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Monthly Archives

October 2018

Should I Outsource My Social Media?

By | Networking Bizz Business advice | No Comments

With every other Instagram star being a social media guru these days, it’s common for businesses to ask themselves whether they should look into outsourcing their social media efforts.

The day-to-day tasks of running a business are generally enough for the average CEO, causing social media marketing to fall short on the priority calendar.

Social media marketing is its own beast and requires a special attention and level of creativity. Frankly, it isn’t for everyone.

If you’re going back and forth on whether to outsource your social media marketing, ask yourself the following questions first.

1. How Much Time Do I Have to Devote to Managing Social Media?

Time is the biggest reason businesses look to outsourcing their social media.

Social media isn’t just about scheduling posts.

You actually have to invest time in:

  • Tracking your brand mentions on social media.
  • Monitoring the conversations that are happening.
  • Trying new growth hack methods.
  • Responding immediately to any inquiries.

All of this needs to happen 24/7, too.

To say social media management can be done by setting aside 1-2 hours a week is really quite hilarious.

The time you invest in managing your brand’s social pages and image can’t be categorized into a lump one or few hour time periods. It is something that requires constant attention and generally in small intervals.

This is especially true for brands that have large followings and receive question after question through their social pages.

For those smaller to medium-sized businesses who argue, “Well, I don’t have tons of followers, so I just post and I’m good,” I hate to break it to you, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

If anything, the brands that have smaller followings have even more work cut out for them as they try to grow their followers organically and through paid methods. Talk about overtime. 

There are tons of excellent growth hacking methods to get your follower count as high as Nike, but to execute those methods it takes lots and lots of time and energy.

Social media isn’t a one and done type of strategy. You need to continually be optimizing your followers and be social online.

2. Do I Know How to Be Social Online?

Social media isn’t an excuse to hide behind a computer and not actually talk to anyone. You still need to talk to your followers.

There’s truly an art to being a social butterfly online, and not everyone has the knack. Let’s be honest with ourselves.

If you just really don’t have the energy, creativity, or will to be a virtual social butterfly, don’t be.

If you have the time, there are tons of resources to teach you how to connect with people virtually and become this type of butterfly for your brand.

Maybe you do have the time and want to learn how to connect with your demographic socially, go for it!

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you though is to know your audience.

If your audience is just as introverted as you are they’ll most likely continue that introverting in how they communicate online.

Instead of being on flashy social media pages like Instagram or Snapchat they may be hiding in forums or casually browsing Pinterest.

Wherever they may be mimic your customer, go where they are, talk like they talk, create content they’re comfortable with. Don’t be an extrovert in an introverts world.

If the idea of this is making you cringe, it would be best for you to outsource your social media to an agency who has done work for another business within your industry.

This is someone who knows how to talk to be a virtual social butterfly to your audience.

3. Have I Established My Brand Voice? If So, How Unique Is It?

Brand voice is everything on social media.

Spy on Any Website’s Analytics Account
See their sales and how they get them, in real time. Insights you were never meant to see.

Again, know your audience but also know your brand before you even try to connect with your audience.

  • Are your posts funny and sarcastic?
  • Do they only have calls to action and demands?
  • Are you capitalizing on every big news story?
  • Or are you more of a DIY mom who has a 10-year old blog?

All of those voices are entirely different. Though most agencies will, not all agencies are great at mimicking your brand voice.

The first step here is to get your brand voice down. Once you have it, never lose it!

Then, document everything you possibly can about this voice.

  • What words should this voice use?
  • Which ones should it avoid at all costs and never ever ever ever use?
  • Who are other companies who have a similar brand voice?

The more you document, the more you’ll see if this is something you can trust in another brands hands to help manage for you or if you should hold onto this baby yourself.

After all, you’re the one who created it.

In short:

  • If you have a well-documented brand voice, a good social media agency will be able to send you example copies for your approval until you feel at ease that they get it.
  • If you’re still trying to find your brand voice and are at the beginning stages of this strategy, now isn’t exactly the best time to outsource your social media management.
  • If you’re going to outsource anything, hire a social media consultant to help define your brand voice for social media and then take it from there.

4. Do I Have Content or Do I Need Content?

One way to do social media is to be completely hands off and let a social media agency do all of the work for you, which can even include creating the content to share.

