Since the global financial crisis hit, three out of four businesses in the US have reduced their marketing budgets. However, by maintaining your marketing strategies in a depleted economy you can pull ahead of the competition.
When the economy starts to falter, businesses often react by looking for ways to save cash. Unfortunately, the marketing budget is usually the first head on the chopping block – especially for small businesses.
1. You’re driving blind without a map
The number one thing we find is that companies without a digital strategy (and many that do) don’t have clear strategic goals for what they want to achieve online in terms of gaining new customers or building deeper relationships with existing ones. If you don’t have goals you likely don’t put enough resources to reach the goals and you don’t evaluate through analytics whether you’re achieving those goals.
2. You’re not sure what your online market share is
Customer demand for online services may be underestimated if you have not researched this. Perhaps more importantly you won’t understand your online marketplace: the dynamics will be different to traditional channels with different types of customer profile and behaviour, competitors, propositions and options for marketing communications.
3. Not knowing existing and start-up competitors that will gain market share
If you’re not devoting enough resources to digital marketing or you’re using an ad-hoc approach with no clearly defined strategies, then your competitors will eat your digital lunch! New entrants in existing verticals is a daily occurrence. Making a better mouse trap.
If you were asked to describe your customers, what would you say? Would you begin listing their age, gender, race, employment status and other demographic data or would you list their behaviors and attitudes?
In marketing and user-centered design, personas are fictional characters created to represent the different user types within a targeted demographic, attitude and/or behavior set that might use a site, brand or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation, where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments. The term persona is used widely in online and technology applications as well as in advertising.
Personas are useful in considering the goals, desires, and limitations of brand buyers and users in order to help to guide decisions about a service, product or interaction space such as features, interactions, and visual design of a website. Personas may also be used as part of a user-centered design process for designing software and are also considered a part of interaction design, having been used in industrial design and more recently for online marketing purposes.
It is our business to help customers find you on the Internet, to provide the messaging and technology to convert prospects into customers and to keep those customers coming back for more. We will customize a plan for you that may combine a variety of on-line tactics to deliver qualified leads. These may include: Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Display Advertising, Pay Per Click Advertising, Facebook Advertising, Mobile Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Link Building and more. We will continually monitor and measure the effectiveness of every element of your on-line marketing program to maximize the return on your investment.
The one thing we don’t do is provide customer relationship management (CRM) tools, but we do use them ourselves so we can consult on them when applicable. After all marketing would be a big waste of money if a lead capture system was not in place.
Call to actions are everywhere. From billboards to direct mail postcards and television ads, everywhere you look someone is telling you to buy their product, try their product, or call about their service. You may have heard about call to actions but haven’t really put them into practice. Or maybe you have and just didn’t know it!
A call to action, or CTA, is a banner, button, or some type of graphic or text on a website meant to prompt a user to click it and continue down a conversion funnel. It is an essential part of inbound marketing as well as permission marketing (e.g. – email marketing) in that it actively strives to convert a user into a lead and later into a customer. The main goal of a CTA is a click or a scan in the case of a qr code, and its success can be measured via a conversion rate formula that calculates the times the CTA was seen over the amount of clicks. Another way to test the effectiveness of a CTA is using A/B testing where several graphics are presented to a user and the graphic with highest success rate becomes the default.
Using call to actions effectively in your marketing can help increase move your customers from lurkers into inquirers, and inquirers into buyers. Call to actions are the key drivers in digital marketing and can make the difference between a website that is just a container for content and a website that helps drive your customers toward a sale.
A call to action is defined as words that urge the reader, listener, or viewer of a sales promotion message to take an immediate action, such as “Write Now,” “Call Now,” or (on Internet) “Click Here.” A retail advertisement or commercial without a call-to-action is considered incomplete and ineffective. Essentially, a call to action is the a phrase you use in your marketing material where you tell the interested customer what to do next. Call to actions are specific. While words like “call”,“subscribe”,”register”, “download”, “buy”, etc. are eye-catching, they don’t tell your customers what they’re getting. The idea is to convince them that they need your solution and cannot live without your product offering.
There are 5 basic initiatives you can take to prepare for the renewed success of your marketing initiatives:
1. Map your sales pipeline
2. Update your website
3. Audit your marketing assets
4. Create a communications guide
5. Develop a sector intelligence log
Sigma Creative exists to help businesses build presence, acquire customers, retain customers and manage their online reputation. We will analyze everything from your website, your blog, your Social Media programs, your lead management systems and even your sales processes to understand how customers find you on the Internet and how they interact with your brand. We will make recommendations on all aspects of your on-line presence to keep your customers coming back to you time and time again.
Email marketing and pay per click management campaigns can give you instant results. To see actual results of search engine ranking and social media engagement growth it takes anywhere from 6 to 12 months, depending on many variables like time commitment, budget and other resource factors. At Sigma Creative, we closely monitor all results at a constant basis and report these to you.
For companies not wanting to wait for the long tail organic search results we recommend a two-pronged approach of implementing PPC campaigns initially while working on organic content and SEO strategies to kick in and then slowly back off PPC to cut down on reoccurring ad spend.
- Exceptional Record of Service
- Full Service Integrative Strategies
- Effective & Affordable Solutions
- Certified Professionals
- Proven & Track-able Results
- Expert Online Marketers
- Expert Project Management
- MBA Consultants & Analysts
A brand platform, or corporate image, is the set of associations that customers make with your company. Some of these associations may be quite obvious and strong, like the brand Volvo is associated with safety. In other cases, the associations can be weak; BMW, for instance, may be associated with safety but only in a very weak manner.
The possible associations that a brand may want to have actually comes from many sources. For example, it may come from the benefits the customers in a target market may care the most about. But it can also come from various descriptors or the self-image of the target audience. It can also come from a company’s history or core competency.
A good brand platform has three characteristics. First, it is clear. That requires a balance between abstract ideas and specific ones. Second, it requires consistency of theme and exposure. That is, once it is determined what the platform is, every communication must be consistent with that platform. Finally, a good brand platform is usually creative, cuts through the clutter and touches a nerve.
Critics of large advertising expenditures for brand building point out that awareness is only one aspect of creating a strong brand. More significant to a brand’s strength is the underlying business and how it relates to its customers. Brands simply cannot be invented overnight and a strong brand is the result of creating a promise to consumers—one that is clear and memorable—and then creating a history of fulfilling that promise. Once awareness is achieved, companies must focus their brand-building efforts on conveying what the company does rather than what it represents.
Before the dot-com shakeout of 2000, many dotcom brand managers mistakenly believed that brand awareness would of itself create enough momentum to lead to brand loyalty. As an example, the domain name Business.com was sold for $7.5 million, with the buyers reportedly believing that the name itself would constitute the bulk of the company’s brand building. Other dot-coms, such as Computer.com, believed that an expensive one-shot Super Bowl ad would build its brand overnight. For the 2000 Super Bowl, some 17 dot-coms placed ads, compared to only three in 2001.
That thinking has been replaced by the realization that brand-building is a long-term process that needs to be established on a solid customer relationship based on service and community. The most successful online brands have created online communities and cult like followings; they include Google, Facebook, Amazon, Coca-Cola, Starbucks.
USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition. The USP and a positioning statement are essentially the same thing. We’ve seen people on some sites use this unique selling proposition (USP) as a single word, but they use it in many different ways…sometimes it’s a benefit, sometimes it’s just a bunch of benefits…and it can become quite confusing.
We take the view that a positioning statement is cleaner and more powerful than a USP. It typically has 1-3 benefits that a segment cares about (this is where the USP is typically vague,….they never say how do you determine what these benefits are…but they come from properly segmenting the markets (based on benefits) and use these in the positioning statement.
A positioning statement aligns more with a Unique Value Proposition (UVP). It requires you to specify WHY you can provide the benefits to the customers better than the competition, thus if forces you to think about what competencies your company has that uniquely qualify you to provide these benefits. The typical USP just says, “we are unique”, but it doesn’t incorporate this additional requirement that explicitly forces you to think about competitive reactions.
There are dozens of approaches to this question. Broadly speaking, you must decide on one of two approaches. The first approach is one of Rational Persuasion, and it is best suited for customers who rely on concrete data and facts to make their decisions. The second approach is one called Emotional Appeal. As the name suggests, it is suited for customers who rely on instinct and emotion to make their decisions.
Website Design & Development
Think of websites like handcrafted commissioned pieces of art that take time. No two are the same because the subject matter is different and customized to the clients wants and needs. Sigma Creative prides itself on providing a customized solutions for it’s customers. Customers who pay for personalized service and years of experience to get them the results they want to increase sales for their business.
Yes, you do! Once your website is paid for in full, it is 100% owned by you.
No. Every website is built on an open-source code platform. We use the best open-source code platforms making it easy for you or anyone else to manage the website. A couple of our preferred platforms is WordPress (CMS) and Magento (eCommerce). We want to empower our clients to manage their own websites, so we provide complimentary 1-hour training upon launch and a tutorial to take with you if you’ve purchased a content management system or an ecommerce website.
This seems to be the year of the website redesign. So many companies and startups are relaunching new websites and with good reason. Technology is always changing, design trends come and go, how sites are used (eg – mobile and responsive design) are changing and even things like social media and community interaction are changing the way websites function.
Redesigning websites today isn’t just about changing the look and feel. It has to serve a purpose. Staying on top of technology changes problems needing to be solved. Redesign and overhauling websites goes much deeper than just the way they look. Usability, presentation, how they load, how well they capture prospective leads and how quickly they can be updated are all things that are prompting website redesigns on the daily basis.
So you own a website which is supposed to generate leads. Is it working? If the answer is “Yes” that is awesome, but if the answer is “No” then its time to give your website some immediate love and attention. Want to know how you can decide by yourself whether or not your website needs a website redesign?
We often get potential clients understandably and innocently ask us, “What does a website cost?” and as we’re pretty sure you can appreciate, often it’s not a simple matter working that out. A website can have many levels to it and these are just some of the questions that need to be answered before making a website. They illustrate why it’s simply not possible to give a figure off the top of our heads and that building a great website requires thought, planning and a partnership between client and agency.
An afternoon. A week. Two months. Two years. It all depends.
If you’re a business owner looking for information on the cost of developing your own site (either using a service, or hiring a us) you need to understand the many levels of answers that can come from such a broad question. In both cases – it’s important to remember that although a website is a “digitized” item, a website is still a product, but it’s also a service.
The time it takes to complete a website depends on the type of website you want, and is completely project-based. About 50%-70% of the actual time is from communication; the amount of time it takes for Sigma Creative and client to exchange details of the website such as copy, photos, media etc. Communication time also includes going through the standard approval processes when building a website including layout approval, copywriting proofed, testing links and functions, log in procedures, plus a whole lot more.
Yes. Included in most web design packages are one domain registration/transfer and one unlimited email address registration FREE for the first year! We offer 24-hour support for all domain and email accounts.
We have a 99.9% uptime, so very rarely do our websites go down. However, if this were to happen, we provide 24-hour support to resolve issues.
Ok then, what’s a bad website? Have you ever been on a site that looked like a 4th grader made it? Ugly font choices, strange colors, plain links instead of pretty buttons and Flash animation? But, did you find what you were looking for? Did you get the information you were after? If so, it’s potentially a good website.
The biggest challenge for anybody who develops websites is finding the balance between form and function. We can’t say it enough: functionality is more important than looks. People will not stay on a website that is hard to use, or come back to a website that does not work. However, your website can be both functional and good looking; all it takes is proper planning and quite possibly less work than a more complex, over done layout.
Yes, building your website as a content management system (CMS) allows you to make updates on your website yourself. Included in our CMS website packages is a 1-hour training upon launch, plus a tutorial to take with you. We encourage our customers to be active on their websites if anything for ranking high on Google, Bing and Yahoo through Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) through their blog and other content marketing tactics!
We host the majority of our clients’ websites, as this allows us to make updates and resolve any issues that may occur on your site. We provide domain, email and website hosting all in one spot, plus 24-hour support should you run into any issues.
Yes, all of our websites are created with mobile in mind. Every website we produce utilizes responsive design to meet the ever increasing amount of users moving to mobile as their preferred choice for viewing and interacting with your brand online. Some advertising agencies will try to convince you to make a separate mobile website in order to squeeze more money out of you, but that is not how we roll. The agencies that do that are themselves not prepared for the changes in mobile website design. Check their website. Do they practice what they preach? While the tough part about responsive design is quality assurance by staying up to date with constant browser changes the pros greatly outweigh the cons. The great thing about responsive design over having a separate mobile website is clearly defined by analytics reports. SEO analysts and data junkies love that they don’t have to segment two different reports for the same website anymore.
As you would expect, return on investment obviously differs from site to site. The best way to view your return on investment is to view your site from this angle: You will be providing users on your website with an additional and convenient way for them to view your content. It will be a more pleasurable experience and as a result, they will be more inclined to continue to visit your site and tell their friends about it. Then, as mobile usage increases, so will your user base and revenue. This will especially be the case if your competitors haven’t made the investment to go mobile. However, if they have, it is even more urgent that you get your mobile site up and running.
Typically we do not include copywriting in our basic website package because nobody knows your business like you do. That being said, we have extremely talented copywriters that know just the right questions to ask for crafting your company’s message. We also offer copywriting services for content marketing to grow your business online so you can focus on the day to day activities of running your brand offline. Really it comes down to how strongly you feel consistent messaging is to the overall process of marketing your business. We believe in relatable and conversational content creation. Not copy that a lawyer ruins because of subjectively deciding he or she thinks they know what is best for a company’s brand image.
Like content marketing, SEO is not a “one and done” process, but rather a constant evolution and implementation of keyword strategies. While Sigma Creative does make sure that website analytics are installed and the fundamental SEO best practices are put in place when your new website goes live SEO as separate due to it’s nature of being an ongoing process and has to be billed accordingly.
While we would love to have unlimited amount of free advertising and promotion on our favorite social media channels we realize everything comes with a price and that includes people’s time. However, we are far from being so strict that there isn’t any room for providing great customer service for our employer.
