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.

10 Ways to Increase Your Instagram Following

As much as we’d like to think that social media success isn’t all about the numbers, having a strong page following certainly does help. Instagram is one social network that is ideal for showcasing what is visually appealing about your product, brand or service. And being that social media users respond best to posts with less text and more visuals, Instagram can be a win-win social platform for your brand and its followers. Whether you’re just starting out on Instagram—or you’ve found yourself sitting stagnant without any growth, try these ways to increase your Instagram following for an added boost.

·        Share high-quality photos. This is somewhat of a “duh” tip, but it’s an important one. Instagram is all about showcasing visual quality at its finest. When users are scrolling through their feeds, you want your photo to make them stop, pause and take some time to consider. Instagram filters are a quick and easy way to adjust the quality of your photos. Studies show that users gravitate more toward warmer-toned filters and ones that increase the contrast of images.

·        Post video. Instagram is not just for photos! Keep things interesting by also including video in the mix of your Insta content. Consider using Boomerang, an app created by Instagram that takes a burst of photos, speeds them up and then plays them forward and backward to create a looping video. Users also like to see faces. Have a representative of your brand talk for 10 to 20 seconds about a new product, offer or event happening at your business.

·        Caption your posts. While Instagram thrives on visual media, it is also important to put that media into context via captions. Let your brand’s personality shine through by using humor, asking questions, getting emotional—whatever feels appropriate for that post. Though there is no character limit on Instagram, sometimes less is more when it comes to coining an effective caption.

·        Post on a regular basis. Consistency is key across all social media platforms, and Instagram is no different. If you want to increase your Instagram following, make an effort to share content on a regular basis. This will give your brand followers a sense of trust in knowing that they can rely on your page to consistently post fresh content. It will also keep followers engaged and continuously provide opportunities for new followers to find your page.

·        Count your hashtags. Yes, literally count them. The guide we follow for our clients suggests that Instagram captions with 11 or more hashtags consistently yield the highest interactions. You can pepper hashtags within your captions, though we would suggest limiting it to two to three in-caption hashtags. Put the bulk of your hashtags at the end of the caption or even in the comments if you don’t want to distract from the message of the caption itself. Also, make sure to put thought into your hashtags. Don’t simply hashtag a word to add it to your hashtag count. Hashtags should be indicative of a movement, a trend or a keyword.

·        Tag other pages when possible. If your Instagram post warrants mentioning another Instagram page or user, then by all means, do it! To tag (called a “mention” on Instagram), type “@” and then the name of the Instagram page in your caption. Then the user or brand will receive a notification that he, she or it has been tagged. Make sure your mentions are relevant—i.e., if that person took the photo, or if you are working in collaboration with another brand and want to share that information in a post.

·        Identify your location. Instagram allows you to tag your location with every post, and doing so can help give your followers a sense of place and the ability to make a personal connection with your brand. On top of that, Instagram users can click a location and see all of the content associated with that location, so if your location is tagged, it provides just another opportunity for people to find your content.

·        Use contests to your advantage. A pretty effective way to increase your Instagram following is to host a contest on the platform. Ask users to “like” and “comment” on a post to be entered to win one of your products, a gift card to your store, etc. If you want to take it a step further (perhaps if it’s a valuable prize), you can ask participants to post a photo (of their Halloween costume, of their favorite food, of them with your product) with a specific hashtag to be entered to win. Requiring a simple “like” for an entry, however, is the most straightforward way to garner more page likes. 

·        Engage with other accounts. If you want Instagram users to engage with you, you need to be willing to actively engage with other users as well. Like and comment on posts that you find interesting. It’s just another way to have your brand seen throughout the platform.

·        Pay to sponsor ads. Instagram offers several types of paid ads that can help increase your brand following. Photo ads, video ads, carousel ads and stories ads are all included in the types of paid advertising you can do on Instagram. Learn more about these types with Instagram’s advertising guide for businesses.

And there you have it! Actively make an effort to increase your Instagram following, and find yourself one step closer to your marketing goals. Need help? The McNutt & Partners team has your back. Call us at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

6 Ways Hashtags Have Changed Our Culture

The tic-tac-toe-looking symbol that populates digital media today is one that the millennial generation and beyond once solely associated with a telephone. Eleven years ago, the same symbol that represents “pound” on a telephone opened up an entire new world of connectivity when it became the social media hashtag. Since then, hashtags have changed our culture in numerous ways.

Hashtags didn’t just get their start on social media, however. In programming culture, the # symbol was referred to as the “hash,” rather than the pound sign. In 1988, the first hash symbol for grouping purposes appeared on Internet Relay Chat (IRC), where it was used to label common groups and topics. In August 2007, inspired by IRC, Chris Messina used the first hashtag on Twitter—and the rest was history. It did not catch on immediately, however. It took an event of nationwide importance—the 2007 California wildfires, for the hashtag to really catch on with #SanDiegoFire.

