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3 Quick Ways To Simplify Online Marketing Strategy

Simplify Your Online Marketing Strategy Now

So often as online marketers, we get caught up in the excitement of the “next big thing.”  We set our sights on hitting the online marketing home run or viral campaign.  It’s times like these when we need to simplify our overall online marketing strategy and get back to the basics of what works.  It’s the daily work that paves the way for the big successes.  And it’s getting back to the basics that will help when you’re struggling.

Below are some tips and reminders of basic online marketing and social media strategies that will always work no matter what the latest technology or next big idea might be.

Ask Why & Subtract
Let’s get right to it.  I know you may have read the intro and thought, “oh great, more things to do.”  Well, actually in this first point I am going to ask you to do less.  Stop for a moment to think about all of the different marketing activities you do on a daily basis.  Now, ask yourself why.  Go through each activity one by one and ask yourself why you’re doing it?  Does it tie back to a common purpose, help you accomplish a goal or help move business forward?  If you are unsure on the answer to these questions for any task, stop doing it.  You see, life is a lot like marketing – when things just aren’t adding up that often means it’s time to subtract.

Start Subtracting

Create A Content Plan
Content marketing is a big deal.  By now most digital marketers understand that they need to be producing content as part of an overall online marketing strategy to generate traffic from Google organic search, social media and more.  Yet, many still do not have a plan.

Several big name digital marketers will swear by a content calendar.  I am not going to tell you that you have to do that, because I don’t think it works for everyone.  What I am going to tell you is that you do need to have some sort of plan.  Something that eliminates the guesswork.  Something that makes it easy to answer the question – what are we going to write about today?

Here’s a blog post I wrote about how to create a simple content marketing plan.  It’s based upon the concept of creating themes for each day of the week and writing about those themes/topics on that designated day.  It’s that easy, yet it can be so effective.  Why?  Because it eliminates all of the guesswork and provides a direction in which to move.  And sometimes we just need that direction.

Recycle Your Best Stuff
You’ve created the perfect blog post.  The content is compelling.  The image is stunning.  The call to action is easy to follow.  It’s sure to be a smash hit!  Excited to tell the world all about it you go about your social media marketing by posting a link to it on Facebook, sending out a Tweet and posting the image on Pinterest with a link.  This post is even so good, you send out a new email to your loyal subscribers.  Then you wait…nothing.  A few hours go by and now you have 1 like on Facebook, 2 retweets on Twitter and 2 click thrus on Pinteres and Mailchimp shows a few people are opening the email.  But then the rest of the day goes on and the numbers are still the same.  And a week later, still the same.  While something is better than nothing, this is far from the results you wanted to see.  Frustrated you chalk up the loss and move on.

Unfortunately, this is a scenario I see play out in social media marketing and online marketing in general time after time. It truly is sad, because it’s selling yourself short.  You’ve spent time developing that content.  A designer was even hired to make sure just the right image was created.  This blog post was a big time investment.  Now you just need to understand that as much effort as you put into creating the content, you need to put even MORE effort into promoting it. 

Recycle Content

The simple fact is that people are busy.  A very small percentage of your audience saw that Facebook post and even fewer noticed the Tweet.  It’s also entirely possible that your next big client was out of the office when you sent the email and in an effort to cleanup her inbox just went through deleting emails as fast as possible.  Timing can be everything and sometimes it’s not the right time.  So change the time and try again.  Alter the subject lines or teaser text.  But whatever you do, RECYCLE the best content over again.

Ready to Talk Online Marketing Strategy?
Let’s set up a time to get together soon.  I’d love to help you simplify your online marketing plan, so contact me today!

1 Big Thing Videos Are Missing & How YouTube Cards Will Help

Why Are So Many Video Productions Missing This 1 BIG Thing?

I have been on a bit of a video marketing kick lately.  Being a full service digital marketing agency that provides video production in Indianapolis and surrounding areas, it seems only natural with all of the emphasis on video in social lately that I’d have some thoughts to share.  Yet, with all of the advancements in technology and new ways to reach people through video, it always seems there’s one BIG thing that comes up missing time and time again.

So, what is the one thing – a call to action (CTA).  Better yet, an effective call to action.  So often the ball gets dropped when it comes to this highly important piece of the video.  Ok, I’m a website visitor and I just watched your video…now what do you want me to do?  This question must be answered and it must be really clear.  I’ve seen so many YouTube and website videos that just end with a company logo, some credits, or even worse…they just end!  It doesn’t matter how many people watch a video, if they have no idea what to do next the whole point is lost.

