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 better to recruit a dedicated marketing team to manage all your marketing in-house? Or should you enlist the services of an experienced digital marketing agency to tackle everything 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 it wouldn’t have to shell out money for advertising, marketing, or direct sales. But when you’re first getting started in business, you can’t always rely on getting the referrals you need. As a result, many companies will consider either 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, employing a dedicated in-house marketing team might seem more reasonable. 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 cons of hiring an in-house marketing team:

PROS:

In-House Marketers Have a Deeper Understanding of the Business

Generally speaking, someone who works exclusively for your business is likely to have a much better understanding of your customers’ needs. They’re more acquainted with your products and services, and they know how best to promote them to your clientele. If you’re a B2B organization – one that specializes in selling products and services to other companies – employing an in-house marketing team may be even more critical. After all, 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. In addition, they probably have a fairly solid knowledge base and a good awareness of previous campaigns – and whether or not those campaigns have been successful – without having to go to the trouble of researching them as an agency would. Moreover, 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 your marketing strategy, they’re also focused on the marketing needs of their other clients. 

By contrast, in-house marketers are able to focus on your business 100% of the time. Each of their marketing efforts is customized to your business’s 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 you are outsourcing a project.

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 result, consistency plummets quickly. It’s conceivable that in-house marketers could go weeks without posting any new content or monitoring ad campaign statistics.

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 keep up to date on their knowledge and skills. Ongoing training might include 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 inherently demands 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. After all, 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.

If you choose to partner with a marketing agency, you can anticipate spending more money at first to get you set up. But these costs will dramatically decrease to monthly maintenance over time.

By contrast, you will need to keep paying your in-house marketing team members 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 interaction with a variety of different people on the team. Finding the ideal agency can involve a great deal of time and effort.

Then there are the costs. Working with an agency is oftentimes more expensive than “DIY” marketing or recruiting in-house personnel, primarily because the agency is more experienced. However, 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 design, and website design and 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. That said, 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 immediately 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.

Since the majority of in-house personnel have other responsibilities apart from their marketing roles, the 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, entrusting your marketing to an outside agency enables these marketers 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 to send your content, ad campaigns, and social media marketing out on time, making sure it not only looks great but also 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 compared 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.

On the other hand, 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 company’s specific needs will allow you 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. Therefore, it’s essential to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in order to stay ahead of your competitors. It’s possible to achieve 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 plus benefits to support an entire in-house team, you might find that outsourcing to a marketing agency is actually more affordable.

When you partner with an outside marketing 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.

Being businesses as well, marketing agencies naturally have their own salaries, taxes, and other expenses that they must meet. To accomplish this, agencies must set prices for each of their various services. That said, most agencies are upfront about their pricing and are willing to adjust their fee structures to meet your budget.

While an agency may cost more in the short term, it is likely 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 key business processes. Even agencies that have worked with a vast array of clients will need time to grasp your customers’ needs.

Because each market is distinct, what performs well for one business might fail miserably for another. You won’t want to squander money on a campaign that will end up alienating 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 with 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 sure they have a good 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 ensure 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 optimal results.

You Can Expect Lots of Meetings, Especially Early On

When outsourcing your marketing to an agency, you can anticipate taking part in a lot 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 these critical decisions to the agency. Being tasked with reviewing a new web design, fresh website content, or greenlighting an ad campaign can be burdensome at times – 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 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. Certainly, meetings can be arranged, but 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’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

However, principled marketing agencies will 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 to 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 determining your marketing budget 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, ensuring 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, but it also provides an outside perspective that 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 skills 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 marketing, 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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9 Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign

9 Reasons to Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign

For some business owners, even entertaining the thought of a website redesign can be headache-inducing. Between concerns that the project will be overly time-consuming and the possibility that it may cost more than you’re willing to pay, it can be a lot. Add to that the challenge of trying to decide which website-building platform to choose among the many on the market today.

We get it! That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you along in the process. First, let’s consider why you might want to have your website redesigned in the first place.

7 Signs It’s Time for a Website Redesign

  1. Your site hasn’t been updated in a while. While there’s no hard-and-fast rule, most professionals agree that business websites should undergo a redesign every two to three years. As web design trends are constantly changing, what was considered attractive and aesthetically pleasing just a few years ago probably isn’t today. As rapidly as technology is advancing, any business website that hasn’t been upgraded in three years is unlikely to provide the best user experience to customers and potential clients. On top of that, when your site is regularly updated with valuable content Google takes notice – and that’s never a bad thing!
  2. Your site isn’t mobile-friendly. For most businesses, the majority of their website traffic comes from mobile users. Therefore, you need to make sure that your site performs as well on mobile devices as it does on desktops. A fully responsive website is simple to navigate on a smartphone, thanks to a mobile-friendly menu, easy-to-click buttons, and text that can be effortlessly read without having to zoom in. Not to mention the fact that Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites in search results.
  3. You’re not getting enough traffic to your site. If your website isn’t generating traffic, something needs to change. Perhaps your content isn’t optimized for Google searches, or you’ve failed to address broken features or duplicate content – neither of which Google is very fond of. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ongoing battle between Google and your website. Google wants to provide searchers with the most relevant results high up on the first page. If it’s been years since your website was last updated and your competitor’s site is updated often, Google will likely rank the competitor’s site ahead of yours.
  4. Your site isn’t converting visitors into paying customers. Are people visiting your website and leaving without taking any action? Are they spending scarcely any time on your pages before “bouncing“? If so, it’s obvious that while your site is easy to find in searches you aren’t delivering what visitors are looking for. Using tools like Google Analytics, you can monitor how customers are responding to your website’s current design. Low conversion rates could be a result of a site layout that isn’t compelling enough to persuade visitors to stick around. This is a clear indication that your site needs a makeover – and quickly!
  5. Your site looks and feels old. People like attractive things; it’s as simple as that. If your site layout is chaotic, cluttered, or just plain ugly, that’s not going to cut it with today’s consumers. An unappealing website can (and will) negatively affect how potential customers perceive your business. Is your website riddled with recurring “technical difficulties” that need to be addressed? Are there new features you want to introduce or outmoded functions (such as traffic counters or flashing banners) that need to be eliminated? If so, a website redesign is certainly warranted. Redesigning your site allows you to modernize the look and feel of it; you might choose to modify your brand colors and fonts, revamp your logo, or update the images and written content – the possibilities are endless!
  6. Your site isn’t performing well. If visitors encounter a bunch of broken (or “dead”) links, pages or images load slowly, users can’t easily access the information they’re looking for, the website is constantly crashing, or (as previously mentioned) it isn’t mobile-friendly, then it’s time for a website redesign. In short, if any part of your website isn’t functioning properly, consumers will quickly move on to another company offering similar services. A poor user experience can create an unfavorable impression of your business and can even negatively affect your search rankings. By contrast, a positive user experience will result in visitors spending more time on your site, increasing your potential to generate leads, engage with your market, and solidify your brand.
  7. Your site doesn’t clearly or accurately reflect your business in its current state. Your website is the digital face of your company – so, you’ll want to be sure it makes a good impression. After all, the first interaction that the majority of customers will have with your business is through your website. Accordingly, you’ll want to ensure that your site accurately represents the business as well as the products and services you offer. Over time, your business model, messaging, offerings, or priorities may have changed. Naturally, your website should be updated to reflect these changes. If you aren’t regularly refreshing the content on your site, people may incorrectly assume that you’re no longer in business or that you don’t value your online presence – in which case they’ll probably look elsewhere for a company to do business with.

What Is WordPress?

Since its humble beginnings as a blogging tool in 2003, WordPress has evolved into a robust content management system (CMS) and website-building platform. It’s the most popular CMS on the market today – in fact, over 43% of all websites worldwide are powered by WordPress!

