High-converting landing pages

10 Tips for Creating High-Converting Landing Pages

It’s always awesome when someone clicks on your Google, Facebook, or other digital ad. However, that’s only the first step of the conversion journey. Your high-converting landing pages play an equally important role of turning clicks into sales.

Landing pages are more than just another web page. They’re conversion-optimized sales tools geared for fast sales. The people who land on them are already on the hook – now it’s time to reel them in!

Here are 10 tips you can use to create high-converting landing pages:

1. Create an impactful headline

As with most things digital, a great headline will make all the difference in the world between a reader staying or immediately moving on. It’s important that your headline connect directly with the referring ad to eliminate confusion, and clearly empathizes with the reader’s problem. Here’s an example of an enticing headline for a company looking to improve their digital ad conversion rate:

72% of digital ad budgets are wasted

We can help you do better

In two short but impactful sentences, we quoted a statistic and stated, with underscored empathy, that we can help. Crisp, clear, and to the point – a winner every time.

2. Use a powerful hero image

Hero images at the top of your landing page convey a lot in a few short seconds. In many cases, marketers use hero images that show the results of using their product or service. For example, a dentist might use an image of someone smiling with clean, white teeth. A quitting smoking aid could use an image of someone enjoying an active, healthy lifestyle. A travel agent? You guess it – a tropical island or secluded beach.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different images to see which one works best for you. Supplementary pictures are sometimes a good idea too, depending on your design, but your hero image should be the most impactful. That’s why we call it a hero.

3. Put the most enticing bits above the fold

Fun fact: the term “above the fold” comes from newspaper publishers wanting their headlines above where the newspaper folds. That way, people will see the big headline and be enticed to buy the paper.

On a computer screen, the digital fold begins where the user has to scroll to see more. This is why the most exciting part of your offer should be visible as soon as they land on the page. It’s more difficult to do on a mobile device, but using a scroll map can help you identify exactly where the fold is on different devices, so you can always keep your main message, hero image, and other important elements front and center.

4. Write results-focused copy

As a business owner, you’re proud of your products and services – and rightly so. It can be tempting to write all about how great your offerings are, but you risk appearing boastful or one-sided. A better approach is to frame your copy through the eyes of your customer and what results they can expect from you.

Long-form copy is great for blogs. For landing pages? Not so much. Break up the copy blocks into digestible bite-size chunks by including a bullet list that summarizes the most important points about your product or service. Three to five bullet points will keep the copy crisp and to the point. And don’t forget the call to action just above the form – give it a sense of urgency that will make people rush to that button.

It’s hard to write about our products from an outside perspective, so reach out to a professional copywriter if you need support.

5. Experiment with form length

For years, marketing experts have told us to use as few form fields as possible on our landing pages, even if it’s just the email field. Others like to ask for a first name so they can personalize future messaging. There’s no hard and fast rule, so experiment with different numbers of fields to see what works best for you.

Keep in mind that longer forms might not yield more results, but if someone took the time to complete a long form they’re likely more qualified buyers. Quantity vs. quality is always best.

6. Choose the right button colour

Colour has played an important role in marketing for years. There are slight psychological suggestions made by different colours that trigger different feelings and motivate different actions. However, you should also choose a colour that still feels on-brand

It might seem overwhelming to pick which colours work best for you, but Optinmonster provides some great information that might help you make a great choice. Of course, as always, experiment with different colours until you find which works best for you.

7. Try fun button copy

Button copy should be clear and concise so the reader knows what action to take. However, there’s nothing more mundane than button copy that says “Learn More”, “Order Now”, or “Download”. Yes, they describe exactly what to expect, but adding a little personality to the copy while still being succinct can create a subtle connection with the reader. Here are a few examples:

  • Digital product: “Try now for FREE”
  • Brochure: “I want my copy!”
  • Travel offer: “Take me away!”
  • Exercise program: “Let’s do it!”
  • Business service: “Start boosting conversions now!”

Experiment with different button copy  to see what gives you the best results.

8. Add social proof

I’ve never met a business owner who doesn’t love getting great reviews on their products and services. Not only do they make you feel good, they’re also powerful marketing tools that show the world that you’ve helped people achieve great results.

Include 1 to 3 quoted testimonials on your landing page, depending on your design, along with their full name and headshot, if possible. Video testimonials work awesome too!

9. Optimize your landing page for SEO

Landing pages are generally used after someone clicks on an ad. However, there’s no reason why you can’t optimize your landing page for search as well. Try a tool like Ubersuggest to get some primary search terms, and integrate them into your headline, body copy, image alt tag, and more.

10. Use exit popups

These effective conversion tools are popping up everywhere. Exit popups typically appear when the user appears to be leaving the page as a last attempt to turn the page visitor into a sale. It’s well worth the effort.

You can turn them into mini-landing pages with an image, headline, and contact. Be sure to A/B split test to see which ones work best.

What is considered a good conversion rate for a high-converting landing pages?