So how does the hashtag affect our everyday lives? Here are a few ways that hashtags have changed our culture since their social media inception.

  • News events proliferate more quickly. Such was the case with the first hashtag that really took off (#SanDiegoFire) and such is the case still today. Hashtags become especially helpful and relevant when a major news event is taking place. They allow social media users to follow one hashtag link to receive a plethora of similar information about said news event. No longer are we limited to hearing the news from anchors on TV. Hashtags essentially let the average person report and disseminate the news in real time.
  • Cultural movements have a platform. One of the most current and prolific examples of this is the #MeToo movement, which serves to call attention to sexual abuse and give a voice to victims of it. Known as “hashtag activism,” using hashtags to inspire and spread societal change is another way that hashtags have changed our culture. Other instances of hashtag activism include #BlackLivesMatter, #TimesUp, #TakeAKnee, #OscarsSoWhite and so on.
  • Hashtag holidays are a thing. Every day is a holiday with hashtags. There are hashtag holidays for virtually every topic, like #NationalTacoDay, #PositiveThinkingDay, #NationalRelaxationDay, #CheerUpTheLonelyDay—the list goes on and on, with full calendars available online outlining which hashtag holiday it is on any given date. Every day, there is essentially something to celebrate, something to raise awareness for or even some action to take, thanks to this cultural phenomenon.
  • Social media users can see more of what they like. Much like following a person or a brand that they like, social media users can follow hashtags that they like. For example, if you follow “#atlfoodie” on Instagram, your feed will then show you posts, even from accounts you don’t follow, on which #atlfoodie was used—presumably, delicious food in Atlanta. Conversely, the hashtags you use on your social posts may show up on the feeds of users following those hashtags. This can be beneficial from a marketing standpoint.
  • Wedding hashtags are a staple. Though they started out pretty simple (#SmithWedding), wedding hashtags have now inspired a need to get as creative as possible with puns, plays on words and alliteration (#SmittenForSmith). Consider #SayYesToTheKress, #MorganHeBargainedFor, #KellysCupOfJoe, etc. Not only do these provide a catchy, memorable association to serve as essentially the tagline of your wedding, but they allow you to easily locate one’s wedding-associated posts that others have posted on social media. This same concept goes for any type of local event: a fund raiser, a festival or even a family reunion.
  • We (sometimes) say them out loud. This one’s just a spinoff of all of the above. Hashtags have become so ingrained in what we read and write on screen, that sometimes they even come out of our mouths. Think of it as a shortened version or summary of what you are thinking. For example, your friend tells you an uncomfortable story, and you reply: “Hashtag awkward,” rather than saying, “Wow, that’s a really awkward situation.” Those using hashtags in this sense are basically shortening their speech using the all-encompassing hashtag.

The ways that hashtags have changed our culture over the past decade range from everyday speech to entire societal movements. Having had this much of an influence on the way we use social media already, time will only tell what’s in store for the future of the hashtag regarding social media.

Need help crafting an effective hashtag? Click the link to learn more.

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.

 

 

 

The Rise of Gen Z as Consumers: How Marketers Are Adapting

Every human generation boasts its defining characteristics, molded by influential societal factors like technology, political opinions, work ethic, morals, social viewpoints—the list goes on. These inherent common qualities among members of a generation directly affect the way marketers attempt to appeal to the consumers of that respective generation. Generation Z, also known as “Gen Z,” is the latest generation poised to influence the consumer landscape, as it encompasses those born between 1996 and 2014. With the rise of Gen Z as consumers, marketers are having to adapt in order to make viable pitches that Gen Zers will grab hold of.

Here are a few qualities of Generation Z that are causing marketers to revamp their approaches and messaging. Gen Z:

  • Is the largest generation. Generation Z makes up approximately 24.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2016 U.S. Census estimates. That’s more than millennials (22.1 percent), Gen X (19 percent) and even baby boomers (22.9 percent). Though the majority of the Gen Z population is still younger than 18, the generation’s purchasing power is expected to reach $3 trillion by 2020. Heeding this fact is important for marketers looking to target the consumers who will soon dominate the market.
  • Has always lived in the digital era. Gen Z has never lived without Internet, smartphones, tablets or even social media to a degree. Devices that were a luxury to previous generations are now standard. The fact that Gen Z has always been able to communicate essentially with the click of a button means that it is living in a smaller world than any previous generation. Gen Zers therefore value immediacy in their actions, driving marketers to think about how they can appeal to a generation that is not as easily impressed by technology as those that came before it.
  • Grew up living cautiously. The majority of members of Generation Z grew up in a post-9/11 world—and one in which mass shootings continue to be more and more commonplace. This, combined with the fact that they have the ability to communicate in multiple ways from the comfort of their smart phones, means that Gen Zers are opting to just stay home. In fact, over the past 10 years, there has been a 38 percent decrease in the frequency with which 10th graders leave their homes without a parent to hang out with friends and a 19 percent decrease in the number of teens who get their driver’s licenses, according to Adweek. What this means for marketers: If your business model is such that it requires leaving the house, think about how you can model it as a place of comfort and safety—and where consumers can get something they can’t get at home.
  • Faces high standards of success. Along with physical security, Gen Z has grown up in a world where financial security seems more like a luxury than a promise. Rather than relying on a company or higher-ranking individual to ensure their success, many Gen Zers are taking things into their own hands, opting to start their own businesses or capitalize on several talents by freelancing multiple jobs at once. Framing a marketing message to offer assistance to Gen Zers in these endeavors now proves a smart option.
  • Is health-conscious. This one’s pretty straightforward: Gen Z cares more about their health than its older counterparts. This comes with society’s overall realization that fruits and veggies should be included in school lunches rather than sugary snacks and sodas—and the resulting changes that have been made as a result. Gen Z is even less likely to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol compared to previous generations—especially with the ability to socialize from afar. So when it comes to advertising inexpensive, fried foods to teens out for a Friday night post-party drive—the net may not catch as many fish as it used to.
  • Is more accepting of one another. Gen Z takes an attitude that already permeated the majority of millennials to an even higher height—the idea that gay, straight, black, white or anything in between, you’re a person on an even playing field with everyone else. For many in Generation Z, thinking about a day when gay marriage was illegal will seem antiquated and distant. Gen Z itself also comprises a diverse and multiracial group. That being said, members of Gen Z want to see brands that uphold similar values—and ones that give them the opportunity to support their fellow humans.

When it comes to the rise of Gen Z as consumers, marketers must take these defining traits into consideration in order to successfully appeal to the people who will soon comprise the majority of the country’s purchasing power.

Need help crafting your next marketing message? 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.

 

 

7 Ways to Boost Your Social Media Following This Fall

Social media is one of the most significant—and inexpensive—ways to cultivate a brand following. As a marketer, you should consistently be looking for ways to boost your social media following, but the turn of the season—in this case, the transition from summer to fall—is a good benchmark to make some extra effort.

While success on social media isn’t always about the number of people following your page, having a high number of qualified leads certainly does help. Take these ideas into consideration if you feel the need to give your pages a push in the right direction this fall.

  • Get creative with Halloween on the horizon. Halloween will be here before you know it, which offers a plethora of opportunities to have some fun with your social media followers in an effort to attract a larger audience. For example, ask your followers to post their favorite scary movies, and then compile a list of the “top 10” later in the month. Or, when it’s closer to the holiday, ask your social media audience to post a picture of their Halloween costumes to be entered to win a prize.
  • Host giveaways for seasonal items. Along the lines of winning, social media giveaways are always a powerful way to boost your social media following. Think seasonal items like grills, football tickets, cool weather attire, home decorations, or fall yard equipment, etc. for prizes. With your followers happy for the chance to win free stuff, and your social media account happy for exposure due to said free stuff, it’s a win-win situation.
  • Don’t forget football. While we’re talking about football, remember that it’s a huge part of fall culture. Stay in tune with your local football schedules, and play off of big games in your social media posts. Celebrate the big game that week with a giveaway or special offer solely for social media followers. You can also ask social users to correctly predict the score of that week’s game in exchange for a prize.
  • Use gift-giving holidays to your advantage. Fall into winter is typically the most lucrative time of the year for retail and service-based businesses as consumers snag holiday gifts for friends and loved ones. Plan strategically in anticipation of holidays like Hanukah and Christmas to better your social media content. Create holiday-themed social media specials—offers that can only be redeemed if you show the social media post in person. This gives social media users incentive to continue to follow your page. You can also use spins like “A Gift for Me, A Gift for You,”—a buy one get one free deal for consumers to get a little something for themselves as they do their holiday shopping.
  • Change your decorations for the fall season. In terms of your social media page, by “decorations” we mean your cover photos and profile pictures. Regularly changing at least your cover imagery will benefit your social pages by maintaining followers’ interest with new and fresh content. Have a new product or store display? Post it as your cover photo. Want to incorporate some fall colors? Make the appearance of your social media pages reflect the season.
  • Double check your links. This is one tip that isn’t necessarily unique to fall, but is something you should do on a consistent basis. Regularly checking to make sure that all links to your social media accounts are going to the right places is important to ensuring that you never interrupt traffic to your social pages. Check your website, email signature and any other places that you link to your social pages to make sure they are working correctly.
  • Give your posts a literal boost. Despite your best abilities to push out appealing content, sometimes your social posts need a little financial backing. Boost your social media following by paying to sponsor posts, which will in turn show them to a higher number of social followers than if you let the post grow organically.

