How to Promote your Award-Winning Success in 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for businesses across the globe. But our annual Charleston’s Choice awards have shown that customers want to keep showing support for their favorite local businesses. So we wanted to help winning companies highlight their success and adapt award celebrations to a changing environment.

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.

Show off the award with pride

Take advantage of this time to promote your award in the digital and physical space. SEM campaigns can show web searchers that you are a business worth looking into. And traditional web page ads catch the attention of audiences in your area, if you are employing geomarketing capabilities.

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.

There is always value in building your face-to-face engagement with your community. Event sponsorships can enable you to directly reach your community and professional peers. It is a great way to build your brand image.

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.

 

Adapting to virtual events

Adapting to Virtual Events

Adapting to Virtual Events in 2020

A video blog discussion with our marketing team

The year of 2020 has brought many new challenges for businesses and uncharted territory as it pertains to virtual events. Word of the year for businesses has been "adapt". This year it has been essential to use innovative thinking to keep events scene alive. There are pros and cons to hosting an event virtually. Businesses are now faced with questions surrounding the logistics & promotional piece of successful virtual events.

Today I sat down with our Events Marketing Coordinator, Carlie Caliguri, to discuss the state of events during 2020 and how our teams have acclimated. Carlie has helped revise and run very important events for The Post and Courier including Inside Business LIVE, Pints & Politics, and our newest Kids Club series. Join us in our discussion below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Steeplechase of Charleston_Diamonds Direct

Spotlight On: Branded Content

Spotlight On: Branded Content

Authenticity for the Win

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.

New sales and marketing models are emerging weekly.  Coupled with concerns and uncertainty around budgets for marketing, we are stepping onto new ground that can feel precarious. There will be no return to the status quo for consumers in the near future - the new normal is taking shape.

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:

  • Drive engagement
  • 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.)Baker Motor company Steeplechase Social Content
    • 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

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons why people unsubscribe from your email marketing

Why Are You Leaving Me?

5 Reasons why people unsubscribe from your email marketing

As you begin or continue an automated email marketing strategy, the fear of unsubscribe rates can be intimidating. Here’s the good news; when it comes to unsubscribes, it's inevitable. At some point in time, some people will ultimately unsubscribe from your emails and IT IS OKAY.  At least for now.

It is painful as an email marketer to see that someone reading your email scrolled through your content and decided it wasn’t for them. UNSUBSCRIBE. It seems so harsh, doesn’t it? This shouldn’t be taken personally - at least not yet. However, this doesn't mean that your unsubscribe rate doesn't matter. 

The overall goal of most email marketing strategies is to generate leads and identify qualified leads. If the recipient of your email is uninterested in your content, they most likely weren’t going to convert. At least, not via email. 

On average, the unsubscribe rate for emails across a variety of industries is 0.26% according to this Mailchimp article. In my previous article discussing important email marketing statistics from 2020, the importance of the unsubscribe rate is to determine how relevant the email is to your customer. Analyzing your unsubscribe rate can also tell you most directly that something in your strategy isn't working and changes need to be made, but should be used in conjunction with other important email statistics.

Let’s discuss today the main reasons why recipients unsubscribe from your emails, and methods in which you can measure & analyze your email performance to curb this number.

 

1. Sending too many emails

Although marketing email sends and open rates have steadily increased since Covid began, there’s still such a thing as too much. When determining your strategy, think about how you can consolidate your information into a newsletter to cut back on your marketing efforts. No one wants to be the spam in your clients’ inbox. Ensure that what you’re sending to the recipient is relevant and helpful.

 

2. The email looks like spam

Make sure that you take the time to format an email that helps you achieve a goal as a company. How do you want to funnel your clients? This goal should be top-of-mind when designing your content and user experience. 

 

3. Irrelevancy

To echo a common sentiment across this blog, content should be relevant and helpful to the recipient. This isn't always fool-proof. Data is complex, and you can only segment your lists depending on what type of information you currently have on each client. Do you have the data to segment an email list based off of interest, location, or industry?

What is segmentation? According to Campaign Monitor, segmentation is the division of an email list into smaller segments based on set criteria. Segmentation is a tactic used to ensure relevancy to your audience based on location, interests, purchase history, client activity, and more.

Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue. (HubSpot.com).

 

4. Privacy concerns

Doesn’t include when you’ve done business with someone and they have your email address. We’re talking about obviously purchased lists. This is unethical marketing. For the customer’s perspective: this is different from receiving emails from a company you’ve done business with that you’ve given your email address at some point - this is referencing the spam-like emails that make zero sense with a company you’ve never heard of.

Having an Unsubscribe link at the bottom of your emails is a legal requirement of all marketers. Learn more about GDPR here. 

 

5. Didn’t recall signing up

This is a likely occurrence if the recipient has zero idea how they’ve ended up on your email list. Make sure you’re funneling your customers logically. This, again, means ensuring relevance + resourcefulness of your content.

To avoid your recipients feeling like this, provide a statement at the bottom of your email that makes it easy for your recipients to manage their preferences + also explains why they’re receiving the email. 

 

To curb your unsubscribe rate:

Create an exit survey to gather more information on why a recipient unsubscribed from your emails. Clear communication is key - make sure that your readers understand what they’re unsubscribing from. 

Lastly, always expect a certain amount of people to unsubscribe from your emails. Similar to social media trends, where you see a fluctuation in followers daily. This is ok! The whole purpose of email marketing is to generate and nurture your leads, with the goal to funnel + convert them.

SEO marketing

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

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.

 

6. Using only text content

If you’re new to SEO optimization, text-only content is dead. It is more important than ever to include imagery and/or video in blogs, emails, and other means of content. According to comscore, adding video to your website can increase the chance of a front page Google result (SERP) by 53 times. Video increases customer attention, therefore leading to higher engagement. This Vidyard article is a great example of the benefits of video marketing.

 

7. Not good for mobile

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.