Posts tagged branding
What the heck is influencer marketing anyway?
How to find influencers and brand advocates from Hub Digital Marketing in Rhod eISland.

We’re guessing you’ve heard this term?  How about the term ‘Advocate Marketing’?  They’re similar but totally different!  Brand advocates, customer advocates or, as we like to call them ‘brand champions’, are existing customers or clients who like (or love!) a business and aren’t afraid to use their own time, energy or brand to endorse it.  An Influencer is a bit different as they are people that usually get paid in some way to use their brand (influence) to endorse a business thus increasing the reach (getting in front of eyeballs that they’re not currently in front of) of that business.

Brand advocates are usually easier to find than you might think and utilizing them is a great inexpensive component that should be a part of your marketing strategy.  

A couple of tips on how to identify brand advocates:

  1. Are you following who is tagging your business on social media?  Start paying attention to those notifications and see if any of your customers are saying nice things about you, liking and sharing your posts, etc...  
  2. Ask your sales team to start making a list of customers that seem especially happy with your business…those that are ‘touching’ the customers/clients the most will probably be able to create that list pretty quickly!

A couple of ways you can leverage that love:

  1. Ask why they like you and/or what they like about you.  This is a great way to get a testimonial that you can share in your email campaigns, on social media or in ads and it’s also a great way to find out what you’re doing well (maybe you don’t even know something you’re doing well or maybe this will validate something you want to invest more time, money and energy in).  
  2. Reward them for sharing with coupons, discounts or some kind of VIP treatment and build even stronger relationships with those amazing clients or customers!

Influencers, on the other hand, are usually people or brands with large social followings whether local, national or global, that have built a very loyal audience.  Influencers are usually paid to promote or endorse a brand whether that be with fees, products or some other kind of agreed upon compensation or trade.  Influencer marketing is a great way to reach audiences you’re not currently in front of and when done right it works really well.   It’s not just about finding popular people though as it has to make sense in some way for these ‘influencers’ to be endorsing a brand and keep in mind that finding the right influencers should convert to more followers, shares and hopefully sales.  

An easy tip for finding relevant influencers:

  • What do you do?  Are you a local business selling direct to customers like a Laundromat?  Have you noticed there are some local women out there that seem to have huge social media followings?  One of them might even live in your neighborhood that you see at the bus stop everyday!  She would be an excellent influencer for your Laundromat and chances are that if you reached out to her and offered some kind of service in return (maybe she would love to drop off and pick up blankets or other laundry?)…she’d probably be happy to help you with your marketing!  You can just pause for a minute and think of this scenario on a larger scale if you’re a business with a national or global audience.  B2B business strategies are different, of course, but similar in the way that you should focus on a business (or person) that compliments your business and authenticity is still super important.

What do you do once you find an influencer?  

  • So, you’ve found an influencer and you’ve agreed upon a payment for their shout out but what are they going to say?  This depends on the type of business you have and the influencer’s brand style.  Authentic is ALWAYS best.  Most influencers already have a specific language and style - think about some Instagram feeds and how all the posts flow in a way that really kind of looks similar, maybe it’s the kind of images they use, like beach pictures, or maybe it’s the same color scheme or filter throughout?  These influencers might have no problem pushing out some great endorsements that seem very organic.  For some influencers though, they may be very agreeable to sit down with you to either brainstorm ideas with you and/or take what you craft for them to ensure the messaging they’re pushing out is both consistent with their brand (so their loyal audience won’t think twice about trusting them and hopefully will jump on board to support your brand) and consistent with your integrated messaging and marketing strategy.

Whether you decide to start leveraging the love with your existing brand advocates or you decide to seek out new influencers to help spread the word about your amazing company (or better yet…both)  they are both proven effective tactics and we wish you tons of new growth!

 

Big SEO For Small Businesses - Online Class!

STRUGGLING WITH GETTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE?

Having a hard time mastering Search Engine Optimization? Not even sure what SEO is and how it will even help your business? We're so excited to announce enrollment is opening for the only SEO class you'll ever need.

In it we'll walk you through; what SEO can do for your business, understanding everything that goes into an SEO strategy, and how you can master it to drive more website traffic and more sales.

