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Does My Business Need a Mobile App?

 

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Any business that has a foothold in digital marketing is probably familiar with mobile commerce apps. It's very possible your own competitors have their own mobile apps that are utilized in different ways. As more and more people use smartphones and tablets on a regular basis, companies can use mobile apps for a variety of purposes.

For example, some mobile apps might be designed to sell items, while others are constructed to build a better user experience. Most businesses could benefit from having a mobile app in some form, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should go out and fund your company's mobile app development. There are pros and cons to an app, and it largely depends on your company's current circumstances. Here's a quick overview of mobile apps for the small business.

The Decline of Mobile Browsers

mozilla firefox android 14If your company targets mobile consumers heavily, mobile device usage trends are very important. As far as accessing the Web goes, mobile browsers are in heavy decline. The main reason for this is because consumers often frequent the same online websites, and instead of accessing the mobile Web page, a mobile app is more convenient--and user-friendly.

If you have a large base of repeat consumers, a mobile app can be much more reliable in attracting their business than if you make them go through a mobile browser. Keep in mind that the mobile app is also more visible on their devices, giving you a little free brand promotion each time they open up their smartphone or tablet.

And that's just one of several benefits mobile apps offer.

Why Mobile Apps are Good for Businesses

The main reason businesses consider apps--at least from a functionality standpoint--is that apps are fully customizable. In a web browser, you are restricted by the browser's functionality, which can reduce your overall features and inhibit its user-friendliness. When you build an app, you can build the entire platform from the ground up, which is critical if you want to give users a unique experience.

Mobile apps can also integrate with other apps, including social media. If you're looking to build brand visibility through a mobile app, allowing users to tweet or post to Facebook about their app experience can build that reputation while attracting new users.

Alternatively, businesses may choose to drive commerce through their apps. Having a dedicated app for e-retail purposes helps simplify the shopping process by keeping users logged in, securely storing their user preferences and payment info, and streamlining the shopping process. No matter what your goals, an app will most likely offer a better experience for both the business and its consumers.

Weighing the Costs of App Development

If mobile apps offer so many opportunities to businesses, why isn't a dedicated business app aappdevelopment3 no-brainer? Almost always, the primary deterrent is cost. Depending on your interests, mobile app development is a costly affair. A single app may cost $10,000 or more. While some cheaper app development options may exist, these are usually a high-risk move since the quality and functionality will be bargain-rate, essentially dissolving much of the app's benefit in the first place.

The exact cost can depend on how you want to utilize your app, but unless your mobile app is essential to your company's success, it's usually better to wait until you have an established consumer base and the ability to drive mass downloads quickly. Otherwise, you're building a product hoping consumers will come--and that's never a guarantee.

A mobile app is a great asset for any business, but it needs to be implemented only when you have a good financial outlook. If you're ready to adopt a mobile app or any other part of 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

Four Reasons to Advertise on Display Networks

 

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You might not realize it while browsing the Internet, but much of the advertising displayed across the Web comes directly from a display advertising network. These networks establish ad spaces across a wide range of websites, and then sell these ad spaces to brands looking for the right advertising opportunity. It's similar to how billboards are set up across the country, except display ads are much more numerous, easy to afford, and quick to set up.

But because there are so many low-cost and free marketing options available online, many small businesses are reluctant to shell out cash on paid advertising. They don't see the benefits of investing in display advertising, in part because this system can seem complex from the outside. In reality, though, display advertising is simple to set up and manage, and its unique features allow for efficient spending that save companies money in the long run. Here are four key reasons to spend on a display network.

Extend Your Reach

pic advertiseDisplay networks are massive. The largest is the Google Display Network, which places ads on more than two million websites and reaches more than 90 percent of global Internet users. And many other display networks offer similar returns, giving you great options for accessing a massive consumer base.

While it's unlikely that you necessarily want to advertise to all of those Internet users, having the option is important. A high-volume audience is an asset that can be utilized several different ways. In this sense, display ads function similar to traditional advertising: the larger the potential audience, the greater the value.

