Our Blog

Check out our insights into the world of media and marketing, along with project spotlights, featured blogs from our client pages and other musings on how to optimize brand recognition in today’s technologically-driven environment.

Staying Safe Online: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

We arm our homes with alarms. We lock our cars. We shred important documents. We take measures to protect our personal data online (or we should). Staying safe online goes beyond just using common sense and having general mindfulness of situations that “just don’t feel right,” (though those things are imperative too). With the importance of protecting ourselves from scammers, hackers and other threats at an all-time high, cyber security awareness is up there with all other matters of personal protection.

October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, a time for a few quick reminders as to what it means to protect your personal assets online.

What is cyber security?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. The internet is a vast place—both full of promising possibilities—and potential problems. Bad people are out there who want to steal your identity, scam your money and, in any way they can, take advantage of the information that you put out into the world digitally.

Cyber security, or computer security, is the practice of protecting individual and business, data, systems and networks from digital attacks or unauthorized access. Protection strategies range from using technology specifically designed for cyber security to simply implementing “best practices” when navigating the internet.

You likely see instances of scammers at work every day—whether you realize it or not. Pop-ups, viruses, bogus emails—they’re all examples of threats to cyber security.

Quick tips for staying safe online  

Cyber security can be complex, but a few quick tips for enhancing online protection in your everyday life can make all the difference. Here are a few to follow:

Create secure passwords

With so many accounts to keep up with, it can be tempting to use the same password over and over again. Doing so, however, leaves you extremely vulnerable. Create complex passwords, use a password manager and change your password any time you suspect your information has been compromised.

Be wary of scam emails.

There are some telltale signs for spotting a scam email. Learn the signs and watch out for them in the event that something fishy comes through your inbox.

Keep your computer up to date.

Those little reminders can be annoying, but don’t ignore them! If your computer prompts you to update your anti-virus, operating system or any of its software, do it. This keeps your computer current with the most recent protections available.

Take advantage of privacy settings on social media.

If you don’t want to broadcast to the entire world on social media, you don’t have to! Certain information may be best left to friends and family. Most social media platforms have built-in features that help you regulate who exactly can see your content.

Only click trustworthy links.

Sketchy links can lead to viruses. Be wary of unfamiliar websites, or those that try to mimic other trustworthy sites (a familiar URL with a .net instead of a .com, for example).

Do not share personal information electronically.

Never send usernames, passwords, bank account numbers, credit card info or any other sensitive information via email or electronic chat.

Summary

As we increasingly live more and more of our lives online, cyber security should be top of mind rather than an afterthought. Staying safe online via cyber security awareness protects you and your loved ones from harm while allowing you to still take advantage of all of the ways that technology makes our lives easier.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

 

FAQs Answered: Is Using a Purchased Email List Effective?

With many instantaneous forms of digital communication at our disposal, some might speculate as to whether email is still a viable means of marketing. Our short answer—it is, and the potential ROI of email marketing supports that case. When starting from scratch, often our clients ask us about the best way to go about curating an email list—specifically, whether a purchased email list could be useful. Here’s our take.

The drawbacks of using a purchased email list

There, we said it—plain and simple—blog over!

Just kidding. But not kidding about not using a purchased email list.

Buying a list of emails to send marketing material to sounds easy and appealing, but often the easiest way is not the best way. Purchasing an email list will actually do more harm than good in the long run, including the fact that it:

  • Costs unnecessary money
  • Can lead to you being labeled as a spammer (sending to unsolicited addresses)
  • Does not ensure that the recipients on your list fall into your target audience
  • Can sometimes include old or fake email recipients—which is a waste of money spent
  • In general, is not a credible way to cultivate an email audience that will give you results

How should I build an email list?

When you’re not using a purchased email list, then the good news is, you can feel confident knowing that you collected your emails legitimately. You have complete control over your list and who sees your content, which is not always the case in other forms of digital marketing like social media.

