12 Questions to Ask After Major Marketing Transitions

12 Questions to Ask After Major Marketing Transitions

Digital marketing continues to advance and meet consumer demands. They are much in the forefront with company mergers.

There are various reasons, assorted catalysts and numerous “straws that can break the camel’s back” that trigger the need for a major re-evaluation of your marketing. You may have:

  1. Hired a new CMO (or CEO, CFO, or VP Sales)
  2. Acquired a company or a product line
  3. Divested your company of a product line
  4. Merged with a competitor

It’s at times of fundamental changes and major marketing transitions like this that your company needs to update its positioning to stay current with market trends in your specific industry, shed negative images, differentiate from competitors, or create a new entity (as a result of a merger or acquisition).

The marketing objective in this case is to discover or uncover and put a “face” on what makes your company and its products and services stand out from the crowd and why that “special sauce” is fantastic, relevant, and attractive. To be successful during major marketing transitions, you need to evolve your thinking about your company and its markets. It’s an excellent time to bring an outside team to help you see the “forest” for the “trees”.

Where do you begin? We think you begin by considering and answering the following questions:

12 Questions To Ask After Major Marketing Transitions

  1. What problem are we attempting to solve?
  2. Has there been a change in the competitive landscape that is impacting our growth potential?
  3. Has our customer profile changed?
  4. Are we pigeonholed as something that we (and our customers) have outgrown?
  5. Does our messaging tell the wrong (or outdated) story?
  6. What do we want to convey? To whom?
  7. Why should anyone care about our company, our products, our services?
  8. Have we isolated exactly who should care about our brand?
  9. Have their needs, or the way they define them, changed?
  10. Is our company out of step with the current needs and desires of our customers?
  11. Is the goal of this marketing effort evolutionary or revolutionary?
  12. If we were starting our business over today, would this be the positioning and messaging we would use?

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What is the next step?

It might help to talk to an agency who has helped many companies reimagine themselves during major marketing transitions. That would be HiveMind Studios. If you give us a call, we can answer your preliminary questions and help you achieve success. Feel free to email or call. We look forward to helping.

Web Design Secrets

Web Design SecretsWeb Design Secrets for Business Success On-Line

HiveMind Studios won’t just promised you a brilliant web design, we deliver on web designs with brand positioning that you and viewers love.

Troves of web design firms offer good and bad methodologies you can follow for digital website design. Thoroughly understanding design options and which ones are best for you and your vertical, is our skill. All the web design secrets in the world fall short if you are unsure which ones to use or how to implement them. We make your discovery journey easy as you embark on a full web redesign.

Web Design Secrets Part 2: Design & Usability

Taken from eBook Web Redesign Success Secrets for 2015
A website represents the first contact point for many prospective customers. It shows, in a nutshell, how professional your organization is, and how it understands its own branding and identity. It’s not enough to present a professional image. Your website represents who you are and what you offer. When people see it for the first time they’re asking several questions

Web Design Secrets Revealed that Answer Buyers Needs

* Am I in the right place?

* Is this site credible?

* Is it trustworthy?

* Is this a professional company?

* Is this company stable?

* Does this site make me feel welcome?

You need to anticipate these questions and make sure that your design meets the basic needs of the web visitor. Recent studies demonstrate that visual design may be the first test of a site’s credibility.  But to be effective, your website design should focus on several strategic values.

Branding Woven into Website Design: Your First Impression

* Branding value – not only identifies your company, it also lets visitors know they’re on your site.

* Impact/news value – gives people something to talk about. If your site always has something fresh and newsworthy, you will constantly attract new visitors.

* Audience/community values – are a reflection of a site’s ability to satisfy the target audience.

* Competitive values – are features that keep you ahead of the competition.

* Design value – means that a designer with a strong aesthetic and concern for the visitor has translated the company’s objectives into a visual experience.

* Content value – means that editors and contributors have prepared content for display on the Web, rather than merely repurposing content from other sources.

* Utility value – means people can do things on your site, such as buy products, fill out forms, etc. It also means that the site responds quickly, solves problems and that all links work.

