[By Emily Carter]
Over the summer, GRM attended Inbound 2013 – an Inbound Marketing conference by HubSpot. It was a great time to network and learn even more about HubSpot and Inbound Marketing, and I think we all came away from it with new ideas and inspiration.
Anyways, I ended up attending the most amazing session on landing pages. I learned a few things while in Boston, so I wanted to share with you the top 5 ways that you can enter 2014 making the best landing pages.
The Top 5 Ways to Make the Best Landing Page Possible:
1. Make sure your form isn’t annoying and tedious. Only put fields on your form that you actually need from people. The longer a form is, the less likely someone will want to fill it out. Time is money baby. Also, be sure to title your form clearly so that people know what they are getting. See the example at right.
2. Make it crystal clear. When writing out the text on your landing page, explain what they are downloading in a concise way. Break up the text with bullet points or images in order to make it easier to read. Your landing page needs to pass what’s called “the blink test.” Studies show that people make judgments about a website in the same amount of time it takes to blink once. No pressure.
3. K.I.S.S. – Or as I like to say with affection, Keep it simple, stupid! Don’t bog down your visitors with tons of copy. Make sure that the value of your offer is clearly stated in your landing page. Explain what it is and why they need it. Once you’ve done that, don’t include anything else. This includes other CTA’s. Do not include any other call to action except the one the landing page is created for!
4. Show them the goods. Where possible, include an excerpt or a screen shot from the product they will be downloading. Giving up a little sneak peek lets the person see firsthand how awesome your offer is. Don’t worry that you’re giving away the goods for free – it’s just a small sample to entice visitors even further.
5. Include social sharing buttons. Sharing is caring, as we all know. Give people the ability to share your landing page with other people to increase your reach and visibility. Add buttons to share on sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
2014 is content marketing’s year. For that reason, we are going to be dedicating the next few months to the King in the Nor- err, the King of the Marketing Realm, content. Stay tuned for weekly tips on creating the best types of content, including emails, blogs, social media posts, eBooks, white papers, checklists and more.
Curious about content marketing? Click below to learn about GRM’s service offerings for content.
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara
The end of December is a great time to reflect on what you did in the past year and make resolutions or goals for the new year. Here at Grass Roots Marketing, it's no different. We are taking the time to set goals for ourselves as professionals and a company.
But we want to take it to the next level.
We're dubbing our resolution list "Resolutions for a Revolution" because we want them to spark change on another level within ourselves, our company and our clients. We aspire to develop with our industry while offering new ideas that are forward-thinking. GRM will push ourselves in the coming year to offer you the best in creativity, strategy, execution and - most important - results.
Check out our team's Resolutions for a Revolution:
To do a better job of explaining to my friends and fellow business managers how important the "new", creative and Inbound Marketing can be to their business; how it can help their business adapt to the "new" economy, the terrific ROI it offers and the impact it can have on their bottom line. Who knew? - Frank Wyckoff, President and CEO
To educate our clients and businesses on the impact that design has on their bottom line. Sales and marketing are greatly affected by design - my resolution is to make sure we pass that message along, loud and clear! - Ali Taylor, Manager of Design
My resolution is to relax and read more books. I tend to be….well… busy and hyper a lot. I often jam pack my time after work and weekends with nonstop activities. When I relax and read books, it actually ends up helping me with brainstorming and writing. Good books get me thinking about storytelling, character development, word choice and thinking outside the box! - Tony Popowski, Communications Manager
My resolution is to better educate the public about the importance of following a strategic but flexible social media plan to help with brand awareness and lead generation. Many companies out there are afraid of enjoying the benefits of social media because they don’t want to send the “wrong” message… so they confine the limits of content that they want to be shared and miss out on opportunities that will grow their audience. Oh yeah… and I also want to expand my use of social media analytics software to more accurately measure social success for ourselves and our clients and then continue to improve our social marketing strategies by aligning and measuring results. It’s OK to have two resolutions, right? - Kelly Shepsko, Social Media Manager