Our normal process on any project is to create the deliverables according to previously agreed upon requirements in the statement of work that is then used as a template for a creative brief. Once the brief is disseminated by our creative staff they will produce the first draft before the agreed upon due date for initial review. After getting client feedback the creative staff will make the necessary changes for a second review by the customer to give a final round of feedback for any more changes to be made. The creative staff will deliver the final product for the client to give final approval and sign off on the project.
In short a no matter the project Sigma Creative allows for two revision cycles to uphold its high standard for quality assurance.
Yes. At Sigma Creative, we understand that cash flow is important to small businesses, so we provide payment plans of up to six months.
Creating your company’s own website is a great start, but it’s only the beginning. There’s no point in creating a website if no one can find it or ever sees it. Brand building is an ongoing process. You have to get your brand and your website out there to get traffic on your site. Blog writing, social media, web page content updates, business cards, flyers, etc. are all great ways to get people on your site. Buying advertisements on other websites and submitting information to online directories will also help direct traffic to your site.
We sure can, and we would be eager to do so! The look and feel of your website—and essentially your entire brand—begins with your logo. At Sigma Creative, we know the importance of building a strong brand identity and carrying that throughout your website and print marketing materials.
Yes! We offer a full-range of print marketing including business cards, brochures, signage within your store and more. We also provide logo design/redesign. We ensure that your logo/branding is cohesive and consistent throughout your entire website, as well as all of your print marketing materials. If we have designed all of your original business assets related to your branding, we can also offer more affordable options.
General SEO Questions
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a web site or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search, news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic. Basically, it means making your web site rank above the competition.
Search engines use equations called “algorithms” to determine which sites are most relevant to the search. They base these rankings on a lot of factors including the quality of other websites that link back and the topic the search engine believes the page is about based on the content. Search engines also take into consideration the website speed, how long visitors stay on the site and what links they click while on the website.
If you are an online business, yes. If you are trying to get more traffic to a website, yes. If you have a personal site that you only want your friends to see, no. So it depends on the goal of the website you’ve created. You don’t need SEO for your Facebook page, but we highly recommend hiring a company that provides both for an integrated marketing approach.
SEO works by making it easier for search engines to find your website, and recognize your site as both relevant and authoritative (given the search query). One of the number one complaints business owners have about SEO, and SEO companies, is the lack of clarity to what work is actually being done for the fees incurred. Sigma Creative has a proven SEO process that is both straightforward and transparent.
Broadly speaking, our SEO process goes like this:
1. Website audit
2. Initial Site Optimization
3. Content Marketing
We used to let almost all of our clients work with us without keyword research or competition analysis. What we learned is that keyword research helps ensure you don’t rank #1 for a term that never gets searched and you don’t waste time on a bunch of phrases that common sense tells you is relevant but search history tells you is useless. If knowledge is power, keyword research and competition analysis are a whole hydro plant. We changed our policies to include these services in all of our SEO packages because we feel they are essential for almost every client to see the best results.
A lot of people talk about SEO as if it ends. Optimization is not a one-off project. You don’t spend a weekend “doing the SEO” and then you’re done. If you rank 8th for your term, that’s great. But seven sites above you and a million sites below you want to push you out of that 8th spot into 9th, 10th and 440th. Some keyphrases have lower competition so if you do amazing SEO once, you may rank well for a long time. In a competitive niche, you’re going to be doing SEO as long as you want to dominate that niche.
Google is constantly changing their algorithm to fight spam, over-optimized sites and testing new algorithms to see if searchers prefer a new selection of websites. We call this the “Google Dance.”
SEO packages can cost anywhere from a one-time cost of $500 to a monthly package price over $8000 for a large corporation. Most small businesses (restaurants, photographers, chiropractors and dentists) spend between $200 and $800 a month on SEO.
However, “expensive” SEO can be seen as a relative term. Optimization should increase your revenue by more than it costs. If it does not, you are using the wrong marketing agency. Digital marketing is meant to increase your earnings and make you more profitable. SEO can be “expensive” at $500 if it only generates you $400 or $600. SEO is not “expensive” at $5000 if it generates $50,000 of new business in the first month.
If you’ve never invested in search engine optimization (SEO) and your website is more than a couple years old, chances are you have a lot of things that need to be fixed. While it is tempting to fix everything at once, rapidly implementing some elements of SEO at once can cause issues. Your website is one of your most important marketing assets you own, so it should always be handled with great care. Depending on the number of changes you need to make, you may want to think about rolling out your SEO efforts in stages.
If you have a drop in Search Engine Results Page (SERP) position you can take it as a clear indication that it is time for SEO Audit. SEO Audit helps you to find out why you lost your SERP position and to take measures to improve your position. This could be caused by several factors from not implementing a content marketing plan to your competitor investing in search engine optimization services to gain market share.
So do I wait until I find a drop in my SERP to do SEO Audit? As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” After performing an audit and making necessary tweaks to your website it takes almost the same amount of time to take effect as it does during the initial Search Engine Optimization. In other-words it is not instant results. So if you want to maintain or improve your SERP positions always do SEO Audit once in every 3 to 4 months and for websites who are facing very high competition its better to perform SEO Audit once in every couple of weeks.
Yes, assuming most of them are low-competition keywords and not highly competitive searches with billion dollar companies ruling page one. You are not going to rank on page 1 for “apple” “iphone” and “microsoft” unless you are those companies. Even Microsoft would have a difficult time ranking for every possible operating system.
Technical SEO Questions
The million dollar question. Google search results are affected by numerous factors – add to that the fact that Google changes the search algorithm on a regular basis in order to adapt to a changing environment and the proliferation of spammers (Black Hat SEO), it can be hard to keep on top of things.
In most cases, if you do make it to the number one position for your desired keyword – there will be a competitor of yours right behind you harassing his/her SEO company to do more to knock you off your perch! So unless you continue to optimize on a regular basis – you may find your rankings will slip.
It just depends on how many competitors you have. If you sell something very specific in a niche market – like ‘left-handed smokeshifters’ – you will find that not many people are out there selling the same product. So without too much effort, you will find that you appear first for such a product. However, if your aim is to appear number one for ‘weight loss’, ‘shoes’ or something equally broad – then you will need to put in a longer, and much more concerted effort to achieve sustained results. There are three things that must be present in order for your website to attain high search engine rankings: well-written and fully optimized content, proper keyword selection, and the number of links pointing to your site.
A lot of companies spend time and money optimizing their search engine rankings. Either by skill, luck or a combination of all the above, they are outranking you. Page one SERP real estate is a very valuable piece of internet space. We want to work with you to get those page rankings up so you can be seen by more eyeballs and have more opportunities to create qualified sales leads.
Every search result is personalized. You and your neighbor will see completely different results from the same neighborhood and you will never see the exact same results as another searcher. Search engines do their best to find what you are looking for and your previous searches for eagle nests may influence them to think you mean the bird while your friend has become a fan of Nascar on Facebook so Google may show them some guys in North Carolina.
