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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.

2018 Winter Olympics: Social Media’s Effect on Record-Breaking Olympic Ad Sales

As American athletes like snowboarder Shaun White and skier Mikaela Shiffrin invert and slalom their way to Olympic Gold medals in Pyeongchang, South Korea, during the 2018 Winter Olympics, the advertising world is noticing how modern marketing mediums are impacting the event’s advertising trends. According to the NBC Sports Group, U.S. national advertising sales for the Olympics in Pyeongchang have surpassed $900 million, which marks a record for ad spending in the Winter Games. This ad spending will be stretched over more than 2,400 hours of coverage across the 18 days of the Winter Olympics, and it’s a number that could continue to grow.

With the 2018 Winter Olympics being consumed by viewers differently than the Olympics ever have before, it makes sense that the event is yielding the highest advertising numbers to date.

Think about it. Before the internet, the only way that viewers abroad could participate in watching the Olympics was via their television screens. Today, more people are watching YouTube videos on a daily basis than they are watching cable. That means smart phones, tablets and computer screens have taken precedence in the way we consume our entertainment, including the Olympic Games. For advertisers, that means the opportunity to reach audiences across various digital mediums like social media.

The history of social media and the Olympics

Social media is a global connector—a quality for which the Olympics are the ideal platform. Using social media, Olympic viewers over the past few games have been able to take their discussions of the event beyond just the competitions themselves.

For example, prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the hashtag “#SochiProblems” was trending on social media in reference to the inadequate facilities that Olympic athletes arrived to. The same was true for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, as some athletes and supporters were apprehensive to attend due to the prevalence of the Zika virus in the country and violence, crime and political unrest in the area where the games were to be held. In 2018, tensions with North Korea have been a social media topic of discussion.

The point? That social media has served as a platform for Olympics fans to discuss matters pertaining not just to the competition itself, but to the entire culture of the event.

Diversifying Olympic advertising

Among the biggest advertising spenders during the 2018 Winter Olympics’ Opening Ceremonies were brands like Apple, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Samsung, VISA and others. Of course, NBC plugged itself as well, showing promos for “The Voice” and “Today.” These big names are not exactly surprising when it comes to an event with such global significance.

Despite this, reports have revealed that big-name Olympic advertisers like General Motors, Procter & Gamble and AT&T—the top three TV ad spenders in the U.S. during the 2014 Winter Games—were expected to spend less on advertising during these Winter Olympics than they did in 2014—for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is due to changes in media consumption and advertisers wanting to move toward more targeted, digital platforms as a result.

With some bigger brands ramping down their Olympic advertising efforts, it leaves room for other advertisers to step in. Of the $900 million-plus Olympic advertising spending this year, (which includes digital spending), 60 percent of that money is coming from new advertisers. This shows that not only are the Olympics still relevant to advertisers, but that the now more diverse ways for advertisers to spend their money appeals to varying budgets—not just those who can afford the $700,000 to $750,000 for a 30-second primetime TV spot during Olympic coverage.

It’s also important to note that NBC did not guarantee audiences for advertisers during these Olympics based on household rating, which is how ad inventory in the Olympics is usually sold. Instead, it encompassed viewership beyond traditional television to include both TV and non-traditional platforms like apps and streaming devices. This was likely also a reason for the increased percentage of new advertisers in these 2018 Winter Olympics.

And then there’s Rule 40

Rule 40 is a bylaw in the Olympic Charter that restricts many facets of public references to the Olympics strictly to paid sponsors. That means that non-sponsor athletes and brands that mention words like “Olympics,” “Team USA” or even “Pyeongchang” in their marketing efforts, including social media, can technically be sued by the Olympic Committee.

Why the harsh restrictions? The Olympics are expensive, and sponsorship revenues help pay for them. Thus, the Olympic Committee strives to do everything in its power to protect the integrity of the sponsorships it does sell—and how those sponsorships translate to the public eye.

Brands that aren’t official sponsors can still benefit from the Olympics in their marketing efforts, they just have to follow the rules, which are restrictive. For example, depending on the context, a brand may

get in trouble for mentioning the words “victory,” “games,” “medal,” “bronze,” “silver” and “gold” in their marketing. Here’s a Rule 40 document outlining more guidelines.

One strategy you can use is to plan your regular social media ads and posts around times when anticipated Olympic events are set to air, which is when more people will likely be utilizing social media. With all eyes on the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Games should no doubt be on your radar!