My resolution is to explore new ways of using design to enhance all aspects of digital branding as well as utilizing the latest web design tools/techniques to develop websites that are successful marketing and sales assets. I'll be searching for new ways to impact marketing with design elements. - Adina Cale, Graphic Designer
The marketing industry today is marked by change and it seems like new technologies pop up every day. My resolution for myself and for GRM is to remain early adopters in this arena. We want to know what's new, what's changed, what's good and bad about marketing these days. This means we'll be hyper focused on staying up-to-date with HubSpot certifications, search engine algorithm changes, social media platform updates and changes in technology or software. Count on me to know exactly what Google's new algorithm changes actually mean for you in 2014, the day it happens. - Emily Carter, Online Brand Manager, SEO Specialist
I will further educate myself on new marketing trends and make sure I am thoroughly analyzing our prospects’ needs to find the best solutions for them to generate leads and drive sales. - Mark Modoski, Account Executive
Everything that we do here at GRM is for the purpose of achieving results for businesses in New Jersey and across the country. In the new year, our marketing programs will be tied to specific results so that we may actively measure the ROI that we provide for ourselves and our clients. - Koleen Singerline, Senior Vice President
To emphasize the importance core values and ethics have in the way we conduct business with each other. How the choices we make are personal and that there is no such thing as "just business". - Frank Wyckoff, President and CEO
Do you like our resolutions? Do you have another one that we haven't thought of? Let us know in the comments section!
See you in 2014!
[Guest Blogger: Tirrell Payton]
The more companies use content marketing to reach customers, the more people take advantage of it. Back when there were only a few hundred websites online, it was easier to get lots of traffic to a site, but as competition has crowded the market, we’re seeing more black hat techniques. Rest assured, these don’t work, but they are “deadly sins” you should be aware of.
Here’s what not to do when it comes to content marketing.
1. Flooding Your Product or Company Review Page with Fake Reviews
You’ve got to be a little suspicious of a Yelp or Amazon page that has several glowing reviews of a product, but mostly mediocre and negative reviews. How could a company offer such diverse experiences for consumers?
Some companies pay to get positive reviews on their profiles. This is an absolute no-no. Not only will customers see through the fake reviews, but Google might even penalize you if it catches on.
2. Stuffing Keywords in Your Web Copy
Even if this tactic once worked, it no longer does, thanks to Google’s algorithm updates this year. But there are those who don’t understand that putting in too many keywords doesn’t net better results. It, in fact, pushes you lower down in the search results. Focus on placing keywords naturally in your web copy, where they make sense.
3. Linking Spam
Again, we see less of this since Google cracked down, but there are people who generate links using software or include lists of links to other unrelated sites in the hopes of getting some SEO juice. Only link to sites that relate to your own. For example, if you run a small business software company, it wouldn’t do you any good to link to a women’s clothing company site (unless they happened to be a client), but linking to other small business services might benefit you and the site you link to.
4. Not Allowing Email Subscribers to Opt Out
By law (the CAN-SPAM Act, to be exact), you are required to provide an easy way for your email subscribers to unsubscribe from your emails if they choose to. If you use a legitimate email marketing company like iContact, that won’t be an issue, since the opt-out link is built into each template. But if you’re mass emailing people directly from your email account, you risk being reported as spam if you don’t make it easy for people to get off your list.
5. Buying Social Media Followers
While you can pay for followers on Twitter, why would you want to? It may make your follower numbers look good, but if you’re sending your message to “bots” or people who aren’t interested in your messages, what’s the point in using social? Instead, work to build an organic list of your target audience.
6. Holding Contests Where Nobody Wins
Contests on social media are excellent for getting new followers. But if you have no intention of giving away a prize, you’re setting a bad precedent for building a relationship with your social following. If you hold a contest, follow through and pick winners. They’ll be happy to share their good fortune with their own social networks, resulting in you connecting with even more people online.
7. Publishing the Same Post Everywhere
Google now frowns on duplicate content, so that post you wrote for one blog won’t do any good published on three other blogs. Take that content and tweak it so that you have a unique, new article, and Google will be appeased.
To get the most out of content marketing, focus on delivering useful information that your target market cares about. Be human, not robotic, and you’ll see an increase in the traffic to your site.