In technical terms, WordPress is free and open-source software that uses the PHP scripting language to send and retrieve information from a MySQL database. In layman’s terms, WordPress is a web platform offering tons of features and functionalities without requiring a high level of expertise in web programming after the site is developed. 

Aside from the basic WordPress code itself, there are three major components to every WordPress installation: themes, plugins, and widgets.

A theme is a collection of files – specifically HTML and CSS files – that serve as a design template for your website. Themes define what the pages will look like without altering the content within those pages. You can choose to use a pre-built framework or have a theme custom-designed to suit your specific needs.

Similar to an app, a plugin is an extra bit of code that can be used to add customized functionality to your website depending on how you want it to work. Plugins allow you to expand the capabilities of your site beyond the features included with the basic WordPress installation. With the right mix of plugins, your site can run faster, look more attractive, and be more user-friendly than ever before.

Widgets are small blocks of content that you can drag and drop into the sidebar, header, footer, or other enabled areas of your site (depending on the theme you choose). Similar to plugins, widgets are used to add specific features or functions to your website without having to write any additional code. Common examples of widgets include recent blog articles you’ve posted, embedded social media feeds, fillable forms, calendars, and banner ads.

Why Should You Use WordPress for Your Website Redesign?

From startup website builders to more established CMS platforms, there are many options to choose from when you’re considering a website redesign. So, are there any clear advantages to using WordPress over any other platform on the market?

In this article, we’ll explore some of the top benefits of WordPress and offer 9 compelling reasons why this platform is perfect for your website redesign project.

WordPress Is Easy to Use, Update, & Manage

Initially, it may take some time to familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the WordPress platform. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that the user-friendly Dashboard interface makes it easy to add, remove, or modify content – such as text, images, videos, and effects – to web pages and blog posts. You can update and optimize your website structure, add navigation menus, and even customize your colors, fonts, and other design elements.

One of the greatest advantages of WordPress is that you don’t have to possess any prior knowledge of HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, or any other programming language to effectively use WordPress – nor is it necessary to have any formal training or professional experience as a web designer or developer. 

As flexible and powerful a program as WordPress is, virtually anyone in your organization (who is authorized to do so) should be able to maintain your website quite easily. Assuming you have an internet connection and a web browser, you already have everything you need. If you’re familiar with any of the most popular word-processing programs, editing a page within WordPress will look very familiar to you.

WordPress’s visual editor – known as Gutenberg – allows you to add or modify content without ever seeing your site’s code. The simple interface features a toolbar with text editors, formatting tools, and the ability to upload media files in various formats. When you’re done making changes in Gutenberg, WordPress automatically updates the code on your website to reflect those changes.

A Word About Website Structure

Website structure refers to how your content is organized, interconnected, and presented to visitors across the various posts and pages of your site.

Having a good website structure can improve the user experience of your site by providing visitors with the information they need while making it easy for them to navigate to other relevant pages. Creating an orderly site structure also makes it easier to keep track of the various pages on your site.

Website structure is also a major factor that Google considers when assigning a rank to a site. When Google detects that visitors can quickly find the information they’re seeking on a website, Google is more likely to recommend the site as useful by ranking it higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). WordPress’s user-friendly interface allows you to create a clean, simple-to-navigate website structure that’s designed to appease users and search engines alike.

WordPress Sites Are Fully Customizable

With a wide selection of free and premium WordPress themes and plugins on the market, it’s entirely possible to build a fully customized website that caters to the specific needs of your business.

Currently, there are over 31,000 WordPress themes – more than 9,000 of which are free – that you can choose from to create a basic layout and structure for your website. Themes range in price from being completely free to $299, with the average cost being around $40. Even if you do end up having to pay for a theme, the cost will still be considerably less than if you were to hire someone to custom-develop your theme.

While many of these themes can be found on WordPress.org, several third-party websites also offer plenty of great options. As there are themes available for every industry imaginable, the real challenge isn’t finding what you need – it’s choosing the one you like the best.

Keep in mind that not every off-the-shelf theme has to match the design you have in mind. While it’s highly likely that the theme you end up choosing will be one that other businesses have previously used, that doesn’t mean your site is going to look exactly like someone else’s.

While some free or low-cost themes have only minor customization options and are generally intended to be used “as is,” the more robust off-the-shelf themes can be configured and customized as much as you want and still give you the website you need – at a tiny fraction of the cost of custom development.

Take the time to scour through the myriad off-the-shelf themes available and find one that’s high-quality, well-reviewed, and comes as close as possible to what you want by default. You’ll thank yourself later.

Plugins serve many important functions on your website, both on the front end in terms of user experience and on the back end for overall site performance. Like themes, WordPress also offers a wide range of plugins that you can add to your site. Some plugins are offered for free, some at a cost, and some have both options (these are often referred to as “freemium” plugins).

There are currently over 59,000 WordPress plugins to choose from on the WordPress.org website. If you can’t find a suitable solution from WordPress’s database, you can comb through the directories of third-party providers and independent developers to find what you’re looking for.

Imagine any task a typical website may need to complete, any problem it may need to solve, and any feature it may need to offer, and there’s probably a plugin for it. Of course, having thousands of plugins to choose from can be overwhelming. That said, there are certain essential WordPress plugins we recommended adding to every website:

  • Contact Form: This gives your website visitors a way to reach out to you and allows you to get back in touch with them as well.
  • Analytics: This allows you to see how many visitors your site is getting, how much time they’re spending on the site, and what actions they might be taking.
  • SEO: This allows you to optimize the content on your site to attract more traffic from Google searches.

Depending on the specific needs of your business, you might want to add plugins that enable advanced features such as foreign language translation, online payments, appointment bookings, multi-factor authentication, and social media integration.

WordPress Is Versatile & Scalable

In the beginning, WordPress was largely regarded as nothing more than a blogging platform. But over the years, it has progressed to become a powerful platform that you can use to produce virtually any type of website

Whether you’re looking to build a full-service website, you simply want to create or blog, or you want to incorporate a blog component into your existing site, WordPress is up to the task. You can construct a static homepage with static pages behind it or dynamic pages with drop-down menus. You can create customized landing pages to sell your products or easily add image galleries and social media links to encourage user engagement. The possibilities are endless!

In addition, given that WordPress is highly compatible with many other website builders, the platform is perfect for redesign projects. The flexibility of WordPress makes redesigning an existing website simple, convenient, and affordable.

Scalability is another important advantage of WordPress. As your business grows and changes, your website needs to be able to grow and change along with it. Fortunately, WordPress makes that process easy.

The WordPress platform is cleanly coded and well-equipped to handle massive amounts of traffic. If you should encounter a performance bottleneck, there are plenty of plugins you can install to help with scaling by performing tasks such as caching, compression, resource minification, and image optimization. Once installed, these plugins allow your site to accommodate more traffic without buckling under pressure.

WordPress Is Mobile-Responsive

These days, people spend more time surfing the web on their mobile devices than they do on desktop computers. Websites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices won’t perform well for visitors trying to access them with smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. Users may struggle to read text, view images, or click links on your site.

Most people won’t think twice about ditching a website that doesn’t load properly or function as it should on their mobile devices. With millions of results available in every Google search, it’s all too easy to simply look elsewhere to find the information they’re seeking.

Over the last few years, Google has placed greater emphasis on websites’ mobile responsiveness. In 2018, Google officially announced that it would be taking a “mobile-first” approach to search rankings. This means that the search engine now primarily uses the mobile version of a website’s content for indexing and ranking. While it isn’t required to have a mobile version of your for your content to be included in Google’s search results, it is strongly recommended.

Fortunately, WordPress makes it easy to create a mobile-responsive site that loads smoothly on all devices. Most WordPress themes are designed to be mobile-friendly by default, so you don’t need to worry about your site being inaccessible to mobile users.