For your digital marketing or traditional advertising needs, contact the McNutt & Partners team today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

 

The Art of Love: Exploring the Iconic LOVE Sculpture

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, reminders of the holiday are popping up in stores, on television, online and virtually anywhere consumers’ eyes will land. Visual representations of love come in various forms—from hearts and lipstick kisses to Cupid’s arrows and red roses. But sometimes, the best way to visually represent a concept is to use the word itself. That’s what artist Robert Indiana did in 1964 when he created the design that would be the precursor to the iconic “LOVE Sculpture.”

The design

Born Robert Clark, artist Robert Indiana’s fascination with American signage coupled with the power of ordinary words led him to create the piece featuring the letters LO over the letters VE, with the O angled sideways. The oblong negative space in the center of the O creates a line leading the viewer’s eye to the V. It is said that the visual movement suggested by the O serves to evoke passion, exhilaration, and other thrilling emotions associated with love itself.

Indiana’s original image featured red letters overlaid on green and blue backing, which is the same design that eventually appeared on a U.S. postage stamp. The colors signify personal concepts for Indiana, with the red and green nodding to the Phillips 66 gas station sign where his father (deceased at the time Indiana created LOVE) worked during the artist’s childhood. The blue signifies the skies of his home state, Indiana.

The design originated as a pop art image that served as a print for the Museum of Modern Art Christmas ad in 1964. The next year, the museum commissioned him to design a similar Christmas card to be sold in its gift shop, and the card soon became one of the store’s most popular items.

The sculpture

The two-dimensional print proved popular and enough to translate into three-dimensional form. The success of the MoMA’s Christmas card led to an entire LOVE show that included paintings, drawings and small sculptures showcasing the design. In 1970, Indiana built the first of many large-scale LOVE sculptures for display in the public eye, measuring 12 feet by 12 feet. The LOVE Sculpture at the Indianapolis Museum of Art is the original sculpture rendition, and others were constructed in major cities including New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans and even internationally in cities like Vancouver, Tokyo and Singapore.

The implications

Indiana’s pop art print-turned worldwide sculpture came to represent an entire state of mind during the 1960s and ‘70s. It was adapted by the hippie “free love” movement in the ‘60s, for example, and then later in the 1990s by skateboarding culture after the sport was banned in Philadelphia’s LOVE Park.

The design experienced widespread reproduction, adaptation and even parody across a variety of mediums, including album and book covers, television, public murals and more. Indiana failed to copyright the original LOVE design, so cheap commercial reproductions occurred in the form of paperweights, keychains, T-shirts and other trinkets that Indiana would never yield profit from.

Versions of the LOVE Sculpture now exist in Hebrew, Chinese, Italian and Spanish in addition to the original English.

Despite its widespread popularity, Indiana came to consider the LOVE design the bane of his existence. In an interview with NPR, Indiana says, “LOVE bit me. It was a marvelous idea, but it was also a terrible mistake. It became too popular; it became too popular.” He went on to say that he is among those who would rather not exist in the public eye, which is why he left the New York art scene to live on an island off the coast of Maine in 1978.

In 2008, Indiana’s distaste for the design was tempered, however. Inspired by then presidential candidate and Indiana Senator Barack Obama, the artist Indiana created campaign materials using the word “HOPE” in the iconic LOVE fashion.

The takeaway

The LOVE sculpture, its predecessors and its followers exemplify the power of typography when used thoughtfully. “Love” itself is already a word powerful enough to stand on its own and evoke emotion, but Indiana’s treatment of the word takes that evocation to a higher level.

Through the use of graphics in marketing, we have the ability to take advantage of the fact that human emotion is directly affected by what we consume visually. Indiana may have been the first to do it so effectively, but the concept leaves the door open for endless potential.

For graphics and all of your digital or traditional marketing needs, contact McNutt & Partners today! Call us at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

What Facebook’s Algorithm Change Means for Marketing

As many of us are making changes in the New Year to improve our qualities of life, so is Facebook. The social media giant recently announced that it would be tweaking its algorithm to promote “meaningful, social interactions” for its users. What does that mean exactly? Facebook’s algorithm change will prioritize content on users’ news feeds from friends, family and groups and in turn, prioritize less public content from businesses, brands and media. From a business and marketing standpoint, it doesn’t sound like the greatest turn of events.

But the outlook is not all bleak. Social media and Facebook in particular are still powerful marketing tools that your brand can use to interact with and appeal to potential customers. As Facebook made a change to its algorithm, businesses must adapt along with it in terms of their marketing strategies. If meaningful interactions is what Facebook is prioritizing, then businesses will have to make sure their content is just that.

Here are a few ways that businesses can keep up with Facebook’s algorithm change and continue reaching customers on the social media platform.

