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December 2014

My 4 Top Marketing Posts from 2014

What a great year it has been!  I want to take a moment to thank all of my readers and clients who have helped make this another successful year for Focal Point.  As a small business in Indianapolis, we couldn’t do what we do without our wonderful community and your support.

To bring things to a close for the year, I want to share 4 of my most popular articles all about marketing trends and things to look forward to 2015.  One thing I learned this year in my writing is that some of my most well received posts were all about creating a strategic marketing plan moving into the new year. Whether this is your first time reading my blog or you’ve been here before, I know you’ll find some valuable information below.

4 Questions Every Business Should Be Asking This Time of Year
It seems like just yesterday that I hit “publish” on this post, yet here we are at the end of the year.  Originally published at the beginning of Fall, this post is all about taking the time to evaluate your online marketing plan throughout the year.  How can you define what “success” means to your business without having some sort of plan in place?

As we head into 2015, this post can serve as a reminder to schedule time in your calendar during the new year to take a look at your big wins, the areas where you fell short and put a plan in place to improve performance throughout the year.  I recommend making the time to do this on a quarterly basis.  This seems like the right amount of time to get good data on if your marketing plan is working while giving you enough time to make adjustments as needed.
Find out all 4 questions to ask yourself in the full post here!

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 2 Must-Haves for Every 2015 Online Marketing Plan
Is your 2015 online marketing plan sign, sealed and delivered?  Well, you better take a moment to make sure these 2 things aren’t missing.  In the world of website design and social media marketing, this articles covers 2 of the biggest trends that absolutely will make or break your success in the coming year(s).
Discover the 2 must- haves for your plan here!

2015 Online Marketing Predictions

3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now
There are some big movements taking place in the digital marketing world that’s for sure.  As marketers, it’s important that we are aware of these dynamic shifts as they will greatly impact the way we reach our potential customers and they way our customers do business with us.

In this post, I go into more detail on each of these trends and even include a special video about some major changes Facebook will be rolling out at the start of the new year.
Don’t get left behind – check out this post here! 

Apple Watch

New SEO is Now Online Branding?
In my latest post prior to this one, I pose this very serious question.  It has been said that SEO is dead, but is is possible that online branding is simply taking it’s place?

With Google acting more and more like a human and less like a robot, it’s more important than ever to establish a good online reputation and brand trust.  I recently watched a webinar from Rand Fishkin of Moz where he unveiled some of the big changes and tactics to position your brand for growth.
Get all the key points on how to increase your online branding here!

Google Search

 

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New SEO is Now Online Branding?

As 2014 comes to an end, this is the time when marketers naturally reflect on the past year and look forward to the new one.  Over the past couple months, I’ve written about must have’s for 2015 marketing plans and some dynamic shifts in Internet marketing as we know it.  But I wouldn’t be considered an online marketer if I didn’t touch on one of the most dramatic changes we’ve seen over the last couple of years – the evolution of SEO (search engine optimization).

I recently participated in a webinar with Rand Fishkin from Moz entitled: Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: Tactics to Love vs. Leave and I’ve got to tell you he pointed out some pretty eye opening things.  These are things that many online marketers are doing wrong and things that must change if there’s any hope in your website showing up in Google.  I’m going to break it all down with a few major points from the presentation.

Gone are the Days of Traditional SEO
The good old fashioned tactics of trying to match on-page for exact phrase keywords by using the phrase in the domain, headings, within the content and links are just that – old fashioned.  That’s no longer what SEO is about.  In fact, Rand pulled up several Google search examples showing the first few results not even mentioning the exact keyword phrase at all in the traditional on-page SEO way.

It’s now about understanding user intent and moving away from keyword matching to topic association.  What topics are you the authority on and what type of content naturally revolves around those topics?  Sure, keywords are naturally going to be used, but it’s not necessary to setup a new page for every single keyword – it can all be grouped together into one page with info around a specific topic.