Surprisingly, the conversion rate to consider your campaign a success doesn’t have to be very high. As you can see in the below chart, the top conversion rate is 27.4 percent, yet the median is 5 percent. Across the board, the median rate is between 2 and 6 percent.

High-covering landing pages

Image source: smartinsights.com

The true test of your landing page is how it improves over time. Even landing pages with low conversion rates give you a great opportunity to collect data and identify what isn’t working. If you’re not collecting data, you can’t improve.

Remember to keep A/B testing everything to find the most effective combinations of headlines, colours, button text, images, forms, and more. Testing is an ongoing but necessary task that helps you identify what your customers best respond to. If you need help with an A/B split testing process, Unbounce and Instapage can help you manage it.

Follow these 10 tips to create high-converting landing pages that help supercharge your digital ad campaigns. As always, get in touch with us if you have any questions!

SEO keyword stuffing

Will Keyword Stuffing Help My SEO Results?

Keyword stuffing remains a controversial practice in this age of search engine marketing. But does it still have a place in your SEO strategy?

Keyword stuffing: some modern search marketers gasp at the very thought. We all know that focus keywords are the beating heart of any proper SEO strategy, but is it still wise to jam pack your keywords into your online content? Or should you limit your use of keywords to avoid repetition, redundancy, and punishment from search engines?

Also, if keyword stuffing is frowned upon, what are the alternatives?

Let’s have a look at this ongoing debate by taking a quick trip into the not-so-distant past.

What is Keyword Stuffing?

Dial back to the late 1990s when Google had to compete with such search engines as Excite, Lycos, and Ask Jeeves. To be picked up by search engines, you still needed to use keywords, but the philosophy back then was “the more, the merrier.” In other words, if you used those keywords as many times as possible, you increased your chances of a high ranking and outdoing your competition in keyword density.

For example, let’s say Susie started a destination wedding planning business. It’s 2001, and she’s looking to take advantage of the relatively new system of search marketing. After determining that “destination wedding planner” was the most effective keyword phrase for her business, she created content that repeated that phrase over and over again. As a result, her content read like this:

“If you’re looking for a destination wedding planner, I am the best destination wedding planner in the area. I have been a destination wedding planner for over five years, and love being a destination wedding planner. I offer my destination wedding planner services in person, but could also be your destination wedding planner online. When you need a destination wedding planner, call me for my expert destination wedding planner services.”

At the time, this kind of content may have done the trick in terms of search results. But although we get the overall message, the paragraph doesn’t read very well. The content isn’t compelling, nor does it educate or engage.

In short, it doesn’t do what great content should.

To try to outdo her competition even further, Susie also took the sneaky step of packing the keyword phrase into the web page even more and colouring the font to match her website’s background. This renders the keyword invisible to the viewer but still searchable by the search engines.

This practice is what’s known as keyword stuffing. It might have worked back in 2001, but search engines have come a long way since then. So, too, have SEO strategies.

Old Practice, Modern Problems

Now let’s bring Susie up to 2020. Google is now the “king” of search engines, with Bing/Live Search and DuckDuckGo serving as worthy alternatives. Assuming that Susie hasn’t changed her content since 2001 (which raises a whole host of other issues), she will likely find that their rankings have dropped somewhat.

Actually, “dropped” isn’t the correct word. “Plummeted” would be more appropriate.

In response, Susie decides to create new content, but keeps the old practice of keyword stuffing, hoping to repeat that initial success from 2001. Still, no luck, and she wonders why that would be. Don’t search engines still follow that “the more, the merrier” philosophy?

According to Jemma Fong, SEO expert and owner of InSite Creations, search engines today actually look down on websites that practice keyword stuffing.

“Google’s ranking and indexing formula is much more sophisticated and advanced these days,”  says Jemma. “Search engines now put more emphasis on the contextual meaning of the content, and can determine what the main topic or theme is behind each of the pages. In other words, relevancy and quality that is worth sharing are key ranking factors.

“But repetitive frequency of a keyword, which is measured by a ratio that depends on the total word count, could cause Google to penalize the website with a low ranking.”

Jemma also states that Susie’s inclusion of invisible keywords is considered a black hat practice that could also result in a ranking penalty. 

As Jemma told us, search engines pay more attention to the actual content while simultaneously keeping an eye on keyword frequency. This new way of ranking was developed specifically to deter keyword stuffing, and encourage marketers to create content that informs, educates, and engages their website visitors.

This is also why our wedding planner is not only ranking low, but is also risking today’s customers leaving her site due to poor content, especially when compared to her savvier competitors who might be more in touch with modern SEO practices.

A Better SEO Strategy

Now that we’ve established that keyword stuffing is no longer a wise practice with or without an overall SEO strategy, Jemma recommends taking the below steps to implementing keywords that meet current and proper SEO guidelines:

  1. Brainstorm for all the various search query keyword phrases that you believe your target audience would use to find your product/service offerings
  2. Group those words together into like-minded groups
  3. Choose a couple of key phrases that would be your “focus” keyword and test to see how difficult it would be to rank in comparison to your competitors
  4. Create a navigation map around each focus/seed keyword, using tab and sub-tabs that will represent a page that supports the top-level focus keyword
  5. Build out your content based on that focus keyword

“When calculating keyword difficulty,” Jemma says. “Be sure to review the number of queries, the number of other sites using that keyword theme, and its bid value. This will help determine whether they are worthy words upon which you can build quality content.”

