How to use video for your brand promotions

525206029With the variety of marketing tools available to brands today, video is one that should not be overlooked.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your marketing strategy by incorporating videos into your brand promotions. Whether you’re posting directly to YouTube, or sharing content through social media, videos are a great way to increase conversions, inform your customers, and set yourself apart from the competition. While it may seem like a challenge to tackle at first, a simple video can make all the difference for your business.

Here’s how you can use video to your advantage when promoting your brand.

Email campaigns

If you’re not using videos in your email campaigns, it’s time to start now. Don’t miss out on all of the benefits that they can provide to your business. According to Animoto, adding the word “video” into your email title can increase open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and reduces unsubscribing by 65%. Videos can often catch and retain the attention of your audience better than an image can. This could make a huge difference for your business! The next time you plan out an email campaign, consider using a video instead of an image or plain text.

Get social

Social media has completely transformed the way that we promote our brands. It provides an avenue for content to be easily shared to anyone, anywhere in the world. Videos are the perfect medium to be shared because they are often entertaining and engaging. It’s easy and free to upload videos to sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using social media to promote your brand. You can be direct and ask for your followers to share your video or you can create an introduction video to pin to the top of your social media feed. Keep in mind, shorter videos are often easier to digest as most audiences don’t have a long attention span on social media.

Take advantage of autoplay

Autoplay is a great feature for marketers to use. Autoplay causes videos to begin playing as a user is scrolling through their social media feed. This makes your audience more likely to continue watching the video all the way through if it has already caught their eye. This means that you should start the video out with eye catching, intriguing content that will grab your audience’s attention right away. Once you hook them, it will be much easier to reel them in all the way. Who knows, your video might just encourage them to become your new customer!

Optimize for search

Just like with any content you publish on the internet, make sure your brand’s video is optimized for search. After all, you want people to be able to find your content! This means that when uploading you must include the proper keywords in the tag section. You should also make sure that the title is a good description of what the video is portraying and includes your keywords. If you are uploading to YouTube, it’s also necessary to follow these rules for the description section.

Have a call-to-action

If you are trying to use video as a tool to increase engagement, include a call-to-action in the video. People are more likely to engage with content if you prompt them to do something rather than leaving the video open-ended. If you’re trying to get people to visit your site to buy a product, at the end of the video include the phrase “Find out more by…” or “Visit our site for more information”. Also include contact information so they can reach you and link to your website not only at the end of the video, but also in the description. This way, information is easily accessible for your audience. You don’t want to give them a call-to-action that’s impossible to complete!

Track analytics

You track everything else in your marketing strategy, so don’t forget to do the same for videos or you will miss out on a ton of valuable information. Videos can do a lot to change the traffic and conversions to your site. Tracking your data through Google analytics provides insight so you can see how your efforts are paying off, or what kind of changes you need to make to improve the results.

 
About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

Pros and cons of outsourcing your marketing

Coworkers meeting in trendy business office.If you’re just starting out, or if you’ve been too busy with other aspects of your business to think about marketing, you may be considering outsourcing your marketing efforts to an agency.

If, however, the thought of hiring an agency and paying thousands of dollars for your marketing intimidates the hell out of you, you’re not alone. One way to get around the fear is to think rationally about the pros and cons associated with outsourcing. That way you will be much more comfortable if, and when, the time comes to pick a marketing agency.

Pro: Saving time

Perhaps the biggest benefit of outsourcing your marketing is the amount of time you save. If you don’t have much experience with marketing, you may not be willing to take the time to learn all the ins and outs. Because an agency’s main focus is on marketing, this allows them to dedicate more of their time to your brand’s needs than you possibly ever could. Hiring an agency to do your marketing can save you valuable time that you can use to focus on your own area of expertise.

Con: Price

The first con that might pop into your head is cost. You may not be in a position to spend thousands on outsourced marketing or may not see the value in paying someone to do something you can learn to do yourself. The cost of hiring an outside agency is definitely something to factor in, especially if you’re at an early point in your business.

