GDPR: What is it and how does it work?

If you haven't heard yet, BIG changes are coming this week to how marketers and businesses are allowed to collect, market to, and store data of those in the EU.

So, you may be thinking, "Well, I don't do business in Europe, so I clearly don't have to worry about this." And you're right, you most likely will never run into an issue with it. However, by some off chance that someone living in (or even just visiting) Europe happens to fill out your contact form, it's better to cover your butt and ensure everything is compliant to avoid the hefty fines that can come even from one email address.

The general concept behind GDPR is that you have to have clear and concise language that outlines how you are going to use and store their information. It also must clearly explain what kind of communication they will receive from you if they give you their information, and how they can opt out if they don't want to hear from you any more.

So, what do you need to do to be GDPR compliant? While it's an annoying process, for most people it's something that can be done in an afternoon.

1. Get a GDPR compliant Privacy Policy. Even if you already have one on your site, you must have an updated one to fit the new requirements. Talk to your lawyer, or utilize an online resource like TermsFeed, to get a new, customized one written for you. Include a link to it in the footer of your website (or in the footer on any of your lead pages).

2. Update your opt in forms and email forms. No longer can someone just be added to your email list without giving explicate (not implied) consent. This means that on your website, or on your lead page forms, you must clearly inform someone that they will be added to your mailing list if they fill out the form. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Add a checkbox to your form that someone must click on to be added. If they do not check off the box you CAN NOT market to them.
  • Add language, above the submit button, that clearly states that they will be added to your mailing list if they fill out the form. Language like: "Join my mailing list for this free download..." or "By filling out this form, you will be added to the [company name] mailing list. You can opt out at any time by hitting the "unsubscribe" button." qualifies as giving consent.

3. Link to the privacy policy on ANY form that collects data. Put something like: "We may collect, use and process your data according to our privacy policy." at the bottom.

4. Get consent from your current email list. Unfortunately, even if someone is already on your list, the new law requires you to get their consent to stay on the list (bummer, I know). How to go about this can depend on how many, if any, European's you currently have your list.

  • If you're pretty sure you do not have any European email addresses on your list, you should be pretty safe to send a simple email outlining your new privacy policy and how people can opt out if they wish. This is the option I chose, so feel free to copy the language from my email (no judgement here!) if this is the route you choose as well. 
  • If you know you have a ton of EU addresses on your list, you may want to take the extra step and ask for new consent. Send an email specifically requesting people to opt in or out of your list. Here is a great example.

5. Clean out your current list. According to GDPR, you can not store email addresses from those that have opted out or unsubscribed from your list. Take some time to clean out those unsubscribed or bounced emails that are just sitting there not being used. Another good practice is to clean out addresses that haven't interacted with any of your emails after a certain set amount of time (I usually do six months). These are people who may have signed up for your list at some point, but haven't opened or clicked on ANY of your emails in the past 6 months. While you may see your list get cut down, these are emails that are worthless to you anyways, and are actually just reducing your open rates (which can affect email delivery).

While we are not lawyers, and will always advise you contact one for advice or for any questions, staying GDPR compliant is something that you can get yourself and your business on board with, whether or not you explicitly do business in the EU. Better safe than sorry!

Want more information and trainings on all things growing your business online? Check out The Digital Marketing Hub where you can get access to full Masterclasses, Guest Expert Trainings and answers to your digital marketing questions!

How to Stick to the Commitment of Content Marketing

I recently saw a quote that spoke to my soul (ok, maybe that's a little dramatic but I really liked it). "Content marketing is a long term relationship. It's not a one night stand." - Unknown

This is something I preach to all of my clients. You can't have a successful content marketing strategy if you don't stay consistent. You can't move up in Google search if you refuse to blog. You can't authentically connect with your target through ads alone.

But I totally get it. Creating authentic, real content on a consistent basis is REALLY hard. It takes time, and it takes energy, that a lot of small business owners don't feel like they have. So, how can you stick to a successful content marketing strategy, when you don't feel like doing it?

1. Schedule time in advance. This one seems simple but it's the one thing that I've found makes the biggest difference for most of my clients. Before the start of each week, mark off an hour in your calendar that you are going to devote to creating content. Trying to squeeze it in between other activities, greatly reduces the chances of you actually doing it. Here's the deal though, you HAVE to treat this time like a meeting or other event you can't blow off. Do not schedule anything over it, or push it aside. When looking to put something else in your calendar, know that time is truly booked.

2. Work in a format that you enjoy(ish). Do you absolutely, positively HATE writing? No matter how much you try to force yourself to blog, the words just do NOT come out? Then stop it! Shift your focus to a format that feels more comfortable for you. Think about doing a weekly video blog, or Facebook Live that you can host on your site after you do it. Like to talk, but don't want to be in front of a camera? Look into starting a weekly podcast. While any of these may still be a chore to you, picking the one you like the most (or hate the least) makes it a little bit easier.

3. Find someone to do it for you. If you still just can't stick to a consistent blogging and social media schedule, look into finding someone to do it for you. Yes, it's that important that it's worth investing in. Find a freelancer or consultant (I happen to know a good one ;) ...) that can get you back on track. Don't have any budget for it? Scout out some local colleges for marketing or writing interns. At the end of the day, try to open up some space to finding outside sources to help you in this area of your business. Creating authentic content is one of the best ways to move up in Google search, cut through the noise, connect with your audience, and convert them into paying customers.

PSA! The "Scary" SEO Thing You've Probably Been Avoiding

Ahhh.... Metadata. (Wait! Don't go! Hear me out!) That 8 letter word that causes some of the most confusion, frustration and irritation among business owners when it comes to SEO. Often times, when working with clients, I will bring up working on their "back end data" and they immediately shut down. Either it's something that seems super overwhelming to them, or it's something they've been burned on in the past. Let me explain...

A lot of SEO "companies" know that some of the more technical aspects of SEO can be confusing to business owners. And why wouldn't it be? Your expertise is in running your business, NOT optimizing your website for search. Unfortunately, there are some people who take advantage of that lack of knowledge (or lack of interest in learning), and will either overcharge, or claim their doing "something" to your website that isn't really getting you any results.