As above, with each result personalized, even your own searches can be different between devices. You don’t have the same search history on your desktop at work as you do on your iPhone and in fact, very few of your searches actually cross-over. (How often do you do a search for data analysts in Cincinnati or Columbus while watching American Idol at home? Exactly.)
This is a great question and one we get quite often because there is no easy answer. The reason there isn’t cut and dry is because there are many factors that go into what makes a page rank higher than others. Small businesses can rank higher in the organic search results on Google, Bing, and Yahoo based simply on having a differentiation strategy that focuses on niche product offerings as compared to an company that has a broad keyword topic it needs to cover. Another factor is localization and other marketing strategies like remarketing. As the saying goes, “There is more than one way to skin a cat” holds true in regards to achieving the desired results. There is no on right answer and marketing is not an exact science, especially when it comes to SEO strategies, but something that constantly needs monitored, re-evaluated, and tweaked. Google has been famous for saying it is in perpetual beta.
While each scenario is different, and it’s impossible to say for certain without performing a comprehensive website audit and competitor analysis, some SEO roadblocks are common among large organizations. The fact is, no one knows the whole story. Google can’t tell us the whole algorithm because people would take advantage of that information to rank poor quality sites simply by manipulating the ranking factors and focusing on nothing else. That is why good (White Hat) and bad (Black Hat) SEO Analysts, SEO Specialist and SEO companies exist. Google is constantly changing the way it operates based on consumer trends and insight. Google now includes social media in it’s algorithm for returning credible authority building results for publishers. There mission has always been to get the end-user the most valuable information through the most direct route as possible. That is what differentiated them from other search engines in the late 90’s.
One misconception in the practice of search engine optimization (SEO) is that outbound links from your site to other sites is an effective way to increase your site’s ranking in search results. If that was the case, any poor-quality website could link out to countless high-quality sites and, therefore, rank higher in searches. Search engines are aware of these tactics and instead they look at the nature of outbound links. A site with “normal” activity will have a few outbound links when necessary. Link to what makes sense. If someones coming to your webpage and there’s something they should know about, link out to it. Some website owners and webmasters will recognize the ping and reciprocate through an unwritten rule of etiquette and as a nice gesture to return the favor.
Nofollow and dofollow refer to how a website tells search engines to treat links on their site to another website. For instance, if you want to allow comments on your blog but not reward spammers for leaving trash comments, you may choose to “nofollow” those links – ie. telling search engines to disregard the links. Dofollow specifically tells search engines to count the link.
Yes. Especially when it comes to country based domains like .au and .co.uk – for local results you should use a country domain. Local extensions matter a LOT. Other extensions (.me, .us, .org) do not matter as much.
We will need to know a lot more about you and your business before answering this question. In general, you should blog if your blog will offer readers something of value. You should not blog “for SEO” although blogs definitely improve your online visibility. They also take massive amounts of time to maintain and can harm you if spammers use holes in your out of date blog system through comment spam.
This isn’t necessary. This year Google, Bing’s and Yahoo search engines control 97% of the search market. The next sixty competitors all combined control 2.5% and if you’re indexed on Google and Bing, chances are you’re all set.
Inbound links are links from other sites in to your website. For instance, you create a profile on a local forum. You are allowed to add your link to that forum in your profile and signature. Those are now inbound links to your website.
No. Remember how we said Google catches spammers and cheaters? Buying links is done to trick Google into thinking more sites care about you than actually do. This is a VERY bad idea. We’ve seen business owners throw thousands of dollars down the drain by trying to use this strategy even after being advised that it would hurt them in the long run.
Exact match domains used to rank very well even if they were new, thin and spammed to the ceiling. This is no longer the case. Exact match domains are not useless if you have real content for the website but EMDs should not be purchased in bulk for SEO purposes. They no longer carry the same type of benefit and since they are the focus of an anti-spam effort by Google, your good site may get swept away in the cleanup. Unless you already own an EMD, we would suggest just buying the best domain for your business and making it work for you.
You shouldn’t do this. While automated linkbuilding used to have some effect on Google, spam has been a major focus of all algorithm changes this year. Google has some of the smartest people in the world working on how to catch and crush spammers. If you’re smarter than Google’s engineers, you probably don’t need to read a FAQ on an SEO website to learn how to defeat the system. Automating link building is asking for major trouble now or in the near future.
Simply do a Google search for your domain in quotes. ”www.sigmacreativeonline.com” or use the site: modifier and search for site:yoursite.com If you show up, you’re not banned. If you don’t, you are.
Google does not hate SEO. They hate spam. Google has released SEO Guidelines which state that SEO “can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation.” Google’s guidelines for hiring an SEO analyst or company are a good place to start in your search, as well. Good SEO is not “cheating.” If you spam your link across any unrelated site simply to get the link back to you, yes that may fall under your definition of cheating. Not only will Google eventually punishes you for that it doesn’t win friends and influence people – why set yourself up for that?
You might also want to ask yourself if your site ranked two years ago and you haven’t been able to recover since? Did you fall hard when Panda/Penguin/EMD was announced? Google only “hates” sites that cheat their way to better rankings. Spam, also known as content farming, is the biggest offender by a landslide. Be wary of website services like Fiverr or freelancers or companies that haven’t been vetted. If you are creating spam, it is Google’s mission to push you as far down as possible. Google doesn’t hate your site because you don’t rank well, though. Google may hate your optimization, but we can fix that. What you will struggle to fix is your past bad behavior so try to avoid that from the start.
We have ways to cleanup your site and help you recover from Panda, Penguin, EMD penalties or negative SEO (ie. your competitor purchasing 50,000 junk links for you.) The sooner we start, the better.
Google Plus Local
On May 30, 2012, Google announced the roll out of Google+ Local. This new socially integrated product replaces Google Places. Google+ Local is accessible from your Google+ profile by clicking the “Local” icon on the left-hand side of the page.
Google Places has been replaced by Google+ Local! Don’t worry though, you can still use Google Places to manage your business. The change has more of an impact on individuals than businesses.
Google Places is being replaced by Google+ Local. If you’re wondering what will happen to those Google Places reviews you’ve worked so hard to get, don’t worry – they aren’t going anywhere!
Pay Per Click
Pay Per Click is generally referred to as advertisements strategically located at the top and right side on every major search engine like Google, Bing,Yahoo, and other search engines are called pay per click or PPC advertisements. PPC is an internet marketing technique that requires you to pay a certain fee every time someone clicks on a PPC ad your company placed in the results page of a search engine.
- Paid search can be launched quickly. Natural SEO generally takes months to show a return.
- Paid search focuses on a large number of keywords. Natural SEO needs to be focused on a few high-return keywords.
- Paid search is highly measurable. Tracking results on natural SEO is more difficult (although not impossible).
We actually recommend a two pronged approach. While PPC can deliver quick, targeted traffic, its SEO that will lower your overall online marketing costs in the long run. We generally start our clients of with a targeted PPC campaign while developing and implementing their SEO strategy. This gives our clients the ability to generate traffic and sales instantly while positioning them to rank organically for similar keywords in their PPC campaigns and reducing the over per click costs and budgets.
