Is Your Website Ready for Mobile-First Rankings?

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It has been an open secret (in marketing circles at least) that Google has been using mobile usability as a ranking factor for some time. And they have hinted at that becoming an even larger factor going forward.

Now, there is no published guide, nor will there ever be, that tells marketers how Google ranks websites. But one thing is very clear, in a mobile world, mobile rankings matter. Google knows this, and if your company is late to creating a great mobile experience for your visitors, you are about to see your traffic tank.

Pretty soon, without a mobile-friendly website, customers won’t be able to find you. They will search on Google (by typing or speaking) and a whole bunch of your competitors will show up. But you won’t.

Your website may continue to get traffic from people coming there directly, or from desktop searches. But those are becoming a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. And pretty soon your traffic will fall to zero.

Don’t let that be you.

What Matters on Mobile

Mobile usability depends on three things:

  1. Speed. Speed always matters online. But it matters even more for mobile. When customers are on their phone, they want things fast. The longer your website takes to load, the more annoyed they get, and the more likely they get to hit the BACK button. Google doesn’t want them to do that. So the more people that do that, the lower your ranking will get.
     
  2. Navigation. The way your customers move around your website on a phone is different than on a desktop. Instead of links, they need buttons. Instead of nav bars, they need menus. If a user can’t find their way from point A to point B, they will get frustrated. The sooner they do, the more likely they are to leave your website. Google doesn’t want that, and you’re going to get punished for it.
     
  3. Readability. Content that does not resize to a user’s screen is often difficult to read or interact with. Too much clutter or tiny type size are two of the most painful mobile usability issues that still happen on many websites. But again, these issues will lead to unhappy users. And Google can’t abide unhappy users.

In Conclusion

If your website is not mobile-friendly, the time to change that is now. Even if it is, you can do better. And you have to do better, because the mobile-first ranking algorithm is coming for your customers.

What is Your Content Marketing For?

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Content marketing has been the “it” thing for online marketers over the last half decade. You have likely seen the headlines or heard the advice – if you run an online business, you have to be doing content marketing.

But why?

First, it helps to quickly explain what content marketing is. You might think you know, but the term has quickly been adapted to mean lots of different things to different companies. So an overview here will help.

What is Content Marketing

Content marketing comes in many forms. But they all share two things in common. They are pieces of content intended for prospective customers. And they are not ads.

They might be blog posts, articles, lists, images, videos, stories, or experiences. They might live on your website, on social media, on websites you work with or advertise on.

Why Content Marketing

The reason that content marketing became so popular is because there has been a general rebellion against all things advertising. The theory (and evidence proves this) is that customers are so overloaded with ads these days that they are adapting to them. In other words, they are better able to recognize when they are being advertised to when that advertising is more traditional (think banners and billboards and commercials), and in turn are better able to tune them out or ignore them.

Content marketing is the brand’s answer to that. By offering up free content intended to engage with potential customers, the goal is to bring them into, or move them through, the marketing funnel without traditional advertising.

What is Your Content Marketing For

That brings us back to the question in the title. Just like anything else that marketers do, your business must have a defined reason for getting started with content marketing. What is your goal?

Many companies today spend time and money on content marketing for no other reason other than they feel it’s something they are supposed to do. Or maybe someone on the board or in the executive office told them that they wanted to see more content marketing.

But unless you have identified a clear goal, how do you know if you’re succeeding?

Success in content marketing will look different for different brands. Some have seen great success writing articles for their users. These users spend more time with the brand, and become more valuable customers.

Some have seen similar success with Facebook videos – which are funny and engaging and easily shareable. Users end up disseminating these videos and the brand’s recognition grows accordingly.

These are two examples, of hundreds. So your job today is to decide why you are doing content marketing? What is the goal?

Once you’ve defined a goal for your organization, you will know what kind of content will help you achieve that goal.

What Are Your Key Performance Indicators?

