Building a Website. Syracuse NY

Five Things to Consider When Building a Website

Building (or updating) a website can be a daunting task. There are lots of things to take into account, but here are five things to consider when building a website that are worth your primary consideration.

The internet is one giant warehouse full of companies vying for new customers, so it’s easy to get lost in the information. We have a few things that should always be considered as a necessary part of your website that can help your potential customers weed through that information and choose you instead of your competition.

Client Logos: Show Off Who You’ve Worked For

When building a website from scratch or updating your existing website, one thing to include right off the bat is logos of clients you’ve worked with. It’s great to showcase their work and even mention that you work with “numerous clients,” but when it comes down to it, visually showing exactly who you work with makes a larger impact than just text.

Employee Pages: Getting to Know You

Team pages, employee pages, meet us pages—whatever you decide to call the page that showcases exactly who you are internally, it’s a necessary part of your website. People generally trust other people, not corporations or businesses. When a member of a company takes time to do something extra or personal for you, generally you remember that more than you would remember just a great solution. Trust is built by showing that your company is just a human as the rest of the world.

Affiliations, Awards, and Memberships

If you’re a part of an organization larger than your company or you’ve received rewards recently, display them! It shows that not only are you a company that produces great work, but others have deemed your work great or worthy of a particular organization. People trust people that other people trust. That’s a mouthful, but if you think about it for a little bit, it will make sense.

Reviews or Client Testimonials

This really points back at the mouthful sentence from the last thing to consider. People trust trustworthy people. If you’ve done work for someone and they are impressed, satisfied, or even in awe, let prospective customers know! In sales, there’s a tactic known as the Jones’ effect. If someone else has it, I should too. So if one of your clients has your product, show others exactly why they will love what you can provide!

Building a Website: Quality, Timely Content Customers Want

Talk to your sales staff.  They know what questions potential customers are looking for. Then get that information on your website in a clear, concise, straightforward manner that potential customers can find easily and understand. We are firm believers in writing content that’s relevant to the customer. So writing blog posts, quick snippets, and even reviews of other products shows that you can be trusted as a company—you’re not just out for your own benefit, but you’ve actually got your customers best interests in mind (which of course is in your best long term interest).

Remember these five basic principles and you’ll be good as gold!

 


Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including Web Design Syracuse, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design.

SEO SEM Company Syracuse NY

Search Engine Marketing and Social Media

Search engine marketing (SEM) and social media are at the heart of digital marketing. Both are great tools in which to generate valuable leads for your business online. However, search marketing and social media take different approaches and therefore, require different expertise to deliver them effectively and the fundamental way in how they engage with a target audience.

Search Engine Marketing

What is ‘search marketing’? We are really talking about search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Adwords (PPC). These are the two ways in which a company can get themselves in front of potential customers based on what they search for on Google, but they work in different ways.

Search Engine Optimization is the process of doing what is necessary, both on your web pages and elsewhere, to get your website visible on the first page of search results when somebody types in a search phrase, and ideally at the top of those page one results. It does not follow, however, that the more you spend on SEO, the better results you will have. Like most other areas of products and services, you need to do your research to be sure you will actually get what is being offered.

With rare exception, SEO has a much higher ROI than PPC. It has been shown time and again, for example, that the amount of time a visitor spends on your site as a result of an organic search result click is substantially longer than the time they spend on your site from clicking on a PPC ad. The reasons are various, and we will devote some time to that in subsequent posts, so stay tuned.

You are probably asking yourself, if SEO happens ‘organically’ and it’s free, then what am I paying for? Well, this leads us back to the very fundamentals of SEO. Google ranks search results based on relevance to the enquiry or search made. But the term ‘relevance’ is a completely subjective term. If someone searches for “social media agency”, are they looking for help managing social media presence for their or are they really looking for a job in the digital marketing field? Due to the dynamic and complexity nature of Google, hiring an expert to manage your search engine optimization is where a bulk of your monetary cost will be.

SEO and PPC marketing are different in practice. With Google Adwords you only have to pay out if someone actually clicks on your advert and goes through to our website. With Google Adwords (PPC) you are bidding on space that is around the organic results for that particular search term. Anyone, with any business and any website, can do this no matter the quality of their content is or how established their site is.

