a crowd at the pier on a summer day

The advantages of listening in a noisy, digital world.

Technology has obviously changed the culture of marketing drastically. Especially emerging is the opportunity with online marketing. Yet, with literally at-their-fingertips information, consumers are still looking to engage with the people they buy from. Which makes the online marketing opportunity for your small business greater than ever. While this gives us as business owners, managers and marketers a whole new set of responsibilities, it also gives us a whole new set of advantages.

Marketers have now realized that “pushing” your product is not the most effective way to convert online users to buyers.  We’ve adopted so many new strategies such as content marketing, social media marketing, and video marketing to first gain the users trust prior to asking for anything from them.

As marketers, we stopped talking and began listening to what the user wants?

Technology has made listening to our customers extremely easy.  Below are a few ways that you can find highly targeted customers, listen to what they’re saying, and join the conversation online.

Forums

The real-life equivalent of a cocktail party, forums can be great for listening to what your customers are talking about and learning how to best please them.

Need help finding a forum around your industry?

Go to Google and type in forum:[keyword related to your industry].  This will bring us a list of forums of people talking about your industry.

Pay attention to the higher-rated posts and see what people are talking about. Higher rated posts are often seen as the most popular or most informative – both good reasons to keep an eye on them.

Don’t try to sell anything.  Use this as a resource to learn more about your customers and better your business.

 Twitter

Still think Twitter is a fad? Think again. In fact, Twitter’s still on the rise, already becoming a “search engine ranking factor”, but has recently struck a deal with Google for Tweets to be released as search results. Making Twitter another amazing resource for finding people with comments or questions regarding your specialties.  If you’re a local “brick and morter” business, you’ll find Twitter even more beneficial than using forums.

Here are the steps you should use to find hyper-targeted, interested individuals talking about your industry…

  1. Go to twitter.com/search-advanced.
  2. Input keywords that describe your business (keep it short).
  3. Select your language.
  4. Select your city or state.
  5. Click “Search”

Bravo!  You now have a list of targeted individuals talking about your industry.

Go ahead and join the conversation.  If they’re asking a question, offer a solution.  If they need help, offer your assistance.  Again, try to build a reputation and gain their trust before selling anything.

Learning From Your Competition

Learning from your digital competition is vital, and easier than you might think. Pay attention to competitors you know, and search for those you don’t. Check out companies you admire. Maybe some obscure, maybe some national brands with strong digital presences. The point is to observe. Watch what successful brands are doing. Pay attention to what you like. Pay attention to what you don’t.

Go in and search for keywords surrounding your business.  Take notes on what these websites are doing that’s driving their success.  Are they promoting certain products?  Do they have a great brand? The online presence of a company can say a lot to a prospective customer these days. What is your company’s saying about you?

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If you’re able to listen for the things that should matter most to you, you will have a better pulse on your industry and your customers. Paramount also does competitive analysis and industry specific newsletter feeds directly to your inbox. Give us a call to talk more about these solutions.

macbook and a pair of glasses sitting on a wood table at a digital marketing agency

6 Types Of Digital Marketing Agencies

In this modern day, your business needs to be online. But digital marketing has really become an evolving world, with rules and considerations of its own. You may decide that your company needs help navigating the online marketing jungle. However before you choose a digital marketing company, you should be aware that they come in variety – just like all businesses. Ensuring you understand each type of digital marketing company will help you find one that is the perfect fit for your business.

Below are the 5 different types of digital marketing “agencies”…

1. The Digital Marketing Consultant

If you are looking for guidance rather than having an agency handle your entire digital marketing initiatives, a digital marketing consultant might be helpful. Consultants will spend their time analyzing your online marketing initiatives in order to recommend new, better strategy. While many digital marketing consultants work as a one-man team, there are some digital consulting agencies that have larger teams as well. Often those larger teams will break up into account task forces, all having specific elements of strategy to consider.

2. The SEO Company

Companies are investing more and more into digital marketing, so digital marketing companies have begun to specialize. One of the largest specialty digital marketing sub-sections is the SEO agency.

SEO Companies focus primarily on ranking your website in search engines with strategies such as link building and on-page optimization. Some agencies will focus even further on content marketing – writing custom copy to optimize well for searches.

What you should understand when hiring an SEO agency is that their only focus is on pushing your website to the top of search engines.

3. The Small Business Digital Marketing Company

Swell is a good example of this. As a (though I rather dislike the word) “boutique” small business digital marketing company, the goal is to help small businesses understand how to navigate the internet and use it to grow their business.

4. The Pay Per Click Agency

Have you found Pay Per Click advertising mildly successful, but know its not doing as well as it could? Or maybe you don’t have the time to manage an entire campaign. There are plenty of agencies that focus solely on running online advertising campaigns. These agencies usually charge a percentage rate of up to 42% of your chosen ad budget. I.E. $1,000 Budget + $420 (42%) Management =$1420 total spend.

While these services are really good at bringing in leads, often their goal is the number of leads rather than the quality of them. You can do much more, with much less, when PPC budgets are highly targeted.