Refine Your Audience

Here's where display networks differ dramatically from traditional advertising. When you pay for a billboard space, you pay for all of the people who will see the ad. Many of those individuals will never become your customer, but you still have to pay for them. The result is high-volume, low-efficiency advertising that often doesn't bring in enough value to justify the cost.

On a display network, you can cut the fat on these low-value consumers by using targeting filters. All major display networks offers simple ways to pare down the audience your ads will be exposed to. In other words, you can set your filters to only display ads to your most valued target audience. This refined audience will be much more likely to respond to your advertising, and you'll get higher returns per-view than traditional ads can provide.

Track Your Results

No matter how well-developed your campaign is, it won't be perfect right from the outset. Making adjustments over time is critical to maximizing the value of a display network campaign, and these networks offer great tools to do this. You can check in daily to view reports of your ad performance, and with this feedback you can identify areas for improvement. Whether it's the ads themselves or a particular targeting filter you're using, you can tweak the campaign over time as you work toward even better returns.

Optimize Your Spending

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As you optimize your targeting and improve your results, you're also improving the economy of your spending. Your campaign will get smarter and more effective at targeting the most valuable consumers on the Internet, and each dollar you spend will bring in more revenues in return. This high return both justifies your display network campaign and gives you extra funds to expanding your digital marketing efforts.

A well-executed display ad campaign can bring in great revenues while expanding brand visibility and reach. To start building a successful digital strategy, 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

Analyze Your Inbound Marketing with These Tools

 

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If If you aren't using data to analyze your inbound marketing campaigns, you aren't taking advantage of marketing on the Internet. Plenty of campaigns bear similarities to traditional forms of marketing--display networks are akin to billboards, video advertising has parallels with TV commercials, and so on. But billboards and TV commercials can't touch what makes their online counterparts so incredibly valuable.

That's right, it's data. Everything is trackable online, from the clicks a consumer makes online to the user profiles of those online consumers, even to the length of time those consumers spend on a single web page--everything can be documented in data. These troves of information can offer incredible insights to marketers when they are properly analyzed.

To do that, you need an analytics solution. Many are available online, and some of the best ones come at a low-cost, or even for free. You need at least one of these solutions to help guide your strategy going forward, as you make small strategy shifts that optimize each campaign. Here's an overview of the best options.

1. Google Analytics

Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is the obvious go-to for most businesses. It's simple to use, offers in-depth data, and is geared toward small business owners. Even if you do struggle to understand the platform, there are a number of tutorials that walk you through the basic processes you will need to know in order to maximize the value of Google Analytics.

And there's incredible value: not just because it's a great data tool, but also because it's free when you integrate it with Google AdWords. If you're doing paid search campaigns, AdWords is a no-brainer, even before you through in Google Analytics for free.

2. Moz Analytics

If you're focused on analytics for search marketing purposes, Moz Analytics is a great solution. It specializes in using data to improve SEO performance for various campaigns, and it offers a wide range of data to help you track your results. Moz Analytics also accommodates social media marketing and content marketing efforts, too, but if your primary focus is search marketing, this could be the right tool for you.

Moz Analytics costs $99 per month, which isn't cheap for small businesses. But if you make an earnest effort to use the data when improving your campaigns, it's a great option.

3. KISSmetrics

The great thing about KISSmetrics: its platform is beautiful. Users can navigate the solution easily, and it offers great data analysis that offers some insights and perspectives you won't find with other solutions.

The biggest barrier for most businesses is going to be the cost. KISSmetrics packages start at $150 per month and go up. Additionally, the data isn't comprehensive when it comes to traffic analysis, so you will probably need to complement KISSmetrics with another analytics tool that gives great Web traffic insights.

4. Clicky

Straddling the line between free and subscription-based, Clicky has a lot to offer smallanalyze businesses. It has comprehensive analytics tools that rival what Google Analytics has to offer, and there's no delay in receiving that data--results can be monitored in real-time.