So let’s bring our destination wedding planner up to speed. “Instead of stuffing her content with that one phrase,” Jemma says. “Susie can use related terms or synonyms that help enhance the overall meaning or semantic sense of what the page and site are about.”

Here are some keyword phrases that Susie can incorporate into her content to help her search results without resorting to keyword stuffing:

  • wedding specialist
  • wedding themes
  • destination weddings
  • bridal shower
  • wedding destination plan
  • wedding budget
  • wedding paperwork
  • getting married abroad

“At the same time,” Jemma adds. “Choose a few long-tail keyword phrases that you can use for blog articles to support that keyword phrase.”

How to Use Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that a customer might use in Google to find a business. Here are some that our wedding planner might use:

  • how to choose a destination wedding planner
  • tips for getting married abroad
  • what you need to know about international weddings

“Keyword stuffing will typically result in lowering your page ranking,” Jemma concludes. “But if you follow the above steps, you will build high-value valuable content that both the search engines and your readers will like. Above all, don’t try to employ black hat techniques which will only lead to being penalized by the search engines.”

By strategically using the above keywords properly, Susie will start ranking better and engaging her website visitors. In the long run, this will lead to more conversions and an increased chance of hitting her business goals.

business book cover design

Business Book Cover Design: What’s the Story?

Business book cover design – is it really that important if the information inside is awesome?

As it turns out, it’s almost just as important if you want people to buy your book.

We’ve all been told to never judge a book by its cover. It’s sage advice that can apply to many parts of life, but ironically we still do it when it comes to books – including business book covers.

It’s human nature. You look online or browse a bookstore, and the first thing we see is the cover (or spine, which is technically part of the cover).

Our brains make an instant decision to either investigate the book further, or move on to something else that catches our eye. This applies to books across all genres, including business books

How important is the cover to selling books?

Thousands of business leaders around the world have written books that share their story of success. They also provide important, valuable tips for business owners or sales professionals to build value within their careers.

Many business authors spend countless hours developing the content of their book, but struggle with the concept of business book cover design once it’s time to publish.

That’s because great cover design involves so many elements, including cover image, font, colour, and more. There’s also the spine and back cover to consider, as well as font type and size for the interior content.

In fact, according to Alexander von Ness, who has designed thousands of covers with his company Nessgraphica, book cover design can make the difference between a modestly selling book and a bestseller.

“I remember one client whose book was selling about seven copies per month,” he says. “After I redesigned the cover, and with some extra marketing efforts on the part of the author, the same book was selling almost 2,000 copies per month.

“Trust me, the results can be surprising!”

What’s the most important part of a book cover?

 So which element of business book cover design is the most important? You might think it’s the image, but Alexander shares with us why cover typography is the most crucial part to get right.

“Nothing is as important as font choice and its placement on the cover,” he says.

“If your typography is wrong, there is no point in having a great design with the best imagery. I sometimes send my clients the same design with different typography to prove to them how important it is in the overall design. The typography difference was so powerful that each cover was sending a completely different message!

It was a very helpful exercise that helped us choose the most appropriate font for their subject matter.”

In the below image, you can see the impact that different fonts have using the same copy on the same book. Which one resonates most with you?

business book cover design

Know your target audience

 Alex also says that book design doesn’t involve reading the book beforehand, but rather more about getting to know the author’s goals and target audience.

“If it were necessary to read every book beforehand, I’d only be able to design a few book covers per year!” Alex says. “In most cases, I will ask the author what they want and expect from their book cover. My most important task is to connect the book and its message to the target audience with a professional cover design that will maximize sales.’

Of course, to do that the author needs to know their target audience

“Many, many authors tell me that their target audience are males and females from 7 – 77!” Alex says. “This simply cannot be the case. We need to have a strictly defined target audience in order to make the most attractive, effective cover possible that will draw the reader in.”

What about the book’s interior design?

Along with the exterior elements of book design, interior font choice and layout also play an important role in providing a positive experience for readers, as does the interior page layout.

“The interior layout should be readable for everyone,” Alex says. “The font should be clean, legible, and of an appropriate size as well, especially since so many people read books on mobile devices these days.”

Entrepreneurs are notorious self-starters, and with all of the free online tools available to make creativity easier, authors might be tempted to use Canva or similar applications to create their book cover. Alex applauds this, as it means that authors on a lower budget can still get a book cover, but also stresses that hiring a professional designer is imperative if you have serious intentions with your book.

“The book cover culture is developing in a positive direction,” he says.

