the steps again, I have some new advice and reasons why you should follow it!

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Top Tip of the Day (and only one today):

BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA and

seek help to do it right!

Now, here are the top 3 reasons why you should choose that route:

 The landscape is always changing

My number one tip is always to look at the competition and what they are doing when starting your social media audit. The only difference that I am adding in now is that your competition is not stupid and will also be adapting their strategy. I have often seen a competitor that wasn’t doing much on social turn it around almost overnight and you feel that by the time you give your report, the information in it is just not right anymore. Now, of course you cannot predict what your social landscape will look like but when dealing with a Social Media Consultant, they have been on the networks for a while and can pick up on certain trends or know what to look for when looking at your competitors. They can provide you with social media best practices based on what your competition is doing right and could be doing better or that could help you stand out from the crowd. And as a professional, even after the first look, you keep a close watch on the accounts you’ve been auditing to see if there are any surprising turn of events or a piece of content that went viral. Indeed, I spend my days on social networks, following the news, looking for the trends and managing my communities. Those many hours spent online give you a certain edge and a different perspective or approach when looking at a new landscape for a client. As a business owner, you are constantly in your industry and not always able to look at it with a fresh pair of eyes and compare it to other industries and their best practices.

 Data, data and some more data

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We live in a world where every click, post or word can be analyzed and compared. We have so much data available to us that we honestly don’t know what to do with it. In a recent article, Vala Afshar from Salesforce, was stating that companies were analyzing less than 1% of the data available to them. In that same article, he also quoted that 90% of the world data was created in the last 12 months. All in all, you could try to look at your Google Analytics on your own and interprete the many conclusions that can be extracted but you might want to make sure you still have someone running your business in the meantime because it might take a while and you might not be able to stop once you’ve started. The advantage of finding an agency like PROSAR to help you not be too overwhelmed is that they will have an entire team looking at different sets of data and making it all a little more accessible to you. I always like to say that they translate all the data into human terms!

 There is so much that you can do

Finally, one of the main reasons why you should be on social and seek help for your audit is because there are so many options available to you and so much that you can do. Before, it was easy. Whatever would come up in the audit, you could almost predict that there would be some blog posts recommended, social media accounts being opened and a first step into the world of social. In that sense, the audit would help you determine the best topics for your client’s audience to meet their goals. But now, you could be looking at blogs, forums, moving images, videos, webinars, podcasts, soundbits, social media posts, advertising, influencers, lookalike targetting and the list goes on.

So how can you know what’s best? Or what will work? Here is where the perfect PROSAR solution can be a great start. We will work with you to better understand your industry and explain to you what is going on in your own personal social media landscape. You will be involved every step of the way so that the final result is a plan that takes into account your own business goals and has traits of your own personal flair. Because no matter what, on social, the best way to go is to produce content that is true to you and your company values. And we will help you get there!

10 SEO Strategies to Achieve Higher Exposure in Google

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If you were to ask Google

 “how can I help my website compete better in the search results?”

you’d likely get their standard response of

“focus on providing excellent, relevant content”. 

They’re not wrong. In fact they’re absolutely right, but that advice is not particularly helpful. Is it?  So, what is helpful?  The following 10 strategies will help you improve your organic SEO. (You’re welcome.)

1)     Include Images on Your Product Pages

Having images on your product pages not only improves user experience, they’re also an additional opportunity to send information about your product directly to Google.  By adding relevant alt image tags, image file names, and captions – all with important keywords, you’ll help your product page rank better for those keywords and their variations.

2)     Get External Links Directly To Product Pages

Getting links from other websites to your website is a vital SEO activity, but to get your product pages ranking well, you need to do more than get links to your homepage. You’ll need to get links from relevant sources to point to your actual product pages. In general terms, the more relevant links you get to a product page, the better that page will rank in the search results. (Also read our article on Google Will Ignore Your Link Building Efforts Unless You Focus on Quality)

3)     Properly Describe Your Products

Sometimes companies are too brief when they describe a product. Perhaps all they include is why it’s different from the other products they offer. Perhaps they simply include a few simple specs because they assume their target market doesn’t need to know more.  If, however, it’s important for the product page to rank well, it’s best to take a step back and tell a wider version of the story.  Discuss the problem your product solves, include the features and benefits, use a variety of keywords related to the product, and give the page’s visitors a compelling reason to buy the product. It’s important to remember that every page on your website is a potential landing page, therefor, for every page, you should endeavor to create content attracts people.

