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How Important is Google to Local Businesses?

In the digital marketing world, we focus a good portion of our efforts on getting found or showing up in Google and Google-owned networks for a good reason. In case you haven’t noticed, Google pretty much owns everything related to the internet. Of course, this is an overstatement,  but their products and related advertising tools have extensive reach and can be extremely valuable to businesses owners, particularly those in our North Canton community.

Consider Google’s Dominance  

Google’s DominanceDid you know that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second? That works out to over 3.5 billion searches per day! You can’t afford to ignore how your business appears when people search for it – or what people are saying about you online.

Consider Google’s Economic ImpactEconomic Impact of Google

In the state of Ohio in 2015, over 34,000 businesses and non-profits benefited from using Google and it’s various advertising tools such as Adwords and Adsense. Google estimates it helped generate $2.92 billion in economic activity for Ohio alone (nationally over $165 billion). The potential economic impact is another reason why every small business should have a plan for utilizing Google.

Consider Google’s Local Rankings

Small businesses specifically have an advantage in their local markets because Google is very focused on returning results that are unique to the location where a search takes place, as well as the best possible result for the users. Google does this by considering these three factors for local results:

1. Relevance

2. Distance

3. Prominence

There is not much you can do about the distance factor in this equation. However, the Relevance and Prominence portions are areas you can influence. Every local business needs a local presence on Google, which requires a plan for providing relevant information to the search engines and for building prominence within the online community.

For many businesses, the local population, will be the most significant customer base. And even if your business reaches national or global markets, how you appear locally in Google can be an indication of your domestic or global presence.

Consider Google’s Potential Traffic  

When time, effort and budget are directed towards a businesses local search presence the results can be amazing. Consider this example of a client whGoogle Traffic o shifted their focus to providing Relevance and showing Prominence in their local search area.

After implementing a strategic optimization plan over a three-month span, their result was a 63% increase in organic traffic from Google! This increase in organic traffic allowed them to cut their PPC budget by more than $6,000 a month while maintaining continual growth in web traffic.

An additional benefit often seen is an impact on Bing and Yahoo traffic. While the user groups on these search engines are much smaller, they work in nearly the same way as Google does so your optimization efforts will carry over exposing your business to even more users.

Larry Page and Serge Brin, Google’s founders, once wrote: “Our goal is to deliver services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible.” Even though Google has become the giant monster that it is, their philosophy still holds true today. Capitalizing on Google’s dominance in the digital world and focusing on your local rankings can allow your business to thrive in the digital world and significantly improve your life.

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to Google or how your business appears in Google locally give us a call, leave a comment or fill out our contact form. Together we can build a strategic optimization plan and get your business showing up where it counts!

How Important is Google

Shootout For Soliders Sanctuary Marketing is proud of our employees, many of whom are involved in various non-profits and civic organizations focused on improving the lives of others.  Brent Ransom, one of our developers, a local lacrosse coach and a former member of the US Air Force, recently participated in Shootout for Soldiers – Ohio a 24-hour lacrosse game benefiting wounded American military members.

Each year Shootout for Soldiers takes place in multiple cities across the United States. Sanctuary Marketing was proud to be a sponsor of this years Columbus, Ohio event which took place July 16-17 at the Columbus Thomas Worthington High School.

The Ohio event included over 7,000 participants and raised over $57,000 to support our veterans and their families.

The Shootout for Soldiers raises money for the following charities:

[su_row][su_column size=”1/2″]Blue Star Mothers
Honor Flight Network
Gary Sinise Foundation
[/su_column][su_column size=”1/2″]SemperFi Fund
Ranger Lead Then Way Fund
Team RWB [/su_column]
[/su_row]

To find out how you can get involved, message Brent, or visit ShootoutforSoldiers.com for more information.

Shootout For Soldiers 2

Shootout for Soldiers

Emails, are you sick of them yet? On any given day I can expect to receive between 30-50 emails, and I know people who receive two to three times that amount per day. With all of this information to filter through it’s easy to see how promotional emails can get lost in the mix.

