Why you shouldn’t DO SEO

In order to effectively communicate with your customers, you must first know who and where they are. Over 60% of the average daily user uses Google in some way, as it is the most popular search engine. It is important to know how people behave online, especially how they conduct online searches using keywords.

The word “keyword” is kind of a misnomer; it implies that people conduct a search using a single word, but that is often not the case. People are now conducting searches on Google in a long-form question format. Google understands better than most that consumers want to be presented with content relevant to their search. They have changed their formula to a more contextual search algorithm. A company’s content and website will have to answer the questions consumers are asking in order to be found. From the ground up, companies should work to build their brands and communicate with customers in an authentic fashion. Keywords will have to be infused into educational content that answers consumers’ questions at every step in the funnel.

Today SEO is based much more on social media. Social media sharing builds clout; if people share your site using social media, it must be good. Additionally blogging is an important part of SEO; the more frequent the blog posts, the higher the ranking.

The bottom line is this: if a company is doing SEO, they’re doing it wrong. SEO should be thought of as a broader element of an overall inbound marketing campaign. What are your suggestions for improving SEO?

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Social media builds trust with consumers – but lots of brands still suck at it

You may think of Facebook at the “go to” social media network, and there’s plenty of opportunity there. Brand fans turn to Facebook to receive content and interaction they can’t get anywhere else. And many companies produce great content for their social media pages – but many still suck at interacting with consumers.

 

Consumers feel valued and important when they receive a response from brands and businesses – and that builds trust and social equity. One caveat: that response must have a human voice; it must not sound like business jargon or a standardized line that everyone receives. For that reason, among others, social media community managers play a critical role in any company’s social media department. Responses to fan posts should also be timely. In today’s busy world, consumers don’t have the time or patience to wait an entire day for a brand to respond to their question – 1 in 6 fans typically expects a response in less than 30 minutes – and if you don’t provide what they’re looking for, they may go elsewhere to find it. Quick response times and friendly demeanor make brands feel more like friends, which strengthens the bond between brand and consumer. Furthermore, when fans receive a response to their questions, this study by Mr. Youth shows that as much as 80% go on to make a buying decision.

 

However, brands are not always so responsive. According to SocialBakers, 45% of fans’ questions on Facebook pages go unanswered, and for those that are answered it takes an average of 13.7 hours for response posts from brands.

 

Have you had a significantly positive (or negative!) experience with a brand on Facebook? What made the experience stand out to you?

Brands should embrace unofficial blogs

Even though they cannot control the posted content and responses, brands should embrace the unofficial blog. Bloggers who devote the time to writing blog posts and maintaining an entire site dedicated to one brand are likely to be that brand’s best ambassadors. Corporate confidence is low; consumers are skeptical of brand advertising, and are much more likely to listen to their peers or comments of reviewers when researching a brand or product. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 92 percent of consumers say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging. Peer reviews are considered to be honest and transparent; unofficial company blogs are often seen as a reliable source of information, providing honest product reviews and testimonials. Unofficial blogs give consumers a place to post their reviews, concerns, product tips, and advice as well as connect and engage with other viewers.

Unofficial blogs can be an asset to a brand; they are like an ongoing online focus group. It gives the company an opportunity to learn more about its customers than the customers would be willing to share directly with the brand; the company can determine trends, post their own explanations when consumers are unhappy, and make product changes or improvements based on consumer sentiment. In order for the brand to use the unofficial blog successfully they must monitor it and then make the appropriate responses.

Do you subscribe to or frequently read any unofficial brand blogs? What kind of interaction have you noticed from the brand toward the blog?

What the Buzz?

In recent years, the concept of marketing has changed dramatically. Traditional advertising is increasingly criticized or ignored, and the field of marketing has developed alternatives to better communicate with its target consumer. Seeking to cut through the clutter and gain the attention of consumers, marketers have moved toward a model of buzz marketing. But what is buzz marketing?

The phrase itself is vague and imprecise, but is still the goal of many marketers. Buzz marketing, word of mouth, and viral marketing are often used interchangeably. But ultimately, buzz is about standing out in the crowd and being noticed. Specifically, it’s about getting people to talk about your brand. The more buzz that is generated about your brand, the more page views you are likely to receive, leading to more conversation – and, you got it – more buzz.

The goal of buzz marketing is to get others, namely your (influential) customers, to do your marketing for you. In order for that to happen, there has to be some kind of benefit for them. It’s the WIIFM principle, or What’s In It For Me. In order for customers to share their experiences and promote your brand, they must feel that your blog provided substantial value, and that the experience is worth sharing with others.

