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General Marketing

cross-channel-marketingConsumers engage with brands using a wide variety of different platforms and mediums these days. You need to engage your customers where they’re at and with a consistent, unified voice. A unified experience across channels such as your website, Search Marketing, Social Media, Paid Advertising, In-Store and Email Marketing will strengthen your brand and make it easier for customers to engage with your company.

The following are a wide variety of pro tips and advice that will help you get started with cross-channel marketing or take your efforts to the next level.

Email – The Heart of Cross-Channel Marketing – Tony D’anna

Integrated data is at the heart of a solid cross-channel strategy, but as you peel back some of the layers, you can see that email is the centerpiece of any good cross-channel program.

There are many advantages to centering your marketing strategy around email. Email is the most direct channel, it boasts a higher ROI than any other channel and it helps build loyalty and relationships on a much deeper level than any other channel. Strategic marketers try to capture email addresses across all channels. Once you have an email address you can track click data, do behavioral targeting on your site, and use these insights to inform your mobile, social media and in-store strategies.

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Consistency – Bonding off-site and on-site messages – Rémi Aubert

Ignoring the bonds between off-site and on-site messages ultimately leads to a lack of consistency and, even worse, poor user experience. Off-site messages take many forms on many channels, such as advertising, communication on social media, email, or even in-store messages. And all these messages are part of on-site traffic acquisition.

The customer journey can start offline and end online and, conversely, lots of visitors use websites as information channels, then bounce, but convert in-store. One more reason to remain consistent!

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Paid search and paid social – Make them work together – Josh Dreller

Social advertising is a great way to generate the interest and demand that search can fulfill. And the relationship between these two channels is even more complex than that. Social can generate awareness, which drives consumers to search. Once they convert, they may then broadcast your products or services to their friends and families on social channels, which then sparks more searches.

Truly understanding how your customer base is impacted by both channels working well together will build cross-channel synergy that has more power than each channel working independently.

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User Profiles: Use mobile to strengthen cross-channel marketing – Cydney Goldberg

User profiles are one of the most important tools available for managing modern multi-channel marketing. These profiles are a treasure trove of organized personal data about the people who engage with your brand on each channel. You can use this detailed information about individual customers to build personalized marketing campaigns across multiple channels while still maintaining a consistent brand experience.

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Personalization – Speak to each customer with a single voice – Steve Olenski

Your organization needs to have a single customer identity — a clear view of each customer that unites their behaviors across all channels into one comprehensive profile.

Today, certain technologies can link all the unique cross-channel identifiers of a customer together. Once you have a single unique identifier, you can really know your customers across channels and begin to:

Personalize interactions based on channel preferences and behaviors

Reach a more precise level of targeting and segmentation by using cross channel behavioral information in real time

And most importantly, integrate cross channel communications and speak to each customer with a single voice regardless of channel

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In-store Email and Mobile Acquisition – Cherrill Hartman

The best acquisition strategies will target people in many different channels that range from in-store to online through social and across display.

Capture that critical customer data by asking for it at the checkout counter, offering an e-receipt and/or posting visual aids for mobile coupons. All of these strategies are great ways to boost your acquisition strategy. Some retailers are even going as far as putting photo-booths or other interactive digital displays in-store to create a fun and exciting experience, but not without grabbing that email address first.

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Real-Time Moment Experiences – Assaf Henkin

Real-time data and agility go hand-in-hand, as being able to activate on crucial moments is an essential part of agile marketing. As we know, consumers value experience far more than any other aspect of a brand’s ad or media strategy. By utilizing real-time data, brands are able to leverage these moments, and deliver campaigns based on what’s happening in those moments. By making real-time data and execution a rule, marketers are able to scale and appeal to the digital consumer across mobile, social, video and display, precisely when those individual channels are more accessible and/or relevant to the viewer.

In advertising, political or otherwise, consumer mindset-in-a-given-moment should always be a central hub that connects to and guides the creative and messaging that’s delivered over the individual spokes (i.e. channels). By developing strategies rooted in an understanding of the target market, advertisers can serve effective and meaningful campaigns to receptive audiences across all channels.

