Leaning Tree Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing in Metro-Milwaukee

Archive for the tag “digital marketing”

10 Free Tools to improve SERPS in 2016

Search results for small businessAvenues to encourage social interaction and communication are reaching across generations, demographics, psychographics, industries, and countries.  Social media platforms help businesses better understand their customers by monitoring the chatter.  They can interact, influence and even use the information to develop better, more insightful business strategies, services and products.  However, social media is only a small part of the big customer acquisition and relations picture and an even smaller part of improving search results.

A business must be what people want and need…this means that have to be what people are searching for at any given moment.  In order to be what people are searching for, your website or ecommerce site must also reflect this objective.  Unfortunately, Google doesn’t hand out search data on a platter.  (It’s a bit more challenging than that.)  Prepare yourself for constant monitoring and on-the-spot tweaks as the marketplace changes.  Arm yourself with knowledge and take advantage of free tools that produce insightful data.  No single tool will do.  Just as search results are due to a combination of factors, you must also use a combination of resources to improve your business search engine optimization and move up in the Google ranks.

 Tackling search optimization on your own 

If you’re brave enough to do this without a webmaster and/or digital consultant… start with your website by making sure it’s optimized for visibility on both desktop and mobile.   Be sure to have a cohesive brand and adhere to Google NAP.  Have a site audit and start monitoring Google Analytics to see how your site is performing.  Spend some time seeing where you rank currently in SERPS, do some keyword research.  Digest…and repeat!  (Don’t forget to be social and keep your web content fresh and relevant.)

Top 10 free tools to improve search engine results for your business

  1. Google: Analytics, Keyword Planner, Google Trends & Webmaster Tools
  2. GTmetrix
  3. Rank Checker
  4. Responsive Design Checker
  5. MOZ Local: Mozbar
  6. SEMrush
  7. Screaming Frog
  8. BuzzSumo
  9. Similar Web
  10. Copy Scape

(Good luck…this really does take a team to do effectively!)

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IT and Marketing Merge Creating a Diversified Skillset

Marketing and IT people have traditionally been located at different ends of the corporate building.  This is because they were truly focused on different aspects of business and spoke different languages.  Marketing people were seen as more creative, and IT people more ‘process-driven.’  Today, that scenario is changing, and it’s changing fast.   Only those business leaders who understand the IT and marketing merge are setting the foundation for shared objectives and long-term digital conversion success.

marketing-technology-previewCurrent Demands:  There’s no doubt about it…marketing and IT worlds have begun to merge!  It’s happening naturally and maybe even accidentally?  Current demands are that marketing professionals create effective campaigns that are dependent on customer experiences and the integration of advanced technology; constantly learning and re-inventing the wheel to meet initiatives.  CMO’s and CIO’s have to come together as leaders and communicate in order for any digital marketing process to be effective.

Digital Marketing:   Digital marketing technologies enable marketers to drive customer engagement through an evolution of online customer acquisition channels. Although they may be more difficult to quantify, these digital trends use IT components to influence potential prospects into conversions:  Content marketing, Mobile marketing, Social Media marketing, Marketing Automation and Target Marketing over online ad channels.

Search Engine & Conversion Rate:  Optimization of these two digital marketing trends have an enormous effect on success vs failure of any campaign.  Both are managed through the understanding and interpretation of analytics.

The Expectations:  Marketers have to be on top of the fast-paced data driven environment to remain relevant.  Digital marketers like myself who thrive on this skill set, have the opportunity to become far more influential and valuable than those who do not.  Graph by www.forrester.com/home

What to expect from a good marketing consultant

Call us what you may; marketing consultants, advertising experts, internet strategist, business entrepreneurs, independent firms, advertising agencies, extended team players, business partners, etc.  If you’re a small or medium sized business, you have likely thought about, or already hired one!  There are a ton of benefits to hiring outside help.  Choose carefully to find a consultant that can provide valuable benefits to your business, long-term.

genie in a bottleConsultants are not “Genies in a Bottle”

#1  Although some may claim to have magical powers, consultants do not have ESPN, (That was supposed to be funny.)  Consistent and clear communication is an absolute must!

#2  They can’t turn around your business without teamwork and clearly defined needs and restraints. 

