Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Marketing Agency vs. In-House Team: Which Should You Choose?

Like most business owners, you know you need to effectively market your business in order to expand your sphere of influence and engage new customers – but you’re unsure of the right approach. Is it more practical to recruit a dedicated marketing team to manage all your marketing in-house? Or is it wiser to enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency to tackle it for you?

Both are reasonable options, but there are also ramifications connected with either decision. In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency versus hiring an in-house marketing team.

3 Time-Tested Methods for Growing Your Business

If you want to grow your business (and why wouldn’t you?), there are a few tried-and-true methods you can employ to attract new customers:

  • Word of Mouth & Referrals
  • Advertising & Marketing  (PPC, SEO, Social Media)
  • Direct Sales  (Cold Calls, Email Blasts, Knocking on Doors)

In a perfect world, a business would land so many new customer referrals that they wouldn’t have to shell out money for advertising, marketing, or direct sales. But when you’re first getting started in business, referrals can be hard to rely on. Because of this, many companies will contemplate hiring an in-house marketing team or outsourcing their marketing to an agency. Let’s examine both options:

WHY HIRE AN IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAM?

Based on your specific business needs, it might seem more reasonable to employ a dedicated marketing team in-house. Sure, you’re accruing additional salary expenses to the business, but you’re also gaining total control over how your marketing plan is put into action.

Recruiting an experienced, skilled marketing manager who can take charge of every aspect of your marketing efforts can help grow lead generation and steadily attract new customers. So, let’s weigh the pros and and cons of hiring an in-house marketing team:

PROS:

In-House Marketers Have a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Someone who works for your business is naturally going to have a much better understanding of the needs of your customers. They’re more acquainted with your products and services, as well as how best to promote them to clientele. If you’re a B2B organization – one that specializes in selling products and services to other companies – this may be even more critical, as an outside agency might not be as familiar with your specific market.

In-house marketers are likely to feel more connected to and in line with your overall business strategy. Chances are, they also have a fairly solid knowledge base and awareness of previous campaigns – and whether or not they have been successful – without having to go to the trouble of researching them, like an agency would. Additionally, an in-house team gives you creative control over the end-to-end digital process.

An In-House Marketing Team Is Focused On Your Brand Only

While marketing agencies will certainly make the effort to familiarize themselves with your brand and devote ample time to its marketing strategy, they’re also focused on the marketing needs of their other clients. 

By contrast, in-house marketing personnel are able to focus on your business 100% of the time. Each of their marketing efforts is customized to your specific needs. They spend time examining what’s working for you and making adjustments to marketing goals and processes. Because of this singular focus, your in-house marketing team is liable to put forth more ideas that are unique to your business.

In-House Marketers Are Available All Workweek Long

With a dedicated in-house marketing team, you don’t have to schedule a time to meet – you can brainstorm or revise plans anytime you need to.

Having convenient access to key decision-makers in real time can help streamline creative timelines and project management much more so than if a project has been outsourced.

CONS:

Oprah Winfrey saying,

In-House Marketing Can Be Inconsistent and Lackluster

One of the challenges of having just one or two people working on your marketing is that it’s often a part-time role. In-house personnel might already have other duties they’re expected to perform, and handling the business’s marketing needs is simply bundled into their job description.

As a consequence, consistency plummets quickly. It’s conceivable that weeks could go by without any new content being posted and ad campaign statistics going unmonitored.

Additionally, if budget constraints prevent you from recruiting a diverse team of crackerjack marketers, the content created by these individuals might be lifeless and uninspired as a result.

Yoda saying,

An In-House Marketing Team May Have Limited Training Time

Marketing agencies often spend a considerable amount of time and resources ensuring that their employees are updating their knowledge and skills. Ongoing training can entail attending marketing conferences or webinars, exchanging articles and resources online, and brainstorming between various departments.

By contrast, in-house marketers usually have less time to dedicate to improving their skills. They also don’t have the benefit of learning from or collaborating with other marketing departments. While you may initially hire individuals based on their digital marketing experience and expertise, once they’re a part of your in-house team they are far less likely to have the time and resources available to continue to maintain and refine their skills.

Steve Martin unsuccessfully trying to think of new ideas.

In-House Marketers May Run Out of Fresh Ideas

Effective marketing demands inherently imaginative minds that thrive on change. When a small in-house marketing team is focused on managing your brand alone, creativity can begin to languish over time. It’s difficult to keep formulating new and innovative strategies to promote products and share content when you have no one outside your circle to bounce ideas off. 

In some cases, company leadership keeps a tight rein on their creative team and doesn’t give them leeway to take chances and try new things. There may also be some overarching arrogance on the part of leadership, believing that no one outside the organization can represent the company as effectively as its employees.

Some rando guy saying really slowly,

Companies Must Foot the Bill for Retaining an In-House Team

In the short term, it can seem like you’re getting a better bargain by opting for a small in-house marketing team. But ultimately, it can become considerably more costly.

When you first link up with a marketing agency, you can anticipate paying out more money to get you set up – but these costs will dramatically decrease to monthly maintenance over time.

With an in-house team, you will continue to pay them an annual salary, as well as benefits and paid time off in most cases. With cost-of-living increases, this amount will only grow.

Digital Marketing Graphic with Soaring Rocket

WHY HIRE A DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY?

Securing the services of a digital marketing agency can feel like a monumental maneuver. Typically, there’s a preliminary meeting, a contract of some duration, numerous discussions regarding the scope of work, and interacting with a variety of different people on the team. Finding the ideal agency can involve a great deal of time and effort.

Then there’s the cost. Working with an agency is oftentimes more expensive than “DIY” marketing or recruiting in-house personnel, primarily because the agency is more experienced. But a digital marketing agency can deliver a more expansive array of services and also churn out higher-quality work. Here are some pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency:

PROS:

Professional Marketers Have Specialized Skill Sets

Effective marketing demands a multifaceted approach, involving content creation, social media management, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), graphic/website design, and web development. Assembling an in-house marketing team teeming with all this talent is no easy undertaking.

When you partner with a reputable digital marketing agency, you gain access to an entire team of specialists – each of whom knows their niche and understands how best to get results. These passionate and knowledgeable marketers routinely manage a wide range of clientele, making it all the more probable that they’ll implement the proper strategies for your company with not as much trial and error.

A Marketing Agency Can Offer a Fresh Perspective

Companies that have been in business for any significant period of time may ultimately come to the realization that they’re circulating the same ideas over and over again. Campaigns start to look alike, and copywriters continue using the same terminology to describe things. In-house marketers keep trying to devise new and innovative ideas, but it’s getting more and more challenging to do so.

This is entirely normal. There’s a natural limit to how long a company can craft quality content when they’re promoting the same products and services day in and day out. It’s easy to become single-minded when working from inside an organization. For this reason, getting an outside perspective can be immensely beneficial to a business.

Partnering with an agency can help you view your company from a different perspective and bring a fresh approach to your marketing strategy. While it’s true that an outside agency will not have a thorough, expansive understanding of your company’s brand and history, this can actually be beneficial. An agency can objectively identify opportunities that might have gone unnoticed or were not as easily recognizable by in-house personnel.

Digital marketing specialists have years of knowledge and experience, and they’re trained to analyze your business from the consumer’s or client’s viewpoint. The old adage “two heads are better than one” is especially relevant when it comes to digital marketing.

Additionally, an agency may be more willing to push the envelope and think unconventionally. This can bring about increased ingenuity and quite possibly more successful marketing strategies.

Consistency and Speed of Work are Hallmarks of Digital Marketing Agencies

Consistency and Speed of Work Are Hallmarks of Marketing Agencies

When generating new marketing collateral, it’s easy for an organization to become careless about what and when to communicate. More often than not, attending to customers is their primary focus, and marketing takes a back seat.