* Organization value – organize page elements within the structure of a grid (as opposed to randomly scattered).

Maintain Consistency

Templates are a dirty word in web design because everyone assumes that they need a unique web design. The truth of the matter is that almost all websites follow a predictable structure. Typically, most websites will use incorporate a minimum of three layouts: one for the homepage, one for secondary content pages and one for landing pages with forms.

On secondary pages, the consistency of a page layout adds to confidence and credibility. Different types of information appear in logical places consistently from page to page. Other items that need to be consistent include colors, fonts, and navigation.

Using the Right Images

What purpose do images serve? If you choose relevant images, they can also add to credibility. When people visit a web page, the image should reinforce that they have reached a page of the right subject matter, with the potential to provide valuable information.

On product pages, it’s obvious that you should show the product. On service pages, you might show the industry, or something that relates to the specific service being presented.

In most cases, you want to avoid those stock smiling people shots that appear far too often on websites, taking up space without providing value. Remember that every image on your site is being processed by the web visitor, consciously or subconsciously. Make sure the message is correct.

Animation and Accessibility

Animation should be used sparingly on any site. Too many animations are distracting because the visitor doesn’t know what you’re trying to emphasize.

Some simple animations are accomplished using animated file formats that shuffle images with abrupt transitions. They are also found in simple banner ads. These are more accessible for mobile devices, including phones and tablet devices like the ipad, but the animation is crude.

More complicated animations can be accomplished with jQuery, which is also standards compliant and accessible on mobile devices.

The newest technology for animations is HTML 5, but this is only compatible with the newest browsers.

One of the Web Design Secrets you may not know, is that the one technology to avoid on your website is Flash. This is nothing against Adobe, which markets and sells Flash technology. It is simply because Flash is not compatible with SEO best practices or with mobile devices.

Subscribe today! The HiveMind Insights Marketing blog covers all of your marketing needs from SEO to blogging, social media to creative web design and development, lead generation and nurturing, email marketing, and digital analytics.

Click here for more information about Full Website Design Services

Success With Digital Advertising: What You Need To Know

Success With Digital Advertising: What You Need To Know

While there a variety of digital marketing methods now available, media buying is still at the top of the list when it comes to efficacy and significance. The best any business can do is get ahead of what is trending in digital advertising, become more familiar with shifts in technology, and learn more about who its customers are.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, domestic digital advertising was up 20 percent last year, topping out at $59.6 billion. Among this growth, mobile adverting and social media took center stage, each growing more than 50 percent respectively in 2015. Digital advertising has enjoyed significant growth for six years running, and there’s no cause to think it will stagnate anytime soon.

What’s Currently Trending in Digital Advertising?

Originally, media buying online was centered on display ads, also called banner ads. In the good old days of the Internet, they were the gold standard and tracked using a basic click-through method to determine if an audience, or channel, was a good fit for a product. Lots of clicks meant people were interested; fewer clicks took media buyers back to the drawing board.

Since then, display ads have become one of several advertising tools digital marketers turn to for greater reach within more specific audience segments. But that doesn’t mean display ads aren’t still important.

According to one report, U.S. digital display advertising will surpass search ad spending in 2016. Of course, the umbrella term “display advertising” now encompasses a few more creative avenues.

Among these display types are video ads, rich media content—which includes advanced features like video, audio, personalization—and other elements that encourage viewer interaction, and sponsorship advertising. These things combined are estimated to account for the largest share of digital ad spending in 2016.

Let’s take a closer look at two of these display types:

Video Advertising

Video AdvertisingVideo ads aren’t exactly new, but this year Google is getting on board with in-SERP video advertising. Instead of only thinking inside the YouTube box, businesses should consider how video advertising can be used across the web, in PPC advertising, on social media, and in native advertising.

The fact that Google is allowing video advertising in searches isn’t just good news for your products; it’s also a sign that users are more receptive to what video ads have to say.

Digital Ads Personalization

Another emerging trend among display advertising involves personalization or dynamic display advertising, which shows personalized content to consumers from a feed your businesses controls.