Moreover, when you update your theme for desktop, the mobile version of the theme is automatically updated as well. So, you can rest assured that your website will look equally as good on smartphones as it does on desktops.

Another great perk about WordPress? Since the Dashboard is also designed to be mobile-friendly, you can easily manage and update your website anywhere, whether you’re on your phone, tablet, or desktop computer.

WordPress Is SEO-Friendly

SEO involves lots of keyword research and search metric analysis – and it’s an essential component of any high-performing website. That said, the technical SEO process can be extremely complicated, especially if you aren’t familiar with the terminology and tools involved.

While WordPress won’t automatically optimize your site for search engines, the platform does come uniquely equipped to assist you in your SEO efforts.

Here are just a few reasons why WordPress is great for SEO:

For these reasons alone, it’s no wonder that WordPress websites are much more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) than sites built with other platforms. Better ranking means more visitors to your site, and having more visitors greatly increases your chances of boosting profits.

While some SEO-enhancing aspects are built into the framework of WordPress, still others can be implemented by adding plugins specifically designed for search engine optimization

These plugins can be used to help optimize the content on web pages by providing instant audits of your on-page optimization efforts as well as managing key SEO data such as H1 titles, meta descriptions, meta titles, keyword embedding, and schema markup. In short, SEO plugins are designed to do everything possible to ensure that your site appears more often and higher up in SERPs.

Yoast SEO, one of the most popular WordPress SEO plugins, gives step-by-step information on how well (or not so well) your content will rank and provides clear guides for how to improve your site’s readability for search engines and users.

All-In-One SEO is another great SEO plugin that’s easy to use but incredibly powerful; we can recommend this plugin with confidence, as we use it on our company’s websites.

WordPress Is Safe & Secure

Having a secure website is central to maintaining a business’s good reputation. If your website is an easy target for hackers, your visitors may be confronted with inappropriate content or even be exposed to dangerous viruses and malware. If you have an ecommerce site, security is even more critical. After all, your customers are relying on you to provide a secure interface for entering and storing their personal information and credit card numbers.

While WordPress sites aren’t impervious to cyberattacks, they’re generally better protected against unauthorized access than sites built with other CMS platforms. When a WordPress website does get hacked, it’s usually because the site is utilizing questionable themes and/or plugins, is hosted by unreliable providers, or has been compromised due to a paucity of basic password literacy. In short, the problem doesn’t lie with the platform itself. Considering that WordPress powers well over 40% of all websites globally, it’s merely a statistical coincidence that WordPress-based sites appear to be targeted more often than non-WordPress websites.

That said, you still need to have a strategy in place to make sure that your website is continuously monitored and backed up frequently in the event of a catastrophe. Aside from enlisting the services of a reliable managed IT services provider (we can recommend a really good one!), you can also install security-focused WordPress plugins to further safeguard your website against hackers, malware, and other threats. These plugins can be used to implement features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), limiting failed login attempts, and scanning your site for vulnerabilities.

At HighClick Media, we highly recommend adding the Sucuri plugin to your WordPress site. Sucuri creates multiple layers of security to help protect your website from hackers, malware, DDoS attacks, and blacklists; provides continuous website monitoring and site scanning; plugs any security leaks or loopholes it may detect; and can even make your website faster in terms of speed and performance.

WordPress developers are constantly making improvements to the platform to ensure that it runs smoothly. Security updates are rolled out regularly as new cyberthreats arise, addressing and promptly correcting any possible gaps detected in the platform’s defenses.

Users are informed whenever security updates are required, and these updates are easy for users to make. By updating to the latest version of the WordPress core, you’re decreasing the chances of your website falling victim to cyberattacks and ensuring that everything continues to work properly.

WordPress Benefits from a Thriving Developer & Support Community

Because WordPress is open-source software and has been adopted by so many individuals and organizations around the world, the platform enjoys a sizable and active community of contributors

This highly engaged community – comprising thousands of users, developers, designers, and business owners – has created a vast array of plugins, help sites, and forums for discussing issues surrounding WordPress and suggesting solutions to common (and uncommon) problems.

Since community members are more than willing to share their knowledge and experience with others, you’ll never be at a loss for invaluable resources that offer the support you need to manage and update your WordPress website.

On the official WordPress website, you’ll find a wealth of reference materials, training courses, how-to video tutorials, and support forums to help you take full advantage of the platform’s potential. Offsite, there are numerous independent forums and Facebook groups to further help get your questions answered.

The WordPress community also engages in lots of outreach to users, hosting WordPress camps around the world and supporting the growth of local WordPress user groups.

WordPress Is Cost-Effective

Whether you’re just getting started or your business is already well-established, you’re probably looking to keep expenses as low as possible. Choosing WordPress for your website redesign project is one way to save money.

Nearly all DIY website builders such as Wix and Squarespace place commercial restrictions and limitations on what you can and can’t do with their programs. Not so with WordPress. That’s because WordPress is open-source software, which means that it’s free to download, install, use, and modify in any way you choose.

Keep in mind that while the software itself is free, you’ll still have to acquire a domain name (which can be free but usually comes at a minimal cost) and pay for web hosting; and you’ll most likely have to spend some money on themes and plugins as well.

A domain name is the internet equivalent of a website’s physical address. It’s the text that users type into a browser’s search bar to directly access your website.

If the domain name is the address of your house, then web hosting is the actual house that the address points to. Web hosting is where all your website files are housed, served, and maintained, and it’s what makes your website content accessible to other users on the internet.

WordPress Is Time-Tested & Trusted By Many

Website builders come and go – even the big names can fade from view (remember GeoCities?). WordPress, however, is far more likely to stick around for the long haul. This is because open-source software like WordPress isn’t maintained by a single person or business entity. Even if WordPress were to cease to exist (which is extremely unlikely), any competent developer could simply copy its source code and launch “new” software with a different name in a matter of minutes (a maneuver known as “forking.”)

In the 19 years since its original release, WordPress has been tested, fine-tuned, expanded, and optimized time and time again. Throughout its evolution, WordPress has become a first-class web publishing platform that’s well-suited to meet virtually any website’s needs. Millions of users worldwide benefit from WordPress; it’s available in over 53 languages and propels thousands of multilingual websites as well.

It isn’t just small- and medium-sized businesses that are using the platform, either. According to data from BuiltWith, WordPress powers over 36% of the top 1 million websites (based on site traffic). Many leading brands and organizations in a variety of business sectors rely on WordPress to power their websites and blogs. 

Chances are, you will have heard of a few of these companies:

Final Thoughts

For many business owners, the choice between having a website custom-developed versus going with a more ready-made solution such as WordPress is not an easy task. We hope this guide has been helpful in assisting you with that decision.

As we’ve detailed here, WordPress is designed to be easy for everyone to use (not just web developers), allows you to create any type of website you need (whether it’s an ecommerce store, online forum, marketplace, membership site, or just about anything else you can think of), and provides a wide range of tools and options for customizing the site you’re creating. The platform allows you to create a site that looks and performs equally well on mobile devices as it does on desktops, scales easily if you need to add more pages or features as your business grows, and positively contributes to your overall SEO efforts

WordPress sites are uniquely positioned to withstand some of the most common cyberattacks and can be bolstered further through the use of security plugins. Thanks to a passionate support community, WordPress users have ready access to the information they need whenever they need it. A WordPress site is relatively inexpensive to create, requiring only minimal investments towards domain name acquisition, web hosting, and plugins/themes. Finally, WordPress is a tried-and-tested solution for creating any and every type of website.

In short, choosing WordPress for your website redesign project is one of the smartest decisions you can make as a business owner.

