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Should a Brand Outsource its Content Marketing? :
According to a recent finding, senior executives from over 50 global brands, including Coca-Cola, Nestle, GE, and Adobe, said they wanted to create their content marketing in-house. In fact, 100 percent of these brands said as much.
But when asked what agency the brand would select when they did outsource content marketing, the overwhelming answer was “NOT a social media agency,” as they were “too trendy.”
“To be a relevant, successful PR agency today one’s company has to be universal and universally creative,” says SEM Media Group President, Phil Thow. “It’s not enough to be really good at one or two types of creative content. Brands are looking to hire a few different ‘boutique’ agencies to cover all their bases. Just like SEM Media Group, a competitive agency has to understand all forms of content creation and delivery.”
When a brand is looking to outsource its content creation, there are some important criteria it should consider.
“The first is for the brand to know exactly why they want to hire an outside agency like SEM Media Group,” says Phil Thow. “Is it because they lack the right talent in-house? Or do they need help with strategy development?”
By knowing why the brand needs the expertise of a PR agency, it will help them identify the best shortlist of candidates.
“Strategy comes before all else,” says Phil Thow of the second criteria. “Strategy and tactics are two different things entirely. At SEM Media Group, we always insist a brand or company have a strategy in place before we start discussing the tactics we’ll use to follow the strategy. For instance, saying a company needs a social media presence is not a strategy. It’s a tactic.”
Equally important to agencies like SEM Media Group is knowing where to end, not just where to begin. “Any good strategy should include success criteria and key performance indicators,” says Phil Thow. “Knowing how success will be measured and marked is considered. That doesn’t meaning getting X number of new fans on Facebook, but increasing sales leads, or generating a shorter sales cycle. It’s not always about the metrics.”
If a business is ready to outsource content marketing, it must spend some in-house time to know exactly what it’s looking to gain from outside expertise. A brand shouldn’t turn to an agency to tell them what they need. They should have that in mind already and then ask the agency how they can help them achieve their content marketing goals.
Google’s PLA Drives Most of Adwords Click in Q4 :
Google’s PLA (product listing ads), which was launched in 2012, is continuing to drive more and more traffic to e-retailers, and SEM Media Group is taking note. In 2014-Q4, PLAs drove 56 percent of non-brand click and 30 percent of overall Google search advertising clicks, according to RKG.
“Google has shown a greater preference and placement for PLAs in 2014,” says SEM Media Group President, Phil Thow, “even to the point of placing PLAs above organic listings instead of putting them off to the right-hand side of Google’s search result, the “typical” home for paid search ads. PLAs, therefore, are here to stay and are dictating the pay-to-play strategy of digital marketing.”
Click-through rates are also on the rise. In Q4, the rates on Google’s PLAs were 130 percent higher, and conversation rates were 30 percent higher too, than non-brand text ads.
PLAs are only relevant for websites that have physical products to sell. In SEM Media Group’s case, the agency specializes in representing automotive parts dealers. Of course, different industries have different expectations and outcomes for securing search traffic with PLAs. For instance, apparel-related websites generate the lowest percentage of their non-brand Google click from PLAs, but electronics, healthy and beauty, and home and garden retailers get the majority of their non-brand Google clicks via PLAs.
The other search engine now hosting a similar PLA format is Bing Ad’s nascent product ads. It, too, realized a strong growth in 2014-Q4. Product ads drove seven percent of non-brand clicks in that quarter, doubling from the previous quarter. Now, product ads on the Yahoo Bing Network account for 14 percent of clicks.
“In this visual online world we are becoming accustomed to,” explains Phil Thow, “especially with social networks and photo-centric sites like Pinterest and Tumblr, it makes sense that more people shop with their eyes, and to a lesser degree, with any specific store loyalty. To be relevant in today’s e-commerce landscape, as we tell our clients at SEM Media Group, one has to go where the business is, and right now the business seems to be in PLAs and enhanced digital marketing campaigns.”
Businesses that have physical products to market should strongly consider the value of PLAs, and SEM Media Group can field questions from retailers interested in learning how to utilize this growing trend.