There are some amazing videos out there that just leave something to be desired when it comes to the call to action.  Even videos that nail the 5 key factors for an effective video production I discussed here, but miss the mark with a when it comes to a CTA.  So why does this happen?  I think the simple answer is that it just gets overlooked.  In the process of planning every other element of the video production, the last thought (if a thought at all) is the CTA.  Often times the video production company just get engrained in what they’re doing, getting the right shots, adding the right music, etc. and they leave the CTA up to the client.  This needs to change if your video marketing efforts are going to be effective.

Create a video with an effective call to actionContact us here!

YouTube-Logo

Introducing YouTube Cards

Yes, all of this video production call to action talk was leading up to something.  Something that I think is a big deal for anyone involved in video marketing.  YouTube recently introduced its YouTube Cards feature in the video editor and this could be a game changer.

Why are YouTube Cards a Big Deal?
YouTube cards are a big deal because they are easy to setup, look way better than annotations and will perform better on mobile.  This will make it easier for marketers and video production companies to create clickable graphics that appear at just the right time to drive visitors, leads and sales from YouTube videos.

What are the Types of YouTube Cards?

  1. Merchandise (like Google Play and iTunes)
  2. Fundraising (think Kickstarter)
  3. Videos
  4. Playlists
  5. Associated Website link back to your company website
  6. Fan Funding

YouTube-Cards-Image

How To Set Up YouTube Cards

  1. Go to YouTube Video Manager, and click on the “Edit” button. Or click on the down arrow next to the button.
  2. Click on “Cards” in the top navigation bar, then click on “Add Card.”
  3. Use the video timeline to get to the point in the video where you’d like to add a card. This is where the teaser/title text will cue in the upper right corner of the video for five seconds, then revert to just an “i” icon in the same position.  (Note – you cannot change the amount of time the card displays)
  4. Click a blue button on the right called “Add Card” and it opens up a creation window.
  5. Select the card type you want to add.
  6. The card can be customized with your own image, text and URL.
  7. More cards can be created within the same video if you’d like to do so.
  8. Click “Create Card.”

2 Quick Tips for Using YouTube Cards

Keep the Text Short & Sweet
Remember, many people will be watching this video on a phone and space is limited in the YouTube card.  Be sure to preview it multiple times to see how your text displays.  Rely on the video itself to do the explaining and the YouTube Card text to be action oriented and to the point.

Timing is Everything
Unlike annotations, you cannot display YouTube cards throughout the entire video and each card you place in the video production will display for 5 seconds.  While you can place multiple cards in the video, they need to be spaced out.  Think about the points in the video where it makes sense for there to be a call to action rather than hammering the viewers over and over.

Ready to discuss how YouTube Cards fit in your video marketing strategy?  Contact me here!

Is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Ranking Update Penalizing Your Website?

Google’s Mobilegeddon Is Upon Us

Tuesday, April 21st (just about 48 hours ago) was a big day in the online marketing world.  It marked the official beginning of Google’s “Mobilegeddon.”  In layman’s terms, this means the date in which Google has vowed to start favoring mobile friendly websites in its search engine rankings (over those sites which are not designed with mobile in mind).  This is could potentially be a big deal and I am about to explain why…

But, before we go any further, if you’re not sure if your website passes Google’s mobile friendly design test, take a moment to go here to check it out.

Background – Google’s Mobile Update
For months and months the search engine giant warned all digital marketers, website designers and business alike that compatibility for mobile devices was a must.  Then, in February, Google issued the official announcement that starting April 21st, those sites which are designed with the  mobile user in mind will be given priority in ranking over those which are not.  This was enough to send the SEO and web design world into a bit of a frenzy to meet this “deadline.”

While it’s still unsure exactly what type of impact this new Google algorithm update will have on search results (it could take up to a week for Google’s index to be completely updated), many have predicted that because of the way it was announced, it could have as big of a a long-term impact as the Penguin and Panda updates.  For those not familiar with these updates, they had arguably the biggest impact in Google search rankings that marketers and web designers have seen in a quite some time, forever changing the way in which websites are ranked.

Need some help figuring all of this out?  Reach out to me here!

My Take On Mobilegeddon
While many people are no doubt complaining and will continue to complain when their site’s ranking takes a hit with this update, it’s really for the better when it comes to long term business growth.  This mobile-friendly update really is about doing what’s right for your customers.  And at the end of the day, what’s right for them is what’s right for your business.