As the majority of in-house personnel have other responsibilities apart from their marketing roles, the amount of time they have available to keep up to date on all the latest social media, SEO, content marketing, and branding trends is extremely limited.

By contrast, when you outsource your marketing efforts to an agency, they are able to jump in and start implementing strategies right away, carrying out each project from planning to completion. Because these agencies routinely handle a wide array of client accounts, they typically work far more efficiently than an in-house marketing team.

Over time, these agile marketers have designed state-of-the-art workflows and processes that are built for quality, volume, and efficiency. Outsourced agencies will strive to make sure that your content, ad campaigns, and social media marketing are all sent out on time and looking great, as well as ensuring that your branding is consistent.

Kim Kardashian flashing that cash

Marketing Agencies Are Cost-Effective Over the Long Term

While partnering with an outside agency might seem more expensive at face value, when you compare it to the costs of recruiting a full team of dedicated marketers, it’s a bargain! In-house personnel can set your company back hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in salaries, benefits, and technology investments.

Alternatively, you might choose to designate a single, in-house employee to handle all of your social media marketing, graphic design, and online advertising. But for less than the costs associated with that one individual, you could hire an agency and gain access to an entire team of specialists who are experienced in meeting the needs of a variety of diverse clients in multiple industries.

Working with an agency that comprehends your specific needs will allow your company to move swifter, secure better outcomes, and make decisions more effortlessly. You may not even have to work with an agency long-term at full scale – once you’re up and running successfully, you may only have to manage maintenance fees, which are considerably less by comparison.

Schitt's Creek:

Outsourcing to an Agency Gives Your Company a Competitive Edge

Competition is fierce and technologies evolve at lightning speed. Thus, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s conceivable to do this with an in-house team if your organization is prepared to invest in marketing education, new technology, and advanced resources. But most aren’t.

Fortunately, staying on top of the most current digital marketing techniques is an agency’s lifeblood. Marketing agencies often enjoy early access to cutting-edge technologies, tools, and software – most of which just aren’t available to smaller, in-house marketing teams.

Unless your internal marketing team is large enough to justify the costs of ongoing education and technology, it’s generally more economical to outsource your marketing to an agency.

CONS:

Will Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air looking nervously uncertain.

Partnering with a Marketing Agency Can Incur Higher Costs Over the Short Term

Depending on how many functions you decide to pass on to an agency, you can expect to spend a bigger chunk of your marketing budget than you would with a single, in-house professional – at least at first.

But, as previously mentioned, you can’t always get the best results when entrusting all of your marketing efforts to one person. If you’re currently covering the total cost of salaries and benefits of supporting an entire in-house team, you might find that outsourcing to a marketing agency is actually more affordable.

When you link up with an external agency, it’s important to bear in mind that, in addition to gaining access to a whole team of professional marketers, you’re also laying the foundations of a long-term marketing strategy that will gradually decrease costs and improve overall profitability.

Naturally, being businesses themselves, marketing agencies have their own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that must be met. In order to accomplish this, they have to set prices for each of their various services. Most agencies are upfront about their pricing and are willing to adjust their fee structures to meet your budget.

While an agency might cost more in the short term, they are going to be able to generate better returns that you can measure right away. This signifies that you know the value that you’re paying for.

Dream Corp:

Marketing Agencies May Lack Your Knowledge of the Industry

While some marketing agencies concentrate on a specific industry, most of them work with clients in a variety of markets. Consequently, they may not have the degree of knowledge you have about your products and services.

In such cases, there will be a bit of a “discovery period” in the early days of a project until the agency has become familiar with the particulars of your central business processes. Even agencies that have worked with a vast array of clients will need time to grasp your customers’ needs.

As each market is distinct, what performs well for one business could fail miserably for another. You won’t want to squander money on a campaign that will turn out to alienate potential customers.

Finding a firm with demonstrated results in your field can help counterbalance a lack of industry knowledge.

The Umbrella Academy:

It Can Take Time for Agencies to Get Up to Speed On a Company

It can be hard to get down to business straightaway after hiring an agency. The client-agency partnership needs time to ensure proper alignment to the client’s stated objectives.

A creditable marketing agency will want to gain a deep understanding of your clients and identify what it is that they’re looking for. At the same time, they’ll need to make certain they have a grasp of your brand’s voice and image.

After taking the time to evaluate your goals and prior marketing efforts with their team, the agency will work to determine what direction to take with your marketing and make certain that you approve of it as well.

Once a campaign has concluded, the agency will ask for your feedback so that they can adapt and enhance your marketing strategy going forward. All of these things take time, and a freewheeling approach won’t produce the optimal results.

You Can Expect Lots of Meetings, Especially At First

When outsourcing your marketing to an agency, you can anticipate taking part in lots of meetings and discussions, especially at the outset of the relationship.

Every single aspect demands your consent and stamp of approval early on, and you can’t relegate the critical decisions to the agency. It can be burdensome at times – being tasked with reviewing a new web design or web content, or greenlighting ad campaigns – but it’s an integral part of the process.

As the client-agency relationship progresses, you can expect to continue having regular meetings in order to:

Warner Archive:

Regular Communication with Marketing Agencies Can Be Challenging

Effective communication is crucial to keeping your marketing plan running smoothly. But when you partner with an outside marketing agency, you won’t always have instant access to your team. Lack of physical proximity is a natural barrier, and face-to-face communication is understandably more limited.

Communicating with your agency partners often takes place via phone or email, and they may be slower to respond to requests, questions, or concerns than you’d prefer. While meetings can be arranged, they typically occur hours or days later.

The fact of the matter is, you aren’t the agency’s only client – you may not even be their biggest client. Agencies routinely manage multiple accounts for a variety of clients. If other clients contract for more services, your company’s project may not be prioritized as highly. Simply put, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Principled marketing agencies, however, work to ensure that no client feels less valued than another. They strive to keep in constant contact with each of their clients and make a conscious effort to respond to concerns quickly.

Final Thoughts

Both recruiting an in-house marketing team and outsourcing to an agency have their benefits and drawbacks. Neither option is inherently “right” or “wrong” for any business.

In order to determine which approach is right for your company, it’s important to examine your short-term marketing goals as well as your long-term growth strategy. Weighing these against your own team’s strengths and weaknesses is critical in assessing whether you should keep your marketing initiatives in-house or entrust them to outside experts. In addition, identifying which particular services your company needs and what your marketing budget is are essential to reaching a final decision.

Many companies already have a core of in-house individuals tasked with handling their marketing. By and large, in-house personnel live and breathe the company brand and are likely to have a far more in-depth understanding of the business’s unique selling proposition, product set, and buyer personas. Thus, in-house marketers may be better qualified to create relevant content and effective communication strategies for the company.

Nevertheless, the range of expertise and resources available to in-house marketers may be limited – indeed, they may find it difficult to implement new software or keep pace with ever-evolving trends and technologies.

There’s a steep learning curve involved with digital marketing, and teaming up with an external agency can help avoid classic “newbie” mistakes. Instead of spending time and effort exploring various possibilities, agency specialists will formulate and carry out a hard-and-fast plan without delay, so you can receive a quicker return on your investment.

Many organizations find that a hybrid approach to marketing works best. Outsourcing key services to agency specialists can not only be extremely cost-effective, it also provides an outside perspective which can help in-house marketing teams recognize opportunities to improve. Keeping some of your resources in-house also helps the company maintain some degree of direct control over its content, branding, and other marketing resources.

Now that you’ve had a chance to analyze the pros and cons of retaining an in-house marketing team versus partnering with an outside agency, it’s time to take the next step.