So today, I'm breaking down Metadata. Now, don't shut down - it's really not that scary, I PROMISE! So before you invest a ton of money in an SEO company (or a ton of time researching how to do SEO yourself), let's dive into some of the terminology when it comes to "back end SEO" and whether or not you should be wasting your time, money and energy on it.

Meta Titles

Meta Titles, or Title Tags, are the titles you give each of your pages. These title tags are displayed in search as the clickable title in search results, as well as the title that appears up on the tab in a web browser.

 Meta titles - digital marketing, rhode island.

Meta Titles are really important not just for Google to get an idea of what your page is about it, but are used for social sharing (they're what populates automatically when you paste a link in Facebook), and should encourage clicks to your site. Updating your Meta Titles on every one of your website's pages should be a top priority.

Meta Descriptions

Meta Descriptions, like Meta Titles, are full sentence descriptions placed on the backend of each page in your website, that utilize keywords to appeal to search engines, and draw in potential website traffic. Like their Title counterpart, these should also be updated to include important keywords on each and every page.

 Meta Descriptions - Hub Digital Marketing, RI.

Meta Keywords

Ok, here's a good sign if the SEO company you're looking to hire is legit. Meta Keywords used to be Google's jam, and it was the main focus of almost every SEO company's strategy for a long time. However, Google realized that people were just stuffing random keywords into the section, and that it wasn't helping them serve relevant results to people. So a few years ago they completely eliminated any authority behind meta keywords. If you find an SEO company that is still touting them as part of their strategy, you may want to think twice.

Alt Tags

Alt Tags, or Alternative Text Tags, are descriptions put on the back of images, that describe what the image is, or the function of it. It's used mostly by screen readers (for those that are blind or visually impaired), but also hold weight with Google, who use them to tell what the image and it's surrounding text is about. Adding Alt Tags to your images are a great way to add even MORE keywords to your site, plus ensures your site is accessible to those who are visually impaired.

 Alt Text Tags - Hub Digital Marketing

H1-H3 Tags

A lot of people believe that Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 (and so on), tags are strictly used for design purposes, as they often change the style of text. Not true! They are actually great ways to layout your page, and quickly and easily showcase your page content to Google. Make sure you have descriptive H1 titles, and try to include H2 tags throughout the page to break up walls of text, and give people (and Google) an idea of what each section is about.

 Heading 1 Tags - Hub Digital Marketing

See!? It's not that scary. It's all about just knowing the terms and what your focus should be when it comes to optimizing the backend of your website. Whether you end up doing it yourself, or hiring a company to manage it for you, we always believe that knowledge is power!

Ms. Digital Diva: How to Take Advantage of Live Streaming for Your Small Business

Today, Hub Digital is super excited to have Ms. Digital Diva (aka Sara), a tech and digital blogger, join the blog and breaking down live streaming. Check out some of her great advice on how you can successfully utilize live streaming to promote your business, and then head on over to her blog, Ms. Digital Diva, for even more great information!

There’s a charming women’s clothing boutique a few blocks from my home that’s become a huge hit since moving into the neighborhood, and one thing that’s helped their business bloom is the owner’s social media expertise. On top of the basic social media presence, she also makes great use of Facebook’s live stream feature. On more than one occasion, I myself have gone into her store and picked something up after seeing it in one of her live videos.

If you’re intimidated by live streaming, don’t be! It’s not complicated, and with a little bit of practice you’ll have the hang of it in no time. Below you’ll find a few tips to help you get started.

Choose a Platform

Before doing anything else, you’ll have to choose the platform from which you’re going to live stream. The best platforms that don’t require an additional app to do this are Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Facebook and YouTube can be accessed from mobile and desktop, but Instagram can only be viewed on mobile devices. Live streams on Facebook and YouTube are converted to regular video and remain on the app after you’re done recording, but Instagram live videos disappear forever afterward. For these reasons, and because you likely already have a Facebook page set up for your business, Facebook Live is probably your best bet. 

Test in Private Mode

Prior to launching your first live video, start with some test videos (you can change your privacy settings on Facebook so only you can view them) to check your lighting and sound and practice setting up your recording device on a stable surface. If you’re planning on filming vertically, make sure the platform you’re recording on won’t format your video with two black bars on either side of the video. If it does, try recording horizontally instead. Don’t feel like you need to make this look like a professional production; your goal should actually be the opposite. You want to appear as authentic and genuine as possible while avoiding glaring errors. 

Before you broadcast, send an invitation to your customers via email, your website, and/or your social media networks, and include a caption on your video describing what you’re doing.

Choose your content!

Now for the most important part: content! There are endless possibilities to the routes you could take with your videos. The boutique I mentioned earlier likes to make live videos as soon as they get new merchandise to show it off, sometimes letting their employees model the clothing, and they also pop on to announce when they’re having a sale. 

You could consider doing something similar if it would transfer well to your company. Otherwise, you could give viewers a tour of your workplace, make a live tutorial on how to use your products, hold a prize drawing, interview one of your employees, or just allow your customers a peek into the inner workings of your business. Be creative and brainstorm what your customers might like to see. 

Be personable, introduce yourself, answer and ask questions, engage in any conversation happening in the comments, and include a call to action before ending the broadcast. You want to shoot for at least 10 minutes, but try not to go any longer than about an hour. 

Once you’ve stopped recording, analyze your results. If you find them to be unsatisfactory, try broadcasting on a different day or at a different time or adjusting other factors like video length or including other people on camera with you. 

Live streaming is a great free way to connect with your customers and personify your business. Don’t let it go to waste!

Are All Those "Free" Trainings Really Worth It?

If you own a business and are on Facebook, or Instagram, or just online in general, you've probably seen them. The ads that claim you can: "Make $10K in 30 days from Facebook ads", "Get 10x more traffic in a Week from Pinterest", or "Use My Secret Technique to Get 10K Instagram Follows Now"! And they all boast that you can get these things simply by joining their FREE, 1 Hour, Webinar, Masterclass, Training, etc.

These ads sound almost too good to be true, and can be really tempting to business owners and entrepreneurs looking to grow their business online. So, the question becomes, are these "free" trainings really worth it?