If you have your own content to share, I’m not saying it’s a deal breaker and you should just suck it up and manage social media yourself.

What I’m saying is that if you’re struggling to figure out which type of content to produce, or if you should reshare that ebook from three years ago, it’s worth outsourcing your content production to a professional.

This professional is going to need a good debrief about your business, how and why it operates, who it’s ideal and actual customers are, and what kind of content materials you already have.

From there, outsourcing content may be the best move for your business.

You can still manage the social media in-house but without the worries of trying to figure out what kind of content your followers actually want to see.

5. Can I Afford to Outsource?

Social media agencies, independent contractors, and content creators all come at entirely different price ranges.

Sometimes, their price ranges are less expensive than your in-house social media manager. Other times not so much.

Outsourcing social media could cost anywhere from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars a month, all depending upon the following factors:

  • What kind of outsourcing: Freelance (least expensive), agency (middle), or enterprise (highest)
  • What the monthly deliverables are: More posts and content creation = higher price
  • How long the contract length is: Longer contracts = price cuts
  • Social media tool subscriptions: Sometimes agencies require you to have your own account
  • Social media advertising: Because organic is no longer good enough

Let’s not forget about the time it takes for you to email back and forth, edit, approve and review reports.

Here’s a look at everything that comes with in-house costs of social media management:

  • Employees (salary, benefits, etc.).
  • Social media tool subscriptions.
  • Content creation.
  • Social media advertising.
  • Strategy development and measurement (time and tools).

If you go the freelancer route, you’re certainly saving money on those benefit coverages, but it may not always be the right path. You’re still looking at investing:

  • Your management time.
  • Your communication time.
  • Content creation.
  • Social media advertising.

6. What Should I Do?

So, which one is right for you?

It depends on tons of different goals and factors, most of which we hashed out above.

To put it simply, if you’re already head over heels with to-do lists and the idea of carving out extra time to do another task is making your other eye twitch, do yourself a favor and outsource. It will be the least time-invested resource.

Though, don’t forget, it will still require a bit of your time and movement in your budget.

  • Freelance = Lots of communication, editing, approvals, and then double-checking ROI.
  • Agency = A bit of time initially and then mostly hands-off.
  • Enterprise = Read our monthly reports and go “Oh” and “Ah.”

If you have the time, budget, and experience to create an in-house team or become one, then do so.

Managing your brand’s social media presence in-house has far more pros than cons.

The Top 10 Email Marketing Mistakes to Stop Making

By | Netwoking Bizz Brand development, Networking Bizz Business advice | No Comments

Email marketing has the potential to generate unmatched ROI for your business, but figuring out how to optimize your strategy isn’t always easy. There are lots of moving parts to keep track of, from tools and campaigns to analytics and testing.

All of these separate parts must come together somehow to make your email marketing work. That said, there are a few common obstacles that often stand in the way of getting your best results from email.

To help you keep track of some common pitfalls, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 email marketing mistakes that are costing your company revenue.

1. Not including a call-to-action

Are you creating email campaigns and not telling your subscribers what to do with the information you give them?

If so, you’re missing the point of creating a campaign in the first place – to reach a particular goal. If your emails don’t help you move toward that goal, they’re pretty much pointless. They’re a waste of time and resources.

Luckily, it’s easy to optimize your emails to accomplish whatever you want to achieve. You can increase your website traffic, convert subscribers to leads, increase purchases, or get people to download your new ebook.

All it takes is persuasive email copy along with an effective call-to-action!

You can also think of a call-to-action as a clear goal for that particular email. Just ask yourself: what do you want subscribers to do with the content in the marketing message? That should be your call-to-action (CTA).

For instance, in this email from Chatbooks, the goal is to get customers to make a purchase. The company has a coupon code to help spur people to this action, so they used that enticement as the CTA text (“Save 20% Today!”).

2. Not using email list segmentation

If you’re not segmenting your email list, you’re missing out on an easy way to send more personalized emails to each subset of your subscribers.

For example, maybe a subset of your subscribers uses your service far more than others. Maybe you have a different subset of casual or beginning users, too. If you send the same emails to both groups, you’ll risk alienating them both with messaging that’s too broad and doesn’t resonate with their interests.

By contrast, if you send each group personalized emails, you can speak to them on deeper, targeted levels, which may equal more action from them on your CTAs.