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Using Mobile Devices – Understand customer movement patterns – Vikrant Gandhi

Mobile devices can be used as a proxy to determine consumer movement patterns. Thus an increase in foot traffic in a store location, for example, could be attributed to an effective ad campaign. To enable this type of activity requires what can be best described as ID (or identifier) matching capabilities. For example, by mapping mobile devices to households, and by using mobile location data, it can be determined if a household that was served a TV ad led to actual store visits by consumers that were living in that house. Similarly, by associating an online ID with a mobile ID, the effectiveness of online campaigns to stimulate store traffic or sales can be measured.

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Extend your brand identity – Jen Wetzel

Nothing is more important for marketing success than establishing 1-to-1 relationships with your customers. Add value to customer relationships with consistent and thoughtful communication throughout the journey, not just your initial engagement. Whether it is through an interactive on-site experience or a dynamic mobile experience, it’s important to recognize that every single interaction is an extension on your brand identity.   

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Seek Professionial help – David York

Never be afraid to seek professional help.

For more information download, Visions From the Future of Marketing Automation: An Explorer’s Guide to Cross-Channel Marketing today. This report covers a host of use cases and best practices for a variety of apps that integrate seamlessly with your platform, including: SMS and MMS, calling and voice-messaging, payment and geo-targeting, direct mail and more.

Sanctuary Marketing Group can help you get started with an effective cross-channel strategy. Contact Us Today for a free consultation!

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10 Pro Tips for Better Cross-Channel Marketing

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
Evaluating an SEO Agency

The world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google always seem to be clouded in mystery. Even though it’s 2016 and Google has been around for 18 years, many business owners or marketing managers have no idea how it works or how to get their companies to show up on Google.

This confusion makes it easy for less-than-reputable individuals to take advantage of those who know they need to be found on the web but don’t know how to get there. These unscrupulous SEO firms throw terms around like Algorithms, Penguin, Penalties, and SERP’s – more to confuse and thus convince clients to trust them.

The end result is a company who pays a lot of money for tactics that, at best, achieve no results and, at worse, cause damages that are difficult to undo.

Evaluating an SEO Agency

Top 5 signs you might be dealing with an “SEO” Agency that doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

#5 No Clear Strategy

If an SEO has no way of articulating their strategy for increasing your visibility then chances are they don’t have one.  A strategy is their chance to explain what and why they will be doing certain things. Always ask what and why.

#4 Lack of Reporting

Reporting is a vital part of business operations. If you can’t report out on it how can you assess the ROI? Any SEO firm that doesn’t provide an account of what they’ve done and how successful or not (which is ok, failure if part of the process) it has been, is not being transparent. Lack of access to analytics (Google Analytics), conversion tracking tools, rank reports etc. are a sure sign things are not being assessed properly.

#3 Magical Results

Everyone wants to see their traffic, sales, conversions etc. grow and grow quickly. But be wary of the ‘magical’ results. Organic traffic can grow fast, but use your gut when you see extreme growth. Often these visitors turn out to be inflated or manipulated and provide no value to your company.

#2 Google Guarantee

Any SEO firm or agency that says they can guarantee an organic ranking is, well, not someone to trust. No one can. Google won’t allow it or Google would be out of business. Certain tactics have proven to be more efficient than others, but there are simply too many factors involved for anyone to declare emphatically they can guarantee rankings.

#1 Laziness

The digital world has changed a lot in the last five years. Google has made over 20 changes to how it interacts with a website in the last two years. If your SEO agency is still using tactics from 2010, they’re being lazy.

 

A mix of proven and innovative approaches always gives a company the best possible chance to succeed. A quality SEO firm will explain the tactics they are using and explain why they are important. If your agency isn’t doing that, you need to ask questions.

These are just a sampling of the things you should use to evaluate your current or prospective SEO agency. Our hope is that your agency passes the test and is providing you with a valuable service. Quality SEO makes the web a better place for everyone!

 

At Sanctuary Marketing Group we pride ourselves on having an open relationship with our clients. Our clients look at us as partners, focused on achieving results openly and ethically. If you’ve had a bad experience with an SEO or Digital Marketing agency, contact us. We are happy to listen to your needs and experience, offer advice and help you get back on track growing your business.