Google Search

Google is Becoming Smarter
Google is functioning more like a person and less like a robot.  It’s getting better at understanding user intent.  It knows what people actually want to read based upon social signals and the searcher’s  behavior.  Results are also becoming more personalized and it’s increasingly difficult to “dominate” a keyword or phrase across the board.  It’s now about what Google is able to associate with your brand vs. what keywords you’re using.

Real Brands are Winning Search
Google is now learning more toward rewarding brands.  Brands are what people know and trust.  Brands are what create quality content that people actually want to read.  The days of being able to setup a website, publish a few articles and expect to instantly begin getting traffic for the keywords your site is targeting are history.

Ranking well in search engines such as Google is now about being in more than one place, developing a reputation and consistently producing different types of useful multimedia content.

Winning at the New SEO is Winning at Online Branding
If you want to be successful in getting your website to rank well in search engines such as Google and get a good deal of organic traffic, it’s imperative that to truly understand your company’s brand.  What are the unique strengths of your company and how can you create a truly unique online experience centered around those strengths?

The best tactic to employ here is what Rand referred to as “modern content investments.”  What type of content marketing plan can you put together to create information that is:

  • One of a kind – it could take weeks or months to develop it, but no one else ever has
  • Relevant – extremely on point with user intent
  • Helpful – solves a problem or multiple problems the user is facing
  • Uniquely valuable – there’s a high level of worth to the info you’re providing
  • Great UX – the content is easy to consume/interact with on all devices
  • Likely to spread – who will share this content and why?

What to Do Next
Take the time to really think about your brand.  Not just the way you see it, but the way your customers do.  What do you want to focus on and what problems are you trying to solve?  Now, every single piece of content you put out should easily be tied back to solving those problems or discussing those topics to create the ultimate brand association in Google’s eyes.

If more brand development needs to be done, that’s OK.  The sooner you can nail this down, the easier it’s going to be to understand how you’re going to be able to win at the new SEO – online business branding.

Need help?  Contact me to talk online branding strategies.

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3 Movements Every Digital Marketer Must Watch Now

As always, there are a lot of changes going on in the digital marketing world right now.  From the ever evolving social media networks to new technology to radical shifts in the way traditional services are delivered.

One thing is for sure, 2015 is going to be an exciting year.  A year where I think digital marketers are really going to have to think long and hard about the way they are reaching customers.  As I was thinking today, there are 3 things that come to mind that I will to be paying attention to in the new year.  Things that, while not exactly related, have the potential to represent big changes in the marketing world.

Facebook Algorithm Changes

There is a lot of buzz in the social media marketing world right now around upcoming Facebook changes that will begin in the new year.  To sum it up, basically Facebook is going to give even less visibility to “overly promotional” posts.  While most businesses understand that their fans do not want to see “overly promotional” content in the first place, it’s still unclear exactly where the line is going to be drawn.  One thing is for sure, it means even less organic reach for Facebook brand pages.  And if you are a social media marketing manager or just happened to inherit that responsibility at your company – you know organic reach has already dropped significantly.

What does it mean?  Well, it simply means now more than ever if digital marketers really want to reach people on Facebook in a meaningful way, it’s going to require a budget to do so.  Facebook is continuing to adopt a pay to play model and that’s not going to change anytime soon.  This also means that other social networks will quickly follow and begin to move toward this model.

The other thing that this means is that some companies will simply drop their Facebook page all together.  One notable company to already do so is Copyblogger.  A very well known name with over 35,000 likes and they dropped it.  Why?  Because the ROI on the organic side just wasn’t there.  I highly recommend watching this eye opening video (it’s a bit on the long side, but 100% worth it) regarding Facebook advertising.

WATCH: Facebook Fraud

Wearables

Wearables are everywhere right now.  I’m not just talking about smartwatches here, I’m talking about fitness bands like the Jawbone Up 24 and Fitbit Flex.  We are now able to monitor more than ever and get data in real time.  The more connected we become throughout the day, the more avenues digital marketers will have to reach customers in new ways.  While the messages may be the same, the delivery and strategy behind reaching people at the exact moment in time on the exact device that’s right for them will present new marketing challenges. 

