The nonprofit sector is the third largest employer in America

After retail and manufacturing, nonprofits employ more people than any other sector–most of them in health.

Nonprofits talk a lot about their missions to do good and change the world, but the collective might of these groups has strengthened quality of life within the U.S. another way: As a sector, the nonprofit world represents the country’s third largest employer.

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TV Advertising Effective, Even For Digital First Brands

A recent study by Simulmedia looked into the sales lift that occurs through TV advertising, which brings light to the importance of using TV as an advertising channel for all types of businesses. As many leading brands nowadays are “digital native” or “digital first” companies, it often becomes difficult for them to justify spending on TV when they know for a fact that their customers are on digital platforms.

 

However, the study found that TV advertising is actually proven to increase website traffic, especially for direct to consumer brands. This justifies that TV is very effective, even for the digital first brands that were analyzed. Essentially, this shows that TV does more than just brand building, it can be a sales generator for digital first brands such as Birchbox that rely heavily on website traffic. For example, Blue Apron had an increase of 1,075% in website traffic after the TV launch. Airbnb had a 307% increase, and the average sales lift was 89%. The companies in the chart below increased their TV spend by 59% in 2016, while receiving a 184% increase in digital actions at the same time. Therefore, the study concluded that TV can and should be utilized for so much more than mass market brand awareness, it can truly drive sales.

 

Of course, we have our thoughts on this intriguing study. There is definitely a clear rationale behind why TV advertising works for digital brands. Nowadays, people will always check a website before buying a product. When they walk into a store and see a product, they go online and check the price and offerings at other retailers to make sure they are getting the best product for the best value. When they see a new brand or product on TV, they immediately go to the website, as well. In this way, accessing the website has become an essential step to the consumer decision making process. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are making the purchase, but it means they are very close to it. It has become evident that consumers love video content through social platforms, and this love still extends to (and stems from) television.

Why do brands have to work harder to engage with the customer?

The way brands advertise has changed considerably, for the better. Brand effectiveness results in connecting emotionally with the customer via stimulating storytelling, which ultimately gains loyalty and trust. This is harder to achieve with just a billboard and a 30-second ad; it simply isn’t engaging enough. So how do you resonate in this digital age?

The different methods brands now use to reach out to and connect with their customers has become much more engaging in recent years. It’s interesting to see successful and well-established brands such as Burberry, Levi’s and Vans (to name a few) who are developing experiential and immersive ideas that work in harmony with their proposition and brand values.

One of the market leaders is, of course, Nike. Here we have a company that has a culture etched so deeply into their brand DNA that their customers all over the world are loyal for life. Just one of the many customer experiences Nike have produced over the years is a very successful concept and app called Nike Training Club (or NTC), encouraging customers to be active and get involved in the Nike culture. In 2014, one interesting twist was if you ‘liked’ NTC on Facebook, you could book yourself into a range of free (yes, free) classes all over London, including sprint classes, exercise classes, running club and yoga, which took place within their stores. Hugely successful, it’s actually a very simple way to immerse the customer in the brand both online and offline, improve customer retention while staying true to Nike’s core values and ultimately generating revenue.

House of Vans skateboarding neon signage

Another successful brand engaging with its customers offline as well as online are Vans, who launched ‘House of Vans’ a few years back in the Waterloo tunnels near Southbank. It is the physical manifestation of the culture that has defined Vans from day one. This is a space that allows people to connect with the ‘Off The Wall’ spirit of the brand, and engage with art, music and skateboarding throughout the summer months. Situated in an area that resonates so deeply with skateboarding, House Of Vans is inspiring for all types of people, and was even a significant part of the campaign against the council wishes to knock down the Southbank undercroft for redevelopment purposes. London doesn’t need another retail space, but it does need cultural hubs for a wide range of people.

So, why do brands have to work harder? It’s to keep the trust and loyalty of their customer surely, but also to enrich their lives on multiple platforms and drive engagement. Nowadays, more brands are turning to experiential marketing for a number of reasons, including customer awareness and media coverage, customer acquisition and retention, and to have something that helps them place themselves above the rest.

