The Best Time to Post on Instagram from Website Builder (And an Infographic)

Websitebuilder.org wrote a great article exclusively for the Daly Marketing Inbound Marketing Blog on the best days and times to post on Instagram, read on to get all of the details:

The Best Time to Post on Instagram

If you wаnt tо inсrеаѕе credibility оf уоur brаnd and engage with уоur audiences, уоu nееd tо be on Inѕtаgrаm. Inѕtаgrаm hаѕ a mоrе thаn 600 million monthly real users аnd fаѕtеѕt grоwing рlаtfоrm of аnу other ѕосiаl media рlаtfоrm, there is no reason you shouldn’t be using the Instagram fоr business.

Milliоnѕ оf реорlе globally аrе now using Inѕtаgrаm. Instagram hаѕ made it еаѕiеr tо tаkе рiсturеѕ аnd share thеm with friеndѕ аnd many реорlе еnjоу doing thiѕ. Aраrt frоm networking, уоu саn use Instagram in a more еffiсiеnt wау for mаrkеting. Inѕtаgrаm iѕ a great рrоmоtiоnаl tool you can uѕе tо рrоmоtе уоur buѕinеѕѕ оnlinе

A numbеr оf key fасtоrѕ will impact when thе best timе tо роѕt оn Inѕtаgrаm асtuаllу iѕ, and in thiѕ blоg роѕt, data соllесtеd bу Website Builder will hеlр discover thе mоѕt ѕuitаblе time fоr роѕting оn Inѕtаgrаm.

What Dауѕ аrе Bеѕt?

When talking dауѕ of thе week it turnѕ out that thе bеѕt dау to post iѕ Wednesday because it has thе highest engagement of any dау. Thurѕdау iѕ thе highest traffic dау. I always thоught weekends were higher, but it turnѕ оut nоt tо be truе. Pеорlе plan thingѕ аnd аrе out оf thеir normal rоutinеѕ. I get lеѕѕ еngаgеmеnt оn mу posts, but I gеt mоrе nеw fоllоwеrѕ. People tеnd tо “еxрlоrе” IG a bit mоrе on the wееkеndѕ.

The Bеѕt Timе оf Dау tо Pоѕt оn Inѕtаgrаm

We’ve found that the bеѕt timе iѕ bеtwееn 9аm tо 12 pm. Thiѕ аррliеѕ еvеn if уоu’rе located out of thе United States. Fоr example; if you’re a Ruѕѕiаn fitnеѕѕ mоdеl and most оf уоur fоllоwеrѕ are in Russia, thеn the bеѕt timе would bе bеtwееn 9аm tо 12рm Russian timеѕ. You саn аррlу thiѕ same ѕсеnаriо with any соuntrу.

If уоu аrе working hаrd to grоw уоur Inѕtаgrаm ассоunt аnd really want all your еffоrtѕ tо рау оff as muсh as роѕѕiblе fоllоw this advice. If уоu аrе hеrе to “just hаvе fun” уоu саn ignоrе аll this аnаlуѕiѕ. Wе аrе huge believers in еnjоуing thе рrосеѕѕ. If posting “when the mооd hits” mаkеѕ it mоrе enjoyable thеn wе rесоmmеnd doing juѕt thаt!

Click the image below to see the glorious infographic our friends at websitebuilder.org have put together:

139 Facts and Stats About Instagram One Should be Aware of in 2017 from Websitebuilder.org

Instagram monthly users gains 100m in six months, Twitter growth stagnant. What does this mean for advertisers?

Between June and today, Instagram has added 100m monthly users, totalling 600m monthly users in the most recent reports.  This means that in the past two years, monthly users have doubled for the photo and video sharing app.

Inbound Marketing, Advertising Dollars, Twitter
Twitter quarterly report of monthly users.

Twitter’s monthly users have grown abysmally in comparison, hovering between 288m and 317m over the past two years.  What does this mean for your business and advertising dollars?

 

 

A couple of things.  This year, Instagram forecasts for ad revenue reach $1.5 billion, whereas Twitter expects to make 2.6 billion.  This means that despite having half of the monthly users Instagram does, they’re bringing in a billion more dollars from advertisers, and ad prices continue to grow.  User interaction with ads have also declined 41% according to a report from Advertising Age.

Inbound Marketing, Advertising, Twitter
Twitter Ad Revenue

To tie it up in a nice bow for you, if you’re trying to decide between the two social media giants, go with Instagram- the ads have potential to reach double the monthly users than on Twitter.  They’re even rolling out some new tools so advertisers can sell products in-app. This will make interaction with ads higher- proving to be a better value for the advertisers’ use of precious marketing dollars.

 

The best time to send an email? 10 Studies summarized.

Co-schedule wrote a fantastic article that gives the details about ten studies done with regards to email marketing: the best time to get your email read, and the best time to get click-throughs.

Here’s a little summary all wrapped up in a bow for you.  Happy holidays!

The best day to send an email: Tuesday followed by Thursday, then Wednesday.

The best time to send an email: 10am.  Some of the studies cite 8pm, 2pm, and 6am, however from my personal experience I’ve always found 10am to get the highest open rates across several industries.

Why all of this information is controversial: Regardless of what studies say, you need to find what works best for your targeted audience.  Your content, industry, and email list makes all of the difference in the world.

How to figure out what works for you:  send emails based on the data from the article- try several different times and subject lines.  Analyze what worked for you and expand on that.

I’ve included a handy infographic from our friends at co-schedule that you can use for your own email campaigns for testing to see what works.

how-to-test-email-send-times

For more information on how to implement email marketing campaigns to help your business, or specific questions on how to make it work for you, please fill out the following form:

Millenials spend more than any other demographic making them the most coveted target for businesses

Did you know that millenials (18-32) spend 700 BILLION dollars a year?  This makes them the most coveted target audience for businesses. Where are your marketing and advertising efforts getting the most ROI? Online- specifically social media- and it must be mobile friendly. 90% of millenials own a smart phone- and 80% of them actively use their phone while in a store for shopping to search for coupons, get recommendations from friends on social media, find product reviews, search for lower prices elsewhere, and even make purchases on their phones (I’m guessing if they find the same product online for a cheaper price).

Another interesting statistic- every year nearly 4 million babies are born in the US – and 83% of new moms are millenials.   They are using their smart phones more than any other medium (laptop, tablet, tv, print, radio)- they do at least half or more than half of their shopping online.

Put simply- if your business is NOT online, and not mobile friendly, you’re missing out on a huge chunk of revenue.

This video is an awesome example of great social media marketing – check out how many views it got- and is very cool in terms of the message/quality- as a parent I think it perfectly sums up parenting in this day and age – and it went viral.  Good job, Similac!

If you have questions about your online marketing strategy, give us a shout- fill out the form below or call 585-737-1606






Digital marketing in 2015: Social media ads, Facebook ads hit 2m customers, and #mwc2015

social media advertising, inbound marketing

Facebook, the social media giant with over 2.5 billion global users,hit the milestone of acquiring 2 million advertising customers. Although Google still ranks first when it comes to advertising, the news is not surprising in light of the 2015 State of Marketing report that Salesforce released earlier this year.  The report states that the top three most effective digital marketing channels and strategies were email marketing, social media advertising, and social media listening (monitoring).

This data is demonstrative of just how powerful social media advertising can be.  Yesterday, CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, delivered a keynote at the Mobile World Congress 2015 summit that discussed the globalization of the internet, bringing the web to developing countries, the internet.org app, and mobile commerce.  Facebook head of technology and mobile strategy, Jane Schachtel, detailed the trends she expects to see this week as well. Social media advertising is bigger than ever.

