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Go Mobile for Better Marketing

 

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Having a Web presence has become, even for the most resistant companies, almost a requirement of doing business. The benefits of having a business website and Facebook page are enormous on their own. But in today's consumer market, it's not enough.

Your customers aren't just using their desktop computers to find you and your business. They're doing it on tablets and smartphones, and in every location imaginable: their living rooms, the evening commute, even from the bathroom. This is a problem for websites that haven't optimized for mobile consumers, and as mobile usage increases, the costs will only increase.

Mobile optimization is an intimidating phrase, and it isn't always easy--it's more expensive the more complex your website is. But without mobile-optimized sites, brands face a very grim future, and that future is coming sooner than you think. Here's why it's so important for businesses to account for mobile.

Building for Multiple Devices

Mobile DevicesConsumers visiting your website are doing so through all kinds of different devices--and screen sizes. All of these variables make the mobile experience one that's tough to nail down. What works for an iPhone might not work for a tablet, and what works for a mini-tablet won't translate well to a desktop.

Early on, the solution for mobile optimization was to build a version of your website for each different type of device. When it was only smartphones that needed consideration, this wasn't too tough. But now that literally dozens of devices are on the market, dedicated versions just isn't practical. Instead, businesses have started turning to responsive design as a one-size-fits-all solution.

Responsive design basically allows websites to operate with one single version of the website. That version is then capable of customizing its features to best accommodate whatever device is accessing the site. Smartphone and desktop users can then visit the same version of the website at the same time, but the customizations built into the design will result in each device receiving an optimal experience.

In the long run, this responsive design is cheaper, and it can be more efficient in accounting for all devices--including new ones that haven't' been released yet.

Considering the Touchscreen

Perhaps the most significant difference between traditional and mobile functionality is the use of the touchscreen. Mobile-optimized websites don't have mouses and cursors to consider--instead, it's the fingerpads of consumers that drive navigation. In order to account for touchscreen functionality, mobile versions of websites need to have larger clickable buttons that users can easily click on with their fingers.

The number of links on any one page has to be minimized to keep the Web page at a reasonable length. All in all, brands are forced to consider their navigation experience through mobile devices, and only the most essential features must be included.

Improving the User Experience Through Location Technology

Mobile devices make it easy to tap into the location services built into the hardware. Any mobileLocation Technology website can use this functionality for a range of purposes. On a mobile website, for example, consumers can be given the contact information and driving directions for a nearby store location. They could be shown unique, location-specific ads for a brand. And brands can use the data from GPS-enabled mobile devices to see where their customers are when they access the Web page--information that can help deliver more relevant content and better services.

Mobile users are particularly interested in a great user experience, and leveraging existing mobile technology is an easy way to make that happen.

Don't continue to lose customers because your mobile website isn't fully developed. Contact DBC Digital and start accounting for mobile today.

Get a Free Web Design Assessment Now

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Curing Banner Blindness: Keeping Your Brand Fresh

 

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For most brands that advertise online, banners are a staple. Not only is this campaign type inexpensive, but it's supported by a wide range of display networks and marketing solutions. Because it's been around for years, we also have tons of research that confirms the value of banner advertising as a digital strategy.

When it comes to banner advertising, though, brands have to be wary of inducing consumer blindness to the ads. "Banner blindness" is a real development that occurs when online consumers become used to seeing banner ads in particular places on a website. Their minds begin to recognize that space not as part of the website, but as an ad to be ignored. This has a significant negative affect on the banner's performance--not just in terms of tangible clicks and engagement, but also regarding the brand awareness generated by such campaigns.

Fortunately, banner blindness is curable. Here are some tips brands can use to maximize consumer engagement with their banner campaigns.

Switch Up Ad Placement

All too often, banner ads show up in familiar places: the top and bottom of a web page, andad placement along the right-hand site, for example. This practice has been in place for years, and that has contributed to the banner blindness effect. Consumers have developed a sense for where banner ads will be placed, and sometimes they write off content as being an advertisement even before they stop to look at the content itself.

One easy way to change that: changing the placement of ads. With a little creativity, brands can move outside of the box and start surprising consumers with banner ads in new locations. Whether this involves placing banners within text or other content, or even setting up welcome page interstitials that display a banner ad shortly before referring to the desired Web page.