If you create a culture, people will want to be part of it. Ultimately, that’s how we see a successful brand working.

Want to find out more about BEAR’s services, including brand identity, strategy, UX, tone of voice and much more? Please contact the team at info@bearlondon.com.

How to create a digital marketing strategy

It is already hard to imagine a world without online digital marketing. How companies engage with their customers has fundamentally changed since the advent of the internet. Instead of advertisements and messaging aimed at mass audiences with a rather generic target market demographic, nowadays marketing is much more targeted and niche in its execution. Its success (or otherwise) can also be far better evaluated and changes made rapidly and on an ongoing basis to finetune its effectiveness. That is why it is crucial to know how to create a digital marketing strategy for your business that is successful.

Where consumers were once the passive recipients of marketing messages, they are now far more active in their relationships with companies. Given a half-decent internet or mobile connection, everyone has easy access to the same vast pool of information to help them to make more informed buying decisions. As well as looking at marketing messages created by sellers, they can find out what other customers think, watch videos that show products in real-life scenarios, and check out the competition at a click of a button.

The good news for smaller businesses and start-ups is that digital marketing provides an opportunity for them to compete successfully against much bigger and longer established competitors. While a large company may have the advantage of a well-known and trusted the brand, a small company with even a quite limited budget can still have a decent website, create videos and communicate online in an incredibly effective way that far outstrips their size. In fact, an agile small company can even out-compete a bigger organisation in some respects. According to research reported in Marketing Week, a number of companies in the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 are ‘in pursuit of the mediocre’ in digital. Many have been around since before the digital marketing age began in earnest a mere 10-20 years ago, and have had trouble replacing tired old systems and comfortable ways of operating. A new or young company has no such legacy issues and, as long as it communicates what it has to offer effectively, can gain just as much credence from consumers as the big boys. Indeed, when consumers go online to research, it is often in the hope and expectation that they will find new companies they’ve never heard of before offering the exact thing they need.

So digital marketing offers SMEs a great opportunity – but how to take advantage of it? Answering that question is what creating a digital marketing strategy is all about. It takes a bit of thought, but it isn’t rocket science, and a successful plan of attack will see your company punching well above its weight.

Your digital marketing strategy should support your company’s business plan and brand proposition

The heading to this section highlights a vital preliminary requirement: to have established your company’s business plan and brand strategic proposition (see our blog piece on how to do this using the V5 methodology). Do you know exactly what it is your company exists to do? If not, your digital marketing will be shooting in the dark. Having a clear and well-defined business plan strategy will aid in your execution to achieve your desired results.

Business-Plan-1024x683 How to create a digital marketing strategy

Your digital marketing strategy should support your company’s business plan and brand proposition

Who will your digital marketing be aimed at?

As with all forms of marketing, you need to understand who your customers are. Which segments of the population are going to be interested in your offer? Do these segments require different handling in terms of the channels and messaging used? As far as you can, you need to put yourselves in your customers’ shoes to answer these questions, which is where creating rounded customer personas is so valuable. While your own intuition will play a big part in forming your initial pictures of your customers, you can also take advantage of online research to help find out what customers are buying from your competitors, studying product reviews and social media interaction to identify persona types and behavioural patterns.

Customers-1024x683 How to create a digital marketing strategy

Your digital marketing strategy should support your company’s business plan and brand proposition

As you build your database, you can run online surveys to find out more about what drives customer buying decisions. Thanks to online survey tools like Survey Monkey and Smart Survey, direct research is a viable option even for small businesses with limited budgets. Surveys are also in themselves a great way of increasing engagement with your customers and demonstrating the interest you take in them.

When considering who your customers are, don’t forget to allow for where they sit on the marketing bowtie. You will need to tailor your messages accordingly, from addressing potential customers yet to be won to people who are ambassadors for your brand through their enthusiastic support.

You also need to understand and communicate both the features and the benefits of the products and services you are selling. Unlike much popular (but inaccurate) thinking in the wonderful world of marketing, not all consumers think solely in terms of benefits (more informed ones just look at a spec sheet so features are more important than benefits in such instances) and both factors are therefore potentially as equally important as the other.