The point is, if do have a website that is fast loading and incorporates mobile-friendly, responsive website design, with text that is written well and with an eye to the search terms that people are actually using, ranking well in search engine results will basically yield consistent website traffic and ROI. As a general rule, if you are using both SEO and PPC strategies, when you look at your website traffic stats in Google Adwords, you should ideally see more organic traffic than paid traffic. (As with any statement like this, there are exceptions to the rule based on industry type and other factors).

Search Engine Marketing and Social Media

The real difference is that search marketing is just that, people searching for a business that provides certain services or products. Social media marketing, on the other hand, consists of using social media to identify your target audience and drive them to your website. There are major areas of cross over of course. Especially between SEO and social media. Social media has an impact on SEO search engine optimization generally and Local SEO specifically in numerous ways, from YouTube hosted videos to Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp. The list goes on. Ultimately, at the end of the day, a well-rounded, diverse social media profile leading back to your company website will yield continuing benefits.

As with many forms of marketing, you won’t know exactly which avenue will work best for you until you actually give them a try. One of the major wins is that with digital marketing, you can accurately track multiple metrics and ultimately your return on investment.


Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design.

Nine Rules of Social Media Marketing

Nine Rules of Social Media Marketing

Nine Rules of Social Media Marketing

If increasing your audience and customer base is important to you and your business the understanding the power of content and social media marketing is important. It’s imperative to understand the social media marketing fundamentals. Taking from these nine rules of social media marketing will help you build a foundation that will serve your customers and your business.

1. Listening is Rule Number One

To be successful with social media marketing it requires that you do a lot of listening to your customer base. Read your target audience’s online content and join the discussions to learn what is important to them. By doing this you can create content that will spark conversation and add real value.

2. Focus is Key

When it comes to integrating social media and content marketing into your overall digital marketing strategy, working to build a strong brand through a well-focused strategy will give you a much more chance for success than spreading your attempts to broad.

3. Quality vs. Quantity

The old adage is still true in the social media age. Quality is better than quantity. It is more beneficial to have 1,000 connections who read, share and talk about your content than to have 10,000 connections who vanish after connecting with you once.

4. Patience

While it is possible to have success quickly, it is more likely that you will need to be diligent to achieve success with your social media marketing.

5. The Rule of Compounding

If you put up real quality content and work to build your online audience, you will have them share that content with the own audiences on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even on their own blogs. One of the most effective ways to grow your audience quickly is to make sure your website design includes an integrated blog that can be shared widely. Using WordPress as the foundation of your website is ideal for this purpose since it has a robust blogging platform built in. It is also one of most widely used website development platforms in the world, and Google loves WordPress website.  So the sharing of your blog posts and online content directly from your website opens a world of new possibilities for search engines like Google to find that content and you through keyword searches. Those entry points could grow into thousands of potential ways other people find you online.

6. Influence Across Platforms

Social Media Marketing Syracuse New YorkWhen it comes to the social media marketing, rule number six is probably one of the most important.  It’s also surprisingly easy, and one of the most enjoyable.

Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Don’t limit yourself to thinking only about Facebook.  Look elsewhere.  Google Plus is an excellent starting point.  Make sure you have a verified Google Business Page and connect with influencers in your topic areas in Google Plus circles. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

7. The Rule Called Value

If you spend all your time on the social web strictly and narrowly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversation and create content that educates and develops relationships with your target audience as well as other online influences. If people feel they get something out of your content then they will be more willing to share that information and continue to spread that knowledge (and your name).

8. Be Consistent

It is impossible to overstate the importance of posting regularly and being available and active in comments and discussions. Engagement and participation is key. Be available, be connected, be engaged, and above all be interesting and thoughtful.  At the end of the day, building relationships online is a lot like building relationships face to face.

9. Turnabout is Fair Play

It’s really all about networking and relationship building.  Share other people’s content and comment on it, and they will do the same for you and your meaningful, original content. Remember, social media is first and foremost “social.” It’s all about sharing.

 


Paul Albee is the digital marketing director of ATS Design Group in Syracuse, New York. Paul and his team specialize in all aspects of online digital marketing including website design, SEO search engine optimization, social media marketing as well as print and advertising design.

Local SEO Syracuse

Local SEO. Getting the Basics Right.

Local SEO: The Basics.