If you or your business could benefit from the services of a professional, full-service digital marketing agency, HighClick Media is here to help! 

HighClick provides comprehensive digital media and online marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring skill above and beyond the ordinary to every project, resulting in explosive business success!

Whether you’re looking for a fresh website design, brand development, email and social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), or pay-per-click advertising (PPC), our highly skilled team is fully equipped to assist you!

Reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or visit our website for a full description of our services!

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How to Know When it’s Time for a Website Overhaul

How To Know When It’s Time for a Website Overhaul

Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace over the past several years, and there’s every reason to believe that it’s not going to slow down anytime soon. What’s more, social media has evolved into a digital marketing hub, which has escalated the competition for businesses to remain relevant. In order to contend in today’s market, your organization’s website may need a redesign, as there are hallmarks that consumers expect in terms of accessibility, new content, and an engaging experience. If your website hasn’t been updated recently, it may be hurting your business both in leads and credibility.

Consider these critical indicators in determining whether it’s time for a website overhaul:

1) Your Website Is Not Mobile-Friendly

More than ever, people are using their smartphones and other mobile devices to connect to the internet. Accordingly, you need to make certain that your website is compatible with a variety of screen sizes without undermining the quality and layout of your site.

The overall appearance of your website on mobile should be congruent with the desktop version to guarantee that customers are capable of accessing links and navigating the page from their tablets or smartphones. 

Having a website that isn’t optimized for different screens can adversely affect your search engine rankings, since Google prioritizes responsive websites in their search results. 

If you haven’t already configured your website to function the same on mobile and tablet device screens, you should modernize the design of your website without delay.

2) Antiquated Content & Lackluster Visuals

No matter what type of business you’re operating, your website needs to have an inviting visual design. Mismatched fonts and out-of-date imagery and content can make your website seem unappealing to customers. Revamping your website aesthetic can give you an edge over your competitors.

When assessing the present design of your website, ask yourself these key questions:

  • Are the images displayed on your site an accurate visual representation of your brand? Poor-quality, stretched, or run-of-the-mill stock photos are a dead giveaway that you’re ready for a redesign.
  • Is your website content easy to read and comprehend? It’s critical for your viewers’ overall experience to achieve the proper balance of text, background, and visuals. 
  • Is your website too cluttered and disorderly? Having incongruous fonts, lengthy paragraphs, or compressed photos can make it hard for viewers to navigate your site.

3) Invalid, Inaccurate, or Irrelevant Content

Do you really want to occupy “prime real estate” on your website with content of little worth to your brand or the message you’re trying to convey? Your content should clearly communicate what your business is about: its core principles, the products and services you offer, and how to get in touch with you. Here are a few clues that your content might need to be refreshed:

  • There are products/services listed on your site that are no longer offered.
  • Your most recent blog or news article was posted over a year ago.
  • Your website contains immaterial content that doesn’t correspond with your brand.

4) You’re Not Putting Social Media to Good Use

As previously discussed, a majority of people use their smartphones and tablets to access the web. They also spend a LOT of time on social media!

Two reasons why you should be taking advantage of this popular resource:

Social Media Can Help Grow Your Brand

Facebook and Instagram are excellent avenues for sharing more innovative content, advertising your wares, and engaging with customers directly. By linking your social media profiles on your webpage, you can create more traffic to each platform, which is likely to grab customers’ attention more effectively.

Consumers Prefer Brands That Are Active on Social Media  

Making personal connections with customers online helps create loyal customers and generate better feedback. Plus, it’s a surefire way to identify what your customers are looking for – this, in turn, can help you answer their questions and make informative content that they want to interact with.

Your Professional Website Redesign Is Only A Phone Call Away!

At HighClick Media, our professional web designers are experts in website redesign! We love solving hard problems with creative solutions! Our website redesign process integrates marketing, design, technology, and digital strategy, to give you the best product possible. We believe that great design inspires website visitors to take action and to take notice of your company. Partnering with us as your web design agency ensures you that you are receiving the most comprehensive web design strategy possible. Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 to schedule a consultation with our web design team!

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How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

Prior to 2020, the retail industry was projected to continue its gradual shift toward digital and mobile-first purchasing within the next decade. Nearing year’s end, the future has already arrived…a bit earlier than anticipated.

Thanks to social distancing and stay-at-home measures, ecommerce expansion has escalated from 16% of all U.S. retail sales in February of this year to 27% by April, based on data from the Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The way that consumers shop progressed ten years in just a couple of months. And it happened before our very eyes!

Some organizations were better prepared than others. Presently, every business – regardless of its scope or size – has the chance to revamp its ecommerce approach.

In this article, we’ll explore four ways that you can transform your brand in order to better connect people with products online:

Redefine Loyalty

While ecommerce brands are notorious for their pricing wars, customers these days are seeking more than simply a good deal – it’s the total value that they want. In a recent global survey carried out by Ipsos, two out of three respondents stated that the way businesses act in response to COVID-19 will influence their spending. Half of all participants asserted that they are inclined to pay more for a product if they can be assured of its quality and safety, according to research by Nielsen.

Having the proper approach to customers can help you further deliver that value. Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed assert that exceptional customer service is critical when deciding where to shop online, according to a Kantar study commissioned by Facebook. By being transparent in updating order details and shipping timelines, you can greatly enhance the customer’s experience.

Problem-solving is another great way to build loyalty with customers. Platforms that allow real-time messaging can help make transactions smoother and more personalized. In addition, your willingness to issue refunds, process reshipments, and engage one-on-one with customers can help contribute value to your brand.

Advancing the common good, through nonprofit donations and partnerships, can also help. By demonstrating to customers how their purchases give back to the community, you can foster a sense of community and positivity.

Build for Boomers

Baby Boomers aren’t generally regarded as the savviest ecommerce users. Regardless, their mobile and online purchases have increased 85% year-over-year, based on research from Facebook IQ. Given the magnitude and median income of this demographic, Boomers could very well signify your next big opportunity.

Nevertheless, 78% of respondents in that same study said that they encountered challenges while holiday shopping on mobile devices – which means you’ll have to come up with the proper user experience (UX) strategy in order to engage Boomers.

Major points of conflict include too-small fonts, slow-loading sites or apps, hard-to-understand product info, and too many screens or steps to complete transactions. UX personalization can help improve shopping experiences for these customers.

Consistently poll different groups of people who use your site or app, so you can pinpoint the main barriers to purchasing and make adjustments if necessary.

Promote Agility

In a recent survey from GlobalWebIndex, 80% of respondents report having delayed a major purchase due to the coronavirus outbreak.

You simply can’t afford to wait for the market to bounce back – you have to expedite it. But how? By capitalizing on the opportunity to embrace an agile organizational structure.

Agility allows you to bring your senior leadership team into alignment and make informed marketing decisions in real-time.

Adapt to “FOGO”

That’s “fear of going out,” for the uninitiated. Only half of the people surveyed worldwide are ready to return to stores right now, according to GlobalWebIndex data.

Ready for another marketing acronym? Okay, here we go. Compared to 2019, there has been a 208% increase in BOPIS (that’s “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store”) purchases, with over a third of them coming from first-time BOPIS shoppers, based on data from Adobe Analytics. Consumers are also more receptive to contactless shopping than ever before.

FOGO is a particularly relevant topic if your business involves a sizable brick-and-mortar presence. A number of retailers have effectively fashioned solutions that keep in-person interaction to a minimum, such as mobile payments, self-service checkouts, contactless returns, and improved browsing experiences.