How to Evaluate SEO Providers & Avoid the Sketchy Ones
Internal Linking Plan

Internal Linking PlanWhen reviewing a site from an SEO perspective, one thing I always include on my checklist is internal linking. We can usually tell how well a site is optimized by looking over the linking strategy. Implementing a linking strategy is a key step in optimizing your site, so it should be a part of your overall strategy.

We often assume just because we create a page and publish it that Google will find, index and rank that page. It’s the same line of thought as constructing a baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field. The “build it and they will come” mentality may work if the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson tells people to visit the baseball diamond (Field of Dreams reference), but in the online world this is not the case.

Think of internal links as a network of road signs that will tell Google where to go and what to look at. Driving down the interstate, you look for signs to direct you to your exit, and so does Google. Internal links direct the search spiders down the road of your website. Without these links, the spiders may just ‘drive on by’ the exit and miss your page. Eventually, it may be indexed but to help get the job done faster you need internal links.

 

The top 5 ways I approach internal linking

1) Use Main Navigation

Internal Linking

Putting links on pages that are in the main navigation means that those pages are just 1-2 clicks away. A page that is 1-2 clicks away from the homepage can carry some of the link equity through from the homepage. It also helps bring pages that are deeper in the site up on the IA ladder. However, filling the main navigation with links to every page is a bad idea, so don’t do that. Read more about User Friendly Navigations.

 

2) Use Your Homepage

The homepage is typically the most visited page on a site. This means a large portion of traffic is flowing through here. Utilize the homepage to gain exposure to high-value pages. This will do two things: First it will tell your visitors what is important and direct them to pages that are going to make you money. Secondly it will send a signal to Google and other search engines that these are important pages for them to crawl, index and rank. Links on a homepage are as important as the design of the homepage.

 

3) Capitalize on Popular Pages

This is my favorite tactic for starters. Capitalize on popular pages within your site. Find out which pages have the most external links (and presumably the most authority), pull this list together, and start dropping links to these pages throughout the site. This is a great way to build and share the link equity. External links are a completely different discussion but work in a similar manner. There are many different ways of gaining external links, just watch out for Google Penguins when doing so.

 

4) Use Breadcrumbs

A breadcrumb is a perfect place to capitalize on anchor text using targeted terms. Breadcrumbs also allows for several pages to link directly to each other. They can have 3 or more levels of links which allow for link equity to flow through each page. We always recommend using a breadcrumb whenever possible. They are part of our Best Practice for local SEO and rankings.

 

5)  Develop a Content Hub

Develop a hub of content that is similar or related. This hub will allow for curation of content that can be linked together. When content that is related is linked together, it provides context for the users and will help link equity flow between the pages. It also allows pages to be linked together that might never be connected otherwise. Blogs, related post plugins, categories, and pagination are all ways to achieve this.
These are just a few ways of executing good internal linking. Remember, internal linking is the thread that connects different pages of your site no matter how they are separated. With proper implementation, a good internal linking plan can be another notch in your SEO belt and provide one more signal to Google that you are ready to be found.

 

Get Help with Internal Linking & Digital Marketing for Your North Canton Business

Sanctuary Marketing Group in North Canton can help with developing a strong internal linking strategy. Give us a call @ 330-266-1188 or contact us here to talk with our strategist. We specialize in helping North Canton, Ohio businesses grow through effective digital marketing.

Internal Linking Tactics
Local Mobile Search

You already have a mobile friendly site? Better be sure of that! On April 21, 2015 Google’s mobile ranking factors will kick in. Those who do not have a mobile friendly site will begin to see a “significant impact” in their search results, according to Google. This roll out will happen over the course of a week and will be a “Yes/No” on whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, there are no degrees of mobile-friendliness in this algorithm.

Mobile Usability
Our Mobile Planet: Understanding the Mobile Customer

Mobile is something we all should have been paying attention to anyway. According to a survey sponsored by Google and Ipsos MediaCT, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Smartphone penetration has risen to 56% of the population, and Smartphone owners are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices. In 2013, it was reported that 67% of smartphone users accessed the internet everyday on their phone and most never leave home without it. These number have undoubtedly risen.