Take advantage of the change in seasons to incite positive change among your brand’s social efforts. Use these tips to boost your social media following to put more eyes on the shareworthy things your business is doing.

Need help pushing your social media pages in the right direction? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Give us a call at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

 

Why the Structure of Your Copy Matters When Writing for the Web

Anyone can slap some words on a page and call it a day, but depending on the platform where your writing will appear—and the audience you are writing for—structure makes a difference when producing effective copy. The case is no different when writing copy that will appear online. Whether it’s a blog post or an “About” page, the structure of your copy matters when writing for the web.

Making your point clear up front

People are busy (even if “busy” means scrolling through Facebook). With all of the content available to them online, it’s likely that people will not in fact spend exorbitant amounts of time reading one article or blog post. In fact, According to Buffer, 55 percent of blog readers will read the blog post for 15 seconds or less.

What does this mean in terms of the structure of your copy? You need to get to the point. Sure, clever and flowery intros have their place, but not in the world of web writing. People want to know what your post is about and what they will glean from it immediately upon opening the link. It’s similar to the way journalists write news articles, using a format called the inverted pyramid (more on that later). Some publications even pull out three or more top “takeaways” from the longer article and place them at the top of the post, just in case that’s all that readers have time to consume.

Along the same lines, if you’ve scrolled through any article-sharing social platform lately, you’ve probably also seen time flags noted next to the links, indicating “2 minute read” or “3 minute read.” This shows readers that, “Hey, maybe I do have time to take a couple of minutes out of my busy schedule to read this article that looks interesting.”

Using the inverted pyramid

To understand the inverted pyramid, think about a pyramid literally turned upside down. The broad base is now at the top, and it all funnels down to the pyramid’s narrow tip. As a metaphor for the structure of your copy, you should start out with the overarching, broad point of the article. Using the inverted pyramid, readers should be able to grasp the who, what, when, where, why and how of the article right there in the first paragraph.

From there, you include supporting details, getting more and more specific as the pyramid narrows.

The inverted pyramid offers several advantages—including “getting to the point” as we mentioned above. This appeals to readers who do not have the time to read your entire article but still want to know what it’s about. If used regularly, it also ensures that the structure of your copy stays consistent across all of your posts, which is important to making your blog or publication appear professional.

You might be thinking, “Wait, don’t I want people to read my entire post, rather than them just stopping at the first paragraph?” Ideally, yes. Used correctly, the inverted pyramid’s broad first paragraph will draw readers in to want to continue reading to find out more details, while still appealing to those who only have time to skim.

Here’s an example of an intro paragraph that employs the inverted pyramid for our blog “6 Components of a Successful Content Marketing Campaign.”

Planning a campaign to communicate a message to your brand’s audience involves just that—planning—in order for it to be cohesive and effective. You want your campaign to be distinctive, but a successful content marketing campaign employs the same staple characteristics across the board. Here are six components to focus on when planning your next campaign.

Writing effectively for the web

In addition to making your point clear up front using the inverted pyramid, here are a few other tips regarding the structure of your copy when writing for the web.

  • Decide which parts of your copy are the most important, and organize accordingly.
  • Make a hierarchy of details—which details should appear higher up in the article?
  • Make every paragraph strong. Think of each paragraph as a “mini” inverted pyramid, where you start out with the first sentence introducing a broad topic, followed by supporting details.
  • Break up content where you can. Use subheads, bulleted lists or pull quotes to break up long blocks of copy that can intimidate readers.
  • Consider additional features, like adding bulleted key points at the top of the copy or read times (mentioned above).

The goal in digital marketing is to not only attract visitors to your site, but to keep them there—and to keep them coming back for more. Paying attention to the structure of your copy when writing for the web can help you achieve those goals while producing a result your brand can be proud to stand behind.

Need help writing for your blog or business publication? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

Not All Social Media Platforms Are Right for Your Business, and That’s OK

If you’re operating a business, you know how critical it is that you maintain a substantial digital identity—and if you don’t know that, then here’s your reminder. From grocery shopping to banking and everything in between, consumers are increasingly carrying out their lives primarily in the digital realm. Thus, if you want your brand to be noticed, you better make sure it’s visible from multiple views—both online and off. Social media plays a huge role in cultivating that strong digital presence—and it offers the opportunity for organic growth that benefits your budget.  That being said, you may have pondered which social media platforms are right for your business.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Vine, Reddit, Tumblr…the list goes on and on. You want to make your brand’s digital identity prominent, but where do you draw the line with your social media efforts?

