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5 Free Tools to Monitor your Competitors’ Digital Marketing Campaigns

Creating a holistic digital marketing strategy can take months.  Effectively executing the strategy after tweaks, minimal fails and multiple learning curves can take up to a year.  One stage often omitted from this important plan is monitoring competition.   Watching your competitors online holds unparalleled benefits such as identifying market opportunities, connecting with companies you should be cross promoting, back-link insight, social listening and more.

Monitor Online CompetitionHere are 5 Free Tools to monitor your competition:

  1. Google Alerts: One of the most underused tools, Google Alerts allows you to monitor the internet for “interesting content”. You can set up alerts for your industry keywords or even for mentions and articles on your competition.  Google alerts lets you customize the email reports you receive by how often you’d like the notifications, type of sources, the origin of source, and languages. Use alerts to drive trending content ideas and see how well your competition is doing with PR.
  2. Facebook Pages: Facebook offers page admins the opportunity to “watch” competitor Facebook pages. To add a competitor page, simply go to your page insights, scroll to the bottom and type in the name of the business you’d like to watch.  You can see the company’s follower growth, engagement and even the competitor’s top post from the past week.
  3. HootSuite: HootSuite is a simple social media publishing tool that also offers numerous in-platform apps to increase the overall user experience. One of the free apps, TrendSpottr enables you to set up multiple “streams” in your HootSuite to watch trending topics, keywords, brand reputation and even identify industry influencers.  HootSuite is also an excellent “social listening” tool for when potential customers are unhappy with the competition.  Below is an example of great social listening in action.  In this instance, I had tweeted dissatisfaction to Xfinity and within minutes received this tweet from their competitor: social listening example
  4. Alexa: Alexa is a brilliant tool that my company uses prior to working with any company to analyze their overall reach. It can also be used to analytically measure competition.  You can see how the competitor’s website ranks globally, what keyword searches are driving traffic to the site, which pages generate the highest engagement, and which sites link to the competitor’s site.
  5. SEM Rush: SEM Rush offers great analytical reporting on all aspects of digital marketing performance. With a free account, you can see how your competition ranks, the keywords that generate high traffic, and even view their AdWords and video ad campaigns.

Once you have all this data at your fingertips, it is time to utilize it wisely by crafting new campaigns.  Contact websites that link to your competitors to build new relationships, start focusing on keywords that drive heavy traffic to your competition’s site, avoid social media snafu’s that failed on your competitors’ platforms, and contact your competitor’s dissatisfied customers through social listening.

Employee Brand Ambassadors | Why and How

A couple of years ago, we posted an article on Word of Mouth Marketing http://popdigitalmarketing.com/word-mouth-marketing/.  The article explained the new wave of marketing tactics utilizing current “brand fans” through social media.

To reiterate, studies have shown that consumers are 65% more likely to choose a brand based on the recommendation of another customer or employee than buying from a brand based on an ad or company promotion.  Customers today rely on trust.  They trust other people, like them making every day decisions.  They trust people, not companies.

Benefits of an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

employee brand ambassadorBuilding your brand takes consistency, time and a strong brand strategy.  It also takes a strong community of fans.  Your employees play a fundamental role in promoting your brand.  If your company is listed as the employee’s workplace on Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media platform, each and every time your employee engages in anything, they are representing your company.  Once your brand strategy and brand promise have been developed, you must train your employees in what your brand story is.  What your company represents.  The problem your service or product solves.

Employee Silence is Loud

Your employees have the potential to expand your reach exponentially.  Silence speaks volumes.  If your employees never endorse your brand, that sends a very clear message to customers.  They don’t love it. They do not believe in it.  If your employees are engaged in and passionate about promoting your company, they will “sell”.   It makes people excited to be a part of something everybody loves.  It’s also great for recruitment.