Pro: Experience

The only thing worse than no marketing is bad marketing. If you aren’t experienced in marketing, you risk creating campaigns that aren’t received well by your audience and don’t reap the benefits that a good marketing strategy should. Hiring an agency to handle your marketing can be beneficial because they likely have more experience than you and can produce high quality results. An experienced marketing firm will be able to provide your business with all the necessary tools required for a substantial marketing presence, from social media to search engines. The key to finding the right agency for your business is to do plenty of research beforehand and make sure the agency’s experience fits your brand.

Con: Being on the same page

Another reason you may shy away from hiring an outside agency is the fear that they won’t understand the vision you have for your company. Often times it can be difficult to find the right people who are truly able to be understand your thoughts and your business. Your brand’s personality may be lost when hiring a marketing agency that doesn’t understand what you are looking for. It is important to make sure you understand who you are working with before you hire an agency to make sure you get the most out of your relationship.

Pro: Outside perspective

An agency provides a fresh, objective perspective on how to market your company. It is easy to be blinded by your own ideas when you have worked so hard on creating a successful company. Outsourcing your marketing allows an unbiased party to say what they feel is best for your marketing strategy. It’s also easier for them to provide constructive criticism that will help your marketing strategy in the long run.

Con: Less control

When working with an agency, you may feel that you’ve given up a certain amount of control. While you may have less say in the decisions that are made in regards to marketing, your agency is dedicated to the business and you are the overall decision maker. You hired an outside team for a reason — they often have more experience and will likely have a better understanding of what’s best for the business. It’s important to understand this compromise when outsourcing your marketing. If maintaining a large amount of control is important to you, outsourcing marketing may not be for you.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

 

5 deadly sins of brand blogging

how-to-start-blogging-for-your-business-For brands and businesses of all shapes and sizes, blogging has basically become a necessity at this point.

From improving SEO to attracting leads, there are many benefits of having a blog. When done right, blogging can be very effective (key phrase: “done right”). This means that as a blogger you must stay away from the five deadly sins that may be causing you trouble.

Not understanding your audience

The key to being successful in marketing is understanding your audience and how you should be communicating to them. Depending on the industry you are in, your customers will have different attitudes. Your voice and tone will be much different if, let’s say, you’re a financial service company writing about personal finance compared to a real estate business giving DIY home improvement tips. If you have a solid understanding of who you’re talking to, it’ll be much easier to figure out what you’re writing about and how you’re writing it. Research your target audience enough so that you are able to create content that is relatable and valuable to them.

Not having an editorial calendar

If you have a blog but don’t have an editorial calendar, stop what you’re doing right now and create one! An editorial calendar is crucial for organizing your ideas and being consistent with publishing. Fortunately, this is a mistake that is easy to solve. You can make one using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets and share it with your content writers or the marketing group for feedback. An editorial calendar allows you to plan out the topics you want to cover over time and also holds you accountable for taking action. It’ll also make things easier for you because you won’t have to spend time cramming for ideas and staring at a blank screen. Your ideas will already be laid out for you!

Producing boring content

People like to be entertained, or at least interested in what they’re reading. Now that your editorial calendar is created, don’t treat creating content as a chore. If you are writing blogs simply for the sake of producing content by a deadline, your audience will be able to tell. Write about things that will engage, inform or solve a problem. Start by creating blog titles that will spark interest immediately. Say it in a way that will grab their attention and make them feel empowered to listen to you. If your content is boring, people will skip over it and stop visiting your blog.

Not promoting your content

Now that you have written your content, don’t let it stay stagnant. Part of earning brand recognition is promoting yourself well. The easiest way to promote your content is by sharing it on social media. Encourage your audience to join the conversation to get more people talking. You can also reach out to social media influencers and ask them to share or promote your content. This is a great way to catch the eyes of people who otherwise may have never seen your blog. Promotion is a key step that cannot be forgotten when blogging.