Building an email marketing list is not something you should expect to accomplish all at once, but with the help of multiple efforts over time. Here are a few easy strategies.

Ask existing customers to opt-in.

If you have a set of loyal customers, let them know that you are starting an email list for your brand, and ask them if it would be OK to include their address on that list. They’ll most likely be happy to support you.

Set a physical sign-up list at your point of sale or events. 

A good old fashioned clipboard and pen never hurt anybody. Set one out on your welcome counter, point of sale, or on your table at events your business is participating in. If you want to take it a step further, you could also use an iPad or tablet for sign-ups.

Give an incentive for people to sign up for your list.

Incentivize, incentivize, incentivize. Offer special discounts or offers to members of your email list. This could be as informal as “sign up and get 20% off your next purchase” or as detailed as an ongoing customer loyalty program with offers exclusive to members of the email list on a regular basis.

Include opt-ins on your digital assets.

Don’t miss opportunities to remind people to sign up for your list. This could be in the form of a pop-up on your website, a prompt in your email signature or a request on a social post. Just be sure to give a short explanation as to why it might benefit someone to sign up.

Distribute content that will keep people interested.

Quality content to quality recipients equals a great email marketing strategy! Whether you’re sharing your monthly blog post or giving people a company update, content that people appreciate bodes well for maintaining a strong list—and could even lead to word-of-mouth sign-ups.

Summary

Using a purchased email list will almost always lead to more bad news than good. It’s best to build an email list organically to certify quality leads and consumers that are actually interested in your brand’s content.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Supporting Clients Digitally: Customer Service on Social Media

Customer service is a universal concept. When you’re trying to get someone to hand you their money, it bodes well to be nice to them. Of course, that’s customer service at a very base level. It also involves cultivating an aura of friendliness and helpfulness around your business. That being said, just because you’re communicating behind a computer screen does not mean that things should be any different. Customer service on social media is a critical component of generating positivity around your brand that people will want to keep coming back to.

The case for customer service on social media

Social media has been a part of our daily lives for nearly two decades now. However, its relevance to consumerism—and the expectations consumers have from businesses on social media—has evolved over time. Whereas a decade ago it might have been more forgivable for a business to leave a direct Facebook or Instagram message unanswered, now (at least in our opinion) that is akin to not returning a customer phone call.

When communicating online, people also tend to get lazy in their correspondence in terms of grammar, spelling and general formality. Maybe it’s because it’s still a relatively “new” method of communication and specifically of conducting business—so the norms and standards have yet to be fully established. As we rely on social media more and more to carry out daily tasks, the need for some sort of protocol for customer service on social media heightens.

What we mean by customer service on social media

Put plainly, customer service is the way you and other representatives of your company come across to clients—and the effort you put in to making their experience with you a good one.

On social media, customers and potential customers communicate with your business page via direct messages, comments, tagging your page, sharing your posts, etc. How you conduct yourself in those communications is a form of customer service.

Our suggestions

Promoting good customer service on social media is easy! Here are a few of our suggestions.

Respond to messages in a timely manner.

You wouldn’t ignore a customer asking you a question in your store, so why would you do it on social media? Responding to direct messages and comments in a timely manner on social media should be a standard for your business.

Use polite and formal language.

Internet slang is a thing. But just like spoken slang words, there is a time and a place. Conducting business online is not that time or place. Address your customers on social media formally and respectfully.

Check your grammar and spelling.

Nothing makes you look more unprofessional than a misspelled word or a “they’re” when it should have been “there.” Yes, we all make mistakes, but check your grammar and spelling in social media communications to the best of your ability.

Give customers another option.

If a question or concern can’t be answered online, invite the customer to call you or come meet with you in person. Sometimes communicating online can get frustrating, and the last thing you want is frustrated patrons.

Express your thanks for positive feedback.