Local SEO isn’t like regular SEO search engine optimization. Local search results change more often that you may imagine and careful planning can make all the difference in the world.

Now, more than ever Local SEO needs to be consciously integrated into a company’s digital marketing plan. As search has moved from the desktop to tablets and smartphones, the importance of being visible in mobile search has skyrocketed.  It’s no longer an option. It’s a necessity of business.

“Google” almost any product or service you can imagine and you can see immediately that the focus is virtually entirely local.  Not only that, but a majority of the first page search results are dedicated to review and other local “directory” style listings such as Yelp, Google My Places, YellowPages, Foursquare, and the list goes on.  While traditional SEO campaigns are as important as ever, careful attention to “Local SEO” in a mobile context is just as important.

Mobile Search and Customer Expectations

Google My Business and Beyond

Step One:  Claim your Google My Business page and get it up to date.  Not only does it immediately create your business presence in Google search results, but it also helps Google to better understand your website and business. And the more Google knows about you, the better.  It also gives users ability to write a review about your business and we all know how important reviews are in the digital economy.

Wondering how to get reviews?  Just ask your existing customers.  Many of them will be happy to let people know how great you are. Post a sign on your front sales counter. Put a QR code on the table or menu allowing them to scan and review. Have your service personnel ask for reviews at checkout. Place a kiosk in the lobby for them to leave a review. Sometimes, all people need is a little encouragement.

Step Two. Claim your Yelp listing and fill it out completely. Information, business hours, products and services, and above all pictures, pictures, pictures.  The internet is a visual medium, after all.

Step Three. If you are heavily involved in B2B commerce, and even if you’re not, don’t forget LinkedIn. LinkedIn can be an amazing place to garner new business and give Google and Bing clues with which to deliver meaningful search results

Someone once said that effective search engine optimization isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.  You have to keep watching, creating, engaging with visitors and potential customers (Wash, Rinse, Repeat).  But the first step to effective Local SEO is claiming and maintaining your local listings.  A famous politician once said, “All politics is local.”  So is search engine optimization and visibility.

Related: The Decline of Desktop Search

 

Online reviews. Reputation Management Syracuse.

Online Reviews and Reputation Management

Online Reviews and Reputation Management

For most small businesses marketing has changed. Today most searches for a local business will start on mobile devices and not the big yellow book in the past. Consumers now consider reviews, testimonials, case studies and social media to determine if a company is worth doing business with. Because of this, the competition is greater than ever for business and a positive reputation can be a key factor in standing out.

Line Of Credibility

We all have a line of credibility in our mind. When we hear an idea we immediately place either above or below this line. Below the line we discredit them and above the line we are willing to accept it. We also have a line of  “super credibility” that we reach when we hear an of something that we are blown away and accept it immediately.

In the world of online and social media marketing, credibility can be lost or gained over time. Some may seem credible to start and lose that over time while other may have less credibility at first then gain credibility over time and even become super credible.

In the example below see if you can decide what order they would go in listing from “dismiss,” “credible,” and “super credible.”

  • You get an email promising you “Top Google Ranking for Only $99 a month. The email has grammatical errors and miss-spellings and comes from a generic email service.
  • You search for a plumber and you get a local pack of plumbers in a search engine results with one at the top of the list.
  • A search for a marketing agency shows a company first in the PPC results with seller ratings (5 gold stars), third in the local pack with 5 gold stars, and in the organic results with review stars showing for the organic listing.

It is easy to see which of these three business listings you would consider credible, super credible or dismiss out of hand. This example illustrates just how credibility is layered over a typical local search.

Credibility: An Ongoing Process

It is important to be aware of how potential customers become aware of your business and how credible your business looks as visitors travel down their path to purchase.

  • How professional and credible your website looks.
  • How you stack up on local review sites.
  • How you project an image of professionalism and credibility on a variety of social media channels.

Online credibility is an iterative process that is never truly finished and not something to simply check off your list. A single new review each month may be plenty for some businesses, while others may need daily reviews. The point is to tailor the maintenance of your credibility to the unique needs of your business.

Email Marketing to Millenials

Email Marketing to Millennials: Effective B2C Engagement

So the prevailing advice to reach the Millennial market goes something like this: “If you want to reach the Millennial market demographic, put all your marketing budget into mobile advertising and social media. That’s where it’s all happening.”