The biggest challenge of Clicky is that it isn't the easiest platform to use. If you're averse to technology already, it may be more of a headache than it's worth. But keep in mind that Clicky is completely free until you surpass 3,000 page views. In other words, you get some time to get the hang of things--and to start driving traffic to your website--before you're asked to put money down.

If you're ready to start analyzing data and building 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

Social Media Best Practices

 

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As social media outlets have multiplied and diversified, the best practices governing social media marketing have changed. There's no longer a once-size-fits-all approach that can be applied across half a dozen networks for the same results. That means social media marketing has become more specialized--and more complex.

But that doesn't mean successful social marketing is out-of-reach for the common small business. It only takes an understanding of the characteristics of each network, and the research that's piling up on each, to understand how each network can be uniquely used to advance a company's goals. Here are some great takeaway from a recent Digital Insights infographic that offer an excellent template for custom-fitting your social strategy.

The Facebook Rule: Less is More

facebook friendsIf you're swamping your Facebook followers with frequent status updates, you could be doing more bad than good. It turns out Facebook is where consumers are most irritable. They can become annoyed or disinterested in brands quickly, and that leads to high rates of "Unliking" a business page.

The solution is simple: Keep your Facebook posts to one to three updates per day. Limit yourself only to your most interesting and useful content. If it's a slow day, it's better to post nothing at all than to risk alienating followers. More than any other social network, Facebook is where quality trumps quantity.

For Mobile Targeting, Turn to Twitter

Is your business looking to score among mobile device users? Twitter is the place to go. Almost 80 percent of Twitter users are active on their mobile devices. This means that video producers, app developers, e-retail and other mobile-focused businesses have plenty to gain from building a presence on Twitter.

Because the lifespan of a tweet is so much shorter than a Facebook post, it's critical that companies stay on top of updating their Twitter throughout the day--quantity is needed here to make sure your content reaches enough people. Be frequent in your posting and be mindful of the unique mobile opportunities Twitter may offer.

The Youth Movement Has Gone to Instagram

Instagram is a newer social network, but it's very influential among young demographics. More than 200 million accounts are currently active on Instagram, which is the most popular social network among 23 percent of youth. While Pinterest, another visual-based social network, features a user base that is predominantly female, Instagram is a great option for targeting young consumers and connecting with them through photo-based content.

Seeking Sales? Update Your Blog

It isn't always thought of in the vein of other social networks, but blogging is a genuinelyblog blogging social activity. Many bloggers host their blogs on connected networks of thousands, even millions of other blogs, resulting in an active community. But more important than the community is the power of influence blogging offers: Company websites that have an active blog enjoy a 97 percent increase in the number of inbound links coming to their sites, and marketers utilizing a blog have seen a 67 percent increase in sales referrals from their blogs.

Additionally, the body of content creators on blogs is relatively small--only about 6.7 million bloggers used dedicated blog networks to produce their content. That means the competition is much lower than on social networks, where content creation is easy and cheap. If you're looking for a way to establish your credibility and authority in your field, a blog is an easy, low-cost way to separate yourself from the pack.

Don't let your competition pass you by when it comes to social media and other digital marketing. Contact DBC Digital today to bring your online strategy up-to-speed.

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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

Which Social Networks Should I Use?

 

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If you own or manage a business, you don't need to be told one more time that social media is important. But it's one thing to say your company should be on social media; it's another thing to actually take advantage of it.

Meanwhile, there are more and more social networks sprouting up all the time. For companies that can't afford a dedicated social media manager, the task of maintaining a social presence only grows more time-consuming and difficult. Plus, not every social network is relevant to your company and its target audience. So what do you do? Here's a quick guide to choosing your top priorities on social media.

Facebook

As far as maintaining your digital presence goals, Facebook is invaluable. It's the biggest social network with the biggest potential reach. While it offers limited organic reach, you can pay for cost-effective advertising to get your brand out among relevant audiences. And, if you already have a personal Facebook account, a business page is very straightforward.

The other benefit of Facebook is that it doesn't require a lot of upkeep. Most businesses want to limit their posting to one to three posts a day, which alleviates the burden on anyone trying to manage social media in-house. Too much Facebook activity can actually be harmful to your brand, so take comfort in knowing that your most important social media presence will require no more than 10 minutes a day.

