Trendsetting for Local Marketing 2015

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20152015 is only 13 days away and if you are like most people, you haven’t even thought past what to make for the holiday party at (insert your gathering here). Well, you won’t have to think too hard because I am here to update you on what to expect for local marketing in 2015 and how to stay one step ahead.

More consumers use mobile devices for search, purchase, payment, booking and scheduling.

Consumers are becoming more comfortable with mobile payment and prefer to also book and schedule online after considering their own research and reading company reviews. Local marketers need to understand this change and progress with those who chose this option instead of more traditional markets.

Tablets are sold more than smartphones!

Mind blowing, I know. Tablets have surpassed smart phones in the consumer market this year. In a world where there are blurred lines in the functionality of these items, it is best to optimize your content and site for both.

Mobile ads are becoming more local.

With mobile ads becoming more local, it may start to make sense to budget for localized target ads on platforms such as Facebook. It does not need to take over your marketing, but a small part of your strategy should at least consider this medium and integrate with your overall strategy.

Wearable devices will become a normal thing.

                Wearable devices are still greatly in the development and tweak phase.  However, to stay ahead of the curve, ensure that you know which the industry leaders are and how your company, marketing and target audience fits within this new market. Search Engine Land cites statistics that predict an increase of $24 billion in this industry by 2018.

Social Media influences purchase decisions…duh.

                Social media has become the outlet of taste makers and trendsetters alike, so it is no surprise that when you see that amazing gadget on a Facebook post or ad, you just have to click. When Facebook friends see that Mark “likes” or “follows” a specific brand, if similar taste to Mark, will also be likely to  like  or  follow.   Social media users are looking to social media for information and inspiration on what to buy, so make your product or service the most interesting, or as useful as it can be.

Ensure your site is easily findable with a digital assistant.

                According to a study cited by Search Engine Land, 56 percent of people that own a smartphone have accessed a digital assistant to aid in local search information. Consumers have started to bypass the manual process of entering search terms directly into Google and instead enable help from Siri or Google Now. Test your site with your own smartphone to ensure your company is easily findable.

Market messages to smaller and more personal audiences.

It’s not rocket science that consumers value a more personal message. I am a huge supporter of making sure your message matches your target audience. Convey a relevant idea and pare down your message without diluting the impact. Also one really great message can create a much better impact than 3 “okay” messages. Respect that you are only a part of their overall stream of information, “Less is more- more is never more.”  Also, be willing to integrate with other companies, apps, and services in a networking mindset as your customers may be led to your product through theirs!

Direct mail is not dead!

Tried and true is always direct mail. I would like to add a digital twist to this however, suggesting that utilizing your online marketing email database and sending a personalized email offer. This is a great time for an intervention if you have not been collecting customer emails regularly. This should be included first and foremost in your 2015 strategy!

CRM integration.

                If 2014 taught us anything, then we know that reviews, as well as having a social online presence, are of great importance in representing your brand.  Expect customer relationship management tools and best practices to take precedence in 2015. Your company should be responding to the customer’s comments, reviews and questions in a timely of a manner. If you are unable to manage this, then 2015 will bring tools to that help this facet of online marketing. Better yet, use your current marketing company to help you manage. After all, Seventy-eight percent of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by online reviews, according to the market research firm Ipsos.

Leverage your marketing to both retain and gain new customers!

                Marketing should always have a purpose behind the message, but there are many overlaps in messages intended to gain and retain your target audience. When creating your message consider both!

Teach your clients how to do it

As much as we love to take the wheel and manage all facets for our clients, sometimes it benefits you to teach them the basics. When responding to a review, posting something on Facebook or replying to a question, make sure to explain what you did and how you did that so your client also knows what they are doing if they would like to post, respond or simply have the knowledge. This builds trust and common bonds when you can openly communicate about the brand and its direction.

PR Tips: Ideas for Everyone

PR Tips: Ideas for Everyone

There is a quote that states, “Everything you do or say is public relations,” and this is a 100% truth! Here are 4 simple ways you can improve your company’s brand and public relations.