Everything you've ever needed to know about SEO and how to optimize it all in 15 easy to follow lessons that you can take in your own time and when it benefits you. Not sure you need this class? Let us tell you why you do:

  • 70% of links search users click on are organic.
  • When consumers are exposed to both search and social media influences by a brand, their overall search click-thru-rate went up by 94%.
  • The #1 driver to websites is search, beating out social media by more than 300%.
  • SEO Leads have a 14.6% close rate, while leads from advertising have a 1.7% close rate.*

*Stats courtesy of Search Engine Journal

What You'll Learn

Big SEO For Small Businesses, is a 15 module course designed to walk you through everything you need to create a comprehensive SEO strategy that will drive more traffic to your website and help convert that traffic into sales.  Learn More!

What's Your Business' Story?

Some Friday food for thought....

What is your business' story from Hub Digital Marketing?


noun, plural stories.

1.a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
noun

1.a person's regular occupation, profession, or trade.
"she had to do a lot of smiling in her business"

synonyms: work, line of work, occupation, profession, career, employment, job, position; 

2.the practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce.
"the world of business"

synonyms: trade, trading, commerce, dealing, traffic, merchandising; 

 

The "Why" Behind Hub Digital
Why Hub Digital is so passionate about help small business with their digital marekting in Rhode ISland.

What is your ‘WHY’?  What is your reason, goal(s), or impetus that gets you out of bed in the morning?  Your ‘WHY’ might be raising a happy healthy family, getting a degree, making a million bucks... 

Here at Hub Digital Marketing, our‘WHY’ is all about helping businesses grow through digital marketing and customized growth strategies.  Our ‘WHY’ fuels our quest for learning and growing.  Can’t stop, won’t stop!  We read, watch videos, attend webinars and online classes, and go to presentations and workshops with an almost obsessive dedication.  We practice new ideas and platforms out on ourselves, and our own business, ALL the time.  We truly enjoy meeting with people and hearing their stories.  We are always interested in learning about client’s businesses and we revel in identifying their strengths and weaknesses, their growth stories and pain points then we love working with them to identify, build, and execute growth strategies specific to each and every one of them.  We really love what we do and do what we love! 

Now you know what our ‘WHY’ is, so what about the HOW and WHAT?

Marketing…what is marketing really?  As defined by Miriam Webster:

Full Definition of marketing

  1. 1a :  the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market b :  the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
  2. 2:  an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer

Then there’s Digital Marketing, which really is the skeletal structure and/or foundation of everything we do – from the design and development of a website, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and all that goes into search engine optimization – that is ‘WHAT’ we do! Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.   Wikipedia’s full definition.

Content is king…you’ve heard that, right?  Well, it’s true.  Content creation is the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience in specific contexts.  But let’s think of content as content marketing… Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.  

And, of course SEO (search engine optimization) is at the heart of it ALL.  Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) -- including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. 

A list of WHAT we do…

- SEO Strategy and Execution
- Website Design
- Social Media Marketing and Management
- Blogging and Copywriting
- Grassroots Marketing Strategy and Execution
- Email Marketing - List Development and Template Building
- Paid Search
- Display Ad Purchase and Design
- Graphic Design

How Important Is A Style Guide?

In the past we've talked a lot about branding and how important staying true to it can be for your company. And to any brand-conscious business, the style guide may seem like a natural extension of that. Logos, colors, fonts and tags can be imperative to a brand's style, image and reputation in the community, however, how strictly does a brand need to stick to this guide? Is it better to be rigid with your brand's interpretation, or is it better to stay loose and go with the flow?

In my opinion, the first thing I would say is that a style guide IS important. Letting your vendors, clients, employees and advertising reps know the fonts, colors and layout that are important to your brand is a good thing, and ensures that you're being represented in a clear and concise way. It prevents some confusion, and easily lets everyone know how to represent your brand in social media posts, press releases, on signage and in advertisements.

It also helps you establish a "tone" or "style" for your brand when you're being communicated or talked about by other people. Do you want to come across as formal or informal? Are there words you like, or definitely don't want to be used, when referencing your company?

Your style guide doesn't have to be anything too complicated or complex. Create a word doc or PDF that includes any (or all) of the following:

  • A picture of the logo and any size, coloration or placement guidelines
  • Specific colors (primary and secondary)
  • Specific fonts (and when they should be used)
  • Voice and style guide of words, phrases and the tone of your business
  • A social media/advertising guide to what is ok to be talked about online or in ads and what is not
  • Your core mission statement or purpose
  • Your brand or product differentiators 
  • Target demographic or audience

That being said, I'm never one for being too rigid or holding too tight to a certain set of rules. I believe that life is all about bending and flowing and doing what's right for not just your brand, but for the situation in which your brand is being represented.