Being impatient

Lastly, it is important for you to realize that success takes time. The traffic to your site will not instantly triple overnight and you won’t jump from the third to first page of search results on Google. Be patient when blogging because your skills will only increase over time. As cliche as it sounds, practice does make perfect. Don’t get frustrated or discouraged if your blog isn’t doing as well as you would like. Keep on writing, because eventually your hard work will pay off.

 
About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

4 Reasons Why Content is Key

3-Key-Takeaways-from-Social-Media-Marketing-WorldProducing great content is what draws people into your business and allows your audience to discover what you can offer them.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “the strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”.

Content marketing includes a broad range of tools for you to attract your audience. It can be anything from blogs and images, to webinars and social media posts. Your content should be something that both educates your audience and encourages them to take an action.

Now, why exactly is creating the right content for the right audience so important?

First impressions

It’s human nature to make initial judgments on new things. When you meet someone new, you probably form an opinion about them before you’ve even had a conversation with them. People will do the same thing with your content, which is why it’s so important to make a good first impression. Part of making a good first impression is understanding your audience. Make sure that you research your target audience to understand what they are looking for. If you research your audience enough beforehand you will waste less time on creating content that may not apply to them.

When sending out email newsletters, for example, catchy subject lines will persuade your audience to open the email rather than ignore or delete it. If you’re creating graphics, make sure they are attractive and easy to read. Creating a distracting image can often be a turnoff for people or cause them to misinterpret your message. Lastly, when deciding on a title for your blog be direct and informative so that your audience can easily understand what you are going to tell them.

Helps with SEO

Content marketing is key to driving organic traffic to your website. Producing useful content opens up many opportunities for your business and will lead more people to visit your site who will actually find value in it. Including your site’s keywords every chance you get, like when writing informative blog posts, will increase your rank in Google search and provide many SEO benefits.

Shows your creative side

Creating valuable content is an opportunity to show off the personality of your business, so don’t be afraid to have fun with it! The content you create will be associated with your brand, so use your content to create a voice for the company that people can easily associate with your brand. Don’t hesitate to get creative and catch the eye of your audience in an entertaining and engaging way. Being creative provides more value to your audience because they’re more likely to pay attention to something that stands out yet is still personable.

Connects with your audience

Your content is a great avenue for connecting with your audience on a more personal level. This is your platform to directly speak and interact with your customers. Social media channels give you the chance to receive feedback and learn more about what they’re looking for. Research and understand their needs so that you can produce content that is right for them.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

How to Generate More Sales Leads in the Next 60 Days

HR-and-Branding-–-The-Perfect-PartnershipLead generation is an aspect of running a B2B business that many people struggle with.

Growing leads may seem like a tedious, drawn-out process, but in the end, the relationships you develop will be worth the struggle. Whether you feel like you are in a rut or you’re just on a mission for continued success, make sure you are taking advantage of these strategies to keep your sales funnel full of qualified leads.

SEO/PPC

Put yourself in a consumer’s shoes: if you want to find out about a new product or service, what do you do first? You probably run a quick Google search to see what’s out there, and you likely don’t explore much further than the first page of results. From an SEO perspective, this means that you need to work hard to make sure that your site has a high organic ranking in the search results if you want your future customers to find you. PPC, on the other hand, is about ensuring you are targeting the right keywords with the right budget to deliver you the ROI you’re seeking. Neglecting either of these areas will hurt your lead generation efforts as you seek to grow your sales funnel.

Blogs

Writing blog posts is a strategy that will help out with SEO (organic search engine results) and generate sales leads at the same time. Producing quality content is valuable in shaping your company’s reputation as being relevant and trustworthy. The great thing about a blog is that it can be shared in a variety of different ways. From guest posting on another website to sharing your article on social media, blogs are a convenient way to broadcast your message across a variety of mediums and produce more brand awareness.