You may have been told by friends and colleagues that you NEED to be on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, or YouTube. But one important thing to realize when assessing your social media presence is, not all social media platforms are right for your business, and that’s OK (cue title).

The fact is, depending on the type of business you are marketing, certain social platforms simply may not make sense for your brand. Different social media platforms serve different niches and purposes, and if your customer base doesn’t fall into that niche, then why waste your time maintaining a presence there?

You might be thinking, “Even Facebook?” Yes, even Facebook might not make sense for some businesses. Recently, at a marketing seminar, another marketing group was talking about its client in the ship building business. With Facebook being a standard for most businesses, the group created a Facebook account for the client. However, for this client, Facebook just didn’t make sense. The clientele the ship builder geared itself toward were mainly other industrial-type businesses—not individuals on Facebook. For that reason, the group said, LinkedIn actually made more sense for this client.

The bottom line is, if you’re not seeing much of a response on a particular social media platform despite your best efforts to garner followers, it may be time to make the call that the platform just doesn’t appeal to the clients you are targeting—or the customers already patronizing your business.

Going back to the idea that each social platform has its own niche in the overall social media world, here’s a breakdown of who some of the most-used types of social media accounts will and will not benefit.

  • Facebook: At the time this blog is being written, Facebook is the most widely-used social media platform on the planet, as more than 2.2 billion people are active on Facebook. That being said, this social media platform makes sense for the overwhelming majority of businesses. Unless you serve a very specific niche (like the ship builder) that is NOT active on Facebook either, then you want your business to have one to appeal to the maximum number of followers. Read more about Facebook for marketing here.
  • YouTube: Video is taking over the internet—literally. It is estimated that by 2019, video will account for 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic. YouTube itself has almost 2 billion active users, which is almost one-third of total internet users. What are we saying? We’re saying that being present on YouTube is also up there with Facebook among the social media platforms that your business should pay attention to. No matter what you’re selling, almost any brand can have a representative of the business stand in front of the camera and talk about your products and/or services. Even better—give a demonstration, or a quick “how-to.”
  • Twitter: Twitter can be a tricky one. With more than 336 million monthly active users, your initial thought may be, “Yes, I want to be there.” However, keep in mind the makeup of those 336 million Twitter users. For one, it’s a younger, more urban demographic. If that fits your target client base, then great! However, if your clientele is older and/or more rural, they may not be on Twitter now, or ever. Twitter thrives off of communication. Rather than broadcasting your information and leaving it, being successful on Twitter as a marketer requires you to interact with other users consistently. Read more about Twitter for marketing here.
  • Instagram: Instagram, which boasts about 1 billion active users, is all about what is visually appealing. Restaurants, clothing boutiques, real estate agents—all of these types of brands have visually-appealing products, meaning they thrive in the Instagram setting. That’s not to say that you can’t thrive if your product or service is less-than-photo-worthy. You just have to get creative. Post places that you’re traveling to. Post about office events and celebrations. Post the view out your office window. When does Instagram not make sense for your business? Similar to Facebook, if your clients are other businesses who are not on Instagram, then it may not be worth the effort. Read more about Instagram for marketing here.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest has around 200 million monthly users that comprise a pretty specific—and useful—set of demographics. For example, half of all U.S. millennials use Pinterest, and 68 percent of U.S. women between 25 and 54 use the social platform. Pinterest is a place that people go for inspiration—for cooking, weddings, holiday decorations and more. Not only can you share your own creations on Pinterest, but you can cultivate boards that showcase pins that you believe are relevant or interesting, instilling consumer confidence in your brand for its good taste. If your client base consists of women, younger social media users or a combination, then you might consider adding Pinterest to your brand’s social media arsenal.
  • Google+: It was supposed to be Google’s “answer” to Facebook, but that admittedly didn’t happen. Being Google’s social media platform, Google+ has its place in helping you rank in search, but as a viable social media platform to connect with current and future clientele, it can be iffy. After all, it only has about 111 million “active” accounts, the percentage of which are actually used on some type of regular basis is likely far lower. So why would you use it for marketing? Like we said, it is Google’s social media network, so being active on it can give you slight, but positive points in the bucket for SEO. Read more about Google+ for marketing here.
  • LinkedIn: If you’re a B2B (business to business) company, then LinkedIn could be your social media savior. LinkedIn is a social media network for professionals—both as individuals and as business entities. Statistics suggest that LinkedIn is even more important than Facebook for B2B marketers. Lead generations, product launches and talent recruitment are all activities that LinkedIn fosters for its users. Read more about LinkedIn for marketing here.