Google is now stepping up the game with this update by ‘requiring’ businesses to have a mobile friendly website to be found in mobile search results. And it makes sense: Google wants to deliver results that their users can be happy using. As a business, you should have the same goal! Make your site easy for people use, and they will use it. To be clear, this will mostly likely only affect non-branded searches done through Google on your browser or the Google App. Those searching for branded terms will likely not see any changes in the results.

Local Mobile SearchOur smartphones allow us to research anything, anywhere. The moment an idea crosses our mind we can pull out our phone and begin the process of getting “more input.” Statics tells us that 94% of smartphone users have looked for local information on their device, and 57% of these users do it once a week, with a whopping 25% doing it every day. Being optimized for local search is a key part of being found.

So how do you make sure you’re ready for April 21st?

Usually updates come up with little or no notice, but Google said it wanted sites to prepare; so, you have some time to make your website mobile-friendly which is a big benefit for business owners. Assuming you have a mobile site already some of the usability issues can be quickly fixed to comply with what Google is looking for. We do offer web design services that can quickly identify any issues, and affordably provide you with a solution. If you don’t have a mobile site at all, we can help with that too.

Identify Mobile Usability Issues

Mobile Friendly LabelKnowing if your site is mobile friendly or not can be done by simply doing a search for your site on your smartphone. Since late last year, Google has been using a ‘mobile friendly’ label on sites which it has identified as being such. If the site does not have this label, then that means it has not passed the test, and there’s a strong possibility it will be affected by the update.

Identifying the issues that are keeping the site from being mobile friendly can be done quickly with a few tools Google provides. Each one of these tools offers varying features and should be used in tandem to assess current issues with usability. Google Webmaster tools will give you the specific items Google is looking for and alert you if the site is not in compliance. It’s also important to understand the potential impact on traffic, which is why I suggest looking at current mobile traffic. Understanding how these mobile visitors are getting to the site and what they do while they are on it will help in making decisions on improving the usability. Identifying landing pages, exit pages, and other metrics will provide information on hurdles users faces and potential areas of improvement.

  • Site validation: Validate your site with Google’s mobile friendly test tool. It’s important that all the elements of your site are crawlable.
  • Current user behavior: Google Analytics provides a wealth of information on mobile users. Identify how they enter your site, where they land, what they do and where they convert. This information will help you understand any hurdles they are facing.
  • Search appearance: Google Webmaster tools will show you what queries your pages are showing up for, what position they hold and which search results these users click. There are features with GWT that will alert you if Google finds usability issues and provide some guidance on the what to fix.

As with most Google updates there tends to be a “freak out” moment where we wonder if we’re going to make the cut. Remember this one simple rule, one that I live by, Don’t optimize for Google! Optimize for the user. If your site is built with user experience at the forefront, then you have nothing to fear. My colleague Jackie Baker has written extensively about The Best SEO Strategy is Always About Your Customers (Not Google).

Sanctuary Marketing Group is ready to assist businesses to make sure they don’t lose rankings and quality traffic on mobile searches after the change is made. Contact us at for a free consultation.

Google Mobile Friendly Update

My digital marketing education and engagement ritual

In the world of internet marketing, you’ve got to relentlessly keep your finger on the pulse of the digital marketing industry. It’s essential to spend a little time every day reading, listening or otherwise engaging with new information, or you’ll quickly fall behind. Things in our world simply change too fast.

But consuming information is only half of the picture; it’s just as important to contribute by sharing what you know and learn. For this, social media is a powerful force in the world if you know how to use it properly.

Here’s why it matters:

With ongoing education …

  • I might have a chance of keeping up
  • I’ll be more educated and learn something new
  • I’ll continue to be a trusted advisor for my clients
  • I’ll be able to stir the pot in our office and help others think outside the box and learn new things (One person can’t know everything about everything!)

With knowledge sharing via social media …

  • I’ll brand myself professionally as someone who’s knowledgeable and trustworthy and as a thought leader
  • I’ll amplify the content, thoughts and opinions that I have, the content that my company creates, and other people in my company, my clients and trusted industry friends
  • I’ll be able to engage with more like minded people in my industry all over the world, with existing clients, and with new potential clients
  • I’ll create good signals around my business that the search engines like (Liking, favoriting, retweeting, Google +1ing, etc.)
  • I’ll indirectly help create links back to my company website
  • I’ll raise the overall visibility of my company and myself online

How to Develop Your Daily Ritual

Making time to learn on a daily basis can be difficult. It’s a huge hurdle that I face on a daily basis, and I’ve had a hard time sticking with it over the years.