Once these new placements are in place, campaign analytics can be used to track their success. Brands can see which strategies pan out, and which fall short of their goals.

Integrate Multiple Versions of Your Ad

AB TestThe same ad, time and again, will quickly fade from consumer consciousness. For that reason, it makes little sense to hold down an ad space for too long. At some point, you're simply going to see diminishing returns--fewer views, fewer clicks, less revenues to justify your spending.

One way to stretch out the value of those ad spaces is to run a campaign with multiple versions of a single ad. Try different selling points and see which ones get the greatest return from users. You might discover a surprise top-performer, which can help you build smarter campaigns going forward.

Don't Get Stuck on One Design, Color Scheme

Multiple versions of an ad are one thing, but it's also smart to craft entirely different ads that stand apart from other ad content. While branded logos offer important brand consistency, the primary features of a banner ad: the dominant colors and the design, for example--can and should be altered over time. A single ad only has so long of a life expectancy, and familiar design and color elements will only contribute to banner blindness.

Switching up a primarily blue ad and going with a hot pink scheme, for example, will stand out on a Web page and attract consumer eyes. That attention is what will ultimately deliver a strong ROI for your your banners, so freshness of content is of utmost importance. Keep in mind, too, that you aren't just competing with your own ad content--you want to stand out against the ads published by other brands, too.

If you're ready to step up your banner ad game, contact DBC Digital today.

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Combining Data and Intuition to Improve Your Marketing

 

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Your digital marketing isn't losing you money, but it's not hitting it's goals, either. As a business leader, you understand that there are opportunities you're missing out on, and that a strategy shift is needed.

Knowing is half the battle, but how do you go about implementing changes? The risk of making your marketing performance worse is a real possibility, and the path to better campaign results isn't clear. Intuition may suggest one approach, but you shouldn't ignore the recommendations made by data insights. Here's how to reconcile intuition with data wisdom.

How Intuition Can be Counter-Intuitive

Good vs BetterBusiness leaders come into their positions by demonstrating solid decision-making skills. By and large, any person owning or managing a business has experience making big decisions, often times with limited information and no guarantees. If you're managing an established organization and have been doing so for some time, it's pefectly reasonable to think you have the insights needed to choose the optimal path for your business.

So if it isn't broke, then why fix it? It's as simple as looking at your bottom-line. Businesses don't look at their profits as being in the black vs. being in the red. Profit margins matter, and companies constantly want to improve them. But the simple decisions you make now will ultimately affect whether that margin increases or declines over time.

No business leader is perfect, and the risks of making bad decisions are significant. Without throwing away intuition entirely--which most leaders aren't willing to do, anyway--it's crucial that managers and executives understand that their process is flawed. Just like an improved profit margin, optimized decision-making should be a constant goal.

Why Data Offers Reliable Insights

Data analysis can account for many, many different variables--many more than intuition can consider at any one time. By using complex algorithms, or even just simple key performance indicators like conversion rates, traffic volume, cost-per-referral and other metrics, businesses can get a simple, quantifiable readout of how their digital marketing is working.

The fallacy of data isn't the approach, but rather the incomplete ways in which data analysis is pursued. Ultimately, data is analyzed by tools built by humans. How variables are weighed and assessed influences the end result--the recommendation offered by that data.

Change up the formula, and the recommendations might change. This is why it's so important to choose the right key performance indicators and other metrics to evaluate your digital performance. At first, intuition is what will drive this process--you will choose KPIs based on your goals and your current strategy. But over time, data feedback will help you weed out the weaker metrics while demonstrating which ones truly represent your larger success.

The Trick: Using Both to Cover Up Weaknesses

The problem with endorsing either intuition or data-directed decision-making too much is thatWeakness neither is perfect. Just as intuition can be misguided, data is often incomplete. Building a comprehensive data set that accounts for every little variable is the ultimate goal of data analysis, but such a solution doesn't exist in practice.

Instead, true success can be found by using both in concert with one another. When intuition and data both make the same recommendation, you're likely on the right track. When the two sides disagree, it's important to take a critical look at both approaches and consider what might be missing from the equation.

