E-Commerce

How to Grow Your Blog

July 20th, 2017

Expanding Your Blog's Reach

You spend hours writing your blog, so we’re guessing you want more people to read it, right? Like any other business, a blog’s reach can be extended significantly. To do so, simply follow the steps below. Feel free to ask us any questions or leave feedback!

Establish and Master Your Niche

Before you even outline your blog topic, you need to define your audience and niche. Until you know who your audience is, you won’t know who you are tailoring your content for. There’s a misconception that successful bloggers just write whatever they want, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. They have first defined their audience and niche, and then have drafted content of value for this chosen demographic.

Establish Connections

Like any online business, it’s nearly impossible to succeed alone. Once you have your niche, conduct research to discover who the influencers in your industry are. Not only will you learn from the content they have created and the audience they have elected to educate/entertain, but you can also reach out to these individuals and see if there are ways that you can help each other out.

One goal of these mutually beneficial blogging relationships is that you can find opportunities to write guest posts for better-established bloggers. Think of this as your ‘big break’, as your content will be exposed to a larger audience, and you will have the opportunity to win some new fans as well as expand your blog’s readership. Be sure to make the most of this opportunity by establishing your own voice so you don’t sound too much like the other bloggers in your industry. Furthering your brand’s identity depends on it.

Get social and be sure to comment on other blog posts, particularly those in your industry. Fans of bloggers also read the comments to see if anyone else can add to the original post, so if you leave insightful feedback, they’ll take notice and might take interest in what you have to say, too.

Engage your Audience

Demographic targeted, it’s time to put pen to paper. When you write, always present and maintain a familiar and consistent tone of voice. If your content resonates with your audience, the familiar tone will keep them comfortable and will encourage them to come back for more.

Always remember why you’re trying to grow your blog in the first place. That means be sure to create content for your audience, not for yourself. Try and stay a step ahead of your competitors, be original and don’t write what everyone else is writing about. This will bore readers and potentially drive them away. Reader retention is just as important as growth!

Don’t be shy!

Think about building your audience like a community, and imagine your third-party comments on other as inbound invitations. Encourage feedback on your blog posts and converse with your readers who comment. If their feedback is overly negative or generally unhelpful, politely disagree and move on; your goal is to build a relationship with your readers. While you might not agree with all of the feedback you receive, at least consider it – they are your audience, after all.

Utilize SEO

Every piece of content should be optimized. That not only means adding keywords, titles, and internal links (if the blog is associated with an ecommerce site, for example) but also to structure the associated URL in the “back end” so the search engines will index the content. This can lead to higher rankings on the search engines and drive quality traffic (those searching the internet for your specific material/topic/goods/services). So be sure your content is relevant to your demographic and optimized using appropriate keywords in the title and content Is your blog illustrated with graphics and/or photos? Be sure to optimize those pieces of on-page real estate using alt tags that incorporate relevant keywords.

Free SEO Analysis

Use Social Media

Building your community doesn’t end with your blog. It’s imperative that you take additional measures to find new readers and drive quality traffic to your blog.

  • Write posts with enticing images that link to your blog posts
  • Request feedback and engage with your readers on social media

Twitter is an excellent source for building a following. The same way platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are image-based, Twitter is geared towards news and blogging, so you can be sure to find a relevant audience who will want to read your content. Just use the right hashtags.

Don’t just spam your posts, use Twitter to talk to people and participate in Twitter Chats so you can engage in more one-on-one conversations for genuine input and relationships.

Add social icons to your blog so your followers will know where to follow you. In addition to driving traffic to your blog, you can also lure people to follow you on social media by providing updates for your next posts, as well as other interesting content they might enjoy.

Free Social Media Analysis

Create and Promote a Newsletter

In addition to Social Media, creating and building an email list is a great way to maintain retention among your current readers. Start by collecting email addresses in exchange for something of value.

AWG Newsletter

This can be something as simple as “get updates for my new posts” to something more complex that pertains to your industry. Be sure to encourage and remind readers to subscribe with each blog post, just try not to overwhelm them – a Call to Action (CTA ) button should be enough, just remember to include value if you want lasting results.

To get a stronger gauge for who you’re writing for, you can use analytics features from your chosen Email Marketing Service Platform. This will give you a better idea of who you’re connecting with on a more specific level.

Free Email Marketing Analysis

Wrap-Up

There are a number of ways to grow your blog’s readership. What’s most important is that you plan ahead, think strategically, and be persistent with your work. By following these steps, you can grow your blog at a steady pace over an extended period of time. Good luck!

Looking for more tips? Or looking for help from the pros? The experts at Active Web Group have been in business for over 20 years and have serviced businesses of all sizes and industries. If you’re looking to grow your blog or business, contact us for a free quote. Can’t wait? Give us a call at (800) 978-3417 today!

Testing Results for Steady Improvement

July 14th, 2017

Testing Strong Landing Pages

Strong landing pages are essential for generating conversions on your website. These pages can be key to turning online browsers into buyers. So it is important to make sure that your Landing Pages are functioning optimally. If not, learn what you can do to improve them.