You would thank your customers for giving you a compliment in person, so be sure to share the love when they praise you on social media! Give a thankful response for a good review, a positive comment, or even a shared post.

Summary

Customer service on social media should be treated the same way you would extend customer service in any other interaction between your brand and your customers. Just because you are communicating digitally is no excuse for throwing all manners of etiquette and respect out the window. Don’t have time to manage your business’ social media? We’ve got you!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Showcasing Your Company Culture on Social Media

Social media is many things. A way for human beings to connect. A record of life events and activities. A platform for brand exposure. A network for ecommerce. As a marketer on social media, it’s important to not confine yourself to using social media for solely one of these roles (even if just in appearance, and even if your main goal is to generate sales.) As social media users’ expectations have evolved, showcasing your company culture on social media is more important now than ever before.

How we define company culture

“Company culture” is a broad term to encompass the values that your company stands for and the image you are projecting into the world. Yes, this can get as serious as showcasing your affiliation with political and social issues (though we typically advise otherwise), or as casual as sharing your company’s annual “Bring Your Dog to the Office Day” photos. It can also include details like office hours, employee benefits, dress code, etc., which all affect how employees carry themselves as a representative of a business.

Offering your social media followers some insight into your company culture shows them the human side of your brand, which gives them a better opportunity to feel connected to you. In turn, people who feel connected to your brand are more likely to do business with you.

The drawbacks of being overly-promotional on social media

The opposite of content that discloses company culture on social media is content that is purely promotional and sales-driven. According to a recent blog from HubSpot, brands being overly promotional on Instagram is one of the top mistakes marketers are making on the platform right now. HubSpot suggests that sales pitches like “Sale!” “Free shipping!” and “Save now!” flooding a brand’s Instagram feed is “unflattering” and even “distasteful.”

This is not to say that one should not post promotional content on Instagram and other social media networks; however, it’s all about finding the balance. Instagram users especially expect messaging with substance and relevance to their lives. If all they see is sales pitch after sales pitch, they will likely be more apt to unfollow your page.

Ways to do it

So how do you share “meaningful” content? Here are a few suggestions!

Turn the spotlight on your customers

Share customer posts that tag your page to give them an extra shout-out. You can also ask customers if it’s OK if you take a picture of them after an exciting purchase!

Showcase your staff

A suggestion we’ve mentioned many times before, give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your employees. Talk about notable achievements, celebrate birthdays and just generally show them off!

Talk about local issues

Taking a stance on a social issue or portraying your political affiliation can be tricky. Doing so can isolate entire portions of your customer base—so do so at your own risk. A safer bet is to talk about local issues that directly affect your business. Celebrate the announcement of a new anchor store coming to your shopping center. Applaud the city for making traffic improvements in your area. Encourage customers to get out and vote in your next municipal election (even if you don’t state who for).

Share what you do in the community

Showcasing your company culture on social media doesn’t get more direct than giving your brand a pat on the back for doing good in the community. Post about your volunteer work, events you participate in, and other local businesses you support.

Have a sense of humor

Lighten up! When it’s appropriate (and non-offensive), don’t hesitate to have a sense of humor using your brand’s social content. Nothing bonds us more as human beings than a good laugh.

Summary

We know that your overall goal as a business is to make a profit, but not every social post you make has to be overtly sales pitch-y. Posts associated with the culture of your brand are a more relatable way of appealing to your customers while still supporting your business goals.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

 

4 Easy Ideas for Interactive Virtual Promos

Need we say it again? Times have changed in 2020. Society is finding new ways to operate in nearly every capacity in an effort to curb a viral spread. Obviously, one of the most significant ways things have changed involves a shift to carrying out more and more tasks virtually. A client of ours who hosts an annual trunk show came to us this past week announcing that the in-person trunk show had been cancelled this year. However, the client still wanted to offer some sort of promotion that customers could participate in from afar. This got us thinking about ideas for interactive virtual promos.

