Category: Marketing
The Mechanics Behind Successful SEO Copywriting

A business’s website needs two primary marketing elements to function: content (copywriting and content development) and search engine optimisation (SEO). This isn’t new information, but what tends to get overlooked is the ‘behind-the-search-engine’ challenges that are faced.

It’s important to know that there is a difference between copywriters and content developers. Please read our article Do I Need a Copywriter or Content Developer? to gain an in-depth understanding.

 

What is SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting and content development is a discipline that incorporates technical search engine optimisation with relevant, valuable content. Together, they work in synergy to provide copy that ranks in Google’s search engine result pages (SERP). The overarching aim is to ensure that the content appeals to your audience (they enjoy reading it) and they perform actions leading to an ideal result, e.g. purchasing a product and/or service. In marketing lingo, this is known as a conversion.

 

The hidden challenges

People who are not familiar with the intricacies of content marketing tend to oversimplify the process and say ‘write something’. Well, that something, if not developed properly, can be the difference between a thriving or failing business.

Think of a new piece of SEO copywriting as a new car. The body is perfect; it’s shiny, has a unique shape and emanates a specific tone, look and feel. The dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree, and the entertainment screen displays your iTunes playlists. Awesome! This is the article as it exists on the front-end of your website.

Now, hit the switch on the engine and push down on the accelerator; do you hear the sound of the internal combustion engine? All the mechanical parts have to work together to drive, that’s SEO copywriting, constantly fuelling the page’s performance in the background. If the engine stops, so does the ‘perfect’ driving experience.

That’s the simple explanation. Let’s take a deeper dive.

 

The obstacles that need to be overcome

Obstacle one

SEO copywriting and content development need to conform to Google’s ever-changing algorithm – a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations. In this case, Google’s algorithm changes, increases or decreases the importance of specific ranking signals. This can affect the performance of content written before the algorithm changes.

Google algorithm ranking signals include but are not limited to:

  • Page speed
  • Domain authority
  • URL authority
  • Optimised content
  • Technical SEO
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • User experience
  • Inbound links

As mentioned above, the signals’ significance can change depending on Google’s latest algorithm update. A thorough analysis of these signals needs to be conducted, and any copy that is written must follow them accordingly. So, there’s a plethora of technical content research that is required before a single word can be written.

 
Obstacle two

Once the content parameters have been identified, another obstacle presents itself: what, how and why is this specific content written?

Marketing expert Neil Patel comments, “To thrive, your online business must go beyond simply “writing content.” Your content needs to accomplish two goals:

  • Solve a particular problem
  • Appeal to the end-user (customers, clients, prospects, readers, etc.)

We need to establish the problem and solve it to appeal to the target audience while conforming to Google’s algorithm parameters. What separates good copywriters and content developers from great ones is their ability to write content that is innovative, entertaining and valuable enough to entice the end-user to complete the necessary actions to convert while abiding by the dynamic ‘rules’.

 
Obstacle three

Every business wants to rank for keywords that are pertinent to their industry. For example, an asset management company would ideally like Google to recognise it when users type in search terms such as best unit trusts, affordable unit trusts, asset management, independent financial advisers.

It may sound straightforward, but keyword competitiveness is a reality, and as you can imagine, all asset management companies want to rank for the keywords mentioned earlier.

Meticulous keyword research and examination need to take place by SEO experts who then submit the results to the content writers. They need to select the keywords that have the best potential to rank on Google and include them in the content organically.

When searching for the ideal keywords, the generally accepted target is 80% evergreen keywords; 20% trending keywords.

  • Evergreen keywords: Keywords that continually stay fresh over time.
  • Trending keywords: Keywords that are generally time-sensitive and lose search volume relatively quickly.
 
Obstacle four

All written content must be constructed in a way that is desktop and mobile-friendly. On average, a piece of content has (regardless of a flawless technical setup) less than 10 seconds to make an impression on the user. Some criteria need to be filled in to achieve a positive first impression. They include:

  • An interest-grabbing headline
  • A concise, informative introduction – no more than 30 words
  • Clear, explanatory subheadings

You may have written award-winning body content, but if the above factors aren’t present, it might as well be placeholder text. All obstacles must be successfully solved, and the solutions should be mapped out before any content is written.

 

If SEO copywriting were to be summed up in two sentences, it would be

“The technical aspects strategically find out the questions people are asking, and the optimised, published article answers them in a clear, concise manner that still informs and entertains to elicit the desired action.”


Are You Ready For VR Marketing?

It’s likely that you’ve heard the term ‘virtual reality’ and regarded it as part of the gaming industry’s evolution and therefore doesn’t apply to your business. Wrong. Did you know that “According to the Virtual Reality Brand Power Index released this morning by YouVisit, 75 percent of the Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands have created some form of virtual or augmented reality experience for customers or employees or are themselves innovating and developing these technologies.”?

You’ve probably even used it before. Ever looked up an address using Google Street View or Google Earth? That’s virtual reality. The true challenge is how businesses can use this technology to create innovative ways that will allow prospective customers to ‘experience a brand’ instead of being told or reading about it. The possibilities are endless with VR.

 

The VR basics

The history of virtual reality

If VR is an entirely new concept for you, here’s a breakdown of what you need to know. VR is not a new concept; in fact, the first virtual reality headset was created in 1968 by American computer scientist Ivan Sutherland and his student, Bob Sproull.

According to an article written by Pebble Studios, “The notion of ‘virtual reality’ entered the zeitgeist via science fiction, with Stanley G. Weinbaum’s 1935 short story ‘Pygmalion’s Spectacles’. This vision of VR told of a goggle-based contraption that offered users a holistic holographic experience that went as far as to include touch and olfactory elements.”

