If you’re a business owner, you hear this a lot. In short, digital marketing is the term for your company’s online marketing efforts.
Tools To Use
Google search, social media, email, online advertising, and your website are all examples of tools you can use to enhance your company’s digital presence.
Do I Have to Pay For All of Those?
While social media, email marketing, and your website are not technically paid advertising. Each avenue contributes to the overall online presence of your business.
When people naturally come across your social media posts, for example, the sharing of that content helps reach an even larger audience without any cost to you!
Is Social Media and a Website Digital Marketing?
It is important to have a website and social media profiles to be an information location for potential and continuing customers.
A great example of digital marketing is having a review section on both your website and social media for customers to tell others how great your business is.
A website is also key to having your company on the digital map.
By having a well-put-together website, your business will be found easily by potential customers via Google search. It is also a place for online ads to be linked to when seen by potential customers in other areas of the internet.
How Does My Investment Help Me With Future Marketing?
Another reason to invest in digital marketing is that it is the easiest way to reach your target audience: online.
This will allow you to see real-time, measurable results from your marketing efforts. You can adjust as you need to, and using that data to create future advertising.
Using your website and social media, you can funnel money into your marketing to best reach your target audience.
Paid digital marketing efforts include displays and banners, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and boosted social media posts and Facebook Ads.
Find out how you can apply digital marketing to your business with the Post and Courier here!
The Charleston community nominated and voted for the top businesses in a variety of categories. Now is the time for you to highlight your honors and give your business the extra boost that awards can provide.
Here in Charleston, customers are always on the lookout for Charleston’s Choice honors, as it shows a business is the best of the best. And this goes for all types of awards any business might be recognized for. Let your community know you’ve been recognized through these branding and promotional strategies. Almost all of them can be done digitally and virtually so that you don’t have to rely on in-person customers.
Brag in your email marketing
You’ll want to make sure that you’re bragging about your award everywhere you can. Emails are a great place for that. You can make specialized emails focused on your award. Or simply add in the honors to your existing communications.
If you have a regular newsletter, dedicate a special edition to announcing the honors. Make an event out of it and catch subscribers’ attention by detailing how and why you won.
What makes your customer relations the best in the business? Why is your business the top tourist hotspot? Awards carry prestige by nature. But customers want to know just why you’re the best.
This is also a good place to start incorporating the award logo into your branding. This would be temporary and wouldn’t be applicable in all branding locations, so there’s no need to rework your logo. So find the best way to pair your logo with the award branding and place that naturally in your emails. Have employees update their signatures to include that your business is an award winner.
Businesses with a customer-facing storefront will have an easy time showing off their award. On-location signage promotes your success to all potential customers or clients.
But businesses located within a large office complex in their own suite don’t have the opportunity to flaunt as much. Local billboards are a good substitute and open you up for even greater reach.
If physical ads by the side of the highway aren’t your thing, you should at least be showing off your victory on your website and social media pages. Update your website’s hero image and fancy up your homepage for a few weeks to celebrate. Maybe even run a contest to show you want to celebrate with your customers, not just tell them how great you are.
Other benefits of winning awards
If you haven’t gotten your business entered into awards, consider the added benefits outside of attracting new business. The prestige of being an award-winning organization affects all aspects of business.
Awards can bring growth to your business internally as well. It’s not always about showing off the award to the public. Current staff will be able to take pride in the work they do and the company they belong to. It’s an opportunity for a great boost in company morale. So even just putting up the award logo around the office can have great effects.
The celebration events for the awards themselves can also be a great opportunity for employees of winning businesses. Award parties can be a place to network with other winning businesses and build new business relationships.
Our Charleston’s Choice celebration brings together local businesses and gives them a chance to show the community why they were selected for the top honors. Restaurants and beverage companies can share their award winning creations with attendees.
Signs, advertisements and published announcements are the wide-reaching way to show off your accomplishment. But, an event sponsorship gives you a more intimate way to connect with potential customers or partners.