#3  Remember, you are always the boss.  Your consultant is a team leader.   Without ‘top down’ support from you, there is no effective implementation of ideas and goals will not be met.

#4  Business owner/s must be on the same page.  (Ex:  Trust has to be mutual, and both sides have to be respectful of time, boundaries and expertise.)  

#5  Driving thousands of visitors to your website won’t fix your business if you have a product nobody wants, a low converting site, an offer that doesn’t make sense, key employees who are not vested, etc.  Try not to take it personal if your consultant provides constructive criticism… it could be the advice that changes your business for the better! 

Most Important to hire a consultant who…

#1  Represents you…they are a direct reflection of  your brand!  It’s critical to trust the ‘professionalism and ethics’ of your marketing consultant.  They will be handling confidential information that you won’t want shared with the general public, or with your competitors. 

#2  Is an expert…in 2-3 key areas that are most  important to you.  (No consultant is going to be an “expert” in everything, nor is any multi-million dollar agency who charges rates through the roof to cover operating expenses.) Shop around.  Ask for a referral!

#3  Has the ability to assess… your current marketing strategies, identify any problems or concerns and offer suitable solutions that fit within your resource limitations.

#4  Can provide fresh ideas and creative marketing strategies… that are tailored to your businesses goals, target audiences, give you an edge on competition, and can see ‘the big picture.’

#5  Works well with your key players…is able to handle problems that may arise during your marketing campaign quickly and efficiently, can collectively analyze data, and provide detailed campaign reports to benchmark goal progress.  

The Leaning Tree Marketing is a Milwaukee-based marketing strategist and consultant,  offering customized solutions since December, 2009.

Ten reasons why your business needs a digital strategy

leaning tree digital marketingMarketing is about reaching people.  Technology aids in getting that  job done.  Technology advances have led to, and continue to mark major marketing milestones.  The printing press, radio, and TV are examples of technology breakthroughs that changed marketing forever.  At their highest points, they were cutting-edge technology that ONCE HAD the capacity to reach the largest numbers of people.

By far, however, the most impactful marketing inventions included the computer, internet, high-speed cables, and software applications.  These new developments have created a fragmented market of new choices and mobility.  The mainstream adoption of digital technology allows the connection to networks and people just about anywhere, anytime they want to use it.  Today, more than 1/3 of the global population had access to the internet, and that number continues to grow.   As technology pushes forward, the world of marketing has become far more complex, and exciting at the same time.   The most important piece of advice:  “If the audience has become digital, so must the business!”

Why you need a digital marketing strategy

#1        Only the internet has the capacity to broaden reach and narrow target at the same time.

#2        Digital marketing is less expensive, easier to track, and more productive.

#3        Nothing spreads “word of mouth” faster than the internet.

#4       Without a digital tie-in, traditional media will not work like it used to.

#5        Internet offers unmatched tools, techniques and tactics to engage with customers.

#6        A relevant website, SEO and/or SEM, is what displays your business in search results.

#7       Social Media is the best way to build, retain, and reward customer relationships.

#8        Mobile Marketing, email marketing, content marketing and display are all digital.

#9        Internet platforms builds authority, legitimacy, public relations and brand perception.

#10      Without one, you will miss opportunities, become less competitive, and lose business


 

leaning tree gravatarAbout The Leaning Tree Marketing, llc:  The Tree was established late 2009 to offer local business many years of advertising, marketing, sales, research and promotions experience.  Today, The Leaning Tree has become an expert in branding, bridging the gap between traditional and digital while harnessing the unlimited potential of digital marketing for business success.

*For interesting statistics and research regarding the growth of the internet: www.internetworldstats.com

All Things Google: Places for Business

gplaces

Every business should make it a priority to establish a Google Business Places Account.  Use a shared business email account for setup, versus setting up under a personal G+ account.   This way, multiple users can update your business listing.  Be sure your within Google Quality Guidelines.

Verify your business.  After creating a business places page, be sure to verify your business.  Doing this will allow you to have some control over the content, and also allow your business to appear on Google.com, Google Maps, and other Google properties.   Verify your business information.  Verifying is painless, and can be done by phone or mailed postcard.

Google merges all products together.  Like Magic, Google inextricably intertwines the business places listing with the social pages.  This includes Google+ Pages, YouTube, Blogger, and a variety of other applications.