PPC remains to be the quickest way of guiding potential customers directly to your website. It immediately shows up on a search engine’s results page. A well-written PPC ad can instantly bring the customer to the exact page of his query. More often than not, it increases the chances of a potential sale.
Sigma Creative manages PPC campaigns in both Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter which cover over 99% of the search traffic in the US. These search engines power the PPC advertising in Google, Yahoo, Bing, AOL, Ask, as well as many others. We also manage ads in non-search based PPC platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and others according to our clients’ individual needs.
The first step is to determine what is being measured in the campaign. In most cases, a site is either attempting to sell directly, or to generate leads for an offline sales team to work. We refer to these actions as online goals
Once the goals have been defined, there are a number of technologies and strategies we deploy to ensure proper tracking of goals and conversions. We have the ability to track in a very detailed manner and provide reporting to ensure transparency in this process.
PPC campaigns are only as expensive as you allow them to be. When we set you up with an account, you set your budget and the Sigma Creative team will spend that budget as efficiently as possible while maximizing your results. The general rule is that the more you spend, the more traffic you’ll get, and the higher your results will be in the search engines. However, spending more doesn’t always guarantee a high return on your investment. Most successful campaigns begin with a budget that is comfortable but not too risky. You can always expand your budget if the results achieved are positive enough to justify a larger investment.
You’re completely in control of the maximum amount you are willing to pay each time somebody clicks on your ad with PPC advertising. This maximum “bid”, combined with a multitude of other factors, which include the structure of your campaign, the relevance of your ad copy, and the performance history of that keyword all determine what you will end up paying as well as what position your ad will appear in. The higher your maximum bid is, the higher you will show up in the search results, and the more clicks you will receive. Depending on the amount of competition for a keyword, each click can range from $.05 to $20 or more, with a typical industry average of about $1.40 per click.
Google, Bing and Yahoo give you have the option of geo-targeting in your city, county/state or nationwide. You can even specify your business opening hours, so that your ads are shown in those times, to only receive queries when you are open to take them!
PPC campaign optimization is the process of making incremental, real time alterations to a campaign in order to create a higher average return on every dollar spent. Keyword development, ad copy testing, bid management, data analysis, and more are all included under the optimization umbrella. The goal with optimization is to both identify and expand upon the components of a campaign that provide the best return on investment, and eliminate the campaign components that are providing the least return on investment. For example, identifying the keywords with the lowest cost per conversion and then raising their bids, while also lowering the bids on the keywords with the highest cost per conversion. Optimization is an ongoing process as new tools and products emerge and the marketplace changes with time and new advertisers.
Remarketing, also referred to as retargeting (search or site), is an advertising method that allows you to reach individuals who have previously visited your website, by showing them relevant ads when they’re visiting sites on the Google Display Network. Remarketing can help improve the ROI of PPC campaigns by taking advantage of lost visitors and turning them into customers.
The average CTR of a Facebook ad is around 0.05%. The average CTR of a Google display ad is around 0.4% — almost 10 times higher. Search ads have even higher CTR, around 2%. There are any number of reasons why Facebook’s ad CTR might be comparatively low:
- Facebook’s ad formats are more restrictive and less engaging than Google’s.
- Facebook ads are more obviously ads, whereas Google ads blend in more seamlessly with the organic results.
- People are not in shopping mode when using Facebook.
However, none of this means that you can’t make Facebook advertising work for you. It is just a matter of making of making an educated decision on where your customer base is and taking a balanced approach when it comes to short-term and long-term investments.
As mentioned above, the average CTR of a search ad is around 2%, while the average CTR for a banner ad is 0.1-0.2%. That means that search ads get 10 to 20 times more clicks for the same number of impressions. The reason is that search ads are more targeted. The keyword bidding system (along with negative keywords) allows advertisers to control when and where their ads appear, focusing on audiences that are more likely to be interested in what they’re selling based on social engagement and websites visited. It is what has become known as behavioral marketing. Banner ads are generally less targeted, and people are more likely to tune them out.
Click fraud is a type of fraud that occurs on the Internet in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad’s link. In layman’s terms it is a competitor or company hired by a competitor to drive up the cost of a PPC campaign. Click fraud is a legitimate problem with paid search advertising. The major paid search engines have technologies in place to prevent click fraud, but they do not always work. We closely monitor our paid search accounts for suspicious behavior. This often results in a credit being made to the account by the search engine.
Much like our SEO reports we typically provide reporting on a monthly basis, but we are always able to make exceptions and provide reporting on a timeline that works best for you. PPC engines offer conversion tracking along with a plethora of other reporting features. Our reports summarize your campaign activity and detail exactly how your budget was spent across the keywords currently in your campaign. The report includes impressions, clicks, cost per click, conversions, cost per conversion, ROI, revenue generated, and more, depending on what applies to your individual campaign. Sigma Creative also recommends using 3rd party reporting software as well.
Not necessarily. Some our competitors will say “Yes” to get the sale, but we prefer to be realistic and transparent. Sometimes having the number one position brings in a lot of window shoppers, but no results. This is because the success of any PPC campaign depends on a wide array of factors, some of which you can control yourself and others you cannot. Our job at Sigma Creative is to optimize the controllable factors to give you the best possible chance to succeed – and we know our approach works. If you are measuring your results you should be able to tell which positions are performing for you. In some cases, positions 3 or 4 would better suit your campaign.
Starting an e-mail program is one of the easiest ways to increase sales, customer satisfaction and brand recognition. A program is a regularly scheduled, reoccurring e-mail campaign, such as an e-newsletter or a weekly sale announcement. Program marketing differs from campaign marketing because campaign marketing occurs sporadically, on any topic that happens to arise. E-mail programs are effective in building a brand and sales because they establish constant, expected communications with recipients.
Email marketing is cheaper, faster; it has ability to target defined demographics and effective measuring performance results. Direct mail can be effective, but you really have to personalize the small scale delivery by knowing your audience to get the intended result. One of the effective direct mail campaigns ever is Maker’s Mark Brand Ambassador program.
No problem. It’s time to get started! There are several ways you can collect email marketing addresses. Sigma Creative provides a website opt-in tools to put on your website to help you in marketing your email program. That will help you begin growing your list immediately. Your site visitors can sign up for your email marketing list and their addresses and pertinent information will automatically imported in to your Sigma Creative email marketing account. Because Sigma Creative offers retention and email marketing consulting to all clients, we will also help develop strategies to grow your list through other portals as well.
No. Sigma Creative can only be used with email marketing lists for which you have permission to communicate to.
Your email marketing list is safe behind our heavily secured firewalls. It will reside in your Sigma Creative account until you remove your list. You may, at any time export your list directly to an active email address in the form of a .csv excel sheet. Sigma Creative will never rent, share or sell your email marketing list.
Yes! Sigma Creative email marketing software integrates with, Salesforce.com, Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter and many more.. With these integration partners, Sigma Creative email marketing software is capable of helping to take your Internet marketing efforts to the next level of customer conversions, detailed trackability and website analytics.
Absolutely not! You will be able to create beautiful HTML email marketing campaigns by simply pasting your content in to our email marketing wizard driven templates!
Yes. Sigma Creative does charge a one time fee for each HTML email designed request.