Testing Method/ Measuring Results

In Google Analytics , you can set goals and monitor how often (or not) they’re being completed. Not only can you check conversions, you can also track:

  • Sessions: Number of visitors who have visited a particular landing page
  • Average Session Duration: Average time spent per session
  • Bounce Rate: Percentage of visitors who did not click further into your website
  • Behavior: Where visitors clicked and navigated to from the landing page

These metrics, also known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), are crucial as they all tell you something about the effectiveness of your landing pages, and in some cases, the content that directs visitors to your landing pages. This data should provide information you’ll need, as you ask yourself some important questions.

Let’s take another look.

  • Sessions: How are visitors finding your website/landing page? Where are they coming from? How many conversions is your site getting, relative to the number of sessions?
  • Average Session Duration: How long is a visitor spending on your page? Is the page supplying them with the information they need? How can you keep them there longer?
  • Bounce Rate: Is your traffic high-quality? Could your lead-generating content be misleading, or sending the wrong message?
  • Behavior: Where do landing page visitors navigate to when they leave these pages? When all is well, the majority of visitors are following your CTA (Call to Action) button(s) and converting. If not, how can you redirect this traffic towards your desired result?

What to Watch

Copy

Do your landing pages contain lead-generating content? Is there a consistent tone and message throughout your website as well? Is the verbiage appropriate for the intended goal and audience?

Images

Are the images and color schemes consistent with the rest of your website and lead-generating content?

Calls to Action

Are your Calls to Action appropriate for your intended goals and audience? Is the color of the button(s) the most effective? Your CTA buttons will direct traffic through your website, so it’s essential to make their message clear and their navigation process easy.

Test Your Landing Pages

Analyzing and Applying Findings

There is a skill in being able to analyze and understand why people are responding the way they are and what you can do to alter it to your advantage. Small, seemingly insignificant sections of your landing pages could be inadvertently causing prospects to leave your site, thereby negatively impacting your bottom line, so pay attention to every part of your landing pages.
Be sure to only change one or two aspects at a time. Making too many changes at once could potentially help your pages’ response rate, but you won’t know which change effected a positive outcome. Too many variables can lead to confusion and misinformation, so look at your landing pages as a long-term experiment, be patient, and take the time necessary to run tests to gauge effectiveness.

Continue this Process for Optimal Results

You may see some short-term success by altering your text or changing the color of a CTA, but it would not compare to the long-term results obtained by assessing the weaknesses of your landing pages and improving them over time. Long-term optimization is what will yield the most improvement and overall results.

Active Web Group is a full-service digital marketing agency that uses the latest tools and strategies to connect brands with their intended audiences. Looking to increase your marketing presence and increase revenue? Get a FREE CRO Analysis Now! Contact Active Web Group at (800)978-3417 today!

How to Position Your Brand for Maximum Efficiency

June 28th, 2017

This is the final chapter of the ‘How to Build Your Brand from Scratch’ series. If you missed the last chapter, you can learn how to Find Your Brand’s Demographics, or start from the beginning to learn the essential basics. From this series, you will learn to position your brand, products and services to maximize your marketing campaigns.

The Importance of Positioning

To establish a strategic position for a brand or product means to provide a platform that both identifies your brand and defines its primary purpose in a way that consumers can relate to. This clarification is necessary as many businesses have multiple-use products that appeal to different demographics. Take, for example, a manufacturer of quality artist supplies. These could appeal to a wide range of users, from professional artists, to students, to crafts persons, even to school children. While not the primary market, the most lucrative demographics for these products may be art school students and school children. It would be important for this manufacturer to identify itself as a leading producer of artist-quality supplies, but to focus some of its marketing spend on reaching the decision makers in schools. As the illustration demonstrates, positioning your brand and product correctly ensures that its identity will be readily identified by its intended audience, however niche, yet not exclude other potential customers and income streams.

David Ogilvy, known as the Father of Advertising, found brand positioning to be so important, that he made it part of his 2nd of 7 Commandments of Advertising. (For those unfamiliar with David Ogilvy, he was the inspiration behind Don Draper from AMC’s popular series ‘Mad Men’.) Ogilvy’s stand on Positioning: Clearly define your positioning: What and for Who?

Brand or product positioning is paramount to the underlying success of a business or strategy. Without proper positioning, the true essence of your targeting strategy might be lost. Performed correctly, positioning ensures that all marketing efforts not only reach the right audience but also create demand. Positioning is to a Marketer what a telescope is to an astronomer. Without this one tool, positioning, there is no effective marketing. There’s a reason David Ogilvy referred to positioning as “The most important decision”.

Unlock My Brand’s Potential

The Dove Effect

The Dove Effect refers to Ogilvy’s historic decision on positioning Dove soap. Ogilvy stated, “I could have positioned Dove as a detergent bar for men with dirty hands, but chose instead to position it as a toilet bar for women with dry skin. This is still working 25 years later.”