  • Post engaging, quality content. If Facebook wants “meaningful interaction,” then as a business, that’s what you need to give them. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “meaningful interaction” equals comments—and lots of them. You want your posts to be such that they ignite conversations among users. Try asking questions and writing about timely topics that are relevant to your industry. People are more likely to see your posts at the top of their news feeds if their Facebook friends are also interacting with it.
  • Avoid posts that Facebook doesn’t like. Have you ever seen those posts that ask users to “comment below and tell us why you love spring” or something to that effect? You might think this is a viable way to engage your followers, but this actually falls into the category of posts that Facebook doesn’t like. It’s called “engagement bait,” and exists to push people into commenting on posts that do not actually consist of meaningful interaction. Facebook actively demotes these posts in its news feeds.
  • Tell loyal followers to prioritize your page. You can further combat Facebook’s algorithm change by asking your loyal followers to actively prioritize your page in their news feeds. They can do this by selecting the “See First” option for your page in their news feed preferences. This is one factor that is not changing. Users will still have the ability to rank their favorite pages to appear highly in their news feeds.
  • Use video to your advantage. With video becoming increasingly popular to social media consumers, Facebook actively gives more visibility to video posts. In fact, by the year 2020, it is estimated that video will make up 80 percent of consumer Internet traffic. If you don’t want to fall behind, it’s important to jump on the video bandwagon by using both recorded video and Facebook Live among your social media content. Live videos specifically average six times as many interactions as recorded videos, according to Zuckerberg. You heard it straight from the CEO—if you want to be relevant in Facebook users’ news feeds, you need to start implementing video—and preferably, live video—as soon as possible.
  • Increase your paid advertising budget. Organic reach on all social media has been declining over the past few years, so paying for sponsored posts was already an effective strategy to reach a wider audience of users. Now with Facebook’s algorithm change, it becomes even more important. The algorithm change will not affect paid advertising; paid ads will still operate the same way they did before. Facebook relies on a variety of data points to determine what paid ads appear in a person’s news feed, including the objectives a business selects for its campaign.
  • Join in on thoughtful conversations. Not only should you promote meaningful conversations among Facebook users, but you should also join them. People want to see brands engaging in conversations on social media. It proves that the business actually cares enough to take time to interact, and shows that there is an actual human behind the company name.

For marketers, addressing Facebook’s algorithm change poses a challenge, but it’s not one that is unsurmountable by any means. Become part of the content that the algorithm is now prioritizing by making it meaningful and engaging—and boosting it with your advertising budget never hurts.

If you need help creating and disseminating quality content for your social media accounts, contact the McNutt & Partners team today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

 

 

A Look at Super Bowl Ad Spending

Super Bowl advertising is a curious phenomenon. For 364 days of the year, television viewers tend to shun commercials. We mute them, we fast forward through them, or we avoid them altogether by consuming our programs on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. But for one day of the year when the two top teams in the NFL face off, people are glued to their televisions, many of whom care less about the game than they do about the commercials in between plays. The Super Bowl is the world’s most valuable sports event, and this year’s Super Bowl ad spending promises to be some of the most lucrative to date.

More than 100 million Americans tune into the Super Bowl every year. This year, the average cost of a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl will be more than $5 million. Compare this to the first 51 Super Bowls, over which time the average cost of a 30-second commercial increased from $300,000 to $5.13 million.

Despite the high costs, the return for advertisers over the years hasn’t been as lofty. That’s because the costs for Super Bowl ads are still increasing, despite the fact that fewer people are watching than just a few years ago.

Traditional television viewership is down as ad-free streaming services are taking over. According to eMarketer, 22.2 million cable accounts were cancelled in 2017—a 33.2 percent increase from the year before. In addition, Netflix now has more subscribers than cable. One might suspect that live, annual events like the Academy Awards and the Super Bowl are an exception, but Super Bowl viewership declined in 2016 and 2017.

So is the $5 million price tag worth it? If you have the money to burn, then probably. The Super Bowl is such a unique advertising event that you can’t really compare it to anything else. People who never watch commercials are not only watching, but they are tuning in just to watch. They are discussing them with their coworkers the next day in the office, and they are re-watching them as the ads go viral—on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

Ironically enough, the advertisers that get the most mileage out of Super Bowl ads are the ones who can least afford it. That’s because these are companies advertising products or services that most people have not yet heard about, and the Super Bowl is their platform to do so.

