PPC and Content Marketing: It’s not an either-or proposition

Do you put pay-per-click advertising and content marketing in two different buckets? You shouldn’t. These two strategies work beautifully together.

PPC delivers targeted traffic to your website. Great content makes those visitors stick around.

To see the most benefit from this partnership, start with your pay-per-click strategy. Leverage your paid opportunities to boost your free marketing efforts. Choose your keywords carefully to improve brand awareness. Design your PPC campaigns to piggyback off your social media presence. Keep in mind that some keywords may be more expensive to buy, so include those organically in your content rather than paying for them via PPC.

Once you have visitors on your site, make sure they stay. Make your content useful by answering questions and freely sharing your expertise. Include high-value keywords. Build trust with unique, engaging content.

You can also flip the formula and use PPC to promote great content. Use identity-based ad targeting to get that powerful post in front of specific people. Paying for eyeballs is worth it if you’re smart with your ad campaigns. Just make sure you have an action plan in place to take advantage of those visitors.

PPC and content marketing may seem like polar opposites. But PPC is actually an essential component of a successful content marketing campaign.

Do you use PPC and content marketing together? You should.

Social media for the holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and that means sales, discounts and promotions!

This is a perfect opportunity to utilize social media. It is a great avenue to build awareness for your promotions or sales and do so at a minimal expense. Here are some tips for using social media during the season:

1. Social media should only be one part of your marketing strategy. Use it on top of all of your other marketing activities. Even though social media doesn’t directly translate to sales, you can link back to your website.

2. Use holiday themes to spruce up your feeds. Use images to decorate your profile pictures and banners to get in the holiday spirit.

3. Use Pinterest to promote the sale of your products. Pinterest serves as an inspiration to potential customers. Make holiday boards with your products and ideas for how to use them. If you sell kitchenware, make a board of holiday recipes that use your product.

4. Run contests on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to celebrate the holidays. Successful campaign themes have included: The 12 Days of Christmas, Lightning Round (an online sale lasting from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. or sunset to sunrise), or a Black Friday give-away.

Don’t miss out on the opportunities the holiday season offers for you to engage on social media.

3 tips for building your business with LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the business-oriented social networking platform, is still being overlooked as a prime way to strategically grow your business. It’s time to change that.

No matter what your industry, LinkedIn can provide you an opportunity to connect with potential leads and other like-minded professionals. The average household income of a LinkedIn user tends to be higher than users on other social spaces, proving that those you connect with on LinkedIn ‘mean business.’

Would you like to begin optimizing the time you spend in this highly optimizable space? Here are some tips to get you going in the right direction.

1. Complete Your Profile

LinkedIn will prompt you for the information needed to fully flesh out your profile. Be strategic about the wording you use and ensure that you’re using the proper keywords for your industry. Use a professional headline, be thorough in job titles and descriptions of experience, and optimize your summary and interests. Be sure to upload a current headshot with a professional tone.

2. Connect, connect, connect.

Connect with professionals already in your arena, but consider also using LinkedIn like a live networking event. Introduce yourself to people, find connections that are linked to other users you’d like to get to know. Ask for introductions. Customize every LinkedIn connection request that you send. Join groups on LinkedIn that are part of your industry. Join in the conversation.

3. Become a Content Marketer with LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn’s publishing platform gives you the ability to create unique content and to become a thought-leader and influencer in your industry. Create original and compelling content and share it with your networks.

LinkedIn is so powerful thanks to the professional connections that are at your fingertips. You won’t regret taking the time to make sure your presence is strong and professional. If you’d like some help, The Cloud Skimmer is here!

How targeted Facebook posts can boost your engagement

A bigger audience is always better when it comes to social media, right?

Turns out, that may not always be the case! By targeting who sees your posts, you may actually be able to increase your engagement. Facebook’s targeting feature allows you to reach the audience most likely to engage with your content.

Here’s how it works: Facebook lets you pick certain subgroups within your followers and direct a post to those groups. Without targeting, a post can pop up in the newsfeed of any of your followers. But with targeting, you can direct your post based on a variety of factors. Here are a few:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Relationship status
  • Language
  • Workplace
  • Location (country, state, city)

So for instance, if you are a business with multiple locations – but only one has a special – you can target only the audience in that geographic area.