So as a small business owner or marketing manager you may be asking yourself; “Why bother putting in the effort if no one is going to see or open my promotional emails?” Good question.small-business-email-marketing

Here are 10 eye-opening facts about Email Marketing that you should know:

  • The total number of worldwide email accounts is expected to increase to over 4.3 billion accounts by year-end 2016. – Radicati Group
  • Email marketing yields an average 4,300% return on investment for businesses in the United States. – Direct Marketing Association
  • For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25. – EmailExpert
  • Companies utilizing email in lead nurturing campaigns generate 50% more sales-ready leads and at 33% lower cost. – Hubspot
  • Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17% higher value in the conversion. – McKinsey & Company
  • 91% of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphone, making it the most used functionality. – ExactTarget
  • Marketers consistently ranked email as the single most effective tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. – Gigaom Research
  • You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet. – Campaign Monitor
  • Email marketing drives more conversions than any other marketing channel, including search and social. – Monetate
  • Email’s ROI was 28.5% compared to 7% for direct mail. – Chief Marketer

These statistics show that email campaigns – done correctly – can indeed produce tangible results. Email shouldn’t be ruled out as a valid marketing tactic, no matter how personally annoying they may seem.

 

Wondering whether or not an email campaign could be beneficial for your business? Sanctuary Marketing has a team dedicated to delivering results through email marketing campaigns. Contact us or gives us a call to see if this might be the right marketing tactic for your business.

 

Email Marketing Campaign Stats

There is a network of marketing professionals that spreads across the United States, bound together by the same mission of educating and equipping others in the marketing world. This network is one of the largest families of volunteers that works day and night to host conferences, connect professionals, research the industry and much, much more. This network is called the American Marketing Association and I am proud to be a part of it!

 

American Marketing Association What is the American Marketing Association?

The resounding calling of the American Marketing Association is to be the most relevant force and voice shaping marketing around the world; an essential community for marketers. How does an association comprised entirely of volunteers live up to such a high calling?

Consider for a moment the variety of tools, tactics and theories that comprise marketing in general (and we’re talking both digital and traditional marketing here). From paid ad placements to organic social media efforts and local mailings, there is a lot that a marketer has to understand when trying to execute. Then there is the discussion of return on investment (ROI), wondering if all of your hard work paid off for your business. And on top of that, nobody knows what the next marketing trend will be?

Now imagine a marketing association comprised of thousands of professional marketers, each person with their own expertise and experience. This team is broken into local chapters and thrives on planning and executing events, like speaker luncheons or speed networking for college students. Now you’re starting to get the idea of why the American Marketing Association is so important; With a team like this, I don’t have to worry so much about keeping up with what is trending! I get to meet up monthly, seeing new faces or reconnecting with colleagues, and learn what is and isn’t working in the professional marketing space.

 

American Marketing Association Leadership Summit

Speaking of being brought up to speed on the latest trends and collaborating with other professionals, I wanted to make mention of the annual conference designed for American Marketing Association board members. I attended the conference this year as the incoming President for the Akron/Canton Chapter of the American Marketing Association. Every year, the conference brings hundreds of marketing leaders together in Chicago and consists of three days of learning what it takes to succeed in the marketing world in your local chapter. My favorite part of the weekend is what is called LOUD TABLES and is made up of over 30 tables, each with a different topic like Social Media Marketing or Hosting Events or many others. A timer is set for a short period and everyone bounces back and forth with what they’re learning and what is working for them in their own environments.

I’d encourage you to take a look at this thread to get more of an idea of what the community actually looks like at the American Marketing Association Leadership Summit: twitter.com/hashtag/amasummit

Of course, I’m only scratching the surface on what the AMA is about and why I enjoy being a part of the Akron Canton AMA. You’re welcome to contact your local chapter or even email me directly if you have any questions!

The American Marketing Association
Four Core Marketing Principles

Four Core Marketing PrinciplesMarketing your company or brand can often seem like a daunting task. Many business owners have trouble even knowing where to start. If you are faced with this situation, you’re not alone but there are simple solutions to get you headed down the right path.

This post may seem like a pep-talk, and in some ways it is but the best place to start, in my opinion, is to follow these four core principles. Four simple ideas to keep at the heart of everything you do. Four, time-tested ideas that breed success but are often overlooked.

