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SEO Terminology

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the most important tools for improving your company’s standings in search engine results pages (SERP). A well-optimized webpage will appear on the first page of a Google search; excellent SEO will put you in the top three of organic results. Online advertising network Chitika says the No. 1 result on Google SERP gets nearly one-third of all traffic while the No. 10 website will get only 2.4%. If you are new to SEO, the first step is to learn the lingo.

Search Engine – A website devoted to helping Internet users find websites.

Keywords – People type keywords into a search engine to find websites. Keywords for laundry soap might include laundry soap, detergent, clean clothes and washing clothes. Webmasters try to guess which keywords their customers might type into a search engine and then pepper those keywords in strategic places throughout the website. They also use SEO tools from companies such as SEMRush and Moz, to gather data from users and competitors to determine keywords.

SERP – Acronym for search engine results page. A SERP is the page you see when you perform a search on Google or other search engines, such as Yahoo and Bing. Chitika reports that fewer than 6% of users go beyond Page 1.

Backlinks – Rather than finding your website on a search engine, people might also find out about your website from other sites. A link from any website to your website is known as a backlink. The better the quality of the site, the more it helps your site rank higher on SERPs. A backlink improves the credibility of the less popular website.

PageRank –Google ranks websites 0 to 10, with the most authoritative websites ranking 10. In late 2013, Search Engine Watch reported that Google updates page rank less and less because it’s based on the number of links you have to your site. Google and other search engines have been shifting away from links and toward quality content in their algorithms.

Above the fold – Websites that appear at the top of search engines results, visible without having to scroll down the page. A website appearing above the fold gets more clicks than those that appear below it. It’s an old newspaper term that referred to news stories that appear above the fold in racks.

SEM – Stands for search engine marketing. You use SEM to market your goods and services on search engines. There are two main types of SEM: SEO and pay-per-click.

SEO – Any process that increases page rank on a search engine results page.

Clicks – In SEO terminology, a click occurs when an Internet user sees your website on a search engine result then clicks on the link to visit your site.

Click-Through Rate – Sometimes called CTR, click-through rate is the percentage of people who click on your link out of the total number of people who see it on websites. If three out of ten people who see your link click on it, for example, you have a 30 percent CTR.

PPC – In pay-per-click advertising, you pay a set amount of money for every click on your ad. PPC ads usually appear on the right side of search engine results pages. Before you jump into PPC advertising, keep in mind that 70% to 80% of users ignore paid ads, according to Search Engine Journal.

Black Hat SEO – An aggressive approach to SEO using unethical practices, such as keyword stuffing. Many search engines ban websites using black hat SEO practices.

White Hat SEO – Above-the-board SEO practices that result in organic results. Examples include using keywords in permalinks, article headlines and page titles.

Is Print Collateral Dead?

It’s easy to think that traditional print marketing material is passé. It’s not. Although digital e-books have cut into the realm of traditional print publishing, more than 80% of books sold in 2012 were printed. What’s true with book publishing holds true with marketing publications. Printed, physical marketing pieces, like business cards, brochures and product comparisons, still play a vital role in today’s marketplace. In fact, they can even be used to enhance your Internet marketing.

What are sales collateral pieces?
Printed marketing and sales pieces include newsletters, business cards, brochures, sales flyers, product comparison pieces and company letterhead, just to name a few. Such pieces can be used in point-of-purchase displays, direct-mail pieces and giveaways at trade shows.

Benefits of using printed sales pieces
Printed marketing pieces serve a variety of purposes. For one thing, they can reach your customers who aren’t online and those who rarely use computers. Yes, those people exist. Print marketing pieces…

1. Serve as reminders. An important benefit of printed marketing collateral is that they give your customers and potential customers something with which to remember you. Those business cards you distributed at a trade show might not generate immediate sales, but they help people remember you when they have needs for your product six months from now. Likewise, that refrigerator magnet can help customers remember your HVAC company the next time their furnaces need repaired.

2. Add legitimacy. Your company’s website is well built, user friendly and robust with content. You invested a lot of money and resources to develop your online presence; don’t diminish it with homemade brochures, business cards and logoed print pieces.