In that same vein, marketers are going to need to leverage other digital advertising strategies as well and a few other things came to light. Some of the digital marketing channels and strategies that marketers were least likely to continue thru 2015 were blogging, corporate website, and native advertising.  The reason that marketing professionals said they were not sure or unlikely to pursue these channels/strategies was because of lack of training and/or understanding of how to best leverage these channels/strategies to promote their respective brands.

Upon further investigation, it became apparent that a severe lack of knowledge on how to leverage very powerful platforms for marketing and branding was the norm among professionals.
In fact, according to this Copyblogger article, a good chunk of the marketing/PR community has little-to-no understanding of what native advertising is- their 2014 status report showed that: “49% of respondents don’t know what native advertising is, 24% are hardly familiar with it, another 24% are somewhat familiar, and only 3% are very knowledgeable.”

The reason why this could be so devastating for many brands is because these channels and platforms are the most effective for content marketing.  This article discusses how the latest Google algorithm overhaul known as “Hummingbird” focuses heavily on “T” shaped authorities- which are brands that have a very wide knowledge base, but a deep, focused understanding in a few key areas. Blogging, use of corporate websites, native advertising, are all fertile grounds for demonstrating this sort of authority.

This year, social media advertising, and other novel approaches to digital advertising, like native ads will reign supreme.  Brands that fail to use these strategies will be left behind- and unfortunately it appears that quite a few brands have already made that decision.

For more information on how to leverage novel marketing and PR strategies to promote your brand, stop by the inbound marketing blog from Daly Marketing

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Social media cheat sheet: Best times to post content on each platform

social media, inbound marketing, Rochester NYThe end goal of leveraging social media for your brand is getting the audience to be so delighted, they take action. Depending on the goals of your brand, the action may vary. Whether you want to drive traffic to your site, provoke meaningful discussion, or “just” build awareness – here is the quick list of the best times to post on several different social media platforms.

Facebook: According to a great KISSMetrics infographic on the best times/days to post, Saturday at noon is the best for sharing. There’s also a slight spike in sharing around 7PM. Frequency of posts: one post every other day is the “sweet spot.”

Pinterest: I’ve mentioned before that the Google Hummingbird update loves “T” shaped authorities– which means that they favor authorities who have knowledge in a wide range of topics but deep, critical understanding in a few. Pinterest packs a huge punch for brands – and is becoming quite the marketing tool so you’ll want to make sure you’re posting at the best times to get the most exposure- reports vary, but a trusted resource (HubSpot, naturally) tells us that Saturday mornings dominate for when to post content. EXCEPT- if your brand is in the fashion or retail vertical – you’re gonna want to post on Friday afternoons around 3PM.

Twitter: I am seeing conflicting information from two of my go-to resources for all things inbound marketing and social media- so I’ll try to simplify it for you:

  • HubSpot data says: Mondays-Thurs 1-3 PM. Worst times? Any day after 8PM and Fridays after 3PM.
  • KISSMetrics data says: Best time to get re-tweeted is 5PM. Most click-throughs (CTR) – Wednesdays/Weekends at noon or 6PM, at a frequency of 1-4 Tweets per hour. (Spoiler: you could be cranking out up to a 350% CTR for your brand at that frequency!)
  • Kristin’s data says: From my own personal experience I’ve found that different segments of my audience are online later at night. The more “scientific” crowd is on well after 8PM, Twitter parties abound on topics from #MH370 research to some of my mom friends who work during the day and jump on after the kids are in bed. Sometimes I get better engagement at this time. I can say for sure though that I always get good CTR and re-tweets around the sweet spots that both HubSpot and KISSMetrics mentioned. So in short, get to know your audience. Different segments like different means of engagement- my re-tweets come from fellow marketing professionals, good conversation comes later at night. It varies.

LinkedIn: I’ve always found LinkedIn to be especially awesome on Tuesdays at 10AM. Coincidentally, this is also the best time for me to send out any email marketing campaigns. Here’s my theory on why this time is so great- Mondays are catch-up day. On Tuesday mornings, people have time to catch up on less urgent work matters like reading emails, or reading professional articles and networking on LinkedIn. Right after lunch is also a pretty decent time. Tuesday has always been good to me. If any of you have other great times, let me know in the comments.

Google+: This is another platform you do NOT want to be skipping out on. The Google Hummingbird will sing for your brand if you get as involved in Google+ as you can. HubSpot data says Wednesdays at 9AM are prime-time for Google+ posts. KISSMetrics data says you need to do some a/b testing to figure out which posts do well and it’s mostly dependent on your niche and time zone. Interesting tidbit: according to KISSMetrics, nearly 50% of the U.S. population lives in the Eastern time zone. Combine Eastern and Central time zones and you’ve got a little over 80% of the U.S. population. Just something to take into consideration. Try out this awesome app: Timing+ to see what your Google+ “sweet spot” is. Yes, it’s awesome, and you can thank me later.

So there you have it. A not-so-brief quick list of the best times to share, post, and engage on some of the most powerful social media platforms. Hopefully, you run with this information and see a great boost to your brand. What have you found to be most effective as far as timing and sharing? Let me know in the comments! The more information the better!

Guide to Social Media in 2015 (And my critiques/favorites)

There are only a million websites out there geared towards content marketing and social media marketing- this morning I found a cool article with a great graphic from ovrdrv.com that provides a map to all of the various social media platforms, social listening tools, and content tools one could want in 2015. I’ve used quite a few, so I’ll add my own personal favorites- and some notes on what I don’t like and why.

Foursquare: What? Is anyone even on there anymore? Totally irrelevant and I don’t see it making a comeback anytime soon. Its prime moment was when the Mars Rover checked in from Mars. And then, it went back to being stupid.

social media map, social media in 2015

Favorites:
• Social networks: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Note: 2015 trends are very visual so we’re seeing a lot of businesses using Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Vimeo.
• Content creation tools: Slideshare, Storify
• Social media management and tracking: Hootsuite and Buffer
• Social search: Twitter search is AWESOME! Socialmention and Topsy are pretty decent as well.
• Blogging: In order of preference WordPress, Medium, then Tumblr
• Social recruiting: Thumbtack (although I would categorize it more of a lead generation tool for business owners)
• Local/location based: Google+ Local (this affects your position on Google’s organic search results- being very active on Google+ is a must if you want better visibility)
• URL shorteners: bit.ly- you can customize yours to match your brand, and ow.ly is what Hootsuite uses.
• Social Q/A: Quora is a must- it can be leveraged to show your expertise in your field. This will help get you to the point of being an influencer.
• Social Reviews: Yelp, always great, but honestly Google reviews weren’t listed (not sure why) because they matter the most.
• Social payment and commerce: Venmo. Let’s say you and your sister order Chinese and she has the cash and you only have debit- you can send her your half via Venmo. So easy. And yes, my example was really what happened- so, thanks sis for showing me this awesome app! And Shopkick is THE best app ever- seriously- you get “kicks” walking into stores. Get enough kicks and you can redeem them for gift cards to a million places- just to give you an idea- I’ve redeemed my kicks for gift cards to Target, Macys, and Fandango.

Myspace is totally irrelevant and SO 2004. Go away, Myspace. Whisper, YikYak, Secret- alright, I guess, if you’re fifteen.

What I don’t like:
• Myspace: Totally irrelevant and SO 2004. Go away, Myspace.
• Whisper, YikYak, Secret- alright, I guess, if you’re fifteen.
• Tagged- SO spammy.
• Howsociable: Hated this. I even had a paid account. I literally got zero information from this site and even received an email from one of the staff after I questioned how to get results apologizing and that they were working on it. Don’t waste your time or money. It’s a giant bust.
• Tweetdeck: Hootsuite is so much better.
• Vine: Again, its okay, if you’re fifteen.
• Foursquare: What? Is anyone even on there anymore? Totally irrelevant and I don’t see it making a comeback anytime soon. Its prime moment was when the Mars Rover checked in from Mars. And then, it went back to being stupid.