With this type of display, you can change what a consumer sees based on the weather in the area, current events and holidays, and other factors like gender, age, and buying behavior.

Important Shifts in Technology

Technology has had a huge impact on the way marketers buy media, as well as the ways they produce it. While the latter is important, for the sake of this article, let’s focus on the how recent technology shifts are impacting media buys. Here are five technologies you should be aware of:

Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

DPMs are large factories of information, pulling data from nearly every corner of the web to help advertisers properly segment a market. These technologies are great at integrating information from multi-channel campaigns and ordering the data into meaningful insights. They also allow you to track or follow consumers with cookies, so you can engage them through practices like retargeting.

Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)

DSPs let users pick and choose ad buys through automation. In addition to being more efficient, this technology makes media buying cheaper. With it, you can buy impressions for specific users (instead of specific channels) in a real-time auction where automated bidding occurs.

Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs)

Similar to Demand-Side Platforms, these technologies are the automated version of selling digital ads. With them, publishers can connect their inventory with DSPs, Ad Networks, and Ad Exchanges within a single platform. Publishers often use this technology to maximize revenue by showcasing impressions to as many buyers as possible.

Ad Exchanges

Through real-time auctions, digital advertisers and publishers gather in virtual marketplaces to buy and sell advertising. Publishers supply their impressions, and buyers review data with technologies like DSPs to make their picks. The benefit of an ad exchange is that marketers can buy media for multiple channels all at once and all in the same place.

Ad Networks

Ad networks are nothing more than a community of publishers connecting with digital advertisers. Marketers sign up and pick the websites they want their ads to circulate on. Google is the most popular ad network.

Digital Ads Success: Get to Know Your Customers

Finally, to succeed at digital advertising, you must fundamentally know and understand who your consumers are. These days, it’s too expensive to guess or determine characteristics using trial and error, so transforming data into insights is an effective way to eliminate any doubts.

Facebook’s ad manager is a powerful analytics tool that can drive all kinds of actions, from app downloads and page likes, to awareness and conversion.

In addition to a multitude of engagement opportunities, social media affords deeper insight into who your customers are, and what they care about. To ignore the valuable information available on these low-cost social media outlets would be foolish.

Use social media insight tools to help learn about your consumers. With them, you’ll be able to build better messaging in your advertising, which will in turn produce greater ROI for your ad spend.

Another tool that helps build and nurture an understanding between you and your consumers is Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM refers to technologies, strategies, and practices that analyze customer behavior and data throughout the customer’s lifecycle. Marketers use CRM to improve business relationships with consumers, improve retention, and ultimately drive more sales.

If you and your business can stay attuned to digital marketing trends and emerging digital advertising technologies, and strive to serve your customers the best you possibly can, you’ll succeed at digital advertising.

The Secret to Better SEO Rankings and More Leads 

The Secret to Better SEO Rankings and More Leads 

When SEO was young, SEO rankings didn’t have many factors associated with them. Backlinks, in fact, were one of the first “off-page” factors Google used to rank websites. Back then, a backlink to your site was considered a vote of confidence that search engines took very seriously.

That’s still the case today, but unlike the past, today’s links are not created equal. Some are better than others. And some are just plain bad. This is the most important external SEO strategy for your business. Today we’ll look at what links are good for your SEO rankings and ultimately your leads. We’ll follow that with an infographic that shows exactly how your links are affecting your SEO rankings.

Backlinks are extremely important to your SEO rankings.

Whether you’re just starting out on one of today’s free blog sites, or you have an established business, you’re going to need high quality links. Not every link is worth the same amount, and since you have to earn them from other sites, you don’t want to waste any time on bad links.

Quick Tips

Here are some quick tips on how to choose high-quality backlinks:

  • Links from websites with a high DA are worth more than most
  • Any links from a .gov or .edu domain carry more weight
  • A mixture of Dofollow and Nofollow links is important
  • The number of links you have will always be important

Check out the infographic below for a look at the ranking factors your backlinks are impacting. Let us know how this information helped boost your digital marketing efforts in the comments!

