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Top 7 Instagram Tools to Assist You in Your Marketing Management

January 22nd, 2015

InstagramInstagram is a powerful tool for brands looking to build awareness and increase engagement with their online community. According to Maximize Social Business, Instagram engagement is 15 times higher than Facebook engagement.

When it comes to creating an effective Instagram marketing strategy, you need the right tools. Although Instagram has updated its filters and improved its editing features since launching in 2010, brands that want to create a successful Instagram account and gain more followers need to tap into additional tools.

There are dozens of tools available to help you build your Instagram account. Whether it’s a platform for measuring your account’s success or creating higher quality images, it’s important to make sure you’re using the best tools for your photos. Here are the best Instagram tools to assist you with your marketing management strategy:

1. Schedule Instagram content with LaterGram.

Sometimes, you don’t have time to edit, upload, and publish a photo. By using LaterGram, you can easily plan and schedule your Instagram content. This app enables you to manage your content from a mobile device or web, and makes it easier to create a strategy for your Instagram account.

2. Create beautiful photos with AfterLight.

When it comes to creating engaging photos on Instagram, it’s essential to use external photo editing apps to help you create beautiful visuals for your brand. Apps such as AfterLight offer hundreds of unique filters and frames to help you create high quality images for your account.

3. Measure your success with Totems.

Knowing the success of your Instagram strategy is more important than ever. With Totems, brands can measure their analytics and social engagement to determine the effectiveness of their Instagram marketing strategy.

4. Discover key metrics with Iconosquare.

Iconosquare is another great Instagram analytics tool that helps you measure engagement on your account. With Iconosquare, you can find out data such as your most liked photos and average number of comments per photo. You can also view, post, and share photos, and follow/unfollow users directly from the platform.

5. Find the most popular photos with Webstagram.

Do you want to find trending photos within your industry or niche? Webstagram is a super helpful tool for identifying popular hashtags and interacting with popular photos. Not only can you view photos, but you can also send private messages to users, search users by keyword, and create an RSS feed for your photos. Webstagram also offers statistics and analytics for your Instagram account.

6. Explore users in specific cities with Followgram.

Are you looking to target a specific audience or niche? Use an app such as Followgram to identify customers within your target demographics. Followgram helps users find photos published in their area and find captions with specific hashtags. This is an excellent tool for growing your Instagram audience and finding users within your area.

7. Gauge community engagement with Ink361.

Another tool that’s helpful for measuring engagement is Ink361. This tool lets you see the total number of likes your images receive, distribution of likes, and your most popular photos. Ink361 also provides insights that helps users determine which photos their followers find most interesting. By understanding these analytics, brands can create a better Instagram strategy and post more relevant photos.

Developing a strong community through Instagram is a growing priority for brands. Visual content has changed the way brands build relationships with their customers and Instagram can help them grow their community. By using these Instagram tools to improve your Instagram marketing strategy, you’ll be able to tell a better story through photos and build a larger Instagram following.

Ivan Serrano is a social media, marketing and business journalist living in the Bay Area of California.

5 Reasons eMarketing Campaigns Fail

January 17th, 2015

Internet Marketing or eMarketing is a term we use to encompass any electronic publishing that has the goal of generating demand. This can be both direct (such as special offer, buy now) or indirect (such as helpful articles that appeal to your target audience). The typical distribution channels for eMarketing include traditional blogs (like this one) with RSS, Email marketing (through services such as VeticalResponse, Constant Contact and iContact), Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and other social media channels.

eMarketing can be compared to generating “foot traffic” in retail. For instance, many people venture into a retailing business because they’re passionate about a product or service. So they lease a storefront, flip the sign on the front door to read “Open”, and wait for the customers to rush in and buy their goods. What separates a successful retailer from a bankrupt retailer is the realization that rewards are derived from hard work, quality, attention to detail, and a dedication to match the market need as it evolves. Retailers can even spend a significant portion of their budget to advertise their product or service, but if they haven’t addressed these variables, they’ll never generate consistent demand. And yes, these same principals apply to eMarketing.

So why do so many eMarketing campaigns fail? Here are 5 reasons:

CONSISTENCY – The marketer fails to consistently develop content on a regular schedule; which in turn disengages the audience.  eMarketing is very easy to back-burner and before you know it the last time your bi-weekly marketing blast was published was four months ago.  Not only are you loosing the chance to simply ask for more sales, your display of inactivity on your blogs and social media sites will carry negative connotations to your audience. If the last time you published a blog post a site visitor will entertain such thoughts as, “Is this company still in business?” or “If it takes them that long to get to things what kind of customer service must they have?”