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How do you know if your business is doing what it is supposed to do? How do you know if you are doing well or not?

Sounds like an easy question to answer, doesn’t it. But for too many companies, it is not so black and white.

But it should be.

What Are Key Performance Indicators?

Key Performance Indicators (or KPIs) are the business-defining metrics that you will use to answer the questions posed above. And the only person that can tell you what those KPIs are, is you.

Each industry and each company might have different ones. You might have just one of you might have five. They might be focused solely on revenue or they might be focused on new customers.

Not Just Any Metric

The key is in the name – Key Performance Indicator. This is not just any metric. This is the one that gets right to the heart of success. If the metric is positive, you are doing well. If not, you have work to do.

A good test to decide whether a metric is truly a KPI is to think about a situation where said metric was moving in the right direction, and yet the company itself is moving in the wrong direction.

For example, let’s say you choose a new customer metric. Is it possible that you could be seeing strong growth in new customers, but at the same time see shrinking revenue? If so, than new customers alone is not a great KPI.

Can You Have Too Many KPIs?

Yes. Most businesses will have more than one. But it is important to limit it to as few as possible.

Why? Because the more metrics you have to look at to determine the overall health of your company, the more difficult it becomes. They don’t have to tell you what’s wrong when things are wrong, that’s what analysis is for.

A good rule of thumb is to keep it to 5 or fewer.

In Conclusion

KPIs are the metrics that you use to answer the question, “how is the business doing?” They should be readily available and easy to understand and explain.

Is Your Brand Making the Right First Impression?

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As marketers, we have to care about the way potential customers experience our company. These are the consumers in the marketplace who are not necessarily aware yet of our brand, so they don’t know what we do, or how good our products are.

Just like in our daily lives as human beings, where we only get one chance to make a first impression, so it is with our brands. Potential customers only ever become aware of you once. And once they form an impression, it is going to be expensive to get them to change it. So it’s critical that the first impression is the best one.

But what do most first impressions look like?

There are two big ways that consumers come into contact with brands for the first time.

  1. Advertising – consumers see an ad. It could be a billboard or an only banner, a newspaper or magazine ad, a radio or tv spot, or one of a thousand other advertising channels. But before they ever visit your website or walk into your store, they are responding to that advertisement.
     
  2. Word of Mouth – consumers hear about your company from someone in their lives, friends, family, coworkers, relatives. They might be customers of yours or just familiar with your products. They might have good things to say or bad, and they’re in complete control of the first impression your brand makes on this new consumer.

People may argue that there are a million other ways consumers encounter brands for the first time. However, most are variations of the two above. 99.999% of consumers are not visiting your website or walking into your store if they’ve never heard of you before.

So what does this tell marketers?

If you care about the impression that your brand is making, these are the areas you need to focus. You need to devote the time and energy required to making sure all of your advertising creative meets your high expectations. Nothing goes out that does not send the right signal. We should never be half-hearted about our advertising.

Second, you need to devote just as much time and energy to ensuring that your company lives up to the promises it makes to customers. Why? Because that’s how you control word of mouth.

Your customers are talking about you. What are they going to say?

One Final Consideration

The second half of any first impression may be as important as the first, and so deserves a mention here. If the first half of the first impression is any good, the second half is a visit (to your store or to your website).

You can still lose them at the visit stage if you don’t live up to their expectations. Whether it was an advertisement or word of mouth that this person is responding to, they will come with a sense of the promises your company makes. Again, it becomes critical to keep them.

Wow people once, and you will win their business. Wow them again and again, and you will win their loyalty.

Effectiveness of Hashtags in Social Media Marketing

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The following is a guest post by David Koller. David is a passionate blogger and copywriter for Media Gurus, mainly interested in SEO and Digital Marketing.

Hashtags are unavoidable and necessary for social media marketing. It's one of the ways to create a discoverable content, as well to find what others share. That way you can connect with other users and engage with them based on shared interests.