1. Keep Your Eyes Open!

Always be looking for opportunities within your company, and within the community to better your reputation and publicize it! A simple donation to a local charity should never go without a little recognition so go ahead, brag about your support! Have your marketing department add a small paragraph and link on your social media outlets as well as your website. This will not only show your community support but also send a little publicity the charity as well. It’s a win/win!

2. Get into a Relationship

Create relationships with local media. A great way to do this is by following their social media, and reaching out to the local reporters and newspapers by sending a snack to the office. Food is a great way to butter up a company for the next time you have a press release that needs to be read and printed.

3. Optimize and Update!

New service or product to the company? Make sure to update your best marketing tool, your website! Create quality content, add it, talk about it to customers, spread the information through word-of-mouth marketing internally, add it to social media and make sure to keep all information current!

4. Create Your “Brand”

Think about what sets your company apart from everyone else in the market. Take that advantage and create your brand around it. You can develop a phrase, logo or both and start using it in everything company related so you are known as the “_____” company. This can also be enhanced through creating a stand out, complimentary color scheme that is unique to your brand and also incorporating that. Finally, internalize this phrase, motto, or slogan and ensure it is also a company belief among fellow employees.

Social Media Week Chicago 2013

Social Media Week Chicago 2013

I had the privilege of attending Social Media Week Chicago 2013 two weeks ago and was overwhelmed by the forward thinking, informed leaders in the social media and digital marketing community with whom I made connections. #SMW is a mostly free conference held over 5 days on 4 different continents and features professionals and industry leaders simultaneously sharing knowledge with one another.

It was humbling to be in rooms and take part in a few of the 181 seminars with leaders from some of the largest communications firms in the world and find that Upright Communications is right on track. Here are my highlights from the events:

 

Content Marketing that Wins: Making Brands, Readers AND Google Happy.

1.       Build consumer trust through useful content.

To build your audience’s trust and create a meaningful relationship, write your content with the reader in mind, not metrics. In this, quality over quantity really speaks volumes of your brand.

2.       Create consumer action.

Great content can be its own well-oiled machine if it has the consumers’ needs in mind. If content speaks to your audience they will answer with a click, a comment, or a recommendation, and it will move them to take action.

3.       Satisfy a brands business needs.

Social media needs to have a strategy carefully planned around your business goals and needs. From raising brand awareness to increasing sales, your goals should be clearly set in order to take steps to obtain the results you desire.

“Never sacrifice the quality of your copy for the sake of search engines.”

 – Matt Cutts, Google Webspam Team

Bottom line: SEO can’t be the end all be all of a marketing plan, but rather a carefully implemented part of the overall strategy and driving force. Integrating social media, great content, and sharing it will add credibility to your brand in the eyes of a consumer. So create your brand through digital marketing, tell your story and drive your goals.

 

Social Media is Bullsh*t: The Real Value of Social Media 

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In the middle of downtown Chicago’s old Library, B.J Mendelson, author of Social Media Is Bullshit challenged the crowd to see social media as what it is, should be, could be and how it is actually used. He also gave a little lesson in logic, honesty and colorful language.

Did you know? A  Facebook status lives for about 11 minutes, and a tweet lives an even shorter lifespan before dying in the newsfeeds and waves of other posts.

SO? Take it offline. Research everything on your consumer, know what they like, and what they don’t so you are able to create content based upon what they do like. Have a conversation with them by reaching out via tweet and not just responding to an inquiry or the negative review.

ABGD: Always Be Gathering Data. Then use that data! The more you know the more you can relate and understand your audience needs.

AARR: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral. These are the basics of word-of-mouth or viral marketing. Engage with a customer, activate their knowledge of your business, retain with customer service and gain a new customer with a referral. The marketing circle of life!

Bottom Line: 93% of word of mouth marketing is offline according to Jonah Berger and his bestseller, Contagious: Why Things Catch On. Social media provides us real life opportunities to connect with people we have never met and share information about our business and beliefs and we should take advantage of it. It should not be used as another way to vaguely connect but a chance at an introduction to become personally acquainted.