In deciding which social media platforms are right for your business, keep in mind the audience you are trying to target and the content you are pushing out. There’s certainly no need to waste your efforts trying to maintain a presence on every type of social media if it doesn’t make sense for your business’ intentions and goals.

Need help setting up and maintaining your social media accounts? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

 

15 Quotes to Take Your Mind Off Work This Labor Day

Inspired by a desire to protect the rights of the working class more than a century after the founding of the United States, Labor Day gives the majority of Americans a much-needed respite from the eight/nine-to-five grind. Sure, it’s just a day, but it’s a day with the sole purpose of paying tribute to the contributions of workers who bolster our country’s prosperity. In other words—a day dedicated to you, as a hard-working American! Alright, enough talk about work. It’s your day off, so let’s embrace it. Time to take your mind off work this Labor Day with some inspiring words to live by.

  • “If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.” –Christian Louboutin
  • “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” –Sydney J. Harris
  • “You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun’”? –Christopher Meloni
  • “Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”—Mark Black
  • “Fun is one of the most important—and underrated—ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.”—Richard Branson
  • “How beautiful is it to do nothing, and then to rest afterward.”—Spanish Proverb
  • “We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” –Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport.” –Pope Francis
  • “Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.” –Nina Dobrev
  • “I’ve decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” –Voltaire
  • “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” –Etty Hillesum
  • “It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” –Charles Spurgeon
  • “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”—A. A. Milne
  • “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” –Bill Watterson
  • “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” –Omar Khayyam

Relaxation, happiness, being at peace—sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? At least maybe we helped to take your mind off work this Labor Day for a few minutes!

Another way to take your mind off work is to let us do the work for you! If you’re stressing about your marketing strategy, the McNutt & Partners team can help. McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Call us at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

 

How to Combat Decreasing Blog Traffic

Your brand’s blog serves a dual purpose—both to attract, inform and entertain your followers, and to drop points in your SEO bucket. But what happens when you notice a decline in your blog readership? Decreasing blog traffic can certainly pose a problem when it comes to your digital marketing goals. After all, what’s the point of putting time and effort into a blog that no one is reading? If you feel that your blog readership is undergoing a downward trend, there actions you can take to turn it around.

  • Push it on social media. Especially if you’re launching a new blog, if you never promote it on social media, people may never know it’s there. Social media is one of today’s most powerful platforms for sharing your digital content with existing and potential followers. Every time you make a blog post, you should share it via your social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But don’t just share it on your company’s page—take it a step further and share it to your personal social media accounts as well.
  • Boost your posts. Organic reach can only take you so far when it comes to social media posting—especially with Facebook’s recently-amended algorithm that promises to show users more content from family and friends and less from commercial entities. That’s why it’s important to carve out a portion of your marketing budget for sponsored, or “boosted” social media posts. Boosting is essentially paying to have more people exposed to your content (in this case, your blog posts), which in theory is a way to fight against decreasing blog traffic. Consult our quick guide to Facebook boosting
  • Interact with other blogs. Commenting on other blog posts and blog post shares on social media will bring attention to your brand and in turn, to digital assets like your blog. Offer your input on a similar topic that you have blogged about, for example, but be sure to avoid sounding abrasive. Or, if you simply find that a post is interesting or well-written, leave a comment indicating so with the hope that you may receive similar feedback in return.
  • Write more of what people like. Check the back end analytics of your blog to see which posts people responded particularly well to. Then, write more posts about that topic, or that are similar in format. For example, if people tend to like Q-and-A-formatted posts, then make it a point to include more of that style in your blogging rotation. Or, if people respond better to posts with pictures, then start including photos in most, if not all, of your blogs.
  • Get personal. People like reading about real people, places and things. Some of our clients’ most popular blog posts are employee spotlights, featuring familiar faces from the businesses, or highlights on local culture and events. Even if your blog serves a very specific purpose, such as giving people advice about buying or selling a home, for example, you might consider mixing up your topics every now and then to include blogs with a more people-centric spin to them.
  • Promote it via email. If you already have an email list to which you send out regular email blasts about special offers and events, use it to your advantage when facing decreasing blog traffic. (Or if you don’t have a list, now may be a good excuse to start.) Think about sending a preview for your upcoming blog, and include in the preview a snippet of information that will be featured. Or, you can send an ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) email that reviews the blogs you published over the past week or month. This will give followers yet another chance to click on your blog, in the event that it did not appear in their social media feeds recently.
  • Encourage sharing. Enlist the help of your loyal followers to get the word out and increase your blog readership. Ask existing blog readers to share with their family and/or friends who they believe could benefit from the contents of your blog. Word-of-mouth can travel far!
  • Check your page’s Google ranking. If you come across decreasing blog traffic, it could be a result of a declining Google search ranking. (Which does beg a sort of chicken-or-the-egg-type question.) If some other factor besides your blog caused your Google ranking to go down, then it could certainly be affecting your blog’s traffic. In that scenario, it’s time to take steps to enhance your website’s SEO.