I expect all of this to be taken to another level when the Apple Watch is released.  When a player like Apple comes to the market, it has the ability to really change everything.  If Apple gets its watch right on the first try, we will see an accelerated growth and mass adoption come very quickly.

What does it mean?  This means one more place potential customers will be looking at your marketing message.  It means making sure your message reads well on an even smaller screen.  Making sure your website is 100% responsive – even on a watch.  Basically, it means one more thing to add to your overall marketing strategy when you think about your typical customer life cycle.

Apple Watch

Uber-Sumer Movement

By now most of you have probably heard of services such as Uber (rideshare and taxi service company that gets you a driver in minutes via an app) and Airbnb (services that allows you to rent a place to stay from local hosts in 190+countries), but have you heard of Feastly?  Feastly allows “everyday” people to become cooks and essentially turn their house into a scaled-down version of a restaurant. 

This shift powered by the millennials of  everything being right now.  People are becoming used to getting things immediately, the way they want it and how they want it.  Instant gratification is being taken to a whole new level and it’s becoming expected from consumers.

What does it mean?  It means taxi services, hotels and even some restaurants are potentially going to have to reinvent themselves or die.  These concepts could be what services like Netflix were to Blockbuster.  It’s a radical shift, but it’s one that’s very real and cannot be ignored by marketers.

Uber

What Do You Think?

How do you think these changes will impact marketers in 2015 and beyond?  I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. Contact me.

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3 Simple Pieces of Advice to Save Marketers Loads of Time

The holidays are upon us and 2014 is coming to a close.  This time of year tends to bring out the best in marketers…and also the worst.  This is especially true when it comes to retailers.  We all know a lot of money is spent this time of year and for many it will make or break their 2014 success.  While I consider myself a marketing professional, I am also a student of the game. I’m always observing and learning from others to make notes of what I like and don’t like.

This year, as I was reading blogs, emails and social media posts I couldn’t help but think of 3 simple pieces of advice or rules of business that I think a lot of marketers forget.  Those that slip up often end up losing or offending customers while those that stick to these values even when things get chaotic will always come out on top in the long run.  As simple as these pieces of advice may seem, sometimes they make all the difference in the world.  Let me explain…

1. Just be honest (and don’t fake it).
I have to say, I saw a lot of retailers faking “deals” this Black Friday.  I know it’s a huge shopping day, but consider this for a minute.  Nearly everyone will receive dozens of emails with big time deals.  On this day in particular, people are looking to save a lot of money.  Sending out an email about Free Shipping and calling it a Black Friday “deal” just doesn’t cut it and certainly won’t break through the clutter.  Worse, it could offend your customers.

I know it can be tempting for retailers and many feel obligated to offer a Black Friday deal, but if you don’t have one, you don’t have one.  If you aren’t able to offer a competitive discount on that particular day because it doesn’t make sense for your business, why not send out an email the following week with a message that’s honestly the best deal you can offer and not disguised as something else.  I promise your customers will appreciate it more.

2. Tell a great story.
At Focal Point, we are all about storytelling.  This could be through video, social media or email.  A great story is what engages people with your brand.  And once they’re engaged the selling comes naturally.  This time of year, I can’t help but think of this John Lewis TV advertisement because it’s all about the story and people love it.  Give it a watch below!

3. Connect with PEOPLE.
One of the best ways to connect with people is to have other people tell your story for you.  This is why customer testimonials are so powerful for every business.  As the holidays approach, a lot of packages are going to be shipped and I can’t help but think of this FedEx #ShippingSpree video where FedEx enabled customers to tell their story by connecting with people through real life examples of things they would ship to that special someone.  In video below, Mike talks about his sister who is a cancer survivor and describes each item he’s shipping as he puts in the box.  Check it out here…

Great Marketers Don’t Take Shortcuts
I guess what I am trying to say here is that there are no shortcuts to great marketing campaigns.  All too often I see people asking questions such like: How do I get to the first page in Google?  How do I make my video go viral?  How do I get 50,000 Facebook likes?

The best place to start?  Follow the 3 pieces of advice above.  The results will come.

Need help telling your story?  Contact me now so I can help.

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