Tirrell Payton is a marketer and technologist with more than 15 years of experience in the digital world, and is the VP of Analytical Marketing at Egg Marketing and Communications. He is a former executive at Accenture, a global technology and consulting firm, where he helped companies transition from "industrial speed" to "web speed." Prior to Accenture, he worked in the digital media division of Yahoo. Tirrell combines marketing sense with technology savvy with an unwavering eye on the bottom line. He is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com, Small Business Trends, and DIYMarketing as well as his own website, SEOTirrell. Follow him on Twitter @SEOTirrell.
[By Kelly Shepsko]
As 2013 comes to a close, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading all of the “Best-of’s” and “Worst-of’s” from the past year, thanks to Buzzfeed and everyone else for providing us with tons of these easy-reads. While skimming through several lists of films, TV finales (RIP Breaking Bad) and viral videos, I thought of two very familiar people that the media dumped information on us about during this past year—Kate Middleton and Miley Cyrus. Two opposite sides of the spectrum, much?
Anyway… what comes to mind when you see or hear about Dutchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton? Take one second to think about it. --->
We can imagine that you’d associate her with words similar to “elegant”, “sophisticated” or “humble”. Do you agree? Now… think of Miley Cyrus during her performance at the VMA’s or in her, “Wrecking Ball” music video. Try not to cringe.
Don't worry... I'm not going to post a photo of her.
It’s not that I'm bashing Miley; I'm merely reinforcing that both of these women have successfully established a very strong brand identity. They both keep an image that others expect and identify with, and they're good at it.
So… how does this celebrity talk relate to your company’s social media presence? Whether you like it or not—people judge what they see FIRST and then usually, if they decide that they like what they see, they are driven to learn more about who you are and what you do. The internet is all about owning first impressions, and in today’s day and age, this especially applies to the way you brand yourself on social media. Your social brand identity is more important than you may think. How many times have you stumbled upon an unattractive website or a company social media page that hasn’t been updated in months and didn’t trust the company’s expertise or credibility off the bat?
Studies show that 97% of consumers say that their digital experience influenced their product or service purchase from a particular brand. How can you make sure your prospects are choosing you over your competition?
Most companies want to use social media effectively to generate leads and drive sales. After all, social media participation is the #1 web activity by all internet users. This is because social media gives us the opportunity to deliver our marketing messages to millions of prospects with a few simple clicks… but, you can scare away a customer just as quickly as you can gain one if you don’t have a professional and appealing social media presence.
How attractive are your company social media pages? If you think that they could be considered as contestants for a web spin-off of the show Extreme Makeover, or if you don’t really take branding into consideration for your social media pages, read on.
Keeping a professional and brand-consistent social media image is imperative to build trust with a consumer. The “look” of your social media is just as important as your homepage on your website. It’s all about first impression. Customers will be looking for information to see how you deal with clients and what kind of content you produce and support.
Click below to check out some of our social media graphics samples and package pricing. Then, decide if it’s time for a branding makeover. Grass Roots Marketing’s high-quality social media graphics packages are customizable to fit your needs and will reinforce a positive internet branding message. We’ll even install your spankin’ new graphics free of charge so that you’re up and running in no time. We can provide a customized solution for your business—whether it’s a quick trim, or major cosmetic surgery.
*Kate Middleton photo credit: US magazine
[Guest Blogger: Megan Totka]
Isn’t the big goal of most marketing campaigns and collateral to get a big reaction from those that you are hoping to land as customers? I definitely think that it is. Marketing campaigns are sometimes designed to tug on your heartstrings, sometimes for shock factor, and other times aimed towards your wallet. But no matter what, marketers want you to do one thing – remember what they have to say.
Inbound marketing is really no different in this aspect. Yes, you want the customer to come to you more so than you reaching out and grabbing them. But you’ll still need a strategy with which to do that. A blog post that I read recently suggests relationship building as a subtle marketing strategy. I absolutely think that this can be applied to inbound marketing as well!
I know that a fair amount of the readers of this blog are likely doing marketing for an Internet-based company, but there’s no reason that you can’t take part in some of these activities in your local community, as well.