A good rule of thumb is to ensure that at least 1 or 2 of the tangible pieces of your style guide is represented at all times. Maybe the color of a sign or advertisement doesn't make sense with your brand's colors. So if you're going to allow a different color, make sure your fonts and layout of your logo is represented correctly.

Allowing your brand to be loose and flexible, while still holding true to a few core representations, opens your brand up to a world of opportunities, however, ensures your company will always be represented in a way that you are comfortable with.  

Should You Have A Personal Brand?
 
 

Recently I've been working on a personal branding class that I decided to take one day on whim. In case you don't know what that is, a personal brand is when someone markets themselves and their careers as a brand. That means that outside of Hub Digital, I would make steps towards branding myself, Amy Fields (or Amy Levesque if that's how you know me) as a marketing expert.

I decided to do this for a few reasons. The first is exactly what I said above. Since getting married, I've struggled with keeping my professional identity, while transitioning to my new married name. It wasn't until I went to change it, that I realized what a strong presence that name had when it came to my current and potential clients. I knew that if I was going to go by my new name, I have to create just as strong a connection to it.

The other reason I knew that creating a personal brand was important, was because I started to realize that my clients were hiring me, not Hub Digital. They were signing contracts and sending checks based on me, my personality and my knowledge of marketing. They could care less what the name of my company was, or what color my logo was. They wanted to hire someone they trusted, could connect with and knew would do the best job for them.

If your business is like mine, where trust and connection with you plays a big part in the purchasing (or hiring) process, then a personal brand may be something worth considering. By creating visuals, sayings and emotions around you, that can be that little extra push potential clients or customers may need when deciding.

A few things to keep in mind when considering your personal brand:

- What are a few key words or phrases that you want potential customers to think of when they see or talk about you? What do you want to be known for? Writing them down can help you remember and implement them in your messaging.
- What are some visual elements that you want people to associate with you? This can range from anything like colors and fonts, to iconic clothing or hair colors. People are much more likely to remember striking visuals so you have to give them something to remember.
- Are you using your authentic voice online? How a business talks and a person talks online is completely different. People expect businesses to be buttoned up, but they expect people to be real. Don't be afraid to be a little casual, vulnerable and authentic when sharing content online.

What Exactly Does "Hit" Mean? - Display Advertising 101 pt. 1 of 2

Being a business owner, you've most likely fielded a few calls from sales rep looking to get you to buy advertising from them. In an effort to stay open minded about growing your business and trying new things, you agree to schedule an appointment with that cool new website. On the day of the meeting, the sales rep walks in and starts throwing around terms like "hits", "UVs" and "CTRs" which leaves you more confused than before the meeting started. Sure the numbers sound impressive, but this all new for you. How are you supposed to be really sure you're getting a good deal if you don't even know what they're talking about? Lucky for you I'm here to break down all these digital terms, as well as give you some insider tips to buying online advertising I picked up from my years as a digital sales rep. You can thank me later.

  • Banner Ad - Display advertising on a website. This does NOT just refer to that long thin banner across the top of a website. It encompasses ALL different size and shape display ads on a website.

  • Paid Search - The purchase of keywords or phrases in an effort to show up #1 in search. These look like regular search results but have a small little box that says "AD" next to them. Typically you would place bids on keywords and would be charged when someone clicks on your ad. These can be very effective (since you're reaching people specifically searching for your product or service), however, be careful of spam bots or competition who may click on your ad multiple times in an effort to cost you money without generating any leads. The most used paid search option is Google Adwords. This is not to be confused with display advertising (see banner Ad above)

  • Hit - A single file or picture on a website that is delivered to a web server every time a page is visited. As an example, a single page on a website may have 10 pictures. Every time one person visits that page it counts for 11 hits (10 for the pictures and 1 for the HTML file of the actual page). This is the MOST overused and misleading term used by online sales reps. They may tell you their website gets over 10,000 "hits" per month. To someone who doesn't know better this is very impressive. However, each page of their website could have 20 different files on it (pictures, tables, javascript files, etc.) That means that "10,000 hits" is really only about 500 visitors came to the site. There is a HUGE difference in value there so know that you're in the know, don't let them fool you!