Also, if you plan on performing SEO with a professional as well, we highly recommend you finding a company that does both well. SEO and PPC complement each other crucially.

5. The Phone Book Company

Hibu (owned by Yellow Book), and other phone book companies like Yellow Pages, have recognized that the search engine of old – the phone book – has been eradicated by digital search. Thus, companies like this are actually leading the charge on marketing small businesses online; in regards to number of businesses on their nationwide client list. These companies tend to treat search marketing in very cookie-cutter terms: campaigns are standard with no adjustment for industry, and keywords come from suggestion lists formulated by software. In other words, if your competitors down the road are using this service, they have the same strategy, and same keyword list as you.

While in many cases these services are better than having nothing at all, you may be surprised at how little is happening behind the scenes for how much you’re paying. If you’re considering paying the phone company for digital services, do yourself a favor and call a small business agency (even if its not us). We almost guarantee they’ll be as happy to hear from you, about your business, and your unique competitive atmosphere as they will be to explain EXACTLY what you’re paying for AND the results it should yield by going with their agency. Then call the phone book company and “Press 2 for…..”

Not only will the cost be surprisingly reasonable with a small business agency, the results will be significantly better for your business too.

 

6. The Full Service Digital Marketing Agency

The full service agency does exactly what the name implies – everything. These agencies can be big or small, but all have a significant amount of service offerings. Most likely, this agency preaches multi-channel-integration, thereby making the overall strategy equal more than the sum of its parts.

In addition to being a small business agency, Paramount is proud to also be full service. This allows us to help businesses grow utilizing different channels of digital marketing – email, social media, online advertising, and SO MUCH more.

If you have more questions for us or are ready for your Free Website Analysis, Give us a shout!

man walking through the woods on a wooden trail

Trouble with Conversion? Why not Optimize for it?

Is your business struggling to turn traffic into leads?

Conversion Optimization is the subset of Digital Marketing that focuses on figuring out why that traffic is leaving and making specific changes to your inbound strategy to optimize for conversion

Below are our top 5 conversion rate optimization strategies:

1. Create Landing Pages

Crafting optimized landing pages has been found to correlate to higher conversions. There are more opportunities for a user to hit a landing page because it turns up as a more relevant result for their search. This segmented strategy allows you to tailor your landing pages to a specific product, service, or demographic -making them much more targeted.

2. Test Different Incentives

People love free things and are willing to give away their contact information (namely, their email address) to receive free things of a subconscious value. This is why ebooks and whitepapers have long been used as a way to incentivize users to give away their email address in return for free material. This goes well with a multi step conversion process – offering different levels of commitment on both ends to build rapport. For instance:

– User sees offer for incentive. Clicks.

– To receive incentive, user must provide Name and Email for verification and delivery. User provides.

– Incentive is sent with an opportunity to commit further and provide additional information.

– User utilizes incentive, appreciates the way you communicate and ultimately decides to commit at the next level. Submits additional information for your follow up.

At the very least, your user is now on your contact list. If your incentive resonates, you most likely have a lead.

Try to think outside of the box when it comes to incentives. What does your target really want? What is something that you can give away in exchange for their contact information?

3. Replace Big Blocks of Text on your Website with Bulleted Lists

Web psychology has found that internet users rarely complete reading an entire web page. Rather, they are more prone to skimming content. Bulleted lists can make consuming content a much easier task, keeping users on your site longer.

4. Immediately Prove Why You’re Better Than your Competition

People often shop around when looking to make a purchase. This includes searching Google and comparing products or services online. By the time a person makes a phone call to inquire about service, their decision has already been narrowed down to one or two choices. As soon as the user hits your site, you need it to stand out. This can be in the form of price, brand, user experience or even an immediate incentive (i.e. “Free Consultations”).

5. Add Social Proof To Your Site

When a user is looking to make a purchase or buying decision, they want to make sure that others who have used the product or service found it useful. In order to assure them of their potential purchase, place testimonials on your site around where you capture leads. Encourage your satisfied clients to give you a review on Google +, Facebook, Yelp, or one of the many other aggregates. Make it easy on them – send them step-by-step instructions.

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These five strategies will ensure your company is playing at the level it should be in this evolving marketplace. Have questions? Give us a call, or we’ll reach out to you! Either way, we’d love to help.

man at sitting at a coffee shop looking out the window of the small business

Inbound Marketing and You.

Inbound Marketing Strategies offer a whole new level for small businesses.


So you’re a savvy small business owner. You know it’s important to have an integrated marketing approach. And while your team isn’t ignoring digital, you believe your market is still engaging with more traditional methods. So let’s say you decide to place an ad in the local newspaper or even local cable provider. Besides spending a hefty sum to place the ad, you receive only a rough estimate of how many viewers may have glanced at your advertisement.  In no way can you tell if any of them visited your website or became a potential lead? How can you tell if they are getting ready to make a purchase? With the old marketing model, to assess the success of your campaign it would take months to analyze your sales numbers and by then, the money has been spent and its too late.