“Awareness of the importance of book cover design is growing every day, especially within the business community. Every tool or application, including those used for design, editing, and proofing books, can only be beneficial for us who are engaged in the book business. These tools are useful to a point, but if your goal is to sell a lot of books, hiring specialists will make a huge difference in your sales results.”

About back cover copy

Also, don’t forget about the back cover copy, especially when it comes to your summary.

Back copy isn’t meant to be creative, but more resembles marketing copy as it’s completely geared to sell your book. It’s a small detail, but like all the other steps to creating a successful book, including quality writing, deep-dish editing, and attractive business book cover design, every element is important to making your book the best it can be.



graphic design toronto, graphic design, graphic strategy

How Graphic Design Plays a Role in Your Branding

When entrepreneurs first start out in business, they often envision having a company image that sets them apart from everyone else. Successfully defining that unique image requires a multi-faceted approach that involves everything from product and service offerings, company story, and unique value proposition.

However, few things can compare to graphic design when you want to create an instant and lasting impression on your customers.

Graphic design is an integral part of your brand image. It’s everywhere – from your website to social media and in all of your marketing materials. Whether you’re just starting out or going through a refresh, graphic design should always play a major role in your marketing plans.

“Developing professional graphics should be considered as an investment rather than a cost, as they’re crucial to building and defining your company’s image,” says Dennis Foot, Creative Director at Amplified Communications. “They also play a large role in creating relationships and building trust with your customers.”

Create a Design that Reflects Your Brand’s Uniqueness

It’s important to create a lasting first impression when customers initially connect with your brand. Much of developing relationships with your audience has to do with they how they respond to your design. You could have the most incredible content on your website, but if your layout, colours, and fonts aren’t doing it justice, your efforts might be wasted.

That’s why it’s so important to get your brand personality right the first time with an effective design strategy that can visually establish the brand image you want.

“Innovative, trustworthy, fun, approachable, strong, traditional, modern – these and more are traits that can be successfully conveyed in branding materials,” Dennis says. “Of course, we can’t convey every trait – as much as we’d like to – so it’s best to focus in on just a few to create the most succinct branding imagery possible.”

Creating customized brand designs is essential for any business, but it’s especially crucial for start-ups who are starting from scratch to establish their image, personality, and voice.

“In many cases,” Dennis says. “Start-ups aren’t sure what they want. They might have a concept, but have trouble choosing the best font and colours to bring it to life. In this case, I usually make branding recommendations based on client-provided reference points, such as what kind of logos they like or which colours and layouts appeal to them, as well as what kind of image they want to build in the eyes of their customers.”

Dennis notes that although established companies also tend to need a helping hand when developing new graphics, they benefit from having existing branding materials on which they can build.

“Established companies generally know what they want from their existing colour and font schemes, but it also helps to see what kind of graphics worked for them in the past in order to come up with most effective, brand-centric designs for their rebrand or new product launches.”

Using colour psychology to create personality

When it comes to choosing the right colours, it’s important to understand the subtle psychology behind colour use to ensure that you’re sending the right message to your audience. For example, orange tends to be a cheerful colour, while blue suggests confidence and strength.

Combining different colours can give you virtually unlimited options to build the exact brand personality you want to reflect. They can also be used to encourage action, such as pressing a button or opening a web page, and can be used in combination with images to sharpen the brand messaging.

“Images are often used to set moods,” Dennis says. “A suit and tie image will suggest confidence and dependability, but not warmth. A lion represents strength and competitiveness, but not creativity. Professional designers can help you design the perfect custom image, using the colours you need to create the right image that elicits the proper response.”

Also, use stock images or shapes in your branding images judiciously. They might work well with your web pages and blog articles, but your logo should be completely unique to your brand. After all, the last thing you want is branding material that someone else – especially your competition – might try to use.

How important is font design?

When we think of design, colours and images often jump to mind first. However, proper font choice also plays a role in creating the best designs possible for your brand, whether it’s on your logo or across your website. Thinking of using Arial or Times New Roman? Consider first the vast amount of more exciting font choices that will really make your messaging pop.

“Font use is very important,” Dennis says. “You can communicate a lot with your font choice, which is why it’s crucial to pick a font that matches your brand. Personally, I prefer clean, legible, simple fonts that can be used in any industry, but I will use custom or unusual fonts if there is really a need for them. I use bolder, more impactful fonts for events or anywhere you need to stand out. Companies just need to be careful not to use strong fonts all the time, as doing so lessens their impact and makes your messaging too ‘noisy’.”

Once you’ve chosen your colours, images, and fonts, be sure to keep them consistent across all of your marketing materials. It helps cement your logo into people’s minds, and also makes every piece of your communications strategy instantly recognizable.

Should you hire a graphic design professional?

Hiring a design professional might seem like an unnecessary extravagance at first, especially if you or a colleague has some sort of design talent. However, before you set them up with a Canva account, be aware that to successfully create the graphics you need, you need to work with a “view from the outside” approach.