I’ve learned that I need to form habits to make sure things stick. Decide on what to do, how to do it, what order to do it in, and remove hurdles and roadblocks – instead of hoping that my random stabs during the day will make some dent. (Which it never does).

So, without further ado, here is my daily process and the tools that I use for learning and engaging online on a daily basis.

Step 1: Form Habits

First, set aside a specific time during the day to work through your ritual.

For many it’s just a matter of getting out of bed an hour earlier. It’s amazing what you can do if you get up a little earlier and you’ll be surprised that you don’t feel any worse after about a week. For others it might mean taking a long lunch and working through things while you eat. Or maybe you’re a night owl and like to read for an hour or so just before you go to bed.

The point is that you have to designate a time and stick with it.

Step 2: Decide What To Read

There are a million blogs. Some are great, many are not. I continually try to follow new blogs, but I’m cold and heartless if they don’t provide consistently great information. I’ll cut them off at the knees without a second thought.

Focus on quality over quantity. Narrow down the sites you follow so that you have laser focus on your industry or niche.

Step 3: Decide How To Read

Using a feed reader is a must. Feed Readers are a great tool for selectively choosing which sites you want to follow, and collecting just those posts. When you open up your account on a daily basis, all of the new posts will be highlighted and you can scan through everything at a glance.

My recommended Feed Reader is Feedly. It has a very nice, clean interface, it works on all platforms, it’s free and it has a nice Google Chrome extension. This is my tool of choice, but there are also many other options.

The point is that you need one central place to go and digest what you have to read and review on a daily basis.

Step 4: Decide How You’ll Collect Random Articles and Information

Many times as you’re reading you’ll discover more articles and information that you need to consume. If you stop and read that article right at that moment, then you’ve lost the battle for the day. You’ll get sidetracked and your daily ritual will be interrupted.

My solution is an app called Pocket. Reviewing the articles in your Pocket account on a daily basis is the second key step in the ritual. Pocket allows you to VERY easily save articles and information from anywhere and access it in a VERY nice interface for reading later.

So after you scan through and do some reading in your feed reader, move over to your saved articles in Pocket. Consider even saving some of the articles from your feed into Pocket just in case there is a heavy flow of articles that day.

Pocket allows you to remove the pressure of digesting all the good content all at once and know that it’s saved for later in a trusted place.

Step 5: Share Valuable Information

As you come across valuable information, share it. Right then. You should always be considering great content, tidbits of information, stats, advice, infographics, photos and links to others for sharing on social media. This is a key part of the process. If you don’t do it right away, you’re likely to forget or be unable to find it later.

Get in the habit of thinking ‘wow, that’s a good nugget of advice’ and take 20 seconds to share it with others.

Step 6: Decide How You’ll Share Information

Now that you have it drilled into your head that you need to share, you need to consider how you’ll share stuff.

You can always open up Twitter or Facebook and create posts individually, but there are great tools that allow you to post to multiple sites all at once. My favorite is Buffer. It’s free, it’s easy, it’s integrated as a Chrome extension, and it does one thing well. It allows you to post a bunch of valuable stuff at once but space it out over time so you don’t irritate your followers.

You can spend an hour a day working through your ritual and know that you’ll have many posts going out throughout the next day or weeks depending on how you schedule your posts.

Step 7: Honestly ENGAGE on Social Media

This is one of the hardest parts of this process – but but engaging honestly on social media is essential to success.

Choose 1 or 2 platforms that are your favorites (trying to keep up with too many will just derail and distract you).

To engage honestly with others in your chosen medium:

  • Share their articles.
  • Message them directly.
  • Tag your posts and give them credit.
  • Hashtag articles so others can discover their great content.

Promote what other people are doing, encourage them, call bullshit if they’re off base and do your best to be authentic and endearing.

Social media is about sharing the love so I would suggest that your strategy be about 90% engagement and sharing others’ content and just 10% promotional – and only when it’s really good stuff.