ATTENTION TO DETAIL – Although our society has significantly lowered its standards on grammar and spelling, both are still important to develop readable and discernible content. Many eMarketers, myself included, have a tendency to become lazy in regards to proofreading. It still matters. Even a 1% error rate in any published marketing piece can greatly reduce the credibility and effectiveness of the piece; no matter how great the design and content might be.

RELEVANCE – A marketer must evolve their passion to address a market need. People desire content that emotionally engages them and equates to their own interests. All material must be written from the perspective of your audience and it should be written in a way that captures and keeps their attention. Regardless of the subject matter, successful marketing communications should capture the emotions of an audience by making them laugh, cry, ponder, or get angry. Even nude para-sailing could become a relevant blogging topic if the subject matter is able to emotionally engage the reader and you’re able to relate to your business goal.

QUALITY AESTHETICS – No matter the content, people will make a strong initial judgement of your credibility based on the quality of graphic design for your marketing communication whether it be a blog, HTML email or Facebook page. By maintaining professionally designed electronic collateral, marketers  will enhance their credibility and improve the viral component of their distribution – because who really wants to refer a terrible looking Web site to a friend or professional acquaintance?

MARKETING DISTRIBUTION – Going back to the retailer example, one cannot simply flip the sign on the front door to read “Open” and expect customers to pour in. Generating an audience of prospects will take effort; the content must be distributed out to a targeted group of readers in order to generate interest.  Utilizing technologies such as Social Media, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and viral components such as a “Send This to a Friend” link are all viable methods to help build and maintain an audience. Marketers should also encourage their immediate sphere of contacts (family, friends, neighbors, work contacts, etc.) to read their content and spread it along.

Do you need help with putting together a more successful digital marketing strategy?  We’d love to learn more about your needs and provide you some feedback on how we might be able to assist. Contact us anytime.

How to Save Money on Our Web Development & Design Services

November 24th, 2014

Save MoneyIt may seem strange for a Web development company to provide guidelines for how its customers can spend less with us, but really it’s not from our perspective. We believe applying the golden rule not only benefits our customers but also us in the long run. We might make less money in the short term, but we gain the more valuable benefits of building trust with our clients and playing a small part to ensure their long-term success. Such clients will spend more with us over time and become invaluable sources of quality referrals which is how a vast majority of our new business come to us.

So, with that preamble, here are a couple easy ways to reduce your Web development, technical service and graphic design costs:

Maximize the value of each change request

Like almost all Web development and design firms, we have a minimum  charge for any task of one hour . This is due to the fact that to switch to a new client’s project, for even a small amount of work, compromises the efficiency of our day’s work flow and imposes an opportunity cost. We have to transition from another project, retool, login to appropriate accounts, backup data before changes, post changes, often test the changes (for example in different browsers) then communicate back to the client regarding the work.

The key for clients to realize is that once we have initiated a change request, the incremental cost is much lower for us doing other small changes while we’re already working within a client’s account. For example take a client who sends over three Website content change requests during a week. Each change may take 10 minutes of actual coding, but if they send those requests at three different times they would get billed 3 hours. If they save those requests and send them all at once they would only get billed for 1 hour or 66% less.

This strategy of course has the most dramatic effect for small changes that are not extremely urgent, and can most commonly be applied for changes for Website content. So if you find yourself with numerous small changes throughout the month, simply try holding them in an Outlook folder or whatever and sending them in groups.

Save 15% by prepaying

We offer prepaid hours with a 15% discount off our standard rates. There is no minimum quantity, you can use them immediately, they never expire and unused hours are 100% refundable. You can also track your prepaid balance real-time through our online client portal.

Save up to 40% through our retainer plans

For any client who regularly gets at least twenty hours of service from us a month you will save a significant amount of money through our flat-rate retainer. Not only do you receive a substantial discount on the number of hours in your plan, you are also entitled to a discount on additional hours each month if you should need them. Flat-rate retainers are paid in advance of each month. Additional hours are billed at a discounted rate of your hourly retainer rate + 20% and payable net 15. Unused hours in flat rate plans are not refundable nor carried over to the next month. Retainers automatically renew but can be canceled at any time. If you have any questions or would like us to personally review your ongoing service needs and provide recommendations please feel free to contact us by phone at 208.475.3192 or through our online contact form.