Taking things virtual

Though (depending on your area), businesses may be open for in-person shopping and appointments, many brands are still making the tough calls to protect the safety of their clientele by putting annual promotional events on hold for now. For example, our client typically hosts an annual “trunk show tailgate” at the start of every football season to showcase offers and discounts on various brands they carry.

If you’re wanting to offer a more socially-distanced option for your yearly sale or event, here are a few ideas for interactive virtual promos.

Host a live sale  

An easy and fun way to hold an interactive virtual promo is to host an event or sale on Facebook Live or Instagram. Designate a set amount of time (one hour, for example), during which you can show off products for people to buy directly from the sale by commenting “sold” right there in the comments. Facebook Live is inherently a great way to promote interaction, because the person talking on camera can verbally respond to comments viewers make in real time.

Make it a game

Going back to our trunk show example, our client has several brands of eyewear that they routinely showcase during their annual event. Taking it virtual, we suggested a trivia game throughout the span of a week or even a day. Each social post could highlight a different brand from the trunk show, with a trivia question posed about that brand or product. The first person to answer correctly in the comments wins a prize or discount.

Going back to the first on our list of ideas for interactive virtual promos, you could also host a game on Facebook Live. Ask trivia questions out loud for people to answer, or have a “wheel of discounts” to spin on behalf of participating social media followers.

Refer a friend virtually

Instead of having someone bring a friend into your store to shop a sale, incentivize the customer to share your great discounts with someone virtually. Set up a “refer a friend” promo, in which both parties receive an online discount code to use as a thank you for the referral. Advertise the program on social media, and send participants to a landing page to enter their information.

Use email to your advantage

Email is an effective way to reach your existing customers virtually, while providing a means to branch out to others who may not know you yet. Aside from sending email blasts with special offers for people already following you, capture new leads by asking people to sign up for your email list. Doing so could grant them an entry in something like the live giveaway mentioned above, or could garner them a special discount, for example.

Summary

Interactive virtual promos are an alternative to the sales events you are used to having at your brick-and-mortar location, but with more people staying home—they could work to your advantage!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

4 Reasons for a Random Increase in Blog Traffic

Blog writing serves a variety of purposes. A means of pushing fresh content out onto your digital platforms. A source of keywords to help attract people to your site. A cathartic outlet for all of those burning issues that occupy your mind (OK, maybe less so the latter in the marketing sense). Sometimes when tracking blog traffic for our clients, we’ll notice a seemingly arbitrary surge of viewers on a particular blog—and we’re not talking one that just hit the presses, but one that’s months or even years old. It’s great news, but why does it happen? The reasons for a random increase in blog traffic may be difficult to pinpoint with 100 percent certainty, but there are some general concepts that likely hold true.

What do you mean by blog traffic?

By blog traffic, we are talking about the number of web users who visited a particular blog title on your page. Other metrics that we consider for a given time period are:

  • Entrances (how many times someone entered your site through that page)
  • Bounce rate (the percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page)
  • Exit percentage (how often the users exit from that page/set of pages when they view that page)
  • Search queries (that were used to find your site)
  • Which pages appeared in search results (and how many times they were clicked on)
  • And more!

The purpose of these analytics is to confirm what’s working and call attention to what’s not. This is in an effort to curate content that drives more traffic to website pages.

Reasons for a random increase in blog traffic

Inquiring minds want to know—why would an old blog suddenly get so much attention? Here are our thoughts.

One of your links was shared…and re-shared

This may be the most obvious reason as to why you suddenly see a spike in traffic on a blog that has been out there for a while. Wherever a link to your blog existed online, someone out there found it and shared it. And then that person shared it to someone else who shared it…you get the picture. Think of it as a process similar to “going viral” (albeit on a smaller scale). This could have originated from you re-sharing a blog link to your business’ social media email list, for example. Or, others could have done the same on their own social pages. Either way, it could account for a random increase in blog traffic.