Of course, Dove can be used for both (among other) purposes, but Ogilvy’s advertising helped to change consumers’ association, which had a huge impact on their buying habits. This is the very reason why some products are given characteristics and seen as masculine, feminine, durable, sophisticated, etc. They have strategically been assigned personality traits that are intended to influence the publics’ perception.

Positioning Your Brand

Your brand should develop and maintain a cohesive and consistent messaging strategy, which should be reflected through your advertising campaigns, content marketing, and public relations efforts. This will ensure all your tactics and strategies will work together towards achieving the same goal – building your brand.

Positioning Your Advertising

Generating exposure is essential for growing your brand and business. To do this effectively, be certain to perpetuate the same messaging strategies, but remember to keep your audience in mind and segment accordingly.

Your brand’s value can resonate with millions of people, but will one message reach every segment of your demographics? Of course not, so it’s important to conduct extensive research and determine what the pain points are for each demographic. Do not move forward with your positioning if you’re not sure which Demographics is your target audience.

Free Brand Review

David Ogilvy decided to position Dove as women’s soap for dry skin, but it didn’t end there. Since, Dove has been developing and executing campaigns to reach different audiences. Their ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was highly successful, as it aimed at positivity and countered mainstream beauty products that pushed unrealistic expectations in their ads.

To fully speak to your audience, represent your positioning and branding with conceptual ideas and/or analogies. It’s best to make them see and feel your message so they can understand it in their own terms. Your positioning should represent a solution to the problem(s) that your brand is answering. A position angles a strategy to fulfill a specific purpose, so your advertising and other marketing efforts should do the same.

Be sure to utilize imagery and video content for your marketing and advertising. Conceptual imagery can tell the story, as they convey messages quickly and are effected less by the decreasing attention spans of online users.

Congratulations!

The time has come. You can now begin to create your own brand and to accomplish more for your business than you ever thought realistically possible. Follow our blogs step-by-step and you will achieve your fair market share.

We invite you to contact us with your questions or concerns regarding the branding process. We know there are many steps and details to achieve branding success and will be glad to consult with you to assist you to realize your online business’ goals.

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How to Find Your Brand’s Demographics

June 22nd, 2017

This is the fourth chapter of the ‘How to Build Your Brand from Scratch’. You can catch up on Choosing the Right Messaging Strategy, or Position Your Brand for Maximum ROI. We recommend starting from the beginning to get the full picture and maximize success for your brand.

Without speaking to a quality (targeted) audience, you’re wasting valuable time and resources. The most effective marketing campaigns follow this general procedure:

  • Find an accurate target market
  • Create interesting content
  • Integrate promotions with a strong content strategy
  • Test results for improvement
  • Repeat as needed

In this blog, we’ll focus on the steps required to locate who your market is, which is critical to the success of any marketing initiative.

The Benefits

Developing a strong brand for your business can be extremely beneficial, but only if your brand is targeting the right audiences. Targeting a specific customer does not exclude everyone else; however, it allows businesses to allocate their marketing and brand messaging towards those who are most likely to buy from you. This process has been proven to be affordable, efficient, and highly effective to both reach potential clients and to generate new business.

An example would be meal services that provide raw/fresh ingredients ready for the home cook to prepare. The shopping, and all food prep prior to cooking has been done and a recipe included. Who should they market to? Not Gen Z-ers who are just starting out, or seniors on a fixed income, but upper middle-class families where both parents work. The business’ target market would likely be 35-55 year olds with annual incomes upwards of $150,000 and who spend more than the national average on food/dining. Now that the firm’s target audience has been clearly defined, it is easier to determine where and how to put this business in front of these potential customers.

Here are some tips to help you define the best target audience for your business:

Current Customer Base

  • Who is buying from you?
  • Why are they buying from you?
  • Who is bringing your business the most revenue?
  • What do these people have in common? (Live in suburbia, live in an urban area, have families, have pets, etc.)
  • Who do you perceive that your competition is marketing to? (Do yourself a favor, look elsewhere, and find and secure your niche- those consumers that your competitors are not serving. Make this population segment yours.)

Conduct Market Research

Here is a critical step. To know which demographics to target, determine not only who needs your product, but also who is most likely to buy it. Create a product or service scenario. For example, the robotic vacuum cleaners. Every household needs a vacuum cleaner, but some two income households may not have the time to set aside for housework, yet cannot afford a housekeeping service. Robotic vacuums have gained popularity, but these are not inexpensive. Create the needs scenario about your products and services then consider the following factors relative to your prospective demographic:

  • Age
  • Urban/Suburban/Rural/Homeowner/Renter
  • Gender(s)
  • Joint income
  • Education level
  • Occupation if relevant: professional/office workers/etc.
  • If relevant: Ethnic background

By now with the assembled facts culled from your research, you should have an idea of who your demographic is. But that is just the beginning. To understand how your demographic thinks, consider how your products and services fit into your proposed target demographic’s lifestyle. How, and how often will your demographic use your product, need your services? What makes your particular brand appealing to the target? Does your proposed target search online for your goods and services, or do they read newspaper ads?