Twitter

twitterTwitter is a massive social network, but it functions very differently from Facebook. Posts are made in real time and disappear from a person's timeline as other users post their own content. As a result, Twitter requires brands to post content much more frequently, sometimes repeating content links to make sure it reaches a large audience.

While more time-intensive than Facebook, Twitter is still a very valuable way to increase brand visibility while connecting with customers. Another bonus: Twitter users are very active on their smartphones and tablets. If that matches your target audience, Twitter only becomes more valuable.

Pinterest

If you have great ideas for promoting your company visually, Pinterest can be a fantastic option. Recipes, crafts, furniture and DIY projects are among the products and content that have proven very successful on Pinterest. Because its user base is heavily female, Pinterest is ideal for brands targeting women. If you don't have great options to publish compelling visual content, though, Pinterest may not be an ideal use of your time.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a strictly business social network. If you're a business-to-business company, usinglinkedin the LinkedIn platform makes perfect sense. But understand that LinkedIn functions differently than other social networks because its primary function isn't "social" at all. You will connect with businesses and work professionals on business-related topics, but everything else is unsuited for this platform.

Google+

This one can be a bit of an anomaly, because many users aren't quite sure how to utilize it. Google+ has a very large user base, but its engagement rates can be much lower than what is seen on Facebook and Twitter. It tends to attract businesses and professionals more than everyday consumers looking to socialize, but both demographics are present.

There are some valid reasons to set up a Google+ business account--even if you don't update it frequently. For one, you can gain greater control over your business info that is displayed on Google Maps and in Google Web searches, helping customers get the right info about you. Because the time commitment is low, it's probably wise to set up a Google+ account even if you plan to rarely update it.

For help designing your social strategy and setting up other online marketing campaigns, 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

Hyperlocal Targeting: Why Inbound Now Applies to Everyone

 

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While many businesses are flocking to the Internet to increase their presence and claim a piece of that infinite online commerce pie, there are still plenty of resistors to the movement. Most of those businesses and professionals aren't doing so just to be stubborn: They genuinely fail to see the benefit of building a digital presence, and this usually ties back to how they generate a consumer base in the first place.

Business professionals like plumbers, handymen, local construction workers, dentists and even restaurants can struggle to see the value offered online. To them, a global audience is irrelevant; they are concerned with the consumer base in their immediate area, and they choose to focus on more direct ways to reach that audience. For a long time, this was a defensible strategy. But hyperlocal targeting online has created new opportunities that change the way consumers are reached. Instead of promoting your wares to the world at large, you can choose to focus on an extremely refined audience--including only those customers in your local area. Here's a quick look at how it works.

The New Digital Frontier: Getting Small with Your Targeting

smaller is betterEvery online user carries around identifying information that marketers use to target consumers. Location is an easy piece of information, and it's getting more and more accessible thanks to mobile devices that feature location services.

When you run a marketing campaign online--whether it's through social media, search advertising or other strategies--you can easily refine your targeting considerations to only display ads to consumers within certain geographic areas. This could be as broad as your country or state, or as narrow as cities, zip codes and even a pre-set area you have essentially drawn out on a map. In doing so, you achieve the same type of targeting that businesses have always preferred: local, relevant marketing that doesn't waste ad dollars and unlikely consumers.

Building a Local Brand Online

These days, local branding is more than just having a physical store in your community. Online, businesses can easily cultivate their brand and build digital assets that will preserve its viability well into the future. Email campaigns are just one way to keep up with consumers who are in the area but may not see you often, if at all. These emails also remind those customers of your business, keeping your brand top-of-mind for when they need your products and services.

Meanwhile, hyperlocal reporting--which has come to rise through community blogs and the endurance of local newspapers--can serve as a valuable way of gaining free publicity and arranging ad partnerships.