Even if brands known for their large retail presence don’t run their own stores, they are beginning to take the concept of FOGO as a sign to create offerings that can be ordered exclusively on the internet

Conclusion

Don’t settle for “business as usual.” The best brands are established in times of crisis. Pursuing the questions that appear unanswerable today might lead to solutions that could essentially create new opportunities to propel your business for years to come.

If you’re looking to expand your brand by integrating ecommerce capabilities into your website and social media pages, the digital marketing experts at HighClick Media are more than happy to help you along on your journey. Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today or drop us a line here.

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16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

16 Critical Elements of Great Website Design

Thanks to advanced technology, building a website today can be extremely simple. However, designing a website that marries impeccable functionality with stunning visuals is still challenging. It goes without saying that websites are now a fundamental part of a business’s online identity.

No business can hope to survive, let alone thrive, in today’s cutthroat market without an attractive, easy-to-navigate website. Far too many businesses fail at building a substantial online presence for their brand due to a subpar website.

So, why do some websites fail to attract and hold traffic where others succeed?

Certain elements of a website design contribute the most to building visitor interest in a website. Including these elements on your site gives it a beautiful visual appeal along with flawless functionality and authority. These are also the components that are most often botched during development.

Let’s take a closer look at 16 critical elements for building a great website.

Color Schemes

The color scheme of a website is seldom paid attention to when developing a website. However, you should know how important a role it plays in influencing a visitor’s behavior. Therefore, it’s important to use a color scheme that will best appeal to your visitors while also representing your brand well.

For instance, if you visit the fast-food giant McDonald’s website, you’ll be greeted with a color scheme that combines red, white, and yellow. These colors have been synonymous with the brand for ages.

We suggest first choosing the dominant color that best represents your brand. You can then choose an analogous color scheme that complements your dominant color choice to highlight certain sections of your site, like call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

White Space

Open any website today and you’ll find that a majority of these websites possess white space that divides certain sections of the webpages. These spaces lend an immaculate and accessible design to your site. They make the content or CTA buttons on your site easy to identify and read for visitors.

Some websites also use white space to give certain aspects of the site more emphasis than others. For instance, white space can be used to make certain “special deals” the focal point of a page.

Make sure you’re consistent in spacing the gaps between sections of your site. We recommend beginning with the navigation and then moving your attention to the content of your site. A grid-based layout can help you design a clean interface that maintains consistency across the entire page.

Easy Navigation

Sites that make it complicated for their visitors to navigate normally experience higher bounce rates.

As such, it’s imperative to facilitate simple navigation by giving users an easy-to-use and intuitive website. The website should offer users simple routes to navigate to certain fundamental aspects of a site, recommended pages, along with a way back to the original page.

Take a look at this quick navigation menu bar in Marks & Spencer’s website:

We suggest using parallax scrolling as a navigation system, which includes arrows that make a website’s user interface (UI) easy to interact with. Therefore, you must place a strong emphasis on simple navigation if you want visitors to spend more time on your site.

Distinct Typography

Using unique typography to present content on your site is an ideal way to distinguish yourself from other similar sites online. The fonts you ultimately choose should complement your brand while communicating its message to visitors. It’s also important to consider a font that makes your site look professional without appearing bland.

We suggest using a font size of at least 16 pixels to make your site’s content readable on mobile and desktop devices. You can use different but complementary fonts to highlight the headings and subheadings on the site. Finally, use contrasting color schemes to match your text with the background perfectly. Pairing darker tones with lighter colors will do the trick just fine.

Outstanding Visuals

This goes without saying, but certain visual cues on your site will give any website a distinct edge over similar websites online. Populating a webpage with high-resolution images and beautiful illustrations can make your site more compelling to visitors.

For example, take a look at this high-definition image from Hershey:

Of course, you can’t use just any random visuals on your site. They should align with what your brand stands for.

Use stunning banner images. You can populate your page with custom-made images, which can also be used to highlight certain key focal points of your site. Try to avoid using too many stock photos on your pages.

Site Usability

Aside from beautiful design, you also need to create a site that provides users with a satisfying user experience (UX). Most developers make the critical mistake of compromising a site’s usability in favor of its overall visual design. It’s imperative to optimize a site in order to facilitate smooth interaction between the site’s elements and visitors. A subpar UX design could result in your website’s bounce rate blowing through the roof.

You can enhance the user experience by using animations, readable and engaging content, simple navigation, and more interactive elements.

 

High-Quality Content

Having high-quality content is integral to optimizing search engine rankings for your site and thus generating more traffic to your site. It’s also absolutely essential to populate your site with quality content in order to keep your visitors engaged. Top-notch content that’s relevant to your brand can persuade visitors to spend more time on your site, explore other areas, or make a purchase.

We recommend dividing your content based on its relevance. Always keep relevant information about your website, product, or service at the top. Follow it up with content that explains your services or highlights features that set you apart from competitors.

Finally, use an FAQ section to answer questions that a visitor may have about your service.

Have a look at this FAQ page design from Shopify:

Compelling Calls to Action

A website exists to persuade a visitor to take certain actions on it. CTA buttons on a site trigger this response from visitors. As such, you need to place CTA buttons strategically throughout your site to persuade visitors to perform desirable actions on the webpage. The call-to-action messages themselves must be persuasive. They should explain what you want visitors to do in a few words.

“Buy Now,” “Sign up Free,” “Contact Us,” etc. are all examples of CTA buttons commonly used by most websites.

Make sure your landing page leads users to all the CTA buttons present on the page. You can utilize contrasting color schemes, content, and white spaces to highlight a CTA button.

Take a look at this CTA button used by Spotify:

If you have a variety of CTA buttons on your page, determine which type is more important and use it more prominently.

Mobile-Friendly Design

It is a well-known fact that the majority of websites receive most of their traffic from mobile users. With over 7 billion active smartphone users around the world today, not optimizing your site for mobile devices means losing out on such a massive audience. Suffice it to say, mobile optimization is one of the first things you need to do when building a website.

You need to utilize a custom web design that responds and adapts to various mobile screen sizes automatically.

We recommend using Google Search Console or other free tools like Pingdom or BrowserStack to check whether your site is mobile-friendly.

SEO-Friendly Elements

As you may know by now, search engines like Google take many aspects of a site’s user experience into consideration when ranking a site. As such, a developer needs to consider search engine optimization from the very beginning of a website’s design process. Elements like simple navigation, scannable text, loading speed, and mobile friendliness contribute to the overall user experience.

A problem with any of the above elements will result in a user having a poor experience with your site, eventually increasing its bounce rate. Google will take this high bounce as a sign of bad UX and ultimately plummet your site in search engine rankings.

It’s important to consider how each element will contribute to your site’s SEO. We suggest working with an SEO expert, who will monitor and assess all crucial elements of your site while it is in development.

Right Usage of Ads

You’ll find many websites online that have successfully monetized their websites by displaying ads on them. If used appropriately, display ads can be a great way to earn some revenue from your website. However, such advertisements – if used incorrectly – can aggravate your visitor’s user experience. In short, advertisements have the power to make or break your site.

As such, we discourage using too many ads on websites as it can harm the user experience. You don’t want your website to look unprofessional, which is exactly what will happen if your webpage is littered with ads.

The most effective way to advertise on a site, in our opinion, would be combining banner ads with affiliate marketing. Make sure your ads integrate organically with your site. They shouldn’t feel out of place and interfere with the content on your site.

Security

Online security should be an integral part of any website. Security and privacy have often been a major cause of concern for individuals surfing the web. Security alerts popping up when someone tries to open your site is a surefire way of turning potential website visitors away forever.

Internet security should be given as much focus as the design and overall functionality of your site. It should be mandatory for your website to implement an HTTPS protocol. This will help protect a user’s information, lend some much-needed credibility, and build trust among prospects. 