Regardless of which recommendation you follow, track the results and use your own observations to reflect on what went right or wrong regarding you intuition or data-based decision. This is the best method of either fine-tuning your own business intuition or tweaking your current approach to compiling and analyzing data.

If you're ready to use data to make better decisions for your business, don't delay. Contact DBC Digital to get started today.

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Customer Experience: The Most Important Digital Success Factor

 

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In most commercial fields, consumers have more options now than ever before. They can shop anywhere--in another city, another state, even another country--to get exactly what they want. As a result, consumers are increasingly less willing to compromise on what they want, because they figure they can find something similar at a competitor.

This might not surprise most businesses. But what some professionals might not realize is that the differentiating factors for consumers are changing. Once price and product ruled the day, but now those variables are taking on less prominence as consumers seek out a better customer experience--and businesses are being forced to adapt.

The Declining Value of Price and Product

It wasn't so long ago that brick-and-mortar shops were terrified of being put out of business by big Internet retailers like Amazon and Wayfair. Those online operations benefited from lower overhead and, as their volume increased, more economical shipping methods. This created pricing advantages that physical operations couldn't match.

To some degree, those fears have been stifled. Mountains of data tell us that consumers still like to shop in stores and examine products in-hand before they make a purchase. And minor savings often don't outweigh the attraction of owning an item that day, instead of waiting several days for shipping.

As those pros and cons of physical vs. digital purchasing start to balance themselves out, other factors are becoming more critical to winning over consumers and building a reputation. Increasingly, the top differentiator is the customer experience.

Customers Want an Experience, Not a Service

Happy CustomerShopping isn't just a necessary habit. For many, shopping is also an experience they want to enjoy. Stores like Wal-Mart, CostCo and other big-box stores may offer unbeatable prices, but their experience offers nothing memorable, either. This works because their goal is to draw in consumers who are primarily concerned with price, availability and diverse purchasing options.

Most businesses can't compete in this area, though, so their incentives for consumers must be different. This means building a customer experience that shoppers will appreciate and enjoy. Whether it's improving the checkout process, building a more interactive shopping experience, establishing loyal customer incentives or other features, businesses need to do more than simply offer products at an affordable price.

The good news is that experience development is practical in both the physical store and the digital marketplace.

Keys to Delivering a Strong Digital Experience

With a little brainstorming, businesses should have no shortage of ways they can enhance theDigital Customer
customer experience on their websites or shopping apps. For example, there are basic tasks like building an optimized mobile version of your retail website, simplifying the checkout process and offering rewards points for shopping online.

Even aesthetic qualities such as the ease of navigation, features that offer shopping recommendations, and strong customer relationship management through social network, can all produce a discernable uptick in customer satisfaction. One simple trick to direct this work is to follow the emerging practices of your competitors and other online retailers, and to survey regular customers on what they do and don't like about their online shopping experience.

Brands can also leverage mobile devices to enhance the physical shopping experience by developing apps with store maps, special mobile coupons and even augmented reality to help the store come alive. When these strategies are deployed, customer satisfaction should increase, and brands will see an increase in revenue performance.

Building a rewarding experience may not be easy, but it can create advantages your competitors will struggle to match. If you're ready to give your customers a new way to engage your brand, contact DBC Digital today.

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Why Your Marketing Needs Location-Based Targeting

 

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As recently as a few years ago, advertisers had no interest in location data. A consumer’s GPS location in the world was far less interesting than other demographics used to target consumers. Marketers didn’t care whether you lived in New York City or Tuscaloosa--what mattered was your age, gender, education, income and other telling characteristics.

In 2014, this outlook has entirely changed. Businesses have come to understand location as an extremely powerful filter used to target consumers in digital marketing campaigns. This shift can be credited in large part to new channels for gathering location data--consumers now use smartphones and tablets equipped with location technology that makes this data easy to record and analyze.

Even if you aren’t primarily targeting a mobile consumer base, incorporating location into your targeting strategy can save you a lot of money while improving your campaign results. Here are some of the key benefits.

You Stop Wasting Money on Far-Away Consumers

waste moneyThe first key benefit of location-based targeting is the most obvious: You can stop spending money on entirely irrelevant consumers. What’s the point of promoting your local restaurant to someone who lives 1,500 miles away? Why pay to advertise products to parts of the world you aren’t equipped to ship to? At the simplest level, location-based targeting weeds out all of these consumers that will never spend on your business.