Be your business biggest fan

Excitement is contagious, and you need someone to spread that excitement about your brand. Just as a fan (fanatic) is excited about their team, celebrates the wins and finds the positives in the loss, you should be out there ‘hyping’ your brand. Customers and employees know when leadership is not excited about the products or services they sell and it makes it hard for them to get behind the company when they sense this. Are you your businesses or brands biggest fan? Do you get excited when you have success, do you share that excitement? Be that leader, the brand evangelist, the hype-man of your company.

Don’t settle on past success

The past is the past, and the future is changing rapidly. Sure it’s great to celebrate a success or a big win. Every team needs to do that, but if you get complacent in your efforts, you will soon stop reaping the benefits of your past success. Marketing windows close quickly, audiences get bored with the same tactics and messaging. Therefore, you should always be looking forward, willing to try new channels and ideas. Some may succeed, others may fail but don’t settle in the past.

Build brand advocates

The best marketing comes from customers who fall in love with your brand and who become advocates for it. People buy into your business not because you say it’s great, but because they’ve heard it works from someone they trust and know. A little effort on your part can turn into a lifelong customer who spreads the word about your business so don’t neglect customer care. It always pays off in the long run.

Operate with Integrity

To gain a lifelong customer who becomes a brand advocate, you need to operate with integrity. Integrity needs to permeate through every aspect of your business, from the top, through the marketing and into the customer service. The public is quick to spot someone with operates without integrity and in today’s climate, and social media word can spread quickly. Bad press can quickly kill excitement about your brand and turn away potential customers. On the flip side, integrity breeds enthusiasm and enthusiasm is contagious.

Keeping these four principles at the core of your marketing efforts can help your business thrive! Operate with integrity, get excited about what you offer, spread that excitement to others and never settle on your past accomplishments.

Four Core Marketing Principles

Own a smartphone? What ways do you use it? Well the answer for most of us is “for nearly everything.” Facebook, Google, email, maps, games and on and on, we use these features on our smartphones to access information. And nothing is more frustrating than when that information loads slowly.

Google has worked hard to make their mobile search results contain websites that are mobile friendly to help alleviate user frustration. But we are still faced with slow-loading mobile sites.

We’ve talked several times about mobile usability, Google mobile friendless and mobile success but we haven’t discussed the issue of speed.

Why Mobile Website Speed Matters

Our lives are fast paced and our customers expect things to be delivered quickly. So it’s not a surprise to learn that when using a mobile device, 40% of people will wait no more than 3 seconds for a page to load before they abandon the site. The hard work of getting people to the site can potentially be trumped by how quickly it loads.

What would sales or revenue possibly look like if a site could retain that 40%?
A speed study by SOASTA looked at how load speed correlated with bounce rates and conversion rates. They concluded that mobile pages that are 1-second faster experience up to a 27% increase in conversion rates. The fact is, making a site load faster keeps people around longer and allows them to convert more often.

mobile website load speed

The challenge with increasing speed is that many times we are at the mercy of wifi bandwidths and network & data streams.

Developers, backed by major publishers and Google, believe they have found a solution.

 

Accelerated Mobile Pages

“The Accelerated Mobile Pages (“AMP”) Project is an open source initiative that came out of discussions between publishers and technology companies about the need to improve the entire mobile content ecosystem for everyone.” AMP Project

Accelerated Mobile Pages Project

The goal of the AMP project is to provide a way to achieve instant load times, everywhere. No matter what network or wifi a user is on, AMP can allow for nearly instantaneous page loads.

At their core, AMP pages are just like any other HTML pages except they are “lean” and don’t include scripts or items that take longer to load. By limiting the structure of these pages to a set of allowed technical functionality, which is defined and governed by the open source AMP spec, developers can achieve faster load times without a significant impact on the usability of the site. Just like all web pages, Accelerated Mobile Pages will load in any modern browser or app web view.

The content that can be presented on accelerated mobile pages is not limited, and all types of published content including stories, videos, photographs, and GIFs can be displayed.