We suggest buying SSL certificates from reliable hosting service providers. These are cheap to acquire and can be integrated seamlessly with your site.

Integrating Social Media

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have billions of active users from all around the world. So it only makes sense to integrate social media into your site’s design plan. You should have social media buttons that instantly redirect your users to your site’s official social media channel. You can also have buttons that allow users to directly share certain content or products from your website on their private channels. 

Having social media buttons strategically placed on your website is a great way of indirectly marketing your site, opening doors for people to leap in directly onto your site from their respective social media profiles online. 

Adding Internal and External Links

A proper link-building strategy can prove to be a great way of enhancing the brand authority of your website. It is important to learn how to build internal and external links to help boost your website’s performance. For instance, you can direct users to certain content on your site and improve its SEO performance by using appropriate internal links.

Proper link-building research requires a good strategy. We suggest finding out how your competitor’s websites are employing their link-building strategy. Draw inspiration for sites that are using the strategy with productive results.

Comments Section

We’ve already stressed how important it is to make your site as interactive and engaging as possible. Aside from content, you can add a comments section to your site, which allows users to leave their two cents below a particular content or product information. This can be a great way to receive feedback, which can be used to improve your service.

If you are running an ecommerce store, we recommend adding a review section similar to what is found on sites like Amazon and eBay. A dedicated comments and review section will make your site more interactive and improve brand loyalty.

Achievements and Endorsements

This is perhaps the most effective and widely adopted way of building trust among customers. It is in your business’s best interest to flaunt your past achievements on your website for all to see. Displaying your achievements can go a long way towards building a solid reputation for your business and brand.

We recommend having a dedicated section for testimonials, displaying positive comments from at least 4 to 5 past clients.

We also suggest highlighting the names of all the popular brands you’ve served. If you’ve received endorsements from authoritative brands, add them to your site as well.

Final Thoughts

While these 16 elements can seem a bit overwhelming, they’re essential to building a website that not only looks fantastic but functions flawlessly as well.

Are you ready for the good news? You don’t have to do it on your own!

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in professional website design. Our talented web designers will craft your business website with lots of TLC and plenty of technical prowess! We can build you a brand new website from scratch or spruce up your existing site.

Interested? Reach out to HighClick Media today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here. We’ll be glad to show you how we can help #elevateyourbrand with a world-class website for your business.

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Guest blogger Joseph Schneider is the Director of Marketing at Haitna, a digital marketing firm based in Texas.

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How to Grow Your Business by Optimizing Your Website

How to Grow Your Business By Optimizing Your Website

Prioritize Creating a Data Recovery Plan

Unfortunately, business owners too often minimize the importance of cybersecurity until after their company has been targeted and compromised by cyberattackers. Rather than waiting until disaster strikes, it’s imperative to educate yourself about cybersecurity data protection and be proactive about protecting your company’s website.

Coming up with a cyber-recovery plan to safeguard your company’s digital assets – including your website – should be your number one priority. This will allow you to get your website back up and running quickly in the event of a cyberattack. You’ll want to establish a proposed timeline with your preferred “deadlines” for system recovery, as well as details about which programs and applications will have to be addressed in order to execute recovery. Finally, make note of who will be responsible for conducting each task included in your recovery plan.

Develop Educational Content

Sure, your website is a sales and marketing platform – but it can also serve as a vehicle for customer education. Whether your typical customer is another small business, a nonprofit organization, or an individual consumer in your area, you can establish your website as a place that visitors can turn to for up-to-date resources on everything from product use cases to new developments in your industry.

So, how can you ensure that your marketing content is also educational? Business 2 Community recommends publishing blog posts that address your audience’s most common “pain points,” hosting live video lessons with product demonstrations on your website, or even establishing a special membership section of your site with bonus content for paying subscribers.

Integrate Your CRM & ERP

Your customer relationship management (CRM) system and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are both indispensable to your business. From tracking and capturing leads to managing your overall operations, these software programs can be leveraged to carry out a plethora of key business functions. You can use these programs to their fullest potential by integrating them and then connecting the internal, integrated system to your website. In doing so, not only will you boost your team’s productivity and efficiency but you’ll also be able to seamlessly transfer information from your website to these interconnected programs.

User-Friendly Design

Have you ever had an unpleasant experience while browsing a particular website? Maybe you found it difficult to find the particular page you were looking for. Perhaps you tried to use the search function to find an important piece of content, but it didn’t deliver accurate results. Or, maybe you were seeking contact information so that you could get in touch with a customer support specialist – but no matter how hard you looked, you didn’t see any contact forms, email addresses, or phone numbers.

Crafting an enjoyable user experience should be at the heart of your website design and management approach. But, how can you go the extra mile to make sure that your customers can easily navigate your website and make the best use of all its features? Rock Content recommends designing a clear menu that allows your customers to visit key sections of your website with one click, including an easy-to-find contact form.

In addition, it’s also essential to make sure that your overall site layout looks attractive – after all, visually appealing content might prompt visitors to stay on your website longer (and the longer visitors stay on your site, the more likely they are to take action, such as making a purchase or booking an appointment). If you can’t find a theme that you like with your current content management system, you might consider enlisting the services of a professional web design and development firm that can create a custom layout for your site.

Local SEO: How to Get Found Online by Customers in Your Area

You might be acquainted with the basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO), and perhaps you’ve even been incorporating some useful keywords into your website content already. But have you taken the time to focus on local SEO? By emphasizing local SEO in your website strategy, you can specifically target customers in your area who are seeking products and services like those that you offer.

What can you do to reach customers nearby using SEO tactics? BrainChild Studios recommends putting your city and state on your homepage, adding your city to your page title tags (including the local schema code in your website pages), claiming your Google Business Profile listing, and including your business in local online directories.

Boost Your Conversion Rate

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Speed Up Your Website

The ultimate goal of your business’s website is to convert visitors into paying customers. Therefore, you need to find ways to boost conversion rates with your website. While implementing user-friendly website design principles can help in this area, there are also some other steps you can take.

A/B testing is key to increasing conversions – you can run tests to analyze your conversion rates with your current site features. Then, as you implement new features like headlines, calls to action, or contact forms, you can run additional tests to compare their effectiveness. By conducting multiple A/B tests at once, you won’t have to wait until a new feature has been thoroughly tested to analyze the impact of another.

Final Thoughts

Your website doesn’t exist just so your company will show up in search engines. In reality, your website might be an unrealized tool for your business’s growth. If you haven’t prioritized growing your business by maximizing your website’s potential, you can get started by integrating some of these recommendations.

If you need help with optimizing your existing website, creating a new website from scratch, boosting your SEO for greater discoverability in Google searches, or any other aspect of your digital marketing, you don’t have to go it alone! HighClick Media is here to help! Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice and troubleshooting tips.

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5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Ready for the Metaverse

Is your business ready for the transition to the metaverse? Yeah, we get it – that’s a loaded question! After all, there’s still a fair bit of speculation and rumors about exactly what’s involved with the metaverse and what it will mean for us and our businesses.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed businesses placing a greater emphasis on ecommerce and digital transformation – thanks in large part to the global pandemic. But we’re also seeing businesses begin to shift their attention even further toward digital as the virtual world becomes less of a fantastical idea and closer to reality.

With internet users spending more time online than ever before, and many small businesses falling on hard times, it’s time for us to rethink how we will connect with our audiences going forward.

In this article, we’ll explore five ways to help your small business weather the world-changing transition to the metaverse – and thrive in its aftermath.

Know Your Niche

The concept of the metaverse – connecting people to technology (and vice versa) using virtual and augmented reality – isn’t a new one. In fact, the idea has actually been kicked around for decades, to varying degrees of execution.