  • Impressions - How many times your ad was seen. This is one way you can track how your ad is performing. Knowing the number of visitors to a site is great, but what good does that do you if your ad isn't being shown to them? 

  • UV/Unique Visitor - One computer visiting the site one time during a specific time period. Asking your sales rep how many Unique Visitors their site gets in a month is a great idea. You want to make sure there is a good mix of new visitors and returning visitors. The Unique Visitor number is going to tell you that. A site could have 5,000 visits per month but could only have 1,000 Unique Visitors. While it's great that those 1,000 people are coming back to the site up to 5 times per month (more chances to convert), eventually advertising to the same people month after month will grow tiring for both your brand and the sites viewers.

  • CTR/Click-thru Rate - Your percentage of clicks vs. impressions. This is something that can be tricky to use to tell if your ad is working. As a general rule of thumb, people don't click on online ads, unless there is a really great offer that draws them in.  This doesn't mean online advertising isn't worth it! Just because someone didn't click on your ad, doesn't mean it didn't make an impression on them and stay with them long after they left that website. As a rule of thumb national average click thru rate is only .06%. This means that for every 100 people seeing your ad, you can expect only 6 of them to click thru. As long as your ad is performing right around that national average, don't get discouraged or place too much emphasis on this.

  • Branding - An advertising campaign based on simply putting yourself in-front of a community or target market. This campaign aims to show people your colors, logos, products and/or services who may not already know what you do. This does not include any offers or discounts.

  • Offer Based - An ad that includes an offer or discount in an effort to drive quick sales.

  • Lead Generation - A campaign specifically targeted to getting leads or retaining a customer's information. Usually offers a coupon code, free information, or give-a-way in exchange for contact information for follow up later.

Hopefully these have helped you begin to make sense of the digital advertising world. Make sure you come back next week as I'm breaking down even MORE terms, and giving you tips specifically related to different buying philosophies and where on a website you'll want to be. See you next week!

Add a little personality.... But only a little!
beyourself.jpg

Branding is one thing, but who says we can't have room for a little personality. People are usually afraid to take risks online. I often hear,  “I didn’t know if I should post it, so I didn’t post anything.” In reality, that is the definition of entrepreneurship! The most successful figures have taken risks that most people could not execute or even imagine. You never know what will work for your business, and speak to your customers, until you try it yourself. Who says it's wrong to have both “business” AND “party” in the front?

Many business owners choose to keep their business and personal lives separate; They have separate Facebook profiles, separate Twitter accounts, and separate behaviors. But, sometimes it may be beneficial to combine pieces of your personal life one your business page. Some of the most popular photographers and artists add jokes, quotes, or personal beliefs to their work which attract audiences to their genuine and likable personality. Use it as an asset, not a liability.

For the truly observant readers, you may have seen this coming as well. As with that delicious cheesecake sitting in the fridge, maybe it's better to just have one slice instead of the whole pie. Just because you CAN personalize your business, doesn't mean you always SHOULD. Be weary of posting political, religious, overly-biased, or controversial content that could alienate current or potential clients. Be friendly without being obnoxious or in-your-face. 

Take all of this advice with a grain of salt. At the end of the day, you as the owner have the final say of what is included and excluded. Clientele will definitely appreciate a friendly or personable business strategy rather than a strict and structured corporate mentality; This doesn't mean there isn't room for professionalism as well. Treat your business like making new friendships and it'll pay you back tenfold. 

What is Branding?
 
Branding your company can help your customers recognize your business, product and service, and help with yoru marketing.
 

 

If you've ever talked to a marketer before, you've probably heard them throw around the term “branding”. Along with words like “engagement”, “synergy” and “hashtag” it’s probably one of our favorite things to say to current and prospective clients. But what does it actually mean? And how can you apply it to your business?

“Branding” refers to the colors, logos, tag lines and overall character that belong to a particular product or service. By “branding” your company, you are creating essentially a trademark that defines who and what you are. Having a strong brand presence is important if you want your customers to be able to recognize your company when they see your advertising, your signs, your printed materials, and your website.

Here’s a few tips to keep your branding consistent throughout all the various ways you promote yourself.