Infographic on Better SEO Rankings

Make the right call.

We’re not pitchmen trying to sell you a package of goods. Our creative advertising agency provides expert consultants in digital marketing and branding who can help you identify what’s wrong, and what’s right, for SEO, email, your website, branding, lead generation, and social media. We’ll devise a strategic plan for your business that activates all the digital marketing elements you’ll need to generate leads, improve your branding, spice up your advertising, and make your website work more effectively.

If you’re not sure what’s holding you back and don’t have time to experiment, talk with a HiveMind Studios Strategist.

 

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Summary

 

SEO Infographic - Yesterday vs Today

The Secret To Better Seo Rankings And More Leads

Quality Back Links Are Extremely Important To Your Seo Rankings

 

 

Author: Tom Lauck
Owner of Hivemind Studios
October 14, 2013
Updated:August 7, 2016

Quality back links is the most important external SEO strategy for your business. This post looks at what links are good for your SEO rankings and ultimately your leads. Our infographic shows exactly how your links are affecting your SEO rankings.

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Landing Pages that can Double or Triple Your Lead Conversions

Landing Pages that can Double or Triple Your Lead Conversions

High Impact Landing Pages

Landing Pages That Can Double Or Triple Your Lead Conversions

It seems that all the energy for creating a campaign is spent by the time you reach the landing page. And while there are various best practice guidelines you can follow, there is a real need for creative thinking as it applies to landing pages.

How Do Landing Pages Fit In?

Landing pages play a vital role in campaign strategies. They enable you to direct an inbound lead (from paid search, social ads, or even from within your website to a unique page created specifically to provide a prospect all the necessary information for completing their goal. It also gives you the opportunity to collect some information about the contact.

Within a specific campaign, the call to action (for an eBook, product update, webinar, etc.) should always lead to a landing page highlighting what prospects need to know. So you need a new landing page for every offer, link, search result, or ad you create.

While nearly half of B2B companies direct their campaigns to their home page, this is not effective. In fact, it significantly increases your bounce rate. The content on your home page is not specifically geared to the call to action. These companies are relying on the prospect doing all the work, perusing your website and digging out the information desired.

The more content, offers, and landing pages you create, the more opportunities you will have to generate qualified leads for your business.

The Elements Of Success

From a best practice standpoint, here are things you should or should not do when building a high-converting, successful landing page.

1. DON’T INCLUDE TOP NAVIGATION

You work hard to get a visitor to your landing pages. Spend a little extra effort to make sure they stay there long enough to fill out your form and Submit. If you put your whole navigation on the landing page, you’re inviting people to browse your website. Once they go to a different, you’re less likely to see them again.

2. MATCH THE HEADLINES (WORD-FOR-WORD) FROM YOUR CTA

Visitors need to continue to build trust in your company. If they click on one headline and see a different headline on your landing page, you might confuse them. Or they might think there is a catch to your offer. Either way they lose confidence in your company and your offer. And that decreases lead conversion.

3. LANDING PAGES SHOULD PRESENT LESS CONTENT

Each landing page requires a single clear message. This is not the time to load them up with additional information that may distract or confuse. Try to limit yourself to a single headline, a single, brief paragraph explaining the offer, and a few bullets outlining benefits.

4. EYE-CATCHING IMAGERY

Eye-catching images, typography and layout from a professional designer will add to the appeal of a landing page. Adding a video boosts conversion rates by as much as 80% (per HubSpot). Images orient visitors to the nature of your content. They can also confirm what a visitor will receive by completing the form.

5. REGISTRATION FORMS

The key to a good registration form is simplicity. Think twice before requiring information you can look up or find out later.  3 fields is perfect. You lose 30% of conversions for each field over the standard three (first, last, email). 5 fields is acceptable but perhaps you should make those extra fields optional. Longer than that usually drives conversion rates down. Contact forms might seem all alike. They’re not. Good ones will push your leads into your sales funnel. Bad ones will end your sales process.