If this announcement from Google is what it takes for those who haven’t jumped on creating a mobile or responsive website design to finally go for it, then I am all in favor.  Regardless of how extensive the impact and changes end up being, the point here is that many who would have put these updates off for years to come will finally jump on board.  This is actually great news for all digital marketers and I will tell you why…

Your Customers Want A Mobile Experience
It has been reported in comScore research from the summer that smartphones and tablets combined accounted for 60 percent of total digital media time in May 2014, up 10 percent from the previous year.  Let me say that again – 60%!!!  This new Google update is simply being done to compliment that growing trend by favoring sites with large text, easily clickable links, and optimized sizes that fit the smaller screen of a smartphone.  If you haven’t moved to a responsive design or mobile friendly version of your website, it’s your customers that are really getting penalized with a poor usability experience on their smartphones and tablets.

Responsive Web DesignMobile Friendly Website Design or Else…
Regardless of the type of business you’re in, your current customers and potential customers want a great mobile experience when it comes to website design and it’s up to you to give it to them…or else.  The “or else” simply means that you lose out to your competitors that are delivering that easy to navigate, mobile-friendly website.  The ones that will now be ranking above you in Google search…and no one wants that.

Who Will Feel It The Most?
I read today that the two types of businesses that will be affected the most from this update are the small ones and the large ones.  Those businesses that were small enough to not previously have the money or know-how on building mobile friendly websites and those businesses that were large enough that creating a mobile design was just too big of an undertaking.

What Next?

If you currently have a responsive website design or one that’s otherwise mobile-friendly and passes Google’s test, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about in term’s of search rankings.  In fact, you may notice some improvement in position over some of your competitors that are arriving late to the mobile-friendly party.

If Google’s mobile-friendly (Mobilegeddon) update has completely blindsided you or your business and you start to notice a drop in traffic/rankings, the best thing you can do is to attempt to temporarily replace that traffic while moving forward with a responsive website design.  This could mean setting up a Google AdWords campaign or ramping up your social media marketing efforts.

It’s also worth noting that this update impacts websites on a page by page basis.  This means that if one page of your website happens to not be mobile friendly while the rest of the pages are, only that one page could see any negative impact.  It also means that if you find yourself behind the 8 ball and have a few critical pages on your site that receive a great deal of traffic, you could start by updating those first.

Need Help?
Still not sure if your site passes Google’s mobile-friendly test?  Ready to talk online marketing strategy?  Contact me today!

5 Key Factors That Make or Break Your Video Production

 

1. Audio
This list is not any particular order, however, I feel like audio does need to be at the top for a reason.    A video with bad audio is unbearable.  That’s really the bottom line.  I don’t care if you are using an iPhone to shoot video or hiring a video production company like Focal Point, great audio MUST be a top priority.  There’s nothing that will make someone abandon watching a video faster than poor audio.  Do whatever you need to do to get this right.  The investment is worth it and anyone with a video production background will tell you the same.

2. Lighting
Every type of video production will involve some sort of lighting.  You can make a video without sound, without camera movements, but you can’t make one without light.  This means getting the lighting right is critical.  When it comes to products, correct lighting techniques are extremely important to capture the features.  When it comes to shapes and textures, proper lighting can be used to create just the right mood for the video production.  Knowing how to correctly light a scene takes practice and certain skill set.  If not done properly, bad lighting can mean more time in the video editing room and more cost to the client.

3. Storytelling
In order for your video marketing efforts to be effective, a story must be told.  Instead of thinking about how the “sell” is going to happen, start with a plan for the story that needs to be told.  Often times, the most memorable video marketing pieces barely mention or show the product.  Certainly if you want your video to be one people will share, the story must be compelling and well thought out.  Outline the story first and if you get that right, the rest will fall into place naturally.

4. Pacing
Video pacing and rhythm can have an incredible impact on the audience.  The pace of a video typically falls on the shoulders of the editor.  The same shots can come together a different way and give the video an entirely different feel.  Consider questions like – should the video production have a quick pace to evoke a sense of excitement and action?  Or does it make more sense for a more relaxed, slower piece with longer shots?  Answer these questions and make sure the video editor or video production company knows exactly the feel you’re looking for.

5. Shot Composition
Understanding the right type of shot for the right situation is a very important aspect of any video production.  Should a close up or medium shot be used?  How should the person or product be framed?  If you’ve spent any time around video, you might have heard of the rule of thirds.  This is a method for creating shots and one that takes times to understand and perfect.  Knowing all of the shots that must be captured and getting it all right the first time is huge.  No one likes to do a retake, especially the clients. 