I want to know what you all like/prefer and why- as well as what you don’t like and why- leave a response in the comments!

Google updates search algorithm today t

Google updates search algorithm today that favors mobile-friendly sites: Today Google unrolled the latest update to their search algorithm, which ideally will give businesses with mobile-friendly sites a boost in their rankings. The intent behind this update (like others) is to enhance user experience. The official announcement of impending updates was released on the official Google Webmaster Blog in February, however this did not come as a shock to experienced marketing and web professionals.

Want more traffic, engagement, and inbound links to your blog? The science is in!

 

Blogging Infographic from KISSMetrics on the best times to post
Credit: Kissmetrics

In short, it comes down to your goals.  You can post during “high activity hours” which means you’ll get more traffic, and possibly more engagement, but then you’ll get your post buried by others because everyone has the same thought “hey let’s post during the day!”  You could post at night because your blog will get better placement, but it will get less traffic.

I will keep this really short so you can get back to your blogging mission: Most people read blogs in the morning* with the highest traffic being on Mondays at 11am.  If you want comments/engagement?  Saturday is your best bet- specifically, 9am.  So much for sleeping in!

If you want inbound links and shares?  Blogs get the most inbound links/shares on Mondays and Thursdays around 7am.  Interestingly, but not shockingly- if you post more than once a day you’re more likely to get more inbound links and unique views.  The last piece of data is funny (and true) – the more posts per day, the more monthly unique views your blog will have.

If you post 30x per day (good luck with that!) then you could get up to 1.8 million unique views per month. Unfortunately, you’ll probably not be doing much else other than typing.

*Men vs Women blog reading behavior: a higher percentage of men read blogs at night, so if you’re target is men, I’d do some posting at night.  A/B testing should be helpful, play around with different posting times and find your blog posting sweet spot!

For a larger view of the infographic, it’s clicky to the Kissmetrics page.

Now my question to you all is this: what patterns have you noticed with your blogs- traffic, engagement, and shares?

#Yearontwitter Features Top Trends in 2014 on Twitter

2014 is coming to a close and it’s once again time to look back on the year and reflect. Lots of crazy stuff happened- some good, some bad. Twitter has an awesome feature now that we can use to look back on those “moments” as seen in #hashtags.

#BCSChampionship game when Auburn faced off with Florida State

#goteamusa during the send-off for the #sochi2014 winter Olympic games- featured the athletes in their #goteamusa mittens- we also saw #sochiproblems trending with hilarious pictures of the less than pretty conditions in Sochi. Bob Costas’ raging pink-eye also caused #bobcostaspinkeye and a spoof account “owned” by his eyes.

#sotu and #sotu2014 for the President’s State of the Union address- and twitter made this hashtag visualization to feature the live hashtags during the speech on Twitter. Very cool visualization, by the way.

Countdown to #SB48 game- Seahawks vs. Broncos but what really took the cake was during the #nflplayoffs when @rsherman_25 got heated in a post-game interview yelling “I’m the best corner in the game!” He later apologized (we still love you, Richard!).

One of the funnier moments from the #oscars was when John Travolta totally botched the introduction for Idina Menzel- er- “Adele Dazeem” – which made viewers do a double take and ask “wait, what did he say just there?” Check out the video- and it caused a riot on twitter with #adeledazeem and a spoof account from the lovely lady herself.

A huge trend on Twitter was when Malaysian Flight 370 or #mh370 completely disappeared – literally- vanished into thin air. The search is still on-going and as of right now, nobody has any answers. There is still a huge trend going on now, more than 9 months later.

#RIPphilipseymour was also one of the more sad hashtags trending when the Oscar-winning actor was found deceased in his New York apartment. And we also lost yet another great actor and his passing trended as #RIPRobinWilliams.

#Bringbackourgirls was the biggest trend after schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria last spring- the world was outraged and it showed how many people wanted to help.

#icebucketchallenge trended and helped raise money for ALS, while #ferguson #ebola and #onlyontwitter were seen in the last few months of this year.

Definitely check out the Twitter Moments feature– it’s worth a look. My personal favorite “moment” was #onlyontwitter and a story that involved someone finding the people in a picture she found at ground zero after 9/11. Truly amazing work by a community that cares.

Do you have any favorite “moments” that aren’t listed here? Leave a comment and I’ll go ahead and add them with your username!

Have any questions about social media or inbound marketing? Email me and I’ll get back to you with an answer. Happy holidays- and can’t wait to see what hashtags will trend in 2015!

So Hubspot had this Awesome Tutorial on Visual Content- Review and Infographic

Which was really good- a ton of good tools!  I’ll link it here because honestly, if you work in marketing or inbound marketing in ANY capacity, you need to read all of this now and start playing around with design type stuff.

HubSpot guide to creating visual content– And they linked to their infographic template.  I have a couple favorites from their ebook as far as tools go (and a couple of my own favorites):

1) Design Seeds- amazing website for color palette ideas!

2) Adobe Color CC- beautiful tool for creating different types of palettes.

3) Speaking of Adobe- I am a recent fan of Adobe Illustrator CC.  It’s totally crucial to become familiar with it for designing vector graphics or logos.  Then I post my “creations” on BeHance (social media for graphic designers or creatives) for critique.  Very cool because you can get feedback and tips on how to improve your designs. (Tangent, sorry!)

4) The HubSpot tutorial also includes a very handy sizing cheat sheet for creating graphics, logos, and content for various social media sites.

5) A couple resources for awesome images, icons, and vector graphics.

So definitely hop on over there and get the (free!) ebook yourself- it’s a really good resource for creating visual content.  Seriously.  One of the best I’ve seen!

Yesterday when I was home with two sick kids (argh!) I spent my day creating all the infographics!

Here’s what I came up with.  It may not be the best, I am not a professional designer, but it’s a pretty good start, I think!  What do you think?  Tell me in the comments what your favorite DIY design resources and/or tutorials are!

Inbound Marketing, Infographic, Working Moms, Sick Kids
Working moms and PTO (or the lack thereof) and the impact of flu season.

 

google hummingbird, social media, SEO, inbound marketing

How to: leveraging social media to make Google Hummingbird sing for your brand

One thing that amazes me about my job is that I meet so many industry professionals who still don’t know much about the infamous Google algorithm updates. Everyone who works in any type of marketing (because we’re all generating content for brands here, amiright?) needs to keep themselves apprised of these updates- because they do drastically affect a company or brand’s visibility/position within the organic results on search engines.

Which, you guessed it, wields the power to stuff your brand into the proverbial black hole under their bed to collect cobwebs and spiders, never to be heard from again.
So let’s stay on top of this- it’s not hard. I don’t want to come into meet with someone ever again to a shocked gaping look of “where did it all go so wrong?!” when the respective site is found on page ten or worse- not at all.

If you remember nothing else from this article, please heed these three sentences: Your website and online branding is a fluid, living, breathing thing. It needs to be fed and watered, talked to and petted lovingly, it needs to be PAID ATTENTION TO at least three to four times each week. Or else it will shrivel and die.

Here’s my list of how to make the newest addition to “THE ZOO” – the Hummingbird- sing for you.

Google+

Get on Google+ immediately if you haven’t already. Google is now indexing Google+ pages, which means that the new “communities” will be as well. Show your marketing muscle as much as possible, start a community about your brand for your audience, talk to people. Hummingbird loves Google+ much more than other social media sites for not so subtle reasons, one may guess.

