Monthly Archives: June 2017

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.

 

Benefits of working from home

woman-working-in-home-office-16Being an entrepreneur can come with many perks — you get to turn your creative dreams into reality, be your own boss, and turn your passion into a career.

Another exciting benefit is the ability to work from home. While working from home may not be for everyone, some people truly thrive on this opportunity. Whether ‘home’ for you is your bedroom or a coffee shop, the freedom to choose when and where you work is a huge plus to being your own boss or a solopreneur.

Choose Your Own Hours

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, it may seem like your job never really leaves you. There is always something to work on or a new idea popping up in your head; a time constraint cannot be put on innovation. One great benefit of working from home is the ability to choose your own hours. This flexibility gives you more freedom within your schedule to spend your time how you please.This allows you to save time (and money!) commuting to work, which is great for people who have felt like they’ve wasted hours in the car every week. Picking your own work hours also gives you the opportunity to work when you are most productive, which leads us to our next benefit.

More Productive

Working from home allows people to be more efficient with their time. You are able to create the environment in which you are most productive. Maybe you work best in your home office with complete silence or by going down the street to your local coffee shop. When you’re allowed to choose how and where you work, it leads you to be more productive. When working from home, you’re not watching the clock and counting the minutes until 5 o’clock. This means that you do not distract yourself with meaningless tasks like scrolling through Facebook or making a grocery list to simply pass the time. When working from home, your time is more valuable to you and you are more efficient.

Time with family

Perhaps the most important benefit of working from home is being able to create your ideal work/life balance. This allows you to allocate your time in a way that lets you spend more time with your family or friends (or even yourself for that matter). Dissatisfaction with work/life balance is one of the most common reasons people quit their job. The ability to determine how you spend your time, without the hassle of corporate rules, causes you to be a happier, more productive person.

Independence

Working from home also fosters a sense of independence and responsibility. You are capable of deciding when and how things should be done without having to factor in a dozen other people around you. There is more time to focus on yourself and what your personal work goals are. As a small business owner, being independent is extremely valuable because you will not always have someone to guide you every step of the way. Being able to dive into something and figure it out alone shows determination, hard work, and strength.

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.

Five books to read by the pool this summer

5367fba77a03c265There’s no better time to cross some books off of your reading list than during the summer. It’s a great chance to brush up on some business knowledge or find some inspiration for how to better yourself and your business strategy. Check out these five books when you are leisurely reading by the pool or on the beach this summer!

Thinking, Fast and Slow

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, is a look at two systems that outline the way that people think. One system is a slow, logical strategy, while the other is fast and emotional, hence the name of the book. It offers great insight into how and why we make decisions in both our business and personal lives. Understanding the thought process behind making decisions can help prepare you to make better decisions for your business in the future. If you are struggling with understanding your decision-making process and want to learn to make smarter decisions, check out this book.

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The ONE Thing

The ONE Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, provides advice on being able to drown out the noise and distractions of life and instead placing your focus on something more specific. It teaches you a process to understand your priorities and go after the most important task in a situation. It has appeared on many best sellers lists and is a great tool for anyone struggling with ranking their priorities. Sometimes it may seem like you have too many things going on at once which can cause you to feel overwhelmed. This book can help you understand what you should focus on in order to receive the greatest return. Figuring out how to order your priorities is extremely valuable for any small business owner.

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You are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth

Everyone wants to make money, right? I mean that’s probably one of the main reasons why you started your business in the first place! Maybe you have struggled in the past with figuring out how to take the correct steps to earn money or maybe you have a little voice inside your head that has been holding you back. This book by Jen Sincero provides an entertaining account of how to reach financial success. It is a relatable, down-to-earth look at overcoming your fears when it comes to money. If you are looking for some entertaining advice, check out this book and follow her tips to watch your bank account grow!

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Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is a moving account of how to cope with the unpredictability of adversity. It provides inspiration on how to recover from unfortunate situations and how to become more resilient. In life, there are often periods of time in which it feels like nothing is going your way. As a business owner, you have probably experienced your fair share of struggle. If you are in the first stages of starting your business, the advice from Option B will seem especially valuable for keeping you motivated during hard times. This book can help you gain a better understanding of how to deal with hard times and how to stay positive.

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Barking Up The Wrong Tree

If you’ve ever been curious about the science behind success, check out this book by Eric Barker. Understanding why some people are more prone to success can often be frustrating and confusing. Barker dives into interesting examples of how different levels of success are achieved by different people. If you are looking to understand why you haven’t been successful in the past and want some advice on how to be more successful in the future, check out this book.