Major publishers such as CBS News, Forbes, MSNBC, ABC News, CNN, E! News, USA Today and more are already using accelerated mobile pages, achieving outstanding load times and growing in users.

 

Your website should be mobile friendly and fast no matter what type of network a user is on. If it’s not, you are probably missing out on business. Let us do the legwork for you and find out if you are missing out on potential customers.

Sanctuary Marketing Group has industry experts who focus on the mobile experience. Contact us and see how we can help grow your business.

Mobile Website Speed Matters

Have you ever Googled your business name? Try it. Like what you see? If not, you’re not alone. Every year millions of dollars are spent on online reputation management to combat bad reviews, false claims, upset customers and the like. Once negative comments are posted to the web, they are often difficult to overcome or replace and can impact future business.

Yelp, which was founded in 2004, collects millions of reviews each year. Users will search for a specific type of local store or service, and receive a list of results like the ones shown below As you can see, ratings and reviews are front and center. For many of your potential customers, these reviews are critical decision-making factors. Good reviews are gold, bad reviews are costly.

Yelp Reviews

Fortunately, you aren’t entirely at the mercy of your customers when it comes to garnering positives reviews. You can take an active roll in encouraging reviews – but monitoring and managing reviews on the web takes time and budget.

In a lengthy article on Forbes.com, Cheryl Lock outlined three steps to managing reputations online. They are:

Be Vigilant

Monitor what people are saying. Set up alerts and get notified when mentions are made. “Don’t let negative reviews and blog comments linger without a response.”  The longer these comments sit without a response, the more difficult it can be to address the situation.

Be Proactive

“Unashamedly embrace self-promotion.” Promote and solicit customer reviews and success stories. Saturate social media and the web with positive comments about your company. Doing so will provide an alternate narrative for potential customers to read.

Be Honest

“Admit when you’ve messed up or failed to live up to expectations.” Transparency is refreshing and will carry weight with customers. Never expect to satisfy every everyone.

 

Red Robin is an example of a company doing it right. (Side note, when visiting Red Robin go for the Banzai burger!)

Typically we have great experiences here, but on one occasion it wasn’t quite up to our expectations so we did what many people do, we Tweeted about it. Within a half hour of posting the tweet, we received a response. Without placing blame, either way, their reaction team had reached out, established a rapport, set some expectations and turned a negative comment into a positive.

Red Robin Tweet 1Red Robin DM

Red Robin Reponse Team

When it comes to reputation management keep to the three basic steps.

  • Monitor
  • Response with honesty and Integrity
  • Be Proactive

 

Not sure where to start? Simply Google your name or business name – or better yet let us do the legwork for you. Give us a call and we’ll walk through this process with you.

Sanctuary Marketing group specializes in Digital Marketing and can assist you with your online reputation management needs.

Combating The Negative Review
Local Search Ranking Factors

Ever wonder what it takes to rank high in the search engines? Ranking factors, despite being perceived as a great mystery, are in reality relatively straight forward. Create great content, get people to link to it, make sure your business listings are in order and you’re all set! Of course, I’m oversimplifying things. There’s a bit more to it than this, however knowing what the search engines are looking at provides a perfect place to start.

Every year the top SEO service providers pull their shared experiences, tests, and case studies to produce a Top Ranking Factors list.

For local business owners, this list is a valuable resource for deciding where to spend time and budget to put your business in the best possible position to be found in the search engines.

Check out this infographic on the top Local Ranking Factors.

Local Search Ranking Factors

Sanctuary provides optimization services for local businesses. Let us help you get your business showing up at the top of the search engines.

Search Engine Local Ranking Factors
jason brueckner social media

jason-brueckner-social-media-crop2

The presentation shares successful, trending Social Marketing Strategies to reach new customers, keep an eye on competitors trending events, and keep existing fans around much longer! The presentation was done in conjunction with The Akron Canton AMA, The Taylor Institute and Kanga Communications of The University of Akron as well as Sanctuary Marketing Group.

Listen to the Audio or Download the Presentation

More About Jason:

Jason-InsetJason Brueckner loves the way technology simplifies life and brings people together. As far as marketing and brand awareness goes, he has years of hands-on experience in leveraging the nebulous world of Social Media Marketing to grow the exposure of businesses and their audience’s engagement.