LinkedIn

Hummingbird loves Tea. As in “T”-shaped authorities. What does this mean? It likes authorities who have knowledge in a wide range of topics but deep, critical understanding in a few. That means drive-by stops into Twitter and Facebook to post a back-link to your site doesn’t mean anything. Getting back links from your industries influencers- where your brand is actually influenced- DOES. Like Linked-In. Are influencers in your field linking to your brand? Are you engaging them? That’s good, keep doing that. If you haven’t, you need to be active in Linked-In like yesterday. I know. So obvious. Thank me later.

YouTube

YouTube- did you know it’s the second most trafficked search engine? And you didn’t have an active thriving channel because…. why? People love videos. Even if you’re making playlists of industry relevant videos or three minute “vlogs” about relevant topics (seriously, just use your phone!) – you can work it- no fancy camera crew needed!

Pinterest

This social media site has been oft overlooked. But lately has been very effective for brands- do you notice a trend here? This update is very visual. And if you’re not creating content- at least stay busy curating content- sometimes just as good- you can influence your audience as an “authority” on what is relevant on Pinterest because as we know there are a lot of Pinterest fails out there as well. Why weed through all that garbage when you can follow a trusted buddy and get what you’re looking for very easily? Exactly. Pinterest. Now.

Quora

It’s a total time-suck, but really it helps you stand out as the “world’s best” at whatever you do by showing off your deep understanding of certain topics (remember, the Hummingbird will sing for “T” authorities!).
Work on building your presence on these sites- along with other best practices as far as updating your blog, on-site SEO, etc. and you’ll start seeing progress. Consistency is key.

And if you’re unfamiliar with Hummingbird, before you freak out, just remember- just like the other two algorithm animals, it’s designed with information-seekers (read: your customers, your target audience) in mind. Content generation for your audience still wins above all else. So chances are if you’ve been optimizing your brand the “right” way (and not key word stuffing, or using any other shady black-hat SEO tactic) you’re still going to be doing just fine.

A New Way to Hire Me: Thumbtack

I just found out about this awesome website when I was searching for local photographers (to give another photographer advice about her website), and all of their listings kept coming up on thumbtack.com.  It looked like a very modern, active site where professionals could list themselves for hiring.  The way it works is you type in what you’re looking for (so for me, you would want to type in marketing or website design or inbound marketing) – a form pops up, and you give some details about what you’re looking for.  It notifies me that someone needs my services, and based on the info they give, I can give them a quote of how much I think it would cost.  It’s pretty cool.

So, here’s the link to check it out.  And if you’re a fellow professional, you should seriously consider listing here.  It’s a really cool business model.

Daly Marketing, Bad Web Design Guide

Bad Web Design for Dummies: A Field Guide

1) Use Comic Sans italic for your font.  In all different sizes.

2) Blinking cursors with sparkling trails?  You need ’em.

3) Patterned backgrounds- marbled or tiles of little designs, sites employing this design “style” make me nauseous.

4) Any site modeled after arngren.net (warning: be prepared, and don’t say I didn’t warn you)

5) Animated text, or scrolling marquees.  Get ready, you’re on your way to bad website fame (infamy?)

6) If I haven’t mentioned this already, Comic Sans.

7) Tons of information in every possible space, but no clear defined message or menu to guide the user.

And if after all of these tips you still aren’t mastering the “art” of bad website design, just contact the designers of healthcare.gov because, hey, they’re the experts.

inbound marketing in rochester, ny

Inbound Marketing: Keep it Simple, Stupid!

Thereinbound marketing in rochester, ny are a ton of articles out there about the nitty gritty of a well run inbound marketing strategy. This won’t be one of them. First, in case you weren’t aware- inbound marketing is (as this article on Hubspot explains) about “creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.” This differs from the “old school” form of marketing- outbound marketing- that involves cold-calling, buying leads, buying ads, and is very disruptive.

Operative phrase: “where they (future customers) naturally want to be.” Traditional definitions of customer service are providing service to customers during and after a purchase. This is no longer true. The gold standard of customer service in 2014 (and really, since inbound marketing became so effective) is to provide service to customers before, during, and after the sale.

Placement of your product or service where your future customers naturally want to be, where they are already looking for information makes it easy for them to find what they want and need. It’s like you standing up in a crowd of people with a huge neon sign saying “Hey you! I’m right here, ready to help you!” How can you not like someone jumping to provide service to you? Customers buy from people/brands they like.

So when it comes to your inbound marketing strategy, you need to adhere to the K.I.S.S. methodology.

  • Know your customer profiles.
  • Create remarkable content your customers (future and existing) can use and will benefit from.
  • Tailor your online presence (website, social media, blog, email newsletters) to meet their needs, to give them the information they are already looking for.
  • If you aren’t sure what they want or are looking for, ASK them.

By focusing on what your audience wants, you are providing good customer service even in advance of them making a purchase (this makes it the gold standard), you are building rapport, and in doing all of that, you are setting yourself apart from the competition as the leader of your industry- the world’s best, in fact.

Keep the customer in mind, and you’ll succeed.

For more information on inbound marketing, email kristin@dalymktg.com

Note: This article was originally posted on LinkedIn several weeks ago- just a heads up for anyone who thinks this looks familiar!

Inbound Marketing Explained, Infographic

The REAL Definition of “Inbound Marketing”

I’ve been doing research on a couple of things for work and I came across so many articles that were long and wordy in describing inbound marketing.  They were all very well explained, but for some reason I still felt like it did not do justice to how important this method of marketing really is.

In order to attract new customers, to grow your business, you must stand out from the competition.  How?  By giving your customers the gold standard of customer service.  That term right there may be my favorite.  Because when creating content for your inbound marketing strategy, you must always have the customer in mind.  Not your bottom line, not getting to the number one position on search engines.  Those are not a priority.

Giving your future customers the best possible experience is your priority.  The rest will follow.  I’m working on an inbound marketing e-book that will be ready in the next week or so- geared towards business owners so they can start to figure out how to best use inbound marketing to cater to their customers and target demographic.

In the meantime, here’s a handy little infographic I created to explain the true meaning of inbound marketing.  Yes, it is just that simple.  Enjoy!

Inbound Marketing Explained,  Infographic

Top Branding Resources to Make Your Life Easier

I know you’re probably rolling your eyes at this- because who doesn’t have a “top (insert trendy thing here) list?” I’ve used these tools and they have definitely made my life easier. Thank me later.

  1.  
     
     
    I’ve used several newsletter services in the past, but this one is by far the best.  Your messages won’t get dumped into your recipient’s junk box, and the interface is super easy to create a professional looking design.  No, they are not paying me to say this.
     
  2.  
    Vocus.  At first, I wasn’t sure about it.  It’s technically a “social listening” service- but I use the PR web press release service that is rolled into it.  I love it for that part alone!  It is such a great interface to upload a press release and get it in front of a lot of eyeballs.  Highly recommend.
  3.  

    This book.  It is awesome.  A very quick read and explains the fundamentals behind why inbound marketing and social media/blogs are so important for your brand.  You.must.read.this.  Do not pass go.  Do not collect $200.

  4.  
    This is also a great book.  It gives lots of great resources and best practices for your brand.  Erik Qualman has also created some great videos that show you the power of social media.  See below.
  5.  
     

    Social Media Revolution
    The socialnomics channel on YouTube has a lot of great videos on social media and how/why it’s so powerful.
  6.  
    Do you need a high quality logo but don’t have the time or money to hire someone to do it?  Look no further.  Also has useful tools for other marketing materials for your brand.  There are paid and free options for logo creation as well.

     

    So those are some of the resources I like- off the top of my head.  There are a lot of other great tools out there- what are some of your favorites?  Tell me in the comments.  Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to like or comment.