If you’re a local operation--a dentist, plumber, or other company that depends on physical foot traffic and in-person transactions--location targeting lets you spend on digital marketing in a cost-effective manner. You can ensure that everyone who sees your ads is within your service area.

You Can Spend More Heavily on Shoppers in Your Local Area

If you suddenly cut out the fat of marketing to consumers outside your target area, you free up tons of digital spending that can go to better uses. If you’re been running campaigns inefficiently, location filtering can create plenty of new dollars to re-invest into more efficient campaigns. All of these funds can go into campaigns that restrict ad displays to whatever area you choose--it could be a city, a zip code or other constraints.

Because all of these dollars will be funneled directly into your local market, you should see an uptick in the conversion rates of your ads. Every exposed consumer will be more relevant, and therefore more likely to invest in your company’s offerings. This will drive returns from your campaigns and increase your revenues.

Walk-In Specials and Other Promotions Can Be Utilized

When you market to a local area, unique promotional opportunities can be used to drivewalk inswelcome business. Just as you might mail coupons or limited-time offers to consumers in your local area, digital campaigns can be used to deliver a variety of promotions. You might choose to offer daily deals to anyone within a certain proximity of your business, or you could push in-store traffic by marketing a walk-in sale.

Even if you sell to a national or global audience, a physical location can benefit nicely by encouraging shoppers to visit the store. Furthermore, it reminds shoppers that you aren’t an online-only brand--you also have a local presence, and this physical location may attract consumers that don’t always want to do their shopping online.

Once a primitive targeting tool that couldn’t be offered with any accuracy, location has become one of the most valuable targeting tools on the digital front--particularly when paired with other targeting filters you are already using. To get started building location-based targeting into your digital strategy, contact DBC Digital today.

Get a Free Web Design Assessment Now

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Embracing the Mobile Wallet: 3 Key Benefits

 

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Mobile wallets are a tricky innovation of digital commerce. We’ve had the technology to deploy mobile wallets for years, and many consumers have mobile wallet solutions installed onto their smartphones and tablets. At the same time, those consumers are still reluctant to use mobile wallets on a regular basis. Whether for security reasons, the limited opportunities to pay with a mobile wallet, or simply a resistance to change, shoppers still prefer to pay with plastic and even cash whenever possible.

Consequently, businesses are none too interested in driving this innovation. The task of accepting mobile wallets requires an upgrade of payment processing technology, and this cost is one many companies would like to avoid. This broad resistance to mobile wallet technology presents a great opportunity for businesses that choose to move ahead of the curve. If mobile wallet technology truly is inevitable--and many think it is--then becoming an early adopter could have a huge payoff. Here’s why.

1. Tech-savvy consumers want businesses to adapt

Perhaps the majority of U.S. consumers are slow to embrace mobile wallet technology, but the payment solution is slowly gaining traction and building its adoption base. There are already a group of dedicated consumers that prefer mobile payment solutions over any form of payment processing, businesses can get in the good graces of those consumers by adopting the technology with their own business.

It's important to keep in mind that when you adopt mobile wallet processing, you don't automatically stop accepting other payment methods. The process of adopting mobile wallets across all retailers and businesses will take quite some time, so consumers who aren't ready for this technology can continue being served just as always. It only requires a little adaptation on the part of businesses, and this adaptation will set them up for future.

2. Cheaper processing fees could save you money in the long run

Credit Card MachineCredit card payment processing is extremely costly to businesses, which is why many smaller companies sometimes refuse credit cards entirely. But by refusing credit card payments, businesses also risk alienating their consumer base. In short, there's no easy solution that avoids complications entirely.

Mobile wallets may not solve all of those problems, but they can give consumers an extra option that offers cheaper processing costs for the business and the customer. Services like Google Wallet, PayPal Here and others can connect to bank accounts easily and offer a non-cash solution that businesses might prefer. Over time, businesses could encourage their customers to make payments through mobile wallets, helping them manage their money on a smartphone or tablet while cutting out costly credit card charges--and making payment processing cheaper for all.