How to Build Your Employee Ambassador Program

  1. Develop your brand. This is the backbone of your program.  You cannot continue until you have this set in stone.
  2. Train your team. Your entire company must learn, understand and believe in your brand.  If they do not, it may signal that you aren’t delivering your brand promise and need to re-evaluate either your brand promise or the process of your services/products.
  3. Choose an Ambassador Leader. The Ambassador Leader is someone in your company that loves everything about coming to work. They already show their ambassadorship, share your company news online, have a strong following online and are an “influencer” online and off.  This person does not need to be in your marketing department and can be at any level of management.
  4. Make the program optional. You only want people participating if they choose to. If it is forced on everyone, it will show.  The Ambassador Leader should assemble an Ambassador Team of employees that are excited to be a part of this new program.
  5. Set expectations. Make sure the program has very clear and easy guidelines.  The easier the program is to participate in, the more employees will want to join.   If you are using an ambassador management system, provide each participant with a tutorial.  If you are not using a system, make sure create your own standard process.
  6. Don’t write scripts…..but have materials ready. Allow each team member to promote the materials in his or her own words.  Again, we want to work off trust.  If customers see everyone writing the exact same script, it becomes an ad, not a genuine referral.   If you are not using an Ambassador system, you can use google docs to place all the types of content/materials you want promoted, and track employees’ efforts there.
  7. Lead by example. Don’t expect employees to be passionate about your brand if your top executives are not.  The leaders of your company do not necessarily need to participate in the program for rewards, but they absolutely should use the material to promote on across their various networks.
  8. Measure and Reward. Make sure you have a measuring system set.  Hashtags are an excellent tool for measuring.  Choose a specific hashtag such as “PopDigitalMarketinglife” and check it on a weekly basis.  Your Ambassador Program should provide rewards as well.  Rewards must be attainable and set on a short term basis (people like immediate results).  Rewards can range from praise and recognition, gift cards, group lunches to elaborate gifts.

5 Questions to ask when Building a New Website

Building a new website is a project many companies take on with excitement.  However, after countless hours of confusing proposals from web designers, the project can quickly turn tedious.  In order to ensure you are getting the most out of this endeavor, I have compiled a list of 5 important questions you should ask when interviewing potential website designers.

  1. What platform do you recommend for my business?

building a websiteThere are many different website building platforms out there and understanding which one your designer is most skilled in is very important.  More so, you want to know why they would recommend your site to be built on a specific platform.  If you work as a photographer, Square Space may be best for you. Whereas if you have high traffic online store, Drupal may be the top option as it has the highest rating for multiple users at a time.  WordPress works great for many CMS (Content Management Systems) needs and is usually Pop Digital Marketing’s “go-to” platform due to its versatility.

Your site should reflect the needs of your customer!  Not solely the expertise of the web-designer.  A web-designer must be well-versed in all the top options in order to best evaluate which one would fit the needs of your site while also assessing what type of online experience your customers are looking for.

  1. Does my package come with a responsive design?

A responsive design refers to a site providing an optimal viewing experience across a range of devices (computer, phone, tablet etc.) while minimizing the need to re-size words or navigations.  In April, 2015, Google began to boost ratings and positions of sites that had a responsive design.

In today’s world – you should not be charged extra for a mobile ready site.  Any theme created in the last 5 years is already made with a responsive design option and all custom designs should include that in the package.  Paying extra for a responsive site in 2017 is like paying extra for air-conditioning in a car after 1970.  The demand is that 100% of sites need it, therefore it should not be an optional “add on”.

  1. Will you be using a pre-made template or custom building one?

This question is important because the price between the two options varies immensely.  If your designer is using a pre-made template or a “theme”, it means they do not have to build the infrastructure of the site, rather they are just using modules or plugins to “fill the pieces in”.  If the designer is custom building the site, they are doing everything from the ground work up.

There are certainly pros and cons to both.  Overall, a pre-made template will cost you a lot less.  Using a pre-made template means updates are done by the theme designer- not your website designer, at no extra cost and requires little from your end.  If you have an employee on your team that can routinely press the update button on the site when prompted, this may be the best choice for you.

A pro to building your own custom site is that it is made exactly how you choose.  You do not feel constricted by what a theme can or cannot do.  A con to building a custom site however is you will likely have to pay your web designer an ongoing fee to maintain the site.  What if they go out of business or show a lack of responsiveness?  You do have to consider how a long term relationship will play out with this web designer.

  1. How will the site be optimized?

The whole goal of a website should be to attract leads and develop them into a customer.  If your site is not optimized from the backend with meta data to the front end with on page relevant keywords and call to actions, your site will fail you.

As a result of search engines now measuring on-site engagement in their rankings, you must also ask your designer what they plan for the “user experience”.  Will there be a user flow plan?  What actions do you anticipate the potential customer to take on each and every page and how will your site nurture their interest?

  1. Who will update it and how often?

It is important to understand the ongoing expectations before you sign any contracts.  If you have someone on your team that can manage the sit-e great!  If not, make sure to ask your website designer what type of retainer fees/programs they offer to maintain your site updates.