Delving further into the science behind Super Bowl ad spending, consider these stats:

  • The 2017 Super Bowl saw an audience of 111.3 million people in the United States, which was the smallest TV audience since 2013.
  • Total TV ad spending for Super Bowl LI and its pre- and post-game segments was more than $500 million, which represented a 14.52 percent increase over the 2016 Super Bowl.
  • Super Bowl LI accounted for about 2.3 percent of all U.S. broadcast network TV ad spending in 2017.
  • The total length of air time for ads in last year’s Super Bowl was 51 minutes, 30 seconds. This made it the second-most ad filled game in history after the 2013 Super Bowl, which had 51 minutes and 40 seconds of commercials.
  • The price per second for a Super Bowl commercial in 2017 was $166,667.
  • The advertising cost per rating point during the game has increased from $7,299 to $113,245 since the Super Bowl’s inception.
  • The advertising dollars spent per viewer has increased from 50 cents to $3.82 since the first Super Bowl.
  • The average cost of a 30-second ad in Super Bowl I was $40,000 ($294,000 adjusted for inflation).

Though the response to traditional TV advertising is generally waning as fewer and fewer people are watching network TV, the Super Bowl’s influence on advertising still stands strong. While Super Bowl viewership has slightly decreased relative to other games, Super Bowl ad spending exists in a niche all its own, making it somewhat the exception to the rule—at least for the time being.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising agency with a specific focus on technology, digital marketing and digital advertising. Reach out to us at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

 

 

Valentine’s Day Marketing: Stats and Suggestions

You may think it’s too early to be thinking about candy hearts and red roses—but think again. Valentine’s Day can be prolific for marketers, which means the time to start thinking about your Valentine’s Day marketing strategies is now. Whether you welcome the holiday or choose to ignore it in your personal life, there’s no denying that it’s an event that breeds billions of dollars’ worth of marketing potential. In fact, Valentine’s Day sales reached an all-time high of $19.7 billion in 2016.

In thinking about Valentine’s Day marketing, it’s important to note that the way Americans are celebrating the holiday is different from what it has been in the past. Traditional Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns have been geared toward couples, but the holiday has become one that both couples and singles celebrate. In addition to romantic love, it has evolved into also encompassing the celebration of love shared among families and friends.

Let’s look at a few Valentine’s Day marketing stats that reveal how the holiday has changed.

  • Half of the American population today identifies as single. Of those people, a quarter of them say they plan to do something for Valentine’s Day.
  • A single man celebrating Valentine’s Day will spend an average of $71 and a single woman an average of $40.
  • In 2016, a reported 19 percent of people bought Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets—totaling $681 million.
  • Valentine’s Day is the second-busiest day of the year for restaurants, as 34 percent of consumers plan to eat out on February 14. However, at-home meal services like HelloFresh and Blue Apron also benefit from the holiday, as more people than in the past are opting to stay in to cook a Valentine’s Day dinner.
  • Nearly a quarter of consumers celebrating Valentine’s Day said they plan to give a gift of an experience, such as a couple’s dance class or concert tickets, for example. That figure is significantly higher among millennials (45 percent for ages 18-24 and 40 percent for ages 25 to 34).
  • Only 47 percent of consumers planned to give a Valentine’s Day card in 2017, compared to 63 percent a decade ago. This is likely a result of holiday messaging happening electronically.
  • More and more people each year are shopping online for Valentine’s Day, with 28 percent of consumers making online purchases for the holiday in 2016.
  • Most people don’t plan as far in advance for Valentine’s Day as they do for other holidays, as 46 percent of people say they will start shopping for Valentine’s Day in early February.
  • Traditional Valentine’s Day gifts are still raking in money. More than $4 billion was spent on jewelry alone in 2017, with $2 billion spent on flowers. In addition, 94 percent of people said they wanted to receive candy and chocolate for Valentine’s Day.

The statistics reveal a few takeaways regarding Valentine’s Day marketing, which leads us to a few suggestions for how you should plan your holiday campaign.

  • People are spending money for the holiday on themselves, their friends and even their pets—not just on their significant others. Think about how you can market to consumers with these types of gift recipients in mind.
  • Focus on optimizing your website for ecommerce, if applicable.
  • An increasing number of people want to spend money on experiences for their loved ones. If your business offers a relevant service or activity, use Valentine’s Day to your advantage in your marketing strategy. Also, think about marketing experiences for groups as well as couples.
  • Rather than funneling a chunk of money into a month-long campaign, advertise for the holiday during the first two weeks of February, as consumers are more last-minute when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Target these last-minute shoppers.
  • Don’t forget what the holiday is all about—love! Promote the celebration of love in your marketing campaign this Valentine’s Day.