That’s because your customers are outsiders, know nothing about your company, and are counting on your design to effectively communicate your brand values. As an insider, your “inside perspective” might prevent you from knowing what your customer needs in order to form the right relationship with your company. Hiring a design professional will give you that important 3rd-party perspective, along with the designer’s eye that will successfully bring your brand image to life.

Plus, you’re assured of quality work. Someone in-house might have some design skills, but not at the level you need to maximize your growth potential. So if you don’t have budget for professional designer at the outset, be sure to invest in one as you start to generate revenue.

It’s just one of the many reasons why unique graphic design is paramount to creating a recognizable brand that sets your business apart from your competitors.

email marketing

Email Marketing: Building and Marketing to your Database

Email Marketing is still the King of Marketing…if you do it right.

Remember when email first became available to the public? It wasn’t that long ago, and I barely can picture the world without it.

As fast as the public started using email, it seemed that businesses identified it as a great marketing tool. Without the costs of printing, inserting, and mailing, targeted email marketing became an efficient and cost-effective method of reaching thousands of people at once. Finally, we’d found the King of Marketing!

The zeal for email marketing showed no signs of stopping until mass messaging (otherwise known as spamming) became an issue. Public reaction to unscrupulous use of their email address led to businesses taking a more selective approach to emailing their database and, more importantly, using emails for prospecting. CAN-SPAM in the US and CASL in Canada have put consumer comfort first, forcing marketers to take a more strategic approach to email marketing. The threat of stiff penalties for rule breakers also encourages compliance in not only messaging, but also how companies acquire, store, and maintain their database.

With the threat of penalty over their heads, as well as the growing sophistication of spam filters, marketers may be tempted to abort their email marketing plans. But if you follow some simple guidelines, you can still roll with the King.

How Often Should You Email?

How many times do you check your physical letterbox per day? Once, right?

Now, how many times do you check your email per day? If your answer is 150, according to Business Insider you’re only at the average.  My email program is open as I write this, and yours might be open as you’re reading. And now that I’ve mentioned it, chances are you’re tempted to check it.

Checking email is almost second nature to connected folks, especially on mobile. The reason is simple: it’s a fast, easy, and efficient way to keep in touch. And because of this, we can conclude that email is also the fastest, easiest, most efficient digital marketing method to directly reach a large number of people at one time.

But how often should you email? Finding that balance of keeping top of mind with your customers without spamming them is a concern for many marketers.

“Most companies should be looking at one email per month,” says Mark Brodsky, owner of Mark Brodsky Digital Communications. “There are certainly exceptions – Groupon sends out emails almost every day.  Shoppers Drug Mart also frequently emails, but they always have a special, limited time offer. Loblaws does the same thing with their PC Points emails. The key is setting up expectations and giving people a choice. If you want to send something more than once a month, set up two databases and give people the option of getting that email or the monthly email.”

Service providers such as real estate agents, mortgage brokers, or insurance agents who don’t do business with clients on a frequent basis can also apply this philosophy. But what kind of content would they send out?

“The key is knowing what kind of content your audience is interested in, and delivering that,” Mark says. “If you can keep your audience engaged in between the times that they need you, they will remember you when the time comes, and refer you to friends and family.”

Building Your Email List

Chances are, if you’re just starting out, you have an empty email list. There are many list purchase options available on the market, but many of them simply aren’t CASL compliant. It’s best to avoid any legal issues by building a CASL-compliant list organically.

“Include a signup link everywhere you are online,” Mark says. “Take the link your email system provides and put it on your website as prominently as possible. Add the link to LinkedIn, Facebook, your Twitter bio, and Instagram. Don’t forget to include the link in your email signature.”

Once on your landing page, your prospect will be able to fill out a signup form. Many businesses collect no more than the email address and first name at this point. Long forms tend to increase the abandon rate, and other information, such as last name, location, and interests, can be collected over time as you develop a better relationship with your customer.

“You can also offer an incentive for people to sign up,” Mark says. “Something like 15% off your next purchase can go a little further to get people to give up an email address.”

Once you’ve built your database up and are ready to send your emails out, Mark advises against using generic email programs such as Outlook, Hotmail, or Gmail.

“I strongly urge businesses to use a professional email marketing system.” he says. “A system like Constant Contact gives you the tools you need for tracking, reporting, and list maintenance.”

Mark also recommends to have your recipients help build your list by inviting them to forward your email to a friend. With every email you send out, include a request that the recipient forward to a friend they think may be interested. Make the button prominent. Also, include a link that allows people who have received the mail from a friend to sign up.

Concerns with CASL

When CASL first came into effect, I used to think of it in relatively simple terms: “Great for consumers, bad for marketers.”

I’ve changed my opinion since then. It’s really only bad for marketers who are more concerned with the quantity instead of the quality of their data. It also affects marketers not concerned with the content they send out, or disinterested in building strong relationships with their customers.

For businesses interested in data quality, relevant content, and building strong customer relationships, CASL only reaffirmed their email marketing practices. In short, it’s actually good for everyone.

But what should email marketers be primarily concerned with within CASL’s complex guidelines?