And if you follow the logical next step from a 2010 Pew Reach study that said:

Millennials outpace older Americans in virtually all types of internet and cell use. They are more likely to have their own social networking profiles, to connect to the internet wirelessly when away from home or work, and to post video of themselves online.

you would logically conclude that the never-ending proliferation of new social media channels, from Snapchat to Vine and who-knows-what, would make you think that using email to reach this target market would be a waste of time.  Nope. Guess again.

Email Marketing to Millennials

Email is the original social media, and studies have shown that when it comes to dealing with brands, Millennials prefer email for a variety of reasons.

Steve Dille at MarketingLand put together an extremely thorough analysis of all this that has some compelling takeaways for marketing types to chew on and digest.  As it turns out, the “always connected” generation has one constant among all the multitude of channels demanding their attention. Email.

One point Steve makes brilliantly is that while millennials use social channels like no one else, the key here is that they are social channels. When it comes to consumer-to-brand communication, there’s an entirely different dynamic in play. And for millennials, that means email. Which means fine tuning your email marketing machine so that it resonates with the millennial market.

Read Steve’s article here.  It’s well worth it.

 

Facebook Video Advertising SMB

Facebook Video Advertising on the Rise. Big time!

According to the latest Mixpo survey, Facebook is set to seriously challenge Youtube for video advertising spend by agencies and individual businesses alike this year.  According to its survey, more advertisers, both independent and agency, plan to target their video production budgets for online video advertising or promotional type content on Facebook vs. YouTube this year.

It’s all about engagement.  In commenting on the survey, Andy Smith at ReelSEO said:

Not surprisingly fan engagement was the winner when it comes to most important metrics for video ads on social. Shares, conversions, time spent watching and views were the next most important categories (in that order) but the respondents showed that social marketing is more than just getting exposure, it’s about creating buzz and building relationships with fans.

Check out Andy’s post here.  Great food for thought if you’re considering internet video marketing this year.

Email Marketing works for Syracuse businesses.

Email Marketing Continues to Lead in Effectiveness

Almost every business we talk to has had really good results with email marketing.  And this is no surprise since almost every survey on the subject has found that business of every size and in almost every niche have found email marketing to be one of the most effective digital marketing strategies in their arsenal, delivering consistent ROI time and again.

In a recent Gigaom survey, 86% of marketers surveyed said that email marketing is the most reliable “workhorse” digital marketing tool for lead acquisition and re-engagement and conversion, and that email marketing continues to lead in effectiveness.  In second place was social media marketing and effective search engine optimization for organic search results.

Email Marketing leads in popularity

Email marketing has been consistently rated as the least difficult to do and one of the most effective. According to another study conducted by Forrester Research, 42% of adults don’t open email advertising and just delete it.  This is actually down from 44% in 2012 and 59% in 2010. There was also a strong sentiment that most email ads didn’t offer the recipient anything of interest (38%).

The takeaway here, of course, is that you need to be thoughtful and use email marketing wisely.  Email marketing is most effective when you specifically target your audience with a message that customized specifically to them.  This can be especially easy when you have a list of cold sales leads that you want to re-engage.  There is nothing like email (and direct mail) for lead re-engagement and conversion.

 

Generating sales leads online.

Generating and Converting Sales Leads

Which Channels Work Best for Generating and Converting Sales Leads?

According to a 2014 marketing research study conducted by DialogTech (download link), a survey of marketers by a sizable plurality said that offline methods still converted best and were the source of highly qualified and high value sales leads.

In terms of actually generating those leads, several digital marketing methodologies rose to the top of the list in terms of marketer’s preferences based on actual ROI.  In terms of generating high-value sales leads, email led all channels, with a 57% overall preference over other methods. Closely behind email marketing at 55% was Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and PPC or pay per click advertising.

Business owners said that while SEO was a long term investment that takes cultivation and patience, it seems to have the higher long term ROI in that people tend to look at organic search results as more trustworthy than PPC ads.

All channels showed an overall increase in preferential share among respondents from the prior year.

Social Media garnered a 44% preference rating among respondents, with a wide variety of preference for specific platforms, with YouTube leading the way.  In the B2B category, LinkedIn was “highly influential,” while Facebook skewed to an older demographic, and Twitter was the preferred platform for younger, tech-savvy audiences.