Obviously there are pros and cons to targeting. If you do nothing but targeted posts, you are limiting the potential reach of your message. Only those in your targeted group will see the post in their newsfeed (though anyone can see your targeted posts by visiting your Facebook homepage). But even though the audience is smaller, they are receiving posts that are more relevant to them.

If you use the shotgun approach, you’re limited to posting broad content that will appeal to your entire audience. And, if you don’t select a specific audience and choose to do posts directed at a specific audience anyway, you may end up alienating a large section of your audience. They may un-like your page if they are constantly seeing content that does not match their interests.

Concerning your ROI analysis, even a few dollars per week can make a huge difference when it comes to reaching those followers who are most likely to engage with your brand. The best marketers know how to combine targeted posts with broad-spectrum posts that appeal to a wider audience.  The Cloud Skimmer can help you get started!

Good social media is professional social media

Losing respect — and potential customers — is frighteningly easy online. Sadly unprofessional content and pages are all too common on social media.

Imagine showing up to an interview only half dressed. How inappropriate and unprofessional that would be. The same thing goes for incomplete profiles. They look very unprofessional. It appears as if the company doesn’t care enough to take the time to complete the form. It also reflects badly on the brand because if you can’t complete something as simple as a social media profile, what else don’t you have the time to do — customer service?

Another reason to complete your profile is because if you don’t complete your page, you could leave out vital information for your customers. This could range from hours of operations to sales. If this isn’t completed, visitors could become frustrated from the lack of information. This lack of information will also decrease the likelihood of the page being optimized for search engines.

Now that your profile is complete, it’s time to take a closer look at your content. Unprofessional content can be a deal breaker for potential customers. Problems can range from inappropriate language or pictures to simply having the wrong type of content on the page. One of the ways to avoid this is by having a professional, trained social media manger handle the accounts. They know what content is right for the demographic and what is appropriate for the page.

Having an unprofessional social media page could break a company. To be successful you need to make sure that the messages coming from your company are always reflecting it in a good light. The Cloud Skimmer can help you maintain your professional image online.

Want to be a better online marketer?

Unfortunately, there isn’t really one thing that you can do to be a good online marketer — there are many. You have to know your audience, you have to be watching the trends and you have to be able to problem solve. And that’s just scratching the surface. One thing you can do, however, is to look to see what your competitors are doing.

Looking at your competitor’s social media, email marketing, websites and other online marketing tools can give you an idea of what you are doing well and what you can do better. Take each one of your competitors and run a SWOT analysis on all of their sites and efforts. Then evaluate yourself and make sure you are being honest.

Compare your analysis to the competitors. What are you doing better than them? In what areas can you improve?

This analysis and these questions are topics to explore at least twice a year. Keep an eye on your competition’s online marketing and if they change something, do the analysis again! You never know what you’ll discover by running a simple analysis.

3 tips for adding video to your online marketing mix on a budget

Now that high-speed Internet is the norm, there’s no reason to leave video out of your online marketing mix. In fact, 88 percent of businesses report that video is an essential part of their marketing strategy. Here are three tips for DIYing engaging videos that’ll win you customers without wiping out your funds. 

Take viewers behind the scenes. Success online is as much about authenticity as anything else. People want to see the real you. What better way to give them a glimpse of that than by sharing behind-the-scenes video? And it doesn’t have to be fancy. Use your smartphone to record preparations for an event or your employees volunteering for a charity. This kind of video bridges the distance between your brand and your customer by helping you connect with your audience on a personal level.

Make sure your audio is good. All that authenticity will be wasted if your audio is bad. People may be tired of slick marketing materials, but they want to be able to hear what’s being said. Unpolished shouldn’t equate to unintelligible. Listen for pops, hisses or echoes in your video. Project your voice and think about investing in a USB microphone. Blue Microphone’s Yeti and Snowball models are two good options that aren’t overly expensive. Audacity is a free editing software that has an easy-to-use tutorial. Making so-so audio superb doesn’t take much, but the payoff is huge.

Master your message. Always keep in mind that your video isn’t about you. It’s about your client. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about what they’d like to see, hear and learn about your company. Deliver value and make it personal.

Creating great video content isn’t as simple as just hitting ‘record’. But it doesn’t have to be overly time consuming or expensive. Even on a budget, you can produce an engaging video that builds your brand and converts viewers to clients.