Finally, it should go without saying that a little time to unwind does wonders for everyone.
By, Sterling Eason, Senior Director of Partnership Development
Now more than ever, consumers are gravitating to brands to hear their authentic stories. They want to see the CEO on Zoom (with her dog) in weekend clothes giving a tour of the factory or follow a social media campaign that teaches them something new. And, it's comforting when the delivery is genuine and authentic. The best part? Authentic communication is as effective as it is affordable.
This is where branded content comes in. It is the vehicle for the authenticity to travel within, which is why it can be one of the most effective tools used by brands today. Trust can be built between the consumer and the brand when they see the people behind the brands and the products.
We recently surveyed our business partners at Steeplechase of Charleston with the majority indicating that their top tools for marketing are social media and branded content. This is where the affordability theme steps in. Creating branded content doesn’t mean slick and expensive productions.
HOW TO GET STARTED
What is your goal?
Let’s start with what branded content is often used to do:
Increase brand awareness
Improve brand loyalty
First, gather your smartest minds together and talk it out.
Be sure to populate that team with people from multiple areas of the company. Remember, your brand is represented in everything from sales to operations to the front lines of customer service - all these areas should weigh in.
What do you want for the brand? Find your themes.
Start putting them into buckets with ideas attached to each.
If you are efficient, this is a one-hour meeting. Preparing your people before the meeting is key. Give them time to think about the brand and assign them ideas to bring to the table.
Develop the story and concept.
You have your buckets of goals with themes, now pick one. Pick a week on the schedule to push it out and work backward to begin your planning. While you are at that, create a basic content calendar for the year and share it with the team. Be willing to change that calendar as often the market will present new challenges. For guidance, here's a great article discussing the Nine steps to great storytelling.
Develop content that strengthens likability while also carrying out your major goal.
Good content is key to convince consumers to click. People like content that makes them feel good and in turn, they often will feel good about the brand. Make them laugh, teach them something, give them special access. With consumers spending less time commuting, etc., they are looking to fill in gaps. This is your opportunity to bring them content that entertains and informs - resulting in consumers taking action.
A SATISFYING CONTENT EXPERIENCE → DRIVES CLICKS → HOME PAGE → SALES
A few ideas to consider:
Give them access to something - Go behind the scenes and show your process. People love to see things being made!
Another suggested strategy is to not only attempt to create a community centered on enthusiasm for your brand, but for your brand to enthusiastically support existing communities that have a purpose separate from, but relevant to you.
How to tell your story
Find the easiest platforms for you to use. This is where Social Media steps in often. It is user-friendly, easily-measured, and inexpensive. (If you aren’t consistent with content on social media, you are likely not going to build your followers.)
However, there are many other platforms such as articles, video calls, virtual events, branded videos, newsletters, as well as conference calls.
Identify the voice: If it is a Zoom call, bring in a moderator to hold the content together by keeping everyone on message; if it’s an article, have your CEO pen the piece from their perspective, or, if you are hosting a virtual event, pin it to a theme and have your host give a strong introduction and close.
Record and reuse. Once you have built a body of content, save it! Use it again. Replay it to a new audience. And by all means, add it to your website so that those visiting for the first time can get a sense of your brand voice.
Here's an example of a branded content video created by Steeplechase of Charleston for our presenting sponsor, Baker Motor Company:
Last but not least, three golden rules:
Have a purpose for what you are doing when you tell your story.
Tie that purpose back to a call-to-action.
Make it easy for them to act as well as react.
The time is now to drive connections. The desire of your customers is there. What are you waiting for?
A partnership with Steeplechase of Charleston can mean much more than exposure on race day. Consider a conversation with me to discuss how your brand can be a part of our overall content strategy that begins well in advance of race day and extends across multiple platforms.