You can look for this information in a number of places. Digital agencies utilize a number of business softwares and other sources to cull statistical data. For lay persons, begin your search online using keywords relative to your business. Search for blogs that already speak to your proposed demographic. Look for survey results and forums where you will likely find opinions left by your target group. You can always conduct a survey by posting on your business website asking your customers for input and feedback.

Once you combine the facts of your research be prepared to ask yourself some hard questions:

  • Now that I know who my demographic is, are there enough people who fit my criteria?
  • How do I know if my niche is big enough to support my online business?
  • Does my business know what influences my demographic make sales decisions?
  • Can my demographic really afford my product/service?
  • What is the easiest way to reach this group?

The good news is that once you have zeroed in on your demographic, marketing to that specific group will be more direct and provide a better return for your investment. If you have any questions, or would assistance in targeting and marketing optimally to your business’ demographic, call for a consultation with our professional staff: (800) 978-3417.

How to Build the Right Messaging Strategy for Your Brand

June 13th, 2017

Here’s the fourth chapter of Active Web Group’s “How to Build Your Brand From Scratch” series. We’ll discuss how to build an effective Messaging Strategy. If you missed the last chapter, you can catch up. If you already qualify for Messaging guru status, you can skip ahead to our next chapter about locating your Brand’s best audience.

A successful Messaging Strategy will define your brand in an official statement. This strategy should encompass all active goals and objectives your brand has and reflect them with a strategic approach. This statement will position you brand as it wants to be seen while also appealing to the most appropriate demographics, to your intended niche. Similar to a Mission Statement, your Messaging Strategy should adapt to the same changes your brand endures, so your message can remain clear and cohesive.

Now that we know what a Messaging Strategy is, we need to know why it’s so important.

A strong messaging strategy lays your brand’s foundation for its public relations and advertising efforts, which should adhere to the brand’s stated standards. Other elements such as logos and designs should complement the brand’s messaging strategy as well.

Simply put, the messaging statement is the foundation for your brand and serves as the platform for existing and potential customers to identify your company and how it stands out from its competitors.

Analogy List (Tell a story)

Your messaging strategy will build your brand’s reputation and will be how your current and potential customers perceive you. Ideally your message will become your brand is known for. Without a reputable brand image and perception, you’re either invisible, imperceptible, or possibly, both).

How does your brand want to communicate with its public? How does your brand want to be viewed or perceived? To begin you’ll need a concrete branding strategy, and this installment speaks to the communications aspect of your corporate structure.

How to Build Your Own Messaging Strategy

Identify Your Niche

First Understand Your Niche and establish ways to position your products. Cohesive messaging is all-important so choose your wording with care, as it’s essential for your message to align with your strengths. When you have identified your niche, you’ll need to market your brand as being the best at your that niche. Some examples include:

  • The Oldest
  • The Most Affordable
  • The Most Durable
  • The Highest Quality

To bring back an old example, Mercedes-Benz won’t market their products the same way Kia will because they have different selling points. Mercedes positions their cars as the best because of their high quality, prestigious history, and elitist attitude. That’s their market and they’re working it. Brands like Kia will position themselves in a more practical ‘more for your money’ angle because they wouldn’t be able to compete in an apples-to-apples comparison with a luxury brand like Mercedes-Benz.

Buyer Personas

Now that you have clearly identified your niche and positioning, it’s time to establish your Buyer Personas. Your Buyer Personas are hypothetical profiles of your ideal customers, based on your products, positioning, and demographic targeting. When you have an ideal customer mapped out, it makes the rest of your Messaging and Content Strategies easier because you can add some relevant context to the equation.

To create effective Buyer Personas, you’ll first need to compile useful data to base your evidence upon. You can collect customer information from locations such as:

Customer Surveys

Conduct surveys on programs like Survey Monkey and send them to your customers in exchange for a small reward, such as a 10% discount on their next purchase. Include questions that would supply the most value to your Marketing efforts!

Google Analytics

You can learn a lot about your website visitors from your Google Analytics Account. Everything from demographics, geographics, interests, and more can all be found there.

Facebook Audience Insights

Similar to Google Analytics, you can use Facebook Audience Insights to collect information from your Facebook followers.

Email Subscriber List

You can use Google Analytics and Facebook Audience Insights to import valuable information from your email subscribers.

Develop a Killer Content Marketing Strategy

A strong Content Marketing Strategy is what attracts fans and establishes trust. Fans quickly become bored by sales content, as they want to be entertained passively as they would at a movie theater. Publishing branded content is a way to entertain your audience, engage them, and promote your brand in a way that will spread like wild fire. Some content examples include:

  • Blogs
  • Videos
  • Contests
  • Giveaways

External Public Relations Business Model

Brands have an external communications strategy the same way businesses have an internal strategy in regards to the structure of their company. This typically has to do with Operations and Customer Experience components of your company. Some examples include:

  • Company Policies
  • How Customers are Greeted and Treated
  • How Your Brand Cooperates with the Press
  • How Your Brand Responds to a Public Relations Crisis

The Long-Term Benefits

A strong and consistent Messaging Strategy will benefit your brand long after your best advertisement has faded from memory. Here are some core benefits to staying true to your brand’s word:

A More Recognizable Brand

As we’ve said, a customer will be more likely to purchase from your company if they recognize your Company’s name. Having a consistent Messaging Strategy ensures they will remember your brand, as every piece of content they consume will be a reminder of who you are and what you stand for.