Without further ado, ways you can market by building relationships:
- Spread some holiday cheer – this time of year is perfect for building relationships with others and with your community. Take the time to sponsor a holiday toy drive, food drive, or donate your time to a worthy cause.
- Commit Random Acts of Kindness – sometimes the best kind of marketing is not marketing at all. Do you have a supplier that you use for product? Frequent doctors or dentists’ offices to sell products? One day, drop by to visit with no sales incentive. Bring the staff a snack or just say thanks for their help.
- Take notice of what’s around you – being observant can serve you well in all parts of your life. When you talk to people, whether online, on the phone, or in person, take note of things that they say about themselves. Knowing things about the person that you are talking to can lend a personal note when you come back to market to them. And don’t just do this because you “have” to, taking a genuine interest in others is always a nice thing to do.
Building relationships is important in our everyday lives, but in business, having quality relationships can translate to so much more in the long run. So take the time now to build and establish quality relationships.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
[By Emily Carter]
Because I spend so much time immersed in marketing efforts, I’ve started to notice instances in the real world where three things are apparent:
- Digital marketing has become more than relevant; it’s a necessity
- Inbound Marketing works
- New digital trends are changing our lives
Below are just a few examples of these points being proven. I’m sure there are a million other ways in our daily lives where Inbound Marketing, digital media and trends in technology are becoming or already are the norm. Are there any that you’ve noticed?
People are getting a little “selfie”-ish – and so is the Oxford Dictionary. The word “selfie” is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year for 2013. The definition of selfie is, “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website." Fess up – do you duck face?
Here are some selfies from the GRM team for your viewing pleasure!
Having a broken website is catastrophic - Especially when you are the U.S. government. Political opinion aside, the website for the Affordable Care Act was and still is a disaster. The website cannot handle high traffic volumes, it has coding errors, there are encryption flaws... it seems like the list goes on and on. It’s clear from this disaster that we truly rely on technology and not paying enough attention to your website can have a serious negative impact on your goals.
Social Media can take you from average to amazing - But you know that already. True confession: I’m really fangirling over Krewella lately, partly because I love their music but mostly because they use social media TO THE FULLEST. They have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Vine, Youtube, Instagram…you name it. When I say active, I don’t mean they just push out info (“Buy our album!” “Tour Dates!” “Listen to our new song!”). They communicate with the fans in a very real way. They epitomize what it means to be social on social media, and it’s paid off for them immensely. They are currently touring internationally and their album debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200. Have you noticed any of your fave bands doing the same?
But really, Social Media is legit - A second example of Social Media’s insane impact is the Twitter campaign that made Batkid go viral. Batkid is really Miles Scott, a Make-a-Wish foundation grantee who became a superhero for a day in San Francisco this past week. A social media agency in the area helped propel the event into virality, using Twitter as its sole social media outlet. The result was 1.7 total Twitter impressions, and 1,000 hits per second on the Make-a-Wish website.
Digital Careers are growing – and Print and other “Outboundy” careers are not. According to Forbes, Software Engineer is the number three best job this year. On the flip side, the number one worst job is Newspaper reporter. It’s not just in statistical reports, either. I’ve had numerous conversations with friends and peers about analyzing the future of certain industries before taking a job. A huge concern in these discussions is whether the industry has a strong presence in the digital sphere.
The Fall of Outbound Marketing is coming to a close next week with the Thanksgiving holiday. What are your real-life marketing observations? Do you have any predictions for how digital marketing will impact 2014? Let us know in the comments section!
[Batkid Image Source]
[Krewella Image Source]
[By Emily Carter]
Breaking News: I’m a girl, and I love to shop. Typically, I have my sights set on something long before I actually buy it. I’m a girl who loves shopping, but I’m also a girl on a budget. If I think I want something and it costs more than, say, my car insurance bill, I spend a lot of time mulling that purchase over.
While debating my purchase, I almost always research the product. There are a number of things I look for when I do my research, including:
- Price comparisons between stores
- Coupon codes that I can use
- Product reviews
- Comparisons with other similar products
I’m not alone in this. 61% of global Internet users research products online before buying.