HighClick Media Can Help You with Your WordPress Website Redesign

Redesigning a website can be a complicated process, especially when you have a site with a lot of moving parts. While WordPress positions itself as a platform that anyone can use to build a website – and to a certain extent, this is true – creating a site that’s both fully functional and professionally designed often requires an expert touch.

Just because you can build a site on your own, thanks to WordPress’s impressive arsenal of tools, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a good site. After all, you want to make sure everything works flawlessly and that the user experience is configured in such a way that the website will contribute to – not hamper – the performance of your business.

If you need more advanced functionality or a custom-developed theme to help you further stand out from the crowd, partnering with a professional WordPress web design and development company might be the way to go.

Once the redesign project is complete and your site is up and running, your web development partner will train you and all other authorized users on how to access the backend of WordPress so that you’re better prepared to make future updates to the site on your own.

If you’re thinking about redesigning your website (or even building a brand-new site from scratch), we at HighClick Media wholeheartedly recommend using WordPress as your preferred platform – and we can help make your design project happen, too! When you partner with HighClick Media, we’ll work with you to determine how best to approach your website project to maximize your online presence and #elevateyourbrand! Call us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to schedule a website design consultation!

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Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

Choosing the Right Digital Marketing Agency

 

I had no trouble hiring a digital agency for my business. We jumped right in and there were no issues at all! – No one ever

So, your business has grown to the point where you realized you need outside help, and it’s time to make moves! You’re ready to hire a digital marketing agency to help tell your story. If you’ve been reading our blog, you already understand the importance of a professional website design and smart marketing strategy. It can be pretty easy to get wrapped up in the enthusiasm and awe an agency can offer, especially if this is your first time. However, if you aren’t careful when making your selection, you might find yourself disappointed by an agency that over-promised and under-delivered.

 Answer these questions before reaching out to an agency

Which set of skills do we need?

This is a good question to start with, because if the answer is “Nothing” then why are you even reading this blog, silly? If you’re considering hiring an agency, you’ve obviously come to the conclusion that your current set of skills isn’t cutting it for the goals you want to reach.

Consider your digital marketing strengths and weaknesses to determine which services you really need. As liberating as it might feel to shout out “EVERYTHING!” it’s not very practical or cost-effective to dive into everything right off the bat.

What are our goals?

When determining your company’s goals, specificity is key.

“Generating leads” is not a specific goal, but “Generating 20 new leads a month through SEO and content marketing” is. The more you specify your goals, the better chance you have at finding an agency that will deliver.

And if you don’t know what your goals are, that’s okay too. A good agency is essentially a good partner, and they’ll be able to help you elucidate your goals after initial meetings.

What are our priorities?

Time to put on your thinking cap and brainstorm ALL THE THINGS! There are things that need to be done, no doubt, but what, when and where? Get your team together and throw your magical ideas around like confetti!

Once you put these ideas in writing, you’ll likely start to notice themes. Grouping your goals into these themes will help you truly identify what needs to be done. Maybe you have several goals related to social media marketing or a lot of goals related to website updates. Pull 3-5 themes out of your list, and then put those themes in order of importance and start with those!

What will happen if we don’t make a change?

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Realizing that you need to do something different, then making a choice not to do it comes with consequences. Will you continue to drop in ranking if you’re not staying on top of your SEO? Will you continue to lose leads if you don’t optimize your website?

Consider the effect that inaction would cause your brand, and decide whether or not it’s feasible both short and long-term.

How much time can we spend with an agency?

This is a question full of questions that need to be answered in order to find the right agency.

Are you willing and able to communicate with your agency? Are you available for regular calls and meetings to ensure that your business and your agency is on the same page? Is your leadership team willing to be available if need be?

It’s vital to consider how much time you have to invest in your relationship with your agency so that you can be straight-up with them about how much of your time they can have. Make sure you’re able to help them understand what is doable for you.

What are our relationship goals?

Each of our clients are unique. Some want steady communication, while some prefer monthly check-ins. Some clients want to give final approval on all decisions, and some simply want their agency to tell them what is happening and then go for it. Knowing where you are on that spectrum allows you to communicate that at the start of your new relationship. Help the agency help you!

Ready, set, go!

Seems easy enough, right? Answering these questions before you reach out to an agency can mean the difference between success and failure. Any agency is as helpful as you allow them to be. Arm yourselves with the knowledge needed to attain your specific goals and your agency will help you get there in the most efficient way.

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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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How to Advance Your Small Business Objectives

How To Advance Your Small Business Objectives

While small business owners and entrepreneurs are typically savvy business professionals, there are several tried-and-tested best practices that can help you stay organized and productive, allowing you to advance your business with speed and at scale. Let’s take a look at a few of these.

Organizational Skills

Organization and time management skills are both crucial to the success of your small business operations. This means utilizing project management planning and tracking tools; having a living, breathing business and marketing plan that you consult regularly; and establishing measurable objectives to help ensure that you’re hitting your goals.

Clearly defining operational functions for yourself, employees, and contractors can also go a long way toward ensuring overall productivity. You can achieve this by creating an employee training manual, drafting detailed job descriptions, and developing a defined organizational chart with a reporting structure.

You can keep your projects on track by using a process map to organize your project. A process map helps define the tasks needed to achieve your goals and breaks down deliverables at each stage of your project.

Developing Protocols

As there are several different ways a business can choose to operate, it’s imperative to clarify expectations with your staff in order to maintain smooth operations. According to Business News Daily, establishing best practices, chains of command, and an organizational hierarchy can help keep everyone on track.

It’s important to state, in writing, how projects are determined, defined, and implemented. Who signs off on purchases, training, or software implementations? Who is responsible for reviewing and approving marketing messages or social media strategies?  Who interviews, hires, and trains new staff members? Having these outlined in writing and used for employee onboarding is a must.

Communication Channels

According to Forbes, having open channels of communication – both internally and externally – can help your business run smoothly. Consider using a company intranet in which coworkers can stay connected. Have an email distribution platform in place for keeping in regular contact with your customers. Being on the same wavelength with vendors and contractors is also critical, whether that’s through regular email correspondence, routine telephone check-ins, or even in-person connections. If you haven’t already, create an employee manual including best practices – with examples and templates – around all communication protocols to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Innovative Practices

For a company to remain competitive and keep advancing, innovation is essential. This means continually looking for new ways to improve your products and services and deliver top-notch customer care. Conduct brainstorming sessions with employees to gain their unique insights. Attend conferences on a regular basis and join industry associations – this gives you numerous opportunities to ask questions and learn about policies and practices that work well for other organizations. Be open to new ideas and take calculated risks. This can include continually updating training protocols, conducting in-depth market research, and discovering new ways to outpace the competition.

Enhanced Productivity

When everyone has a well-defined job description and is able to focus on their particular area of work, productivity is sure to improve and employees will experience a sense of accomplishment.

Consider outsourcing key services when necessary. For example, you might enlist the services of a digital marketing agency to handle your social media and manage your marketing strategy, or hire an accountant to do your books and your taxes.

If your business’s invoicing process is cumbersome and time-consuming, making use of a bank account balance API can help you verify whether customers and clients have the funds available to pay for products on the spot. This helps ensure a steady cash flow for your business and helps customers avoid overdraft fees.

 

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of moving parts involved when it comes to operating a small business. Effective communication, time management, and regular collaboration meetings can all help your team stay focused and on track. Don’t be afraid to frequently revisit your planning documents and adjust accordingly. It’s all part of embracing an innovative mindset!

If you’re looking to scale your business through digital marketing or give your marketing strategy an overhaul, HighClick Media can help! Give us a call today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. She believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever, and Alyssa hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she’s learned through experience and from other young parents in three key areas: Education, Relationships, and Community.