3. Stand out. A printed newsletter with interesting graphics and images is more likely to get read than just another email message announcing an e-newsletter. Many such messages are deleted before the recipient ever gets to see your brilliant writing and sales copy.

Digital marketing can be dynamic and exciting. However, the best marketing plans feature a combination of both print and digital sales collateral material.

Social Profile Maintenance

It’s not an overstatement to say that social media sites have changed the way the world does business. It’s difficult to ignore the fact that Facebook alone has more than one billion registered users and Twitter has 500 million users. And, these two powerhouses are not the only social media sites available to businesses; there are more than 400 such sites today and more are being added each month.

Social media profiles and your small business

Your company’s social media profiles are often the first exposure potential customers have to your product and/or services. Just like having an attractive sign in front of your store, you need your social media “sign” to reflect your company’s image, personality and professionalism.

Your social media profiles are also a good source of information for customers. They list such things as your contact information, hours and the forms of payment you accept. It also sets up a forum for you to get to know your followers, customers and influencers. For these reasons, it’s important to put a set of procedures in place to ensure that your social media profiles are updated on a regular basis.

Updating your social media profiles

How often should your company update its social profiles? The short answer is you should update your profiles every time your company makes a change in its hours, address, product mix and other vital customer information. However, just as you wouldn’t allow a display in your store window to fade, you shouldn’t allow your social media “signs” to languish without updates. There’s always something new to add:

  • Media coverage
  • Awards, recognitions, certifications
  • Employee profiles

In addition to keeping your profile current and fresh, it’s also important that you be consistent and provide the same information and voice throughout all of your social media profiles. Although it’s tempting to market your business on every social media platform, a wiser course of action would be to embrace only the number of platforms that you and your staff have time to manage – and those that are most relevant to your industry.

The bottom line

Social profile maintenance doesn’t have to occupy all of your time. However, because these pages are often the first impression a potential customer gets of your business, it’s important that they not only have correct and updated information, but that they accurate reflect the personality of your company.

Branding: Consistency in Name, Image, Message, and Marketing

Branding is something that small businesses and startups often wait to do. This is a major mistake, because branding, in essence, is how people readily identify your company, what you do, and how well you do it. Although setting up your business, raising funds, and making sure you’ve got all systems in place are important, that doesn’t mean that branding should take a backseat. It needs to be addressed prior to your offering your products or services to the public. If that is not the case and you are up and running without any branding, then get to it now.

What is Branding?

Branding is the method by which you define your business or company through three basic elements: your company name, image or logo, and written communications, with the briefest such written communication being your catchphrase.

As an example, consider Apple. The name itself has implications of knowledge, innovation, and health. An Apple is the fruit of knowledge, is supposedly what hit Sir Isaac Newton on the head, giving him the idea for gravity, and it is instrumental in the famous phrase, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” These are all great connections for a company that was groundbreaking in that it’s initial focus was on making computers so easy to use that anyone could utilize their great power and potential.

Its image, the apple, has changed over the years, but overall it has remained consistent. There has always been an apple in the company’s logo, and for much of the time, it’s had a bite taken out of it. That bite tells us to feed on the knowledge, information, and tools that are associated with Apple’s products. By the way, the first Apple logo featured Sir Isaac Newton sitting under a tree reading with a highlighted apple above him, ready to hit him on the noggin.

As a company develops, catch phrases change and evolve, as do images. Some of Apple’s most successful phrases include, “Think Different,” “There’s an App for That,” “Byte into an Apple,” and “The Computer for the rest of us.”

Defining Great Branding

Great branding is, first and foremost simple. The McDonald’s Golden Arches and name, the definitive Coca-Cola cursive lettering and use of red and white, and the Google name displayed in alternating colors of blue, red, yellow, blue, green and red are all uncomplicated and, yet, definitive.

According to Interbrand, a brand consulting company owned by the Omnicom Group, in 2013, the most recognized brand, which used to be Coca-Cola, is now Apple. Coke dropped to third, while Google came in second and McDonald’s fourth.