Business Dashboard.  The dashboard is where business owners can manage and make edits to their business listing.  (The business dashboard is much more user-friendly than Google+.)  You can add and remove managers, and determine what capabilities each user should have.  For the benefit of search results, it’s good practice to login at least once a month or so and “save,” even if you don’t make any changes.  You’ll find that the dashboard also has good information regarding how customers find your business, and easy access to purchasing AdWords.  However, I wouldn’t recommend investing into AdWords PPC campaigns without some training first.   There are an abundance of videos and ‘how to’ tutorials on the web.  Google offers special training and support for agencies, so you may also consider hiring out for this task.

Double Check your setup.  Search for your business and check to see that all information is setup correctly.  If edits are needed, go to your business dashboard.  Also, if you setup Pages for your business, it’s important that you see “local” in the top right corner vs. “profile.”  One more hint:  When looking to see how your business appears on search, clear your browser ‘cookies’ to get a true picture.

Are you a business owner?  For more helpful tips, follow The Leaning Tree Marketing.

Should your business hire an online marketer?

Vector navigation / route map XXL detailed iconDo a simple search for your business online

Google reports that 97% of Americans use search engines to find local businesses. (July 2012) It’s easy to see for yourself what is found by simply typing in your business name, or major category it’s associated with.  Because results will vary, check all search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Also check from your desktop, as well as a mobile device.  For accurate results, don’t forget to ‘clear browsing history and cookies’ in-between each search

If you are a business who has embraced good social media practices, those sites are likely to appear.  If you’re a business who has an optimized website, an active Google+ Places account or other frequently updated online listings, they should also appear.

Most businesses find a mess!

How you have found your business online is how potential customers gain their perception of your business.  Most businesses will find a combination of competitor results, incomplete and outdated information, unmanaged duplicates, unclaimed listings and worst-case scenario….negative reviews!    Half of small businesses never update their online listings.  If your business is not found at all, or found in a way that doesn’t represent the image you desire, you’re probably losing money.  It’s a good indication that you need help, and you need it fast.  Find an outside help in an experienced and trust-worthy marketer that others speak highly of.  Investing in a large advertising agency  may not provide the cost efficiency or personal customer service your looking for.  Instead, seek a local marketer who offers a variety of services such as online reputation management, and cross-platform branding, (which will include social media).  These things will help create a cohesive and ‘buttoned-up’ image, improve search engine results and ultimately help your business gain new customers.

A good Online Marketer will utilize free online tools, inbound and content marketing to organize your business before proposing a ‘Pay-Per-click,’ or any other type of media campaign.  They can help you figure out which social media sites your customers are active on and help create a presence in those spaces.  Social media sites, search engines, (especially Google), and technology will continue to evolve and need to be tested.  An online marketer will help you stay up-to-date with these changes and offer new ideas and strategies to make the most of them.

The Bottom Line for your business

Online marketing, especially inbound/content marketing strategies, can be the most efficient way to generate leads!  Compared to the benefits, hiring a professional is a small investment.  However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, the results can be extremely time-consuming and counter-productive for your business.multi-color-LEANING-TREE-logo-with-rep-mgmt small for FB cover

 

Google+ Tips, Apps & Your Business

google logoOver the past couple of years Google has been positioning their listings, video channels and business applications in a way that ties them directly into Google+, forcing the user to have an active Google+ account.

Google Places Your Google Places business account used to be a stand-alone listing.  Today, Google requires a Google Places account to be linked into a Google+ account, (Google+Places), to manage or update that listing.   Google  Quality Guidelines limit a business to a single listing for each physical location.

Youtube a Google+ tie-in is required in to manage your Youtube videos information.

Google applications – handy for business 

By now, most people are familiar with Gmail and the Calendar features, below are some handy applications for business that many have not yet experimented with:

Google Drive Allows you to store files in the “cloud,” share them, and have access to them from anywhere, including a smartphone.  You get 5GB of storage for free.  Google is always good about privacy settings, so they are always available on the applications.  (public/private)  On that same could you can create:

DOCS:  Include images, tables, and links.  Within DOCS, a business can manage feedback with social commenting.  The application allows multiple people to work on the same document at the same time.  Slides can be created which support embedded videos, animations, and dynamic slide transitions. 