 

Why is Site Structure Important?

Site structure is very important not only for search engines, but also for your audience.  Since how you rank in a search ultimately will help your potential audience find you, the question can be answered very simply.  The importance of site structure- and a good site structure- provides (yes, I’ll say it again)- the gold standard of customer service.

In providing access to organized information that is easy to find within your site, you are making it easier for the audience to get what they need.

Some keys for structuring your site well:

  1. Sit down and put together a list of services/products you provide.  Ask yourself whether some of the services/products fit into different categories.  Make sure each type of product or service you want to display on your site is described in detail.  Remember, the more content, the better.
  2. Determine who your audience is- and determine what each type of audience would be looking for.  One client I’ve worked with for years- they manufacture custom solutions for companies in the medical device industry, as well as companies in the food packaging industry.  Although the base technology is the same, they want to showcase the solutions they are capable of providing by vertical so it is very easy to access the necessary information for the potential customer.    
  3. Organize the pages within your site to meet what the audience is looking for.  You can do this in a variety of ways- you can organize by type of product, type of service, business verticals.

Structure is very important.  I have seen a lot of websites with tons of great content, but no real structure to it- a landing page and then access to lots of different pages.  It appears to be a mish-mash of content.  Organization is good- for the user (most important) and secondly, for search engines.  Search engines index your pages based on a number of things.  They want the most credible and informational pages at the top of their results.  One of those ranking criteria is based on how organized your site is- how easy the information is to access.

Can your site’s structure improve?  What have you found going through this process?  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

Facebook giveaways? Definitely cool. IF done the right way.

I have seen a thousand posts on my FB feed for giveaways.  Some of them are really cool! Since I am basically the unluckiest person in the history of winning things, I wasn’t shocked to see (when I tried to enter one) that I didn’t win.

What I was shocked to see (after a little browsing around various FB merchant pages- mostly created by the moms-gone-crafty types- hey momtrepeneurs are great- free market yadayada)  was how these businesses operated their giveaways blatantly breaking Facebook Pages TOS.

You know the type of giveaway I am talking about the ” like this, comment, and share for a chance to win (insert cool merchandise)”.

I reviewed my TOS to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and lo-and-behold: there it was.

So all of these giveaways that violate the TOS could potentially get their FB page shut down.  And for small businesses who use their page as a means of taking orders for product, this could mean a HUGE dent in sales.

It’s a huge risk.  FB is always changing their TOS, but when it comes to your bread and butter, not wise to tempt the hand of fate. Make sure you visit the TOS pages frequently so you don’t inadvertently violate them (and then get banned/deleted).

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems awfully cheap to be giving away stuff for a measly like or share.  At least get yours audience to interact and create cool ideas with you- that’s what a couple of my favorite clients are doing right now and it’s working so much better than the cheesy giveaways that some brands promote.

 

People will give you their customer loyalty if you attach them to your brand in a meaningful way. Ask them to help you name a product, that is an endearing way to engage your audience.  When consumers like, they buy.

While you may not see your likes shoot up to 80,000 in one day- or even one decade- you can bet your fans are loyal and they go the distance with you.   These are the fans that will engage because they are interested, not bc of a freebie. Quality over quantity.

And by the way- who even cares about likes? I want to see a real discussion going on- whether it be debating fabric colors, customer service related, or a real dialogue that shows the brand is outstanding. Likes can be easily purchased as we have seen lately. It takes a lot more time to put thought and effort into a comment and that is what you ultimately see with quality brands.  That is what you want to strive for with your own brand.

Success is not overnight.  And if it is, you’re doin it wrong!  Slow and steady wins the race!

What is your take on these giveaways?

Another Cool Video on the “Social Media Revolution”

Erik Qualman, founder of Socialnomics, is speaking in this video on how businesses can effectively use social media to market their message.  What I’ve noticed with businesses/brands/politicians who use social media is that so many use it the wrong way.

In this video, one of Qualman’s quotes struck me as incredibly powerful- he says the first step in marketing/sales (in general and on social media) is to LISTEN.  I am guessing he means to listen to what your audience wants.

He also states that “a lot of companies go right to the fourth step. . . and try to sell right away within social media.  They’ll hop in there right away and do one-way communication whether it’s with a coupon or just getting their message out.  That does not work.

Check out the video:

More on this later, but if you are one of those companies just continuing to “blast” your message in slightly different ways across your respective social media accounts, please stop.

It cheapens this unique form of marketing/advertising/customer service nothing more than a flashy billboard.  To be fair,  this method might work for some.  But it gets drowned out in the white noise of the web.  The entire point of social media is to reach out to your customers/followers/prospects and have a real conversation about your passion (product/service).

You want to talk WITH someone, not AT them.

Implementing your social media properly will humanize a brand to let everyone (customers, competitors, and partners alike) know that there are real people behind this entity who do actually care about what you want or need.  And that if something goes awry, they’ll try to fix it.  It’s absolutely amazing how far a little communication about (insert important or problematic topic) goes.

Great video, Qualman.  It gave me a lot to think about.  Please keep the videos coming!

And stay tuned, because my next article is about how social media has been used – there’s no word for it- atrociously- by very prominent brands who depend on the very people they communicate with to win.

How have you seen social media being used the wrong way like mentioned in the above video?  What are some of the “social media faux-pas” you’ve seen committed?

Social Media is Here to Stay!

I am a huge fan of the Socialnomics guys!  They help explain why using social media is so effective as a marketing/advertising strategy.  Based on impressions alone, it makes sense.  Note: This is video number three- I’ve also posted the first video in an earlier post.  Check out their video:

Sometimes when meeting with a client, they are skeptical as to why social media would be relevant for their business. It allows a business entity to connect in such a way that the consumer does not feel like “just another number”.  The consumer feels that the business, however large or small, values their input.  In this day and age of disconnect, interacting on this personal level is the gold standard of customer service.

When someone feels they matter, they WILL give you their business.  I know I do.  What do you think?

How to NOT Make Google Engineers Mad

Rather than give you all of the ins and outs of the industry, I’d prefer to approach this topic from a slightly different angle. I think it is necessary for everyone (professionals and amateurs alike) to know about some key things to NOT do when it comes to optimizing your website for search engines. There are a few things that will get your site banned from the Google ranks VERY quickly. Obviously I am a marketing expert- so although we do run successful social media campaigns, I wanted to interview someone with much more expertise in that area. Rochester, NY has a wealth of computer and technology related business so fortunately I was able to get a teleconference with the owner of Nothing But Net Solutions, Jim Gubiotti.

I asked him to outline several black-hat SEO “tactics” that would get your site banned from the Google organic search results. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Hidden, keyword stuffed content is bad. Really bad.  A way to do this is- putting white fonts on white backgrounds.  Magic- the words just blend right in!  Google engineers don’t really like it when you trick their carefully formulated algorithms.
  2. Meta tag keyword stuffing is also an especially terrible idea. Another way to have your site banned from Google.  The difference between this and the first kind of keyword stuffing is that you’re still using keywords, but just inserting them into meta tags rather than making them different colors to blend into the background.  The recently updated algorithms on Google have put less emphasis on meta tags and more emphasis on title tags and alt tags.  So even if you are doing this, it probably won’t help, BUT it will still get your site booted from Google just for trying to do it.   As a rule, if you are using more than 10 tags, you are stuffing.
  3. Doorway Pages: What these pages do is to serve as a re-direct page- only using coding that is not acceptable according to the algorithms that Google engineers have carefully developed.  These “doorway” or “gateway” pages are usually stuffed with content to optimize for certain keywords.  The actual Google user (the human on the end of this) does not see this page, but Google crawlers do see it, which is why they work to increase your rankings.  Certain types of re-directs are allowable if you change your site for example- a clear 301 redirect is ok to do.  Google will figure out that you are doing this, because eventually a real person (and not just a crawler) will see your page.  Then, your site will be removed.
  4. Link Farms: Think of a link farm like this: If you build your house in a crappy neighborhood, regardless how nice your house is, your property value is diminished.  Link Farms are the sites that you sometimes find that contain hundreds, perhaps even thousands of links to totally unrelated pages.  If you participate and have your site associated with these link farms, you run the risk of your site being removed by Google.  So just like real estate- location is everything.   When you build your site, if you are in a “bad neighborhood,” you are the only one who stands to lose out.