How do you reach your target audiences?

Once, the answer to this question was ‘advertise’, and the decision to be made was simply which channels to use. Here again, the internet has changed everything and traditional advertising – whether on TV, in print, outdoors, etc. – has come under enormous pressure as buyer habits have changed. Television and radio have fragmented, and print simply declined, as people choose to obtain information online, often through their mobile devices. Now that consumers themselves play a more active role in researching who they will buy from, digital marketing is as much about making it as easy as possible for buyers to find sellers as it is about product promotion. And everybody is after the same thing, so the challenge extends not just in terms of being easy to find, but actually easier to find than your competitors.

Everything is usually built around a good website, which is a digital context takes the place of bricks and mortar store or office as being where you want your customers to visit. A good website is one that contains information useful to your customers, organised in a cogent way that makes the information easy to find and with a logical buying process underpinning it. Where a product or service can be bought and despatched online, a digital marketing strategy should be aimed at directly achieving online sales. However, if what’s on offer is, for example, a service delivered in person or one that has a long sales cycle, the immediate aim of a strategy could be to drive appointments or some other essential pre-requisite to each sale. Digital marketing could be thought of in terms of building a reputation too – digital is all about managing risk so that you look like a trustworthy, competent and professional organisation with an ethical and fair way of working that delivers high perceived value for money.

Website-1024x683 How to create a digital marketing strategy

Your digital marketing strategy should support your company’s business plan and brand proposition

While some companies still succeed in bringing visitors to their sites through traditional advertising in the press and on TV and radio, these are expensive options and far from the only ones. The starting point for consumers researching products or services is typically an online search engine. In the UK, the search engine used 85% of the time is Google, so a digital marketing strategy will need to address how easy it is to find your website from a Google search. This is basically driven by two different things; SEO (search engine optimisation) and paid advertising searches (pay per click is the most obvious one – aka PPC).

At one time, SEO consisted largely of stuffing web pages full of keywords (even including them in the same colour as the site background so that search engines could see them even though visitors couldn’t). However, Google has built its market dominance on the quality of the results it delivers to searches, so these tactics have now been identified and penalised. Although the science of SEO is constantly evolving, Google will, in essence, look for sites that are shown to deliver good quality information and a decent user experience, with plenty of internal links to help people navigate around a site and keywords that can be found in conjunction with other words commonly associated with the topic. Businesses, therefore, need to consider what words and terms people will be entering when looking for the type of product or service they are selling. There are usually many alternative ‘keywords’ to be considered, but the particular focus should be on so-called ‘long tail’ keywords, which are actually several words strung together. For example, a company specialising in aerial photography using drones will be lucky to appear in response to a search for ‘photography’ because it will be lumped in with wedding photographers, camera retailers, and everything else related to photography. People searching know this too, so they will search for something like ‘drone photography London’.

SEO-1024x683 How to create a digital marketing strategy

Your digital marketing strategy should support your company’s business plan and brand proposition

Of course, the challenge of SEO is that everyone else is trying to do it too! Getting your site to the top of search results takes time, so this is where paid searches come in. As with SEO, you still need to have an idea of what terms people might use to search for the type of product you’re selling. Once you have identified them, you can pay Google to give priority to an advertisement for your website when people search using those terms, with what they call AdWords. The results look like other so-called ‘organic’ search returns, only with a small ‘Ad’ icon alongside, and appear at the top of the list of results. How much you pay is determined by auction, with the most popular terms attracting the strongest bidding. You can save money by choosing your search terms astutely. For example, if your business is targeted mainly at people in your area, include the name of the area (it could be a town or county) in the words you bid for – a solicitor looking for business in Northumberland will save money by bidding for searches including ‘Northumberland’ because demand for such search terms will be lower. Specific words can also be excluded, so if the same solicitor specialises in fields other than divorce, searches including ‘divorce’ could be excluded. Auctions are conducted by computers, and they do not always award the best results to the highest bidder: they are also programmed to select winners on the basis of the quality of the website landing pages the resultant links will lead to. It can seem very bewildering, and it certainly pays to have someone familiar with AdWords managing a campaign on your behalf to begin with. Although some consumers habitually ignore the ‘Ad’ results, many don’t, and the beauty of this form of advertising is that a) you only pay when somebody clicks on the search result leading to your site and b) you can continually monitor the effectiveness of your campaigns and tweak the search terms you bid on as you go along. (There’s an example of how AdWords and SEO tactics were modified over time for one of Abacus’ clients here.) A third benefit is that you can assess the performance of many more keywords than you can with an SEO strategy. In fact, we sometimes recommend an AdWords campaign precedes an SEO campaign to make sure that one optimises one’s website for the best possible keywords.