5 Ways to Save Your Business! :
You started your business because you assumed it could succeed, right? If you didn’t believe that you wouldn’t have even tried. However, it’s unfortunately common enough to note that too many business owners end up over their heads with their business and cause it to fold prematurely.
To avoid this catastrophe, SEM Media has put together a list of five ways you can save your business through research and sharp marketing strategies.
Know if your product is sales-worthy. You have to put in the time to find out if your product has a viable place in the market. If your product appeals to the general public and provides a solution to a common problem, it should do well. If it’s something they can live without, however, they probably will.
Know thy audience. If you don’t already know the people who will be buying your product, you’re lost. Knowing your customer base before your product launches will help you target your marketing efforts. Of course, your audience will evolve over time, but that just means your product will need to as well.
Let your customers find and afford you. Once you know your target audience, make sure they can afford what you have to offer. You also need to be where they are, and more often than not your customers are online, and so should you. SEM Media can assist you with your e-commerce site.
Inform your customers. Your customers won’t be able to find your business, no matter where it is, if they don’t know about it. So it’s imperative that you have a marketing plan in place just to inform people you exist.
Hang on to your customers. Once a customer buys from you, you need to make sure they keep coming back. While some time should be devoted to finding new customers, you can’t ignore the ones you have. Make sure you can effectively reach your existing customer base and let them know about specials and exclusives. Their loyalty may just save you.
If you need help launching or branding your business, talk to the professionals at SEM Media. It may be the one call that saves your business!
10 Signs of a Good Business Website :
SEM Media knows how to build good business websites. Here we put together 10 features that every good business website should have. If your website doesn’t have these, then talk to our professionals at SEM Media today.
1. A Clear Roadmap. Almost more important than aesthetics is that your business website is easily navigable. Plan out how your website will work before you type a drop of HTML. Then you can create a mock-up and test it out.
2. Complete Business Information. You would be surprised how many business websites fail to provide complete information about their business. From mission statements to what you sell, you must list what makes your business a business.
3. Contact Info. How can customer find you and buy from you if you fail to list good contact information, and we’re not talking about just an address. Provide all the links to your social media accounts and email addresses so people won’t have to work to get in touch with you.
4. A Navigation Strategy. Essentially your “call to action,” your navigation strategy should make your website easy to use and pleasing to the eye. Think about what your customers will want to know when visiting your website and make sure that information is easy to find.
5. Be Secure. If you run an e-commerce site you must invest in securing your site with an SSL certificate. Without good security, you’re a sitting duck.
6. Social Media Presence. As good as your website may be, you must have a voice in the world of social media. It will boost your SEO and help you connect directly with your customers.
7. Be Mobile-Ready. Smart phones are not the “wave of the future” – they are the reality of today. 70% of smart phone owners use them for simple and everyday tasks, like surfing the Internet. Make sure your site is ready for mobile traffic.
8. An FAQ. Don’t assume your customers won’t have questions. Gather the most frequently asked questions your customers have and create an online FAQ.
9. Reliable Hosting. Your site must be in good hands, 24/7. If your host goes down, it costs you money. Invest in the best web host you can.
10. What You Don’t Need. Your site does not need “bling,” so forgo the auto-play music, obnoxious Flash and anything else that might slow down your page load speed and otherwise risk annoying your customers.
If you have questions about your website, have a web professional at SEM Media take a look at your site.
Where to Take Your Business in the New Year :
As the New Year looms around the corner, it is a perfect time to assess your business goals for the next 12 months. And if you are committed to your business’s online reputation and presence, let SEM Media offer a few tips for getting your business off on the right foot in 2012.
First, SEO is always best when served fresh. So let us take a look at your website content to ensure it’s fresh and up to date, especially if you haven’t done this in the last three months. This means more than writing a few new blog posts a week, but updating your non-blog pages can breathe new life into your website.
Second, make sure you have created tons of ways consumers can share your content online. Too often business owners assume that their great news will go “viral” without ever providing the easy ways for consumers to make that happen. SEO is far from static; it requires constant attention and vigilance.