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How to Increase Brand Awareness on Social Media

How To Increase Brand Awareness Through Social Media

 

As a small business owner, you’re always looking for ways to grow your business. You know how to price your products competitively while still generating a profit. You know that special promotions such as flyers, TV ads, and signage are generally reliable for bringing in a few new customers. You know what works for you, and you’re confident that these practices will continue to propel your business in the future.

But are you using social media to further increase your brand awareness? If so, great! If not, why not? It may seem like a small thing in the big picture, but the reality is stark. The future of your business could depend on how well you can adapt to changing technology.

What Is Social Media?

Let’s go back to the basics. Social media is any means of electronic communication, such as a website or application, through which users build online communities to share and exchange information, ideas, personal messages, and other content.

Who Uses Social Media?

The short answer: practically everyone. Facebook is by far the most popular social network, with 2.45 billion monthly active users (MAUs). YouTube users number at 2 billion each month, while Instagram boasts 1 billion MAUs. Twitter (330 million MAUs) and LinkedIn (260 million MAUs) round out the list of the top social networks in use throughout the world.

Why Does Your Business Need Social Media?

Your business can benefit greatly from the connection between brand and customer that only social media can make. Similarly, social media can increase your overall brand awareness, which can boost leads and ultimately generate more sales.

What Is Brand Awareness?

Simply put, brand awareness is the extent to which someone can recall or recognize your brand. Over time, Kleenex and Band-Aids have become so associated with the products they represent that it’s easy to forget they’re actually trademarked names. The ultimate goal of brand awareness is for your business or products to become a “household name” for your customers. Specifically, you want your business to be the first name they think of when they’re seeking the services you provide.

Is Social Media Marketing Effective?

Much more than you might think, actually. Studies have shown that 71% of consumers who have a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend that brand to friends and family. In addition, 74% of potential customers say they’re more likely to trust a business with positive reviews on social media. It’s been said, and rightly so, that social media is the new “word of mouth.”

Is Social Media Marketing Affordable?

You may be wondering whether you can afford to market your small business on social media with a limited budget. The truth is that you can’t afford not to! If you’re willing to invest a little time and effort, that’s really all it takes – and the payoff can be amazing! You don’t have to use paid advertising to get results, though it can improve your chances of a successful marketing campaign.

How Can You Use Social Media to Increase Brand Awareness for Your Business?

Now that you understand a bit more about social media and what it can do for your business, how do you put this knowledge into practice? Here are 7 practical ideas to get you started:

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. When it comes to social media, this is especially true. Users will instantly stop scrolling when something catches their eye, and a compelling picture or illustration will cause them to do just that. Be sure the image you choose offers a snapshot of what the post is about. Also, make certain you have permission to use the image. A quick Google search will lead you to more than a few websites where you can source images for free. If you have the ability to shoot and post your own video – perhaps a how-to, tutorial, product demonstration, or live “Q & A” session – even better! Infographics also resonate well on social media – design your own or find one that clearly addresses the subject of your post (and tag the original source). Infographics that provide helpful or insightful information are more likely to be shared than a huge block of text. Nobody wants to read a thousand words, anyway!

GET PERSONAL

There’s nothing more tedious than a business that inundates their followers with post after post proclaiming the superiority of their brand, products, or services. Aggressive sales pitch posts? Even worse! Social media users want to be entertained and engaged, not simply informed. Tell a story that piques their interest, then find a way to subtly tie it in to your brand. Don’t be afraid to add a dash of humor now and then. Some of the most-followed brands on social media are those that regularly inject their marketing with mirth. Another great way to keep your audience engaged is to actively listen and respond to their opinions, comments, and critiques – both the positive and the negative! You just might learn a thing or two about your own business! Encourage users to share your content and you’ll not only reach your followers, but their network as well.

SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE

Social media users have short attention spans. You only have a few seconds to grab their attention. If your content isn’t fresh, valuable, or relevant to their interests, the chance of reaching followers with your message is greatly diminished. Focus on topics that are closely related to your particular field. Chances are, that’s why they’re following you in the first place! Use emojis, hashtags, and other popular text language to show your target audience you’re in touch with how they communicate. Finally, draw your audience in by letting them interact with you. Ask a question that generates responses in the comments. “Question posts” are much more likely to get shared, which also serves to increase your reach.

GIVE STUFF AWAY

This may not immediately strike you as an intelligent way to grow your small business, but it actually makes a lot of sense. People love getting something for nothing, so use that to your advantage. Create a contest for the best idea about X, Y, or Z, with the grand prize being a gift card to your business or perhaps a free product. Encourage followers to share the contest post with others, and maybe even offer bonus entries for each share. The more people see the post, the more you’ll have people talking about your business – and that’s never a bad thing! Consider initiating a referral program where you offer something for free to followers who refer a new customer to you. Any way you look at it, that’s a win-win situation!

MIX IT UP A BIT

While keeping a consistent brand voice across the board is key, it’s perfectly acceptable – and highly recommended! – to use a different tone depending on which social media platform you’re utilizing. On Facebook, you might post interactive content that’s more likely to get likes and shares (which is how you get the most eyes on your post). Twitter posts are short and snappy, and it may serve you best to adapt a more playful tone there. Instagram is image-driven, so you’ll probably want to reserve your strongest visuals for that platform. LinkedIn tends to be more serious and therefore might be an ideal landing spot for your more informative blog posts. As easy as it might be to copy and paste the same message across all your platforms, resist the urge! Each social media site should carry its own unique message along with the relevant info that you’re sharing.

STALK THE COMPETITION

Keep an eye on the social media accounts of your direct competitors. What kind of marketing campaigns are they attempting? What seems to be performing well for them? What appears to be falling flat? Learn from their successes and their mistakes, come up with your own strategies and solutions, and put them into action.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Most social media platforms – Facebook Page Insights, for example – offer solid feedback on the number of likes, shares, and comments your content has generated. You can delve in even deeper by using web analytics programs to see which platforms are providing the most referral traffic. Pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t, and adapt your methods accordingly as you continue to optimize your approach.

These are just a few of the ways you can use social media to your business’s advantage. Identifying your target audience will help you determine which platforms to use to promote your brand. You don’t need to have a presence on all the major social networking sites, just the ones that make sense for your customers and their online habits. Define your social media goals, identify the various types of content you’ll produce, and determine how you’ll measure your success. With these tools at your disposal, you’ll be well-equipped to take your business to the next level!

If you’re curious to learn more and get started, HighClick Media is here to help. Reach out to us and one of our campaign experts will contact you to chat about your marketing goals. We’ll work hand in hand with your small business to design the perfect strategy that will make your marketing efforts a success! Call us today at 252.814.2150!

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Inactivity on Social Media, Or: How to Kill Your Business in One Easy Step

Inactivity on Social Media, Or: How to Kill Your Business in One Easy Step

Marketers like us are always touting the benefits of establishing a solid presence on social media. We must be cutting through the white noise, at least in part, because more and more brands these days are creating accounts on social media. While this is certainly a huge step in the right direction, simply having a business page on all the trendiest social networking platforms is not enough.

You have to be active.

In truth, it’s quite easy to set up channels on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, and the like — it’s a lot harder to maintain them. It takes time, effort, and resources.

But it’s absolutely essential.

Being active on social media boosts brand awareness, makes it easy to engage with customers, improves your SEO rankings, and allows you to control your own narrative.

Conversely, oft-neglected or poorly managed social media accounts can actually be damaging to your company’s reputation.

Twitter tool ManageFlitter considers social media accounts to be “inactive” when no one has posted on them in over 30 days, while others would deem inactivity to mean that there have been no posts in the past 48 hours.

However you choose to define it, an inactive social media account sends all the wrong messages about your company. Primarily, it communicates the fact that your business doesn’t care enough to be up to speed with today’s technology.

Dormant social media accounts can have immediate negative effects on your business, including — but not limited to — decreased reach, decreased influence, and loss of market share.