Other potentially relevant forms of digital advertising including remarketing, network advertising and social media advertising. Remarketing is where you serve up an advert on a third-party website to anyone who has visited your website in the last year – you only pay if they click on the link (in which case they are directed to your website) and the cost is normally about 10% of a PPC campaign. Network advertising is also about the same cost and serves up adverts on a third-party website to people who have a predetermined demographic and psychographic profile which suits your target audience. Social media advertising includes a similar principle on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. The goals in this context might be to visit your website, follow one or more of your social media channels, download an app, raise awareness, make your feeds more engaging and encourage participants to share content, sales promotions campaigns, research, and so on.

Other ways to draw people to your website

Although being found via searches is important, there are other marketing media your digital strategy could include. Regular emails to your customers, using online bulk sending tools like MailChimp and marketing automation software such as Infusionsoft, are proven to be one of the most effective ways of stimulating website visits and generating sales. These can be sent to both existing customers and prospective ones too. It is important that you are aware of the new GDPR legislation that gives customers more rights about how you use their data. As a general rule of thumb, as long as you behave fairly and reasonably and abide by the spirit of the new rules of engagement, you should be alright.

Email-1024x683 How to create a digital marketing strategy

Your digital marketing strategy should support your company’s business plan and brand proposition

You can also run social media channels which include posts frequently linking to your site. The best media channels to use vary according to market – for example, while Facebook and Instagram are very good for most B2C businesses, B2B companies are more likely to use LinkedIn and Twitter as their channels of choice. It doesn’t take much effort to post regularly – short but often is the name of the game – but both social media and email activity are far more effective if you can supply a steady flow of material to engage with your audience.

Content needs to be appropriate to your market too: an engineering company might produce whitepapers and case studies to highlight its expertise, while a clothes designer could include fashion show updates and comments on the latest trends.

On social media in particular, it is important to build up a reputation for being a worthwhile source of information, and material posted should more often educate and inform customers rather than sell to them – as a rule of thumb, four informative posts per one sales post is felt to be about the right mix. Think of social media in this context as being the PR arm of your marketing body. It is more about building reputation than delivering sales.

A lot of information is still provided in written form, but video is becoming the preferred medium for many businesses, and platforms like YouTube are easy to use. Research shows people engage more with video than with written material, and many smartphones provide sufficient quality to create simple but engaging videos showing a product in action. Video events are also catching on, where people can join online and interact on social media with both the host and other members of the audience.

The digital marketing opportunity

Digital marketing provides a great opportunity for small businesses and start-ups to compete with much larger competitors. Compared with traditional marketing, digital is cheaper and more efficient. You can communicate with your customers through a range of media, the costs of which tend not to increase (or not by much) even when scaled up.

If digital marketing had already been invented, the chances are nobody would then have gone to the trouble of inventing a non-digital version. Given its ease of use, low entry cost and sheer effectiveness, it’s no wonder that many companies choose to go digital for most if not all of their marketing, while very few companies get by without using it at all. But diving in without having a clear strategy relating to what you want to achieve, and how you plan to do so – which is what a surprising number of companies do – is guaranteed to ensure that you fail to maximise the possibilities on offer.