3. Not writing your emails for the reader

Are your emails focused on your readers, or are they focused on you, your business, and your goals?

If you’re in the latter camp, you’re making one of the biggest marketing mistakes: forgetting your audience.

This is a big problem because your audience doesn’t care about things that don’t involve them. They want to know what’s in it for them, and if you don’t spell it out, they’ll lose interest.

4. Not automating emails based on user habits

According to BigCommerce, email automation is one of the most effective methods for email marketing. It helps you engage with customers at exactly the right moment when they’ll be most receptive to your marketing.

Here’s how it works: if you want to send new subscribers to your newsletter a welcome email or a series of emails, you create one email campaign designed to introduce them to your website and your best content or products. The email is triggered once the requirements are met (in this case, whenever someone new signs up for your email list).

In this vein, you can create all kinds of automated email campaigns. You set the criteria for the trigger, and when those criteria are met, the prospect will receive a targeted, personalized email at the exact right time. Less work for your team, more reward for the entire company.

And, according to data from Statista, personalized marketing is what users crave. 90% of respondents to an April 2017 marketing survey said they find personalized messages either “very appealing” or “somewhat appealing”.

5. Not creating engaging email subject lines

It’s easy to neglect your email subject lines after spending time and resources crafting a beautiful email. After all, you’ve optimized the content for results and subscribed to all the best practices for email marketing, so you’re sure to see results, right?

If you neglect your subject lines, you could lose out on critical opens, which means your subscribers will never even see, read, or interact with your emails, regardless of how well they’re designed.

That’s bad for your email marketing because it means a wasted budget and wasted time. Instead, take the time to craft compelling email subject lines so your messages are irresistible from the very moment they hit your readers’ inboxes.

A few good tips include:

  • Keeping it short and sweet
  • Eliminating filler words
  • Putting the most important keywords at the beginning
  • Staying clear and simple

6. Not optimizing for mobile users

Mobile internet traffic accounts for over half of all internet traffic, according to StatCounter. That number surpasses traffic from desktop computers and tablets.

In other words, if you’re not optimizing your email marketing for mobile users, your messages will render poorly and not work on the majority of their devices. Not only are your subscribers likely to delete your email then and there, but they are also less likely to open your next one.

7. Not including text (or Alt Text)

If your email campaigns consist of nothing but images, you have a problem.

It’s this simple: lots of email users have their images turned off, which means they won’t automatically load in their browser. If your email is all images without text, the user won’t see a thing, and they’ll move on.

8. Not sending emails strategically

How often do your subscribers want to hear from you? Not asking this question is yet another major email marketing mistake.

Turns out, sending emails strategically isn’t about guesswork. It’s about paying attention to your target audience and segments, listening to their preferences, and offering options that cater to them.

For example, many brands offer a preference center for their list subscribers, allowing users to determine how frequently they receive emails. Once you start collecting this data, you can easily break your list into segments and use automation to follow-through, delivering exactly what your customers want.

9. Not cleaning up your subscriber list

The size of your email list doesn’t matter as much as how many of those people are truly interested and engaged in what you have to tell them. If your list is bloated because you have a big percentage of inactive subscribers, that doesn’t help your bottom line.

What does help your bottom line? Active, engaged, interested subscribers.

To that end, it’s a good idea to clean up your list every now and then. Think of it as “cleaning house.” When you prune your list and remove those who aren’t engaging with your emails, you’ll be left with the true fans of your brand and a much more powerful tool for marketing.

10. Not A/B testing your emails

Number 10 in our list of the top 10 email marketing mistakes: not A/B testing your emails.

Testing your emails is one of the simplest ways to gather data about your audience’s preferences. Once you know what designs, images, text, and CTAs are most appealing to your readers – you can build on this knowledge to create even more powerful, compelling, and exciting emails.

How to thrive within the fast-paced SEO environment

By | Networking Bizz Advanced SEO Techniques, Networking Bizz Business advice, Networking Bizz digital marketing | No Comments

One of the best things about the search space is that it’s hard. We are constantly working to keep our finger on the pulse, experiment with new ideas, and drive results. It’s why I love it.

At the same time, because it’s hard and because it’s constantly evolving, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, you are bound to make mistakes. In fact, search “SEO mistakes” and you’ll find about 18 million other people who agree.