SSL encryption is now a ranking factor for Google

October 30th, 2014

Earlier this year Matt Cutts of Google stated that he personally would like to see sites that use SSL encryption be given favor in Google’s rankings.  In August, Google officially announced this as their policy as you can read in this official Google Webmaster blog post.

How important is changing your site over to SSL?  Like all on-site SEO improvements there is no one thing that can be done technically that will magically boost a site to the top of the search engine. Quality and relevant content are and always will be the most important SEO strategy.

However, correctly coding, structuring and configuring your website are vital tasks to ensure that your quality content is being optimally indexed and distributed to the world.  There is no single factor of this on-site SEO which is a magic bullet, however cumulatively the small benefits of on-site optimization add up and do matter.

With SSL, Google says that it is a ranking factor now but is presently a “lightweight signal”. However, and most importantly, Google says: “But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.”

For this reason we are now recommending that all our Web clients migrate their sites to SSL.  It’s not an emergency but it should be part of a sites long-term development plan.  If you have more questions about SEO, or would like to discuss a strategic SEO analysis for your site please contact us.

How Google Searches Work

September 28th, 2014

A simplified presentation by Google of how their searches work and how they determine how high on the results page to list your site.

It’s Easy to Spot Amateur Copy | by Lewis Bassett

August 13th, 2014

The following was originally published by Lewis Bassett of Bassett Providentia, Ltd, via his email list to which I subscribe. Every article I’ve ever received from him has been phenomenal, but this I think is one of his best. I’m sharing it here with his permission.

Lewis is one of the most talented marketing consultants I’ve ever encountered. I strongly recommend you subscribe to his email newsletter yourself. Just in case you’re as cynical as me, I have no connection and get no incentive for recommending him . . . I’m just a huge fan.

It’s easy to spot amateur copy.

Amateurs don’t know how to express anything other than excitement. So it’ll be high energy, full of hype, exaggeration and exclamation marks.

“Our new mouth-watering deserts are guaranteed to light your valentine’s fire! You’re in for a fun night! Hurry up and book now!”

Great copy should be conversational.

You should be speaking to your prospects the same way a friend might, if they were discussing the topic over a quiet drink after work.

There’s place for excitement. But there are so many other emotions you can – and should – express. (E.g., fear, shame, intrigue, suspense, tenderness, anger, sadness, surprise, benevolence, optimism, etc.)

We tend to do this naturally in conversation. And great copywriters know this.

But what if you’re not a great copywriter? Does this mean you can’t write great copy?

Probably. But it doesn’t mean you can’t write good copy.

There’s a simple and easy way to write compelling copy. And if you follow it, your work will be better than 90% of all the other rubbish that pollutes the Internet.

You don’t need any training. And you don’t need any specialist techniques.

Here’s what you do.

Go out and pitch your offering to as many people as you can. These must be people that are in a position to buy it.

Make sure you record every pitch you make. (There are plenty of iPhone apps for this.)

What you now have is compelling, conversational and natural copy.

You might need to clean it up a little. And you might want to add or remove a few points.

But what you have is proven to work, because it already won you the sale. Put it on your website, and it’ll almost certainly outperform what is on there right now.

Carpe diem.

Lewis Bassett
Director, Bassett Providentia Ltd

Copyright © 2012, Bassett Providentia Ltd

Lewis Bassett is an online marketing consultant and speaker, and helps companies to increase their revenue. Bassett Providentia Ltd is his consulting practice. For more information and to subscribe to his email list visit www.bassettprovidentia.com.

Logo Size

June 27th, 2014

There is a tendency to want a logo displayed as large as possible in marketing collateral. While it might be tempting to think the bigger the logo the bigger impression you’ll make,  in fact the opposite is true.

Our minds are subconsciously conditioned to give more prestige and credibility to brands the smaller their logo is displayed.  There are always exceptions, but almost all the best known brands display their logo quite small. Especially in certain mediums like Web and Email.

Take a look at almost any Fortune 100 company’s website, here are a few quick examples:

So, if you want your branding to communicate more prestige and credibility, quit trying so hard and tap into the subconscious consensus that smaller logos mean bigger brands.

Email Marketing Best Practices

June 10th, 2014

Have you ever opened your email only to find a long list of uninspired, unappealing, and loud advertisements all screaming at you? What did you do, read them all one-by-one, carefully considering their content and offers? Probably not! More than likely you simply deleted them all before you ever got past the subject line. So does this mean email marketing is dead? Hardly, email marketing is still one of the most cost-effective means of marketing to your existing client base if it is done correctly. So what are the best, most effective practices you can take into consideration when launching your own email marketing campaign?