 

What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is a broad term for an experience that immerses an individual ‘in’ another world. This can be referenced to digital-centric worlds or ones that combine real and virtual elements.

In a nutshell, VR software can immerse viewers in a 360-degree, 3D environment. VR marketing can be used to enhance the customer experience in any industry if applied and implemented correctly.

Don’t confuse Virtual reality (VR) with augmented reality (AR)

Virtual and augmented reality are sometimes used interchangeably; this is incorrect.

  • Virtual reality provides an all-inclusive immersive experience. By using VR devices, viewers can be transported into real-world or fictional environments.
  • Augmented reality adds digital elements such as filters via a smartphone’s camera, e.g. Instagram is an AR platform. The popular game Pokémon Go is an example of an AR-based game.

The tech sector is in the lead in adopting virtual reality technology. Still, automotive is also notable in being an early mover, Endri Tolka, COO and co-founder of YouVisit, told Hypergrid Business. “Brands like BMW, Audi, Porsche, KIA, Volkswagen, Lexus, Chevrolet, and Honda have all incorporated virtual reality and augmented reality experiences into their marketing strategy. Examples include mobile applications where potential buyers can check out the latest model from Mercedes-Benz or test-drive Audi’s fastest car,” he said.

 

A successful VR marketing example

Volvo Test Drive

One of the most successful applications of VR is using it to test drive a car. It’s an easy, safe way to decide if the vehicle meets your needs before going to view it at the dealership. This is precisely what Volvo implemented a few years ago, known as Volvo Test Drive, and it was a sensational marketing victory.

Why it worked

  • Easily accessible

Volvo Test Drive is a Google Cardboard initiative. For those of you who don’t know, Google Cardboard is an affordable, easy to use VR viewer that is literally made from cardboard.

All that individuals needed to do was download the Google Cardboard app (you don’t even need to have a Google Cardboard VR viewer). It could be experienced from anywhere in the world, which immediately prompted a sense of ‘limitlessness’, which was automatically attached to the Volvo brand.  

  • A safe, innovative and immersive experience

Today, people want to have experiences when, where and how they want; this element of ‘freedom’ is a vital touchpoint that brands need to hit strategically. Also, the experience was completely safe. Every aspect of the car could be tried and tested without the ‘driver’ having to feel nervous about using functions they may not have been familiar with, such as ‘Sport Mode’, for example. 

The Digital Marketing Institute comments, “This is a brilliant marketing move because, not only has it put Volvo on the map (again) for something innovative, it’s also accessible. They’re now offering a “weekend escape” version of the app which includes 360-degree landscapes, allowing adventurers a chance to cement the pairing of “adventure” and ‘Volvo’ in their heads, something which, given the practical element of Volvo’s branding, may never have occurred before.”

The foresight and adaption of immersive technology that Volvo combined to allow people to virtually test drive a car are absolutely incredible. Practical, exciting, safe and interactive – the perfect ingredients for a supercharged brand experience that will appeal to a broad consumer base.

“Today’s VR-based campaigns prove that now more than ever, innovative marketing strategies involve offering some sort of unique, immersive experience—something that touches people’s lives and hearts, in a brand-new way,” says the Digital Marketing Institute.

VR marketing has successfully been used in the travel, property, tech, gaming and even retail industry. The software is ready and waiting for you. Do you have an idea that you feel could be the next big thing but need some assistance bringing it to fruition? Speak to a business consultancy that can provide you with access to a world-class marketing team. Are you ready to see your business’s future, now?


Why Is Social Media Branding Important?

Can people recognise your brand across all social media platforms? Brand consistency across all your marketing channels will spread your brand identity online, ensuring that it pops up in all the right places so your audience will take notice, associate, and engage with it on the different social media platforms.

In a previous article, we discussed the necessity of having a resonating brand identity. This was predominantly focused on the direct incorporation of brand identity elements for your website. However, branding for social media is another type of beast. However, with the correct methods, it can be tamed.

Back to the basics

The following can define the bedrock of basic social branding.

A consistent logo

You don’t need to use an identical logo on your website; you may need to adapt it due to size and spatial requirements. However, it needs to have certain degrees of consistency so that potential consumers can make the association immediately.

Please take a look at Fio’s website logo vs its Facebook logo vs LinkedIn logo.

 

Concise company bio

Your bio or ‘about us’ website landing page is likely packed with emotion, mission, vision and purpose spanning multiple paragraphs. Unfortunately, the best type of bio content on social media is short, snappy but still conveys the core brand message. It’s not always a simple task to condense your entire company’s purpose into less than 100 words, so it’s recommended that you speak to a business consultancy that can implement professional copywriting services.

 

Appropriate handle

It may sound trivial, but your business’s social media handles are a significant part of your online marketing strategy. It’s best to try and get matching handles for platforms, or at least as close ones that are as close as possible to one another.

A consistent handle makes your company easier to find online, memorable and professional. For example, Fio’s Facebook handle is @fiogroup and @fio on LinkedIn – very simple and easy to remember.

We offer various business solutions, and if we’d used @fiofinance on Facebook and @fioagency on LinkedIn, you’d likely think these are two different companies.  

 

Colour palette

These colours you have chosen to represent the tone of your brand. It’s essential to examine how they’ve been used on your website. The size, shape, spatial parameters need to be considered when deciding what, how and where to add them on your social media pages.

For example, the dimensions for a Facebook cover image are 820 pixels wide by 312 pixels tall. The current layout on your website may not be appropriate for your Facebook account. It’s worth speaking to a professional graphic designer who has the skills to select the ideal layout.

