Tag: seo

Tips

How To Build A Rabid Online Fanbase Around Your Company

August 25, 2020
online fanbase audience love

online fanbase audience loveSo many companies, even well known ones, are outwardly struggling with audience engagement right now. And no wonder. There are new internal priorities to contend with. Seemingly endless factors competing for audience attention. Like it or not, the rules have changed. So what is the secret to cultivating not just followers, and visitors, but a thriving fan base of enthusiasts?

It’s not enough to check a box anymore, and produce content for content’s sake. The audience sees this coming. They know that they are being served up placeholders, or warmed-over rehashes of the same old talking points. It gets old after the third post.

It doesn’t work to be dry, factual and informative, either. This gets lost in a sea of gray. Ex: yet another product demo video absent of context or storytelling? Yawn city.

The audience needs to care first before they get enamored by features enough to influence purchase behavior. So tell them about the product benefits once they know, trust, and feel like they belong to a community. Not as the jumping off point. After all, people don’t fall in love with their car’s owner’s manual. They get attached to the brand itself and the emotional benefits. This is what needs to come alive online.

But We Have a Big Following!

Even if the numbers are there (ex: Cristiano Ronaldo-sized Instagram following), this doesn’t necessarily translate to an engaged audience. Maybe they are sticking around, waiting for something to happen. Maybe they clicked on something they half-liked years ago, which was the last time they were actually impressed with what they saw. The longer it goes without a real strategy or care for the audience, the more apathetic they will become. Then, when you actually have something big to say? It will hit the web with a resounding ‘meh.’

The presumption here is that you want your company to be treated like an iconic brand. And to jump the line for undivided audience attention. If so, there needs to be a consistently high benchmark for everything put in front of your audience, ie:

  • Is there a definable brand voice and personality?
  • Are there opportunities for two-way engagement?
  • Is there an overarching creative direction?
  • Is there a well crafted execution?

If it’s just pretty pictures, it’s a wasted opportunity. The solution – be active, attentive, and purposeful with your audience interaction. Let’s look at three ways to accomplish this:

Deep Social Media Audience Insights

By now, it’s common knowledge that having an active social media presence is crucial. For starters, it increases your company visibility. Even better, it integrates your brand into the lives of those you want to reach. But beyond likes and comments, how do you know who is actively enjoying the content? How do you inform the messaging strategy? And further, ensure that all relevant audience segments are being covered? The answer lies in metrics-driven audience insights.

To achieve this level of audience awareness, social analytics experts like ours create compelling data stories. These are generated through years of practice and increasingly sophisticated software platforms. By looking at the results across different channels, it opens up new levels of understanding. It enables us all to see who is just consuming the content vs those with genuine purchase intent. This way, the strategy across all channels (ex: organic, paid) can be adjusted to match the audience’s engagement level.

After a short time, we can start developing trends and courting new audiences. We can even get into predictive revenue, leading to a way smarter and better informed social strategy. Goodbye, content for content’s sake.

A To-The-Moment Relevant Website

Another way to cultivate a more loyal following online is to update your website frequently. Regularly updating your website helps your customers know that things are moving and not stagnant. Does the website looks the same as it did three weeks ago? If so, there is no incentive to visit again.

To counter this, consider implementing an overarching web engagement strategy. This could consist of a branded campaign with content that is unique to your website only. As the campaign rolls out, from teaser to interactive features, your audience will be hooked. They will know they are a part of something exciting that is specifically for them. Then, bring new variations on the theme to life throughout the course of the campaign. This will give your audience a reason to come back over and over.

Again, letting your website grow stale will detract customers. So make sure to update it frequently and keep the highly visible features current. This will build trust and loyalty. And as a side benefit, actively curated websites perform better in online searches over time than stagnant ones.

To the casual observer, your existing website may seem like it represents the brand well. However, chances are it can go even further. What experience does a first time visitor have? How are they moved to react or act? As the primary entry point to your company, the website should have emotional appeal and integrated into the browsing experience. Make the brand story come to life and keep it current!

SEO – The Time-Tested Audience Driver

If the company website stands up, then SEO helps to ensure that the right audience finds it. Is your company looking to grow audience engagement? If so, don’t underestimate the power of SEO or see it as a cost only. Instead, integrate SEO into any long-range promotional activities, with a monthly program in place. Between onsite, technical, and offsite, SEO marketing tactics are designed to improve visibility on the web and in search engines. For example, content should be semantically written. Also, it should have a content strategy behind it. If not, it will likely be outranked by competitors. Putting SEO to work for you, as one of many coverage areas, will increase the popularity of your website by making it easily accessible to your valued audience.

What Next?

Of course, we’re only scratching the surface here. If you have an iconic brand that deserves more love than it’s getting with current audience engagement, drop us a line.

Tips

Why Do Marketing Companies Ask For Your Budget?

February 19, 2020
marketing budget

What’s your marketing budget?

“I don’t know.”

These three words drive fear into the hearts of courageous marketing companies. It makes our heads spin, and we need Advil and electrolytes to recover. If there is a fainting couch nearby, we might darn well use it.

Why?

Because knowing your budget is essential to making the best recommendations. It gives us parameters to work within, and tells us how to think and act.