3. Information integrated with mobile wallet solutions could assist your marketing efforts

Mobile wallets are uniquely linked to a consumer's information--or at least they can be, inMobile Wallet Payment most cases. This is a huge opportunity for businesses looking to integrate mobile wallets with their digital marketing efforts. By accepting mobile wallet payments, businesses could gain access to the user profiles of consumers with registered mobile wallet accounts.

Even when a consumer makes a simple purchase in-store or online, the business could automatically receive contact info, including email addresses and phone numbers, all of which can be used to target those consumers through various digital campaigns. This is a fantastic option for acquiring highly qualified leads--in this case, those leads are past customers, making them very likely to repeat.

Mobile walleting technology can be intimidating for businesses that aren't familiar with how it works. If you're ready to embrace mobile wallets but don't know how to get started, let DBC Digital help you build toward a better future.

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Growing Your Business Through Social Media

 

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Social media is so uniformly prescribed to every business these days that it's easy to forget why we're all there in the first place. For all the times managers are told that they must develop a multi-platform social presence, some inevitably feel the pressure to do so without fully grasping the results.

But the product of social activity is always better when companies have a clear vision of their goals and how social media utilizes them. Without this understanding, social activity occurs blindly--companies post regularly and follow best practices, but they don't know what metrics to follow or what their activity even produces. While these benefits are influenced by your strategy--meaning everyone's results will differ based on their goals--here are the general benefits that make social media such a valuable online campaign.

A Continuous Connection with Your Consumers

connectBusinesses always want to keep a fresh connection with their existing clientele. Email newsletters and other campaigns can help accomplish this, but social media offers a much stronger connection because your brand can reach those consumers on a near-daily basis. And when you are active on social media, your followers aren't only past customers: you're also producing content for prospective customers, including individuals following you just out of a general interest in your company.

It sometimes takes weeks, months, even close to a year before your social activity really gains traction, but the value of each additional follow is significant. It gives you another potential consumers--and thus future sales--and it increases the visibility of your brand. For any small-to-medium business, both opportunities are critical.

Strong Brand Visibility

Sales may be more quantifiable, but any good business understands the importance of branding. Great logos, mottos and other branded material can offer fantastic value, but only if consumers get to see that branded content. When you post to social media, you are guaranteed that this branded material is viewed on a daily basis. In a sense, you're simply using social media to beat your brand into consumer heads. It might sound like a broad approach, but it works.

Referring Warm Prospects to Your Business

Some of social media's value is the same thing that has helped inbound marketing catch on.Prospect To some degree, social networking performs the first steps of a sales pitch. If a consumer comes directly to your business after following you on social media, they're likely already sold on your brand and your reputation. Content can help direct them to your website or other properties where selling and conversions occur. These warm prospects take much less work to bring them to the point of a conversion. If you employ a sales staff, this reduces their workload and increases their efficiency. And if you don't, then you're leveraging social media to provide valuable sales work you aren't getting otherwise.

For Small Businesses, You Can't Beat the Price

Money talks, and that's why social media is great for small-to-medium businesses. If you're limited in terms of marketing funds, social media campaigns can be run for little-to-nothing. With a little education on social strategy, a business manager can easily handle social responsibilities for about 15 minutes each day. Even if you don't get the results a social media manager can provide, the returns will be significant since you won't be spending any extra. Meanwhile, you can test out social strategy, and as the results come in you can decide whether an additional investment might offer even better returns.

Don't let your competitors pass you by on social media. Talk to DBC Digital today and get started on the path to a winning digital strategy.

Get a Free Web Design Assessment Now

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

How to Market on Twitter (Hint: It's not for SEO)

 

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By most measures, Twitter is the second-most prominent social network in the world. It is home to more than 500 million newly published tweets every day--an astounding body of content in its own right. Brands have recognized this opportunity, which virtually every major domestic and international brand managing their own Twitter accounts.

Understanding the need for Twitter is one thing--most businesses have been told many times that building a social presence is important. Using these platforms effectively is another matter, though. As social networks develop, they are also trying to distinguish themselves from their competition to create unique opportunities. This means that the best practices for each can be slightly different.