More Website Traffic and Exposure

More website traffic means more exposure and brand recognition. It also provides a foundation for a stronger web presence, which will take your brand farther than you may have thought possible.

More Sales and Overall Business Growth

While there are countless benefits in having a consistent brand and messaging strategy, the most compelling is the bottom line. Increasing the reach and influence your business has will create the opportunity for more sales, growth, and revenue.

Wrap Up

Every component of your branding strategy is important, but the Messaging Strategy is what receives the most attention. It’s essential for effectively reaching and resonating with your intended audience(s) and catapulting your brand up your industry’s food chain. By successfully identifying your audience and creating content to attract and retain them, you can develop a presence with your brand that your customers will identify with. This success begins with the right Messaging Strategy!

How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Brand

June 2nd, 2017

As part of our blog series ‘how to build a brand from scratch’, we discuss how to choose the correct colors for your brand and why it’s so important. Do not take this step of the process lightly, as color association can be a key factor in future prospects’ decision making process. It can also be a vital component of your company’s long-term business strategy. So do not rush this step!

The Importance of Color for Branding

When establishing your business, messaging strategy, and overall brand, you have to consider your product/service, type of consumer, and desired niche to fill. But what about how your business makes its publics feel? It might seem arbitrary, but there’s a reason why people choose certain brands. It’s true that word-of-mouth is a large part of it, but considering large-scale demographics, the right brand and appeal is what makes the difference between success and failure. Having the appropriate logo and coloring is absolutely essential to communicating your message to potential customers, as well as the general public.

How People Perceive Color

Emotions stem from colors for the same reasons they do from sounds, smells, words, and any other sensation. Stop signs (the most important sign on the road) appear as they do because red is a color that is proven to stand out more than any other color, making it the most effective choice for a sign that is meant to save lives. It is important to note that color associations will vary based on individuals’ personal experiences. Nevertheless, colors do play a significant role in driving action, which is crucial for effective marketing efforts.

Whole Foods’ logo is green, resembling peace, and nature, as does their brand

Why Color Matters

Color and logo are only part of a larger communications strategy, but are vital in helping the main message resonate with consumers. Ensuring the whole strategy is cohesive is what will yield the best results. Remember, your strategy will only be as strong as its weakest link!

Chris Eglevsky, Design and Productions Manager at Active Web Group added “Color can be everything to a brand. If nothing else, people tend to remember colors, so it would be wise to choose the right ones.”

For a little more depth, we can look at the 5 Dimensions of Brand Personality, which consist of:

  1. Sincerity (honest, friendly, real)
  2. Excitement (energetic, passionate, bold)
  3. Competence (reliable, consistent, smart)
  4. Sophistication (elegant, superior)
  5. Ruggedness (strong, durable, long-lasting)

If someone were to describe a successful brand, it would almost certainly land in one of these categories, because these are what people relate to when they are interested in something. Many products are the same, so it’s up to the brand to distinguish it in a way that it can be seen in its own light.

For instance, Coke and Pepsi are very similar products, yet their branding suggests they would appeal to different types of consumers, considering they’re typically loyal to one or the other. This is because the two companies (like all successful businesses) advertise their brands over their products because it’s what ultimately separates their identities. Products are associated with brands and brands are associated with how these brands are promoted.

How to Choose the Correct Colors

A strong strategy all boils down to having a consistent message. Your brand’s colors should be cohesive with your brand’s personality and messaging strategy. If the colors of your brand don’t fit the intended feeling, your brand will lose strength and it will be increasingly difficult to grow your business. The familiar look, feel, and experience are what connect visuals to memories and emotions, and that’s what drives decisions.

So for a friendly reminder: Consistency is key!

Inconsistent branding is like click-bait. Sure, the content might generate some clicks, but when users realize the content was misleading and are not satisfied, they will leave and the objective will not be completed. In other words, if the claim is not consistent with reality, the best you will get is temporary attention, which is insufficient for strong, profitable business.

People like to know what they’re getting and they like to feel comfortable. Halloween colors are orange, yellow, and black, so a Halloween ad might be ineffective if the colors are red and green. A conflicting message and visuals would confuse people, which is also never good for business.

What You Need to Remember

So when it comes time for you to build a successful brand of your own don’t neglect the importance of your logo and color(s). The idea is to work off of general psychology and choose a color that will most appropriately communicate your brand’s personality and messaging strategy. So ask yourself: How do you want your brand to be perceived? When you know the answer to this question, decide your color with public perceptions in mind.