“CASL is a complicated subject,” Mark says, offering three strategies that will help ensure that companies don’t receive complaints:

  • Get consent to email: There are two kinds of consent: implied and express:
    • Implied consent:  Clients who have done business with you fall under implied consent. This means they can be emailed for two years without asking, after which marketers have to seek out express consent
    • Express consent: This covers people who have opted in to your mailing list, either online, in writing or verbally. Express consent never expires and is valid until the customer opts out
  • Include contact information: The sender is required to provide a physical business mailing address and a secondary way of contacting the sender, including a website or phone number, to the recipient with each email
  • Provide an opt-out opportunity: Business must give recipients the option to unsubscribe. Email systems process the request automatically, but if you are fulfilling requests manually they must be completed within 10 business days

“In short,” Mark says. “CASL just means the government is forcing companies to use email marketing best practices. Only email people who want to receive your email, and when they no longer want to be contacted, remove them from your list.”

The DIY Approach

Most of us can compose and send an email. Most of us can send a mass email too. But while the process of email marketing sounds simple, the strategic planning, content generation, and database maintenance can be complicated, time-consuming, and frustrating.

The answer? Hire a professional.

“One benefit in hiring a professional is that you know it will actually get done,” Mark says. “For small businesses, especially those with a sole proprietor, marketing often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Work to be done for customers always takes precedence. Hiring an email marketing professional means that your email will get out so you can continue to generate more business. They will also be on top of the latest trends, ensure that your emails will look great across all platforms, and be able to understand and provide perspective on analytics within your industry.”

to-do list,content marketing strategy,copywriting tips,contact us,copywriting services, seo copywriting,to-do-list

How Do You Build a Content Marketing Strategy?

The proper content marketing strategy can make or break an online business. But how do you know which strategy is best for yours?

For the past few years, there’s been heavy emphasis on the quality of online content. And for good reason too, as the effectiveness of your content contributes to the success of your SEO, social media, and conversion strategies. In short, the better the content, the better the results.

Sounds like a no brainer, right? The concept is certainly easy to grasp, but for many businesses, organizing all the different aspects of content marketing into a manageable plan can be a challenge, since results depend on the success of many different facets of your strategy, each of which requires a specific skill set.

Each of these skill sets, whether SEO, social media, conversion, or otherwise, all come under the umbrella of a solid and coordinated content marketing strategy.

Establishing your Brand Voice

Remember that old saying, “You are what you eat?” You can apply this concept to your brand as well, as in, “Your brand is your content.” This is why it’s important to reflect your brand voice into every piece of content you publish.

But should business owners worry about this content right from launch, or build their brand voice as they go along?

“Content is arguably one of the most important things you can do to establish your brand,” says Hollie Hoadley, Founder of Creative Solutions. “It’s how you build relationships, sharpen your image, and solidify yourself in your niche or market. ”

Although you can develop and refine your brand voice over time, your overall brand messaging should be established prior to customers having the ability to interact with you.

“Your brand content is the first impression people will get of you or your company,” Hollie says. “This is why it’s important to really know your voice and brand values, and have a defined strategy for every aspect of your content. From the words on your website, to your social media, to your email signature, none of it should be an afterthought.”

What Do You Want to Talk About?

Although it’s great to have a wealth of content on your website, it’s important to know what your particular business goals are in regard to the content you publish. In other words, what do you want your content to do for you?

Just as importantly, you need to determine what your customers want from what you publish.

“Decide on your goal and the goals of your audience,” Hollie says. “You can then decide what sort of content will get you there and develop your content marketing strategy based on your findings.

“For example, what are you trying to do? Increase engagement? Sell a new product? Acquire new clients? Increase your brand presence on social media? And from your client’s standpoint, are they trying to solve a problem? Look for advice? With this information, you can create a content marketing strategy that brings results.”

Creating your Online Content

Now that you’ve established your voice, know what you want from your messaging, and have a plan in place, it’s time to create the actual content.

Easier said than done? Perhaps. Many businesses struggle with this because, although they may be able to write about their business, they may not be able to necessarily write in a way that will resonate with their customers. This touches on the above point about knowing what your customers want, and tailoring your content accordingly.

In theory, it works. In practice, however, too many businesses fall flat because creating marketing content from a 3rd-party perspective can be challenging. This is when you have to make the decision of whether to create it yourself or seek outside help.

“If you have the in-house talent to do it, go for it,” Hollie says. “However, it’s always good to get a second opinion from the experts who know their stuff. They’re experts for a reason! Ask for a second pair of eyes, because something that looks good to you may not look good to an unbiased audience who has an eye for sharp lines and fonts, or a keen eye for video editing.”

Hiring outside help to handle aspects of your content will also free up your time to build your business through networking, public speaking, and attending events. Wouldn’t you rather be doing that than sitting up at night trying to figure out graphics software or creating copy for web pages?

“With regard to copy,” Hollie says. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to hire a professional writer. A lot of professionals try to write their own blogs, even if they don’t consider themselves writers, and most of their customers can tell the difference. Don’t waste your efforts – hire someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s a smart investment.”