Not only are the majority of Internet users on Social Networks but there has been a massive shift in the way that businesses can reach people — Rather than yelling at people through billboards and TV ads, you can meet people where they’re at as they relax with their friends.

Social Media 101

  1. Date: February 25, 2016 – Prepared by: Jason Brueckner Phone: 330-266-1188 ext 301 – Email: [email protected]
  2. Tonight’s Agenda ● Why Social Media Marketing? ● An Overview of Major Platforms ● How Can a Business Leverage Social Media ● Q&A
  3. Who’s this guy, anyways?
  4. Why Social Media?
  5. An Overview of Major Channels Pop Quiz! Who can describe popular channels to a business CEO and say why it is worth investing in?
  6. How to Leverage Social Media? Integrate!
  7. Q & A Now what questions do you have? twitter.com/jasonbrueckner fb.com/jabrueckner instagram.com/jbrueckner
Social Media 101
Black-Hat-SEO

Back in 2012, Chris Auman wrote an article titled “5 SEO Tactics to Avoid at all Costs.” Needless to say, a lot has changed over the past four years when it comes to digital marketing and SEO.

Despite all the information on the web about how search optimization has changed and what not to do when it comes to SEO, we still find many companies dealing with old SEO tactics. Perhaps these are still around because of a less than reputable SEO provider or maybe just because companies haven’t had the time or budget to addressed their approach to search optimization.

With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit these tactics for a little refresher on what you should not be doing. What Chris wrote in 2012 is still very much relevant in 2016.

 

Top 5 SEO tactics to avoid at all cost Black-Hat-SEO

#1: Keyword Stuffing – Keyword stuffing may happen if you are writing about something that requires certain keywords to be repeatedly used but it is still something that needs attention. While overusing certain keywords once worked to get your site or blog bumped to the top of a Google search, it now has the opposite effect. Saturating your piece with the same words over and over is a clear abuse of SEO and can now get you booted from search. Also, it makes the content clunky to read.

#2: Paying for Links – Having links and backlinks is something else that should happen naturally. Paying for this type of connection is considered unethical and will probably not get you the results you want. Creating fake websites just to increase the backlinks to your site is not an ethical practice to follow, which ties into the next point.

#3: Hiring someone to leave fake comments or to write false reviews and testimonials – The idea is that you should be attracting authentic versions of these for other users to see. If you want to encourage visitors to your blog or users of your product to leave real comments, reviews or testimonials that is one thing. If you go out of your way creating false reviews, you are operating with black hat marketing techniques.

#4: Hidden or Invisible Text – This is the practice of using text that cannot be seen by visitors to a site or blog but is detected by search engines. Again, it is considered a less than ethical tactic to use to rank higher on search engines. Using hidden text is seen as a form of spam,  frowned upon by most and if used, the site runs the risk of incurring a penalty from the search engines.

#5: Using Misspellings – This happens when you create content using keywords that are commonly misspelled as part of your content marketing plan. Using the misspelled version of the word but directing it to the correctly spelled version is frowned upon and not a good practice to get in the habit of for SEO.

While it may be tempting to use some tricks that are “in the gray area” you will more than likely be sorry you did. In the long run, it is never worth using these types of black hat approaches to SEO. Yes, it may take more time to build up the desired effect from white hat techniques, but the results will be better and longer lasting.

 

Avoid making these mistakes, whether intentional or not. If you are not sure whether your site falls into these traps or not or need direction on how to update your marketing approach, contact us. Sanctuary Marketing group has Digital Marketing strategists who are experts at this, and we’re here to help.

5 Sketchy SEO Tactics

To qualify, these companies had to demonstrate significant sales growth and employ 15 or fewer employees, and/or have less than $5 million in net sales in the last year.

From Hudson to Twinsburg to Rocky River, Brecksville, Elyria, Mayfield Village, Beachwood to Akron & Cleveland – These are the companies to watch in 2016!

We are honored to be among them and congratulate our NEO colleagues of like-minded entrepreneurial spirit.