This will help you avoid the common issue of possessing a great website but not knowing how to add to or edit it.  Ask your designer to include an hour or two training session as part of your contract once the site is done, but before you go “live”.

5 Actionable Digital Marketing Resolutions For 2015

As we wrap up 2014, now is a prime time to look back at what successes we’ve had at work and where we may have room for improvement.  Many business leaders are projecting the next year’s potential growth along with strategies to increase business development.  While there are many known general methods to market a business, here is a list of 5 very specific actions you MUST take to stay ahead of the curve in 2015.

5 Specific Marketing Action Steps to Take in 2015:

marketing trends 20151. Use Facebook “custom audiences” for ads. Facebook has recently launched a new way to target your ads to your current contact lists.  You can import emails or phone numbers in the audience tab in ‘ads manager’.  Then when you create the ad, you can choose that custom group to show it to. 

Why it works: With Facebook targeting options you can narrow your ads even more by age, location, and interests.  This will increase click-through’s substantially as well as provide you with more options such as Facebook offers, deals and more to present to your interested lists that you could not otherwise through email. 

2. Build your personal brand on LinkedIn. Since rolling out the ability to post blogs and articles directly on the LinkedIn platform, many savvy leaders have begun to leverage their knowledge and expertise to further their personal and business brand awareness. Make sure your profile is updated and start planning the types of posts you can contribute on the largest business networking social media site. 

Why it works: When you post quality content on LinkedIn, you position yourself as a thought leader in your industry and build yourself a positive reputation with potential customers or referral sources.

3. Get on Google My Business. Google+ has been slowly creeping up on Facebook as the second largest social networking site since it launched in 2011. Google provides you with the platform to create a personal identity along with a business page, locations for your company and it all gets tied together under Google My Business.

Why it works: Having all these elements updated and posting relevant information to your page can actually help you rank higher!

4. Brand your visuals for Pinterest. Pinterest currently has 70 million users and that number is growing by the minute. People pin articles, blogs, websites, recipes, shopping, lifestyle dreams and work ideas onto their boards, and the one thing they see when searching the site is the visual associated with the content. Make sure that each piece of collateral you produce is branded well and also includes a quick catchy title.

Why it works: By placing your logo on all your visuals, you are expanding your reach to each and every person that searches for that topic on Pinterest.  When you place a CTA title on the visual, it will increase the clicks and provide viewers with a sense of motivation to read more.

5. Re-purpose your blogs. Pick 5 of your most popular 2014 blogs and expand on them.  Take those blogs and create a “part 2” for each. Or turn one into into a whitepaper or e-book. 

Why it works: By re-purposing your successful content that you already know is popular, highly searched for and engageable, you can collect leads and take potential customers further down your funnel.

2015 will bring us many new opportunities to build our audiences and see marketing success.  Which of these actions do you plan to implement into your strategy?

 

Facebook Updates Its Posting Preferences For Pages

If you manage a business page on Facebook, your life just got easier!

Facebook has officially rolled out a new posting feature which allows admins to effortlessly elect if he/she wants to post as the page or as him/herself through a more straightforward means.  Way back in the day (yesterday), in order to toggle between the two identities, one had to click on the settings in the upper right hand corner of the whole page and change who you wanted to post as.   This was a confusing process for many page managers.

Where to find the new posting settings:

Now, each and every page post has its own spot where you can click and choose if you want to post, comment, share or like as yourself or as your page. You can also choose to comment, like or share as any other page you currently manage.  See visual below for reference:

Facebook post preference

Ways to utilize the new Facebook posting preferences to your benefit:

  1. You can create momentum on your page posts a lot faster. You can now easily write a post as the page, and quickly switch to your own persona to comment on said post.
  2. You can connect pages you manage. If you are running multiple Facebook pages for industry related businesses, why not increase both company’s exposure and engagement by commenting on one’s post under the name of the other?  This is a sure way to increase the likes of both pages!
  3. You can comment on posts of pages you do not manage- as any of your pages! Go ahead and bring exposure to your page by posting effortlessly on bigger brands! All you have to do is click on the little gray page flag in the upper right corner of the post and choose the page you want to comment, like or share as. See below for an example.

coca cola facebook page

Follow Pop Digital Marketing on Facebook for more tips!