If you need help boosting your SEO in an effort toward combatting decreasing blog traffic, or help with any of the tasks outlined above, the McNutt & Partners team 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.

10 Ways to Improve Your Email Subject Lines

Despite that it is sometimes considered a “dinosaur” of the digital world, email still plays a significant role in your brand’s ability to reach mass numbers of current and potential patrons. While you can send emails to as many people as you would like, the important statistic is how many people are opening them. There’s one thing that weighs more heavily than anything else when it comes to whether or not people are opening your email—and that’s your email subject line. Email subject lines are ultimately your first line of offense when it comes to enticing people to click “open” rather than “delete.”

Anyone who’s ever had an inbox knows that judging messages by email subject lines is common. For many email marketers, this short phrase is unfortunately more of an afterthought—a secondary factor to the contents of the email itself. However, though small in size, email subject lines should be weighed with equal importance as the main body of the email.

Looking to improve your email subject lines? Here are a few tried and true rules that can help you get more eyes on your emails.

  • Keep them short. Not only do people not want to take the time to read a long email subject line, but longer subject lines may also get cut off if they are too lengthy—especially on mobile, which is where the majority of people are opening their emails. If you’re having trouble tailoring your email subject lines, think carefully about what each word is contributing to the message. Get rid of words that do not add any value.
  • Choose action verbs. Related to the above, careful word selection is critical when writing effective email subject lines. You can think of a subject line essentially as a call to action, which benefit with the use of action verbs at the beginning. For example, “Dress to impress with these hot deals,” sounds more enticing than “These hot deals will have you dressing to impress.”
  • Express urgency. In some creative form or fashion, you should convince your email recipients that it would benefit them to open your email sooner rather than later. If the deal you are offering ends soon, let them know. If a person’s subscription is about to expire, express that in the subject line. Urgency equals a higher chance that your email will not only be opened right away, but at all.
  • Don’t be too aggressive. We’ve all seen those subject lines in our emails—the ones in all caps, with multiple exclamation points—maybe even a few question marks thrown in. Stop right there. These types of email subject lines come across as trashy, spammy and overbearing. If there was an equivalent of yelling via type, this would be it, and no one wants to be yelled at.
  • Provide incentive. This may be one of the most obvious starting points for writing an email subject line: tell recipients why they should open it! Are you offering a discount or deal? Better yet—are you giving something away for free? Is there information in this email that they can’t get anywhere else? Your email subject lines should express how exactly opening them will benefit your recipients.
  • Make them curious. While you should incentivize people to open your emails with the promise of something good inside, you should not let the entire cat out of the bag right off the bat. You want people to have to open your emails for them to see what exactly the big deal is all about. If they can tell everything from the subject line, then they may or may not take the next step in opening the email itself. Think of your email subject lines as “teaser” content to the core message inside. For example, a subject line like “We’ve Been Planning Something Special Just for You” piques curiosity, while a subject line like “Sales Event This Saturday at 2 p.m.” is a little less engaging, since it gives away all of the information up front.
  • Personalize the message. Phrases like “just for you” (mentioned in our previous point), “our gift to you,” and “you’re invited” bolster a personal connection between the email recipient and your brand. If you can make people feel special and make them think that the message or offer really was designed just for them, then they’ll be more apt to pursue your email further. Taking things a step further, marketers now have multiple ways to determine personalized information about their leads, such as locations, jobs, consumer preferences, etc. You can use this information to tailor your email subject lines to your audiences.
  • Send from a recognizable name. Name recognition in all aspects of marketing is part of instilling trust in and recollection of your brand. In email marketing, people will respond better to you if the email address you are sending from is one that they know and recognize. Even if your email is coming “from” the entire company, sometimes it can help open rates to show that it came from an individual within your company. People would often prefer to deal with an individual rather than a faceless entity.
  • Be honest. You want to showcase some sort of appealing information in your email subject lines, but it should be revealing of the actual contents of the email. Don’t make false promises to your email recipients—if you do and your followers find that you have been misleading, it will diminish their trust in your brand.
  • Think about timing. The time that you choose to send your emails can make a difference in optimizing your open rates. Obviously if you are advertising an event, you’ll want to do it in a timely manner. Time can also be a factor when reminding people that a subscription is about to expire, when a sale ends, or when you are launching a new product. Even time of day—rather than dates—should be something to consider. If you are a restaurant, for example, time your messaging around breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner—the times when people are most hungry.

Putting time and consideration into your email subject lines can pay off in the long run. If all else fails, think about what type of subject would get YOU to open an email.