By Sterling Eason, Senior Director of Partnership Development, Steeplechase of Charleston, The Post and Courier
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to building your brand and growing your business in 2020. As the use of technology has significantly increased over the last decade, so has the use of Google’s search engine. According to Statista, in April 2020, online search engine Bing accounted for 6.25% of the global search market, while Google had a market share of 86.02%. Additionally, in 2017 Google was responsible for driving 35% of all website traffic.
SEO best practices are constantly evolving, as is Google’s algorithm. It is essential to not only continually monitor your website SEO conversions, but also continually optimize. There are a lot of intricacies surrounding search engine optimization, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed with what best practices to use. Today, lets discuss common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not meeting search intent
It is important that the reader achieves what they’re looking for when visiting your page. If their needs are not met, your SEO ranking will be negatively affected. Google ranks your site based on trust & value. This trust is established by behavior that shows your visitors find what they are looking for.
2. Writing at a high reading level
This is something that I personally struggle with every time I write a blog. As a writer, it is easy to forget that not everyone loves long, intricately structured sentences with fancy words like you. Not everyone, meaning Google. Ideally, Google wants to see that your page is readable to anyone who visits it. This means keeping sentences short, and using words that everyone understands.
3. Outdated SEO techniques
If you’re familiar with search engine optimization already, you know just how quickly the techniques can change. Google’s algorithm is constantly changing. It is important to understand the important SEO insights as they actively change. Here is a good list of 9 SEO insights you must follow right now.
4. Unclear SEO goals
Just as any marketing practice, without a strategy there is no way to measure your success or reach your goals. You should establish an overall SEO strategy, as well as a strategy for individual campaign initiatives. If you’re new to building an SEO strategy, I highly recommend checking out this article by marketing expert Drew Fortin.
5. Ignoring conversion data
Measuring the success of your SEO is extremely important. The primary goal of your search engine is to drive traffic to your company website. More specifically, the goal is to target relevant customers. Someone who is already interested in a product or service your company provides is more likely to convert. Without measuring your conversions, you have zero ability to measure the effectiveness of your SEO strategy. Here are some helpful tools to audit and monitor your SEO.
Over 50% of users use their phones to view websites and open emails. Google search ranking practices Mobile-first indexing, meaning that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Because of the shift in web traffic being driven by mobile users, new websites (built since 2019) are indexed mobile first. Keep this in mind when building your landing pages and blogs!
8. Not enough attention to your headings
Headings and subheadings are important because they make your page or article easier to read; thus, increasing your SEO value. The reader should be able to find what they’re looking for quickly. Otherwise, they will leave your page. Making minor changes to the text in your headings won’t directly affect your SEO value. Rather, it is the effect on the overall structure of the page. Use headings as signposts, and the text below to describe what they’re about. Applying structure and making the page easy to read for customers will help Google understand your page better, too.
9. Writing for Google & not your audience
It is easy to lose sight of the purpose of the blog article or landing page you are building and cater specifically to SEO rankings. As important as it is to keep search engine ranking top of mind, it is essential that you write for your audience and not Google. If you’re using a platform like WordPress, I highly recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin. Once you’ve begun utilizing Yoast, write FIRST for your audience and THEN integrate the SEO optimization. Yoast will provide a detailed list of SEO suggestions, and rank your blog or landing page accordingly. Ultimately, real people are who you are trying to reach and convert into revenue, not Google (sorry, Google).
10. Helpful content
This is one of the strongest marketing trends for 2020. With the current state of the world and the economy, it is more important than ever to produce helpful, educational content. If you are producing something to sell to your clients, you’re going to turn away potential clients before they can even decide if they want to buy with you. Your communication should come from an empathetic and honest place. However, don’t ignore the elephant in the room. Try new + creative email campaigns geared towards providing your clients with helpful resources.
How sponsorships and event partnerships benefit businesses in quarantine
Sponsorships are a key pillar in any businesses’ ability to reach new audiences. In a world under quarantine, it can be tough to find relevant events and other sponsorship opportunities. But as the world figures out how to operate under social distancing rules, certain events are finding ways to thrive.