 

Brand personas

We wrote an article about brand personas a while back. It provides you with a comprehensive breakdown of its benefits.  A brand persona is a marketing tool that allows you to put information-generated ‘faces’ and ‘voices’ of your brand. It personifies your business which plays a significant role in connection and personalisation with your audience. 

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“Think of [developing a brand persona] as building a car: You’ve researched, found and fitted the perfect traffic driving engine; now, it’s time to add the body kit: the customised ‘face’ of the persona. Paint its personality. All you need to do is structure the gathered data into a narrative. E.g., let’s say you’re a fragrance company, and your research reveals the following data points will collectively add up to your customer with the highest chance of converting. Your brand persona could be:

“Michelle”

Gender: Female

Age: 35 – 40

Occupation level: Senior businesswoman

Car: Luxury, e.g., Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar

Marital status: Married

Hobbies: Travelling

Purchasing behaviour: Discerning, calculated

Attitudes to brands: High-end, but not brand specific

Price sensitivity: Low

Armed with this information, you have a far more detailed profile. The visual design, as well as the marketing language created for proceeding campaigns, will be better positioned to target this specific audience.”

This is one of many brand personas that you can build from empirical data to understand your audience demographics better and specifically cater to them. Brand personas are going to vary between social media platforms. For instance, you may find an older, wealthier demographic form the bulk of your Facebook traffic, while a much younger audience is engaging with you on TikTok. These are two very different platforms, so everything from the colours you choose to the type, tone and length of your content needs to be on-point.

Consistency across your social media platforms is vital to attract and retain consumers. It embeds a thread that will connect them directly – and indirectly – with your brand. When you find the right resonating balance, you’ll start to see an increase in engagement and other key metrics.

It’s a good idea to have a social media expert to perform an audit to gauge your current brand consistency. Based on the results, they can recommend changes and implement them for you.


Are You Thinking About Remarketing OR Retargeting Ads?

Imagine this: You’ve set up an eCommerce business boasting a killer website that offers prospective consumers with a streamlined user experience (UX). You’ve spent a fortune on a custom user interface (UI) keyword bidding as well as crafting ads to promote and sell your products. However, despite these efforts, the analytics show a constant increase in bounce rate and cart abandonment.

You look at your online ad campaigns, and you find the click-through-rate has continued to spiral downwards over the last six months. These two metrics should lead you to one conclusion: your ads are losing relevance and value. There are likely numerous reasons why this is happening, but we’re not going to sugar coat it; it’s a problem that needs to be fixed if you want to hit your sales goals. The good news is that there are tools available: remarketing and retargeting.

What’s the difference between remarketing and retargeting?

Like ‘copywriting’ and ‘content development, many people use the terms ‘remarketing’ and ‘retargeting’ interchangeably; don’t. While they may sometimes overlap, they technically serve different purposes and goals.

 

Retargeting

Retargeting typically refers to the placement of online ads or display ads targeting users who have visited and performed some interaction with your site without purchasing a product; basically, they have entered the sales cycle but haven’t made a purchase (converted). Their information can be captured by setting up a cookie in their browser. Once complete, you can retarget your ads to them based on the interaction they previously performed. The ads are placed by third parties such as the Google Display Network or Facebook and, on other sites, the prospect visits.

There are two categories of retargeting: on-site and off-site.

On-site

 Search Engine Journal explains “some of the ways you can target individuals who have had onsite interactions:

  • Target based on a product that they interacted with but didn’t buy.
  • Target based on how they found your site (social media, a search, or other inbound events).
  • Those on your email list who have expressed interest in your brand but have not yet converted to a sale.”

They further explain that onsite retargeting parameters can be set within platforms, including but not limited to Google Ads, Google Analytics and Facebook ads.

Off-site

The increased social media usage opened a new avenue called off-site retargeting; brand messaging and promotion of products and/or services could be spread across numerous platforms. Facebook realised the potential to capitalise on this need and offer engagement retargeting. Essentially, “brands could make retargeting pushes based on what a user did on the platform as it related to their Page, Events, and other Facebook-controlled items that a brand participates in,” says Search Engine Journal.

 

Remarketing

Remarketing is often attributed to businesses re-engaging with converted customers via emails. An example of this could be a retail store emailing a customer to inform them about another product they may want to buy based on their purchase history. It’s a characteristic facet of email marketing.

 

What are the benefits of remarketing?

Audience targeting through segmentation

Audience segmentation is a marketing instrument used to divide users into groups based on the sales funnel stage. Businesses can track each segment’s demographics and psychographics to determine who, when, and why they exited at particular points. Based on these results, ads can be created to target those specific demographics by providing them with compelling information and CTAs to continue their journey to conversion.

According to an article published on Forbes’ website, ‘Consider creating multiple lists that are concentrated on certain categories, products or specific product pages. This can give you the same market reach but bring about higher conversion rates by offering specific products or services to specific customers.’ This serves as a means for businesses to strategically guide users closer to conversion as they travel down the lead funnel.

 
Reclaim quality traffic

Remarketing’s ability to reclaim traffic loss is one of its most prominent features. It gives your brand another chance to reach out to a customer and bring them back onto your website. Effective SEO tactics and referrals via targeted social media campaigns are a powerful combo to recapture prospects with a higher probability of converting.

 
Cross-selling and upselling products for MQLs

You’ve probably heard of leads, but what about marketing qualified leads? In a nutshell, an MQL is a lead that has been identified as one which has a higher probability of converting based on their level of engagement with your website.