Email Newsletters

You can subtly remind leads about your business through a simple, informative newsletter. Don’t forget to take advantage of your newsletter signups. Visitors that voluntarily signed up for your newsletter have opted in, meaning they want to receive more information from you. Newsletters are subtle sales reminders and help turn warm leads into hot ones.

Customer Referrals

Your existing customers have the potential to be a gold mine for new leads. Networking with them can provide you a wealth of opportunity that you had never thought possible. Start with a phone call to your most satisfied customers thanking them for their business. Use this opportunity to ask them if they know anyone else who would be interested in your product or service. Want to really show your customers how much you love them? Invite them to a party! After all, word of mouth referrals are still an extremely valuable sales tool in business.

Social Media

Social media’s ease of use and accessibility to a wide audience makes it an effective channel for gaining leads, at least for businesses catering to consumers. Following companies on Twitter and Instagram, or making connections on LinkedIn, are easy ways to grow your network and find potential leads. You can also use these platforms to share content that you have created (e.g., blog posts, infographics, survey results). By using hashtags to share relevant content on social media you can make your content easier to find and make your brand recognizable to more people. You never know whose interest you might spark by simply introducing your brand on social media.

Networking events

While social media is great for attracting an online audience, don’t underestimate the power of networking with people in person! Attending networking events (think Meetups, industry trade shows, conferences like SXSW) is great for generating more leads because you are able to get face time with people. Practice your elevator pitch so that you are prepared to sell your business when meeting new potential clients. Putting yourself in a situation where you can get more name recognition is key to gaining the trust and attention of potential leads.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

What is inbound marketing?

Typing on laptop closeup, chatting in FacebookFor years, when people thought of marketing, the first things that came to mind were flyers stuck on their windshields and over-the-top sales people pushing products in person or over the phone.

These methods were interruptive and worked hard to push consumers to take a specific action. Over the years, the marketing world, especially in the world of B2B marketing, has shifted to something called “inbound marketing.”

Inbound marketing focuses on building up the brand and creating long-lasting relationships with the consumer. When it comes to inbound marketing, it’s crucial to understand your target audience so that you are providing content that they will appreciate and engage with.

Pull vs push

Inbound marketing relies on pull tactics that draw consumers in naturally rather than pushing them in a certain direction. It communicates on a platform where the audience has given the marketer permission to interact with them, and is a more natural process where consumers observe and make decisions for themselves. Respecting the consumer’s space builds trust — which is important for not only gaining customers in today’s crowded market, but retaining them as well.

Relationship building

Inbound marketing helps shape brand preference for consumers and influences their purchasing habits in the future. For example, think about walking around the mall. Are you more likely to visit a store because someone is standing outside shouting at you about their deals, or because you received an email earlier in the week informing you about their sale? You probably chose the email, right?

People don’t like to feel pressured when making decisions. Inbound marketing takes away some of the pressure from customers. It’s based on building relationships with customers who are actually interested in your product. This organic creation of desire for your product or service is much more lasting than the pushy efforts of some in-your-face outbound marketing. While it’s a big deal to get people to initially buy your product or service, it’s an even bigger deal to make them want to continue purchasing it.

Digital presence

The widespread use of the internet has dramatically shifted the way we market things. Inbound marketing is centered around the use of the internet and is directly related to digital marketing. The audience for inbound marketing typically originates from blogs, search, and social media. 

When using these platforms, your customers may not even realize that you are marketing to them, which allows them to feel like they have more control and gives them confidence when making purchasing decisions. Another great advantage of blogs, search, and social media is that your online audience is much larger. The number of people online is constantly growing, which means that the number of people you can market to is constantly growing as well. In today’s mobile-social world, a strong social media and online presence is key to drawing people into your business.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

SEO: Tips on how to improve your search engine rankings

Search button on virtual screen pressed with fingerSo you’ve recently started your business and have been working hard to promote it. You’ve created a website because it is 2017 and without one your company wouldn’t survive for long in today’s social-mobile world.