Improving Real-Life Relationships Through a Digital Interface

Because of its high levels of engagement and its ease of use, social media has become a no-brainer for any business. On Facebook, for example, business pages have come to replaceRelationship Yellow Pages business listings to a great extent. It's easy to find a business's information, including its location, hours of operation, contact info, even online ratings and customer reviews, all in one convenient place. Many local businesses also use social media to deliver promotions to followers on short notice.

Meanwhile, social media helps nurture customer relationships, which are vitally important to small businesses. Having a small, local consumer base can actually be a bonus on social media because it ensures you will have time to give every consumer they attention they want and need. And, you'll be able to easily manage this without hiring extra help, if you are marketing on a limited budget.

Even the most local of businesses now have every reason to invest in online marketing. To get started, 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

Why are Blogs so Important?

 

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Years ago, blogging was mostly a form of social journaling that individuals used for any number of reasons: to document their family's big events, to find community among a shared interest, or in hopes of becoming "Internet famous." Not surprisingly, many businesses and managers have a perception of blogging as a trivial activity that's more relevant to teenagers than to emerging businesses.

Unfortunately, those views couldn't be farther from the truth. Blogging has become a highly sophisticated form of communicating, and for any company, it's a great channel for marketing to an online consumer base. For anyone who still doesn't understand why they need a blog for their business website, here are some key benefits of starting to publish your own content.

Increasing Visibility and Search Engine Traffic

VisibilityBlogs are very visible through search engines like Google. When a consumer types in a question or a search phrase into a search engine, the engine displays what it feels are the most reliable pages that directly address the consumer's query.

When you write a blog post, you make it possible for search engines to "crawl" your entry, meaning they will examine it and incorporate the content into their search information. Keywords, links and other metrics are used to determine the value of your page. Over time, this page should generate traffic that comes directly from search engines, increasing your visibility to your relevant audience.

The more pages you have, the more opportunities you create to bring in search engine traffic. This helps your business get discovered by customers that might not otherwise know about it, increasing your visibility and your opportunities to make a sale.

Demonstrating Authority in Your Industry

Blog posts can be promoted in a number of ways. You can share them on social media accounts and link to them in business newsletters sent out to your customers. While this all increases the visibility of your brand, it also performs another key promotional service: your blogs can make you a respected voice within your industry.

Consumers are always looking for evidence that a business is legitimate. This is how they know where to put their trust, and how they decide which brands can best service their needs. Even when blog posts you have written don't directly prompt a sale or even an inquiry, each new publication helps to build credibility for your business. This is vital for young brands with no reputation, but older companies can also benefit, because consumer trust has no ceiling. The more goodwill and trust you can generate, the better off you will be. Eventually, a trusted brand that provides a useful solution will always find a consumer base.

Making the Sales Pitch With No Time Lost

Whether you have dedicated sales personnel or not, a major component of any company'sSales Pitch success is how well it can sell its services to consumers. In the physical world, making that sales pitch takes time: answering questions over the phone, demonstrating the value to customers, or even going door-to-door. This type of selling is effective, but it can be inefficient.

When you have a blog on your website, you can use the content to effectively serve as a sales tool. By making some of the same top-of-funnel points you would make in a sales pitch--this means providing general information, making the value proposition clear, and offering next steps a consumer to take--you can turn interested consumers into genuinely hot prospects. Some may contact your business ready to buy, no questions asked. Ultimately, this creates more sales leads with no time lost, increasing revenues for your company.

If you're ready to take advantage of company blogs for all they're worth, 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

Should I Pay for Ads or Depend on Organic Reach?

 

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Social media has evolved well beyond a merely "social" platform. It has attracted the involvement of all types of businesses, from major software companies to news organizations to local restaurants. Virtually every type of business out there can benefit from building a social media following, and that has changed how we utilize these various networks.

The great value of social media to this point--at least from a commercial perspective--is its functionality as an essentially free platform for self-promotion. Businesses can create and share content that reaches an audience organically, with no monetary investment and as little as a few minutes every day.