Your keywords are working

This might be the item on today’s list to get the most excited about. Someone (or multiple someone’s) could have stumbled across one of the blogs in your archive by finding it organically in search results. This would mean that the keywords you identified when writing your blog related to someone’s Google search. Hooray for effective SEO! An increase in traffic could mean multiple people are finding the blog via Google search, or this could be the predecessor to our first point—if theoretically the link to the blog was shared (and re-shared) after it was found.

The blog’s content is seasonal/relevant

Recently, we noticed a random increase in blog traffic on a client’s blog from two years ago that focused on haunted places in the area. Could it be because the so-called “spooky season” is on its way? We can only speculate, but sometimes a jump in blog visitors could be due to the fact that your blog topic is seasonal or relevant to the time of year and whichever holidays or events are going on at said time. Again, all of these points connect in a way—because it’s likely that someone was searching for “haunted places in X city” (point number two) and then shared and re-shared (point number one).

You published new content

Ideally when maintaining a blog, you add new content to it on a somewhat “regular” basis. We always applaud consistency when it comes to blog posting! We also like the idea that once someone is on your blog page, he or she will want to stay awhile. Hence the concept of this last point. Someone clicked the link to your latest blog, then stayed to browse your past blog topics. This could be the impetus to everything we’ve already mentioned—a gateway for people finding your existing blog content.

Summary

A random increase in blog traffic is a great thing! Questioning and identifying its origins can give you validation behind the blogging practices you already have in place—and motivation to continue to refine those going forward.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

FAQ: Do High Follow Counts on Facebook Unlock Hidden Features?

Remember when you played video games, and reaching a certain level or beating that one boss gave you special powers or abilities? It was a rewarding concept. The higher you go in the game, the more “rewards” you earn. When it comes to social media marketing, often brands obsess over increasing the like and follow counts on their pages. But what does having high follower counts really mean? Is it like video games, where you are granted more power the higher you go? Here, we’ll answer that question in regard to high follow counts on Facebook.

The short answer

If you’re imagining that getting say, 1,000 page follows on Facebook will be like reaching a level in a video game, after which a hidden gem appears on the screen for you—sorry. As far as we know, there are no tangible “prizes” or hidden features that you get from high follow counts on Facebook. The most you may get in the way of immediate gratification is a “Congratulations for reaching 1,000 Page Likes!” from the platform itself.

The good news—there are benefits of having high follow counts on Facebook, but they may just not be as obvious on the surface. More on that in a minute.

10,000 followers on Instagram

Unlike Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) does have built-in bonuses for pages that garner at least 10,000 followers on their pages. This is the instant, tangible gratification we talked about above.

The most notable for business page purposes is that getting to 10,000 likes on Instagram unlocks a “swipe up to link” feature on Instagram stories. It allows users to swipe up on a page’s story post to directly access the business’ website, blog, email sign up list (or wherever the business chooses to link to).

The benefits of having high follow counts on Facebook

Switching gears back to Facebook—don’t be discouraged by the lack of a promised reward. The rewards do exist—you just have to know what to look for!

More people seeing your content

Higher follow counts means your content has a better chance of being seen by more Facebook users (a result of Facebook’s mysterious algorithm). This translates to higher exposure for your products and/or services.

Higher chance for post engagement

More eyeballs on your Facebook content means there’s a better chance that people will engage with said content. Engagement can mean post reactions, positive reviews, or comments or direct messages inquiring about your product or service. These engagements in turn make your content visible to a larger audience.

Increased credibility

When people see a high follow count on a page, herd mentality often sets in. “If that many people are following a page, maybe I should be too!” Pages with strong followings automatically appear more credible to the everyday social media user.

Gain more from insights

The more activity you have happening on your page, the bigger the benefit you will get from using Facebook’s Insights tool. Facebook Insights allows you to track a significant number and type of statistics related to consumer interaction on your business page. This information can in turn aid you in crafting effective marketing campaigns and strategies.