More About the Weatherhead 100 Awards

The Weatherhead 100 award was established in 1988 to celebrate Northeast Ohio’s spirit of entrepreneurship and to recognize companies that exemplify innovative success in our region. The annual Weatherhead 100 awards ceremony recognizes the region’s fastest-growing companies based on revenue from the past five years.

Want to be one of the first to know who is #1? Join us Thursday, December 3, 2015 for the Weatherhead 100 award ceremony. Register Now.

Weatherhead 100 Upstarts Announced – Who Will Be #1?

google_analytics logoAs a small business owner, you have many things to keep track of. What visitors are doing on your website may be on that list, but if it’s not, it’s time to start thinking about it. For most small businesses, their website might be the primary source of leads or a point of sale. For others it is an invaluable marketing tool. In any case, your website is there to bring you more business.

Tracking or “analytics” is how you know your website is either working to make you money or costing you money. Tracking the visitors to your site can yield valuable insights as to who is visiting, how they found you and what they are doing. With this information, you can find ways to gain more traffic, improve sales with the traffic, find holes or conversion roadblocks on the site along with many other insights.

Awhile back we at Sanctuary wrote a blog post 9 Great Google Analytics Features. Since then Google has provided even more new features and reports that can help you easily measure the success of your website. Here are a few of those updates.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking ReportThis Google Analytics feature provides a true measuring stick of how you stack up against the competition within your industry. Google uses hundreds to thousands of other sites within your industry category to create Benchmark numbers or averages. You can then compare how your site is performing in terms of acquisition and behavior metrics compared to the rest of your specific industry. Additional filters include by location, size of a site by daily sessions, channel grouping, and by a device. This report can show you where you are doing well and where you need to up your game to breeze by the competition.

Demographics & Interests Reporting

This relatively new feature uses third-party cookies to define your users. This will help you better gain an understanding of who makes up your audience in terms of age, gender, and categories of interests. Through additional segmentation, you can identify what content was successful for certain demographics or what demographics had the highest value in terms of conversions. As a business, you can then relate and market to your specific audience. Demographics & Interests Reports

Visitor Loyalty Reporting

The Count of Sessions and Days Since Last Session reports allow to you to understand better who your loyal visitors are.
Count of Sessions answers the question: How many visitors are just passing by and how many visitors come back consistently? Days Since Last Session is often referred to as “visitor orbit” and shows the loyalty of visitors based on the time since they last visited the site. By digging deeper, we can drill down to find out what brought these loyal visitors back to the site consistently and also what methods did not work for the other visitors.

Segmenting by Users

Google recently expanded their segmentation feature to allow analysts to define segments on a User basis. Previously you could only view data of visitors in terms of what they did by session. Now you can look at how specific users engaged across multiple sessions. This is another way to see how your loyal visitors are engaging across your site. If you have conversions or eCommerce tracking set-up, you can also see how visitors engaged on previous sessions before converting. What led them to convert? What channels or content reeled them in to eventually convert?

Multi-Channel Conversion Tracking

This report is an expansion of the previous feature we referenced. The Multi-Channel Conversion Tracking Report allows you to easily view the top paths visitors took on their way to conversion. Perhaps a visitor originally came to your site via a search engine, left the site, and then came back the next day via a post on Social Media. On that second visit, they then converted for one of the goals you set up in Google Analytics.

Previous data only credited the Social Media visit with the conversion. Now we can see that the true acquisition of the valued visitor came from Organic Search.
This gives us a different level of data when looking at how valued, converting visitors behaved on the site. What sources were best at bringing these visitors to the site originally? What channels brought them back before conversion? This shows more of the complete picture.

 

Google Analytics and Small Business Owners

Knowing a little bit about Google Analytics can help you make good business decisions, but let’s be honest, not every business owner has the time to spend digging through the data. We can help. Sanctuary Marketing Group, located in North Canton, Ohio can help guide you through the information and identify growth opportunities. Our goal is to equip business owners with the information they need to make smart business decisions. Give us a call 330-266-1188 or use our contact form and maximize the information your website is gathering.

Getting the Most out of Google Analytics