  1. Have specific colors, fonts and graphics for your brand, and use only them. It’s easy to say, “My company uses the color blue”. We’re on the right track here, but the color blue can come in a variety of shades from navy to robin’s egg to “cerulean" and “blizzard”. Picking a specific color (with a specific number attached) and font, and insisting that they be used on all of your marketing materials, can help ensure a uniform presence. 
  2. Say the same message. This one is pretty simple. Don’t publish a 20% off sale on your Facebook page, while an ad for $15 off a $50 purchase is running on a few websites. You can promote different products or services on different platforms, but make sure the messages meld together and don’t compete or else you’re going to get confusion among your customers (and headaches for your staff).
  3. Create your brand around your customers. This one can be a little tougher. Think about your prospective audience and what they may like and feel a connection with. As an example, a clothing line made for the beach, looks odd paired with a heavy, victorian font and dark colors. Your audience is fun, probably young and into the outdoors. Soft, fluid script that mirrors the ocean waves and light colors evoke a feeling of summer and sand with your potential patrons.

Branding may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in a variety of styles and messaging as your explore what works best for your brand. Don’t be afraid of trying new things, but make sure you aren't losing who you are, and confusing your customers in the process.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Digital Marketing

New products and businesses are constantly flooding the internet, trying to fight over consumers and followers. With easy access to technology, every brand, business and person is jumping online to promote anything you can imagine. But are they doing it right?  Make sure you know these 7 deadly sins of digital marketing so you won’t go unnoticed, or even worse, be disliked, online.

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.

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!

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

What does online advertising actually do?

As a former advertising sales rep, and current champion of digital for small businesses, I am constantly getting questioned on what online advertising actually does. I consistently hear things like "I put an ad online and didn't get one phone call" or "How do I know if this is really working?"

Since the digital environment entered the advertising playing field, the way marketers and small business owners quantify a return on their investment (ROI) has changed. No longer can you place an ad on a website (or in any other passive medium like radio, TV, print, etc) and expect the phone to start ringing or people to start walking through the door the next day. Consumers are getting smarter about their purchases. They understand the steps to take to see if you really do have the best product available, and will no longer take your word for.

Search engine giants like Google, Bing and Yahoo, review platforms like Yelp, BBB and Angie's List, and social media endorsements from Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have completely changed the game on how we consume products. We no longer wait to find out about new products through commercials or figure out how they work by visiting the store and asking an associate.  Interested in a new gaming console? Google your different options, visit the maker's website to learn the specifications and features of each console, check out some reviews from other purchasers, and hit up social media to ask your friends their opinions instantly. Then order it directly from the manufacturer to be shipped within the week. You didn't need to leaf through the papers for advertisements or ask the Best Buy associate how they work. 

Does this mean that advertising is useless? Not at all. How would you have known that you wanted to buy a gaming console if there weren't ads reminding you that you wanted one? If all your friends had Playstation, how would you know that Xbox was another option for you to play? Passive display advertising is all about branding a product or service in the minds of the consumer. Is it ultimately going to make their final decision? Probably not. But it reminds them you exist and are there to fill their need when they have it.  That is called branding. Staying relevant and consistent in the mind of the consumer. Keep repeating the word "branding" over and over again when looking at your display ad results!

So how do you make display advertising work for you? Don't just rely on it alone as a singular way to bring in business. Combining more aggressive strategies like social media marketing, blogging, lead generation outlets and referral programs can help you bring together all your efforts on a unified front. Make display advertising a piece of the puzzle, but know that you need to put some time and effort into creating content, getting reviews and promoting your brand on a variety of outlets to really have a strong presence online.

Also, learn to change your expectations of display ad's performance. Instead of focusing on how many clicks you get (National average click-thru rate on banner ads is only .05%!) look at how many impressions your ad is getting. These translate to real life people seeing your brand and the product or service you can offer them. While you may not feel the immediate effects of a sale, these impressions are valuable! They are chances for people to see your name and what you have to offer, who may not have ever heard of you before.

To feel even better about those impressions, find an outlet where you can target your ad by demographics and geographic location. Now you're not just getting people looking at your brand, but people even more likely to purchase from you. Knowing realistically what display advertising can do for you business will help you make better purchasing decisions, and feel better about spending your hard earned dollars.

 

Amy Levesque is a young professional in Rhode Island, digital marketing expert and owner of Hub Digital L.L.C. Hub Digital offers digital marketing services for small to medium size businesses ranging from SEO, social media marketing, blogging and consulting.