Don’t miss the opportunity to make your marketing count this February 14. If you need help strategizing for Valentine’s Day and beyond, the McNutt & Partners team can help. Give us a call at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

 

 

 

 

 

What Happens to Your Digital Assets After You Die?

Part of preparing for the inevitable involves outlining what will happen to your financial assets and physical possessions once you pass away. With our lives becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology, we must now take another category into account when planning for our lives after death—our digital assets. From photos to checking accounts, investments to online journals, many of the deeply personal aspects of our lives now exist in the digital realm. When you are no longer around to access that data, what happens to it? What happens to your digital assets after you die?

It depends.

The easy solution to this query is to leave all of your account log-in information to your spouse or another trusted loved one so that he or she will be able to access your digital assets after you die. Password managers like KeePass, LastPass and 1Password can help because they use a master password to store passwords for all of a user’s digital accounts. But even then, things can get complicated.

For example, if you leave your Gmail account information to your spouse to access it after you have passed away, technically the act of your spouse accessing it is a violation of Gmail’s terms of service. While Google is unlikely to notice or care that someone else is logging into an account that is not his or hers, if it did ever find out that the impersonation of a user was occurring, the account could be suspended or terminated at Google’s discretion.

However, Google does have options in place to prevent that from happening. Google users can use Google’s Inactive Account Manager to let Google know who should have access to their information or whether they would like their account to be deleted after they pass away. With the Inactive Account Manager tool, you set the amount of time you want Google to wait when your account is inactive before taking action. A month before the deadline you set, Google sends you an alert via email or text. If still then Google does not hear from you, Google will notify the “trusted contacts,” that you have listed and allowed Google to share your data with. You can list up to 10 trusted contacts.

On the other hand, you can also prompt Google to delete your account without sharing it once that deadline has passed. This would include any and all data associated with your Google account, like your Google Drive, Google Voice messages, Picasa photos, YouTube videos—the list goes on.

If a person passes away and he or she did was not proactive about what would happen to his or her assets, then an immediate family member or representative can make a request through Google for a deceased person’s account. The person can request to:

  • close the account of a deceased user
  • submit a request for funds from a deceased user’s account or
  • obtain data from a deceased user’s account.

In any instance, Google is careful to point out that it cannot provide passwords or other login details, and that a request might only be granted after careful review of the situation.

Keep in mind that this is only Google’s protocol. When considering what happens to your digital assets after you die, you’ve also got to think about your Apple accounts, social media accounts, financial accounts, etc. Here’s where something called the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADA) comes into play. It guarantees individuals the right to transfer their digital assets legally. The act hasn’t come to light in every state, but at least 20 states have passed or are considering some version of the law currently. This act is important especially because sharing user data is a violation of the terms of most sites.

With FADA allowing you to include your digital assets as part of your inheritance in your will, it’s significant to note that you should never include specific log-in information in your will, since a will is a matter of public record. While the kinks of this type of blanket legislation handling a person’s digital legacy are still being ironed out, it is really up to the individual to properly plan for the end of his or her digital life. A number of social media sites have policies in place both to help users plan for their demise and to help people recoup their loved ones’ accounts after they pass away, including:

  • Facebook allows you to set up in advance what you want to happen to your account. You can have Facebook “memorialize” your account after you pass away or have it deleted. When it is memorialized, one last post can be shared from the account, and the profile picture and cover photo can still be changed.
  • Twitter will work with an authorized point of contact on deactivating an account after the user dies. The point of contact will not be allowed to post anything or make any changes to the account.
  • Instagram is similar to Facebook, in that it allows an account of a deceased user to be either memorialized or deleted.
  • LinkedIn’s policy is similar to Twitter. A point of contact will have to provide paperwork to prove that a user is deceased in order to have his or her account closed.

As you can see, planning for what happens to your digital assets after you die does not involve a one-

size-fits-all solution, but it is necessary if you do not want your digital life to disappear into cyberspace. The contents of your digital life likely include items of sentimental value that your loved ones will want to cherish when you are no longer around. Take a proactive approach to preparing for your digital afterlife by using the options outlined above, or even by working with traditional legal services to make sure your assets end up in the possession of the people you love.

For your digital marketing needs, call the McNutt & Partners team today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

 

Why Using a Focus Keyword Only Once Helps with SEO

Your focus keyword is the word or phrase that you want your web content to rank for in search engine results. In other words, it is what you would expect a user to type into a search engine to find your web page or blog article. Because focus keywords point users to your online content, they are one of the key elements of SEO. Some people think they can get by using the same focus keyword over and over again, but this is not the best course of action if you want your focus keywords to be effective. Using a focus keyword only ones helps with SEO—and here’s why.