As an essential part of social media marketing, it can use it to increase brand awareness, attracting more followers and building your audience reach. Therefore, using hashtags effectively is the key for the successful social media campaign and here are the ways to do it.

1.      Simple and relevant

There are many hashtags on social media, but not all of them are viable for marketing purposes. Long hashtags can have the opposite result of what you want since mostly they’re difficult to spell and pronounce. However, if short ones can also be useless if they were never used before or are unclear.

The trick is to use simple and short hashtags. This means they’re easy to spell and precise, thus providing a clear message to your audience. Once you find out the main features of your audience, you should incorporate them into your hashtags. That way you will create something your audience can relate to. 

2.      Trending hashtags

Trending hashtag refers to a very popular topic. These hashtags are what’s currently trendy and that’s why you have to keep up with them. Of course, not all trending hashtags relate to your business and you should be selective, too. Hashtags that don’t add value to your content will be ignored and useless.

Nevertheless, the moment you notice a trend which is connected to your business, you should employ it for your social media marketing. The moment you update your content with the trending hashtag, your message will reach a larger audience. Also, it will increase your brand’s visibility.

You can find trending hashtags through Twitter and Google+, monitoring and analytics websites like hashtags.org and Hashtagify.

3.      Employ multiple social media platforms

For more exposure, you have to use hashtags on all social media platforms. Except for LinkedIn, all other social media support hashtags. This means you will have an opportunity to present your product to a large number of users.

However, there are certain rules to follow for each platform which will help you reach your audience more efficiently. You should use 2 hashtags per post on Facebook and Twitter, while on Instagram you should use 11 at the most. When it comes to Google+, you can use the hashtags to join the conversation on specific topics.

4.      Search the hashtags

There are several reasons why you should check the hashtags before you use them. You have to make sure they are not already in use for the wrong reasons or won't be understood in a different way. Additionally, you will ensure that some other business is not using them for their social media campaign.

Hashtags will start conversations about your brand, put your brand on the spot and are intended to increase the sales. Therefore, you have to be sure they’re right for your business and consequently products or services. By researching potential hashtags, you will see what are they used for and what people are saying about them.  

5.      Don’t go overboard with your hashtags

In order to avoid the impression of spamming your audience, use 2 hashtags per post. When it comes to businesses on social media, users are suspicious and cautious. They believe that those who use a lot of hashtags are trying really hard to promote themselves.

On the other hand, you don’t want any kind of followers, but rather the ones which you can convert. Using too many hashtags, especially popular ones, will get you spammers and people who want to be followed back. The same applies if you use them for every post, video or image.

6.      Specific and unique hashtags

Generic hashtags will not help but will get your post lost and unnoticed. Choosing the right hashtags is not an easy task. In order to be useful, they have to be specific and unique to your business. This is the point when you can hire an SEO company since researching hashtags is like looking for right keywords. Alternatively, you can check hashtags with smaller and more direct focus which correspond to your business.

As pointed out before, hashtags will help you reach your target audience. Also, they will help you with engaging your followers in conversations. In order to get the best results, you must know all the current trends regarding the social media platforms, as well. Their features change regularly and you have to keep up so you would know the newest user preferences.

7.      Brand engagement

To put it simply – hashtags connect brands with topics. Today's marketing trends are all about communication between the businesses with their customers. That conversation starts from early on when a customer was just an audience member. Using popular hashtags will make your brand visible and give you an opportunity to engage with your audience.

The more your audience feels comfortable with your brand, the bigger are the chances they will become your customers. In addition, they will bring more followers and increase your network. So, it’s safe to say that hashtags will help you improve customer relations, a very important aspect of business today.

Final thoughts

If you want to run a successful business, you have to use all the marketing tactics at your disposal. Since it's impossible to have a business and not run a social media campaign, hashtags became an essential part of the digital marketing. Making sure they're appropriately incorporated into your marketing strategies, you will be able to enhance and improve your online presence.