Google Hangouts You can actually hold meetings using a webcam, kind of like a video conference and webinar combined.  With Google Hangouts On Air, you can broadcast publically.  The broadcast can be recorded, edited and then share again online. Limited to 10 active participants, unless you sign up for Google Prime.  Download free Google video chat plugin upon your first hangout.

Team Meetings: See your team, share screenshots or a web URL with a push of a button.

Webinars:  Interactively provide Q&A sessions, create a webinar series or offer sales/customer support.                                                                                multi-color-LEANING-TREE-logo-with-rep-mgmt small for FB cover

Google updates for Business

Google organic search results.  As you know, SEO is important to your business because it gives you the ability to be found and to connect personally with your potential customers.  Organic or ‘natural’ online buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google.  Try to keep your online material interesting and relevant to your customer by using a variety of rich media, fresh content, interaction and consistent activity.  Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any other factor.

Search Engine algorithms.  Every business out there wants to know what it needs to do in order to rank on page #1 in organic search.  What Google uses to determine search result ranking is called ‘algorithms.’  Users know good content when they see it, and they will be likely to direct others to it as well.  Search engine algorithms now take into account the social shares that your blog has, as well as emails, forum activity and SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTION on sites such as facebook, twitter and Linkedin.

Google Pages.  Has died.  (To be blunt)  If you were managing the site before, you can still get into the page to make changes today.  However, those changes go nowhere.   Google merged business place pages into the Google Plus environment.  (I call the new page the Google Plus Business Page.)  Google allows you to add adminstrators to your new business plus page, much the same as Facebook.  When you go into your Google Plus account to update or change your Google Plus Business Page, you may need to obtain another pin code for verification as was done when originally claiming your Google Places page.  To be safe, check online to make sure any changes you’ve requested have actually been done.

Google Plus & Search. Setting up a Google user account is important, but it doesn’t stop there.  Google calls friends/followers on their network “Circles,” and there is a lot of emphasis on the activity that happens there.  NOTE:  Google Plus is not just ‘any other’ social media outlet.  Let’s say you +1 and article you like, or post a comment that shows up on your profile, visible to all the people in your circles.  Whenever you +1 something, and whenever your post gets a lot of reads, you’re letting Google know what you like, and what everyone else likes too.  The Google search engine is all about bringing you relevant information, so…..what could be more relevant than telling Google what you like?  (By using +1.)  At the same time, what can be more relevant than the buzz that happens when others like what you have posted?  Google will personalize your search results based upon your +1’s and by what the people who you have in your circles show as relevant and interesting.

Summary.  It is a HUGE benefit to meet your potential customers at the point closest to purchase in organic search.  Therefore, I’m really going to emphasize the importance of Social Media and Google Plus activity, engagements and updates to stay current.

Offline Mobile Advertising Terms and Applications

 Over 50% of mobile phones today are smartphones and 88% of people check their email on mobile devices daily.  56% of people who have made a mobile purchase did so as a result of a mobile marketing message.  Mobile is quickly becoming the most influential marketing platform to date!  Mobile searches related to restaurants have a conversion rate of 90% with 64% converting within the hour4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the following terms and applications.

QR codes:  When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you are linked to digital content on the web.  This content can quickly get your customers to an advertisement, coupon, educational material or a number of other functions such as e-mail, IM and SMS.

Website mobile optimization:  A mobile website is a different animal than a traditional website.  What consumers expect from a mobile website is also different because here, they are only looking for key pieces of information.  Interestingly, people have more patience with the loading time of mobile websites however, it’s best to keep content simple.  This subject deserves a blog of it’s own, so there will be more detailed information about mobile optimization in future blogs.

Mobile Applications: Top 10 for consumers.

Visual applications:  Customers use visual applications to search for product info and prices by taking a picture.  Example; find electronic ratings by scanning the label, get deals and coupons from favorite brands or watch trailers by pointing the camera at movie posters and DVD’s.  Also, there is an example of an android based  visual voicemail from T-Mobile.

Search on mobile:  Mobile search provides slightly different results than regular search.  The  mobile form allows users to find mobile content on websites which are available to mobile devices on mobile networks. 

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