But as social media evolves, its functionality will inevitably change for businesses. Some of those big changes are already in the works, and they could have big ramifications for businesses. The main driver of this change is the advent of paid advertising, which has become a huge source of revenue for Facebook and is becoming more prevalent on Twitter. While some businesses are eagerly paying for social advertising, others aren't sure how much value it brings--especially when they currently get exposure for free. With that in mind, here's a quick breakdown of how to gain exposure on social media.

Building a Social Presence off Organic Reach

Social ReachFor new companies just getting started, social media offers an ideal opportunity. It provides exposure when companies can't pay for it, and it helps build a much-needed following among dedicated consumers. When used the right way, social media can also help prove a brand's authority in their field, giving them credibility they lacked in the early going.

Most businesses on Facebook rely on organic reach to provide a return on their time investment. That value is still alive and well, but it's declining on certain platforms, most notably Facebook. Now that Facebook has strengthened its revenue streams and proven the value of its social advertising, the network is paving the way for a social future in which those free marketing opportunities become less common for the average business.

Facebook's Plans to Make Companies Pay

On Facebook, organic reach isn't what it was even a few years ago. The main reason: Facebook is reducing the audience each piece of social content reaches. At the latest count, Facebook had reduced the organic reach of any one piece of social content to just six percent of the publisher's following. That means that, if you're a business with 1,000 followers on your Facebook business profile, each status update will cap out at reaching sixty people.

That's not nearly the type of exposure Facebook once offered businesses, and it's a very calculated move. Facebook is essentially weaning small businesses off of organic reach, in hopes of eventually convincing them to purchase paid advertising. The followings your business has built still exist, but you can't connect with them for free as easily as before. Facebook is leading this charge, and as other social networks develop a solid strategy for driving ad revenues, they will likely want to do the same.

Today's Strategy: Think Organic, Get Ready to Pay

Businesses should keep an eye on Facebook's changes to organic reach, and they should beorganic logo ready to see it go away entirely. For the moment, though, organic reach is still in play. It's always important to stick to the strategy principles that work on any given day, while understanding that they may change tomorrow.

In other words, keep posting to Facebook and other social networks, and enjoy your organic reach while it lasts. At the same time, don't be surprised when it goes away. And it's worth starting to think about what you will do when that free opportunity dissolves. Will paid advertising on Facebook be worth it, or will you want to explore other options?

For help developing and installing a social strategy across multiple social networks, 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

Can I Do My Own Inbound Marketing?

 

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Some businesses are do-it-yourself by choice, but others are forced to be industrious by circumstance. Limited budgets and resources make it difficult for many businesses to outsource as much of the services they want. This can affect a wide range of functions, from accounting to payroll and so on. Many times, marketing also becomes a casualty.

It's always ideal to have a professional marketing agency managing all of your various campaigns designed to generate business and revenue. And businesses also need to view marketing efforts not as an expense, but an investment that should turn a profit. If you're running a good campaign, you should be generating more revenues than you're spending on that marketing.

Still, some businesses simply don't have the funds to pay for a comprehensive approach. When forced to choose between services--or to simply take it all upon themselves--those business leaders have to figure out what can be done in-house, and what simply isn't possible without some professional help. Depending on your marketing goals, that can depend on the skills you have in-house and how well you understand digital marketing opportunities. Here's an overview of cost-effective inbound campaigns, as well as whether or not you can handle these on your own.

Managing Your Social Media

Social MediaThere are billions of personal accounts set up across Facebook, Twitter and other major social networks. Not only is this a massive pool of consumers, but it's also free to access by setting up a business account. Managing a company's social media is considerably more complex than running your own social media profile, but if you've done your own personal account, you likely have the familiarity needed to handle at least a basic social campaign.

The keys to social media marketing aren't only posting regularly and building a following, although those are important. Social content should be highly relevant to your audience and engage your base of followers while establishing credibility and trust. A professional agency will optimize these posts to get the best results, but when strapped for cash, a small business can do a decent job on their own.

For Email Campaigns, Use a Service

Email is a great way to connect with consumers and keep them informed, but managing email on your own can get messy. At best, it will be a time-consuming affair where you have to manually enter possibly hundreds of email addresses on your own. At worst, you'll send the wrong emails at the wrong time, and to the wrong customers, while your target audience misses out.