What does this have to do with you, the business owner who could care less about girly retail therapy? Consider what you are doing to prepare for the people who spend their time doing research on your products. If you aren’t doing anything, it’s time to pause.
The most beautiful, well-designed website is nothing without search rankings. It doesn’t matter if you make the best widget that’s cheaper than your competition, if no one even knows you exist. In order to appear in results when consumers search, you need a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic that comes to your website via search engines. When your target audience searches for information on sites like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, SEO helps your website get found.
The world of SEO changes frequently. Google releases algorithm changes often, and sometimes they are major changes. In 2013 alone, there were at least three significant changes to their algorithm that affected how an SEO strategy should be implemented.
Take this self-quiz:
- Does the world of META descriptions, page titles and Google algorithms seem like a foreign language?
- Do you simply have no time to dedicate to SEO?
- Has it been more than six months since your last SEO project?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, consider outsourcing an SEO package to Grass Roots Marketing. Sign up for our introductory SEO package today and we can bring your website up to speed. We will research keywords, pinpoint relevant targets for your audience, research your competitors’ keyword targets, construct and install SEO on 50 of your website pages for $3,125.
This package is entirely customizable to your needs and the size of your website. The GRM team will work with you to develop an SEO package that is perfect for your site!
"The Fall Of Outbound Marketing" discusses and explains how traditional marketing methods have become less effective than they used to be thanks to a shift in our marketing and technological culture.
[By Ali J. Taylor, Manager of Design]
Hey, now! Get your mind out of the gutter, folks! I’m talking about your Return On Design.
You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t know what ROI (Return on Investment) is but start talking about Return on Design and people will look at you like a six-headed hydra.
While not quite a common phrase yet, ROD is essentially the same as ROI except it measures design’s impact on revenue/sales-end of your business. Yes, experienced designers do actually care about how their work impacts your business when it comes to helping you make money.
Ron Burgundy doesn't believe me...yet.
Experienced designers know that at the end of the day what makes a website great is its ability to:
- Strengthen or reinforce your business brand and value proposition
- Increase your business visibility and presence
- Distinguish your business from the competition
- Convert visitors into leads and leads into customer
Obviously, these aren’t some great revelations but rather just a few of the things that every business is concerned with on a regular basis. What the really smart businesses have done is figure out how to employ inbound marketing tactics to drive more traffic to their website and transform it into a tool that is always active and ready to engage at a moment’s notice.
Now how does design factor in to this?
Design is more than just aesthetics or how something looks. Design is just as concerned with user experience, how things work, and overall results.
"Design is not synonymous with aesthetics, although aesthetics are a component of design." - Aral Balkan
Designers use the Principles of Design to achieve the following:
- An organized and well-planned hierarchy of information that guides the user from one step to the next through visual cues and interaction events
- A harmonious look and feel that creates a personal, situational, psychological, and social connection to your target audience and also reflects the values and personality of your business
So before you jump into your next project:
- Define your buyer(s). Learn about your target audience and figure out their profile; who are they, where are they going, so you can be visible and present and respond to their needs when they’re looking.
Design-connection: By understanding your buyer personas, you can determine what matters to your target audience and what they’re looking for in a website.
- Get your Free Competitor Analysis. Figure out where you stand in relation to your competition.
Design-connection: Every industry has a visual language that it uses to identify and communicate. Knowing how to use that language, and defy convention is a key factor in standing apart and leading the way.
- Create valuable content and useful resources such as ebooks and whitepapers. Then create landing pages and forms to capture leads. Design-connection: Having useful and visually appealing content makes it easier for your target audience to not only consume your content but share it as well. This will increase your visibility and help in establishing your business as an expert or trusted source.
- Download our free whitepaper on using Inbound Marketing to optimize your website’s sales-ready potential.
Design-connection: Did you know that having a mobile-optimized website not only makes your more accessible to the general public but it actually improves your search engine ranking?
Notice that there are no hard numbers in this post and that’s for a reason. While ROI can be distilled into a simple P&L statement, ROD is a bit more abstract in its ability to be measured in simple numbers.