Sigma Creative has standing relationships and ongoing dialogue with many of the leading ISPs and blacklists such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo!, etc… This includes the sharing of information regarding policies, practices and issues. Through researching 75,000 emails sent over a 6-month time period using 8 clients, Sigma Creative average delivery rate was 96%, where as industry averages are between 87%-90%.
Yes, you can see the email addresses of who opened your emails as well as those who clicked onto links within your emails. You will also have access to viewing the history of that user, as well as who that user has forwarded their emails to, and the message they sent. You also have the ability to then export those “open” or “click-thru” email addresses in to a new interest category of their own!
Yes! Sigma Creative has a bounce management feature that allows you to see which addresses bounced and for what reasons. Additionally, it will allow you to export those addresses for easy bounce management of your lists.
Yes! Sigma Creative recognizes that each customer is unique in their familiarity with technology, as well as their level of experience in permission based email marketing. For this reason, we have adopted a personalized approach to training where we work with you to determine the training format that best meets your need and is convenient for your schedule. Regardless of what elements work best for you, rest assured that we will arm you with the knowledge and expertise to take your email initiatives to a whole new level of sophistication.
E-newsletter marketing is less intrusive than traditional advertising. It provides an alternative that is more appealing to most readers, and is more effective because each e-newsletter delivers value to your customers and prospects on a regular basis. Plus, you can track which articles are most read, i.e., which information is most important to your readers.
Advertising guru David Olgilvy (1911-1999) said, “There is no need for advertisements to look like advertisements. If you make them look like editorial pages, you will attract about 50 percent more readers.” This statement holds true in e-newsletter marketing. Rather than one to three percent of readers opening a direct mail piece and requesting more information, over 50 percent of recipients click on e-newsletter articles to get more information. Here are some things to consider when crafting your emails:
The answer is simple: we provide all of the tools necessary for you to successfully create, deliver and track email campaigns while maintaining top tier industry compliance. Furthermore, our partner is ExactTarget, who is considered an industry leader in email marketing software development and also has partnerships with technology organizations such as IronPort, Pivotal Veracity and Microsoft to provide you with a state-of-the-art email solution that can effectively grow as your organizational needs grow.
Sigma Creative differentiates itself from many of the competitors in the marketplace through the following:
• Ease of Use
• ASP Platform
• TriMark Solutions Services
• Subscriber Management
• Viral Marketing
• Unparalleled Deliverability
• Dynamic Emails
Integrated Content Marketing
Inbound Marketing is marketing focused on getting found by customers.
In traditional marketing (outbound marketing) companies focus on finding customers. They use techniques that are poorly targeted and that interrupt people. They use cold-calling, print advertising, T.V. advertising, junk mail, spam and trade shows. Technology is making these tactics less effective and more expensive on any size budget. Caller ID blocks cold calls, TiVo makes T.V. advertising less effective, spam filters block mass emails and tools like RSS are making print and display advertising less effective. It’s still possible to get a message out via these channels, but it costs more.
Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing and sales strategies on its head.
Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that people call them looking for more information. Instead of driving their message into a crowd over and over again like a sledgehammer, they attract highly qualified customers to their business like a magnet through email subscriptions. Permission marketing.
That depends on two things. First, if you already have an annual marketing budget that is used for print ads, trade shows, direct mail, and other traditional marketing tactics? Relatively speaking you should find an Inbound Marketing program to be much more cost effective. Most firms that offer comprehensive Inbound Marketing services charge a monthly retainer, since the work can sometimes be daily, is ongoing and there are usually several team members involved with an account. Having said that, there are large (expensive) digital marketing agencies, just as there are large (expensive) ad or traditional agencies. The most important thing a brand can do when budgeting for the month or year is do the research for which tactics provide the best ROI. Then balance that with a diverse approach so that prospective leads are exposed to your brand across the channels they decide to engage you through.
The answer is: YES; but be honest with yourself. Will it really get done? Many people think social media marketing could easily be managed by someone internally. After all, it’s just playing around on the Internet – right? Wrong. There should be a social media strategy in place that is tied to a overarching content marketing plan; and it is definitely not play. It takes forethought and most of all, time to create quality deliverables. Another area companies think they can manage themselves is their blog. While this is trues sometimes it takes a little training and some added resources. We manage blogs for multiple clients and know firsthand how difficult it is to even get written pieces edited and approved; much less written. It is much easier to let people slack off or miss deadlines as an internal project manager who isn’t accountable for the entire program’s results.
If you don’t hire an employee who is dedicated to Inbound Marketing, whatever portion of the program you decide to manage internally will be delegated to someone who already has a full plate of responsibilities. In our experience working with B2B and B2C small business service companies, even if “marketing” is in a person’s job title they rarely focus on marketing communications alone. There is almost always focused on business development, sales, project management or even a role completely unrelated to sales and marketing that is part of their job description. Throw travel and a lot of meetings into the mix the timely execution becomes even more dicey. This may all sound like negative thinking; but it’s just speaking from past experiences that evolve into either good or bad best practices. We can say it because we’ve been there and learned from our own mistakes with regards to resource management.
You might have heard that about larger corporate centered marketing firms, but the opposite is true of Sigma Creative. Our initial objective with any client is to identify what makes your business unique. Understanding your business’ “personality” helps us construct your one-of-a-kind brand. We foster that image throughout the marketing process to help you gain the consumer attention you need. Also, as a Sigma Creative client, we are in constant communication with you regarding your marketing plan implementation and adjust our actions in conjunction with your feedback and the evolution of your business.
We also have an arsenal of great copywriters and content marketers that know what questions to ask for crafting your company’s core message for storytelling that impacts your the audience to generate leads.
The correct answer is: YES. If you decide to eliminate any of the key components, it will take much longer to get results, and it will be much harder to gauge results. We strongly discourage clients from considering the list a menu or ala carte approach, but rather view it as a necessary, integrated whole that will produce results within a relatively short period of time. “Relatively short” is dependent on your business and how competitive your decide to become. It is not unusual for B2B brands with specialized products or services to see significant results in less than six months if they outsource their programs to professionals who use sound Inbound Marketing practices.
Social Media Marketing
In a nutshell, social media marketing is a multi-faceted group of ways that you can market products and services, or build a brand and a business on the Internet. It is the many layers and inter-connecting or overlapping methods your business needs to use in order to promote and present what you sell to the right group of people looking for products/services that are a solution to their problem. You don’t have to be a big business, or even a certain type of business to require the services of a social media agency. It’s how you make the connection with the buyers who need or want what you are selling.
You will see other terms for social media marketing used in the industry and by other businesses like yours. Don’t be confused if someone starts talking about online marketing, eMarketing, business marketing or web marketing. Guide or industry FAQ pages all over the internet use different terms to describe this very same thing. Other references include ‘webvertising’, online advertising and internet advertising.
Most advertising agencies will tell you that advertising and marketing online are all one and the same. This is not quite right. Social media marketing is the process of promotion and online advertising is the presentation of the finished outcome from the process. Like snapping a film photo, developing the negative, and finally you are presented with the finished picture. The final presentation won’t be worth 1,000 words if you skip the development process! Make a note of that, it is a crucial piece of social media marketing information to memorize.