Many SEO consultants use these techniques, but you will find that these are the SEO consultants who have absolutely NO clue what they are doing whatsoever.  If your SEO consultant starts recommending any of these, I’d run as fast as possible.

Mr. Gubiotti does not ascribe to these beliefs and maintains that the best way to have your site highly indexed by google is by giving them credible, remarkable content.  There are several SEO tactics that are allowed according to Google webmaster guidelines- but the best rule of thumb according to Jim is this: “If the site is good for the human being reading it, then it will be good for the Google crawler.” If you have questions on how optimizing your site for search engines can benefit your business, you can contact Nothing But Net Solutions and see how they can help you.

Remember, it’s not going to be an overnight thing if you are doing it the right way- it takes time.  If you do things the wrong way, not only will you be penalized by Google, you will also lose a ton of credibility which can happen in an instant on the world-wide web.  In short: Black hat SEO= Bad Google Karma!  And as we all know… the Google karma police are always on patrol.

Southwest Airlines Using Social Media to Improve Customer Service?

It has been quite clear for a while now that social media is an effective tool for giving your audience the gold standard of customer service.  Many businesses feel that delving into the social media world is risky.  One major reason I’ve heard from some of my clients is the big “what if someone were to complain on your Facebook page or write something nasty on Twitter?”

Well, what if?  What DO you do?  Erase it?  Not the best idea considering that despite the few minutes it was on the worldwide web, google could have indexed it.  Someone saw it.  You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.  So the best possible thing to do is exactly what Southwest Airlines did a few days ago when Green Day band member was removed from a flight for not hiking his pants up and then tweeted about it: they re-tweeted him, acknowledged his displeasure at the situation, and promised to correct it.  Then, (gasp) they went and put him on the next flight and I am sure apologized.

Rather than ignore the complaining tweet, they harnessed this as an opportunity to show their customers (and the rest of the world) that they did indeed pay attention to what their customers wanted, and used the power of social media to put forth the highest standard of customer service.

Inevitably any business is subject to complaints.   Why try to hide it when anyone knows that you can never please EVERYONE?  The best possible thing to do 100% of the time is be totally transparent, which shows your honesty as a business person, your credibility, and that you will do whatever you can to keep your customers happy or correct mistakes that will inevitably happen.

How have you used social media as a useful customer service tool for your customers?  How have you approached a grievance posted on your social media from an unhappy customer?  And how have you turned it around to make it into a win/win situation for you and for your customer?

Inbound Marketing, SEO, Job Search

On Optimizing Your Job Search

Typically when one thinks of inbound marketing, social media or search engine optimization, it’s framed in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer sense. How will I establish my brand to grow my business? How will I market my product/service to reach the people who need it?

This same theory can be applied effectively in an employer-job-seeker model as well.  It can be used to market yourself to future employers, and it’s so effective that at the very least, you will grow your professional network.  At it’s best- these strategies can help you find your “dream job”.

I read an article this morning about how many people in the Rochester area are still searching for jobs.  Good people, educated people, people who have been using every possible method of searching for a job yet still come up dry. The article mentioned several people, by name, and detailed their education as well as respective careers. It mentioned how they had been on countless interviews. It also mentioned how it is important to focus your job search so you find the jobs specifically looking for a certain skill set that you possess. This would assure that employers were getting someone truly qualified for the job, and help employees find the best job for their skill strengths. A win-win that creates a unique well-oiled business machine.

It got me thinking. In this age of the internet and Google, wouldn’t it be great if I could go to Google and search for someone to hire? So I tried it. I googled “Rochester NY + I need an employee to write press releases” and like magic….. A ton of profiles on a popular professional social networking site (Linked-in) popped up. The second result was someone who was “self-employed” and had years of experience writing press releases. Amazing! This is not news, I’m sure. It was so perfect because I do need someone to write press releases. Not someone who had general marketing experience, or experience writing radio ad copy, or designing billboard graphics. Just press releases. A very specific skill set.

Google is so simple. There are a ton of job sites out there. But if every employer could just….Google it. That would be so easy for the employer and for the potential employee. One site. The end.

So, in that same vein, it would be remarkable for the driven, but out-of-work potential employees out there to be able to optimize themselves. Personal branding.

Anyone can do it! So I’ve compiled a list of helpful tips on how you (the potential awesome employee) can brand yourself so that your future dream job will find you!

1)Linked-In: get it. Do it right now if you don’t already have it, if you do have it, make sure you get involved ASAP. By getting involved I mean participate in group discussions. Show off your expertise! If you can’t find a group about what you are an expert at, start your own.  Search through Linked-In and invite people who are in your industry.  Engage in professional dialogue with others. Answer questions, and ask questions (professionally related of course) to other people in the area who are in your industry. All of this will showcase that you know your stuff and you are passionate about it!

2)Facebook: don’t roll your eyes at me just yet. This is not just a platform for playing FarmVille or catching up with your high school buddies. It is a unique and powerful marketing tool. Make sure your profile is clear of anything you wouldn’t want a future employer seeing. Personal stuff is fine! Employers want well rounded people who have a positive personal life as well as professional life. Discuss your professional passion, interact with like-minded people who have the same goals. You will find that there are others out there who are in the same position as yourself and in doing that you will find comfort AND show that you are driven to succeed.

3)Twitter: follow companies you have either worked for in the past or you would like to work for. Follow other companies that are related to your field. Post links to cool articles about the industry you are most knowledgeable about. If you aren’t informed, make strides to become the expert on the latest news in your profession. Re-tweet articles others in that field have posted.  I got a message a couple months ago on Twitter from a professional who worked in another industry but desired a career change.  This person asked me for advice on how to break into the market- more specifically about how to get involved in Radio Advertising (I used be an account exec for a well-known radio corporation).  I thought that was so cool!  There are lots of other people out there far more qualified than myself to give career advice, but I did what I could and tried to steer this person in the right direction.  That shows drive, and guts.  I’d definitely hire someone that motivated if he/she had the skills I were looking for.

4)Blog/website: this is my favorite. There is no better way to highlight your expertise and passion than writing about it. This not only keeps you sharp, but shows that you are the go-to guy/gal in your profession. This sets you apart from others as someone who cares about giving your fellow professionals remarkable and useful information they can use to better themselves. This is your soapbox. Stand on it and tell the world why you are the “world’s greatest” at whatever you do.

  • Don’t forget to use tags. This is helpful for Google.
  • These articles need to be re-posted on your Facebook (add a note to summarize your article, then post with a link to it), your Twitter, and your Linked-in accounts.
  • Provide links on your site to other company/industry related blogs. Ask those blog owners to link to your blog.  Start commenting on those blogs. One hand washes the other, and linking/participating equals flattery of the highest form.  It shows you are genuinely interested and they will usually return the favor.
  • Engage your readers in the comments.  Finish each article with a call to action or a thought provoking question and invite them to respond with their thoughts.
  • Respond to comments even if they question your expertise. It’s okay to engage in healthy and professional debates. It just shows how passionate and knowledgeable you are. Employers want passion.  And knowledge.  Make sure what you say is correct.
  • Make sure you do your research and cite sources if you are writing something technical.
  • Make sure your contact information is visible.
  • Don’t set your comments to be moderated. This prevents people from speaking their mind and prevents a real discussion from occurring.