Keep up to date

The world of digital marketing strategy changes all the time and that’s why you need a marketing strategy plan.. To keep up to date with all the latest news is almost impossible, but you can keep on top of things by following us on social media – TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn. If you would like to have a conversation with us about digital marketing strategy, please contact Stephen Brown on 020 7795 8175 or stephen.brown@abacusmarketing.co.uk – you can also visit our website at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk to find out more.

The post How to create a digital marketing strategy appeared first on Abacus Marketing.

Confessions of a marketing technologist


When Paul Gottsegen grabbed the CMO reins at Mindtree in 2013, he noticed a major deficiency in both himself and his teamthere wasn’t a single marketing technologist among them. Throwing down the gauntlet, Gottsegen shocked his team by mandating they all become more tech-centric since until that point, “everybody thought that was someone else’s job.” While Gottsegen admits there have been missteps along the way, he also believes that marketing has played a big role in the growth of the company, perhaps best reflected in the quadrupling of Mindtree’s stock over the last 5 years.

There is an ironic lesson here. Indian-based Mindtree is a consulting company that competes with the likes of Accenture and PwC in the so called “digital transformation” space. That means they help others be more tech-centric and expand their “digital value chain.” In essence, by focusing on marketing technology, Gottsegen was “taking his own medicine,” prescribing a course of action that could systematically yield big results. And yet in the end, even Gottsegen admits, ultimately marketing is both art and science, “it’s not a math equation.”

Continue reading at AdAge.com

In conversation with…David Charles

Every month we feature a different artist in our 3×3 Instagallery. This month, our artist in residence is illustrator David Charles, connecting childhood imagination with adult reality via his D I S E N E L O brand.

So David, what stories does your work tell?

That’s a good one, imagine being able to see into the mind of a four-year-old and the only real way to express your emotions, is through your actions or facial expressions. Through my work I like to push the boundaries of childhood imagination to a new way of displaying feeling. Childhood imagination immersed with adult reality. With each art piece having a deeper meaning or construct with layers, upon layers, which can be interpreted with an emotion and feeling which changes the art in our minds, with each moment.

D1

What gets you inspired and in the mood to create something?

When I take a moment to stop fidgeting – total silence, no TV, no mobile phone, just the birds chirping and the sound of the traffic on the road. The morning sun rise creating shadows through my indoor tropical jungle as I drink my coffee. Other times, it’s weirdly connected to the moon cycle, full moons are my most creative.

 

How do you make your pieces, and has this changed since when you first started producing art?

I feel the process has always been the same – a bit more digital nowadays. I would get an idea or see something that would inspire me, email myself with the design title and first thought in my mind, with a description of what exactly *eLo would be doing. But saying that, the original process would be doodling ideas with circles. Like a type of code that only I would understand, with a name underneath it.

I would then later if not the same night or minute, draw up my art. Most pieces are for digital compositions later, when I can focus more of my time on them – like melodies a singer would record for future hits, so to speak.

*eLo is the character’s name. It comes from when I was 4 years old and people adults would speak to me in a childish voice, saying ‘ello elo elo’ – I used that memory enthusing the L.

D2

What would you love to see more of in the creative industries during the next five years?

I’d like to see more creative industries pulling more towards working with the younger generation as they study, while they have all the energy and creative juices at the highest of potency! Inspiring work that talks to both the younger and older generation, making a better way forward closing the boundaries of understanding.

 

Got any winning tips for upcoming creatives you wish someone had told you?

Set yourself small goals and small achievements, then look at the bigger picture after 6-8 months and see exactly how much you’ve achieved.

D3

And last of all, what’s next? Any big plans for the near future?

Next? Another exhibition of my own where I can produce and push the boundaries of what it means to be an artist.

 

See more of David’s work at instagram.com/disenelo

5 Digital Marketing Tips for Local and Small Businesses

Let me start off by saying that digital marketing for local and small businesses does not need to be difficult. Many of the companies I’ve worked with in the past see it as a daunting task that is going to take too much time, money and a team of people to do. Sometimes they are right, but a majority of the time they are just trying to do too much at once. Internet marketing as a whole encompasses a broad set of activities, but local and small businesses do not need to do all of them. They just need to find specific strategies that work for them and capitalize on them.