If you use the same focus keyword for two different articles, you are essentially competing with yourself. Ideally, you would like to have both articles show up in a search for those keywords, but unless your website already has enough credibility to appear in search results for that keyword at all, using it a second time will only hurt you. Put simply, if you are not yet ranking for a focus keyword, do not use it twice. Instead, you should update or improve the original article you wrote.

You could also write a second article on the same topic, but use a slightly different focus keyword. Let’s consider an example. Say your article is about how to improve your financial well-being in the New Year. Your focus keyword for the original article is “financial tips for the New Year.” Instead of writing a second article backed by that same keyword, you could instead use the keyword “financial tips for 2018.” The implication of the two phrases is identical, but the actual content of the phrases is obviously slightly different. This will prevent you from cannibalizing yourself by pitching two of your own articles against each other when competing for ranking positions in search.

So what if you are not ranking at all? Here are a few steps you can take to get your content to show up in search rankings.

  • Choose a focus keyword that you can realistically compete with. For example, if you are writing a blog about financial tips, the keyword “financial tips” is going to be very difficult for you to compete with considering the multitude of credible sources out there that have written about that exact topic. You can be more specific in your keyword choosing, such as selecting “financial tips for seniors” or “financial tips for millennials,” for example. Even then, these may be difficult to compete with, which is why you can use these to identify a cornerstone article.
  • Establish cornerstone articles. If you do want to use the keyword “financial tips,” instead of using this focus keyword multiple times, you can write one good, lengthy, detailed post called a “cornerstone.” Optimize it for the keyword “financial tips,” using an SEO plug-in (we use Yoast), and indicate that the article is a cornerstone article.
  • Write supporting articles. Once you have a cornerstone established, you should now write several articles that link to that cornerstone. For example, articles with keywords “financial advice for retirees,” “money savings tips for singles,” “how to make a financial plan,” etc. Linking these articles to your cornerstone article tells Google that your cornerstone is your most important one, which will help its ranking.
  • Do not use a focus keyword more than once. Again, strength in numbers is not the idea here when it comes to a focus keyword. If you want your keyword to rank, make it more specific, or make it the focus of a cornerstone article that is linked to a number of related supporting articles!

Using a focus keyword only once will ultimately work to your advantage when optimizing your web content for search. At McNutt & Partners, we make it a point to choose strong, but unique focus keywords for every distinct blog article we create and post for our clients. If you need help using focus keywords to enhance your SEO efforts, contact us today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

8 Digital Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2018

Happy 2018! As we flip our calendars into the New Year, many of us are thinking about what we can do to make this year the best year yet. It’s that mentality that leads gyms to be full the first week of January, smokers to trade in their cigarettes for nicotine gum and savings accounts to be  acknowledged—at least for a little while. While it’s true that the majority of New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past a month, recognizing where you can improve is at least a start. That being said, if you are looking to improve your digital marketing efforts in the New Year, read on to see McNutt & Partners’ digital marketing New Year’s resolutions for 2018.

In 2018, I resolve to:

  • Take inventory of my digital assets. If you don’t know where your brand is being represented digitally, then you can’t exactly take advantage of it. Taking inventory of your digital assets involves listing all of your websites, social media accounts, email addresses, ad placements, etc. and determining which ones are active, and which ones you may need to do away with if they are not being used. If anything, this task will help you stay organized when it comes to your digital marketing strategy.
  • Keep passwords organized and protected. With multiple digital accounts, you end up with the need for multiple passwords—and remembering all of them can get a little overwhelming. In fact, we’ve seen clients locked out of important accounts many times simply because they could not remember their passwords. Along with creating an online identity as an individual or business comes a need to protect that identity—and that’s where a password manager comes in. A password manager will automatically generate and store passwords for every account you have. Read more about password managers.
  • Post fresh content on a consistent basis. It is important that, once you have established a solid arsenal of digital assets, you don’t just sit back passively and expect something to happen. The internet is on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, so your digital presence should be one that is constantly generating fresh content—for both your websites and social media networks. Not only should you post new or updated content to your websites and social media, but you should do so on a consistent basis to both help with SEO and keep your followers intrigued.
  • Take better photos for social media and your website. While posting fresh content consistently is important, it should also be quality content. Resolve in 2018 to take better quality photos for your social media and website (or hire a professional to do so). Again, this will make you appear professional in the eyes of your followers, which should encourage them to do business with you. There’s nothing wrong with snapping a photo on your iPhone to upload to Facebook, especially with the quality of smart phone cameras these days. Just make sure to remove clutter and unnecessary objects from the background, and/or strategically place relevant objects around the subject when possible.
  • Pay attention to SEO strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) is something you should address head on if you are to be successful in the digital marketing world. SEO affects where your website appears in search engine rankings, the results of which can make or break whether people are finding your business online. There are a multitude of ways that you can enhance SEO for your brand, such as including backlinks, writing with keywords, structuring your website smartly, and optimizing your Google My Business listing, among others.
  • Respond to feedback from your followers. Replying back to comments left on your social media posts or blog and online reviews about your business (good and bad) is important for boosting your brand’s credibility and letting your customers know that you are paying attention to what they have to say. In addition to responding when people reach out to you, you can also show off your active web presence by commenting on other individual and business’ social pages and websites, so long as you keep the discussion positive. If you get in the bad habit of never responding to anything anyone says, then eventually they will stop communicating with you.
  • Maintain brand consistency. Cultivating a consistent overall image for your brand is critical to ensuring recognition among your consumers. If you are using one style of logo with one set of colors on your website and another style of logo with another set of colors on your social media, then customers will be confused. This also gives off the appearance that you are lazy—or that you don’t know what you are doing. The benefits of maintaining brand consistency can be significant for your business’ growth and success.
  • Innovate wherever possible. Often, getting too comfortable in sticking with what works puts us in a marketing rut. Cue the need to innovate—to continue to push the envelope in terms of digital marketing strategy to attract new followers. This includes being receptive to new technology, heeding suggestions and also tying in your strategy with current events and calendar dates in order to connect with a broader audience.

Follow our digital marketing New Year’s resolutions for 2018 to improve your business’ digital presence as a means of generating brand followers! Need help implementing any of these strategies? Call the McNutt & Partners team at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page!

Merry Christmas from McNutt & Partners: Our Favorite Things About the Holiday Season

The main event of the holiday season is here—merry Christmas from McNutt & Partners! However you spend your holiday season—whether it is celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or anything else—most of us will agree that at the foundation of the holidays lives tradition. As humans, we embrace tradition because it is comforting, consistent and reliable—activities that you can count on no matter what. Tradition is also typically tied in with family and togetherness—another concept that the holiday season is based upon. As we celebrate Christmas Day, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite things about the holiday season, as a shared tradition is sometimes just as moving as your own.

We asked our staff members to share a Christmas memory, or tell us their favorite things about the holiday season:

My favorite Christmas tradition is decorating the tree. Growing up, we had homemade ornaments that we all made as children, ornaments my grandmother made and some from places we had traveled. It was always a trip down memory lane. As we’d decorate, we’d talk about the great memories attached to them. My husband Andrew and I now do the same thing. We get an ornament to represent every major trip we go on, as well as to document significant life events (i.e., our first Christmas as a married couple, our son Ezra’s first Christmas this year, etc.). –Abra Camp

My favorite part of Christmas is watching my daughter get excited about whose birthday it is—not to mention seeing her eyes open wide when she sees all that Santa brings her! –Mollie Parker

My favorite Christmas moment would be my daughter Murphy’s first Christmas that we spent with my grandfather, Remanyi Parker. It was the last Christmas we had with him. It was very special to be around him with another generation of Parker’s. –Sean Parker

Christmas is one of the rare times when I can leave work and other concerns fully behind, take the time to relax, and see family and friends who I only see once or twice each year. Getting and giving gifts is nice, but takes a far distant second to spending time with the important people in my life. I also enjoy the uniquely Texas (regardless of the other states who have copied the trend) tradition of getting hot, fresh tamales on Christmas Eve, whether homemade or from the excellent local taquerias – I make a mean salsa verde to go with them. –James Joyce

My favorite thing about Christmas has almost always been the Christmas tree. I actually have this vivid memory from my childhood. It was the second night after my family had set up and decorated our first ever live Christmas tree. I remember walking from my room into the living room around midnight for a drink of water. I stopped dead in my tracks to marvel at our tree, suddenly aware of its bright, colorful lights and mismatched ornaments that my mom and I have collected over the years. I was awash with the most peaceful feeling. Looking at Christmas trees always just makes me feel calm, like everything is right in the world. It’s like this little bubble of beauty and tranquility. –Lyra Galle

 

The aspect of Christmas that I enjoy most is that for those of us who are fortunate enough to do so, it is a time to take a pause from our regular routines. I realize this is not the case for everyone—flash back to years of working holidays as a newspaper reporter, but even those work days had a serenity about them. After all of the chaos of Christmas shopping, family gatherings and working hard to be able to take time off, when Christmas Day comes, the tranquility that seems to blanket the world makes it all worth it. –Katherine Haas

My favorite holiday tradition is going to eat Chinese food on Christmas Day with everyone else who hates ham, stuffing and egg nog. –Nicholas Smith

My favorite thing about the holiday season is having a brief pause to get together with family and friends and catch up on the year’s events with everyone—and the food. –John McNutt

 

Again, we’d like to wish you a merry Christmas from McNutt & Partners! We hope your holiday season is one to remember.