But don’t let that reduce its importance or the value it can create for your company. By reframing your perception of how design impacts your website and your business, the better equipped you will be to clearly define your goals and expectations, and hire the right company to handle your marketing needs. Now that’s a sure-fire way to improve your ROI.
Click the button below to learn more about our series titled, "The Fall Of Outbound Marketing" as we discuss and explain how traditional marketing methods have become less effective than they used to be thanks to a shift in our marketing and technological culture.
Grass Roots Marketing (GRM) is participating in Chase Bank’s Mission Main Street Grant competition. We need your vote…and we promise it will only take a second! Please help us reach this goal by the deadline on Nov. 15th!
Chase Bank offers twelve $250,000 “Mission Main Street Grants” to small businesses looking to do something big. GRM is competing for a grant so that we can support U.S. manufacturers.
*Our Mission: Create a National Manufacturing Directory
Our vision is to create an official national directory of U.S. manufacturers and their products. When consumers and businesses are looking for products or suppliers and want to support American manufacturing, they can use this national directory. We would also like to create a mobile directory so that people can search for locally made products right from their cell phones!
With your vote, we could have the resources to develop, sustain and promote the directory nationwide. We need 250 Facebook votes before November 15th. All you have to do is click below and sign in to vote:
[By Frank Wyckoff]
A long time ago…back when I was something of a younger version of myself, I would take a Lindbergh- ride to NYC and plant myself loosely in the corner barstool of my favorite hangout. Sweet Basil’s was a Blues & Jazz club in NYC on Seventh Avenue, just down from Bleecker Street. The music warmed and cooked this smoke-filled room. I loved how I could lose myself in the musical stories told by some of the great, often forgotten artists of yesterday, obscured by time and textured by life.
Special nights bookmark my memories. Like the night Big Joe Turner sauntered in after midnight, a young blonde on each arm -- their names must have been tight and tighter -- and was shown to the center table, which sat not 10 feet from the small stage to hear Jimmy Witherspoon do his thing. “Spoon” waved and as his song ended…turned to his sidemen and nodded. They smoothly swung into an intro, as “Spoon” leaned over Big Joe took the mic on cue and laid into “Hound Dog” like I’d never heard it before. The place went crazy and I stopped drinking. Here were two artists, both careers diminished by Rock & Roll, but still working and getting it done. As the music scene continued to change, Rock & Roll took over and blues shrank to hold onto a smaller piece of the market. The new music sold the records, while the blues genre complemented it to round things out so all of music worked for everyone. Big Joe Turner passed in ’85. “Spoon” went back to Paris to sing awhile and passed in ’97. Sweet Basil never accepted Rock and died in 2001.
Me? Well, I had to go to work in the morning. So, I shook off my blues and bourbon hangover and trucked myself back to corporate life. Lotsa blues…not a lot of music.
My career was always in Sales and Marketing. I’ve watched these past several years as Marketing has begun to take over some of my company’s traditional Sales functions, replacing things like cold calling (which every sales person just loves), telemarketing and information dumping proposals. Technology and 9/11 coupled with our changing culture are mostly to blame.
And, just as Rock & Roll nudged out the Blues, I’m seeing the advent of Inbound Marketing replace much of the traditional Outbound Marketing functions. The brochure-like Website greets visitors with not only the complete history of your company but also everything about who you are and what you do, wrapped in a ribbon touting how great you and your team are. This type of website is being replaced with Inbound content that is designed to provide information responsive to the questions and issues that bring visitors to your site in the first place.
An Inbound Website, an updated Search Engine Optimization (SEO) program, an integrated Social Media Marketing Program and a well-designed E-mail marketing campaign will actually work for you as it enhances your company’s brand awareness. Inbound Marketing delivers sales leads that can be nurtured and turned into sales revenue. Outbound still lives….it’s just moving to a quieter neighborhood.
A great marketing plan is a core and ring approach and will result in a robust and successful marketing strategy. This means that Inbound Marketing should be at the core of your strategy, surrounded by a ring of some focused Outbound Marketing. This is how companies are alive and thriving today; getting the most out of their resources with a successful online presence that works for them. Manage your company to embrace the new and change with the times. “Spoon” and Big Joe’s music live on. But, One Sweet Basil is enough.