This blog will be most helpful for local and small businesses such as electricians, plumbers, heating & AC Services, house cleaning companies, restaurants, lawyers and other small business types.

My goal is that you get at least one takeaway that will help make a positive impact on your business’s digital marketing efforts. If you still have questions, feel free to ask them in the comments section.

OK? Here we go…

Tip #1: Your Website – Keep it simple

Your website is the face of your company online. It’s a marketing brochure for your brand, services, what your company stands for and the kinds of clients you work with. It should contain all the most important things about your business. This makes it easy for someone to find the information they need before making the decision to contact you.

In regards to creating a website, there are plenty of great companies out there that will outline and build a site for you.  Just make sure you do research before contacting them so you know what to expect. The best tip I have for building a site is to… keep it simple.

Keeping a website simple can be very good for user experience, website upkeep and management, and especially SEO (search engine optimization). Here is an example of a basic outline that will encompass everything a viewer should know about your company. This outline will still leave room for you to expand your site and create more content with SEO in mind.

  1. Homepage
  2. Individual Service Pages (including pictures and/or video of past work – if applicable)
  3. FAQ Page
  4. Testimonials / Success Stories / Reviews
  5. Resources (if applicable)
  6. Could be used as a “self-help” or “how-to” section for certain business types
  7. About Us
  8. Contact Us
  9. Blog

One thing to keep in mind is the kind of imagery and copy on your site. A lot of companies decide to use stock imagery and fairly generic copy. I would recommend going another route because this is a big opportunity for local businesses to show that they are human and their company has personality. This is where you can beat big brands for new business. To break this down a bit:

  • For imagery, use images from real projects or services you’ve done in the past. Spend some time ideating what kind of imagery you want to show on your website. Then hire a photographer (yes definitely spend money on these) to get the pictures you desire for your site.

  • For the copy, hire a copywriter who has done work previously for businesses in your industry. Make sure you give plenty of input so they know exactly what you are looking for and they stay in-line with your brand voice. And be sure they are experienced in writing copy with SEO in mind — that is very important. 😉

One local site that has done well in both categories is Johnson Roofing & Gutters (the name is just a coincidence and I have no affiliation with them).

Last but not least, make sure your website works on all screen sizes so people can view it on all devices (computer, tablet and smartphone). A responsive design or having a separate mobile-specific version is a must. Also, If you already have a website, I highly recommend going through the Technical SEO Audit Checklist for Human Beings to ensure it is healthy and will perform well in search engines like Google and Bing.

Tip #2: Reviews – Your customers are your biggest advocates

Reviews are VERY important for your companies reputation, especially online. Positive or negative reviews and how you handle them can be a customers deciding factor when it comes to their decision to contact you. This is why it is a good practice to respond to every review you can.

Similar to using real images of your work and developing copy that gives your site personality, replying to reviews shows people that you are human. Local and small businesses need to show they care about the customer. If someone gives you a positive review, say thank you. If another person gives you a negative review, respond like you would if someone gave you negative feedback in-person. This shows that you care about what people are saying about your company and you want to engage with your customers even after working with them.

Here is an example of a company that does a good job replying to reviews on Yelp.

  

I would like to highlight two things here:

  1. This company replies to all review types. Even 5-star reviews get attention, which is important because it shows the customer you care about their feedback and their business is important to you. This is a tactic that can help you get a customer for life.
  2. The response to a bad review doesn’t just stop at an explanation. It goes one step further and asks the person to get in contact with the general manager (contact info included), so they can learn more about the experience. This is a good tactic to (hopefully) change someone’s opinion after a not-so-great, or misinformed experience.

Along with the above, reviews can be very helpful for SEO and your company’s ability to rank above the competition. Be sure to ask for reviews on site like Google, Yelp and Facebook so you have a diverse review profile on a number of websites. Once you receive reviews, monitor them on a weekly basis so you can reply to them and engage with past customers. A good resource to learn more about why reviews are important is MOZ’s resource on Local Reviews and Ratings.