4 Wedding Traditions to use in your everyday Social Media Strategy

wedding traditions and social mediaWe have all heard of the wedding day traditions for wearing something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.  Originating from an old English rhyme, the 4 items a bride carries with her is supposed to bring her good luck.  Transitioning into today’s digital age, we can actually leverage these 4 elements as a means of remembering some best practice strategies for top notch social media posts!

Post Something Old:

For the bride, something old represents continuity. Psychologically, people prefer to see social media posts they are comfortable with and they can relate to from their past.  This creates a sense of safeness.  This explains why so many people love the “Throw Back Thursday” picture phenomenon. A great tip: post something exciting about an employee that has been with the company from the beginning to give your prospects a sense of your company’s stability.

Post Something New:

For the bride, something new offers optimism for the future.  One the social media spectrum, posting something new positions your company as the thought leaders.  When you are the first to post the latest events, products or news in your industry, it is your post that will get widely shared, commented on and “liked”.  Furthermore, when you are posting about your company’s news and updates, you are demonstrating your company’s ability to provide top service or products by exposing its growth.

Post Something Borrowed:

For the bride, something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness.  When it comes to social media, you too should be borrowing happiness and success.  There is no need to re-invent the wheel.  When you see another company’s digital marketing campaigns working well, borrow their strategy! While it’s always ideal to be the first, it may not always be practical.  It is better to be on the right bus, even if you aren’t driving, than to not get on it at all.  Tip: borrow a post but put your own unique spin on it by adding a call to action or a different opinion!

Post Something Blue:

For the bride, something blue stands for purity, love and fidelity.  In social media we know that when a customer loves a post they become passionate to spread it.  Every once in a while, post something controversial to incite engagement.   Nothing attracts more shares and comments then the posts that hit a nerve, good or bad with followers!

Use these 4 tactics in your social media strategy to ascertain your commitment to your followers and with time they will say ‘I Do’ to your services!

5 Reasons to Hire A Digital Marketing Consultant

You may have your own in-house team of talented marketers, or you perhaps you are on the fence about hiring a full-time employee to take on your marketing needs.  Regardless of where your company stands with it’s marketing strategies, your business can always benefit by bringing in a digital marketing consultant.

Below are 5 key reasons you should consider hiring a marketing consultant:

1. Digital Marketing Consultants stay on top of the latest trends in the marketing world.5 reasons to hire a marketing consultant

A digital marketing consultant NEEDS to know exactly what the newest and greatest strategies are in order to stay in business themselves. Consultants make sure to continuously educate themselves by attending webinars, expos, conferences and networking events. The greatest part is that the consultant does this all at his/her own expense, not on your company’s dime.

2. Digital Marketing Consultants have great insight from working with  other companies and multiple industries.

This is one of the most motivating reasons, if not- the most important reason to hire a consultant.  A successful digital marketing strategist or consultant works with an array of clients.  When a specific campaign is successful with one client, the consultant will likely implement it with all other clients where deemed appropriate. Consultants will also use his/her positive experiences with other business’s marketing platforms (pros/cons of email platforms, tracking software, lead generation systems etc.) to bring to your company as recommendations.  It is this type of constant exposure to other options that sets a consultant apart from a full time employee.

3. Digital Marketing Consultants give you what you pay for… and then    some.

Unlike a full-time employee, a consultant only gets paid for actual work produced. Great consultants work hard until the job, campaign or project is complete, which in most instances means quicker turn around time.  Consultants also have great resources of marketing experts. Need a web developer? Looking for a graphic designer? Marketing Consultants likely have a plethora of names to refer.

4. Digital Marketing Consultants have a fresh take on your company.

Let’s face it, things get stale. Even the greatest content developers hit a wall at some point.  Bringing in a consultant will also bring in fresh ideas.  Digital Marketing Consultants also often pick up on areas that can be improved that have been a part of the strategy for so long, no one else even gave it a second thought. A consultant can also work as an additional asset to your marketing team.  Many companies are confined by time and resources.  It can never hurt to bring on an expert to help loosen those restraints on the team.

5. Digital Marketing Consultants can connect you to other clients.

Building your network also builds your company. Many inbound marketing strategists/consultants will connect clients to cross-promote events, guest blog for one another, send targeted emails to segregated lists and feature each other’s products on social media.  This is a great way to expand customer reach and gain greater exposure.

To see if you business would benefit from a digital marketing consultant, contact us here.