5)Optimization: finally, you want to make sure all of your of your social media accounts are connected. Linked-in should link to your articles, Twitter, and Facebook. Tweets can be linked to your Facebook and be displayed on your blog as well. Buy a URL to personalize your blog further- in most cases, it’s dirt cheap. Make sure your URL is something that is simple, but describes what you do- I.e. http://xyzindustryexpert.com. Keep it as simple but descriptive if possible. Make sure all of your pages have titles and tags. Those are secondary as long as you create remarkable, original content consistently (once a week if possible).

Here’s a helpful little info-graphic for those of us who are visual learners:

Inbound Marketing, SEO, Job Search

There are lots of other ways you can brand and optimize yourself to help future employers find you, their ideal candidate, in a timely fashion. When this is applied to a B2B or business-to-consumer model, it provides the gold standard of customer service by showing the target audience “hey, I am right here, where you are already looking, waiting to provide you the best service/product that you need!”

And when these methods are applied in a job-seeker-to-potential-employer model, it provides the gold standard of hard work! It demonstrates that you are a skilled, driven professional who is the expert on whatever it is that you do. This makes for an excellent employee and raises knowledge base in the entire industry altogether. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that?

One last note: There is a school of thought that employers do not want to hire people who are out of work.

I find this to be utterly ridiculous on the behalf of whatever employer would think like that.  There are plenty of good people out there who are unemployed but searching desperately for a job.  People who were the unfortunate victims of lay-offs, budget cuts, and the economy hitting rock bottom in 2008.

As long as you’re still actively keeping up on what is going on in your field, there is absolutely no reason for an employer to assume that you’re a dud or that there is something wrong with you.

And if they do, to heck with them!  You don’t want to work for a company like that anyway, they will probably treat you like garbage and not the invaluable employee you are.

Make sure you volunteer or “intern”.  If a company is not hiring, ask to intern or shadow.  Network as much as possible.  Linked-in has some great features that you can utilize to become informed about local networking events.

Work with local charities, help organize events for them- there is no shortage of volunteer positions ever.  This shows your leadership abilities and your commitment to working in some form.  It also shows compassion.  All qualities that good employers want in a potential awesome employee.

Then write about your experiences and how they’ve helped you grow as a professional.  Put these volunteer opportunities in your resume to show that employer that although you are not employed, you are definitely employable!  What have you done thus far that has helped you get your  name out there?  What has worked and what hasn’t worked?  I am genuinely interested to know.  And if you’re an employer reading this, tell me, what do you look for in an ideal employee?

SEO: Reaching for Low Lying Fruit?

Often times when talking to someone about what their goals are for search engine optimization we look at several different aspects- such as what their business is about, and what key words one can use to describe that business.  Relevancy is the most important thing.  Sometimes its easier to try to optimize your site for key words having a low competition – meaning that there are less websites for the given search term trying to compete for the number one position.  So this way, you can get to the top of the heap faster.  I don’t necessarily think this is always the best route to take.  Yes, it’s important to increase your web presence right off the bat, but you want to do it the right way.

I do advocate trying to go for the best term for your business.  Even if that means its extremely competitive.  One can still reach the top of they optimize their site the right way, by creating remarkable content- frequently and consistently.  The reason that google ranks certain pages at the top is because they are THE most credible.  They are viewed as the leaders in their industry, the creme de la creme, if you will.  How, pray tell, does one become an industry leader?  By knowing the most.  By being the best.  To me, in this customer service driven age, the best DOES equal who knows the most.  Who wants to hire a quack for an important job?  Not me.

Whats really important is that the expectation is set.  Glory is not achieved over-night with SEO.  Not if it’s done the right way.  It can take months, even a year.  Be wary of those who promise immediate results.  Dig for more information- because you’re either getting to the top quickly by optimizing for the easiest (and maybe not necessarily pertinent) terms- the low-lying fruit, or you’re getting to the top quickly by use of black hat SEO.  And if you need more information on that, please refer to my previous interview with Jim Gubiotti.

Newsletter Design: Change is Good

The first quarter of “Twenty-Eleven” is off to a great start here at Hart-Conklin Marketing.  We’ve survived a holiday shopping season filled with retail businesses cashing in (literally) using FourSquare.  We’ve also survived the first major Skype outage in a long while that actually ended up getting them into some hot water when their inner-workings were exposed during the down time.

Best business practice: Always do things the right way.  Sure, it might work the wrong way, but when something goes awry, all the defects are exposed and you’ll end up having to spend that much  more time making corrections.  Time is money, people.

In that same vein, you owe your audience the due dilligence of doing your newsletter the right way by giving them what they want.  This is a very exciting time for us as we help a client prepare all of their marketing, media, and press for their biggest event of the year.  A busy time, but never too busy to learn new things.  We designed an entirely new e-mail campaign to promote this event for them and saw record-breaking results from the exposure this tactic got them.  Newsletter design is tricky.  It’s just as important to put valuable content in your campaign, as it is to have aesthetically pleasing graphics/layout.

Sending a newsletter to your clients or customers can be tricky.  It’s a constant game of staying on the front of the information tidal wave- and keeping the content relevant to a fairly diverse audience.  It’s necessary to cater to what many people want in one marketing piece.  Here are some things I learned with this most recent e-mail newsletter campaign:

1) Change is good.  A new design periodically keeps your audience from growing tired of the same thing every time.  While it’s important to make sure your newsletter is cohesive with your branding strategy, it’s also important to keep the readers stimulated with a fresh look.

2) Pictures are good.  Make sure all of your pictures, when clicked, go to a relevant website.  People love clicking pictures so give them a place to do it!

3) Use “learn more” buttons with directs to your company e-mail.  I recommend setting up a catch-all e-mail address on your company’s server to collect the incoming e-mail and info requests from your newsletters.  People like using these because it’s convenient and just pops open your outlook right then and there.

4) We changed our clients subject heading to be a little more specific- and introduce a new product.  This client saw the highest open and click-through rates of any campaign yet.  Very exciting.  What’s good about this is you can then populate a list of e-mail addresses you need to follow-up with and strike while “iron is hot” so to speak.  This is a very good tool in sales and marketing: the ability to reach out to your customers and build the relationships by following up while you are still on the top of their minds.

5) Pay attention to your click map on newsletter interface- where are people clicking, and how many times?  If people are clicking on certain content blocks a lot, you  might want to consider putting more of what they like in the next newsletter.

6) Be patient.  This is not over night.  It takes time to see results, but in the process you will be establishing yourself as a master of your craft, and someone who always puts forth the gold standard of customer service.

All in all, this campaign was a huge success.  These strategies will help you improve how effective your marketing campaign is.  What other strategies do you implement to enhance the newsletter experience for your audience?  What have you found to not work?

Inbound Marketing and The Medical Professional

Inbound Marketing is very effective for many industries, including medicine.  Some may argue that specific social media platforms are better for one industry or another.  I’ll take a leap and go head-to-head with that idea and say that all social media is relevant for all professions, if for no other reason, for inbound links.

Although the Doctors must take the utmost precaution in what they write about to protect their patients’ privacy, social media is just as effective as any other type of marketing tool a medical professional may implement. The New Zealand Medical Students Association recently published a guide for Doctors who want to use social media- however I think that these precautions apply to the use of social media in many other professions as well.   Here are some things to consider if you are using social media as an inbound marketing tool for your medical practice:

1) Google caches everything. Possibly forever. Maybe not forever, but for a really long time. You could post something and then delete it- if Google crawlers have been to your social media platform before you got the chance to delete it- too late, it’s already cached by the search engine. That being said, it’s necessary to take anything you might post under careful consideration previous to doing so.

