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 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.

The Case for Categorizing Your Blog Posts in WordPress

It never hurt anyone to be organized. In WordPress, the content management system that McNutt & Partners uses to manage the content on our clients’ websites, organization comes in the form of categories. Categorizing your blog posts in WordPress is akin to a taxonomy system—essentially giving your posts a roof to live under with similar posts of their kind. Not only can this help tremendously in terms of SEO, but it can help your website users better find the content they are looking for.

What are categories in WordPress?

Category pages in WordPress are used to group similar posts together. You can categorize any type of web page in WordPress, but here we’ll talk specifically about categorizing blog posts. For example, if you are a travel agency, and you write a blog titled, “What to Pack for Your Summer Vacation,” then your categories might be “Summer Travel,” “Summer Vacation,” “Travel Tips,” and so on. The idea is to think of broad categories that other future posts may fit into.

Ideally, a post’s categories will appear as clickable links either below the blog post or in the sidebar. That way, a user can easily access other posts within that category.

How do categories help SEO?

Categorizing your blog posts in WordPress is yet another tool in your arsenal for search engine optimization (SEO). In essence, category pages (the ones that contain all of the blog posts in that category) serve as landing pages that appear when a user searches for a corresponding search term. Using the example above, if a person searched “travel tips,” in Google, then theoretically your category page for “travel tips” could come up in the search results. The more posts you have under that category, the better, because it can help keep visitors on your site longer.

The category “landing page” also serves to prevent individual posts from competing with one another. Since the posts are grouped together under the larger category, Google will rank that above the individual posts, so they are not cannibalizing one another.

How do categories benefit my site visitors?

Just like a customer does not want to walk into a retail store to find it disorganized and cluttered, a visitor to your website does not want to visit it to find it in disarray. A clean, organized website bodes well for the people who visit it, as it enhances the overall user experience. Perhaps a person was initially incentivized to come to your page by one particular post, but having your other posts categorized can help keep them on your site longer. Show your site visitors that there is more on that topic to be seen, and it can benefit your web traffic.

How do I categorize my posts?

Categorizing your blog posts in WordPress is easy. When you’re on the “New Post” tab in WordPress, you’ll see the categories section on the right side of the screen. If you are doing this for the first time, go ahead and create 10-12 categories that you frequently cover in your blog. That way, the next time you create a post, you’ll simply have to select the relevant categories. To do that, all you have to do is check the box next to the appropriate category. You can also add new categories at any time.

Wait, what about tags?

Under the categories box in WordPress, you’ll see a section for tags. If categories are the broad umbrella, tags are just a more specific way to organize information. Ideally a tag should be a word or short phrase that relates to the blog post. Going back to our example above, tags that relate to “Travel Tips,” could include “packing your suitcase,” “planning your summer trip,” and so on. Since your blog post itself is a subset of the category, and so are tags, then your tags very well may relate closely to the title and content of your blog.

Making sure your blog posts are categorized and tagged should be part of your regular routine when scheduling and publishing posts in WordPress. It will benefit your site visitors to be able to easily and quickly find information they are interested in, as well as give you more drops in the bucket in terms of SEO.

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 Basics Behind Facebook Boosting

Though other social media giants like Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have commanded the attention of the world in the past decade-plus, Facebook remains at the top of the social media social strata. Having a Facebook account to represent your brand is basically a must in today’s social media-obsessed society. Posting quality content on a regular basis to Facebook is one thing, but there’s a way to push that content a step farther in terms of who sees it, and that’s through a concept called boosting. Here, we’ll provide an overview of the basics of Facebook boosting to help you get started.

What is Facebook boosting?

In essence, Facebook boosting is paying to have more people exposed to your content. Boosted posts are normal page posts that you select to boost in order to expand the audience who will see the posts. Anyone with a Facebook business page has the option to boost a post.

What are the benefits of Facebook boosting?

Boosting a post that you have created for your Facebook page serves to show your content to an audience beyond just those who follow your page. As Facebook has announced recently that organic reach for business posts will be declining in order to show users more content from family and friends, taking a proactive role in pushing your brand’s content is all the more critical.

In addition to the purpose of extending your content to more followers, Facebook boosting is also easy to use and gives you control over several aspects of the boost, such as your audience (geographically and demographically), budget, duration and more. Facebook also provides analytics related to boosted posts, so you can see exactly how your paid posts performed.

How much does it cost to boost a post on Facebook?

The beauty of boosting posts on Facebook is that you decide how much you want to spend. Instead of paying per click or per ad placement, you set a budget for the post to be boosted for a specified length of time. The minimum budget you can do is $1 per day. The higher your budget, obviously, the more people your post will be poised to reach.