Mix Your Content Marketing Strategy Up

Have you thought about which type of content would be best for your business? Words, pictures, and graphics are a given, but what about audio and video? Or some sort of interactive features, such as quizzes, games, or calculators?

The rule of thumb is to integrate content elements that will delight your customers, and avoid creating a certain content type simply for the sake of doing so. As long as the content is relevant, it’s a good idea to include it.

“Depending on the brand, “Hollie says. “A good content marketing strategy has the right mix of all different kinds of content. For some brands, video is really key whereas with others, video doesn’t quite fit in. However, every brand should consider a strategy that hits all the marks – video, social, blogs, and images.”

Hollie also says that because different people consume content in individual ways, hitting the right marks is especially important.

“At the very least,” she says. “I would recommend that every brand have a blog, newsletter, strong copywriting, and call to action on their website, as well as an engaging social media presence. Lots of images and engaging, relevant content will go a long way to meeting your business goals.”

In addition, from an SEO standpoint, Google smiles upon websites with a good content mix, especially video. Using video increases online session times, contributing to higher rankings.

But always remember: relevancy is key!

Once You’ve Created, Keep Creating

Your customers are dynamic, always looking for something new. Google is dynamic as well, favouring fresh, current content over old that has been posted for a while. Keeping this mind, it’s important to keep your own content regularly updated with fresh information.

“In order to build any sort of following or top any search engine ranking,” Hollie says. “Content has to be relevant, timely, and regularly updated. There’s nothing worse than going to a blog or a Facebook or Twitter page and seeing a post that’s a few months old. Your customers may never come back. You don’t want to lose eyes on your page because you couldn’t keep up with your content strategy.”

There are many reasons why businesses fall behind on their content strategy. They may have become too busy, can’t think of anything new to post, or simply let it lag due to lack of interest. This again speaks to hiring outside freelance help, as their input and interest will keep you excited and interested too. Also, you can continue to concentrate on other aspects of your business, knowing that your content strategy is in good hands.

Content Content Content!

Recently, a marketing friend of mine said that she was so sick of the word “content” that she was refusing to use it for the rest of the year. I’m not sure if she made it then, or could make it now, because the benefits and demands of a content marketing strategy continue to be an integral part of online business success.

There’s just no getting around it.

video marketing

Is Video Marketing Right For Your Business?

Video marketing has been around a long, long time, and keeps being reinvented for the modern marketer. But is it right for your business?

Video marketing is almost as old as the moving pictures themselves, and people then, just like now, aren’t immune to its effects.

Even as children we were subjected to it. Think back to that breakfast cereal commercial during Saturday morning cartoons. The cartoons themselves featured characters that were also available in toy form. Or that catchy “Let’s all go to the lobby” short before the movie started. Those are both examples of using video to market something.

Speaking of the movies, have you noticed that not only do we have to sit through trailers before the movie starts, we now have to sit through commercials too? Yes, even that innocent-looking snowman stuck in the refrigerator is video marketing in disguise.

And, as of late, even going to the bathroom in your favourite restaurant exposes you to “well-placed” video ads.

So why are we inundated with videos everywhere we go? The answer is simple: because video marketing works.

Why Does Video Marketing Work?

Why wouldn’t it work? Hypnotic, flashing lights, catchy music, happy, attractive people doing things they love and, most importantly, solving a problem by way of buying a product or service. If you have great written content to enhance the video and are able to target the right audience, you could have a monster (or snowman) on your hands.

But that’s a surface observation. Like many things, science and human physiology play a big role in the success of video marketing as well.

“Using video in your marketing mix is the best way to build emotional relationships with your audience online,” says Michael Wood, Corporate Video Creator and Video Marketer at Helium Marketing. “People are hardwired to pay attention to eye contact and non-verbal communication. Viewers are able to process information faster with better retention by engaging both auditory and visual stimulation. For these reasons, videos are 12 times more likely to be watched than text and have significantly higher click-through rates.”

How many times have you watched a video over and over again? And then clicked through for more? Capturing and delighting their target audience is every marketer’s dream.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Finding the right video production house that understands your needs is key to your video’s success. As with anything, referrals and word-of-mouth advertising within your network are very effective ways to find the perfect service provider. Ideally, they’ll be able to understand your vision, bring it to life, and have a keen sense of what generates the right response from your audience.

Knowing what works in video goes beyond the on-screen action itself. It also involves graphics, sound effects, and music. Also, a production house should be able to offer a scriptwriting service to really help your message hit home with viewers.

But wait! Are you the do-it-yourself type? I am. I love developing new skills and showing people what I’ve accomplished. But one thing I’m not really good at is taking photos or creating video. I have no idea why this skill escapes me. You could give me the best camera in the world and the pictures will still turn out horrible.

For the rest of you intrepid DIYers living in this age of empowerment, it’s easy to find tools to make your own videos. If you have a smartphone, you probably already have a video camera. But does that mean you should create your corporate videos using your handheld device?