No one seems to agree, or know for sure when the metaverse concept was originally conceived; it’s equally difficult to find an agreed-upon definition of what the reality of the metaverse means for us now.

What’s certain is that the first (and perhaps best) way to make sure your small business is ready for this new era of digital transformation is to have a clear idea of what you want for your brand and how you can make the most of technology to achieve your goals.

For one company, that might mean developing better AI in order to be able to better address customer questions through your website. For another, it might entail creating an entire virtual reality world that allows potential buyers to examine products before buying them as though they were actually there with the items.

Let’s face it: you know your business better than anyone else. Accordingly, only you can determine what the metaverse can (or can’t) do for your business.

Consider Updating Your Branding

With new tech initiatives and the emergence of newer, more diverse social platforms come new branding opportunities. This is a great time to take a long, hard look at your visual brand.

One of the great things about the metaverse is its focus on connectivity. Startups and small businesses alike must ensure that the visual aspects of their messaging make clear how important communication is to the business. As one of the founding values behind the metaverse, paying special attention to your visual branding must always be a top priority.

Claim and Update Your Business on Search Engines

More than half of business owners haven’t claimed their company’s listings on tools like Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business). This is a huge mistake!

Claiming and maintaining your online presence is absolutely crucial for a small business in today’s digital world. Without it, you’ll miss out on countless opportunities to drive traffic to your site, or to the business itself, as well as risk frustrating customers who can’t find the information they need when they need it.

Keeping this information up to date is just as important, particularly for things like holidays or hours of operation, as incorrect information could easily turn off potential customers.

I am not ready for that.

Don’t Abandon the Old Ways Too Quickly

Try to avoid the temptation to go “all virtual, all the time” too soon. Yes, the idea of the metaverse is exciting, and it’s likely that at least some of your customer base will be ready for it.

But good business dictates that you should always give the customer what they want – and the majority of consumers aren’t quite ready for this new way of doing business. At least not yet.

Even as you’re positioning your business to be ready for “the next big thing,” don’t be too hasty to cast aside the old ways completely. Many of your customers are going to want to stick with what they’re used to, for as long as possible. You should continue to give your audience the option to engage with your brand through more traditional methods.

Remain Adaptable

Last but certainly not least, be ready for anything! One thing that many entrepreneurs and small business owners know well is that right about the time you get comfortable, that’s when change comes fast and furious!

Sure, we have an exciting future ahead of us, thanks to an increasing tech-minded push, and it’s going to change the way we view and interact with our world. But if you get too hung up on tomorrow’s virtual reality project, you might not see what’s coming up next week.

 
 

Final Thoughts

Transformation is coming – that’s a given. How will your small business ride out these changes over the next decade? Well, that’s up to you. At the very least, you should be prepared for what comes next.

If you need help transforming your business for the digital age, HighClick Media can help! Whether you’re looking to update your website, get started with social media marketing, or optimize your website for search engines so it’s easier to be found online, we have a solution that’s right for you! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help elevate your brand!

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An earlier version of this article appeared on Entrepreneur’s website and can be found here.

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Millennials Mean Business

Millennials Mean Business

I Have Never Met Someone Who Doesn’t Have an Opinion on Millennials.

We are condemned for our love of avocado toast (it really is good – you should try it!) and pinned as the self-absorbed generation.  But, on the flip side, we are known for being open-minded, collaborative, tech-savvy problem solvers. Making up a quarter of the U.S. population, it should come as no surprise that Millennials have a huge impact on brand marketing.

Who We Are:

According to the Pew Research Center, if you were born between 1981 and 1996, you are a Millennial. There are currently over 76 million Millennials in the United States, and this number just keeps growing. More diverse than other generations, nearly half of Millennials are people of color.

Having been raised in a damaged economy, we are drastically more socially and technologically connected than any other generation. It’s true; We are the generation of iPhones, social media, apps, and streaming.

To put it plainly, we have a different perspective than the generations before us. Millennials are all about transparency, culture, and moral responsibility.

Our Generation Stays Connected

A whopping 86% of Millennials stay updated on brands through social networks – 82% of us are active Facebook users, with Gen X not too far behind at 76%. Not only that, but we are 2.5x more likely to adapt to new technology earlier than members of older generations.

The Millennial Income

A minority of this generation is wealthy, but for the majority of young adults, this isn’t the case. The average Millennial today earns $10,000 less than young adults in 1989.

help me im poor

Millennials Are a Health-Oriented Generation

We tend to make healthier eating choices and develop stronger exercise habits than prior generations. Using fitness apps and the internet helps Millennials research the healthiest options – and we’re willing to spend more on compelling brands.

How Millennials Shop

We are more likely to search for a deal. Nearly half of us use our smartphones to search for a better deal on a product while in-store, and 92% have made a purchase on their phone. Approximately half of Millennials spend 1 to 3 hours researching their finance options before making a major purchase. More brand-loyal than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, 69% of Millennials have chosen the same brand for a major purchase in the last year. When Millennials were asked if they would try a new brand when making a major purchase, only 17% said they would.

Millennials Perceive Your Brand Differently

We appreciate brands that are truthful, ethical, and unrestricted. Seeking products and services that improve their lives, Millennials enjoy interacting and engaging with brands on a personal level. Thirty-six percent of Millennials expect an interactive experience when looking for solutions.

All of this matters to your marketing.

Having such remarkably different characteristics, tastes, and expectations than prior generations, Millennials challenge stale marketing tactics, emotionless branding, and lackluster customer service. They want their voices heard, they want to trust your business and they are looking for a brand that will be an experience.

If your audience is young and you lack a creative strategy for marketing to this fresh generation, reach out to us to schedule a meeting with one of our marketing geniuses! Marketing to Millennials is one of our specialties!

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How to Build A Values-Based Social Media Presence For Your Brand

How To Build A Values-Based Social Media Presence For Your Brand

In today’s fast-paced digital world, maintaining a clear and consistent voice in the crowded field of social media can be challenging. A solid social media presence keeps people informed about the latest news concerning your brand while also advertising your products or services. Additionally, it helps you engage with customers by responding to feedback and answering questions.

Perhaps the most pivotal element of our interconnected online world is how easily messages are spread, analyzed, and potentially misconstrued. Dealing with online backlash or criticism is a position that no brand wants to be in. Thankfully, there are methods for addressing these issues that can ultimately create a healthier and more effective dialogue between your brand and your audience.

Being aware of the personal values of your customers is critical in building a lasting following, though effective communication strategies are equally important. Using correct context, tone, and even timing can help you avoid controversies that could potentially harm your brand. By examining the latest engagement trends that lead to success on social media, you can learn how to grow an active and empathetic audience.

Identify & Understand Your Audience

The first step towards building an effective and engaging social media strategy involves taking the time to identify your intended audience and its unique perspectives. Investigate what your audience looks for in a brand. Are quality and excellent customer service all they need, or are things like shared values more important?

While demographics vary from business to business and platform to platform, social media users tend to skew younger. Studies have also shown that people who are regularly active in online communities gravitate towards progressive concepts like diversity, inclusion, and social justice.

Monitor your social media channels to gauge how your existing audience esteems these values. If they respond positively to other like-minded brands and prominent individuals, it may be wise to consider adopting a brand voice that appeals to similar perspectives.

Build Your Strategy

Determining what your priorities are when it comes to social media is essential. Do you favor a utilitarian approach, where the account’s main purpose is announcing company news and addressing direct feedback from users and followers? Or do you prefer giving a more human face to your brand, where it feels like real people are actively running your social media? Either way, find what works best for you and stick with it.