For your digital marketing needs in the New Year, call us today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.

 

6 Tips for Responding to Online Reviews of Your Business

Garnering local, online reviews of your business is helpful from both an SEO standpoint, and for boosting your brand’s credibility in the eyes of other potential customers. With building a solid online presence being more significant than ever for a businesses’ success, consumers are turning to online reviews for the overwhelming majority of their purchasing decisions. In fact, according to a 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal, a whopping 97 percent of consumers were reading online reviews for local businesses in 2017, with 12 percent looking for a local business online every day. Many business owners understand that online reviews are important, but knowing how to respond to them can be a bit of a gray area. However, responding to online reviews of your business is not a task you should ignore.

Why is responding to online reviews of your business important?

Responding to online customer reviews indicates to your customers that you are paying attention to what they have to say and that you value their opinions. It lets them acknowledge that there is a living, breathing person behind the computer screen on your end with whom they can communicate and shows that you are willing to put in the effort to heed your customers’ praise, advice and/or complaints.

Should I respond to both positive and negative reviews?

The answer is definitely yes. Acknowledging positive reviews is good for promoting your brand, while responding to negative reviews indicates that you are willing to address an issue head on rather than brush it under the rug.

Responding to positive reviews is not difficult. The core of the message should be thanking them and expressing that you are glad they had a positive experience with your business. Responding to negative reviews, however, can be a bit trickier. Employ these tips for responding to online reviews of your business the next time you are having trouble finding the most appropriate and effective words.

  • Respond rationally. It’s never fun to get a negative review of your business, so seeing one can certainly stir up some emotions. Before taking to angrily typing a response, take a step back for a minute. Stay calm, take a breath and let your initial reaction—whether it be anger, defensiveness, shock—subside. Only respond when you are ready to do so rationally.
  • Address the problem. When you get a negative review, that likely means that the customer had a less-than-ideal experience with your business. Whether you deem it a huge problem or not (or even a real issue at all), from the customer’s perspective, something went wrong, which means you need to address it. After all, without your customers, your business is nonexistent. Avoid putting up a defensive stance in your response. Instead, apologize for what went wrong and let the customer know that you plan to look into the issue so that it does not happen again in the future. If it applies, you could even offer the customer incentive to come back (i.e., if a product broke as soon as they got it home, invite them to come pick up another one free of charge).
  • Keep your response brief. The review response space is not the place for you to write a rambling novel on how you feel. Yes, you need to acknowledge the customer feedback, but brevity is your friend in this situation. It gives the customer less room to argue back to your response. It does not look good to others reading to see a snarky back-and-forth discussion between the business and another customer.
  • Have a coworker proofread your response. In the event that you do get emotions involved in your response, it can help to have a coworker proofread what you wrote before sending it. Another set of eyes may pick up on the fact that you sound a little too assertive and you need to change your tone, for example.
  • Plan canned responses. Along the same lines, you can also prepare a set of standard responses to make it easier for you when responding to reviews. This can apply to both positive and negative ones. For example, for a response to a positive review: “Thank you so much for your feedback. We are glad to hear that you had a positive experience with us.” Or, for a response to a negative review: “Thank you for your feedback. We apologize that your experience with us was less than ideal. We invite you to call or email us to discuss this issue further. We will use this information toward our efforts to improve our overall customer experience.”
  • Invite the reviewer to discuss with you offline. Sometimes, a short and sweet response is not going to be enough to assuage a negative reviewer. Instead of delving deeper and deeper into a potential argument in the public view, invite the reviewer to discuss the issue with you via phone call, email or even in person. This still shows the person that you care about their feelings, but it prevents things from getting out of hand in the review space.

Online reviews can do wonders for your business in terms of where it appears in search and whether or not potential customers decide to patronize you or not. Responding to online reviews of your business is just another critical part of the process in that it can encourage others to leave reviews and give evidence of an open line of communication between you and your consumers.

If you need help managing your business’ reviews, the McNutt & Partners team can help! Call us today at 334-521-1010 or visit our contact page.