I have made any number of mistakes in the past years and while I’m not going to list them out line by line (we don’t have that kind of time), I do think there’s value in discussing what we can do to avoid some of the more common ones. Let’s jump in.

1. Always track changes

It’s an age-old tale; someone in an organization (the client, the dev team, the CEO) decides to make an update to the site without communicating it. Pages are gone or moved, content has been changed, and even worse, you didn’t notice it until a few weeks later when traffic was gone and rankings had tanked.

Unfortunately, as much as we communicate, as much as we try to stay involved, situations like this are bound to occur. The best thing to do is to prepare. Here’s how.

Set up change alerts

Tools like SEORadar or VisualPing will notify you when changes are made to a site. Whether it’s on-page or in the code, you will get an alert and immediately be able to see where the change occurred. For larger e-commerce sites where changes are made frequently, a tool like SEORadar will allow you to choose the types of changes you want to be notified about. A good feature considering none of us want to be bombarded with useless emails.

Keep a changelog

We use a combination of Basecamp and Google Drive to ensure we can easily find existing recommendations. After all, if a page is accidentally removed or you need to revert content or tagging, finding the approved content becomes pretty important. Even more importantly, if a site tanks, it’s good to be able to see what drove it.

A few things we do to stay organized:

  • Shared Changelog. For a number of clients, we keep a shared changelog with the dev team. This way we know the when, what, and where of site updates.
  • Analytics Annotations. When an update is released, recommendations are implemented, or a big announcement is made (ex: mobile indexing), make an annotation in your analytics platform. A year from now, when you are pulling data and wondering what happened, you’ll have it right in front of you. Annotations can be lifesavers.
  • Closeout messages. For example, if a page was updated, make a note in the original message, noting the date of the change and the URL. Record keeping FTW!! (Check out Recordit.com for the best free onscreen recording software ever- you’ll thank us later!)

2. Clean data = Good data

You spent hours creating a report. The results look good. You’re showing value. And just when it’s time to present the report to the team, you hear:

“Does this include login traffic?”

or

“We actually switched to a new profile.”

or

“We need to take out traffic from X.”

Make sure you’re using the right data from the start. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a project when one team has been using one data point and another team a different one. And you’d be surprised by the number of reports I’ve had to redo because we had the wrong information or the client wanted certain data points removed.

At the same time as you sync up with your team and the client, make sure your analytics is set up properly from the start – is tracking on all pages? Is sub-domain tracking set up? Are the correct goal URLs set up? Is event tracking working properly?

One of the biggest challenges we have in SEO is showing value and we rely on analytics data to help us. Without the right data in place, our challenge becomes even greater.

3. Knowledge is power

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again and again…there is a lack of education in the marketing space when it comes to SEO. Not only that, but the value of SEO is still being questioned.

Here’s the thing – while it’s changing, it’s not changing fast enough and we can’t get mad because someone doesn’t understand the value of what we are doing or understand everything that’s involved in the process. More importantly, we have to be able to explain things in a way that matters to the stakeholders. Here’s how:

Know Your Audience

How we talk to the PR team is different than how we talk to the Dev team and certainly different than how we talk to the CMO. Guess what? The CMO probably doesn’t care about the type of redirect you are recommending. What they do care about is the impact it has on the overall business.

Know who it is you are talking to, what their knowledge is, and what they care about. If you are unsure, ask ahead of time. During our initial discovery, we not only ask questions related to SEO but also get backgrounds on the people we will be working with.

  • What is their role?
  • What are their goals?
  • Have they worked with an SEO team in the past?

This type of information can be really helpful.

Avoid the SEO bubble

Last week I was providing a recommendation on duplicate content. The client set up a sub-domain and a sub-folder containing the same information. As I started to explain the way search engines index pages, I realized they didn’t care and they didn’t need to know that information. What they needed to know was the result and why it was important we fix it.

Look, we spend hours of our lives analyzing Google, so I get why we want to share our knowledge. The thing is, it doesn’t always matter. Sometimes we have to step out of our SEO bubble and talk like regular humans.

4. Don’t forget the customer

One of the case studies I used involved lots of content, huge increases in traffic and rankings, and an unhappy client.

See, it turned out that while we were building an amazing portfolio of content that was driving people to the site, we were actually building an amazing portfolio of top to medium funnel content. We weren’t focused on conversions and we weren’t focused on existing customers. Fail!