Tip #3: Social Media – Own your channels and grow your audience

Businesses of any size should be using social media. Create a company page, update it with all necessary information and use it on a regular basis. Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter can be very helpful when marketing a company. Plus, they are great sites to promote your services and post original content such as blogs and video. Use them correctly and you can find and engage with your target market (aka customers) and grow your following. Social media signals are starting to have an effect on SEO, too.

Some websites may have already created a generic page for your business. It’s good to do a sweep of all the main local and small business profile sites and check to see which ones have done this. Once you’ve identified the sites with your profile you can simply request to take ownership of the page and update it with all the correct information. Here is a small list of sites to check:

Now that you’ve taken time to create and/or round up your company profiles, update them with the most accurate data and include photos if possible. Then identify the ones that will be the most effective and start using them to your advantage.

Tip #4: Email Marketing – Keep them short and sweet

Email marketing is one of the best ways to market your services and content to a quality audience. People who sign up for your emails are asking you to communicate with them. You can do this by highlighting specials and deals you may be offering, letting them know about new blog posts or resources on your site, or just sending a monthly update on what your company has been up to and what’s ahead. One easy tip to keep in mind is to keep them short and sweet.

When used correctly, email marketing can be one of your highest converting marketing channels. Keeping your emails shorter is a good way to keep people engaged, while still getting your message across. People can get overwhelmed when presented with too much information. If the goal is to get someone to click on a link, write an enticing description and present an appropriate call to action (CTA). If your business has a new deal or promotion, tell them exactly what it is and how to get it.

Example email opener from Flatstick Pub that covers that month’s events

One more thing to keep in mind is to not overdo it with email marketing. If a company sends too many emails people could become uninterested or annoyed. This can cause people to unsubscribe from your mailing list, which is counterproductive to your goals for doing email marketing in the first place.

Tip #5: Content Marketing – Find your audience and plant some seeds

While content marketing is not always the most ‘important’ online marketing task it can be very helpful for many reasons:

  • Building thought leadership by answering questions around the web
  • Growing your online footprint by being active on Forums and Q&A sites like Quora, Reddit, and industry-specific sites such as AVVO (lawyers and attorneys) and HOUZZ (all kinds of home and garden discussions)
  • Both organic and paid social promotion of services and original content
  • Link building by creating relationships with bloggers and online influencers

Content marketing for local and small businesses can definitely take time to get right. It’s one of those tasks that’s easier to do when you have some spare time to spend on it. You need to identify “where to play”, meaning you need to find the right websites that have the discussions and content for you to engage with. This is also a very good way to identify new blog and page topics for your website. If someone has a question that requires a longer answer, write about it and post the full answer on your site. Then, you can answer the person on the site you found the topic on and refer them to the full answer on your site. Chances are that same question has been asked elsewhere, and now you have the “answer” on your site that you can point them to.

Final Thoughts

A couple things to keep in mind before embarking on any of these tactics are to:

First, make sure you have specific goals. This could include obtaining more organic or referral traffic, growing your social media following, or getting more qualified leads. Each of these tips can help you meet your goals and succeed in the ever-changing digital space.

The second thing to remember stems from my note in tip #1 about websites. Keep it simple. Don’t overthink things, which can cause less action to happen. Don’t be afraid to dive in and get familiar with each space. The sooner you start taking action, the sooner you will start finding digital marketing success for your local or small business.

Amazon Is Finally Helping Developers Turn Alexa Skills Into Money

The voice platform’s new in-skill options for letting people buy content, subscriptions, and physical goods fill a long-standing gap in its capabilities.

Just six months after Amazon revealed the AI-infused Alexa service and Echo smart speaker in November 2014, it began welcoming third-party developers onto its nascent voice platform. They responded in force. In January of 2016 there were 130 Alexa skills; five months after that, the number had swelled to a thousand. It hit 10,000 in February and 25,000 the following December. As of today, Amazon is quoting a new figure: 40,000.

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