7 Reasons Why Social Media Accounts Become Inactive

There are any number of reasons a business’s social media pages might become inactive, but we often see many of the same “excuses” being tossed around:

where did everybody go

The business is..well…out of business.

Maybe the owner retired, decided to move on, or the business simply failed. But, in essence, there is no business. Unfortunately, this fact often isn’t communicated very well, since businesses’ social media pages are rarely shut down upon dissolution.

i don't get it

The business never really understood social media to begin with.

As mentioned before, it’s easy to set up a social media account; but it’s what you do with it going forward that truly matters. Having a strong social media marketing plan, understanding why you’re using it, what message you’re trying to convey, what content you have to post, how to measure your activity, how to convert fans into customers — all these things play a much bigger role than simply setting up your account.

Social media is something businesses are expected to do these days, but that doesn’t mean that business owners or their employees possess the required skill set to achieve the desired results. Not having the knowledge or technical ability to properly use social media is not a valid excuse for abandoning your efforts altogether. Undergoing professional social media training or enlisting the services of an outside company to manage your social accounts are much better solutions.

Business owners have become disillusioned with social media.

Seeing results from your social media campaigns requires patience and a lot of hard work. It’s not a magic pill that fixes all your problems instantly; it’s something you work on for the long term. Social media is often equated with face-to-face networking. First, you build relationships, and over time these relationships can translate into an abundance of new work. But you have to be dedicated and persevere. Give up, and you’re yielding the fight to your competitors.

what do you want me to say

Businesses don’t know what to say on social media.

It’s a standard complaint — how do you find things to say every single day that will energize your audience? Make a note of all the services your business offers, the things you do, the problems you solve, the pains you fix, and the things that interest your customers — down to the smallest details. Determine where the intersection lies between your business and your customers. Ensure that your marketing conveys the right message to the right people at the right time. When in doubt, apply data and insights to back up your gut feelings.

too busy to deal with social media

The business is too busy to deal with social media.

This statement can either be the truth or an excuse for the fact that you simply don’t care for social media. Many customer-facing businesses, such as restaurants and bars, simply don’t have the time to pick up the phone in the middle of a busy evening and respond to or engage with potential customers. Some business owners are genuinely too busy for social media, but they must be honest with themselves about this.

Realistically, two social media platforms should be able to be managed effectively in just thirty minutes a day. Perform a time audit of your typical day, and determine where you might be able to shave a few minutes off several daily tasks in order to make time for your social media management. Or, if there is someone in your office with the required technical, marketing, and customer service skills to manage your social media, see if they can find thirty minutes each day to devote to this task. If neither of these are viable options, outsourcing to a social media management company might be your best bet.

kirsten dunst bye bye

The person managing social media has left the company.

Oftentimes, a business’s social media activity stops dead in its tracks for months or years when the person running social media campaigns has left the company. This is a function that must be replaced, not left dormant.

From a customer’s standpoint, social media has become as important a channel of communication as the phone, emails, or web chats. How much would it concern you, as a business owner, if your phone lines were to go down for an entire morning? Shouldn’t you be worried just as much if your social media is inactive for days, weeks, months, or even years?

kim kardashian lurking

The business is simply “lurking” on social media.

The lurker relates their side of the story something like this: “I don’t post on social media. I just use it as another channel to follow the news and my favorite sports teams.” This is perfectly fine for an individual using social media for fun. For a business, it’s a death knell. This would be tantamount to showing up for a networking meeting and observing the goings-on while hiding in a corner. It just doesn’t work.


pitfalls of business inactivity on social media

 

 

7 Pitfalls of Social Media Inactivity

People Will Think You’re No Longer In Operation

When a social-media-savvy person is searching for a local business in your field and comes across an inactive or seldom-updated page, they might quickly come to the conclusion that you must no longer be in business. This false impression will inevitably exclude your company as an option in the mind of the potential customer. They’ll swiftly forge ahead to find a business that frequently updates their page with fresh content.

Since approximately a third of all small businesses fail in the first three years, it’s not unreasonable to assume that an inactive social media account signifies a business’s closure. However, a neglected social media page could also send the message that nothing new has happened at the business in however-many days — which, if true, makes your business seem as dead as if it were closed, and generally not worth the time of the average consumer.

Your Credibility Will Be Damaged

Customers research a business on social media to scrutinize its values and get a feel for what the business is like. If they’re greeted with an inactive account, the first impression is not favorable. Employees and potential employees will also check out a company’s social pages to see what kind of culture it demonstrates.

Fair or not, companies are judged on their willingness to engage with consumers, their dedication, and their social media presence. An inactive presence does more harm than good.

Inactivity projects the message that the business doesn’t take an active interest in its potential customers. When you’re active on social media, you can control your narrative online. You can communicate your credibility firsthand and attract customers the right way.

Your Customer Service Will Suffer

If you are no longer monitoring your social media accounts, have you communicated that to your online followers? Are there customers tweeting at you for support? Are there issues going unanswered? Social media is a two-way conversation, and if you’re not engaging back, you have no chance of building positive word of mouth or cultivating brand fans.

Savvy internet users will check out reviews or testimonials on Facebook or other social media pages before deciding to try a new business. Consumers want to sense an atmosphere of camaraderie and to know that your business is a well-respected member of the community. If your social media presence is lackluster, chances are you don’t have many (if any) customer reviews on your page — this could be a major turnoff to potential clients.

home alone you're what the french call les incompetents

Your Company Will Appear Incompetent

A subpar social media presence makes your company look unprofessional and amateurish to potential clients. Inactive social media pages give the impression that your business is unable to follow through on obligations and complete tasks.

If that’s what you’re going for, then great! If you’d rather convey the message that your business is equipped to solve problems, combat challenges, and truly serve your customers, it’s time to put in some work on your social media pages.

spongebob squarepants patrick i t hought what we had was special

You Will Start Losing Followers

You’ve heard the popular saying “out of sight, out of mind,” right? This is never more true than when it comes to social media. When you aren’t actively posting to your social media pages, you’re giving your followers the chance to forget about you. Consumers can be a fickle bunch. If you’re suddenly off their radar, they’re going to move on to another brand that grabs their attention.

Marketing is all about consistency, no matter which type of medium you’re using. Staying in front of customers on a regular basis continues to remind them that you’re around and that you can’t wait to see them in your store or office.

Without an active online community, you won’t have loyal followers; and without loyal followers, you will lose potential brand advocates. When your followers aren’t reaching out to engage with you or others about your business, your links are less likely to be shared to social media. This will result in fewer signals being transmitted to Google’s algorithm, which will increase the chances that your keywords will drop in ranking on Google searches. All of which is extremely bad for your business!

zach galifianakis algorithm change

Social Algorithms Will Decrease Your Reach

Brands that become inactive on social media for as little as two weeks can expect to see their reach decrease by an average of ten times! When your page becomes dormant and no one is interacting on it, your posts simply aren’t going to be seen by your followers.

For example, Facebook — the largest social media platform worldwide — has set up their algorithms to determine which posts will show up on people’s news feeds and which will not. This can be directly affected by your not posting for weeks on end.

Inactivity on social media can significantly affect your reach, even when your brand begins posting again. In order to recover, it typically takes around 3 to 5 times the amount of dormancy time in order for engagement and reach to return to their former levels. In other words, if you’re inactive for a week, it could take anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks to get back to your original reach numbers.

marcus lemonis looking nervous lose market share

Your Brand Will Lose Market Share

Periods of social media dormancy create ideal opportunities for competitors to steal your brand’s market share. Savvy brands become more active when the competition slacks off. This means they get lower ad rates and higher CPAs (costs per action), not to mention the bulk of your audience’s attention.