Only ask for what you need. Additional data can be captured in post-confirmation steps. Qualifying questions are only appropriate if you are targeting leads almost ready to purchase.

6. ABOVE THE FOLD

According to heat map analysis, text and forms residing “below the fold” (i.e. the initial viewing area) will only be viewed by 50% of the web visitors to this page. So it is important to keep the offer, imagery, and form short, concise, and lean so that users can easily determine that they can get what they need without undergoing a lengthy or burdensome process.

7. BENEFITS INSTEAD OF FEATURES

Not everyone is born a writer. When your product managers are dealing with so many issues, they don’t have time to synthesize product benefits and write clear, focused product information. But that is what’s needed.

You need to take complicated information and translate it into the language of benefits, the language of selling, so that you have something that prospects will actually want to read. It’s more than just listing what comprises your offer.

The main thing is to keep it short. More than 79% of web users scan content instead of reading it straight through.

8. START LANDING PAGES WITH A BOLD HEADLINE

Headlines are generally larger type than anything else on the page. So it follows that they are the most important copy element. When writing headlines, it pays to:

  • Appeal to the visitor’s self- interest. You really need to follow WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). Why should I waste time reading further?
  • Announce something new and noteworthy. “New” is the one word that never hurts. We all want to keep up with new products in the world.
  • Arouse curiosity. This is different than asking a question in the headline. Say something unexpected or intriguing. Read Ogilvy on Advertising for more on this.

9. ENGAGING SUBHEADS

Subheads are a great way to help scanners determine if they want to read further. Think of them as bullets scattered through your text. They should engage readers with your content with little to no effort.

10. BULLET POINTS

Bullet points present digestible chunks of information instead of walls of text. Sets of 3-5 bullet points are helpful for scanners.

11. CALL-TO-ACTION (CTA)

Obviously, the CTA begins its life in your marketing piece, whether that’s a social ad, a direct mailing, or an email. To connect the marketing to your landing page, you need to closely mirror the original offer in as straightforward language as possible. Make it clear what the visitor needs to do (usually fill out a form or register).

12. OPTIMIZE FOR MOBILE

More and more, people are experiencing web content, and landing pages on mobile devices. So make it easy for them to thumb their way through the registration process. Everything your visitors need to respond to the CTA should be instantly shown on the mobile page.

13. A/B TESTING

By this time, you’re tired and you might push it to the live website and see what happens. But you can also use software to test and optimize your landing page quickly and easily using A/B split tests. Basically, you declare one landing a control, and a variation of that landing page as the test. You specify the percentage of viewers you want to see the original landing page, and what percentage is steered to the test page.

What are you looking for?  Anything. You might test a larger headline; or a different one; a larger image or no image; a long form versus a shorter form.

Then use your analytics, usually built-in the A-B testing software itself to pronounce a winner. And then build a new test page. This process of continually split testing will optimize each of your forms to maximize lead conversion.

Inside Hivemind Studios

HiveMind Studios is a talented group of serial entrepreneurs, wordsmiths, designers and developers in the SF Bay Area. We eat, sleep and breathe advertising and we’re always on the lookout for the next big thing, the next creative way to advertise, and the next new way to reach consumers. If we put our heads together, how can we lose?

Marketing Automation Success Depends on Sales and Marketing Alignment

Marketing Automation Success Depends on Sales and Marketing Alignment

Marketing Automation Success

Marketing automation software and systems automate the process of nurturing a lead via email until qualifying criteria — approved by both marketing and sales — are met. At that point, Sales can be instantly notified of prospect interest. Lead status is updated automatically so that Marketing no longer sends email to a lead being actively worked by Sales.

Similarly, if Sales finds that a qualified lead is not actually engaged, Sales can update the lead status, passing responsibility for nurturing back to Marketing. Lead qualifying criteria can be based on both factual information (industry, company size) but also on the prospect’s online body language, including number of visits to the website, number of pages visited, length of the visit(s), and specific pages visited.