5 Key Reasons Your Company Should Host Webinars:

For years, webinars have been used as a source of educational training.  What you may not know is that no matter what industry your company is in, or what you sell you can absolutely and should undoubtedly be utilizing webinars as a part of your digital marketing strategy.

Below are the top 5 benefits of hosting a webinar:

Webinars Position You As Thought Leaders

  • When marketing and hosting webinars you are showing the world that you are an expert in that subject.
  • Your potential customers will now have this opportunity to learn from you and see with little commitment how much you can provide for them.
  • As a thought leader, you build trust with your audience.  When consumers are searching for information online and see your webinar positioned high on search engines and on multiple platforms, the consumer is more likely to “trust” what you are offering.

Webinars Increase Online Traffic And Brand Awareness

  • Just by hosting a webinar, you now have a reason to market your company.  This will in turn improve your brand awareness.
  • If your event pages are optimized correctly and you have a strong marketing strategy, a webinar has the potential to increase your online traffic.
  • It builds a “relationship” with your customers when they watch your webinars, as they will feel more connected to you and your brand.

Webinars are a great lead generation tool

  • In order for anyone to join or watch your webinars, they will have to give their contact information.  This provides you with the opportunity to collect emails, interests, business information and anything else you may need.
  • You will now have a great list of interested customers in that specific subject to which you can create a lead generation campaign around.
  • You can create a post-webinar survey to narrow this list even more based on answers and questions.

Webinars can be re-purposed for years

  • Recorded webinars can be placed on your site as a download.
  • You can generate revenue from the webinars by selling them on your site.
  • You can use the slides and/or questions asked from the webinar to create popular blogs.
  • Upload the presentation to Slideshare for ultimate exposure.

Webinars are convenient and affordable

  • With webinars, you are not limited to one location. You can reach anybody anywhere.
  • People do not have to leave their office of home to participate.
  • You have complete control over participation.  You choose who can see attendees, who can ask questions and even how it is moderated on your end!
  • Can be watched from PC, MAC and smart devices
  • Can be run with 1 person or 500 people attending.
  • Compared to the cost of renting a conference room, printing materials, providing refreshments and other live event expenses, a webinar is extremely cost efficient.

If you are looking for help with your webinar strategy, contact us here: Webinar Strategy Contact Form

Why your Company Needs a Weekly Tip on Social Media | 4 How-To Guided Steps

One of the first pieces of advice I give to new clients looking to increase engagement on Social Media is to create a monthly content strategy plan.  Part of that plan involves creating a weekly tip to offer followers and fans.

The benefits of providing a weekly tip for followers include:

  • Content Manager HiringPositioning your business or brand as a thought leader.
  • Opening up dialogue for customers who may have questions about that topic.
  • Building trust with your followers and showing your expertise.
  • Learning what subjects your customers find popular through shares and likes and then turning them into blogs or e-books.
  • Increasing visibility on that subject with search engines (as they crawl and show public status updates with keywords relevant to search terms).
  • Keeping followers and fans coming back to your company page in anticipation for that weeks tip.  This will in turn increase your post updates showing up in their feed.

4 tips to sharing tips on Social Media: 

  1. Pick a day of the week when your audience is likely online.  You can see when they are online through Facebook insights, or timing + (which measures your google + fan activity).
  2. Create an editorial calendar 6 months out (which is only 24 tips).  Create a spreadsheet and include the month, date and time you plan on posting the tips.  Add fields for topic, subject and content developer (if you have multiple experts in your company that will be contributing).  Then add the field where the actual tip content belongs.  The tip itself should be 2-3 sentences at most.
  3. Hashtag your tip name. Prior to launching your tip strategy come up with a clever name that you can place at the beginning of each tip post.  Examples are “Monday Marketing Tip” or “Tuesday Tips With Jon” or “Fridays Health Tips”.  Keep it brand and industry appropriate and make sure it is relevant to what your customers would expect to see from you.  Then Hashtag it so people can eventually search for and see all the previous tips by clicking on the hashtag. Example: #SocialMediaWeeklyTip.

     

  4. Create a visual of the tip.  Hubspot launched a very successful 30 day blogging tip in which each day they provided a visual of a tip dealing with blogging.  When you post a picture on any Social Media platform you increase the likelihood of the post getting shared and liked.  You can also share the tip picture on Instagram and Pinterest!

For advice on launching or re-launching your company’s social media strategy, contact us here.