When your followers see less content from you and more from active brands in your field, they will become more receptive to these brands even if they have enjoyed a long and satisfactory history with your brand.

let's get this party started

 

7 Solutions for Reviving Your Social Media Presence

If your business has been silent on social media for too long, it’s time to make a change. It will be an uphill battle, but it’s never too late to kickstart your social media presence. Here are a few pointers to get you back in the game:

i don't understand what just happened here

Evaluate What Went Wrong

In order to learn from your mistakes, it’s important to understand what went wrong before. Did you stop updating your social media pages for one of the reasons stated in an earlier section of this blog — not enough time, insufficient technical ability, unaware of what to say, or frustration due to a lack of instant results — or some other reason?

This is the perfect time to be brutally honest with yourself about why social media didn’t work for you before you decided to stop posting.

schitt's creek you will work until it hurts

Pick a Social Channel and Redouble Your Efforts

Find out which platform (or platforms) your audience is active on, and research best practices so you’ll understand how to reach customers where they already are.

Pinpoint what specific plans you should set in motion for your social media revitalization. Revamp and rejuvenate your platform with fresh energy, resources, and strategy. Commit to being more consistent in your posting.

smart thinking marketing strategy

Develop a Marketing Strategy for Your Channel

Before starting up or refreshing a channel, determine whether this method is going to yield return on investment for your business. Formulate a plan for a successful launch and consistent cadence.

At a bare minimum, coordinate a passive posting schedule for your social media pages. Passive posts include content such as memes, quotes, branding statements, photos, etc. If you don’t have the wherewithal for this kind of content creation, you can always work on expanding upon the content that’s being created by the community about your brand. Never underestimate the potency of a retweet or a cross-shared post. You could also duplicate older posts that are still relevant to your business.

hit your goals cobra kai

Create Attainable Goals for Your Company’s Social Media Presence

It would be awesome if your business could have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, and whatever the latest buzzed-about platform may be. But is that actually feasible?

Keeping track of and publishing fresh, relevant content to this many platforms will be extremely challenging, and will most likely result in mismanaged pages, intermittent posting, or inactive accounts.

Touch base with your team to decide on what platforms you can reasonably manage. Take it a step further and consider which social networking sites will best serve your specific audience. Once you’ve determined what platforms will generate the best results and customer advantages for your company, set up only those accounts and develop clear-cut posting objectives.

what is this communication word you speak of?

Communicate

If you’re planning on shutting down any of your inactive social media accounts, be sure to communicate that to your audiences. Let customers know that the page will be “sunset” (phased out) as of a certain date and provide followers with a link redirecting them to the new page.

This keeps your clients in the loop, avoids giving the false impression that you’re no longer in business, and ensures that you’re migrating all your current followers and customers over to the new channels.

let's do this!

Implement Your Plan

There’s absolutely no reason to go through the evaluating and planning stages unless you’re going to put your plan into action. Social media marketing is all about the return on effort, and zero effort nets zero results.

help me help you tom cruise

Partner with a Social Media Marketing Company to Maximize Your Efforts

For small-to-medium-sized businesses, it can be difficult to find a staff member who has the time to commit to managing your social media presence. If this is an issue for your company, consider enlisting the help of an outside party.

A reputable digital marketing company that routinely handles social media can help manage your campaigns and eliminate the stress of keeping your accounts up to date. Such an agency can also help maintain consistency in posting and boost your page engagement, ensuring that more people will see your posts.

i'm a social media mogul

 

 
 

Final Thoughts

Social media should be viewed as an extension of your business. But you must find a way to devote the time and effort to it that you’ve already given to your physical establishment.

While it’s absolutely vital that you have a strong social media presence in this day and age, it’s better to have no social media presence at all than to have a number of inactive accounts. Likewise, it’s better to have a stellar social media presence in just a few places rather than to have a poor presence across many different platforms.

By building a well-thought-out strategy, cutting back on the number of accounts you dedicate your time to, and outsourcing the management of some or all of your social media functions to marketing specialists, you can truly use social media to the fullest advantage.

It’s time for your business to not only exist online, but to thrive.

HighClick Media is a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in social media marketing and management. Our marketing team understands the importance of a strong social media presence, because we use it every day to elevate our clients’ businesses. By developing a custom marketing strategy, producing quality content, and creating personalized promotions, we guarantee your brand will soar above the competition. Call us today at 252.814.2150 to find out more how we can help grow your business!

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PPC Overview

PPC Overview

PPC

Short for Pay-Per-Click, PPC is an online marketing tool in which the advertiser pays the search engine a sum of the fee each time the ad gets clicked.

So, we’ve talked about SEO and how it’s an excellent way to get better search engine rankings, but even the best SEO campaigns take time to get the best results. And even once you see your results, SEO requires constant work to keep your rankings up. After all, competition for Page 1 rankings is super fierce.

That’s where PPC comes in. PPC is the best option for businesses that want new leads fast. In some cases, a PPC campaign can start generating sales within hours of launching, and the best part is that you only pay once someone clicks your ad. If someone performs a search and reads your ad without clicking on it, you don’t have to pay a dime! Talk about a step up from TV or radio, requiring you to pay regardless of how many people you’re actually reaching.

 

Our pay-per-click strategy starts with keyword research. This helps us decide what specific Google searches we want your ad to show for. For example, if you own a Greenville-based Massage Therapy business, your ad should show when someone searches for ‘best massage therapist in Greenville’, but you wouldn’t want your ad to show for someone searching for ‘massage therapy school’.

After weeding through thousands of potential search terms, we determine exactly when to show your ad and when not to.

On to the next step. We create and optimize your landing pages (the page a customer lands on after clicking on your PPC ad). To ensure that your potential customers follow through, either by calling or emailing your business, we ascertain that your landing pages are designed and built properly. With PPC advertising, we can drive high-quality traffic to your site and help your business grow.

Do you want to give PPC a try? Reach out to HighClick Media to get started today!

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What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEO?

What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEO?

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) are two essential elements of digital marketing. They both assist in growing an online audience, generate website visitors and capture leads. Do you know what these terms mean and why they are useful for your business?

When you implement PPC and SEO strategies, your chances of discovering and retaining an engaged audience goes way up. And the earlier you prioritize these strategies, the more opportunities you’ll have to drive traffic to your site and, ultimately, convert more leads into sales.

Both approaches share a common goal, but they have different agendas. So, what do you need to know in order to prioritize your approach? I’m here to tell you.

PPC Fundamentals

pay-per-click

The main difference between SEO and PPC to remember is that PPC will not contribute to a higher ranking on Google. The purpose of PPC is to drive traffic to your site, but none of the traffic is organic.

Believe me, I know that organic traffic is something many businesses strive for. I know that you’d prefer organic traffic to “paying for a visit to your website”, but, honestly, newer businesses typically don’t have the resources to drive organic traffic to their website. Creating effective content doesn’t happen overnight. With PPC, you get a jump start by getting consumers to your site early-on, thus increasing the chance for conversion. A solid pay-per-click strategy will prompt visitors (and their connections) to return to your site through organic means, which influences organic traffic.

SEO Fundamentals

search engine optimization

Search engine optimization is all about the content. Quality content will improve your overall rank on Google. Writing a blog post and publishing it on your website is totally useless if you’re not integrating SEO into the process.

Like certain PPC campaigns, keywords are the backbone of SEO. A user enters a keyword into Google and receives search results. Your goal is to be the most trusted source of information for peoples’ questions.

For example, let’s say you own a local boutique. If someone types ‘Boutiques in Greenville NC’ into Google, you’d want your boutique’s website to be the first thing people see and click on. So now, you have a website visitor. Maybe the visitor will fill out a form or visit your store to do some shopping. If they do, your search engine optimization has paid off.

Utilizing SEO practices gives your content a chance to rank well, which grows your website visitors.