Remarketing subsequently serves as an ideal marketing method for a brand to cross-sell and upsell its products and/or services. A targeted lead may have not converted for a specific product and/or service, but they may convert for a related offering. For example, if you find that an ad for a particular pair of running shoes is generating traffic and marketing qualified leads (MQLs), perhaps change the ad’s content or tone slightly. If the shoe is available in a variety of colours, try running ads for each colour? These minor but valuable tweaks can likely bring them closer to the purchasing stage.

In conclusion, retargeting and remarketing are potent tools in a marketer’s inventory; however, the differences between the two methods need to be understood to be implemented correctly.


Awesome Business-Changing Social Media Trends To Follow In 2021

Last year, the global pandemic caused us to live predominantly in the digital world. Social media usage and trends exploded as their functionality was used by businesses to maintain and achieve their goals. Has social media peaked, or was the pandemic possibly a catalyst to kick-start an evolution of how a business’ work will be conducted? So, let’s take a look at what we can expect in 2021.

Stories are a content format

The ‘Stories’ content format began on Instagram but is now being used on Facebook and LinkedIn. The concept allows you to construct your brand’s narrative (essentially, brand storytelling in your words and visuals, on your terms.) It’s the quintessential example of ephemeral content. Its popularity has soared because, like life, changes can happen suddenly; a consumer won’t be able to predict the narrative. This provides a hint of intrigue that will attract the attention of prospects and assist existing consumer retention.

Businesses can leverage the ‘Stories’ functionality by producing bite-size pieces of visual content that will leave followers itching to see what happens next. Brands should think about creating a ‘Stories’-specific content strategy to add to their overall marketing strategy, e.g. set out the ‘story’ for the month and allocate dedicated timeslots, which you promote on all platforms. If followers know that new content will appear at a particular time daily, you can be almost assured engagement will spike for that period.

This will give you peace of mind and a bit of breathing space to experiment with other types of content, such as virtual and augmented reality. Never forget to set aside time for research and development (R&D).

 

Live Streaming will grow exponentially

The global pandemic forced businesses to rapidly adapt to a digital-centric lifestyle; the phrase, ‘stay apart so that we can stay together’ was a constant echo, reminding hesitant companies that this would be a new normal. Therefore, it was inevitable that Livestream video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet would see a massive increase in utilisation due to a business’ need to communicate with clients and staff.

Soon, the music and performing arts industries embraced the value of live streaming. Concerts started to be live streamed, and comedians began performing live online gigs through social media platforms such as Facebook Live. New communities were being created every day. Live Streaming served as both a platform for viewer entertainment and an outlet for performers to continue their craft. This will continue to grow in 2021 because people have now become used to interacting with live, new entertainment from the comfort of their homes.

 

Virtual reality

Do you think live streaming is cool? You obviously haven’t tried virtual reality, which takes interaction and personalisation to the next level!

Facebook has created a new social Oculus VR experience platform called ‘Horizon’. An immersive space where people’s personalised worlds can be created and visited by connections. The scope for businesses to incorporate VR into their USP is infinite. Facebook is also currently working on creating VR offices – this could be a revolutionary way of conducting business. Imagine closing a deal with a client based on the other side of the world and sealing it with a virtual handshake. Watch this space.

Watch the explainer video here.

“Horizon invites you to explore an ever-expanding universe of virtual experiences designed and built by the entire community. Everything you see in Horizon, including the Plaza and worlds created by our teams at Facebook, has been made with the Horizon creation tools, says Social Media Today.

 

Augmented reality

You may be asking yourself, what is augmented reality? The truth is that you have probably used it without realising! Dynamic photo filters found on social media platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram are examples of augmented reality (AR).

According to Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance, “Augmented Reality refers to any technology that “augments” the user’s visual (and in some case auditory) perception of their environment. Typically, digital information is superimposed over a natural, existing environment. Information is tailored to the user’s physical position as well as the context of the task, thereby helping the user to solve the problem and complete the task.”

Unlike virtual reality, which requires specialised hardware such as VR goggles, augmented reality can be experienced via a smartphone, making it a much more accessible form of social experience.

For all the parents reading this article, you’ve likely heard your kids mention Pokemon Go; this is a classic example of an AR-driven gaming experience. For those of you who are not familiar with it, it’s “a game that uses your phone’s GPS and clock to detect where and when you are in the game and make Pokémon “appear” around you (on your phone screen), so you can go and catch them. As you move around, different and more types of Pokémon will appear depending on where you are and what time it is”, explains Vox. An increase in AR social experience gaming will ‘play’ increase in popularity and accessibility in 2021.

 

Social commerce will continue to flourish

The days of walking into brick-and-mortar stores, spending valuable time trying on shoes and apparel are lessening. Facebook and Instagram offer functionality that allows businesses to advertise directly on the platform. Search Engine Watch states that “54% of social media users research products using social media. And social media referrals can influence the purchase decisions of 71% of users.”

Perhaps the most important information to take from this article is that inclusivity, personalisation and engagement are now social media lore. They need to form the foundation of every social media tactic and strategy that you develop.

This is why it’s recommended that you consult with a social media guru who can advise and assist you in building the blueprint and roadmap to social media success in 2021.


How To Repair a Negative Online Reputation

Your online reputation can make or break your business, period. It’s likely that before anyone considers buying your products and/or services, they’ve checked you out on Google and social media platforms. The information, links and reviews usually help them decide. Something as simple – yet vital – as an incomplete Google My Business page can influence a consumers’ decision. Online reputation management is a business necessity – there has been a seismic shift in the balance of power.