Short answer: Yes! They can be! Let me explain...

Depending on the source, there can be some AMAZING little tidbits of information that can help you feel inspired to take the next step in your business, help you tweak something that wasn't quite right, or help you get that much closer to mastering a marketing technique you've been trying to learn. However, as with anything, there are good and bad, and in order to truly get the most out of your time (and in some cases $$) spent, there are a few rules you should follow.

1. Know your source. I can't stress this enough. While the training may be free, it doesn't guarantee that it's worth your time (or energy or effort to implement their strategies). Do a little research around the person offering the training and see if they put their money where their mouth is. If they're telling you they can help you be successful on Instagram, make sure they are themselves! There is nothing worse than spending time on strategies that don't work (or even worse, will be detrimental to your business). 

2. Curb your expectations. Those claims they make in those ads (Make $30K in 30 Days!) is more often than not, the exception, NOT the rule. Know that while a lot of the information they give away IS useful to your business, you most likely will NOT get that kind of result. But that's OK! As long as you go into the presentation with realistic expectations about how their strategy can help your business, you won't find yourself disappointed in the end.

3. Know you WILL be sold something at the end. In exchange for giving away tips, EVERY single one of those giving the training will pitch you something at the end of it. Don't get annoyed or frustrated, they have to make money too! In fact, I always suggest hanging around through their sales pitch. More often than not if you do, you'll get extra bonus content for sticking through it (even more free stuff!) and who knows - the class, course, or program their pitching may actually be what you were looking for. Many times you can get great pricing on self study courses or group programs that will help you finally master an area you were struggling with. (But again, make sure you do your research before purchasing anything!)

4. Make sure you follow through. Even though the training may be free, your time is not. If you're going to invest an hour of your time in a course, make sure you follow through! More likely than not, the tips they give you are TOTALLY doable, it just requires your commitment. And if you do decide to invest in the program their selling, you ABSOLUTELY must make sure you complete it. Self-study courses are filled with people who purchased and never completed them. Only buy if you are truly committed to taking the entire course so you don't leave feeling like you wasted your time and money.

Speaking of investing, do you have $9 to invest that you actually want a return on? Check out The Digital Marketing Hub where you can get access to full Masterclasses, Guest Expert Trainings and answers to your digital marketing questions for only $9 per month!

How To Sell Without Being "Salesy"

There's something crazy I've learned in all my years of working with Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs. And that's that many of them, are afraid to "sell" their products or services. Here's the deal - you are the #1 sales person for your business. You are the prime champion and advocate for how amazing your products or services are. Don't be afraid to share them with the world!

In this video I dive into:

  1. How you can connect with your customers/clients in an authentic way so they won't mind when you do mention how they can take the next steps in your business.
  2. Why it's SO important to always have an "ask" with every piece of value you offer.
  3. When and how long you should run promotions for to your email lists so they don't get overwhelemed.

Oh! And here's a bonus 4th tip for you that I completely forgot to mention in this video, but one lovely Facebook commenter reminded me off (sometimes I get a little nervous with video, I'm working on it!).

4. Always bring products or services to the table in a way that helps you potential customer or client. Talk about the benefits and how it can solve a problem they have, or fill a need they may have. If you truly believe in what you have to offer and how it can help your customers, than this should be the easiest step for you!

Looking for even more digital marketing tips and tricks? Join our exclusive membership program, The Digital Marketing Hub! 

The Money Making Social Media Platform You're Missing Out On

What money making social media platform are you most likely missing out on? HINT: It's NOT Facebook!

Local businesses especially, are missing out on one of the most influential, cost effective and money driving platforms out there. What is that platform? Pinterest! Now, before you shut it down, hear me out. In this recent Facebook Live I broke down WHY Pinterest is for you, no matter what your industry is. 

Some Stats About Pinterest:

Pinterest Demographics:

  1. Pinterest has 175 million monthly active users
  2. 2 Million Pinterest users save pins daily
  3. 81% of Pinterest users are Females
  4. Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram
  5. Median age of Pinterest user is 40
  6. Half on Pinterest users HHI is $50K or greater
  7. 10% of Pinterest users HHI is $125K or greater

Pinterest Facts:

  1. 87% of Pinners have purchases a product because of Pinterest
  2. 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline
  3. 93% of active Pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases
  4. More than 14 million articles are pinned each day
Quit Hiding & Get Visible

It's time to get real - one of the things I've always struggled with when it comes to running my own business, is confidence. I am constantly second guessing myself, rarely post videos or pictures of myself (because my hair or makeup wasn't quite right that day), and sometimes even wonder if I'm "good enough" at my job.

Cue Tanya Conner-Green of Whole Hearted Business Coach. When picking guest experts for my new membership program, The Digital Marketing Hub, I KNEW that I wanted Tanya to be the very first one. Not only because I feel her message is so important to all the business owners in the group, but because I (selfishly) wanted to hear what she had to say myself.

So, today on the blog, I'm spilling a few pearls of wisdom from her March Guest Expert Training, "Quit Hiding & Get Visible". While you can view the entire training inside The Hub (and trust me, you're going to want to, it's AMAZING), I wanted to give everybody a little taste to help you gain more confidence and get yourself and your business seen online (especially with video).

1. Insight #1 - What makes you want to work with one person over another? For many of us it's because we get a chance to see that real person. We can see their vulnerabilities and authenticity, see the value they've provided us, and can see they actually care about you (and not just selling you a product). If you choose to buy that way, chances are your audience does too. Stop hiding all of that from them!

2. Insight #2 - Stop running from your doubts and fears. Most of us feel like in order to overcome our fears, we have to push aside those pesky little doubts that pop up in our brains and pretend they don't exists. But let's get real for a minute, we ALL have them! We all question ourselves sometimes, and pretending that we don't won't help us move past them. Acknowledging what your fears & doubts are, and then choosing to flip those into positive beliefs is a much more effective use of time, and will actually help you start to believe in how amazing you really are.

3. Insight #3 - What would your 80 year old self tell you? Fear or doubt stopping you from taking the next step in your business? Think ahead to what you would tell yourself if you had the chance to go back in time. Hindsight is always 20/20, so instead of looking back and wishing you had made moves sooner, force yourself to take that big step today. Chances are you won't regret it and you'll make your 80 year old self proud!