Step 8: Create Amazing Content

I shouldn’t have to even mention this one, but after you’ve done all this, consider creating your own unique and valuable content. It’s hard, it’s time consuming, but the rewards are incalculable. Start now, keep going and never stop.

When you have great content, share it. Post it on Twitter, create images and graphics that you can share on Tumblr, put a nugget of advice out on Google+ and consider authentically sharing your advice and information on niche forums and in the comments of the websites that you follow.

Again, it’s hard, but nothing worth getting is ever easy. Creating content is a cornerstone of successful digital marketing and a necessity. You might not be able to do it on a daily or weekly basis. But the point is that you make a little time for it. If you took 30 minutes a day and chipped away at writing an article, you’d have at least one article a week – and that’s better than 99% of people out there.

In Summary

So in a nutshell I’ve provided you with my daily ritual. This is what works for me.

  1. Decide what you’re going to read and read on a daily basis.
  2. Establish a trusted place to save articles and read them daily.
  3. Establish social accounts and get in the mindset of consistently sharing other people’s ‘stuff’.
  4. Honestly engage with your followers and people in your niche.
  5. Create your own valuable content.

Next, in part two of this article I’ll discuss in detail why you should care about making this ritual a part of your day and how it can help you and your digital marketing:

Education and Engagement — How to grow your digital footprint online

 

How to Establish the Habit of Reading, Sharing and Creating Great Content

Coming up with content for your company’s blog and inbound marketing efforts can seem like a daunting, unending burden. And for most of the companies we work with this responsibility falls to one person — a marketer who’s over committed and under resourced. At least, that’s what we see with the local companies we work with here in Cleveland, Akron & Canton.

The problem is not with the work itself, it’s in maintaining an objective perspective. Successful marketing is successful because it resonates with prospective buyers. As a rule, these are people outside your company with little or no knowledge of your product, service or industry.

So what’s the best way to gain an outsider’s perspective about your company? Ask a new employee.

Unfortunately, new hires are often treated as blank slates to be whitewashed of bad habits and molded into the corporate mindset of ‘how things are done.’ That can be a mistake.

A Window of Opportunity

Think of your first job. The first few months probably felt like someone turned on a fire hose. Information is coming in faster than you can take it all in. You have tons of questions but don’t know where to start and maybe are afraid to ask. You’re also anxious to prove yourself and wish someone would give you a meaty assignment that both helps you acclimate to the environment and solidify your role in the organization.

Engaging a new employee in your content marketing efforts yields (at least) four benefits:

  1. It lets you revisit your marketing efforts from the perspective of someone looking for reasons to buy your product.
  2. It engages an eager employee in an activity that they can provide unique and immediate value
  3. It serves as a tool for training and education in your company and its culture
  4. It demonstrates respect for the employee and what they have to bring to the organization which, in my humble opinion, is a great way to start any business relationship.

While you could (and should) gain insight and learn from potential customers, by the time you are getting feedback from them it could be because you have lost them as a customer. Instead of waiting until it is too late, it is crucial to get insight before you lose a prospective client. This could help in so many ways including your marketing efforts and blog content.

Getting an outside perspective can help your inbound marketing efforts in ways you may not even realize. Want to truly understand how your content marketing looks? Ask someone. While it is easy for you to get caught up thinking you have an idea how others see your blog and content marketing effort, the truth is you really can’t. This is where a new employee can help as soon as they walk through the door.  (more…)

Content Marketing: New Employees as Content Resources

Internet Marketings Case StudiesNot using case studies in your content marketing and inbound marketing campaigns yet? For this reason alone you could be losing out on valuable leads and profitable sales. If you are in a position to get case studies to help support your case, you should be getting it done now. Even if you think you are not, you should probably be thinking of ways to make this happen.

Why are case studies so important?

Case studies for a brand just establishing itself is another way to also establish credibility. There could already be a well-known brand out there that offers what you do. Even if your price is lower, potential consumers are leery because they do not know you. Case studies can act as references and attest to your ability to deliver what you promise and satisfy your customers. Even websites where previous customers can rate their experiences with a seller based on a star system offer new customers some idea of what the seller is like. (more…)

A Case for Case Studies