And on Twitter, question marks can abound. While Facebook’s revenue system (sponsored posts) and its primary usage (social engagement with friends and family) are obvious to marketers, Twitter’s platform is a bit more amorphous. Users engage the social network in many different ways, and Twitter itself sometimes seems unsure how to differentiate itself from competitors. Even so, Twitter offers a unique format that consumers love, even if they love it for different reasons.

So what does that mean for marketers? As is often the case, intuition can be misguided. Here are some data-backed tips for marketing on Twitter.

Forget SEO--Google Isn’t Indexing Your Tweets

On Twitter, each individual tweet has the ability to be indexed by Google and integrated into online search results. The problem? This almost never happens unless you are a major Twitter user. Recent research has found that of the 500 million daily tweets produced, only a fraction of a percent are ever indexed by Google. Those figures are slightly better if you have a Twitter following in the millions, but even then most of your tweets will never make it into Google searches.

For this reason, Twitter has no business being considered in your SEO strategy. The content you produce has plenty of value within the Twitter platform, but as a method of expanding your overall online visibility, it’s irrelevant.

Unlike Facebook, You Have to Post Frequently

tweetFacebook best practices say you should limit your posting to a few times a day--beyond that, the content can get lost in News Feeds, and it may even annoy your followers.

No so on Twitter. Unlike Facebook’s News Feed, where a single post can enjoy prominence for hours--even days--Tweets are very disposable. Everything is published chronologically, which means the exposure of a single tweet will drop rapidly after about 20 minutes. To make sure users see your posts, you’ll need to post periodically throughout the day. It’s more time-intensive than other social networks, but it’s the only way to get consistent results.

Sponsored Tweets Don’t Offer Enough Value--Yet

Twitter has rolled out a Sponsored Tweet functionality where users can pay to reach new audiences through a paid tweet. For most businesses, though, there isn’t enough confirmed value to make this worth the expense. Major brands are already diving on to pay for this advertising, but those companies also have deep pockets and plenty of latitude in how they spend marketing dollars.

As more research about the efficacy of Sponsored Tweets comes out, they may prove to be more valuable to small and mid-sized businesses. Until then, it’s better to stick with the free promotional opportunities.

Remember the Rule of Three: A Link, a Mention, and a Hashtag

Visibility and engagement are key on Twitter. If you want to maximize your reach andtwitter1 570x325 interactions with other users, follow the Rule of Three. This principle is simple: Every tweet should include a link (offering useful information), a mention of a relevant Twitter user, and a hashtag to categorize the tweet.

By employing this strategy consistently, more users will see and respond to your tweets, and you will be able to build your following faster.

Contact DBC Digital today to get started on a better Twitter and social media strategy.

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Why Paid Facebook Ads Make Sense

 

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Social media has created great channels for business promotion, and at virtually no cost. Most social platforms have very crude strategies for generating funds through advertising. Facebook has led the pack in terms of generating revenues off of an advertising system, and it has quickly generated huge sums of money, with annual earnings exploding into the hundreds of millions.

And yet, most businesses eschew ad spending entirely and squeeze value out of Facebook without putting any money down. It's long been a great strategy for reaching a digital audience, but this opportunity is changing--and eventually, it will disappear. Even though you can still get results from Facebook for free, there are some great reasons why it's time to start paying.

Facebook Organic Reach is Declining

Facebook Organic ReachReaching your audience through Facebook may be free, but it's much more restricted than it once was. Currently, brands enjoy only a six percent reach on any piece of content they post. This means that if you post a status update to your audience of 1,000 Facebook followers, only about 60 of them will ever see that content.

That's a big change from years past, and it illustrates Facebook's long-term goals: The company wants to wean brands off of free self-promotion and convince them to instead pay for the results it once dispensed pro bono. Fair or not, this is the company's primary strategy, and the change is inevitable. In the not-too-distant future, brands will be able to post all they want on Facebook--but without paying to promote their posts, hardly anyone will ever see the content.

The Facebook Display Network is Huge

The upside is that Facebook's advertising audience is massive: More than one billion users are regularly active on the site. A big potential audience means that companies can add numerous filters onto their promoted posts that limit who sees the content. When utilized correctly, brands can ensure that their paid posts are only seen by the most relevant consumers.