But perhaps your website isn’t doing as well as you expected according to what you are seeing on the analytics tool you installed on your site. Traffic is flat, perhaps nearly non-existent. Why aren’t more people visiting your site? You have a great offering, and you’ve put a lot of good content on the website to get people interested in what you do.

The problem is that if people cannot FIND your site then how are they going to learn about your product or service and convert into prospects that you can close over time?

So then the real question becomes how do you improve your search ranking so people can find your site?

Focus on keywords

Keywords are one of the most important parts of a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. You have to choose the right keywords that are most relevant for your business and then you have to rank high enough for them to be found by people searching for your particular offerings. For instance, if you offer fish sitting services in Topeka, Kansas, then you may want to focus your attention on “Topeka fish sitting,” “Fish sitting in Topeka,” and “Topeka fish experts” to be found by anybody looking for a fish expert who can watch over the fish while the owner’s away on vacation.

You can also use Google Keyword Planner to help figure out which keywords are the best for your site. This free tool will show you the popularity of certain keywords so that you can choose the best ones for your website.

If you are using WordPress to manage your website there is an SEO plugin that you can use to manage your SEO efforts and assign keywords to each page. The correct placement and frequency of keywords is vital to your website’s ranking. For instance, it is important for your keyword to be in your page title. This is one of the first things people (and search engine algorithms) see when looking through search engine results. You should also include the keyword in the URL of a given web page. It is much more efficient to have a specific URL rather than a random one assigned by WordPress.

Backlinks are golden

Links are an absolutely critical component to an SEO strategy? Why? Having a large number of links pointing to your website from other websites related to your primary offering makes you look more relevant and important to Google on that topic. Think about our fish sitting example. If Fish Friends, a popular blog on all things related to fish ownership, has written a blog post about your business in Topeka that includes a link to your website, then the search engines will interpret that to mean you are a valued resource to the topic of fish ownership and fish collectors.

To get other sites to link to you, you may try submit your blogs as guest posts or contact websites directly asking if they are interested in sharing your links (also known as link building). The more of these backlinks you can get, the better your chances are of rising in the organic search engine rankings.

[Note, however, that it is important that the links are from a credible source because Google will disregard any links coming from non-related sites, such as link farms or other sketchy sites.]

Don’t ignore internal links

Internal links are also important because it allows you to easily use your own site to your advantage. You can add links to previous content you have written that is relevant to what you are writing about now. You can also redirect them to your homepage or your other important pages (e.g., ones that you are trying to rank higher on).

Create good content

In the SEO world, content means written text. When writing blogs, you should create smart, sharable content that also includes your necessary keywords with no more than around a 2% keyword density (i.e., 2% of all words in a blog post can be the keywords which you are optimizing). If you’re not sure about the density, just read the whole text on the webpage and if it seems like there’s a lot of keywords, there’s a good chance the search engines will think so too. Fortunately, many WordPress SEO plug-ins (Yoast comes to mind) will let you know when your page is well optimized. Whatever you do, avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ your webpage as most search engines will flag you for it, which will in turn suppress your organic search rankings.

Keep your site current

This may seem like a no brainer, but make sure your website is current, full of fairly fresh content. If your website has been sitting without any significant updates then the search engines will assume you’re site is DOA. Instead, make sure to keep your site updated and full of relevant information to your products/services. You can do this by blogging weekly and putting deep links to other webpages on your website.

Index your site

Lastly, make sure your site has been indexed! Most of the time your site will be indexed by search engines automatically, however sometimes this may not be the case. Indexing is when search engines keep record of your site. There are many different ways to index your site. For help on the many ways to do so, check out this article.

Improving your search ranking is vital to growing your business. Follow these tips to help optimize your search rank, so that you are able to hold up to your competitors.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

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