How to Create Your Brand’s Tone of Voice

May 23rd, 2017

This is the second of our 6-part series that details how to build your brand from scratch. If you’re new to this series, you might want to catch up on our previous blog, or feel free to move on to our next installment if you’re already caught up!

We’re sure you’ve heard the phrase “your chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. Well the same axiom holds true for your brand. Every link, every detail pertains to how your brand is perceived, and the tone you employ will resonate how prospective customers will identify your business.

A car has many working components. It has an engine, a battery, an alternator, brakes, tires, etc. If even one of these parts is not functioning properly, the car will not be safe to drive, or will not move at all. Your brand’s performance is similar and it’s not only important for your brand to maintain a consistent tone and voice, but, these attributes are also key to growing your brand’s reach.

Why Tone is Important

From a user’s perspective, your tone is one of the most prominent brand elements and helps site visitors to identify with it. Your tone helps set your brand apart from your competition. Having a friendly and consistent tone also helps to build trust, similar to how it would perform in an interpersonal relationship. In addition, your tone should adapt to represent varied demographics as your brand evolves, to continue to best represent your brand’s image. This means the ever-changing audience your brand attracts should be the main focus of your decisions regarding tone.

Before You Define Your Voice

Properly defining your brand’s tone of voice is impossible without the right knowledge. You need to first understand your audience, and what appeals to them (as with every other component of your brand). Knowing the buying habits of your intended audience will give you the insight needed to communicate to them with maximum efficiency. Due to Social Media, emails, and more conventional marketing processes, consumers are inundated with brand messaging, and have become conditioned to only listen to the promotions from brands they trust and/or associate with.

Similar to the needs of your audience, it’s equally important for your message to understand and convey a brand’s purpose. The same goals and intentions that are stated on your company’s mission statement should be kept in mind during every step of the branding process.

For example, Wendy’s does an outstanding job of understanding who they are as a brand. They don’t follow McDonald’s or Burger King because their brands wouldn’t appeal to Wendy’s cultivated fan base. Wendy’s purpose is to sell “fresh, never frozen beef”. In the fast food industry – that’s their niche. If they tried to imitate Burger King, they would lose their audience to the real Burger King, the same way Burger King would lose their followers if they tried to be Wendy’s. Knowing your own goals and remaining true to them will enable a brand to stay focused on furthering your brand, successful promotion after successful promotion – so know the difference between benchmarking competition and losing focus. A defined niche gives a brand an angle and unique strategy to work with.

“The art of marketing is the art of brand building. If you are not a brand you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner.” – Philip Kotler, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management

How to Define Your Voice

Once you have acquired the necessary knowledge about your brand, its market share, and know your demographic(s), you can form a voice designed to:

  • Perpetuate your brand’s intended role in your market
  • Speak directly to the audience most likely to have interest in your products/services

Begin this process by brainstorming with members of your team and try to describe your brand’s personality with a few words. Come to a joint agreement, and be sure the description dovetails with the goal you are setting for your brand.

As another example, take a look at Mercedes-Benz. This luxury car leader might choose words like “sophisticated, elite, and elegant” because these words represent what the marque stands for, while also appealing to the buying characteristics of their potential customers.

Once you have your brand’s words, work towards defining them further to get a better idea how they apply to your goal(s). For the example above, the hypothetical keywords provided represent what would make Mercedes-Benz stand out from not only other car brands, but other luxury car brands. Their current slogan is “The Best or Nothing”, because, given their prestigious history, they pride themselves on being the pinnacle of luxury cars.

Where Tone Comes into Play

Like the rest of your brand, your tone is meant to represent your company. Most people speak differently depending on where they are; such as a work compared to a social environment, for example. Every time your brand releases information, whether it’s through an advertisement, press release, content marketing effort, etc. these vehicles provide an opportunity to teach consumers what your brand stands for.

According to an Econsultancy survey, 73% of customers agreed that content with a strong personality has a better chance of creating brand loyalty. So if you’re going to depend on your brand’s personality to stand out, make sure it’s done properly.

Conclusion

Building a brand without a carefully curated tone of voice is not only counterintuitive, but also wastes valuable data that can be leveraged to increase your customer base and revenue. Having a consistent tone will not only help target the right audience, but will help keep loyal customers to appreciate long-term profits.

How to Build Your Brand from Scratch

April 25th, 2017

Whether you are launching a new business, service or product, or rebranding an existing one, it’s important to know where to start. Utilizing the knowledge of Active Web Group’s seasoned professionals, we’ve developed this basic guide to assist in understanding successful branding requirements. Within this guide we’ll outline the best methods, resources and tools necessary to help your brand stand out and gain its fair market share. Solid branding initiatives will not only attract potential new business, but also guide prospects towards purchasing from your company.

In blog post after blog post we’ve mentioned the importance of building and implementing a strategy for your brand. Its success depends on the breadth of marketing and strategic planning knowledge, and the timing of its implementation. It is not a casual undertaking and is best suited to a team of highly experienced professionals with proven track records. This series is intended for business owners and decision-makers who may be considering how to best market their brand. We’ll cover all phases and invite your comments and questions. We’re here to help resolve any issues your brand may be facing. Our goal is always to help you achieve your online business objectives.