There has been a change in the power balance

‘91% of searchers don’t go beyond Page 1, and Google is your new business card […] being proactive is now a necessity, and if you’re reactive, the reputation damage has already been done — catch up isn’t a game you won’t really want to play,’ comments Nadia Munno, President of Massive PR.

The axiom ‘your reputation is everything’ has never been truer than it is today. There has been a seismic shift in the balance of power between business owners and consumers in the vast digital landscape. The latter has the potential to make a massive impact, positively or negatively, on a brand’s reputation.

Social media’s power provides consumers with the ability to distribute information to a massive, varied audience within seconds. A social media influencer’s complaint can be posted on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, go viral and ruin a brand.  

A hypothetical example of how to fix a negative online reputation 

You own a restaurant. It’s been making a decent turnover, but the clientele has been lessening over the past few weeks, and your month-end balance sheet reflects a significant drop in income.

You log in to your social media channels, and BAM, there is a slew of negative reviews and complaints on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Popular restaurant review apps such as Zomato and Hello Peter are chock full of scathing comments. What’s happened? While you figure that out, you need to build and execute an online reputation repair plan.

What to include in an online management damage control strategy

You may be tempted to make a bold statement disputing the reviews and slamming the naysayers’ reputation. Don’t; this isn’t the time to make emotionally charged decisions. You need to keep a level head and build a carefully-thought-out marketing repair strategy. It’s recommended that you speak to a professional business consultancy that can suggest the actions that need to be taken to implement them for you. SEO and social media technical analyses will work together to determine optimal repair touchpoints.

SEO

SEO experts can assist you in burying harmful content by optimising your site effectively. It’s recommended that a site audit is performed to ensure your CMS is as SEO friendly as possible.  Once this is complete, meticulous keyword research can be conducted, determining the most popular terms and questions consumers are asking. From there, targeted content can be written to increase your ranking on SERPs.

You must post content frequently. According to Medium, “Companies that published 16 or more blog posts per month get 4.5x more leads than companies publishing four blogs or less per month.”

An on-page and off-page SEO repair strategy will take time to make a difference. Still, consumers will eventually see your company moving up the SERPs, which shows you’ve taken the initiative to address and restore your reputation.

Social Media

Hand over the social media reigns to the experts. The following services are what your brand needs to build up its reputation.

  • Social media strategy planning
  • Tracking implementation
  • Community management
  • Data measurement and reporting

After a discussion and assessment of the issues, they’ll likely recommend that:

You own the mistake

Announce on your social media platforms that you accept what has taken place, address it immediately, and post an update on the progress as soon as possible.

Monitor and measure available data

Social media professionals can implement tracking for different metrics. This will allow you to gauge the situation and use it as a benchmark from which you can analyse whether your recovery strategies are achieving the desired results.

Reposition your social media presence for the moment

This is not the time to announce the latest menu items. While you’re in the process of brand reputation recovery, put yourself in the consumer’s shoes and cater to their emotions. Instead, focus on client retention; perhaps compile a list of specials and punt them on your social media accounts.

Brand transparency

There is nowhere to hide from the public anymore, so ensure that you have nothing to hide. It’s best to be open and honest. Please put your cards on the table and prove to consumers you care and believe in your brand and are willing to put in the hard work to restore their faith in your business. Also, take whatever type of feedback you’ve received and address it accordingly.

 

Tripp Donnelly, Founder and CEO of award-winning brand management agency REQ, provides these sage words, ‘These perceptions will define you. This means that what’s out there matters – and it will continue to matter. The news cycle may evolve quickly, but your digital footprint never disappears.’

Positive consumer perception of a successful brand is crucial. There will be times when you stumble, and your reputation takes a hit, but never let that define you. There are ways to rebuild your brand. The only question you need to ask yourself is if you have the willpower and grit to face the challenge?  


Does My Business Need Instagram?

Did you know that 3.96 billion people are currently using social media worldwide? Do you have an eCommerce business dedicated to social selling? Then, Instagram, the visual powerhouse, is a no-brainer. The cross-sell and upsell opportunities, audience presence, and shareability capabilities are a few smartphone screen taps away.

In truth, Instagram can elevate any business. However, guidance and a comprehensive understanding of the platform’s functionality is required to position your industry correctly; I mean, a photo of one of the Kardashians on your Instagram account isn’t going to enhance your HR business’ credibility. Goals must be defined, and a short, medium and long-term strategy need to be developed and implemented correctly.

What should be included in an Instagram marketing strategy?

 

Instagram Stories

Right off the bat, capitalise on Instagram Stories. It allows you to post content that disappears after 24 hours. This type of content is also known as ephemeral content and is one of the most popular formats in 2021. Why? It induces audiences’ feelings of #FOMO, so it’s a perfect method for increasing daily engagement.

 

A hashtag strategy

Instagram hashtags organise and categorise photos and videos. The main reason for using hashtags is to target audiences’ intent to want to discover your content. If you’re new to Instagram, here’s a more in-depth explanation.

No doubt you’ve seen posts with a string of hashtags followed by what you may think are random words – they’re not. They serve as links to content that matches the hashtag. They should also be tracked; think of them as the social media equivalent of website keywords for which you want to rank on Google.

By tracking hashtags that are significant to your brand, you can have peace of mind that your content is being included in audiences’ conversations. Complement your hashtag by mentioning top users in your content; anything you can do to personalise messages is an integral part of your social media and overall marketing strategy. Speak to a social media guru about creating a hashtag strategy. They have the tools and knowledge to implement hashtag tracking. Look at the top five Instagram hashtags of all time:

  • #love
  • #instagood
  • #photooftheday
  • #fashion
  • #beautiful

They may not be industry or brand-centric, but they are driving traffic and engagement. Craft your content to include some of the top-performing hashtags.