When we hear a budget, we make mental calculations in real time and start gameplanning. If there is no defined budget, this could mean one of two things:

  1. “There is absolutely no money to invest into marketing.”
  2. “You know that one dream strategy you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t justify all that A-list Hollywood talent on the payroll? That’s for us!”

The reality is probably somewhere in between these two scenarios. There is money to put into marketing, and there is (unfortunately) a ceiling into how far the budget will go (you’re off the hook, Clooney).

But here’s the thing – if you don’t know your budget, we don’t know it either. The best we can do is to make assumptions. We could dig deep into your financials, with your permission, but even that may not present the most accurate picture of what to spend. So how do you gauge your marketing budget, to provide an informed and confident answer?

To start, here are a few questions to consider:

“What Would A Highly Skilled Employee Cost?”

Think about what you are asking your potential marketing company to accomplish. Think about the skills and expertise it will require to work on your behalf. Now, take stock of what it would cost to hire an employee each month, with all the talents and skills you are after. What is this amount?

You can validate salary assumptions with job boards like indeed or ZipRecruiter. For equitable comparisons, look at listings for seasoned professionals, not early career postings. Got a rough idea in your head? Great – this is now your starting point for the budgeting conversation.

Keep in mind that a marketing company on a limited engagement will command a higher per-hour rate than an in-house employee. So it will likely be more cost effective to engage your marketing company on a monthly retainer, as opposed to an hourly billable structure.

Also, know that with a marketing company, your budget may stretch much further than hiring only one employee with a specific skill set. With a marketing company, you will have access to a full team of specialists with a diverse set of talents. So don’t look to undercut what you’d pay an internal team member. Instead, think of it as a redistribution of marketing funds to partner with an experienced marketing company, and all the benefits that come with it.

“What Do Our Competitors Spend On Their Marketing Budget?”

Think about your industry leaders, as well as your close competitors. How established are they, and how trusted? Is their website more effective than yours? Are they dominating search engine results? Try to see things as objectively as possible, without championing your own company for a moment.

If your competitors are ahead in one or several areas, then it’s very likely you’ll want to make marketing a top-level priority. This doesn’t mean you have to outspend them, or to carbon-copy their approaches. But it does point to devoting money towards marketing, and to investing a reasonable amount each year into building your presence, market position, and community engagement.

Do a little recon, if possible. How much do competitors spend each year on marketing? If your budget is in the same ballpark, with the right marketing team behind you, then you have a nice chance of going head to head. This is true even if you’re the underdog – marketers love a good fight. But if you’re spending a fraction of what they are, it’s likely you’ll end up with the same fraction of market share, year after year.

“What Does It Take To Become Our Customer?”

We can’t all sell umbrellas in the rain. Purchasing from your company may be a complex and nuanced process. Even if you sell a relatively simple product or service, consumers may agonize over the decision. They may want to read, learn, ask peers, and engage in any number of ways before making the commitment. And what if your product or service actually is complex and nuanced?

Education and behavior change are two of the more challenging types of marketing. Talking people out of what they know and are comfortable with, and into a new solution, takes time and patience. It can be very rewarding, but there is a lot of ramp-up that goes into educating consumers and giving them reason to trust you.

So how much do you spend? If your product or service is a new or revolutionary concept, then you’ll likely want to spend 1.5x or more the typical marketing budget to get the word out. Give your marketing team room to experiment, to prove out the concept, and show you what connects with consumers. This will give you a foundation to build from, and point the direction to next steps.

Once you’ve hit critical mass, and your product or service is virtually selling itself, then consider dialing back the marketing expenditure. But until then, you’re facing an uphill battle. Equip your team accordingly.

So, About That Marketing Budget…

All this is great, but how much should your marketing budget be?

If you go straight according to the numbers, look at spending 5-8% of your total gross revenue to maintain your current marketing position. If you are looking to grow, and take on competitors, then 10-12% of total gross revenue will be more appropriate.

Of course, this estimate varies by industry. It may not account for direct costs like ad spend, or your internal marketing team salaries. But now you have a benchmark to start with, and another way to determine how much to spend on your marketing initiatives. As goals are achieved, don’t make the same mistake that a lot of companies do and cut your spend. Instead, consider budgeting more towards marketing, to experiment, evolve, and gain a larger competitive edge.

Working With Your Budget

No matter your marketing budget, we will apply what you have to work with and use it most effectively. Healthy budgets let us cover more ground, and in many cases work faster. We are able to devote more team members, time, and higher level expertise to your projects.

Slimmer budgets give us a starting point. We may be able to cover one or two areas of your marketing, with the shared understanding that we are working within limitations. To take on your entire marketing program, or work with fewer constraints, the budget would need to be adjusted accordingly. But don’t be afraid to share your budget, and the figure you are able to devote towards marketing each month. We will always provide insights into how to apply this budget most effectively.

Marketing budgets drive business. They create excitement, momentum, and community around your company. They attract, educate, entertain, and inform your desired audience. They set you apart from the competition, and they set the trajectory for the next 5-10 years. They are an essential component of achieving your business and marketing goals.

So, with all this in mind, what’s your marketing budget?