Short Term vs. Long Term: What Results Are You Seeking?

Effective marketing requires endurance. If you don’t pace yourself, you’ll run out of energy. And by energy, I mean money, honey. Getting a head start is valuable, but don’t let that set the pace for your digital marketing journey.

confused

Okay, so maybe my contradictory metaphor wasn’t the best example. Let me put it this way: PPC will offer you short term results. If you spend enough, you’ll notice more website visitors, more leads, and, with proper campaign management, more sales. But pay-per-click isn’t a cost-effective solution to building your online presence, and as soon as you pull the funding, you’ll be back to square one.

SEO is a long-term approach. Consistency + quality content = the development of a loyal, engaged audience of repeat customers. SEO is about optimizing your website for the user experience by creating content that tells search engines that you’re a reputable source of information.

For the Best Results, Conduct Both SEO and PPC

I recommend that businesses beginning their marketing journey invest in SEO while using PPC to promote your content as much as your marketing budget allows. Once organic traffic builds, PPC can be scaled back and used mainly for promotional purposes.

Conclusion

In conclusion, SEO should be at the core of everything you do. It’s your key to a loyal web audience. But, implement PPC early on to drive traffic. Once you pass the equilibrium point, PPC should be viewed as an add-on for special occasions. As time passes, SEO is what you depend on, and PPC is for that extra punch when you need it!

For more information on how to use PPC and SEO to improve your marketing, reach out to us! We’d love to chat with you.

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How to Develop a Digital Marketing Plan for 2020

You don’t need 20/20 vision to see that the new year is right around the corner. With the new year comes new goals for yourself and your business. You have some important questions to ask yourself, such as: what sort of hurdles do you want to overcome? What new levels do you want to reach and rise above? Where does digital marketing fit into your business plan in 2020?

A new year means a new start for your business and a time to reflect and make changes for the upcoming year. HighClick is here to help with those changes with a helpful guide on how to develop a digital marketing plan in 2020.

Analyze Your Marketing Strategy

Growing up my mama always told me “Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.” The best way to plan is to reflect on what you did the past year and what were the outcomes.

What sort of marketing did you do during 2019?
What marketing trends did I follow?
How successful were those campaigns?
Did you do any digital marketing?

If you didn’t track your analytics in 2019, yesterday was now is the time to start.

When you track your analytics, it helps you understand how your campaigns are running in real time. You’ll be able to see what your customers respond best to and modify future campaigns to reflect this outcome. Analytics allow you to understand how your money is being spent and where to allocate funds in the future.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter give business accounts access to basic analytics free of charge for easy tracking.

Now that you’ve analyzed your previous year it’s time to set some…

Marketing Goals for 2020

Do You Want to Focus on a New Website?

Analysis of your previous year gives you insight on how effective your strategies were and how responsive your audiences were to those strategies

Do you want to focus on a new website? If your website hasn’t been updated since 2017, the answer should be yes. When you spend marketing dollars on a professional website design, you are not getting a disposable product in return. An updated web design is a gift that keeps on giving.

                  Our gift to you is an optimized website you’ll love

Will you spend more or less time on social media campaigns this year? Social media marketing is one of the backbones of a successful digital marketing campaign with how it aids brand awareness, but you don’t have to spend every working hour cultivating it. With the help of your analytics, figure out which platforms best help your business grow, engage with your community, and bring people to your website or storefront. Then decide on how exactly you want your channels to look this year. Will you keep the same post style, or change it up?

Our advice: let your business’ story tell itself. Be authentic in your posts, and your customers and community will help with the rest!

If you’re going to give a business a new website, you’ll need to give it updated search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is an algorithm that helps you pop up in search engines. Search engines crawl your site to find keywords and phrases to help them identify you, and bring you up on the search results page. If your website is not optimized, there’s a chance you won’t show up at all.

The Benefits of Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Will you give yourself an edge on the competition and invest in pay-per-click (PPC). PPC is an online marketing tool where you pay a search engine a sum of the fee each time your gets clicked. If they read your ad but don’t click, you don’t pay! PPC is a fantastic option for businesses who want new leads fast.

Everything is helped by content marketing. As the adage goes “content is king!” Content marketing helps with social media posts, website updates, and SEO. It’s the type of marketing that happens all year round, regardless of a sale or not. Content creation can range from the blog post you typed up, or that new video you’ve worked hard on to showcase your business – it’s the chameleon of the digital marketing world. Content marketing shouldn’t explicitly promote a brand or product, but instead, spark interest in the brand or product.

Everything interacts with one another. A website gives your business a hub for new and existing customers to find you. Your social media channels give your customers a way to interact with the business on a new level and learn about your website while boosting brand awareness and promoting your content. Content marketing helps boost your SEO, at the same time providing content for your social media channels. Without proper SEO, finding your business will be a struggle for you but a boon for your competition, and with a calculated PPC campaign, you can be sure to come out on top.

(Psst. Find more content marketing for beginners here!)

The challenge here will be how you allocate your time and funds to these various digital marketing types. It’s finally time to…

               

Create a 2020 Marketing Strategy

Be S.M.A.R.T

How do you want to do this? While running around like a chicken with its head cut off is an option some people like to go with, to run a successful business and not stress yourself out is a sounder marketing strategy. When we previously talked to you about Social Media Optimization, we told you to be S.M.A.R.T. – an acronym to help you strategize your marketing goals.

Be Specific. Now is the time to make a list of marketing goals that align with your business goals, but what exactly are your goals? “I want to post on these holidays.” “I want to run sales around this time.” “I want our brand imagery to look like this now.” “I want our voice to sound like this now.” These are building blocks to writing out your marketing goals, but be more specific.

When you are specific, you give yourself a road map that is easy to follow and won’t get you lost. It’s the first step, arguably the most essential step in your S.M.A.R.T. planning.

Examples:
“These products and services will be at the forefront of my marketing.”
“I will be at 5000 followers in 5 months.”
“I will celebrate every major holiday with a sale.”
“I will work for more reviews left on my Facebook and Google pages.”
“I will create this type of content every other week.”

Be Measurable. How exactly will you know if you’re reaching your campaign goals? Is it with clicks or impressions, increased traffic or sales? This helps “future you” with revisiting old campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t. Planning ahead helps for years to come!

Be Achievable. What is in your power to accomplish? We all want to be the next Amazon, and there is no reason why we can’t, but each journey towards success starts with one foot in front of the other. With each achievable goal, you surpass in the new year, reflect on how it exceeded your expectations and how you’ll take those lessons into the next goal and campaign. With each campaign, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s achievable and what isn’t.

Be Realistic. Can you realistically achieve it? Again, we all want to be the next Amazon, but realistically speaking there will never be another Amazon. Are your goals within your marketing budget? Are they one brand for your company? Do you have the time or manpower to achieve them? Do you know a friendly local marketing company that is here to help?

Be Timely. When exactly do you want to accomplish it? We’ve talked on and on about goals and what happens before and after you accomplish them, but not so much on when you’ll do it. Giving yourself a time table of your marketing strategy is imperative! Content calendars are superb tools to help you plan out when and where your marketing will be. This will aid you in being timely with your posts, and help you visualize your plans for each month or quarter.

Need a little help? Twitter released its 2020 content calendar to help marketers and business owners alike.

Conclusion

PLAN! If you fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll business will reflect that. Don’t let your marketing efforts go to waste! Every successful business owner had a strategy on how they marketed themselves. You owe it to yourself and your company to have a marketing plan (a digital marketing plan at that) in place for 2020 that will help you elevate your brand.

One of those plans should be to contact HighClick Media, your local digital marketing agency. Elevating brands is what we do. We’ll work with you to create an on brand, highly focused, digital marketing strategy and campaign to fit your budget and vision. Reach out to us today, and be ready for the new decade.

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