When It All Comes Together

When everything comes together, the result is a very powerful video production that captures the audience, tells a story and compels some time of action.  Once piece that I am particular proud of that the Focal Point team produced is this video for Shiel Sexton telling the story of the construction process for the Palladium in Carmel, Indiana.  Now that we’ve covered the 5 key ingredients, notice the audio, lighting, storytelling, pacing and shot composition used to make things come together.  This is an absolutely beautiful building and I hope you’ll agree that we captured that beauty along with a compelling story in this video.

Palladium from Focal Point on Vimeo.

Contact Us for Video Production in Indianapolis

On of Focal Point’s core services is video production.  We’ve been able to work with some great clients in the Indianapolis area and beyond.  Take a look at some of our videos on Vimeo here to get a feel for the quality of work we’re able to achieve.  Let us know if we can help you plan and product your next video production by contacting us here. 

3 Incredibly Effective Time-Saving Tips for Online Marketing

If you’re reading this article, odds are you wish there was more time in the day for online marketing.  Well, the good news is that if you’ve spent any time in the past developing any type of content, what you are about to read will be either an incredible reminder or complete game changer in that respect.  Either way, following these 3 simple but often overlooked tips will free up room in the schedule to work on other things…the things you just can’t seem to get to right now.  Furthermore, I also believe strongly that you’ll see increased results by following this advice.

1. Resend Your Best Emails

Email

Stop trying to think of your next email marketing campaign.  Instead, take the time to look back through past email sends.  The past few months, the past few years.  How many of the emails you sent were unopened?  I am willing to bet it’s a significant number. Now do this – export the list of your unopened emails for one of your best emails into a new group.  Now, rework that subject line a bit and resend the email.  Odds are you’re going to see results very similar to the first time you sent the message.

Remember, we’re all busy and someone who might very well be a great prospect could have been having one of those days where they just needed to hit “delete.” Now, you’ve got a second chance to reach that person with one of your most effective messages.  If the first time you sent the email it resulted in 15 sales or 10 leads, odds are it’s going to produce similar results the second time around.

Yes, this does somewhat depend upon the size and quality of your email list.  But even a list of a couple thousand emails deserves to be cultivated better than just one send of each message.  Large, valuable rocks should not be left unturned and giving your best emails a second chance is worth it.

Key Takeaway – Instead of spending hours creating a new design, coming up with the perfect copy and developing a new landing page – go back to your best email from the past (the one with that generated the most leads or had the highest click thru rates) and resend it to the people who missed it the first time.

2. Repurpose Your Best Content

Content marketers spend hours and hours creating great content.  Whether it’s a blog post, infographic, or even a podcast, serious effort goes into producing great stuff.  Yet all too often, I see even seasoned marketers make the mistake of letting this incredibly rich content die a week or two after it was originally published.  This is truly a shame and something that can be easily corrected. 

Start by looking through analytics for the past year.  I am willing to bet that some of the top pieces of content are several months old.  This means that a brand new visitor to your site could miss your best stuff.  It’s time to change that.  Turn that how to post with thousands of views into a quick video.  Create a whitepaper with that post from 7 months ago showcasing your top industry tips and tricks.  It’s never too late to breathe some life into these posts and you’ll be surprised at how they might just take off again.

Key Takeaway – See my post on evergreen content and shelf-life content.  Remember, seasons come and go.  A video or blog post that was a huge hit last winter can be equally as effective this year.  Even if some updates are needed, that can save hours compared to creating something from scratch.

3. Repost Your Social Updates

Social Media

I’ve got news for you.  Unless you are paying to play on social media, the majority of your fans and followers are probably not seeing your updates.  Does this mean you should give up?  Actually, quite the opposite.  What it does mean is that it’s time to rethink and repost your social updates.  Just because a certain update posted at 8:00 AM only reached 132 people doesn’t mean that same updated posted 1 week later at 7:30 PM can’t reach 2,000 people.

If time has been spent to build a good following and time has been spent to create great content, don’t let that time be wasted by only pushing out one tweet or one Facebook update then trying to determine its success.  Instead of trying to come up with the next update – try different times, different days of the week or a different image.  All of these things can make a huge difference and so often I see small companies get discouraged when it comes to social media marketing because a certain message didn’t take off they way the though it might after being posted only one time.

Key Takeaway – Social media is such a moving target.  Perfectly crafted tweets (hey, we all know it’s hard to fit everything in 140 characters or less) and Facebook posts with just the right image shouldn’t go to waste.  Check out this new app called Edgar.  It allows you to categorize your social media updates and put them on a schedule so it’s easy to find the best time and day to post.

What is Smart Marketing?