If you choose to pay for a high volume of exposure, you will quickly find that a single post can be seen by tens of thousands of users, if not more. These users can then choose to follow your brand, which creates additional viral potential. Promoted Facebook posts, in other words, can directly increase the value of your organic results. As far as digital marketing goes, only Google paid search offers a larger potential audience.

Paid Search Does Not Come at the Cost of Organic Sharing

Eventually, businesses will get no organic exposure from their Facebook pages. But that's notsearching computer the case yet, as many companies are eager to point out. As far as the immediate future is concerned, it's still possible to get exposure and enjoy the benefits of viral sharing without giving Facebook a dime. So why bother with spending money on ads?

The reason is simple: Paid advertising does not impact your organic exposure in any way. When you purchase promoted posting space on Facebook, you're reaching people that otherwise might never discover your brand. And if those consumers choose to follow your Facebook page, you'll enjoy a modest bump in organic reach for as long as Facebook makes this available.

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The future is tough to predict, particularly when Facebook is cryptic about its future plans. But they seem to be pretty clear on one thing: sponsored posts will be a necessary expense for businesses within the next few years. By adopting this campaign strategy now, you can get ahead of the game and build a healthy lead in brand reach and engagement. Contact DBC Digital today to take advantage of this opportunity.

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

Picture This: The Rising Value of Instagram

 

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Instagram is a platform unlike any other. While it has hundreds of millions of users around the world, it is most popular among teens and young adults. The platform has been purchased by Facebook and is currently being developed to bring in greater revenues for the company. But perhaps most notably, Instagram is the most established and active social network where pictures--not text--are the primary form of communication.

With this twist on social interaction comes a number of challenges. Businesses engaged in social marketing tend to see Instagram as a unique marketing opportunity, one that pairs well with a long history of image-dominant advertising strategies used over the years. But Instagram is more temporary than a billboard or a TV commercial, and because text isn't a major component of its success, messages must be conveyed in innovative ways.

At first, adoption of Instagram by brand marketers was slow. Finally, however, this practice is starting to pick up pace. The more we learn about Instagram, the better we understand how to make it work even for small and medium-sized businesses.

Visual Channels Encourage Brand Visibility

VisibilitySeveral types of branding are visual in nature. Logos, products and other branded content can be easily promoted on a visual platform, and heightened brand visibility is one of the best goals of using Instagram. Frequent updates can help your brand stay top-of-mind with interested followers, and you can deliver a consistent stream of content that entices would-be consumers to convert.

The most important consideration when producing content for Instagram is that the content must speak for itself--that is, the images must easily communicate a message to your followers. If consumers aren't easily able to connect the image with your brand and its focus, the value will be lost.

Images Can Work as Referrals, Too

While long blocks of text won't work well on Instagram, limited amounts can be extremely valuable--especially when utilized to refer followers to another website. Product referrals are a great example: after featuring a product in an Instagram post, you can add a hyperlink with the words: "Find the product here!" to entice consumers into visiting the page. Keep the text short and sweet, but don't be afraid to utilize this technique when necessary.

One tip: since Instagram is a mobile-based social network, any referral links you provide need to be mobile-optimized. If not, you'll immediately lose a large percentage of the traffic you just referred.

Marketers Are Figuring Out the Best Practices

There isn't a ton of information about how to utilize Instagram and other visual marketingInstagram channels, mostly because they are a newer social breed. Because images can't be analyzed quite as well as text, the insights that come from visual marketing analysis can be vague and occasionally misleading.

Despite these obstacles, marketers are figuring out how to make Instagram work for them. Instagram is helping, too: the platform has started to roll out paid advertising that delivers images to relevant users, similarly to how Facebook's ad network operates. But brands that aren't ready to pay for this exposure can still develop their own branded Instagram feed, and many already have: 80 percent of the world's top brands are currently using Instagram in their digital campaigns.

This trend among marketers proves that while the road has been bumpy, professionals are figuring out how they can use Instagram to achieve their marketing goals. And as more research comes pouring in, these best practices will be revised to make a maturing Instagram platform even more valuable to businesses everywhere.

To start utilizing Instagram and other social marketing strategies, contact DBC Digital today

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Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado.  With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.  

You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at dbc@dbcdigital.com

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