2) If blogging is what you like to use for your professional social media, caution is needed.  What’s really important is that if you’re going to write about an interesting condition and a patient you treated, you need to make sure there are no specific details in your article.  Take that one step further and make sure that there are no specific details in your entire blog that could point to you (the professional) or the patient, even if it’s searched for on Google or any other search engine. Think of the search terms that one would search for if they needed to locate you, your practice, your hospital, or information about the condition. Chances are if you are writing about it, it’s something fairly unique- and that means your blog about this unique subject matter is more likely to come up in search results.

3)Do not speak about your colleagues in a negative way.  If you need to vent about something that happened at work, speak to your supervisor.  If you need to get something off your chest, vent to your friends.  Venting about these things on your social media platforms that are used for professional purposes only serve to diminish your professional credibility.  Not only that- but defamation is a serious issue that could land one in the midst of a defamation lawsuit.

4) Keep firm boundaries.  Doctor-patient boundaries should not be crossed.  These are set up to protect the patient- and violation of these could land the medical professional in some serious hot water.  I do not recommend allowing current or former patients access to a personal social media account.  However if the account is strictly professional and used for work only (a Facebook business page or professional Twitter account, for example)- I think it’s perfectly acceptable to allow current or former patients access.  Again- be sure to maintain confidentiality at all costs.  The same goes for colleagues and supervisors- keep your personal information personal- you don’t want to be seen venting about your boss on your Facebook account when he/she is one of your friends.  This is also applicable in any other profession depending on what your specific directives are when dealing with clients, customers, colleagues, supervisors, etc.

5)  Be mindful of the accessibility of your information.  Regardless of the strictest security precautions available- there are still ways to access your information through the internet.  If there is something you really don’t want people to know about you- keep it off the internet entirely.  Not only can patients find ways to get access to this information, but so can colleagues, prospective employers, educational institutions, and law enforcement-  keep everything you put online as professional as possible.

Hopefully those of you professionals reading this have already implemented these guidelines, but if you haven’t – definitely start doing so.  Social media is forever-changing- and the more information shared on this topic, the better we can all be at moderating our social media accounts.  What have you found to be helpful in protecting your privacy online?  What strategies do you carry out to successfully use social media as a marketing  tool if you are a medical professional (or a professional in any other industry)?

Cyber Espionage: The Dark Side Of The Web

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about information security breaches.  Ahem, and experiencing them first-hand.  In the world of inbound marketing, information security is crucial to maintaining the integrity of your digital accounts.  A breach in these accounts could mean the loss of data for clients, or even the loss of integrity in terms of your image.  It’s quite a sinking feeling when you realize that your data has been stolen or compromised in some way.  According to the recent WebSense 2010 Threat Report  “79.9% of websites with malicious code were legitimate sites that have been compromised…..52% of data stealing attacks occurred over the web…. [and] 84.3% of email messages were spam.”  Think of some of the “big name” websites you usually visit- yes, even those could have been or actually were compromised with malicious coding.  The e-mail statistic is not shocking, I have my Gmail account with nearly 9k email messages in it, most of which are spam.

The statistic that is most alarming to me is that 52% of all attacks where data is stolen occurred over the web.  Think of how much information you give away on the web between online banking, financial forms, e-mail addresses, and social media.  All of that information is susceptible to being stolen.  Aside from malicious code, one way this information can be stolen/compromised is by people who know you well.  Although you may not have given anyone your password, think of  the security questions associated with your accounts in the event that you need to re-set your password.  Does anyone at all know you well enough to be able to answer those?  Does anyone but yourself have access to your computer?  If so, read on- here are some precautions that you can take to prevent your information from being compromised:

  1. When logging on to your on-line banking interface, always make sure the address in the address bar starts with “HTTPS” as opposed to just “HTTP”.  Also, in some browsers (and depending on which version of browser you are using), there will be a little lock icon near the address bar or at the lower right-hand corner of the screen.  Make sure this is present as well.
  2. If you are not the only user for your computer, do NOT save any of your passwords in your browser.  The settings for storing passwords can be edited in the browser options.

  3. Set your browser to delete history, cookies, temporary internet files, form data, and passwords upon closing your browsing sessions.  It’s definitely a pain to have to enter in the information each time you log on, but if you aren’t the only user on your computer, this would be one way that someone could get access to your secure information without your knowledge.  I highly recommend this especially if other user(s) of your computer have ill intentions.

  4. Change your non-email (banking, social media, blog, etc) passwords and security questions often.  At the risk of sounding paranoid, I change mine weekly.  I didn’t always do this- but after a recent data breach by a former associate, I decided it was time to read up on security precautions.

  5. Change your e-mail password often as well- sometimes when someone is trying to gain access to your account, they will need to open the e-mail sent by that site to re-set the password.  If they cannot get into your e-mail, then they cannot re-set it.  If you start noticing e-mail notifications from sites where you have accounts about re-setting your password, someone is definitely trying to gain access to your information.    In certain instances, depending on what kind of access they do gain and depending on what they are doing in your account, this can be grounds for criminal charges.  Recently, someone attempted to delete my domain name in my GoDaddy.com account.  Luckily, I caught the e-mail notification and was able to contact tech support and prevent anything bad from happening.  Luckily, GoDaddy.com was able to log the IP address of this person and further action can be taken.

  6. In addition to a good anti-virus software package, you will also need a mal-ware remover.  I prefer Avast anti-virus, as well as Ad-Aware for spyware removal.  Make sure you are updating these types of programs frequently- people who are set on getting your information are smart, and determined.  Trojans viruses can log all of your activities – and open the door for theft of information, identity, and money.   Set your computer to auto-run these programs daily, and you’re much more protected against a security breach.

  7. Avoid questionable content: adult content image searches lead to bad things.  According to the WebSense 2010 Threat report “Bing Adult image and video queries shows that 8.18 percent will result in a search results page that contains a malicious link. . . Google adult image queries were even more striking. . .50.38 percent of queries will give us a search results page that contains a malicious link.”    WebSense also reports a 111.4% increase in malicious websites from 2009 to 2010.    So, always remember to keep your web browsing squeaky clean and you’ll be a LOT less likely to have your information compromised.

  8. Make sure the address in your browser window matches that of the website.  What I mean by that is- if you are visiting FaceBook, make sure you check for the “https” in the address bar.  Social networking sites are targets for phishing scams.  If you try to log-in to a page that is phished, most likely, the address bar will show an address that is slightly different from the actual URL.   Once you enter your secure information, your account has then been compromised.  Another interesting statistic – WebSense reports that “40% of all  Facebook status updates contain links. . . and 10% of those links are either spam or malicious.”  So pay close attention to the website address, as well as what links you click on once logged-in to the site.  Recently, a client was using their Facebook interface and noticed that they kept getting an error message while attempting to log-in.  It just so happened that I was meeting with them that day anyway- and they were able to show me exactly what happened.  The URL was slightly different from the correct Facebook URL and I explained exactly how people do this.  Simple solution: we secured the correct URL, logged-in, and immediately changed the password.  The way phishing works- is that you are tricked into entering your information into a false log-in screen that looks nearly identical to the real site.  The phishers then collect your log-in and password, and use your account freely to do whatever their evil little hearts desire.

Take a look at this list of major discoveries WebSense made during 2010.  It’s pretty surprising at first blush, but after reading through this report, I understood why and how it was possible.

Hopefully, if you employ these tactics, you won’t become the next victim of a malicious cyber espionage attack- and won’t fall prey to the dark side of the web.  May the e-Force be with you!