Pretty legit right? I know, she's kind of amazing. But this is literally just the tip of the iceberg (seriously, all these insights come from the first 5 minutes of her almost 40 minute training). There is so much more inside and watching it has me just busting at the seams, ready to start doing more video and creating even more free content for you guys (so make sure to keep an eye on your inbox!)

So, if you're not a member of The Digital Marketing Hub, click here to join so you can hear all that Tanya (and our other amazing guest experts coming up in the next few months), have to say!

Oh, and don't forget to check out Tanya's website to learn more about her, and how she's inspiring entrepreneurs and business owners everyday.

UPDATE - The 7 Deadly Sins of Marketing

Since it is #ThrowbackThursday, we're bringing back one of our VERY first blogs we every wrote here at Hub Digital. Back in April of 2014, we wrote about the "7 Deadly Sins of Marketing" and gave some very pointed advice on what you shouldn't be doing when it comes to marketing. Since that way basically a lifetime ago in the digital marketing world, we decided to bring it back today and see if these "7 Deadly Sins" still hold true in today's environment.

2014 advice - 1. Setting your expectations too high - Many businesses and products fail before they even get started. You can't win a marathon by taking one step; it takes leaps and bounds to cross the finish line. Don't expect one ad or post to complete the job. Digital marketing takes creativity, dedication, and patience to build a following.

2018 edit - This one still absolutely holds true today! One of the things we work with our clients on is a reasonable timeline and expectations on how their business can grow online. We've all heard those stories about businesses that went from 0 to 6 figures in 1 month. And while that's great for them, it's important to recognize that these are the exception, not the rule. Marketing yourself online DOES work, but it does take time to see significant results.

2014 advice - 2. Being uninformed about your audience - Know your target audience, tone and message. The best message can be wasted on the wrong audience.  Determine what they will and will not respond to. Throwing darts at a wall may make them stick, but you'll never get the bullseye you're looking for that way!

2018 edit - Were we genius or what!? But in all seriousness, I don't think anyone can argue that it makes sense to just market to everybody all at once. Not only is it cost prohibitive, but it can make it seem like your business doesn't have a good handle on things, and can be a turn off to potential customers.

2014  advice - 3. Trying to use every available outlet for recognition - Though you may have a million ideas running around, sometimes focusing on a few is the key. Out of the large number of possibilities, choose a few that coordinate the best with your product or business. Posts that need more context could be shared on Facebook, for example, rather than Twitter, which has a character limit of 140.

2018 edit - This one is still absolutely true, but I think for different reasons. While restrictions in each outlet have loosened, it's still important to let yourself off the hook when it comes to posting on every outlet, all the time. Think about which ones your customers use the most (hence how point #2 is so important!) and what you enjoy doing. Combine the 2 to create a social strategy that works for you.

2014 advice - 4. Inconsistent timeline of posting - In an age of instant gratification, the audience no longer wants to wait. Posting consistently with updates reminds the audience so they don't forget about you. DO NOT give them a chance to become impatient. This is where choosing a few valuable outlets (#3) comes in handy. Pick ones that you know you can easily update on a consistent basis. 

2018 edit - This is still partially true. You must stay consistent with your social postings, blogging and email blasts, but there really isn't a a set time or day that's better for posting. With mobile becoming the medium of choice to access online, we are able to view content throughout the day, whenever we wish. This means that you can loosen the reins and vary posting times, and still see good reach from them.

2014 advice - 5. Overwhelming your audience - On the flip side, don't suffocate the audience with updates. Posting too much or sending too many emails can feel like spam which leads most to block or ignore future information. Everybody has that one friend that talks your ear off over lunch, and no one likes them. Finding the happy median between lack of posts and constant information is paramount for successful digital marketing. People will also enjoy two thorough and entertaining posts rather than five poor attempts. Rely on quality over quantity.

2018 edit - Hmmmmm.... Maybe? For a while social media sites, like Facebook, were all about quantity. The more you posted, the more you were seen. But now, with the recent algorithm changes, we're headed back into the world of quality over quantity. Facebook is pushing for well thought out, engaging content from businesses, not just random musings. We'll see this continue to evolve as these changes play out over the next few months.

2014 advice - 6. Neglecting mobile users - Many users access social media and sites on their phones, iPad, or tablet. Everyone is on-the-go and wants their entertainment/information to follow suit. Don't starve certain sections of your audience. Make navigating your business convenient with a mobile site that caters to mobile users' needs. 

Quick Tip: Also eliminate unnecessary images and videos to minimize loading times.

2018 edit - This has never been more wrong or more right! First of all, mobile is EVERYTHING now. Almost all your websites, content and efforts online should be focused towards mobile. Mobile searches, social media views and website traffic has officially surpassed desktop. Not optimizing your stuff for mobile is probably the #1 mistake a business can make. So, what's so wrong about this piece of advice? The elimination of images/video! Video has never been more important than it is right now. By not utilizing images and video on your website or in your marketing strategy, you're not only going to take a HUGE hit on SEO, but you're going to alienate a giant portion of your audience that will only watch video content over ready blog content.

2014 advice - 7. Biting off more than you can chew - After all of the other advice, sometimes you just need help. Recognizing that you cannot handle everything is important and there are people ready to assist at a moment's notice. Don't be hesitant to ask for help.

2018 edit - DUH! That's what we're here for! ;)

5 SEO Myths You May Be Wasting Your Time On

There is a TON of misinformation out there about digital marketing in general, and SEO in particular. Because Search Engine Optimization is something that a lot of people don't understand (or choose not), are overwhelmed by, or can't keep up with, it's often something that is easily misrepresented by "experts".

Don't worry, today Hub Digital has your back. We're breaking down the 5 biggest SEO myths that are still floating around in cyber space and are giving you permission to STOP waisting your time on them!