Even if you try to manage email campaigns on your own, don't pinch pennies when it comes to an email marketing service. These inexpensive services will automate a lot of steps for you, all while keeping your campaigns organized and effective. They're more than worth the marginal cost.

Your Company Blog: To Write or Outsource?

Businesses need their own company blog to stay visible online, and to establish authority inblog icon their field. The challenge? Writing blogs is a business on its own, and most companies are in industries where writing is not a primary skill. Some businesses do try to write their own blog posts, and this usually ends up being a mistake: content is poorly written and riddled with errors, fails to make its point clearly, and struggles to maintain consumer interest.

If you have someone in your office that has strong writing skills and experience writing online, they might be able to manage your blog passably--at least in the short term. But the odds are likely that, by doing your blog in-house, you'll only damage your reputation while failing to capitalize on this unique online opportunity. Outsourcing this service should be a high priority.

Of course, if you have the funds, it's always smart to hand all of your inbound marketing over to a trusted professional agency. If you're ready to get better results from your online campaigns, 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

Overcoming Cart Abandonment: Four Ways to Seal the Deal

 

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When shoppers in physical stores put something in their shopping cart, it's usually there to stay. The customer has committed to the idea of buying an item, and most of the time they will bring that item through to the checkout.

When those shoppers are at their computers, though, those traditional shopping habits go out the window. Items placed in a shopping cart offer no guarantee of a sale. Consumers place items in a virtual cart while they continue shopping for various reasons: to make sure they don't lose track of the item, or to "hold it" while they consider whether they want to make the purchase. All too often, retailers see shoppers abandon their site and their filled shopping cart, turning an apparent conversion into a lost opportunity.

The only retail sales floor is littered with such abandoned carts. As much as this is a fact of life in the e-retail world, there are things businesses can do to minimize the occurrence rate of shopping cart abandonments. Successfully strategy can even bring some customers back to their once-abandoned carts, where they go on to complete the conversion. Here are four great strategies businesses should consider to cut down on shopping cart abandonments.

Shorten the Checkout Process

1clickHow many times are consumers asked to click through to another step in the shopping process? The more clicks, the more opportunities they have to reconsider their purchase. If you go beyond two or three checkout steps, it's also possible that consumers have become fatigued by the task of checking out online.

Checkouts should be as simple as possible. You don't want to do anything to discourage consumers from making a purchase, and you don't want to give them extra time to develop buyer's remorse. Whenever possible, condense checkout steps--even if that means combining two pages into one. Only ask for the most relevant information from customers. Simpler is always faster, and that will reduce your cart abandonment rates.

Allow Purchases From Guest Accounts

Some shopping sites only allow purchases from users who have registered an account. While it seems smart to have consumers register, it can backfire in terms of sales. Some shoppers simply don't want to sign up with a new retailer and invite even more email into their inbox. It's great to have a sign-in option, but always give shoppers the option to continue with the purchase as a guest.

Maximize Available Payment Options

This one's a no-brainer: if you only have one or two purchasing options, you're going to losePayment Options sales opportunities. You'll want to make sure you're set up to take credit card payments from as many credit card providers as possible. Alternative options, including PayPal and mobile wallet payment options, will also be great--especially if you're dealing with overseas sales. The bottom-line is, more options to purchase means you'll turn away fewer consumers.

Bring Lost Conversions Back Through Retargeting

Sometimes it's inevitable that a consumer will abandon their virtual cart. Fortunately, digital ad technology makes it easy to retarget those consumers through display ads. With this ad strategy in place, you can present multiple different retargeted ads to try and entice the customer back to your website. Other retargeting strategies are also available. If the abandoned cart was left under someone's account, for example, you can use that person's registration info--i.e., their email address--to send them retargeting content. This direct appeal to their purchasing interests could ultimately persuade them to return to your website and finish what they started. If you need help improving your website to reduce shopping cart abandonment rates, contact DBC Digital and get started on the path to higher sales.

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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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