 

Business-specific hashtags you should be using

While the above mentioned hashtags are beneficial to include in your posts, three types of business-specific hashtags should be incorporated into your strategies. Each hashtag aims to achieve a specific goal, so make sure these have been defined before you start posting.

Community hashtags

These hashtags should be explicitly used to grow your community. Essentially, you want to connect with like-minded people who you know will engage with your content. Here are a few examples of community hashtags.

  • Product and/or service, e.g. #financialadvice, #coffeeshop, #sportsapparel
  • Industry, e.g. #marketingagency, #copywriter, #seoservices
  • Special events
  • Locations
  • Acronyms, e.g. #qotd (quote of the day), #HBD (happy birthday), #JK (just kidding).
Branded hashtags

A branded hashtag is unique to your business and industry. It can be used to promote a product and/or service, establish your brand identity, e.g. #fiofinancialadvice2021, #fiotaxandaccounting, #fiofreeconsultation

Campaign hashtags

These are campaign-centric hashtags to promote awareness, brand roll-outs, giveaways and events. The aim is for them to earn a lot of engagement over a short timeframe, e.g. #12daysofgiveaways, #limitednewflavourcoffee, #valentinesdayspecials

There are a plethora of other hashtags such as #daily, #trending, #motivation. Test a few out and analyse the results to determine if they’re generating engagement, leads and conversions.

 

Instagram’s important measurable metrics

Below are the primary metrics that you need to be tracking. Gather the information, analyse and interpret the data. Based on the results, leverage your strengths and fix any areas of underperformance.

  • Engagements per follower
  • Growth of followers
  • Reach
  • Instagram stories
  • Hashtag engagement
 

Content strategy

 All content that you generate must cater specifically to fulfil these metrics. When creating a content strategy for Instagram, keep the following points in mind.

Stick to the subject

The bedrock of Instagram is for businesses to post interesting content that is relevant, valuable and concise. Describe the theme and/or subject clearly and complement it with well-researched, conversation-starting hashtags. 

Use appropriate photos and videos

Instagram is the go-to visual social media platform. Ensure your marketing posts contain high-resolution photos and/or videos. It will enhance your reach and engagement metrics.

Create attention-drawing captions

Use captions to tell your brand’s story. The audience wants to know about your business’s inner workings; this the perfect place to add personalisation and storytelling elements.

Craft your brand’s style and voice

Your brand’s voice and style give potential consumers a taste of what they can expect from you. The type of language, sentence structure and overall tone will make you memorable, setting you apart from competitors. 

 

Conclusion

“If you do not utilise Instagram to market your business, you’re in the minority, as 91% of all of the world’s biggest brands utilise this platform for business purposes. These include Nike, Adidas, Michael Kors and Gucci,” according to Business 2 Community.

Instagram is one of the foremost photo and video sharing social networking services on the planet. Today, consumers expect businesses to have a presence on the platform – this is where they’ll search for you. It’s possible they won’t even take the user journey further if you don’t have an Instagram business account.


Why should I add YouTube To My Marketing Strategy?

‘Six billion hours of video are watched every month, and 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute!” How much more of an incentive do you need? Don’t you want a share of this ever-expanding market? Of course, you do! Get started.

Okay, wait, wait, if you are a YouTube novice, here’s some info to give you more context.

Why are YouTube and visual marketing so popular?

Did you know that “One-third of total time online is spent watching videos, and YouTube has more than a billion active users? The platform is so extensive that it can be accessed in 76 different languages, accounting for 95% of the world’s population,” according to HubSpot.

People want to be entertained, educated and feel appreciated simultaneously. Enter: YouTube, the second largest search engine on the planet. This statement should already convince you to start a channel right now! Need more convincing? Look at the ‘YouTube Ecosystem’ infographic.

 

It fits in with your audiences’ schedule

Mobile devices are specifically developed to provide you with on-the-go entertainment. There’s a significant chance you watched something on YouTube yesterday: perhaps a one-minute trailer of an upcoming movie, a five-minute video about the best exercises for six-pack abs, or an hour documentary about your favourite band. The point is that all the content was created to serve a particular purpose: to fit in with your schedule. This is the main consideration when creating video content – who is your audience, and how much time do they have to consume content?

 

Mobile device, desktop and smart TV friendly

The content can be watched wherever, whenever on the audiences’ device of choice. Therefore, it’s critical that you know your audience as well as your family. The in-depth knowledge will determine the type of content you produce. Also, consider mobile devices and desktops are not mutually exclusive, so optimise all videos for both.

 

Variety

People will become bored if you post the same content continuously; your brand needs to show its versatility. Here are eight types of YouTube videos you can create.

  • Customer testimonials
  • On-demand product demonstration videos
  • Explainer and tutorial videos
  • Project reviews and case studies
  • YouTube Live
  • Thought leader interviews
  • Video blogs
  • Event videos

Each type of video opens another avenue of your business’s multi-faceted capability, enhancing credibility, which in turn fuels trust, connection and loyalty. 

 

“I’ll YouTube: ‘How to make money from YouTube’”

Type in the above sub-heading into YouTube to find out how to make money from marketing on YouTube and see what happens! Impressive, right? Well, that’s an example of the platform’s evolution and power.

 

Shopify: A successful YouTube case study

Shopify is one of the most successful eCommerce software developers in South Africa, and a large part of their accomplishments can be attributed to intelligent, customer-centric YouTube marketing.