4)     Add Customer Reviews and Ratings to Your Product Pages

Google knows that these provide a good user experience so they’ll reward businesses for it through higher rankings.  For some industries, such as hotel accommodation, ratings even show up along with your search result, which really makes your search result stand out. It’s therefore worth brainstorming with your marketing people on how to encourage your customers to provide reviews and ratings. Furthermore, the presence of favorable reviews and ratings will boost your sales.

5)     Encrypt Your E-Commerce Pages

When purchasing over the internet, there’s a definite advantage to your personal information being sent securely. Many e-commerce websites do this properly. You can tell it’s secure when the URL begins with https. But unfortunately, not all e-commerce websites implement this, so Google has added this as a ranking factor to better promote sites that are secure over those that aren’t.  Furthermore, after implementation, you may find your sales improving because people who spot the https, and recognize its significance, now find your website more trustworthy.

6)     Include Location-Specific Keywords

Ensure you mention your target geographic area on all your product pages and, whenever possible, try to include as many variations as possible, such as city abbreviations, and specific areas as possible, such as neighborhood names and even postal codes.

7)     Claim or Create Your ‘Google My Business’ Page

‘Google My Business’ is the most recent name for Google Plus business profiles.  Google automatically set up a lot of these for businesses.  Many of them have never been claimed, and a significant portion of these have either outdated or incorrect information.  Start by looking for yours. If you find it, there’s an option to claim it, and this gives you the ability to manage the content.  If you don’t see an existing one, create one.  Use as many fields as possible regarding your location, phone number, business hours, and company description. Keep in mind you can add links to your product pages from within the description.  Also add some flattering images. Many companies disregard ‘Google My Business’ because it’s not as prominent a social network as Facebook or Twitter, which is correct, but they’re overlooking the SEO potential for local businesses.  Often, when people search for local businesses, Google will show ‘Google My Business’ listings within the regular search results, and often this is accompanied by a map with pins for each business. Being here is can really drive traffic.  Also, it will be possible that when people search specifically for your business, they’ll see a prominent “knowledge card” to the right of the search results.  This is all about your business, includes either images or a map, and can really contribute to the perceived status of your business. Furthermore, if you can promote ratings, as was previously recommended, they’ll have an opportunity to appear in these places too. (Also read our article on Google Will Ignore Your Link Building Efforts Unless You Focus on Quality)

8)     Be Consistent With Your Contact Info

It’s not an exaggeration to say that “Google Sees All and Knows All”; at least in regards to what’s on the internet.  With this in mind, make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent throughout your website, across your social media profiles, and in references on other websites such as local directories.

9)     Communicate Directly To Google through Schema

You can add background code to your website in the form of “schema”, which will provided information that Google wants to know. For starters, you can clear up any ambiguity as to who your website actually represents by adding schema that includes your business name, address, and phone number. You can then go on to add various types of information such as business hours and even holiday hours. Moreover, there’s schema for specific types of local businesses such as restaurants, dry cleaners, and legal services.  Not only will providing this information give Google a better idea of who you are, it may also allow them to display this information prominently in their search results and in their Google maps. This is proven to lead to higher click-throughs, which means more visitors, and more opportunities for sales.

10)  Keep “Local” In Mind When Creating Content

If you serve a local market, make sure you write about that fact while you’re creating your various web pages, especially your product pages. Whenever possible, include it in your H1 and H2 headers, your title tag, your body content, and your image alt tags. Furthermore, it’s beneficial to get links from local websites and get reviews from local review sites.

In Conclusion

These strategies should not be considered tricks or hacks, they’re simply ways to generously provide information that’s relevant to your target market. This in turn, gives your website, and its product pages, the best chance of ranking well in Google.  And this, in turn, helps your target market find you easier. So, there you go – I told you this would be helpful 🙂