1. WWW vs non-WWW is important.
Every website owner has the decision to make their website URL “www” or to completely lose the “www”all together. While there are some technical differences in the 2, Google has officially stated that there are NO SEO benefits of one over the other. The important thing to remember is that once you choose which one you want, stay consistent with that version. You can choose your preference in Google Search Console. What IS important is having a secure site version (https) available and prevalent over your traditional non-secure version (http). Learn more about that here.

2. You have to fill out your Meta Keywords
If you’ve looked at the backend of your site to do your Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions you may have noticed a spot to put in Meta Keywords. These used to be extremely important for SEO and many SEO “experts” still think they hold weight. However, in recent updates Google has announced that because of keyword stuffing (which is when a website is filled with keywords that may or may not relate to the page) that meta keywords now have absolutely NO bearing on Google search rankings. Like I said before, you can fill them out if you want, but since they don’t make a difference, what’s the point? 

3. URL's should be keyword rich
There is still debate among many SEO experts about having a URL with a lot of keywords in it. Here’s my take - creating long, keyword rich URLs may actually hurt, instead of help your brand. Recent studies have shown that Google is consistently ranking long URLs lower in search. Recent analysis shows that the top 10 results on Google consistently have URLs with less than 37 characters. Also, after analyzing a random selection of 30,000 domains they found that those with a keyword in their URL ranked NO better than those that didn’t.* On top of that, really long URLs can be difficult for people to remember. Moral of the story is, if it makes sense to throw in a keyword go ahead, but keep it short, sweet and easy to remember. *Stats courtesy of Search Metrics

4. 301 redirects aren't SEO friendly
This one can get a little technical and confusing so bear with me a little. When someone types in a URL in the top bar, it takes them to a website. It is up to us to tell the internet what site we want it to take someone to when they type in our URL. There are a few ways to do that. The 2 most popular are Domain Mapping and 301 Redirects. Domain Mapping is when you purchase a URL from an outside outlet (like GoDaddy) and you want it to link fully to your site. Through this process you are changing the DNS and hosting settings so your URL is directly associated with your website. This is telling Google that this is your MAIN URL for your site and the one that should get all the juice. However, sometimes you may want to add an additional URL or change the one that is linking to your site. In order to achieve this you can 301 redirect the extra, or new, URL. A 301 redirect is telling Google that you want this URL to link to your website permanently. While it will still bring traffic to your website, you’ll see that the URL bar will change to your mapped URL once they get to the site. Because 301 redirected URL’s aren’t mapped, and don’t carry as much SEO juice as mapped URLs, many people think they aren’t SEO friendly. However, they actually can be a great thing for your site. If you map multiple URLs to your website they end up all competing with each other in SEO, essentially dropping you in search because not one URL will stand out. This is because your URLs carry SEO weight and can help in search (like if you’ve owned the URL a long time). By 301 redirecting the extra ones, you can still use them to point to your website, but won’t be taking away from your main URL’s SEO juice. Another good use of them is if you decide to change your main URL to a new one. By mapping your new URL and 301 redirecting your old one, you’ll actually transfer about 90 - 95% of the SEO juice of the old one to the new one.

5. You should use Google Authorship
This one’s pretty easy, Google Authorship doesn’t exist anymore, so don’t even bother trying. Google Authorship was an experiment by Google trying to link content you create with your Google+ profile. After multiple attempts it never caught on, and Google shut it down. You may still see listed in some outdated SEO classes or articles. If you do, just ignore it and move on.

The Tools I Love That Make Marketing Easier

Today is Valentine's Day and we're talking LOVE here at Hub Digital! And by LOVE I mean some of the marketing programs and tools that we heart and use everyday. Check out the video below to learn more about them and why I recommend them, and then follow the links below to check them out for yourself!

The tools mentions in this post:

Canva - Graphic design program filled with templates to design everything from documents, to social posts, to banner ads. Can even create animated graphics for more exposure and engagement on social media.

Buffer - If you need help scheduling and managing your social media posts, we recommend Buffer as the easier to use, less expensive option.

ActiveCampaign - The email marketing platform for those with large lists and who need more integrated automated sequences and to move contacts through different sales funnels.

Mailchimp - For many businesses, Mailchimp covers more than enough of the emailing needs of a small business. PLUS it FREE up to 2000 subscribers AND automatic sequences are included!

Zoom - If you have video conferencing or Webinar needs, Zoom can cover both and is less expensive and more reliable than it's competition.

Drift - Have LIVE conversations with website visitors or encourage them to schedule appointments with you during your off hours. Engage your customers when they are thinking about you and your business.

The 5 Pillars of Digital Marketing

Here at Hub Digital, we believe that there are 5 main pillars to digital marketing. They are the 5 different areas that you should be exploring to help promote your business online. What are those pillars you ask? Good question!

- SEO
- Blogging
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Paid Advertising

Seem overwhelming? I mean, running your own business is hard enough! How are you going to tackle all these different things on top of that?

Don't stress! Yes, you should do make an effort to use each of these pillars in a successful marketing campaign. BUT, it doesn't mean you HAVE to do everything in each of those pillars. Explore ways that you can integrate some of these strategies into your marketing routine.
- Can you repurpose your blog into a weekly or bi-weekly email campaign?
- Can you spend 10 minutes each month researching those keywords and using those as future blog topics?
- Can you spend a few dollars each month to boost a great Facebook post to get some more reach on it?

See! It doesn't have to be hard!

Check out our Facebook live from last week to learn more about these 5 pillars, why they are important and how you can integrate them in your business' marketing.

5 Days to Jumpstart Your Digital Marketing

2018 is here! And at Hub Digital we came into it swinging. We challenged some amazing VIP's to start their year right with our mini challenge, "5 Days to Jumpstart Your Digital Marketing". On Facebook Live each morning we dove deep into a different pillar of marketing, and we talked about some of the best tips and tricks to tackle each of them.

It was so amazing to connect with so many entrepreneurs and business owners to help them start their year right. They asked some amazing questions, gave each other some awesome advice (that's right, it wasn't just me talking!), and got inspired to kick some serious marketing butt this year!