Marketing automation refers to the tools marketers use to automate several marketing actions, including emails, social media, and analytics. Automation is supposed to make our lives easier, right? So, why do so many marketers have trouble automating their systems?

Marketing automation success depends on how well sales and marketing can align to achieve a single organizational goal: sales. Study after study points to the alignment of sales and marketing as a key area for improvement in many organizations, which is not surprising when you consider the high cost of the sales and marketing disconnect.

It’s not enough to host a once a year marketing-sales offsite. Dynamic engagement requires Marketing and Sales to pass lead communication and qualification responsibility back and forth seamlessly, enabling the appropriate method and level of contact for each prospect.

The days of separated sales and marketing departments are over, particularly in B2B situations. Instead of these two departments existing independently of each other, they must work in collaboration—not just hyperbolically, but literally, across the table from one another.

Of course, once everyone is sitting at the same table, you still need some process or methodology to follow. Here’s what we find effective in aligning sales and marketing teams to create marketing automation success.

Leadership and Commitment

Sales and marketers have a love/hate thing going on, and it’s got to stop. They know they need each other to win, but both groups tend to weigh their contributions more heavily than the other, and that’s not how we get to alignment.

Leadership has to bring these groups together and commit to their equal contributions; they have to make it clear that the organization’s goals are not achievable without the participation and contributions of both departments.

This should resonate all the way up to top executives, managers, and on down the line. Unified leadership is essential to shifting this paradigm of separate sales and marketing departments. To see better collaboration, leadership has to commit to the idea and bring both parties to the table amicably.

New Roles and Responsibilities

Digital marketing has changed the way we communicate with prospects. For example, most B2B buyers will have made it well down the sales funnel (thanks to online research) before they even speak to a sales rep on the phone. Marketers have become quasi-sales people by pushing prospects down the funnel with their great content. So, where does that leave the sales people? If they’re not pushing sales down the funnel, what are they doing?

They’re still converting sales, but they have a new role to play, which includes gathering intelligence about prospects, current clients, and the customers that got away.

Sales people have the important job of listening to what buyers are saying about the company straight from the source. They’ve got their fingers on the pulse of big decision-makers, and that’s a powerful resource that marketers have not fully been able to tap into—until now.

Conversely, marketers shouldn’t just rely on analytics to determine the types of content they create; they should focus on listening to what the sales people bring to the table, and find ways to serve those interests best.

Marketers also have a new role to play, and that’s to become great publicists or PR strategists for their sales teams. Marketers should look for ways to help make their sales people look like rock stars. This means ghostwriting content, building presentations, and developing ideas that help sales people become influential voices in the industry at large.

Create a New System for Collaboration

Once sales integrates integrates with marketing, it’s going to be important that ideas are recorded, tracked, and followed up upon in regular intervals.

Sales and marketing should meet on a regular basis, and they should start attending sales or marketing events as a group. It’s also important that a content creation process be in place for sales and marketing to collaborate effectively in and out of these meetings.

Other shareable items include adding sales people to the editorial calendar, listening to sales calls together, or providing weekly talking points to sales based on intelligence they gathered the week before.
Whatever your system looks like, it should be consistent and cover several types of content across multiple vertices and at various points on the funnel.

Putting It All Together

Back to marketing automation: how does all of this help with that goal?

At the end of the day, automation is only as good as the content that’s being automated. The alignment of sales and marketing is about building relations between these two departments and improving the content quality, so that automation can perform to its potential.

Sales teams have a wealth of customer knowledge that can inform better marketing decisions at almost every level. Marketers have the power to turn average sales people into industry influencers; they both bring a lot to the table. But you’ve got to get them to sit at the table and work together if you want to reap any of these rewards.For more information about marketing automation success,

For more information about marketing automation success, call 408-266-3162 or send email to: [email protected]

Once you’ve done this homework, and identified the holes in your lead generation process, you can safely invest in a marketing automation system to help you coordinate marketing activities, multiply your opportunities, leverage your assets, and maximize your return on investment. If you’d like help in this area, start with our:

Free Strategic Marketing Review