This step in the process also requires you to take a good look at the makeup of your marketing and social media teams. Try to find a strategy that plays to the unique strengths of your staff, and be sure to seek continuous input from them. Those with experience in digital communication and internet trends can help optimize your brand’s online presence.

Building Goodwill

Once you’ve devised a social media strategy that reflects the values of your intended audience, it’s time to start engaging in a way that builds trust and goodwill with your customers. You want to come across as open to the same values as your audience without pandering directly to them in a way that comes across as insincere. Follow these guidelines to find the proper balance you’ll need to succeed:

1)  The New Brand Loyalty

The old concept of brand loyalty is rapidly being redefined by the digital landscape. Consumers no longer feel like they must stick with a company or its products simply out of loyalty. Instead, you should make an effort to sell your brand’s values. People are more inclined to support a company that they feel shares their beliefs. Expressing interest in these values is an easy way to cultivate brand loyalty.

2)  Genuine Messaging

Authenticity can be a difficult concept to pin down for a branded social media page. You’ll have to experiment to find the right balance between your main priority of serving as the mouthpiece of your brand and the secondary goal of building an engaged following. It’s important for your messaging to come across as sincere, and the easiest way to accomplish that is to actually mean what you say.

Before launching a social media campaign centered around values like diversity, consult with different voices within your marketing team. Find out what sort of message appears authentic, and what seems like a forced attempt to cash in on social trends. A discerning audience of social media users will be able to parse this out fairly quickly, so be sure that you’ve done your due diligence before you post.

3)  Embrace Positivity

Use your social media channels to tell a story. Connecting with your audience on an emotional level involves leaning into the human element that drives us as individuals and community members. Focus on the people that make your brand stand out, whether that’s your employees or your most dedicated customers.

If you’ve recently made strides towards a more inclusive atmosphere, such as by redesigning your stores or manufacturing centers to be more accessible through universal design, post about it. Humanizing your brand shows that you care about more than turning a profit and appeals to the empathetic nature of your audience.

Prove It! ~ Emily Mean GIF by Film Riot (GIPHY)

4)  Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The simplest way to market any product, brand, or service is to do nothing at all and let the results speak for themselves. This is an age-old marketing strategy, but the same principles can be applied to digital communication and social media. If your audience sees that your online presence is reflected in your real-world actions, they will be more inclined to believe in and support you.

Don’t let your posts about diversity, wellness, and inclusion just be posts. Rather than resort to the same industry-standard platitudes every Pride Month or Black History Month, demonstrate that your brand is taking an active role in the community. Start conversations, spearhead initiatives, and raise awareness on the issues that matter to you and your customers.

5)  Avoid Overcommitting

Social media is a virtually endless source of new content. Whether it’s from other brands, active power users, or infrequent commenters, it’s easy to find yourself bogged down by the sheer number of posts, replies, comments, and other forms of engagement. You might be tempted to try to respond to as much of this feedback as you can, but it’s important not to promise more than you can deliver.

When it comes to a values-based approach to social media, overcommitting can include things as simple as publicly liking or commenting on posts about popular social causes that your company cannot fully commit to. This can lead to false expectations from your customers that, when left unfulfilled, may damage your company’s reputation.

Addressing Controversies

While embracing similar values to that of your primary audience is a highly effective engagement strategy, there is an inverse effect to this approach that can cause harmful pushback. Social media controversies are a serious issue for your brand, and while you should avoid conflicts like this at all costs, there are a few easy steps you can take to mitigate the harm:

1)  Acknowledge the Problem

If your social media channels are being flooded with negative feedback and hostility, take the time to address the issue at hand. This is the first step toward easing tensions and moving on from the situation. In your acknowledgment, be sure to speak plainly about the issues your company is facing and how you plan on addressing them. However, try not to overcommit in this initial step.

Of course, not all social media backlash is the same. Use your own discretion when deciding if acknowledging a specific controversy would be good for your company’s long-term image. While some issues are best faced swiftly and publicly, a more measured, behind-the-scenes approach can also be useful in reducing further damage to your brand.

Aw, hey, let's turn that frown upside down. ~ The Simpsons

2)  Start Positive Initiatives

When facing an overwhelming degree of negativity online, sometimes the best thing you can do is find a way to turn it into something positive. For example, if your brand is criticized for a perceived lack of diversity, incorporate that feedback into a plan to hire more diverse staff. Putting your words into action is a signal of positivity and goodwill to your customers.

3)  Show Humanity

Once again, the easiest way for your audience to see your brand in a positive light is to be as genuine as possible. If you are in a situation in which your company must apologize, do so with humility and grace. Show that your brand is more than a logo by approaching your critics as human beings. A public display of dignity is a simple way to garner an empathetic response and move on from controversy.

4)  Ignore the Trolls

One potential downside of engaging directly with your audience through social media is that it opens your brand up to the darker side of online anonymity. A good social media team should be able to tell the difference between genuine, good-faith criticism from an active audience and mean-spirited, hostile negativity. As the face of your brand, it’s crucial that you not allow the trolls to take over your message.

Final Thoughts

In today’s saturated digital marketplace, it’s more important than ever to find ways to make your brand stand out. Social media is a major innovation in direct-to-consumer marketing that makes it easy to interact with your audience and build positive sentiment towards your brand. However, it can also be a tricky landscape to navigate if you don’t use the proper methods.

By building a digital brand that emphasizes genuine connection and shared values with your audience, you can establish lasting trust and loyalty that extends beyond the digital space. Creating goodwill with your customers might lead to increased traffic and sales – but more importantly, it can lead to a stable, positive, and engaged base over time.

If you need help establishing or refreshing your online presence, particularly on social media, HighClick can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or contact us here. We’ll make it our mission to help #elevateyourbrand!

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Hazel Bennett is a freelance writer and blogger. She has a degree in communications and lives in Northeastern Ohio. Hazel loves writing about numerous topics and showcasing her expertise with words.

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How to Turn Your Followers Into Clients

One of the best ways to reach potential customers is through social media marketing. Social media allows you to build a brand presence, reach a wider audience, and engage with current and potential customers.

However, many business owners make some of the same mistakes when getting started on social media. For instance, they might limit themselves to creating awareness on a single platform. While this isn’t entirely unreasonable, you could be targeting the wrong audience.

Maybe this particular scenario describes you…

You’ve worked hard to build your follower base over time. Your content is amazing. You’re always sharing the best advice you can find. But something still isn’t right. Your conversion rate is low.

You’re finding it challenging to turn loyal followers into returning clients. This may be due to a number of reasons. But ultimately, it boils down to poor marketing strategies and tactics.

Luckily, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll explain how to convert your followers into clients as well as how to generate tons of leads via social media channels. Excited? Let’s dive in!

Start a Conversation

Create Unique Content

One of the most critical steps in converting followers into customers is to create unique content.

While it’s a good idea to consistently post on your social media accounts, if you keep posting the same kinds of content, you will quickly become ignored. Try to come up with some new and innovative ways to engage with your followers and potential customers.

If you can think of a way to reach out to your customers in a way that’s more interactive, go for it! You’ll find that this is one of the best ways to get more people interested in what you have to offer.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and invest time and money into developing new strategies for engaging with your customers. When everyone else is posting about the same boring things, your posts will stand out from the crowd.

Create Contests and Giveaways

Creating contests and giveaways is a great way to generate viral marketing for your business. Encouraging people to talk about your business by creating a contest can go a long way toward attracting more followers, clients, and customers.

A successful contest must have an objective that entrants can strive for. It should be fun, and engaging, and should also be easily measured. An excellent example of this is a contest to get the most tweets or Facebook likes.

To make the contest more enticing, you can offer prizes for the winner or runners-up. Be sure that your contest is easy to enter so all your followers will want to participate.