And lastly, let SEM Media perform a keyword audit. By examining what is working on your site, we can replicate the good stuff and drop the underwhelming stuff. We know what to look for, so give us the opportunity to do what we do best: boost your ranking and your sales!
How to Use Technology for Customer Service (and SEO) :
It may seem that the days are gone when you knew everyone you bought from: the produce clerk, the corner butcher, the gas station attendant. With these shopping experiences came a sense of caring, a sense that the customer really mattered to the business owner or employee.
Today we shop online. We spend hours in shopping malls visiting a dozen different stores, leaving no time to connect with the people behind the companies to which you give your money for goods and services. However, even in this day and age customer service doesn’t have to be the last thought to go through your mind. In fact, technology can make it easier to provide customer service to a greater number of people while also saving some time and money in the process. Here are four cases in point:
The Proactive Tweet – Whether you’re a small business who recently noticed defects in a line of sold goods or you’re a large startup servicing thousands of customers, it’s better to address any negativity before it’s seen as negative. Something as simple as an apologetic tweet can keep your business image in a positive light. If ever you can anticipate complaints and address them first, you’ll come out ahead.
Be Personal through Email – Every good business owner wants to have that personal touch with his/her customers. It may seem that the only way to do that is face-to-face contact. However, a timely email response to a question or issue brought to your attention can do wonders. Email responses can also give customers something in writing that they can share with their friends via social media outlets.
Keep It Simple Silly (KISS) – No customer wants to be on hold for minutes and minutes only to be bounced around to three different people before they can get their question answered. Social media platforms can help you address a variety of requests of varying urgency if you have a team/person dedicated to responding to tweets, tags and wall posts. Of course, social media platforms should never replace a good old-fashioned phone number, but with a dedication to keep up with your social presences you can curb a lot of customer frustration through timely responses.
Feedback Always at Your Fingertips – Your customers obviously have opinions about your products and service – it’s precisely because they think favorably of you that they shop with you. Through polls, questionnaires and newsletters, you can open the floodgates for feedback that helps you improve a product or offering. And by asking for and receiving feedback publicly, it gives a certain accountability to your follow-up actions.
Now to put this all in SEO terms. Compare more classic customer service methods to ones that live and breathe online. How does that phone call help your search ranking, or where does that nice letter you wrote go after it’s been read? It doesn’t get shared or tweeted or “liked” – it probably gets recycled. Just think of customer service as another opportunity to get noticed online in a good way.
Google Plus: What is it and is it Good for Business? :
Google Plus (or Google+) is a new project that aims to make sharing on the internet more like sharing in person. In essence, it’s a new social media platform, connecting people through Circles, Sparks and Hangouts. Currently it’s in a field trial period, and people can only join if they get an invite from other people (to feign exclusivity perhaps). And perhaps Google is expecting more people to be active when they join since they got an “invitation” from someone they know as opposed to creating an account because it’s the “in” thing to do right now.
Sixteen days after the project’s launch it already had over 10 million members. For comparison, it took Facebook 852 days to reach 10 million members, and it took Twitter 780 days.
Features like Group Chat and Circles help people manage their friends and make it easier for them to connect to multiple people at once – instead of having six different chat threads going it can be joined into one private chat room.
It is obvious this project is a challenge to Facebook’s dominance in the social media world. However, where businesses can have a presence on Facebook, Google Plus is not allowing a business to create an account right now. However, the speculation is that the opportunity will come before we know it. How businesses manage their future Google Plus accounts will differ greatly from their Twitter or Facebook campaigns, simply because Google Plus is not set up to have “Followers” or “Fans/Likes”.
So what does a business owner do in light of this new social media craze? The best advice would be to get on Google Plus as an individual and find out firsthand what it has to offer. Then get your friends and coworkers on there. When the time is right (and Google allows it), you will be ready to launch a meaningful business profile that generates excitement for your brand and website. And undoubtedly Google would factor a business’s presence on Google Plus into potential search engine rankings – again, when the time comes, so ready yourself.