Why chase after this elusive unicorn? For one thing, it’s inexpensive, as there are no national media buys or expensive creative components. For another, the Internet allows buzz to spread like wildfire. Additionally, buzz marketing attempts to make each encounter with a consumer feel like a unique, serendipitous event, an appeal toward Millennials, and those who remain skeptical of traditional advertising. Communication is more credible between accepted members of a social circle rather than from the brand directly.

How do you build buzz?

Designing A Website: Analyze While You Create

Think about your favorite website. Why do you like it so much? Have you ever wondered what makes it appealing to you? Upon deeper inspection, it turns out there are reasons we like certain designs so much, and it has to do with shortcuts and assumptions our brains are naturally inclined to make. Many design elements can be used cohesively to create an experience that your subconscious brain enjoys. From the layout to the font to the colors used, every detail creates a particular feeling in the viewer.

The overall design of a website can set the tone for the consumer’s experience. According to a study conducted by Google, there are two key factors that make people like a website: low visual complexity (the page should not be too crowded or have too much empty space), and high ‘prototypicality’ (how representative a design looks for a certain category of websites).

Visual hierarchy is another important aspect of web design. You want certain parts of your website to stand out – so those elements should be made prominent visually. They don’t necessarily have to be larger than other elements (although size is one way to make them stand out); color can also be used to bring attention to certain elements.

These days, not only do we expect that a company has a website where we can go for information about the company, brand, or product, but we expect that website to be visually appealing and functional as well. Part of being creative is being intuitive, but when it comes to designing a website, it is important to understand why a design might work. You also need to know your business goals, and prioritize the website elements to make that goal achievable.

Digital Natives: Growing Up Exposed (to marketing messages, that is)

What age is the right age for children to start interacting with technology, and how are they affected by marketing through the various devices on which they consume media? At the age of 2, I was astounded that my niece could navigate Netflix and various games on her mother’s smartphone. Her mother didn’t seem concerned about my niece’s media consumption; it can be a helpful parenting tool at times. But I always wondered how it would affect my niece as she grows and develops.

The extent to which children comprehend marketing messages varies based on their cognitive development. Before the age of eight, children believe the purpose of commercials is to help them in their purchasing decisions, but they are unaware that commercials are designed to persuade them to buy specific products or brands. Children are particularly vulnerable to advertising at this age, and the lessons they learn during this time shape their futures as consumers later in life.

The effect of interactive marketing technology on children has not been studied as much as traditional media methods, but every interaction a child has offers the potential to create favorable attitudes about a product without the user’s awareness. That can occur when a branded product is embedded into entertaining interactive content. Another affect of interactive media is a lower chance of purchase disruption. For example, if a child sees an ad on TV at home, the amount of time between seeing the ad and being in a physical store location where they could purchase that item could be long enough that they no longer desire that purchase. However, if they see an ad on a smartphone while sitting in the shopping cart or walking in the store where they then see the object, they are much more likely to use their “pester power” to get their parents to make the purchase.

As time marches on and these children grow, they will inevitably come to understand the nature of advertising. However, this fascinating topic deserves more attention in the way of academic studies.

Media for the next generation

Defining emerging media is difficult, as it encompasses digital technologies, platforms, and language, which are constantly and rapidly evolving. The changing technology changes the way we live our daily lives. Think about it: people born after 1990 have never really known a world without the internet, cell phones, or digital media.

 

Nowadays, customers have access to information any time and any place they want it or need it. Computers. Tablets. Mobile. Gigantic amounts of information are consumed daily because it is readily accessible and presented in easy to understand formats. There are over 1 billion websites on the internet. Brands need to make a strong impression in order to stay relevant or even be seen by consumers. Marketers must learn how to adapt with the changing technology advancements while maintaining the foundation of basic communication.

Emerging media has changed the way consumers interact with brands, allowing a relationship to emerge where the conversation focuses on the needs of the consumer, not just a one-sided message from the company. Furthermore, consumers have the power to influence brand image, either positively or negatively, through their own online networks of friends and followers.

The emerging media revolution shows no signs of slowing down. Mobile and digital video are exploding – nearly 30% of all web traffic is coming from smartphones and tablets, and digital forecaster eMarketer predicts U.S. digital video ad spend, which totaled $4.18 billion in 2013, will grow all the way to $12.27 billion in 2018. These trends will be worth watching, although companies that are not already onboard may get left in the dust.