So then I got to thinking, why would I want to keep these information only to a select few? Why not open it up to the rest of you so you can rock it as well? So, that's what I'm doing! Check out the videos below and create your own online marketing mini challenge! Challenge yourself to work on your own digital marketing. Challenge yourself to do some of the marketing things (cough... blogging... cough) that you've been putting off for a while. And challenge yourself to commit to growing your business this year, even when you don't feel like putting in the time and effort.

Check out the videos below and feel free to always reach out with any questions you have! Oh! And don't forget to join our private group, The Digital Marketing Hub, so you won't miss out on even more tips, tricks, and future challenges!

Day 1 - Keyword Research. The very first thing you must do when it comes to your digital marketing is keyword research. In this video we walk through the process of researching long tail keywords and how you can brainstorm them for your business to compete better in search.

Day 2 - Blogging Brainstorming. Creating content, or blogging, is one of the most effective marketing strategies for SEO, and for connecting and selling potential clients and customers. Check out Hub Digital's ideas for coming up with blog ideas so you never end up staring at a blank screen again.

Day 3 - Content Planning. By planning your content, you are much more likely to stick to your marketing plan. Learn some of our best strategies to planning your blogs, social media posts and website content.

Day 4 - Promoting Your Content. How can you promote your content for FREE? We all know social media works, but we have some lesser known ideas (have you heard of a blog carnival?) that will help you promote your content for FREE!

Day 5 - Pinterest Ads. We all know about Facebook ads, but have you explored Pinterest Ads yet? Get some of our best tips and tricks to promoting your business on Pinterest (even if you didn't think your business would traditionally work for Pinterest!)

One Page Plan To Happier Employees
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Following up to our blog about 3 Focus Points For Business, we have a SUPER guest-blogger joining us this week: John From Envisionable. Want happier employees? He explains how to get them!

Happy employees are critical for small business success. Unfortunately, studies show that over 60% of all employees are not engaged - which means they are not enthusiastic about their work or take positive action to further your organization's reputation and interests.

Happy employees are engaged employees.

So how do you create happy employees?

One simple way is to tune them into where you are leading the business by sharing your vision.

Easier said than done right?

Well, here’s a simple one page framework you can use to share your vision and drive employee engagement and happiness. Just answer the following questions.

Core Values

List out your company’s core values. Haven’t defined your core values? Jim Collins author of Good to Great has a nice process you can follow to help you discover and define them.

Clear core values help your employees understand what behaviors are important to you as an owner.

Core Purpose - Your “Why”

Define why you do what you do and why anyone should care. I great video to watch on this is Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” video, one of the most watched Ted talks ever.

A clear core purpose acts as a motivator to for your employees. They see coming to work as more that just getting a paycheck.

BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

Your company’s BHAG is where you are leading the business long term.

I like to break this down into two categories qualitative and quantitative.

Defining your BHAG helps to paint a vivid description of what you want your company to look like in the future.

Describe your qualitative BHAG by answering these questions:

In 5 years….

  • Our employees act like this (list some behaviors or core values) ___________________and will say _________________about our company

  • Our customers will say this about our company___________________

  • We will sell the following products and/or services ____________________________________________

  • Our products and services would do __________________ for the market (what positive impact will your products & services have on the market / world?)

  • We will be a leader at ____________________

  • We will own ______________% of the ___________________market

Describe your quantitative BHAG by answering these questions:

In 5 years….

  • We will own ______________% of the ___________________market

  • We will do ________________ in revenue

  • We will do ________________ in profit

  • We will have __________ employees

Our Target Customer

Next, take some time to define your ideal customer. This helps your employees to understand the market you are going after and guides decision making. This is something which Hub Digital Marketing can help dial in...

To define your target customer, answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a target vertical? If so, what is it (i.e. manufacturing,

  • Are your B2B or B2C

  • What is the demographic of the target customer?

    • Age

    • Location

    • Gender

    • Income Level

    • Education Level

    • Marital/Family Status

    • Occupation

How Are We Different?

One of the keys to winning in the marketplace is articulating how you are not only different, but better than your competitors. The more you can tune your employees into this, the greater your potential sales force.

Write down what you see as the top 3-5 key differentiators for your company.

How Will We Market To Our Target Customer

Lastly, to drive even greater clarity around the marketing and growth strategy, define how you will market to your target market. Will it be referrals, organic search, trade shows etc? Help your team to understand your strategy so they can participate in helping you achieve it.

Once you have all these questions answered, compile them into a one page document and share it with your entire company.

Ask if anyone has any questions.

This one page plan can help drive clarity on where you are leading your business and in doing so, you will see more engaged and happier employees as a result.

Learn more about Envisionable,  providing a unique blend of software & consulting that helps small businesses achieve their full potential by driving alignment, engagement and focus.

Amy FieldsComment
Thankful Thoughts and Grateful Hearts
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Some people focus more on the turkey, pumpkin pie, and feasting with family and friends and don’t give much thought to the “THANKS” portion of this holiday. Yes, it centers on food and gathering together, but taking time to be grateful is so important, too!

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Here at Hub Digital, we have so many things to be thankful for: our great clients, our colleagues, our mentors, and of course our friends and family. We realize that we are in the relationship business and we LOVE all of the relationships we’ve had the privilege to build with so many of the great small businesses we work with. We are so grateful for all of the opportunities we have created to lend support and guidance to those who want to grow their businesses.

We are also thankful for the opportunities we have to learn and grow in order to maximize our value to clients! WE LOVE WHAT WE DO...and that is the biggest reason to be grateful!

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Amy Fields Comment
3 Focus Points Every Business MUST Evaluate & Revisit
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Whether you’re a startup or a well established business, there are three extremely important factors that you MUST not only be hyper aware of but revisit on a regular basis.  

1.  Self Awareness:

Who are you, what do you do, why do you do it and, most importantly, what makes you special?  What is your differentiator in your vertical?  What is your unique value proposition?  What is it that you do that your clients or customers really appreciate?  What do you enjoy most about your work or business?  How about this…what generates the most revenue for your business?  And, where is your biggest margin?  

These are just a sampling of some of the questions that you should be asking yourself if you haven’t already.  The more you understand all of this, the better your marketing and growth strategy will be!