 

Highly Recommended: Harnessing the Power of Word-of-Mouth and Social Media to Build Your Brand

Paul M. Rand gave a stirring sermon regarding how social media has changed the dynamic of the way businesses are being run today. Recommendations are seen as the new key measure of determining if products, services and businesses are successful. Social media now allows for every aspect of a company to be openly discussed, critiqued, or praised, and the companies that understand how to manage this to their favor will come out on top.

The Science of Social Proof: 91% of consumers make a recommendation after a positive experience and 49% of people say they recommend a business to help guide someone else, according to Paul M. Rand. Paul continued by citing an example of visiting a common business like a grocery store while seeing a client out of town. The client went on to recommend a particular grocery store, raving and recommending this specific store for 30 minutes. It was the experience that kept this consumer coming back to visit and with the right mentality; businesses can emulate this to their advantage.

Bottom Line: Create an experience. We all have a preference based upon experience for almost everything. Make it your business to make your business someone’s preference and hopefully their next recommendation.

Google’s New Show Options Filter: A Whole New Way to Google Your Search

Google's Show options Feature

About a month ago, Google introduced a new search feature which allows the searcher to further customize their results. In the past, we’ve discussed how factors like Google Universal, personalized results, and even multiple data centers affect rankings. A search engine ranking is becoming more influenced by the individual user, and less standard across every experience. And Google’s recent update to their functionality takes the rankings another step closer to being more personalized.

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Friday Funk – How the Lolcats Engaged Me

I wouldn’t call myself a cat person. But since I’ve seen the Lolcats, I totally want to buy a cat and take pictures of it doing funny things so I can add captions in broken English and upload it to the I Can Has Cheezburger site.

What you see at “I Can Has Cheezburger” is a classic example of a site that’s created something catchy and funny and because of it’s hilarious and entertaining nature, they are getting inbound links like crazy! See… there’s one above!

What’s the message here? Vell, I tells u da messaze. (Man, that lolspeak is catchy.) Getting links to your site is important and it’s hard work. But it doesn’t have to be as boring and tedious as it sometimes seems. Like a broken record, we keep chanting the link-building mantra: “create something engaging”. I feel like a Star Trek fanatic, running around the office all the time yelling “Engage! Engage!”

But creating engaging content is what gets people to your site. It’s what gets other sites to link to you and if you do it right, it will bring quality traffic that converts! So put down that list of 8000 backlinks to your top competitors for a while, and spend a little time brainstorming for some creative ideas to build engaging content on your site.  Your brain will thank you. Your visitors will thank you. And perhaps, somewhere out there, a kitty will thank you… or at least beg you for a cheeseburger.

 

Blogging and Social Networking – How to Create A Buzz

Social media or social networking is basically a type of word of mouth marketing. You’re more likely to purchase a product or service, or become more loyal to a brand if you get a positive recommendation from a friend or family member. The internet has allowed us to expand this friend base to more than just people we physically know. This is one reason why social media is so important. Another is related to blended search results and personalized search. You’ve probably noticed over the last couple years that the search engines are now including different types of content in search results such as images, video, and you guessed it… links to blogs. By writing quality blogs, you have the ability to rank well and gain traffic, and improve sales and leads. So let’s talk about some basics of blogging as a form of social networking, and how to create a buzz with your blog.

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Ranking Reports are Dying A Slow Death, So Watch Those Metrics!

A few months ago, I wrote a nice little article called “Don’t Sweat the Rankings So Much. Metrics is the Answer” where I offered a bit of advice to stop worrying so much about where you rank and start focusing more on metrics.  I predicted that in the next year or two, to be prepared for your rankings to mean less and less, and to be prepared to spend more time and effort analyzing your metrics. Since that time, the buzz about this topic has become increasingly louder as more people realize the importance of conversion analysis in a world where the usefulness of ranking reports are dying.

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