Any customer that’s willing to attend an event right now likely has trust in the hosting company. Aligning your brand with a company that already has high customer confidence will also help build confidence in your brand. The public perception of your brand will be just as large as that of the event host.
There has been a misconception lately that sponsorships can only build consumer confidence if they are for charitable causes. While customers do value seeing brands align with charities right now, that doesn’t mean that traditional sponsorships are any less valuable for your brand.
The potential for return on investment with event sponsorships is high. People are there to experience the event and will naturally learn about the sponsoring brands while they are there. Customers are more open to discovering new products and services.
You have your audience’s attention much more than when they can ignore your ad at home or in a print product. These are all people that you need to follow up with after. Build a solid post-event marketing plan around the leads that you capture. Make sure your sponsorship artwork, video, booth, etc. has a solid way of either capturing contact info or driving people to your website.
Be sure to look at the ROI on your sponsorship and use that info to consider future sponsorships and where to invest your money. Getting in front of the right audience in the right way is something that comes with practice.
Reach your target audience
One of the more valuable reasons to sponsor an event is that you can reach a highly-specific audience.
"For example, our Bicycle Across South Carolina event has an audience of people who are generally active, interested in outdoors and a healthy lifestyle," event sales manager Claire Linney notes.
"This audience matches well with a business like a chiropractic center who wants to reach active people in the community. We can create custom sponsorships that allow the client to connect with attendees one-on-one to build new relationships and generate new leads. In this example, the chiropractor can connect with “active lifestyle” potential patients.
Gather audience insights
Events are a great place to gather valuable information on your potential client base. You get to see what the spenders in your community value and how they like to engage with brands. Demographic data and audience preferences can help you build nurture campaigns. You can learn how and when to talk to your audience in the way they prefer.
Work with the event host to make a plan for capturing that data. Show that you have an active and growing interest in their audience. This will make future partnerships with the host business easier and more beneficial to both parties.
Our annual Family Expo attracts thousands of parents, and a previous financial firm sponsor saw strong return on their investment. "The in-person data collection allows them to have the contact information of these event attendees to re-connect with a follow-up about their services specific to families," Claire said.
"Because the consumer has already met the financial group in person, they are warmed up and familiar with the business, and more likely to respond. "
The bigger the event, the better the visibility you’ll get. As the world continues to open up and allow people to gather (at a safe distance), people will be hungry to attend events. Look at your opportunities throughout the end of this year and beyond.
Event sponsorships are a good way to meet non-competitive companies in your area. Always be on the lookout for new partnership opportunities.
Look at the ways that audiences benefit from learning about all of the brands that are sponsoring the event. Maybe there are creative ways to partner with another brand that drives audiences to each business.
Competition is low
As mentioned before, the world is in a unique place in which many businesses aren’t comfortable or able to spend dollars on sponsorships. Unfortunately, these businesses will continue to struggle when the COVID-19 crisis fades away, as they won’t have set themselves up for future success. History shows this has been the case whenever businesses stop advertising during a crisis, and eventually fall behind their competition.
And using the native tools that platforms like Facebook have for events allows you to become a full part of the event’s promotion. Facebook allows event pages or promoted posts to tag a partner business. Whether you are the venue hosting the event or just a paid sponsor, you can appear as an official partner on the event’s social media promotion.
This is a great way to gain new followers. As a part of your promotion, you can potential work out an arrangement for the event host to encourage their followers to follow your business as well.
Social media users are ready for interaction, and are the easiest leads to warm up and get them to click over to your website.
Find sponsorship opportunities as they become available
If any of the reasons above sound like they would lead to higher sales for your business, then now is the time to start planning your event participation for the year. Event dates may have had to change over recent months, but the world will keep moving forward and people are ready to find a new normal.
To find out more about upcoming events and other sponsorship opportunities in the Charleston area, talk to your Post and Courier advertising sales representative, or contact us here.