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.

10 Tips for Choosing an Effective Domain Name

If you own a business, you may have struggled through the process of deciding what to call it. There’s a significant amount of pressure in coming up with a business name that people will not only remember, but that they will gravitate toward. With maintaining a substantial digital presence being a must among today’s tech-obsessed consumers, selecting a strong domain name is equally as important. Your domain is essentially your brand’s web identity; thus, it should be both relevant to your business and easy for your followers to recall. Besides creating a first and lasting impression for consumers, there are other reasons why choosing an effective domain name is so critical.

As with most components of the digital realm, your domain name affects SEO. In the past it had a larger impact on it than it does today—when companies would buy domains that were literally just exact-matches to keywords. Google has done away with allowing these Exact Match Domains to rank. Now, choosing an effective domain name promotes SEO in terms of higher click-through rates, brand identity and simply consumer confidence in your brand.

Choosing an effective domain name may not happen overnight, but here are a few general practices to keep in mind when navigating the process.

  • Make it relevant to your brand. This one’s pretty obvious, but the domain that you choose to represent your business should certainly connect to your brand. Whether it uses the exact name of your business, an abbreviated version, or it signifies the type of products or services that you offer, relevance is key to coming up with a domain name that your followers will make a connection with.
  • Keep it simple. A simple domain name is one that will be easy for people to remember and recite back when it comes time for sharing with friends or typing it into a browser. Also, if your domain is too long or complex, there is more room for people to make a typo when spelling it out. In general, the shorter the domain name, the better. Another part of keeping your domain simple is avoiding the use of hyphens and numbers, which make spelling and pronouncing it all the more difficult.
  • Be memorable. Not only should your domain be simple, but it should also stand out from the crowd. There are literally millions of registered domain names out there, so how are you going to make sure yours gets noticed? Make it a point to establish a domain name that is catchy, clear and appealing to the audience that you’re trying to attract.
  • Let users know what you’re offering. Like us, you may choose to have your straightforward name as your domain (mcnuttpartners.com). However, there is something to say about including information about what your company does in your domain if your business name doesn’t necessarily reveal it. (If we were to use our name as an example, it might be mcnuttpartnersdigital.com, for example). It is beneficial for people to be able to look at a domain and infer what it is that the website conveys.
  • Try for location specificity. If you own a local business, it could bode well for you to include your location in your domain. Let’s say you own a flower shop in Auburn, Alabama, and the name of your shop is simply your name—we’ll call it “Ruth’s.” Since the name of your shop is not telling of the nature of your business, you might select a URL like “auburnflowers.com” or “ruthsauburn.com.” Both of these versions give the web user just a little more information that can be helpful in their search for whatever it is they are looking for (in this case, flowers in Auburn).
  • Consider keywords. Like we said above, gone are the days of keywords in your domain equaling an automatic high ranking by Google. In fact, if Google sees that you are purposely keyword stuffing, it could have an opposite effect. However, if a keyword naturally fits into your domain without feeling forced, then go for it. Hyperlink text from people linking to your domain can help, especially if it includes a keyword. Be sure to leave out words such as “the” and “and” in most cases when choosing an effective domain name. Also avoid business titles like “inc.” and “llc.”
  • Check to ensure it’s unique. You want your domain to be unique for obvious reasons—such as making your brand stand out among the rest, but there are also legal implications of making sure your domain is distinct. If the domain you choose turns out to be trademarked or copyrighted by another company, it could equal legal trouble for you that would ultimately be best to avoid.
  • Opt for common extensions. These days, there are literally hundreds of domain extensions beyond the traditional “.com” that you can purchase to accompany your domain. However, while extensions like “.pizza” and “.cool” may sound fun, generally people do not recognize them and will likely type in “.com” out of habit. We recommend sticking with traditional ones like “.com,” “.org,” and “.net.”
  • Be competitive. When choosing an effective domain name, you should be defensive in securing all of the surrounding real estate similar to that name, so to speak. This means purchasing various domain extensions—specifically ones that are variations of the domain you use, including misspelled versions of your domain name. Doing this prevents a competitor from coming in and taking over a domain that is all too similar to yours. It also allows you to redirect the varied domains to your actual site in the event that a web user makes a mistake when trying to reach your page.
  • Think about the long-term. The domain you choose to represent your business now should be one that will still represent your business well 10 years from now. Of course, you can always change your domain, but doing so can be costly, can disrupt your branding and can confuse your followers. If you can, you want to avoid the stress of changing your domain name by choosing one that will work for you in the long-term on the front end.

Choosing an effective domain name can seem daunting, but following these guidelines can help you select one that will be a successful representation of your business’s web identity.

Need help picking a domain? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us today at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.