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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 Hot PR Tips for Summer

laptopbypoolSummer is on the horizon, and the weather shouldn’t be the only thing that’s heating up.

While the summer may feel like a chance to take a vacation from work, the season is actually a great time to rethink your PR strategy and try out some new tactics. Check out these tips to help you stay on top of your PR game during the dog days of summer.

Embrace the Season

Summer is often people’s favorite time of the year. Kids get a break from school, you can hit the beach, or host a barbecue. The possibilities are endless! Embrace this era of opportunity by  finding out what summer events are happening in your area. With all the festivals, concerts, and shows occurring during the summer, you never know what attraction could connect you to potential customers. Use these events as an opportunity to meet new people or find a way to connect your business. Whether you’re partnering with the event and getting your name on the marketing materials, or you’re just attending as a guest, use these summer events to your PR advantage.

Have fun

Summer should be fun, so don’t forget to have fun with PR! No matter what your business is, find something summer related that makes you happy and incorporate it into your strategy. If you own a restaurant, create a summer themed menu to draw people in. Your creativity will be appreciated by your customers and people will tell their friends about their great experience. Attend events where you can promote your product service so you can gain more exposure and enjoy yourself at the same time.  Don’t let the summer be a bummer!

Make a Plan

Summer can be an extremely busy time for everyone. People can easily get distracted or run out of time to accomplish the things that they want. To fight this issue, create a detailed calendar for the summer. Mark any important dates like holidays or events happening in town to use as a reminder. This will prepare you for any surprises or obstacles. Remember– you can never over plan or be too prepared! Also, considering the timing of your posts is crucial. Make sure they are relevant to what is currently happening. This will make them more popular and relatable.

Be Social

A crucial part of maintaining your brand during the summer is by staying active on social media. Summer is a social season, so don’t neglect your social media presence during this time. Interact with your online audience and make them feel valued. You can also incorporate summer themed words into your messaging by using summer related puns, create graphics, or run fun contests. Don’t forget about using hashtags either! Ask for engagement from your followers. If you own a store or restaurant, run campaigns where people are invited to post pictures of their visit to your business. You can also create a friendly, conversational tone by posting a tweet like “My favorite summer treat is _____. What is yours?”. Invite your customers to join the conversation!

 

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.

Summer content marketing tips

If you’re like most people, the first things that come to mind when thinking about summer are vacation, beach and relaxation. It’s safe to say that content marketing doesn’t make the cut.

While summer may feel like the time to take a break, content marketing is just as important during the summer as it is during the rest of the year. Creating and generating content that leads back to your business will help raise brand awareness, increase your search engine rankings and ultimately get your brand in front of possible leads.

If you need some motivation, here are some content marketing tips for your summertime strategy.

Stay consistent

The best way to stay fresh on people’s minds is to continue posting content on a regular basis. It takes time for your target audience to recognize your brand, and consistency is key to increasing that recognition. Even if you’re planning on taking a summer vacation, you can easily create content and schedule it ahead of time with one of the many social media scheduling platforms out there.

Summer themed

You can use the season to your advantage by tying it into your content marketing strategy. Consider writing a blog post on the ‘Best business reads for the beach’ or adding some fun summer ideas that incorporate your product or service into your email newsletter. Staying on theme will make your brand relatable and pique more interest from your audience.

Partner up

Summer is a slow time for everyone. Consider partnering up with another brand with similar goals to create content that both audiences would benefit from. You could do an Instagram giveaway with each other’s products, or could even have them write a guest blog post for the company blog. It’s a win-win for both parties involved!

Guest appearances

Referrals from others are an easy way to get new business. Try to see if you can guest blog for a popular website, or even be a guest on a podcast. It helps your business’ credibility to have others promote you every once in awhile.

Recycle

If the summer ends up making you too busy to crank out new content every week, at least recycle old content to make sure your content marketing efforts don’t go stale. Repost old videos or reference past blog posts, but try to add in a summer twist so that it makes sense to the current reader.

About Sam Lauron:  Sam Lauron is a Communications Associate at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with digital marketing, social media, blogging and tech PR activities and helps run the newly launched Startup Over Coffee, a crowdsourced map of local startup resources. Manzer Communications provides digital PR and marketing services in Austin, Denver and Houston and for any national brands 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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