2.  Know Your Audience:

Are you really clear on who your ideal client or customer segment is?  It might be easy for some of you to hone in on one extremely specific ‘ideal client avatar’ but some of you might have multiple ‘ideal client segments’.  Either way, it’s so very important that you take the time to clearly identify who they are.  We sometimes peel back the layers of the onion so much so that we can literally visualize them, their habits and so on.  Sometimes it’s that clear.  Other times, it’s a much more general ‘bucket’ but, either way, really understanding who should be interested in your products or services is absolutely essential.

3. Identify Where Your Audience’s Attention Is:

It’s not as creepy as it sounds!  After you’ve taken the time to really hone in on, and become cognizant of, what makes your business special and you’ve tripled down on and found extreme clarity on who your ideal client is, it is equally important to then identify where their attention is.  Humans are bombarded daily with messaging and our attention spans are shrinking at a rapid rate but the good news is there are still many ways to reach us!  

Once you’ve identified who your ideal client/customer audience is, it’s time to figure out how to reach them.  Email is a no brainer.  We ALL receive and look at email so capturing email addresses is one of the most important things you should be doing.  Is your ideal audience women aged 30-55?  If so, you should have a solid social media marketing presence on Facebook (duh, pretty much every business should have an active and engaging Facebook account), and if you’re a business that can (and should) create engaging visuals then Instagram and Pinterest are other obvious places your ideal audience’s attention is.  If you’re a professional services company then having a solid LinkedIn personal profile and business profile is probably a good idea.  

We (Hub Digital) could go into great detail on each of these points but today’s blog is really just to point out these few things that we think of as obvious but realize that so many businesses don’t really take the time to think of.  We promise you that this seemingly simple exercise will be both a little harder that it seems and one of the most important components of your growth strategy…today and always!  

Amy FieldsComment
The Foolproof Guide to Coding Your Site for SEO (Hint: No Coding Required!)
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When you do a web search, what information are you searching for? Chances are that you are looking for something very specific, be it business hours, a phone number, or a physical address to plug into your GPS. Did you know that these bits of information comprise what is known as structured data?

Generally speaking, structured data is coding that you add to your site to pull out important information for Google to know what is on the page. It is usually information that the searcher wants, e.g. hours, phone number, even reviews and ratings. Google loves and favors sites with structured data and websites with it rank higher and get more click-throughs. (And who doesn’t want that?)

We’ve talked about structured data in our Facebook Group and in our classes and we realize that for some people who don’t have much knowledge of HTML, the process can be a little intimidating. The thought of coding can give you the cold-sweats. But here is something to be thankful for...you can add structured data without coding for HTML and implement this key tool on your own website.

In addition to being a great option for people with no experience with coding, this is great for people who have website builders that do not let them play around with code. This structured data strategy works for any type of business.

The first step in implementation is to set up your website in the Google Search Console. A super helpful tool that you should set up if you haven’t already!

Hub Digital’s own Amy Fields explains the process in this easy to follow video:

So, as you can now clearly see, using structured data to boost your website ranking and to give your searchers and potential customers more of what they want should be the next task to check off on your SEO to-do list.

Structure is good!

Amy FieldsComment
Driving Revenue For Both Small Businesses and Enterprises
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Today on the blog we have a special guest blogger, Dale Zwizinski. Dale is a top performing sales professional, leader, and coach with more than 20 years experience with enterprise sales, Known for his ability to grow and enhance businesses, he is happiest when helping customers enhance their business with innovative technologies. He can be found on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter. Welcome, Dale!

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Recently, I spent some time in RI running away from hurricane IRMA.  Luckily, I have the luxury of working from anyway as long as there is an internet connection and an airport nearby. When I am not traveling I work out of a co-working space in Lakewood Ranch, FL.  

Due to the fact that I was going to be in RI for a few weeks I looked for a local co-working space. I found a great location called The Hive RI  in North Kingstown, RI. The Co-founder/Director of The Hive RI, Tuni Renaud Schartner, works with many small and start-up businesses both as Director of The Hive and as  COO of Hub Digital Marketing.  As I have, for the most part, worked in the enterprise space Tuni asked if I would guest blog about how my experience and expertise might be able to help a small business owner.  This article will look at why small businesses and enterprise companies are really more similar than you might think.

Let me start with this - whether you are a small business owner or in the enterprise space there are 2 main goals/objectives:

 1) to generate revenue and

2) to have fun! If we can all agree on this then we can dive into the blog.

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Small Business and Enterprise

Every business is looking to drive revenue, whether you are a small business or Fortune 500 company. In order to drive revenue it is important to really understand the importance of the following:

  • Ideal Client Profile (ICP)

  • What you customers (ICP) need

  • How to deliver the value promised to your customers

ICP

During my career one of the biggest challenges I see businesses of all sizes face is how they define their ICP’s.  Let’s take a minute to understand why it is so important to properly define your ICP.  One of the biggest costs of your business is to target or market to people that “might” be interested in your product or service.  If you are targeting the wrong people then they will never buy your product.  Conceptually this makes sense; however, I find when I discuss ICP with customers they do not have it well defined.  Here is an example of an ICP - “We target Real Estate Companies with more than 10 employees that target waterfront properties in RI.  We are targeting the operations director”.  

Takeaway:  Be as specific as possible when you define your ICP.

 

Customer Need

Once you have the ICP well defined, you need to get complete clarity around meeting your customer's needs.  Your product and/or service is in the market to solve your customer's challenges, therefore make sure that you focus on your customer and their needs.  Many companies start to try to fit their product and/or service into challenges that they are not intended to fulfill.  When you try to “contort” your product/service to a challenge you risk not only having an unhappy customer but also hurt your company's brand (especially with social media today).  In my opinion, small business owners are more vulnerable to social media because a single bad experience could destroy months of great experiences.  

Takeway: Be the best at what you have decided to sell to the public, do not change your product/service (too much) to fit into your customer’s challenges.

Value Delivered

This is the best way to drive revenue for your organization.  A “sale” of a product or service  is only a promise to deliver value, then you actually have to deliver the value.  The most successful companies that I have seen have always done their best to deliver the value they discussed during the sale.  While this sounds easy, it is actually very difficult because we are human - communication and expectations can be misunderstood from both sides of the table.  If there is an issue after the sale, it is your job, as the supplier, to make sure you work with your customer to solve the challenge.  I am not saying that you should always “give in”, however, it is your job to ensure any issues are resolved between you and your customer.  