How to Brand

Successful branding is based on two basic elements, defining what your enterprise does that makes it stand out, and, then, ably capturing the essence of your company in name, image, and text.  It’s not necessarily easy, and that’s why many people turn to advertising and branding professionals to take them through a process where they can discover exactly what their brand should be.

Adjusting Your Brand

It’s rare that a brand will remain static. The best brands do seem to offer stability in their name, and look, adjusting and refining as the company develops and evolving throughout the years. So, once you’ve found your brand and defined it, you’ll want to recognize when and how it should change, and what aspects to transfer from its last look to its next incarnation.

Making Your Company Yours

Do not relegate branding to an afterthought. It is the primary way in which you can build public recognition and trust. Great branding gives you instant recognition and evokes a positive reaction from the public. If you are falling short in your efforts to brand, consider a collaborative approach or utilizing the services of those who are professionals. Once you decide on your brand, use it everywhere, including on your website, products, brochures, business cards, and anything else associated with your company.

Remember with branding you’ll have to “think different” in order to come up with “the real thing” and “have it your way.” (Interesting, some of those phrases sound familiar, don’t they?) Brand successfully!

The Advantages of Direct Mail Marketing

A growing digital world has created many new ways and places to market to your consumer. Staying alert to advanced marketing practices is imperative, but it shouldn’t pull you away from tried and true techniques like direct mail marketing.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is an excellent way to provide direct information to your current and prospective consumers. Tapping into a source that can provide you with a list of emails, in a demographic that matches your company, gives you the opportunity to reach out to a new audience. While utilizing an email list may be similar to fishing in a lake with hundreds of fish and hundreds of fisherman, it doesn’t hurt to cast your line.

To stand out against the competition, having the bait of choice helps, and that is why building your own personal database completely changes the game of email marketing. You are now emailing people that have specifically requested to receive emails about your company, and are all the more likely to read them.

There are many ways to collect email addresses. You can add a prompt on your website, asking visitors to enter their information to receive news from your company. You can reel them in with discounts and private sales, explaining that by providing their email address they will be alerted of future promotions. Or if you are an ecommerce site, you can require that an email address be provided for the sale, and a check-off box to allow email correspondences. Creating a database of emails will help target your future direct mail campaigns to interested parties.

Snail Mail

Although email is the preferred method of delivery today, it wasn’t too long ago that direct mail marketing strictly referred to the mailers delivered to your home by the post office. While some marketers may say snail mail is dead, we wont. In fact, we think direct mail marketing is a great asset to many businesses, and for those with a mature demographic, it’s vital. Only 45% of seniors have Internet access and without direct mail marketing there are not many other effective or affordable means of advertising to this age group.

In addition, with the advanced technology of spam filters and sorting features (Gmail, for instance, divides mail into three folders: personal, social and promotions) it is becoming increasingly difficult to get your message to its recipient. Snail mail on the other hand, has a much greater chance of reaching the person or resident in which it is addressed to.
Mailing lists available to companies is also much greater in size than email lists. According to Market Scan, only 20% of postal addresses are reached through email. Imagine all the potential consumers you are never reaching by keeping your direct mail marketing strictly online.

Tulip Strategies is a cutting edge marketing & PR firm providing start-ups and established firms with smart solutions to propel your brand forward. For more information on how we can help your brand, please visit us at http://www.tulipstrategies.com/

Customer Loyalty: Making a Connection that Lasts

Rather than just get a sale, every business hopes to gain a customer. A customer will return to your business for future needs, and refer your business to friends and family. Establishing a connection with repeat customers builds loyalty, and helps maintain the success of your business. There are many ways to follow through to secure customer loyalty, and here are just a few:

Add a Personal Touch to Your Sales Approach

Avoid solelytrying to push your product or service. A great tip is to treat your customer like a person, not a sale. By asking them questions about themselves and learning about their needs, you make them feel more appreciated and are also able to position your sale in a way that will be better received.

People like to know that the person they are doing business with understands them, and they also like to know whom they are doing business with. Be open with your customers and share a few pieces of personal information about yourself. Maybe it’s just a birthplace or how many kids you have, but if it’s something your customer can relate to, they are more likely to want to do business with you.