How our Blogs can Benefit Your Business

Regardless of your company’s size, age, culture, or industry, effective branding will indeed expand your brand’s reach, increase conversions, and of course, improve the firm’s bottom line.

After reading this series, you’ll have a firm understanding of:

An effective brand is designed to resonate with its intended public, that is, the given demographic(s) your brand elects to target. Another oversight many business owners make is that while the elementary stages of brand-building might seem obvious, they are often overlooked, or not performed correctly. This deceptive simplicity often leads to some business owners to believe that they can create and implement an effective marketing strategy themselves. This error becomes more pronounced as the later, and more critical advanced campaign steps scuttle most homegrown branding initiatives. For example, in a professional targeted branding campaign, major significance is placed upon the details because these provide the subtle cues that consumers can associate with, find interesting, and therefore worth their attention and interest.

Why is it Important to Cater to Your Demographic?

Like the valedictorian or prom queen from one’s high school days, brands take on their own persona! Through hard work, dedication, campaigning and having an identifiable as well as a likeable personality, their respective fan bases grew; and their unique voices were heard. Branding is a similar concept, only instead of appealing to classmates and faculty; a brand’s personality should be tailored to appeal to a carefully selected target audience.

If a successful brand were a person, the intended customers would strive to take part in that brand’s daily activities, message and persona, eager to be best friends with that brand. Therefore, a brand’s message should speak to potential customers. Brands whose messaging t anticipates and delivers what their demographic wants or needs, will be heard, will elicit a response, and will ultimately, be successful..

Consumers don’t choose brands by chance; brands are designed to represent more than just a product. Strong branding is designed to meld with any culture. Depending on the intentions of the brand builders and the social effect of the brand itself, consumers begin to develop associations with certain brands. Consumers need to associate themselves with a product for it to earn their loyalty and their business. Here are some easily recognized brands that create an image that consumers align themselves with:

Nike is designed to appeal to athletes beyond just sports attire and equipment

McDonald’s is designed to appeal to hungry customers beyond just fast food

Mercedes-Benz is designed to appeal to drivers beyond just luxury cars

For each of these examples, there is a strong association between how consumers perceive themselves, and how, and the scale with which each brand caters to, and fulfills consumers’ expectations.

To summarize: A successful brand stirs and emotional response. This is at the core of brand loyalty and why consumers will repeatedly choose one brand over their competitors’ that offer near-identical services.

Active Web Group is a full-service digital marketing agency that uses the latest tools and strategies to connect brands with their intended audiences. Looking to increase your marketing presence and increase revenue? Get a FREE Digital Branding Analysis Now! Contact Active Web Group at (800)978-3417 today!

ENSURE YOUR BRAND’S SUCCESS

Strike Out Competitors and Become the Yankees of Business

April 12th, 2017
Strike out competitors

Photo by Keith Allison

Some might hear the name “New York Yankees” and think of the Bronx Bombers as a sports team, forgetting they’re a (successful) business. So, other than their history and success on the field, why are the Yankees seen as more than just another Major League Baseball Team? Excellent Branding!

Let’s look at a few traits that set the Yankees apart from their competitors:

History and Success

After changing their name from the New York Highlanders to the New York Yankees in 1913, history was made, even if it wasn’t known yet. The Yankees signed Babe Ruth in 1919, who was said to have ‘saved baseball’ after the sport struggled following the scandal over the “fixed” 1919 World Series. This is why they called the original Yankee Stadium “The House that Ruth Built”.

Over the brand’s 104-year legacy, The Yanks have accumulated 27 World Championships, 40 pennants, and 24 Hall-of-Fame inductees (each an all-time record).

Traditions and Professionalism

As we now know, the New York Yankees are a storied franchise, but the brand goes far beyond winning ballgames. The team perpetuates class and they maintain their beloved and storied franchise through tradition. Some famous Yankee traditions are:

Logos

  • The interlocked “NY” and “Bat in the Hat” have been staples for years, which tell the story of the Yankees from the days of past legends to the stars of today

Uniforms

While most teams change their uniforms to adapt to the times, the Yankees have not

  • Yankees wear Pinstripes for home games and Gray for away games
  • Yankees uniforms do not show last names on the back of their jerseys

No Beards

Members of the New York Yankees are not allowed to wear any facial hair (side burns and mustaches being the exceptions) as per their tradition. While this was enacted by past owner George Steinbrenner in 1973, it has become part of the Yankees legacy.

Pride

As said, the New York Yankees are unlike any other team in professional sports. George Steinbrenner compared his ownership of the team to owning the Mona Lisa. Many players would and do consider it an honor to put on the Pinstripes because they share a role in the winningest team in professional sports.

How can your business learn from this? You’ve been admiring passion and story-telling at its finest and you probably didn’t even realize it.

As we’ve mentioned, the Yankees are more than just a baseball team, which is why their story extends past the field. The Yankees have their own culture and customs, they carry the expectation that second place just isn’t good enough. Your business can take that very same approach with these steps.