The importance of WHERE in social media marketing

Marketing has come a long way. Instead of trying to be the loudest in the room and making sure you’re screeching like a carnival barker, sending one message to the whole world, you can be where your target audience is and customize your message for that location. Isn’t geo-targeting wonderful?

In case you don’t know what geo-targeting is let me explain! Geo-targeting is an Internet marketing tool that helps you target a specific audience or demographic based on their location. Wonderful!

Say you are a new business and are trying to get a social media following. You can target your post to reach people close to you in the community. Another way geo-targeting is helpful is if you have multiple audiences on one social site. You can target certain messages to just go to a segment of your followers.

It’s important to know where your audiences are on social media so you can target the post to that audience, but it is also going to be increasingly important as wearable tech becomes more popular — enter the Apple Watch.

Your consumers are going to be even easier to locate and target if they have a location device right on their wrist! While this may sound creepy as a consumer, it is a goldmine for marketers!

Including geo-targeting in your social media plan is crucial. Not only is it very important to know where your customers are, but once you know the location of your demographic, you can send the right messages to the right people. In doing so, you are able to maximize the full potential of your marketing.

Can you guess what one of the most underutilized online marketing tools is?

Can you guess what one of the most underutilized online marketing tools is? It’s email!

The most ironic thing about it, however, is that Email Marketing can be the most powerful tool to get messages to your audience. This is especially true if you are using it effectively. Using it to its full potential isn’t too complicated and there are really only three things to it!

The first is an attention-grabbing subject line. Pique their interest. Give them something they can’t resist. A good way to do this is something most marketers wouldn’t think of doing, and that’s using the reader’s name in the subject line! It makes the message feel more personable and readers will respond better when they feel a message is being sent specifically to them. Your click rates will skyrocket!

You’ve gotten them to open your email. Now what? Well, now you have to give them engaging, creative and interesting content. If they don’t like the content of the email, you can bet on them never opening another email from you again. It’s that important. Give them something worth their while, but keep it short and sweet.

The third thing every email needs to have is some sort of media. This could be a photo, a gif or a video! This will keep them in your email longer because it will catch their eye. People also connect more with visuals and hopefully, in turn, with your company!

The Cloud Skimmer can help you get started!

So which social media platform is best for your company?

Most businesses see the importance of social media but don’t have the time or the resources to conquer them all. Here’s a little cheat sheet:

Facebook

Everyone should be on Facebook, no matter what field of business you’re in. It has the most widespread demographic of any social media platform, which makes it the best place to increase your brand awareness. In addition, Facebook ad targeting allows you to attract your audience with more than just demographics.

The only real downside of Facebook is that younger generations have become more leery of it, thanks to the increase in use from older generations. Using Facebook to target younger demographics can work, but there are other platforms that may be more suitable for reaching that specific audience.

Twitter

Users are more likely to follow brands on Twitter than on any other platform. This is because Twitter provides the most up-to-date and current information. If your brand is constantly posting new updates and information, this is the platform for you.

Another benefit of Twitter is relationship building. Users are more likely to interact and tweet at brands. Just make sure you’re tweeting back! This will go a long way when it comes to building a loyal customer base.

Unfortunately, Twitter has yet to attract the majority of the US adult population. While the number of users is sure to continue increasing, it can be hard reaching as many potential customers as you’d like. Another downside is that individuals tend to follow brands only to get exclusive deals or to participate in contests.

Instagram

If you have a very visual business, it should be on Instagram. The dominant demographic is between the ages of 18 and 29, so if this is your target market it’s a great place to be.

One downside? You need to consider the time it takes to make your photos stand out. You can’t have bad quality photos, and if you rush into Instagram posting (without putting in the time) you can cause unintentional damage.

Pinterest

Pinterest’s users are mostly female, which makes it a prime place to be if women are your target audience. It also has a high percentage of users with a high income. Looking for customers that will buy your product? Pinterest is the place to be. Another fun fact: the majority of users are on Pinterest for inspiration on what to buy.

Unfortunately, Pinterest has a very unpredictable algorithm. Sometimes something you post will get tons of engagement, and other times it won’t get any at all. If you have an awesome product, idea or concept, chances are good that you’ll benefit from using this platform.

If you have questions or need some help with your social media, The Cloud Skimmer would love to help.