A word of caution

Don’t misinterpret. While we did just name several benefits to having a high number of followers on your business’ Facebook page, that doesn’t mean you should go crazy trying to collect page likes in illegitimate ways. In other words, don’t buy likes! Buying likes will hurt you more than it will help you, as pages that get caught doing so can be actively penalized. Also, non-quality followers won’t get you very far. It’s true that 50 human, organically-attracted followers are better than 1,000 robot and/or spam ones.

Summary

High like counts on Facebook do not earn you extra lives or the power of invisibility, but they can make a difference when it comes to your page engagement. Just remember to always prioritize quality over quantity, as page likes alone are not a measure of success.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Scheduling Your Social Content: How Far Ahead Should I Plan?

Some of us in the world are planners by nature, while others prefer to see where the wind takes them. In life, there’s something to be said for both sides of the coin; however, in the realm of social media, we’re all about planning in advance. It is our opinion that the benefits of scheduling your social content ahead of time heavily outweigh the slight inconveniences of doing so that can sometimes arise.

The benefits of scheduling your social content in advance

Ensure accuracy and quality

The main reason for scheduling your social content in advance is the same reason you plan any important work or project ahead of time. Scrambling to get something done at the last minute can lead to errors and compromised work quality. The same rings true for your brand’s social media content.

Stay consistent

Consistent posting is key, and scheduling ahead means less of a chance that you’ll skip a day in your rotation. Set time aside periodically to schedule batches of content at once so you are not stressing about it every day. There is certainly a time and place for posting “in real time,” and we encourage our clients to do so. However, if all else fails and you can’t get a “real time” post out one day, you know you have your set calendar of already-scheduled content to fall back on.

Acknowledge important dates

Planning and scheduling a social calendar in advance also helps to certify that you don’t forget important dates, like federal holidays, relevant hashtag holidays, community events and so on. For example, if you’re a coffee shop, and #NationalCoffeeDay is coming up, that’s an easy one to go ahead and plan out a post for. Planning something like this in advance could also set you up to offer special deals or featured menu items on that day—which is not something as easy to do last minute.

Give yourself peace of mind

As a business owner or manager, you’re busy! Having a pre-set social media schedule helps to ease some stress and allows you more time to focus on other aspects of your business.

Where scheduling in advance doesn’t work

Keep in mind that last-minute content needs can and will arise. That being said, don’t think you can set up two weeks’ worth of content and then go off the grid until it’s time to schedule again. You should consistently be anticipating last-minute content ideas and changes—whether it is a critical piece of information that you need to pass along to your customers, a holiday you forgot or a deal or discount that corporate decides to add (or discontinue). Some of these things are beyond your control, and that’s OK! You can’t know everything ahead of time.

We also referenced “real time” posting. Live streaming an event at your business. Taking a picture of the line of customers outside on a given day. Unpacking a new shipment. These are all great examples of “real time posting” that we encourage.

Words of caution

Scheduling your social content ahead of time offers peace of mind. However, when you schedule content ahead of time, make it a point to check periodically that it will still be relevant by the time the post date comes around. For example, if you have a post set to go out in two weeks featuring a specific product, and that product sells out, then you need to be keyed into your calendar to adjust the post accordingly—or replace it with something else.

How far out should I schedule?

At minimum, we recommend having your social content scheduled out a week in advance. Two weeks is great, and even a month’s worth of scheduling ahead is common. For fixed dates on the calendar like holidays, you can start planning your posts at any point in time throughout the calendar year, and then fill in the rest as you go.

Summary

Scheduling your social content in advance is the ideal way to ensure quality control over what you are posting. Your business’ social media is one of your most significant ways of connecting with your customers, so streamlining the process of creating and scheduling social media posts is critical to digital success.

Don’t have time to schedule in advance? That’s where we can help!

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.