People are talking about your brand, even if you are not listening. We have seen many cases where a negative review has gone unchecked and ruined the business. Not only do you need to manage negative customer feedback, you need to take advantage of the information customers are giving you – for free! Every click is an answer to a question and an agreement to move forward with your product or service. Conversely, your customers are always just one click away from “goodbye.” Analyzing this data will give your business tremendous insight into what customers want, what they respond to and how to adjust in order to increase your business over time.
With over 234 million websites online in December 2009, gaining a sound connection to your target market group makes practicing comprehensive social media marketing a necessity for any company wishing to do business online today. That number of businesses and blogs all competing for the top page of organic search results is not about to go down or remain stagnant. In 2009, a total of 47 million websites were added to the total count. With such an incredible number of competing businesses online, social media marketing and advertising is a fundamental way to make your business visible to its intended audience! The social media agency provides a crucial service to any business wanting to succeed in the brick-and-mortar world, or in the more exciting realm of cyberspace. No social media agency would ever tell you otherwise. If you don’t do social media marketing, your business is never going to be heard over and above its multitude of competitors and thus have an affect on your brand’s sales cycle. It is as simple and clean-cut as that.
Without online marketing and search engine optimization, you will struggle to be visible to your target audience. All the potential customers that would otherwise purchase your products and services will be picked up by your competitors, who have made that important investment in their social media marketing. The most vital point you could take away from this social media agency’s FAQ, is that you need social media marketing and SEO if you ever hope to connect your products, services or brand with the target audience you seek. Without marketing, your business website online is pretty close to being an exercise in futility. A nice metaphor for this is: You wouldn’t try mowing a lawn with a pair of scissors, so don’t try doing business for profit online without social media marketing!
The different benefits fall into the following broad categories:
- Customer acquisition (Quicker consumer insight and feedback)
- Pre-qualified visitors matched to your product or service (aka “warm” leads)
- New product development
- Establishing a strong brand name, identity and awareness/defense
- Increases in your website’s traffic volume
- Increased sales conversions
- Customer Service
- A vastly improved return on investment
- Generating revenue
Many people confuse different types of social media marketing with different tactics of social media marketing. It is not uncommon and that is why we are here to help. FAQ pages on some of our competitor’s social media agency sites group different types of marketing with some of the more commonly used tactics used to do online marketing. So we’d like to clarify this situation for you and make it a bit less mind-boggling.
Social Media is an extension of traditional marketing, sales and customer service. As a client, you are paying for the ability to utilize modern electronic tactics to get in front of a targeted audience and save money while doing it. Social media is not an TV, radio or banner ad and has to be tracked and analyzed differently. Social media is inherently about creating brand consistency over time for a specific audience. This is a long term strategy also known as the long tail. It is about the ability to quickly get in front of prospects, current clients and leads through new discovery, and to establish an online relationship with them and build customer engagement that promotes brand advocacy.
Social media marketing differs from traditional marketing in that it does not focus on immediately establishing the value of your services or products, but rather it is about establishing your brands as a thought leader and go to resource in the industry- to create an awareness of your name and brand. The type of results you should be looking to expect is similar to what you would expect from a long term branding campaign. Social media marketing takes time to develop because you’re lead generation happens over multiple channels through positive reinforcement in the number of impressions made also known as subliminal repetition. Olivier Blanchard aka The Brand Builder calls it the F.R.Y. model. Frequency. Reach. Yield.
Let’s say you launched a video in your dance studio and that video gets X number of views, because you’re teaching how to Tango or the Lambada (We’re old school and like Patrick Swayze over The Harlem Shake), and you’ve got some brand messaging in that instructional video. It might be difficult to track exactly who came from that video to actually sign up for your dance classes, but it’s a huge brand awareness for your dance studio. There’s definitely a lot of brand tactics and strategy involved within social media.
Even before social media, Ben and Jerry’s gave away free ice cream cones hoping to get foot traffic into the store, and people would buy more than just that free cup of ice cream. They gave out free ice cream on election day and their Facebook fan base went from around 200,000 to 300,000, they gained 100,000 followers in just one day. That cost them nothing in terms of messaging because they just pushed it out on Facebook. They still have the cost of giving away the ice cream, they’ve historically always done that, but now they’re able to track it better and get that word of mouth out a lot more. Other big brands like Oreo and Red Bull have used social media with similar success going from product based companies who did product marketing to full blown media publishing companies. Just like you would want to gain and retain customers offline you want to be able to do the same online.
Before we start talking results and ROI we need to first determine goals, objectives, foreseeable challenges and objections before we can strategically plan for success in social media. Just like persona development in traditional marketing and sales it is important to do the research so social media efforts and budgets are not wasted.
Blogging is the easiest way for business owners or marketers to provide new, valuable, entertaining and educational content to their website without (normally) paying their web designer to make changes. With the help of Sigma Creative content marketing service or on their own, clients are able to add internal links, keyword-rich content and otherwise SEO friendly data to their site in a matter of keystrokes. This scores huge points with the search engines, provides valuable content for a brand’s other social media channels and allows it to get great content about their product or services out to the world from a friendly, no pressure sales approach.
We like the business saying that states “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.” At the end of the day, if this stuff is not working for you, you need to cut the chord and spend your efforts somewhere else. We are huge advocates of Social Media Marketing and believe that it works for MOST businesses. Our clients have worked with us to develop a strategy that includes posts, traffic reports, feedback times, etc. All of these pieces together help us stay on track and evaluate what is working. Without a plan, you are essentially wandering around the desert without a compass. Set goals (product feedback, service feedback, suggestions, complaints, web traffic, online sales, etc.) and evaluate those goals after 6 months or a year. You may not scrap the whole project, but you will at least know what is working and where to focus more energy. If the goal is important enough to your business, you will find a way to get the data.
Consumers don’t need your permission to talk about your company. Conversations will take place regardless of whether or not the company itself is involved. If you’re not, then you don’t know what they are saying and you can’t react; by participating in the conversation, you are aware of what they are saying and you can react.
Not being active on social media means turning a deaf ear to your customers’ feedback and that’s obviously a bad idea. After all, marketing is still about understanding your customers and reacting appropriately. In other words, it all starts with listening to what consumers have to say and empathizing with them if it is your fault. Retaining existing customers is more cost effective from a public relations viewpoint than the cost associated with acquiring new ones. Sigma Creative has experience in handling online crisis management communications strategies with corporate level clients all the way down to consulting for startups looking for some advice.
Conversation management goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. It’s about establishing an emotional connection with customers that results in positive conversations. These positive conversations are the basis for growth. We’ve never heard of a company that doesn’t care about positive conversations, regardless of the channel being used.
Needless to say, the new media also plays a role in conversation and reputation management from a brand perspective. While it is true that not everyone uses these channels, they are still important to every company. Digital marketing goes beyond social networking platforms. Company’s often underestimate the importance of their own website. Establishing your own channel for interactive communication with the customer is also part of a conversation strategy. This involves a larger target group via the entire internet population.