At the beginning of its channel, a bold title banner displays its logo and tagline. A feature video that explains what the company does appears underneath and is complemented by an easy-to-read description.

Shopify’s product offering is eCommerce development software, which some people may not fully understand. To pre-empt a slew of phone calls to their helpline, the company has created a ‘Help Centre’ section consisting of various explainer videos informing and educating prospective consumers with the answers they need.

Below the ‘help centre’ section, they have a playlist titled “Starting a business…”. They’ve created a coherent narrative that mirrors the process a prospect would follow. By doing this, Shopify have almost guaranteed their intended call-to-actions as well as fulfilling essential measurement metrics such as

  • Click-through rate (CTC)
  • Average session duration
  • Average time on page
  • Conversion rate

All the videos have been produced to appeal and provide clear answers to the audience visually. Their duration is also ideal for this specific target segment (new users). A more experienced user would be happy to spend a bit more time acquiring knowledge about advanced features.

Combining these well researched and implemented elements is why Shopify had one of the best performing YouTube channels in 2020 despite the global pandemic.

 

A bit of technical information

You can have the most vivid, eye-bursting video content, but your audience must be able to see it as soon as they open the app or page. So, it’s worth leaving the technical nitty-gritty to professional marketers who know exactly how to make your video content visible. They will ensure that:

  • It’s set up correctly.
  • It’s SEO friendly.
  • It has crawler loving titles and meta descriptions.
  • It targets the correct audience.
  • It will oust the competition.

Marketing experts can also measure important metrics which can be analysed. Based on the results, recommendations can be provided and implemented to strengthen the video content’s influence.

 

YouTube essential metrics that must be measured

The Next Web explains that the following five metrics must be tracked if you want your content to remain valuable and relevant.

  • Engagement
  • Video average duration
  • Subscribers-to-view ratio
  • Suggestion referrals
  • Search referrals

At the end of the day, start-ups, SMEs and even corporates need to continually think of some fun, whacky marketing methods to reach and retain/expand their audience. YouTube is the ideal platform to test your creative ideas. YouTube has an exceptional track record (look at those numbers again) which has the potential to rocket your video content to unimaginable levels of popularity.

Upload your brand identity visually for the world to find out exactly who you are and just how damn good you are!


Is Facebook Right For My Business?

On 4 February 2004, the world saw the genesis of a digital platform called Facebook that would transform how business was conducted. Today, the social media juggernaut has 2.8 billion users monthly and is available in 111 languages. What started as a virtual meeting place for friends has become a bustling 24/7, 365-day sphere of digital marketing influence and profit generation for businesses if their social media strategy is implemented correctly. Are you currently marketing your brand on Facebook? If not, it’s going to be next to impossible to grab a piece of competitive market share.

Before Facebook ever graced our screens and integrated itself into our daily lives, the basic marketing concepts still held true: “Go wherever your potential customers are.” The stats don’t lie; they’re on Facebook. One of the most significant benefits of the platform is that it has allowed start-ups and SMEs to optimally scale their marketing efforts despite their budget.

In saying this, Mark Zuckerberg’s creation may have given businesses a myriad of tools to set the stage, but Facebook can’t do all the work; you need to pull the strings tactically. 

It’s not going to work unless your brand evolves

If you’re one of the billions of daily users, you would have seen Facebook make tweaks, changes and add new functionality to its user interface at certain periods since its inception. This is because even Facebook must adapt to the consumers’ behaviour and expectations; the balance of power has completely shifted into the users’ hands.

So, that begs the question, how much time, money, and effort are you dedicating to keep up with the dynamic nature of digital marketing and catering to your target audience’s requirements? Here are some insights to help you along the way.

Spend money wisely

Whether you’re just starting on your Facebook marketing journey or already have a social media presence with multiple accounts, it doesn’t mean that fundamental changes need to be made to meet your goals forecast. The following advice is timeless: ensure you have a sound social media strategy in place.

An expert in the field can help you map out a logical, customised plan that takes your short, medium- and long-term goals into account. This can include a detailed budget blueprint that allocates money across the board for various paid marketing methods.  

 

Engagement above all else

Did you get 50 new likes today? It may look positive on paper, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to 50 conversions leading to revenue-generating sales. Facebook and paid media experts focus and measure the success of campaigns on one metric: engagement.

According to Wordstream, “Your Facebook business page is a great spot to develop your brand identity and show your human side. Facebook is where you can loosen the tie a bit – don’t be afraid to be funny.” 

Essentially, this means that you can cast off the shackles and find creative ways to differentiate your brand from competitors; Facebook provides you with many advertising methods to capitalise on your USP.

 

Types of ‘old school’ Facebook advertising methods

  • Facebook promoted posts
  • Sponsored stories
  • Video posts
  • Polls
  • Carousel ads
  • Lead ads
  • Facebook Live

These advertising methods are valuable and should be used if it aligns with your social media strategy. However, they are well-known and frequently used by millions of businesses.

 

Did you know these Facebook features exist?

If you want to stand apart from competitors, look at the following advanced features.

Facebook Custom Audiences

This feature allows you to connect specifically with existing customers. By interacting with them, they will feel appreciated, which in turn entrenches brand loyalty and customer lifetime value.

What you may not know is that it can be used conversely. You can exclude your existing customer database and focus on attracting new customers.

 
Facebook Lookalike Audience

Once you have your custom audience marketing methods honed, Lookalike Audience allows you to mirror your followers. Wordstream comments, “Lookalikes allow you to expand beyond your reach but still target people with highly specific profiles by creating audiences that look like your own targets. If you have neither a list nor a big enough Facebook following, you can still create a Lookalike Audience using a tracking pixel to create a Website Custom Audience to mirror.”