As search marketers, it’s so easy to forget what it is we are trying to do. There’s so much pressure to improve results and improve a position that we often forget why we are doing it in the first place…sales.

5. There’s more than one way

Can we all just agree there’s often more than one right way? That yes, maybe this way worked great for you but this other way worked great for someone else. Perhaps SEO has a lot of intricacies and nuances and is often specific to a site or industry or platform. Maybe?

I am harping on this a bit but the reason is that we often get too caught up in the “this has to be done a certain way” mentality. We get on calls with developers and tell them the way we want it done. We fight battles over meta tag lengths or how a title tag should be written. Come on.

To be a good SEO means being able to compromise and figure out how to make things work even if it’s not the way you would’ve done it. We have to pick our battles and push for the things that really matter. And remember, just because Google says jump, doesn’t mean you have to jump.

Why voice assistants will drive e-commerce

By | Networking Bizz news | No Comments

Here’s why voice assistants will drive e-commerce forward for the foreseeable future, and what we should expect from the leading tech companies that are pioneering the innovations, making this all possible.

Voice assistants aren’t some mythical, on-the-cusps of reality innovation set to reshape our everyday lives any minute now. They’re already surrounding us today, having become a commonplace appearance in the living rooms, businesses, and entertainment venues enjoyed by millions of consumers.

Whether you’re relying on Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, or perhaps even Microsoft’s Cortana or another voice assistant, there’s a solid chance you’ve already relied on the services of one of these audible aides in the recent past. This trend is only going to grow more commonplace in the near future if investments in the tech driving it forward are anything to go by.

Look at the colossal sums of cash that Amazon is funneling towards Alexa, for instance, and you’ll realize just how seriously today’s leading companies are taking voice assistants. The company recently announced a startup fund of some $100 million, which envisions an Alexa-filed future where voice assistants are available anywhere you turn, ready and eager to help you solve your problems or make your next purchase.

Soon, everyone everywhere will have at least limited access to a voice assistant, whether they’re in the public or private spheres of life.

The implications of this phenomenon for e-commerce can’t be overstated. By and large, tomorrow’s e-commerce market will be driven by voice assistants who help moms and dads finish their grocery shopping while simultaneously enabling businesses to make more efficient and profitable acquisitions of major resources.

This shouldn’t be particularly surprising; after all, we knew as early as 2012 that Siri, who was then still in her infancy as a voice assistant, would eventually be used as a tool for online shopping. Nobody ever dared to imagine the scope that e-commerce would rise to take on, however, nor consider the implications of having virtual assistants with easy access to our wallets following us everywhere we go.

One of the most lucrative ways that e-commerce operations will cash in on voice assistants will be through targeted advertisements, which today are but a mere nuisance, but will tomorrow dominate the market more than ever before.

Voice assistants are rapidly becoming more advanced, capable of fielding a wider array of questions than ever before, and may soon be playing ads over their speakers even if they’re in your living room. Whether or not consumers will revolt when this becomes commonplace remains to be seen, but thus far the digital age has guaranteed that advertisements and sponsored content are A-Okay with most customers as long as they don’t disrupt their digital experiences.

Major corporations like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are laboring tirelessly to construct a global economy built around voice commands, with every intention of hooking as many consumers as possible on their addicting products. This makes shopping not only easier but now almost a fun novelty.

Parents will soon be teaching their children about money, spending habits, and grocery purchasing by helping their tiny-tots shout out purchasing orders to the smart-speaker in their living room or kitchen. Teachers and university professors, too, will come to rely on these assistants in the classroom when teaching economic principles from A to Z.

All of these factors point towards a future where e-commerce is driven by the rise of voice assistants more than anything else. Alexa and Siri, today are merely helpful handlers who guide us from one location to another or provide us with timely weather updates, will soon become veritable digital accountants who manage wide swathes of our financial activities.

Forget small e-commerce operations like pawning off apparel or selling groceries through Alexa; soon, it won’t be far-fetched to authenticate the purchasing of shares in a major company or the acquisition or a major competitor through voice-controlled assistants.

The future of e-commerce is rapidly approaching and it’s going to be dominated by voice assistants. Driven more by consumers flocking to these wondrous products than anything else, the trend of voice assistants becoming a pivotal aspect of the e-commerce industry is soon going to grow so big that it will be impossible not to notice it.

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