Subject Line

For many people, it begins and ends at the subject line. If it looks like spam or is not interesting and eye-catching, they’re going to delete the entire email without ever opening it. You need to carefully craft a subject line that intrigues your clients and makes them want to read more. It needs to offer value to your target market and be personable, catchy and targeted directly to the reader.

Content

Once you’ve gotten someone to open an email, you have to keep their attention. Make sure that the content of the email provides valuable information, offers, deals or links that the client will want to hear about. But be careful, you don’t want to just blast them with self-promotional messages. Content should help clients fill a need they have in their lives, and should offer them something they’re truly interested in learning about. Make the content intriguing, and make them interested in hearing more. If you give them what they want now, you will be sure to make the sale later, and you don’t have to be pushy about it in the email.

Design

Don’t forget, however, that no matter how great your content is, if it doesn’t look good, your clients will delete it in the blink of an eye. Emails need to utilize the full capabilities of HTML coding, and they should be attractive to look at. The design should also fit in with your overall brand messaging so that it is easily identifiable as yours and yours alone. Professional, modern and uncluttered designs work best for email, so make sure to keep it simple. And don’t forget to make sure that the email works on every email platform, including mobile platforms. It might look good on your desktop, but if a client on an iPhone only sees a jumble of mixed-up images, the message will be lost and you’ve lost your sale.

If you can create a valuable, content-driven email that has great design that works well on all platforms, you will drive interest to your business. Remember that even though email marketing’s end goal is a sale, you don’t want the reader to feel pressured. They should feel like you’re giving them great information they want to hear first. If you get their interest and trust, the sales will come.

Emailing Groups – The Right Way

May 22nd, 2014

Are you aware that how you send emails to your customers can dramatically affect the viability of your entire business? In the most extreme cases emailing to customers the wrong way can result in your entire domain being frozen or shut down.

While a successful email marketing strategy involves much more, there are a few basics that you must adhere too to protect the good name of your business and prevent potentially serious problems with your company’s ability to deliver emails of all types to vendors, clients and customers.

1. Never send to large groups using Outlook or Webmail!

Have you ever logged into your individual email account and sent an email to a group of customers by adding them all to the bcc field? Or have you ever taken a larger list of customer email address and broken them up into smaller sequential emails?

Because of the prevalence of spam, email service providers and ISP’s closely monitor emails sent to multiple addressees as well as the frequency in which they’re sent. ISP’s and service providers tend to be overly cautious and favor erring on the side of preventing potential spam. Therefore  they are likely to flag your email/domain as potential spam when they see this type of group sending activity. In some cases I’ve seen email service suspended as a warning for 24 hours if too many such emails are sent, and, in extreme cases, the Website and email for your domain can be shut down.  This threat exists when sending through an individual account no matter how legitimate the email is and how much your recipients want to receive it.

The best alternative is to utilize one of the large 3rd party email marketing companies, namely VerticalResponse or Constant Contact. They send millions of emails each month and have the ability, because of their size and volume, to safeguard that your domain name does not get associated with spam. Not only will your domain name be protected, for their nominal cost, there are many other advantages such as tracking and the ability to have have a custom HTML email design developed for your brand.

2. Never buy lists of email addresses from 3rd parties!

There is a good reason why Constant Contact and Vertical Response do not allow the use of third party email lists . . . they are often not poor quality in terms of relevancy, they tend to result in a much higher rate being marked for spam by recipients (thus potentially blacklisting your domain) and most importantly there is no way to verify that these lists were obtained legally. In short, they present a very high risk of damage to your domain name and the deliverablity of all your company’s email . . . just don’t do it!  For more information on this topic and insight about best practice email marketing visit Word to the Wise or Deliverability.com; both great sites about email, delivery and spam.

There are of course legitimate ways to collect addresses for your email  marketing—you can start with this these 29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business provided by VerticalResponse.

3. Comply with the CAN-SPAM Act on all your marketing related emails (It’s not hard).

While admittedly The FTC is not overly aggressive in prosecuting, the fact remains that each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000. This should serve as good motivation to adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  4. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  5. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  6. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

For full details on these email guidelines, see the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Facts for Business.

PowerPoint Background Design Pointer . . . Less is More

March 13th, 2014

Some great advice from the design sage John McWade from Before & After Magazine

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