In the modern digital world, traditional marketing shouldn’t cut it.

 Using a well-executed and cohesive inbound marketing strategy, you will achieve a more targeted reach with a far lower initial investment!

Follow these 4 steps to get your inbound marketing strategy underway:

Inbound Marketing Infographic

Courtesy of www.Hubspot.com

  1. Attract people interested in your products, services and industry to your website.  Use targeted keywords throughout a consistent stream of blog articles and content updates, promoted through social media channels.
  2. Convert visitors to your website into sales leads.  An email sign-up form placed strategically around your website will engage visitors, while membership to a club or newsletter increases the incentive to engage.
  3. Close the deal with your growing list of leads.  Through email outreach or a newsletter, offer exclusive pricing and promotions to these engaged, interested targets.
  4. Delight new customers with a continuous steam of content relevant to their purchase.  These satisfied customers will become evangelists for your business, bringing new leads to your website through old fashioned word-of-mouth and new age social media sharing.

Magazine ads and billboards get information in front of people, but not a targeted audience.

Its about casting too wide a net. Sticking with the analogy for a moment, this is like casting a net 50 yards too big. You wasted money on the net because the net it so large, it takes you twice as long to process the relatively unimpressive catch – costing you even more money. But what if you could split that net into two or three sections, targeting multiple schools of fish in different areas, and haul that many more fish, that much quicker.

 Media is increasingly consumed online, therefore your marketing budget and advertising dollars should be where your audience is spending time; on the internet. With so much data available to be collected about consumers and their interests – marketing can now be tailored to your target demographic much more intelligently.  This makes the marketing process more effective, efficient, and affordable for small businesses. Inbound marketing is not about advertising, it is about providing valuable information to your target audience which therefore establishes you as a thought leader and an industry leader. A television ad just can not portray this kind of information.

Through the use of website and social media analytics, you can evaluate the strategies and promotions that work best to move people through each phase of this process.  The best part of inbound marketing?  It is based on a more strategic use of the existing aspects of your business.  Inbound marketing is particularly effective targeting niche markets. With superior targeting, in-depth, transparent analytics, and professional insights you will be happier with your marketing spend – and we almost guarantee you make more intelligent business decisions with your new found digital vigor.

To learn more, Give us a call, or let us call you. Either way, we’d love to hear from you!

woman holding an iPhone typing in a local search into google

Local Search in 2015

It’s easy to get tangled in the web that is online marketing these days – especially as a business owner with limited time and precious resources. Paramount’s professional packages are designed to help you understand your online visibility by discovering exactly where your business should be putting greatest effort. But we thought it would to start the education here by beginning with three simple definitions:

Organic Search refers to search results returned by the mathematical formula used by Google and Bing to rank websites in order of importance and relevance—regardless of where that search is being performed or whether the searcher is looking for a business near them.

Local Search refers to the results returned by Google and Bing for searches containing geographically related keywords—or queries that a search engine believes have a local intent. Local search engine optimization (local SEO) involves a series of techniques designed to increase visibility for businesses interested in ranking for keywords within a specific geographic region.

Social Media refers to any web-based technology that is primarily designed for communication with—or about—particular topics or businesses. Think of it as a new-age word-of-mouth marketing, but online instead of in the offline world.


How these integrated facets of online marketing fit together:

Ven Diagram of Social Media, Local SEO, Organic Search and their interaction.

The graphic above shows how each of these is meant to represent the influence of both organic search ranking markers (factors related to your website) and social media contributors on your communities local search results. Social media factors can be anything from your “fan” engagement on various platforms to reviews left for your business at Google+ , Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare, and other applicable sites around the web.

In order to succeed in local search, your company should be participating in both organic search and social media activities.  Notice that the yellow oval for Local SEO search extends beyond the blue and green circles of organic search and social media. This means there are some additional tactics specific to local search that don’t apply to the other two kinds of marketing.

Google, Bing, and the other search engines have completely remodeled how we learn, how we shop, how we interact within our local communities and even how we collaborate. Google alone handles more than 100 BILLION searches PER MONTH around the world. Of those searches,

 

  • 4 billion desktop queries per month in the United States alone have local intent .
  • 50%+ of mobile queries have local intent.
  • Roughly 15-20% of all searches are mobile .

 

From these numbers, we can figure  that there are approximately seven billion unique local searches per month on Google in the United States.

Google, Yahoo, and Bing are all currently returning local results that have surpassed traditional print Yellow Pages and, in many areas, cemented their usage as the preferred method for discovering local businesses and local information. As of March 9, 2009, Google began showing local results for generic queries, meaning that Internet users no longer need to include any city or geographic terms in their search to be shown results that are local to their location.

Additionally, mobile search is absolutely pandemic. Mobile local search volume will surpass desktop local search volume in 2015. Mobile searches primarily pull their results from local search engines.

This means the potential for your business to succeed with proper local search is enormous.

Give us a call or We’ll call you! Just reach out with your question, we’ll be happy to help.