In addition, the indirect effect of social media is often much bigger than the direct effect. More and more, news is being shaped online. Once traditional media outlets pick up a story, it grows shortly and may eventually become a fad. The quickest road to offline visibility is scoring on social media. The opposite is also true: the quickest road to online success is your offline behaviour. In other words: thinking in silos is not a good idea. Everything is interconnected and every channel has its own part to play. It is figuring out the balance of the two for a true integrated marketing approach.
The key aim of marketing insight is to discover a fact about that market that has not previously been made use of, but when leveraged will generate increased profits. Alternatively, market insight can be defined as the attempt to discover a penetrating truth about consumers, their aspirations and motivations which can in turn be used to generate growth. Market insights should be credible, actionable and practical suggestions that will make a real difference to the client.
Those of you using Google Analytics to track your website activity have probably noticed a dramatic rise in the number of keywords listed as (not provided). Keyword (not provided) occurs when a person performs a Google search while logged in to one of their Google accounts. That means when someone is logged in to any Google product – Gmail, Google AdWords, Google+, Google Analytics, etc. – and they do a search, the keyword they use will be encrypted by Google. In Google Analytics, it will show as (not provided).
If you want to track your organic rankings in Google, there are a number of commercially available SEO tools that will get the job done. However, few people realize that you can use Google Analytics to track your SEO rankings. Not only can you customize Google Analytics to show your keyword rankings alongside the rest of your data, unlike other tools, Google Analytics is an excpetional bargain at the low, low price of FREE! Read on for the step-by-step setup guide.
Internet marketers love to create new terms for things you thought you already understood! In the world of Internet marketing, the word “conversion” represents any action on your website that is more valuable than someone that visits your site and leaves without doing anything. What constitutes a conversion depends entirely on the industry and on the individual company. It doesn’t always correlate directly to a sale.
What makes a conversion can be very subjective based on what your role is at a company. In digital marketing tracking the indirect influence of a sale is often difficult, but necessary for gaining insight to big picture trends. What a marketing manager or CMO’s idea of conversion (eg – Facebook Page Likes, Shares, Twitter Retweets, Fan or Follower Counts, Email Subscriptions, Phone Calls, etc.) can be different compared to that of a CEO or head of business development. It boils down to having the right goals in place based on exhaustive market research and having a balanced strategy to continually test and refine.
One of the more commonly referenced website analytics terms is “bounce rate.” What is bounce rate? What does it mean? Is it an important metric to monitor? Let’s start with defining what a bounce is. A bounce occurs when someone visits your website, views a single page, and leaves. In this scenario a website tracking tool like Google Analytics, would report one bounce or a 100 percent bounce rate (depending on which type of report you run/view).
Many marketing departments are not only overwhelmed, but they are not fully aware of how sales people sell, and so often they don’t provide the adequate materials and information needed to support a sales team. Training, collateral, competitive displacement presentations, technical FAQs, behavioral analysis and digital footprint reports are often missing upon a product launch.
Sales enablement is the key linchpin required to help a B2B company bridge the gap between their business strategies and how they execute in the field. In essence it is the delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward. Too many common challenges (problems cross-selling, long sales cycles, declining win rates, margin pressure, getting average deal size up) can be traced back to the same source — the conversation between your client-facing people and the combination of stakeholders that represent your buyers.
As inbound marketers, we’re really into digital media. We believe in the merits of channels like Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the whole wide web for marketers and business owners to spread their message, and generate leads and customers.
If you relied solely on the trade press and Twitter, it would be easy to think that marketing and sales organizations have moved beyond print to a world where everything is digital, but actual data shows that print remains near the top of the list for many marketers.
Why? Because it works, and there are times when nothing less than a beautiful piece of print collateral will do. Whether it’s a brochure, a business card, or a poster, the range of options available to marketers for printed collateral has never been broader or more accessible.
If people are spending money on print advertising, it’s probably safe to say it isn’t dead. A general rule at Sigma Creative is “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If you spend all your advertising money in one area, you’re probably only reaching one type of audience. Instead, consider spreading the money out over multiple outlets to reach more people. Print advertising done well is not dead; however, it’s important to do your research, finding outlets and creating ads that target your specific audience. Sigma Creative can help you get started.
The ability to create and distribute content has increased significantly in the past fifteen years. Before that time, content was restricted by physical space and production costs limiting the total number of content offerings to the field. Marketing could easily tell what content was being used based on what was being ordered by the field and the content that wasn’t working.
The other issue is that sales enablement has been equated with collateral and training materials. In the best-run organizations sales enablement oversees and measures the assets, skills, knowledge, processes, and tools needed to make a sales team more effective.
Questions For Sigma Creative
We have a unique process that allows us to save YOU time and money! Our streamlined process starts with you choosing a custom package. Our packages are customizable, so you’re only paying for the items you need. We kick off your project with client kick-off meeting with your project manager, followed by a strategy session to find a right fit solution for your integrated marketing efforts. By keeping each task in the process on schedule and having a dedicated project manager assigned to you, we are able to save time and maintain affordability.
The marketing communications business is ever changing especially when it comes to technology and the speed at which consumers make purchasing decisions based on new trends. We have found that offering complete packages helps small business owners who are overwhelmed by the process of dealing with an outside marketing firm a little easier. The challenge for us and many of our competitors is often small businesses will use multiple advertising firms for their branding, website design, SEO, content marketing, social media and sales enablement needs which often causes a disconnect to your potential client. By selecting packages it gives does two things. It breaks down communication silos and it creates a stronger more manageable relationship between business owner and creative entity that results in a greater ROI in newly acquired or returning customers.
Our web design and marketing packages are designed to fit your needs. Choose a base package and then add on enhancements to fit your business’ needs. At Sigma Creative, we understand your small business is on a budget, so we ensure you’re only paying for what you need and nothing more.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and if you can’t manage it, you can’t grow your business. It is hard to make critical decisions when you can’t see the big picture in its entirety. Most business owners, and yes, fellow marketers are still not accurately investing their hard earned dollars in tracking their advertising, marketing, website, or SEO despite the overwhelming evidence and case studies that states otherwise. Most online marketing companies treat tracking and reporting as an after thought – the last step. At Sigma Creative, SEO engagement and online strategy is defined and implemented from the very beginning.
Most SEO companies are doing their best to understand the hundreds, maybe thousands of signals search engines use to rank sites. Google and Bing do not publish a list of ranking factors so we are all left guessing. They give hints, but most of what SEO agencies do is based at least in part on speculation. The best agencies test relentlessly and learn from each other however possible.
We believe in two principles. 1) You must trust your marketing agency. Not everything we try (or any agency tries) will work. That’s marketing. You have to trust that whoever you hire has your (and thus their) best intentions in mind as they work on your behalf. Without trust, you’re going to doubt their results, their statistics, the rankings they give you (because you don’t necessarily see the same results) and you will doubt their ability. So hire an SEO firm you trust.
Second, hire a marketing agency that has proven ability to do the job. Your revenues should not be subject to fail because you really like an agency manager’s personality, but not their talent. Hire someone you feel has done amazing things for their past clients. Look at results and give whoever you hire time and trust.