What can Your Brand Do?

Set Yourself Apart

What do you want to be known for, beyond your craft? How can you be distinguished from your competition?

Establish a set of Brand Guidelines

What does your brand stand for? What are your values? Customers want to identify with your brand as more than a useful product or service. After all, a brand is more than a label; it’s an idea to associate with.

Set a standard

You’re not just another company, are you? It’s up to you to tell your customers why. Tell a story, be creative and stand out from the pack.

Have Pride in Your Business

Establish yourself as the best, set your standard and be the Yankees of your industry!

Interested in taking your Business to the Big Leagues? Team up with Active Web Group and let’s hit marketing out of the park with a FREE Digital Marketing Analysis! Click the button below or call us at 1-800-978-3417

FREE Digital Marketing Analysis

How to Boost Revenue with Content Marketing

April 4th, 2017

Content MarketingWhy Content Marketing?

With the digital world full of brands promoting themselves with sales and gimmicks, the masses are beginning to see past the smoke and gravitate towards voices that they trust. Consumers are sick of being ‘sold’ so they’re relying on their gut-reactions, forcing brands to earn their attention with excellent content. What exactly does that mean?

Content is material that serves either an entertaining and/or educational purpose in an effort to tell a brand’s story in a unique way.

Brands spend 25%-43% of their marketing budget on content – Business2Community

45% of marketers say blogging is their most important content strategy – Social Media Examiner

While many brands create and distribute content, having a pre-planned strategy with detailed execution and data analytics is key to maximizing their spend. Here’s what’s earning brands more revenue!

Building Your Strategy

Brand Identity

Your brand demonstrates how you want your business to be perceived, so your image must remain consistent across all channels. Content should reflect your brand, and while the individual message might vary, the tone, verbiage, and overall content imprint should remain consistent. A strong brand adds a personal touch to your business and will assist to establish a loyal following.

Demographics

For optimal results, maximize ad spend and overall efficiency by focusing your content to meet the needs of your intended audience. This means tone, verbiage, colors, and other communication methods should be in tune with your branding and demographics. Research and evaluate the proposed content prior to publication to gauge its effectiveness, as it is crucial to the bottom line.

Your target audience should identify with your brand, so it should meet their perception of your brand’s personality to stand out. If your brand were a person, your potential customers should want to be your brand’s friend!

Documenting Your Strategy

While it might seem redundant, it’s important to record your strategy for the same reason you would document your business plan – so it’s in writing and clear to everyone involved. This will also keep everyone on the same page to promote branding and cross-channel continuity, as well as a cohesive messaging strategy. Documenting your plan makes it easier for your team to reference your strategy as well.

Not convinced yet? Here’s a nugget to consider:

Did you know that 70% of B2B Marketers planned to increase their Content Marketing in the past year? – Content Marketing Institute

Implementing the Strategy

Putting your strategy into action is often easier said than done. Beyond almost anything else, success requires persistence and attention to detail. Remember, details must be transparent and relevant assumptions are unacceptable. Every metric should strategically tie in with your branding or demographics appeal. While this phase is important, it’s how you’re able to adapt and improve your strategy that will define your long-term success.

More food for thought:

The top three B2B goals of Content Marketing are Lead Generation (85%), Sales (84%), and Lead Nurturing (78%) – Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs

Testing and Analyzing Data

Managing the data you collect is just as important as mapping and executing your strategy. Think of your content strategy as if it were a science experiment. You have statistics and other demographic-based information which leads to a:

Hypothesis: Form an educated prediction based on the given data on hand

Preparation: Draft content in an effort to prove your hypothesis (based on the data provided)

Test: Execute your drafted strategy

Results: Compare the results to your hypothesis and deduct a productive conclusion

For the purpose of Content Marketing, you can use this basic scientific method to determine how your content is meeting or exceeding expectations. Once it complies, take it to the next level by exploring more detailed metrics which will provide more insight as to why your content is or isn’t resonating with your target audience. Useful tools such as Google Analytics show historical data so you can harvest metrics that support your hypothesis and deliver measurable results!

In short, use the data at hand to make the most educated conclusions. Go with what works.

Timing

Constantly base the timing portion of your results on trial and error and don’t ignore the metrics. You should be looking for promising results over an extended period of time to reach a conclusion that will lead to a profitable outcome.

Engagement

If using certain verbiage, design strategy, or any other measurable element in your content that outperforms others of its kind, it might be worth looking into. Maybe condensed copy performs better, or using humor – the point is to never ignore your data. Pay attention to what your audience is telling you and adapt to it. The longer you adapt your content message to reach your target audience, the stronger and more personalized your brand and content strategy will become.

A profitable Content Marketing strategy can be a huge difference maker for your business. Could you business benefit from an increase in customers and revenue? Contact the experts at Active Web Group for a complimentary analysis to see how your business can maximize profits.

Get Your FREE Marketing Analysis

Or Call our Experts at (800) 978-3417

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