If you don’t have the luxury of meeting your customer face-to-face, but still want to position your sales approach in their favor, there are many opportunities to get to know them through the Internet. You can host an anonymous online survey asking customers key questions, or post an open-ended question on Facebook or Twitter prompting feedback.

Build Relationships through Social Media

Social media is a simple and rewarding way to communicate with your customers. Interacting with your customers on social media is your way of saying, “I know you’re there. I appreciate what you’re saying and I want to hear more.”
Interaction is different depending on the social media channel. For example, on Twitter you want to monitor the use of hashtags and mentions of your business. When you come across activity, you can reply to a tweet, retweet or favorite, depending on how the message isbest repurposed.

This type of positive feedback and constant communication evolves the current business interaction with your customer to a valued relationship.

Offer Loyalty Rewards

A great way to show your customers that you value their return business is by offering incentives. This can be done in two ways:

1. Offer a loyalty rewards program where customers build their rewards over time. An example being a punch card that earns them a free or discounted future visit. This promotes including your business as part of their routine, and says thank you in the most receptive way possible.

2. Give instant gratification for real time activity. The best approach being through social media. Offer different rewards to your customers for interacting with your brand in different ways. Maybe that means 10% off for checking-in on Facebook or 20% off for taking a photo on Instagram and using a designated hashtag. Determine which rewards will be given for what, and promote to your customers. This is a great way to get them involved, give back, and expand your audience all at the same time.

Tulip Strategies is a cutting edge marketing & PR firm providing start-ups and established firms with smart solutions to propel your brand forward. For more information on how we can help your brand, please visit us at http://www.tulipstrategies.com/

Importance of Corporate Identity

The Importance of Corporate Identity

Just as your own appearance and personality affects impressions, the way in which your company presents itself also creates an image in a person’s mind. But how does a company, a thing and not a person, create an appearance and personality? And why is doing so important?

The fact is, creating your corporate identity can be done through a few simple steps and this identity will play a vital role in the development and success of your business. Let’s discuss how.

What is Corporate Identity?

Simply stated, corporate identity is how a company is presented to and perceived by its employees and the public.
Many components contribute to this final image—from your logo, to the font you use on your website, to the way you treat customers. All these individual pieces that represent your company, form together to create your corporate identity.

How is a Good Corporate Identity Built?

Building a good corporate identity is donethrough professionalism, consistency, and good business standards.

Be Professional

From the way your phone is answered to the design on your website, first impressions speak volumes. Put your best foot forward so prospective customers will feel comfortable taking a chance with your company. This might mean investing in new business cards or posting more regularly on Facebook and Twitter. Whatever it is, take the leap. It will attract new interest in your business and help support any marketing or advertising campaigns you are pushing through.

Be Consistent

All marketing materials, business cards, apparel, digital efforts (website and social media pages) should remain consistent. That includes your company’s logo, color use, and font. Having a consistent presence helps the public easily recognize your brand, and differentiate you from the competition. It also helps you form a “look” (this is where appearance comes in).

Your company’s tone (i.e. the manner in which you speak on Facebook, discuss services on your website, and even interact with customers) should also be consistent. This gives your company a unified presence. Customers want to know whom they’re dealing with, and a consistent tone helps them to build trust and a relationship with your company (there’s that personality).

Set Standards

Having good business practices and a set of ethical standards encourages your employees to follow suit, and positions your company in a positive light. Word of mouth is, and will always be, the greatest advertising. If people have a negative experience with your company, whether through bad service or a bad product, they are likely to complain to others about it. And with the speed and reach of social media, bad word of mouth can have a swift and negative impact.

Ensure your employees and your company maintain the quality and standards needed to conduct good business by setting expectations that are intended to be met. Through an employee handout, quarterly meetings, and/or email reminders, keep these standards on the front line. Some companies choose to offer employee incentives as an additional way to promote quality from top to bottom. However you implement this agenda, stick to it and monitor that everyone is onboard through regular check-ins.

Making a lasting impression is crucial to obtaining long time customers. Tulip Strategies is a cutting edge marketing & PR firm providing start-ups and established firms with smart solutions to propel your brand forward. For more information on how we can help your brand, please visit us at http://www.tulipstrategies.com/