Takeaway: The sale is the easy part, then you have to actually deliver the value you promised.

Summary

While there are differences between a small business and Fortune 500 company, the basic fundamentals will always be important in either case.  As I have worked with the entire spectrum I see the following as the most important:

1) Know your customer.

2) Stay true to your product/service.

3) Deliver the value promised to your customer.  

While this sounds straightforward, there is no linear path when building a business and brand.

Amy FieldsComment
Conflation and Duplicate Listings
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Conflation.

Even if you’ve never heard the word before, if you are a business owner with a social media or online presence (pretty much all businesses in 2017!) the process of conflation may be having an adverse effect on your business’s SEO.

So what is conflation? We found a great podcast about it, but simply stated it is the merging of two or more sets of information into one. For the purposes of today’s post, let’s look at how conflation can create duplicate listings across the web and social media and how these duplicate listings can affect your SEO.

Conflation happens when data aggregators periodically audit data to ensure that a business’s information is correct. If the data aggregator analyzes this information and finds conflicting information, they may determine what they feel is the ‘correct’ information and create a new listing...all on their own! This frequently occurs due to web crawl errors, variations from one site to another, and poor listing accuracy throughout a company’s web presence. The data aggregator will combine info and create their own listings. And this can happen without you ever knowing...bad data gets merged.

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Having this happen is a huge problem and will:

-Hurt your rankings.

-Frustrate and lose customers.

-Diminish your brand in the eyes of Google.  Google and other search engines do not like conflicting data and will not trust your business or promote it.

Preventing duplicates requires active and consistent management. Sorry, there is no other solution aside from this!  How do I do that you ask?  Search for your business name on  directory sites and ensure the spelling, address, phone number, web site address etc...are all correct. There might be something that you will find when you search and can correct. The longer you avoid managing the data, the more and more conflation will happen!!!

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An example of this even happened to us this week at Hub!

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We have a client that never properly set up a Facebook page but had check-ins on Facebook at their different business locations over the years. Facebook took it upon themselves to create new ‘unofficial’ page(s). Without ownership of the page there is no opportunity to approve, moderate, or delete content on them. Bummer, we know….and something that can seriously affect your business’s reputation. While this (and the drop in SEO!) is enough to be concerning, the steps needed to correct the situation can be numerous and time-consuming and when you are busy running a business, you don’t need these extra problems. This is why we ALWAYS recommend creating your own Facebook business page even if you have no intention of using it – though we strongly recommend, obviously, that you do set it up and use it with best practices (that we share here on our blogs) as a part of your integrated digital marketing and growth strategy!

Finally, if you do notice that there are duplicate Facebook  pages for your business, you must have a verified business page on Facebook in order to merge unofficial pages with your official one.

As you know, we love to educate (knowledge is power!) and empower small businesses and now we hope you have the tools to manage conflation!

Amy FieldsComment
Ding Dong The Pitch Is Dead
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Welcome Nancy McCabe as our guest blogger this week! Nancy was Tuni’s professional coach & they’ve remained dear friends and colleagues. Nancy is a business coach located in the Boston, Massachusetts area who serves clients across the globe. In 2008, she founded Results Business Coaching to support clients and businesses on their journeys to success. She is highly regarded for her training, speaking, and individual coaching programs. Currently, Nancy continues to train and speak by request but dedicates most of her time to providing clarity and guidance through dynamic one-to-one coaching programs.

Networking is very much alive but the dreaded elevator pitch is finally dead - and not a minute too soon!

We’re replacing the phony, one-sided, introductions that cause other people’s eyes to glaze over while they silently scream,  “Please get away from me!”, with a calm curiosity that gets people talking. When we listen to others, we uncover the clues that allow us to make real connections with them,  and to support them in unexpected ways. Science shows that providing people with the chance to talk about themselves gives them as much pleasure as food . . . or money!

Before we delve into the how-to’s for meeting new people, let’s think strategically about your career, your business, or your cause. What are you striving to achieve over the next 12 months and who can help you succeed? Are they potential clients, mentors, investors, partners, distributors, inventors, recruiters, coaches, consultants, or (fill in the blank)? Stretch your imagination and ask, “Who enjoys working with me, using my product or service, investing in my business, or contributing to the cause I’m passionate about?” Now flip the question and ask, “Who can I help succeed, and how?” The clearer your vision, the easier it is for you to motivate yourself to get out the door and meet people.

  • Pam’s a realtor and the Mom of twin toddlers who finds most of her first-time home buyers through referrals and at local Moms’ groups.

  • Some of Calvin’s financial advising clients meet him through the local chapter of his college alumni group.

  • Sheri’s a recruiter who’s looking for people with jobs who might be open for a change, so she’s a regular at industry-sponsored workshops, training programs, and social events.

  • Yoga and spin classes are where Jay meets folks who are interested in his nutritional counseling.

When you’ve identified a person you really want to meet, do your homework, pack your business cards, dress to impress, and show-up expecting the best. Stay focused on quality not quantity.

  • Merin is a legend in the start-up world and a person Keith really wanted as an advisor and a potential investor. When he saw that Merin was speaking at a local conference he attempted to line-up an introduction through his former boss and failed. Undeterred, he did his homework before approaching Merin after lunch. He introduced himself and asked, Is it true that you played Lacrosse for UConn? Thought so – we’re rivals - what years did you play? The conversation quickly switched from college sports to start-ups. The minute Keith asked Merin for advice, he got his full attention. Keith left with Merin’s private cell number and the encouragement to call him anytime.

  • Doug was looking to expand his network and was resigned to the fact that networking is supposed to be terrible. He fully expected to go to a room full of strangers and try to make a “connection” and convince another person, in a short conversation, of his brilliance. With a new perspective and preparation, Doug was able to identify people he really wanted to connect with, and when he did meet them, he focused only on them. When the time was right he was able to share his story and develop a valuable relationship. Now he says networking is easy.

Amy FieldsComment