 
Hyper targeting options

Hyper targeting options allow you to drill down to a granular level and use an amalgamation of behaviours, demographics, geolocation data, and others to zoom in on your audience. This gives you the power to create and match offers, services and products to an exclusive segment of the community. In this case, consumer reach isn’t the key measurement metric; rather, focusing on a smaller group with a much higher percentage of completing the sales journey.

 

Ideal approach: Use a fusion focused marketing strategy

Don’t forget about optimisation for the desktop. While a significant proportion of your audience access Facebook via mobile devices, don’t assume that desktop may play a role in the conversion process.

The legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz’s Five Levels of Awareness explains this concept visually.

So, if we follow Schwartz’s research, the Facebook journey to conversion begins via mobile devices and is completed through desktop computers. The key takeaway: remember to include optimisation for both mobile and non-transportable devices into your Facebook marketing strategy.

Facebook is a marketing necessity, period. However, consult social media experts to continually help you implement advanced tools to segment your audience and tailor strategies based on each segment. This will allow you to ‘reach’ everyone and create a powerful, trusted presence for your brand.


Should I Incorporate Podcasts Into My Marketing Strategy?

Podcast, noun.

A podcast is a digital audio file available on the Internet for streaming and/or downloading to a computer or mobile device. They are characteristically recorded as a series; all subscribers can usually receive each episode automatically.

Podcasts have been around for 16 years, and they are more popular than ever, drawing millions of listeners, sponsorships that can generate quality leads and conversions. The numbers may look good on paper, but is it the right communication vehicle to add to your marketing strategy?

According to an article published on Medium, “Podcasts were popularised by MTV personality Adam Curry, known as the “Podfather” through his show Daily Source Code. iTunes began carrying podcasts in June 2005. The rest is history.”

Why are podcasts so popular?

We live in an on-demand era – with the ability to access multimedia content at our own pace, on our terms.  However, in saying this, brands need to be aware that it has created consumer expectations; possible scenarios that could inhibit marketing success should be addressed in your marketing strategy.

The best podcasts incorporate the following key audience-grabbing elements. They are

  • Conversational
  • Informative
  • Expert guests can be included
  • Engaging
  • Authentic

I’d like to touch on the last two points. Authenticity is one of the main drivers for audience engagement. Consumers are no longer interested in cookie-cutter content that can be found anywhere; they want to learn and be entertained at the same time. A podcast allows you to satisfy and cater to this societal need.

Anchor makes an excellent point, stating that “Unlike traditional marketing channels which tend to be carefully curated, podcasts are often casual and unfiltered. Even if your podcast follows a general script or outline, your voice adds a human element to your business. It gives listeners an authentic feel for the personality of your brand.”

Why a podcast can help your business 

Podcasts are downloadable

Podcasts can be downloaded and listened to at your convenience – on your commute to work, at the gym, it’s your choice.

 

You’ll discover your target audience

Take a minute and Google an obscure topic and add ‘podcast’ to the search; quite a variety, right? There are podcasts for the most popular topics to incredibly niche subjects such as knitting and discussions about the Higgs boson.

One of the most potent parts is that you can convey your ‘literal’ voice and discuss whatever you want; it doesn’t need to be sales focused at all. The human element already gives your brand credibility, and listeners are more likely to develop a relationship with the hosts when connecting with them and their voices.

 

Podcasts have longevity and shareability

Content created for specific campaigns or other time-sensitive content becomes irrelevant over time. However, podcasts don’t have a particular expiration date; if you download them onto your computer or mobile device, they exist until you decide to delete the audio file. It’s also easy to share with, frankly, anyone you wish.

 

Audiences want to learn from professionals

According to a Statista survey, almost 75% of podcast listeners want to learn new things. Therefore, podcasting is a great way to reach an engaged audience looking for information to keep all of them entertained. Your community pays back as brand affinity.

As mentioned earlier, podcasts are unique, unfiltered and raw; hosts can give their opinion on aspects of the marketing industry by sharing personal stories of hardships and accomplishments. This is what people want. The opportunity to hear about a brand’s evolution from the owner and/or staff members. In so doing, you are ‘selling’ the services of the brand through your narrative. Why not interview industry titans to offer their insights? You can construct the format as you see fit. 

Yes, sometimes above-the-line (ATL) marketing methods have their place, but it serves an entirely different purpose. You are not going to build a community, foster loyalty and trust from a sales-centric billboard ad.

 

Interaction with your listeners

Podcasts give you the opportunity to converse with the consumer; listen to what they have to say. It’s the best way to receive customer feedback that you can use to improve your business. It also enhances credibility and overall brand reputation.

Make a point of inviting and encouraging listeners to participate in the podcast. Whether through a live phone call or allowing them to send voice notes via WhatsApp, use social media technology to your advantage. Perhaps, reward community loyalty with special offers too.

Consumers want to engage and feel appreciated by knowing they aren’t just one of the numbers on their till slip. The personalisation, interactivity and overall connection that podcasts can provide will ensure your brand is always a talking point online and offline.

 

Highlights: Key reasons why podcasts should be included in your marketing strategy

  • Podcasts are a cost-effective marketing method.
  • Podcasts are unfiltered. The host and guests can voice their opinion.
  • Podcasts promote engagement.
  • Podcasts are personalised and authentic.
  • Podcasts are ideal for building a community.
  • They are downloadable and mobile device friendly.
  • Consumers can listen to them when and where they wish.
  • They establish credibility and enhance a positive brand reputation.
  • The content is not time-sensitive.
  • You’ll find a quality lead generating target audience.

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