To further increase the number of entries, you could offer additional prizes for entrants who are creative enough to submit creative content such as photos, videos, or blog posts related to your product or business.

Turning followers into clients is more attainable than you might think. While you may assume that your content alone is enough to entice your audience, that isn’t always the case.

Today, social media platforms are littered with brands competing for brand awareness. In order to succeed at converting your followers into clients, you’ll have to be unique in your approach to positioning and branding your business. It’s essential to identify your unique selling proposition and maximize it effectively.

One of the easiest ways to turn followers into clients is by starting a conversation with them. Rather than merely posting content for the sake of doing so, engage with your community and ask relevant questions.

Be sure to respond to any comments or questions that visitors leave on your page. In doing so, you will show prospects that you’re interested in them – and that they’re being heard and valued by your company. This will help build trust with potential customers and make them feel like they’re more than just another potential sale.

To start a conversation with one of your followers: first, take a look at their profiles to see what types of things interest them and which companies or organizations they follow. Then, use that information to start a conversation with them.

Don’t introduce your website or product into the conversation directly when you do this. Demonstrate that you are an authority on the topic by giving more information than is asked for – and then mention your company as if it were an afterthought.

Build Relationships with Influential People in Your Industry

Like any other business, it takes money to make money – and social media is no exception. The problem with social media is that you can spend a lot of time and energy engaging with people for “free,” but there’s no guarantee that any of the relationships you build will lead to sales.

The secret to making sure your efforts are worthwhile is to focus on connecting with influencers – people who are capable of influencing the people you want to reach. There are several ways you can go about doing this.

Start by identifying influencers who are actively focusing on your particular niche or industry. You can learn more about them by searching for their names on LinkedIn, reading their blogs, and following them on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Take a closer look at prominent influencers’ social media accounts and see if they are posting links to content that’s relevant to your business (and your potential customers). You might also be able to find them by seeing who’s active in groups relevant to your niche or industry.

Once you’ve identified these influencers, engage with them by liking or commenting on their posts. Even if they don’t reply directly, they’ll see that you’re interacting with their content – and this might lead them to engage with yours as well. It’s a good idea to comment positively.

Take Advantage of Trending Topics

Businesses are often afraid to jump into a trending topic out of concern that their involvement will come off as inauthentic.

The fact is, if you’re not leveraging the opportunity that comes with trending hashtags, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to increase your awareness.

There are several ways to get involved in the conversation without forcing. If you want to be seen as an active participant, research the trend and make sure your answer is helpful and relevant to your target audience. Convince people that you’re an authority in their niche.

Once you’re recognized as an expert in the field, try linking your response to your business or industry. If you have something valuable to contribute, take the time to write out informative blog posts for the same. Ideally, your blog post should also point to your products or services as an ideal solution to readers’ problems.

The Bottom Line

Before you can convert followers into paying clients, you have to get them to know, like, and trust you. Building a social media following is time-consuming and requires a great deal of patience and consistency.

Once you’ve attracted your potential clientele, start sharing your work in subtle ways that encourage followers to contact you without forcing your work down their throats.

If you’re struggling to get started with social media marketing or you need help building your follower base and converting them into customers, HighClick Media is here for you!

We are a full-service digital marketing and web design agency, dedicated to helping grow businesses of all shapes and sizes by implementing comprehensive marketing solutions. Our talented team of creative thinkers, innovators, and digital marketers bring extraordinary skill to every project, positioning your business for blistering success.

Whether you’re looking for a website refresh, social media marketing, or brand development, reach out to us today by calling 252.814.2150 or dropping us a line here.

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Guest blogger Margie Heaneythe writes high-quality content and helps manage social media marketing efforts for Get Plus Followers. She helps save social media marketers time and money by finding active and engaging Instagram users for their personal profiles or business pages. Margie is proud to partner with LearningFuze, a premier coding and data science boot camp offering part-time or full-time courses, available in person or online.

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Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

 

Search engine optimization, or SEO, can be massively beneficial for businesses of all sizes when it comes to marketing. Whether you’re looking to expand your customer base or gain an edge over your competition, there are several simple, cost-effective ways to utilize SEO. When partnered with creative brand design and social media usage, SEO can help your business gain credibility and get a foothold in your field.

In this article, we’ll take a look at a few key strategies to help boost your company’s search rankings online in order to get new customers to come to you.

 

Get Help with Your SEO

Get Help from SEO Professionals

In this age of technology, it’s essential for even the smallest businesses to have solid search rankings on Google. As more and more consumers rely on their phones for everything from driving directions to shopping, you’ll want to ensure they can easily find your business, get in touch with you, and buy products with the push of a button.

Enlisting the services of SEO professionals to help optimize your rankings in Google searches as well as on Google Maps can go a long way. The more mobile-friendly your business is, the better chance you’ll have of finding – and keeping – a larger customer base.

 

Website Accessibility

Make Sure Your Website Is Accessible

Not only is it important to give your customers lots of options when it comes to your business, but it’s also equally crucial to make your website as accessible as possible and to load it up with high-quality content. You can utilize several types of media on your site to make your business more visible in searches, from multiple links to videos. Just don’t forget to make sure all of your customers can benefit from them. Using captions, alt text (a written description of an image), and font options will help differently-abled customers easily interact with your products and marketing, among other tactics.

 

Keep Your Content Fresh with Frequent Updates

Keep Web Content Fresh with Frequent Updates

Whether you have videos, written blog posts, or photos on your site, you’ll want to ensure that your content is updated frequently. The more you refresh your content, the more traffic you’ll drive to the site – and increased traffic has a direct effect on your search engine rankings.

Every time you post something new, keep possible keywords in mind that are relevant to your customers. What would they type into Google when looking for your specific products or services? Try to keep these keywords as unique as possible on your website pages to prevent disruptions to Google’s algorithm. You can use online resources to figure out the best keywords and placement on your site, as well as tools that demonstrate how to write good content.

One important way to keep existing customers engaged with your content – and potentially convert leads into customers – is to make use of email marketing. An effective email campaign will help boost sales, keep your business in regular contact with its target audience, and directly promote your products and services. Connecting with your audience via email on a weekly basis helps balance your need to keep them engaged against the desire not to be overbearing.

 

Take Advantage of Google's SEO Tools

Take Advantage of Google’s SEO Tools

One essential online resource for small businesses is Google Analytics, which helps you track the performance of your website pages and provides lots of information about your customers, such as which social media platforms they used to find your business. Not only that, it can give you valuable insights about your competitors that could prove advantageous throughout the year. You can use these metrics as a guideline for taking your business to the next level or to learn where you could benefit from changing things up.

Becoming proficient with Google Analytics can be a daunting task for new users. Fortunately, there are many guides available online to introduce its tools to new users in order to facilitate a productive learning experience. A good guide will walk you through setting up your account, analyzing your SEO performance, and evaluating reports.

 

Final Thoughts About Essential SEO Strategies for Small Business Owners

Final Thoughts

SEO is an invaluable tool for businesses of any size, and there are many ways to utilize these tactics. Do some research on the best ways to integrate search engine optimization into your standard practices, and get help from professionals like the folks at HighClick Media who can assist you in making the most of your website, social media accounts, and overall marketing strategy.

If you need help with any of these aspects of your digital marketing, we’re happy to help you out! Drop us a line here or call us at 252.814.2150 to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

 

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Guest blogger Cody McBride’s love for computers stems from high school when he built his own computer. Today he is a trained IT technician and knows how the inner workings of computers can be confusing to most. He is the creator of TechDeck.info where he offers easy-to-understand, tech-related advice, and troubleshooting tips.

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