Online marketing success takes time and effort

We often have clients come to us with a very specific goal in mind. They may ask us to create a website that “looks better” or a pay-per-click campaign, or perhaps a presence on social media.

And although we accommodate their request (and more importantly, consult with them about the goals, metrics and outcomes of their marketing ideas) we always mention one thing:

Online marketing is a process that takes time.

As I mentioned in a previous post “You Need a Team to Build Your Website,” our company provides a team that creates your website. Even with a team, it takes time to understand you company fully, conduct research into you audience and the market, see what your competitors are doing, conduct keyword research, build a site plan, design the website, and populate it with content. Whew!

Now take that single component of online marketing, and expand it to what you really need to do for success. I think this infographic really sums up the challenge. (Note: it is a large graphic).

Yup. There’s  a lot to do. And you need people (that’s the plural of person) to do it.

Of course, when we tell clients this, there is often an understandable reaction. One that says “Holy cow! I can’t afford this!” Stop. Yes you can. And that brings me full circle to the point. Not all of these online marketing efforts need to be done today. However, you need to start getting an online marketing presence now.

It’s a matter of taking your overall budget, looking at your line item for marketing expenditures (you do have a line item for marketing, right?), and planning it out. We can help you think it through as part of a marketing plan.

If you look at it as a form of maintenance or other continuous need for your business, you’ll find it is not that bad. And as time goes along, and your online presence begins to snowball into more sales and more profits, you may begin to start thinking big. Really big.

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What should my business use as a Social Media Profile Photo?

I’ve been helping our clients create business social media profiles for a few years now.  Just within the past 3 years, the amount of businesses who ask for this service have increased, asking for us to set up their profiles, and further, to brand them and start engaging an audience.

Almost every time, I run into a problem right at the start of creating their profiles.  The logo.

I don’t know where Social Media gets this from.  Apparently, we’re all supposed to have perfectly square logos available for that one vital image – the one that is now being used as a way to judge whether or not this is even the brand you were searching for – The Profile Photo.

I don’t know about you, but I like my company logo, and it’s definitely not square.  What are we to do?

When a complete logo re-design isn’t feasible, we recommend deciding on a new design to use as a social media profile image.  One that clearly represents your current logo and will be easily identifiable with your brand if someone is searching for it.

You might recognize the “Profile Picture” settings in some popular social media sites:

Here’s how Lucid handled it. Here is our official logo, not the right fit for a square profile photo:

And with a little work, we re-designed to fit the social media profile photo:

Now, granted, we have a graphic artist in-house. But isn’t it worth your time to invest in a logo that makes you look professional? A cut-off, undersized or jagged looking photo is just, well, embarrassing!

If you having a hard time deciding on what to use for your social media profile image, leave a comment below and we’ll make a recommendation, free of charge.

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The Care and Feeding of Your Website

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression “content is king.” That has always been true, and is more true today in the Internet-based 24-7 world we live in. And that content is the foodstuff of websites.

We’ve mentioned how websites are “living documents” and must be continuously updated. But what does this mean? It means your website must be “fed” with new content. This will keep current customers engaged. It will also ensure you have up-to-date content that is relevant. You don’t want your customers reading copy about what you did five years ago (or longer). Sure, you can talk about past accomplishments, offerings, or where you have been, but there better be something current as well.

It’s often hard for our customers to hear that when they hire us to create a website, it is not a one-off project. The initial creation of a website is merely the beginning. It needs to have fresh content regularly added. In a sense, your website company should act as your agency. (And if they don’t, there may be a problem). They should continuously ask you for more content such as blog posts, videos, papers, and more so that your site is truly alive.

Not only does this keep your customers engaged, but it also makes the search engines potentially rank your site higher in search.

Can your one-man, recent-college-grad website designer provide you with the marketing expertise to know what happens after the site launches. Will they spend time refining your message, seeking out new content, and making sure it gets posted?

Conversely, if you are working with a marketing company that is handling your website, are you going to invest the time it takes to actually make your site work? Will you take photos, write articles and blogs, interview clients on video, and feed the site?

If you don’t, you site will wither and starve. You’ve seen such sites – would YOU do business with them?

So be aware that a website is a never-ending, ongoing marketing campaign that is used to keep your customers engaged and informed. And you and your website company must be willing to keep feeding the beast.

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You Need a Team to Build Your Website

Very often, we hear from clients “I need my website updated” or “My website doesn’t look good.” And then they tell us they called “a guy” who says he can do the whole thing for a low, low price.

Right. And a one-man band is an orchestra.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is making our clients understand the scale of what is involved in the basics of making a website, of which the written content and search engine optimization (SEO) is a very large part, but not the whole enchilada. I’d like to cite a great article called The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period! by Stoney deGeyter.

I think the list summarizes in an eye-popping way the volume of work that goes into a website, and the reason website creation — if done properly — takes time and lots of effort. Now, like everything else on the web, many of these thought points have changed, but this list should give you an idea of what is involved.

So the next time you need a new website, or even an update, keep this list in mind. You may be tempted to hire what we call the “one-man band” website designer, who supposedly is a creative copywriter, graphic artist, web coder, database programmer, adviser, and marketing expert.

Ummm … no. Please take a few of the points from the article and ask your would-be one-man-band some leading questions. If they can’t answer all of them, then they will stumble on your project. Why? It takes a team to create a website, period.

If they say they can single-handedly produce you a website that will generate traffic and leads, but cannot answer a few checklist questions, well — that’s just embarrassing!

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Is information and knowledge the same thing? Google doesn’t think so

The Knowledge Era takes a giant step forward

I just completed the design and teaching of the inaugural Search Engine Optimization for the Web class at Macomb Community College. One of the points I regularly made was that the web and search engine optimization (SEO) is constantly changing. Yesterday, Google proved me right once again.

Google announced its latest advancement in search – the “Knowledge Graph.” Google’s contention is that up until now, searchers used search engines to find information. But in this day and age, the real search is for knowledge. So, you might start seeing different types of search results when you conduct your next search. The next time you search for a particular term, Google will not only give you its typical result, but will also open a panel on the right-hand side of the search results page showing facts, information, and other things it knows about the subject. They are making the transition from information search to knowledge search. The video below from Google explains this change:

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Google refers to this change in philosophy as building a “knowledge graph.” Now the questions become, “What impact will this have on search engine optimization? Do we continue optimizing our sites for fresh, authoritative content? Will the ‘Knowledge Graph’ change what is deemed as authoritative content? How will this impact search engine optimization (SEO) techniques?”

We’ll monitor this and let you know what we hear …

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