Smart marketing isn’t coming up with the next great idea.  Smart marketing is taking a good idea and making it better.  These tips are meant to be helpful reminders that serious time can be saved when we slow down, take a look at some of the good things we’ve already done and do them again, only better the next time around.

Ready to talk about your strategic marketing plan?  Get in touch with me here! 

Hashtags – Lazy or Effective Online Marketing?

Everyone loves a good hashtag…and there have certainly been some good ones (where would we all be without the #selfie).  But do they actually accomplish anything when it comes to a strategic marketing plan?  Does it make sense for a small to medium sized business to develop a hashtag as part of its social media marketing efforts?  I’ve often found myself asking these questions and I have come to a final answer.  Hashtags can be BOTH lazy and effective in online marketing; depending on the context of course.  Let me break it down the way I see it…

Hashtags Are Lazy Online Marketing When…
Hashtags are lazy marketing when there’s no conversation or plan built around the hashtags.  Sadly, I see this all the time.  Even from some huge companies that should know better.  What is the point of using a hashtag if there’s not going to be a specific goal in mind?  Often times hashtags become an afterthought and something that just gets tacked on at the end.  It’s kind of like adding links to all of your social media accounts to an email marketing template just because.  If the purpose of the email is for people to connect with you socially, then add them.  If the purpose is for someone to click back to read your blog post, then they aren’t necessary.  Same with hashtags.  While they may be trendy and cool (kind of like QR codes used to be) they aren’t necessary.

Not only do you need to have a plan for hashtags, but you need to reinforce them at every possible opportunity.  I think some of the Super Bowl commercials this year really dropped the ball on this and can provide an example of what not to do.  One that comes to mind is the Kim Kardashian T-Mobile commercial.  While the concept of the commercial is OK, the hashtag of #kimdatastash just gets lost at the end.  I mean, it’s literally on the screen for around one second.  Let me say that again – one second.  You look down to grab another chip while watching the Super Bowl and it’s gone when you look back up!  Why not keep something like that on screen the entire time?  As an online marketing professional, I have to ask that question.

I was curious about if there was something that I missed here, so I went to search.twitter.com to check it out.  At the time the commercial aired and the day after there were hundreds of tweets using the hashtag.  That’s to be expected.  I mean it is a Super Bowl ad and it is Kim Kardashian (love her or hate her) that we’re talking about.  But what happened after those first couple of days?  Well, sure enough there have been less than 30 Twitter mentions of the hashtag #kimdatastash – less than 30!  We’re talking about one of the most followed people on social media and Super Bowl commercial here.  If you were going to use a hashtag in a commercial been viewed on one of the biggest stages in the world, wouldn’t you want to make sure the conversation continued?  I would have to classify this in the category of lazy hashtag marketing.

Hashtags Are Effective Online Marketing When…
Hashtags are effective online marketing when there’s a conversation or plan centered around them.  I would encourage any online marketing professional to do some research around hashtags in the target market then work backwards.  What is the goal of using the hashtag?  Does it really make sense to create a new one?  If the purpose is to reinforce branding, maybe it does make sense.  Another time when it might make sense is if your company is involved in a specific event and you want to monitor conversation around.  However, if the purpose is solely to increase online visibility, then tapping into existing hashtags could save boat loads of time.  When it comes to online marketing, it’s much easier and takes far less resources to join a conversation that already exists than to create a new one.

One great example of this was the #shareaCoke campaign from Coca-Cola.  Clearly they had an incredible strategy ready to go build around this concept and hashtag.  It reinforced the brand, was very creative, yet a simple and fun way to engage its customers.  This is the perfect use of a hashtag in my opinion.

shareacoke

Want to talk more about online marketing and hasthtags?  Contact me here.

How Many Hashtags Should I Use?
It’s also a good idea to know how many hashtags to use on each of the social channels.  After all, part of using hashtags effectively is including the right amount. For example, Facebook and Twitter posts see the most engagement with 1-2 hashtags while Instagram posts get the most engagement out of a whopping 11 hashtags.  When I think about the number of hashtags, I can’t help but remember this popular skit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon featuring Jimmy & Justin Timberlake.  Take a look…

In all seriousness, I didn’t pull the recommended number of hashtags to use on each social channel out of thin air.  Here’s an extremely helpful infographic from the folks at Quicksprout called The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags that has these numbers plus much more info.  Take a look and use this as a resource to help your posts get seen more and monitor what’s going on in your particular niche.

Want to talk more about online marketing and hasthtags?  Contact me here.

Ultimate-Guide-to-HashTags-How-Many-Which-Ones-and-Where