“When promoting your business, it’s important to send the right message,” Michael explains. “You want to show off your product or service in the best possible way. While doing a DIY video is inexpensive, if the quality is not representative of your brand then you will be doing more harm than good. A professional also offers specific skills that will help the video creation process run smoothly and get maximum impact once it goes to market.”

In other words, you could have the best product in the world, but if you promote it with a poorly-made video, you risk leaving a bad taste in the mouth of your customer.

Avoiding a DIY approach can also apply to marketing your video, as a great video production house will not only create an amazing video for you, they will also be able to suggest the best channels to get it in front of the right people.

But if you do plan on marketing it yourself, at least get a marketing plan from a professional, so you can maximize the return on your investment while delighting your audience with your great new video.

Go for an Epic? Or a Short?

Have you ever sat through a video wishing for it to be over? Chances are, it was overly long and stuffed with filler information that didn’t engage you. Conversely, a video too short might not have included enough information to be compelling, leaving one wondering if that was all the business had to say. How do you determine that optimum length?

“Over the years, there have been statistics showing that short videos have higher engagements,” Michael says. “This may be because over the overwhelming amount of short and silly video clips that are shared every day. We have found that long-form videos have achieved results surpassing competitive short videos because of the quality of the content and level of detail. A video should be no longer than it needs to be, but you should not sacrifice content for a target video length.”

A great video production company will be able to help you determine the appropriate length of your video, ensuring that it contains just enough of your core message to initiate direct contact from your audience.

Be Found More Often

One of the best aspects of getting your video seen doesn’t mean purchasing expensive airtime anymore (although it would be cool to be seen during the Super Bowl). You can simply host your video on your website, as well as upload to such video hosting platforms as YouTube, and promote it through social media and other channels.

But did you know that your SEO rankings can dramatically improve with video too?

“Statistically, videos are 50 times more likely to rank organically in search results,” Michael says. “This relates to videos hosted on platforms like YouTube, but having a video on your website will also increase your website ranking. This is because of how the video will influence your website traffic.

“High-ranking positions in search results are awarded to websites that offer longer session times, high click-through rates, and a mix of media content. Presenting a video for visitors to watch will increase your session times, while also giving you higher conversion and click-through rates.”

That’s a Wrap

Clearly, almost any business would benefit from even having just a short introductory video on their home page. Investing in something your customers enjoy goes a long way towards building brand loyalty, and increases the chances for additional revenue.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you at next year’s Webby Awards.

Write blogs

How to Write Blogs that Drive Business

Most professionals know they need to write blogs as part of their content marketing strategy. But how can they write blogs that actually drive business? Write blogs: it seems to be the mantra of nearly every content marketing strategy these days. But writing blogs involves more than putting words up on your website. There’s a strategy […]

seo strategy

Why Isn’t My SEO Strategy Working?

Getting their SEO strategy to perform at peak levels is a common challenge for business owners. In fact, their SEO might actually be taking them in the right direction, only needing a few simple tweaks to maximize results.

Business owners who manage their own SEO strategy often follow the self-optimization tools provided in SEO packages, such as Yoast, to guide them through the tricky waters of search marketing.

As robust as these tools can be, there are some key custom elements of a complete SEO strategy that many businesses tend to overlook, causing them to potentially miss out on better rankings. Much of them have to do with content generation, which SEO software won’t (and shouldn’t) help you with, and where you publish your content outside of your own domain.

Here are examples of those little extras that can help better your search results:

  1. Long-tail keywords: Let’s say you sell shoes in Seattle. You decide to implement an SEO strategy on your website and start brainstorming SEO keywords. The first one you might think of is “shoes”. “Footwear” might come in second, followed by a list of your top brands. While these keywords are certainly relevant, they’re also in high demand and might not rank you very well in search results. This is why long-tail keywords play an important role in setting you apart from your competition. Try something like “Imported leather shoes from Italy in Seattle” or “Steve Madden shoes Seattle”. There – you just improved your odds of being found. Long-tail keywords also work great for your blogs, such as: “Which shoe polish is best for brown leather shoes?”
  2. Write for people, not search engines: Have you ever tried to read pure SEO-oriented content? It’s not a compelling read for humans or search engines. That’s right – search algorithms are so intelligent that they can separate good content from keyword-stuffed mumbo jumbo. And even if the keyword-stuffed mumbo jumbo ranks highly, who’s going to read it and be moved to convert? The bottom line is to write for humans, optimize for search, not the other way around.
  3. Off-site SEO: Here’s one that a lot of businesses miss. Off-site SEO refers to “authority building” that Google uses as a ranking factor. This authority is measured by inbound links from external sources that are of high authority themselves. If these sites are linking to yours, Google will perceive your site as having authority as well. Guest blogging and social media syndication are two great ways to raise your off-site authority.

On a final note, remember that, like content marketing, an SEO strategy can’t be successful with a “set it and forget it” philosophy. It needs to be revisited from time to time to reinforce what’s been successful, and tweak what hasn’t.