Based on the audience and budget you specify, Facebook will give you an estimated reach. For example, spending $20 on a seven-day boost for persons aged 18-65 in Mississippi estimates your post will reach between 590 and 2,300 people per day. The more specific you get regarding your parameters, the more defined your reach estimate will be.

So, how exactly do you boost a post?

Boosting a post on Facebook is easier than you might think. Here’s what to do:

  • Choose which post to boost. Click the “Boost Post” button in the bottom right corner of either a post you are creating or that has already been posted.
  • Define your audience. You can choose to boost to people who already like your page, people who already like your page AND their friends, or people you choose through targeting (recommended). If you choose the latter, you will then be directed to specify an audience based on age, location, sex and/or interests.
  • Set your budget. You can choose a budget starting from the minimum of $1 a day on up. With your audience set, Facebook will show you an estimated reach for various budget levels.
  • Choose the duration of your boost. You can set your boost to run one day, seven days or 14 days by default, or until a specified date in the future.
  • Review your post. There will be a preview window that shows you what your post will look like once it’s published. Look it over to check for errors.
  • Pay for your boost. Select the payment option you want to use. You can store frequently-used cards here.
  • Click “Boost Now.” You’re good to go!

What happens next?

After you go through the process outlined above, your post will be in “review” status by Facebook. The turnaround for this is typically pretty quick. Facebook will check your post against its advertising policies. Depending on the results, you will receive an email that your post(s) were approved, or that they were denied.

One factor to watch out for is having too much text overlaid on a graphic. Facebook prefers images with little to no text because images with too much text “may create a lower-quality experience for people on Facebook,” the company states. Here’s a tool you can use to check that your image complies with Facebook’s text-to-image ratio.

Now sit back, and watch your Facebook content soar to new engagement heights!

Facebook boosting is a surefire way to put more eyes on your brand’s content, which is the fundamental goal of digital marketing. If you need help creating, scheduling and boosting your Facebook content, the McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us today at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

What Does Your Instagram Bio Say About You?

If your brand is currently cultivating an Instagram account—great! Along with Facebook and YouTube, Instagram is among the top-used social media platforms in the world. Social media users respond better to images than text, and after all, Instagram is an image-based platform. As part of your business’ Instagram presence, there is a small, but powerful, section of your profile called your Instagram bio.

Your Instagram bio appears at the top of your profile—prime location for people giving a cursory glance to your page. It’s a space where you have a limit of 150 characters to give visitors to your page a quick summary of what you are all about—and why they should continue to follow you. Since Instagram does not allow for clickable links in the copy of its posts, it is also the only place on your Instagram page where you CAN include a clickable link—to your website, your blog, etc.

Your Instagram bio is part of your larger Instagram profile, which includes:

  • Name (appears in bold at the top of your bio)
  • Username (the Instagram name you give yourself with the “@” symbol)
  • Website (the only place on Instagram that allows for clickable links; this is key for driving traffic to your site)
  • Bio (more on this in a second)

Here’s what you’ll see when you’re editing your Instagram profile:

 

As you can see, the first three fields are pretty straightforward. It’s when you get to the bio that you get to be a little more creative—and strategic. Your Instagram bio should not only explain who you are and what you do, but it should also show a bit of your personality—and give users a reason to want to pursue you further. It can admittedly be challenging to convey all of that in just 150 characters.

Here are a few ways you can make your brand’s personality shine in your Instagram bio.

 

  • Pay attention to spacing. Instead of a standard few sentences, consider breaking up the copy in your Instagram bio into bulleted points or phrases. Users respond well to smaller chunks of information that they can easily consume. Be aware that line breaks may appear differently on mobile vs. web view. Instagram is primarily a mobile app, so prioritize its layout on mobile first. Here’s an example:

  • Use hashtags to your advantage. Hashtags will also appear as clickable links in your bio, so use them to encourage users to share their content for you—then you can re-share it on your own feed. Users can also click the hashtag in your Instagram bio to see other posts that have used that hashtag—keeping them engaged in similar content. Have a brand hashtag?Include it in your bio.
  • Explain yourself. In addition to the format of your Instagram bio, you should also pay close attention to what exactly it is saying about you. You need to show your audience what make your brand unique—why you stand out among the competition. Do you serve a particular niche? Have you been family owned and operated for generations? Do you offer a service that is rare? Is there something distinguishable about how or where you make your products? You should also feel free to inject your own humor and personality into your bio.

 

  • Include a call to action. A good call to action is the backbone of any marketing effort. Your call to action will depend on what it is that you are showcasing in your Instagram posts. If you are a Realtor showing homes for sale, you might want to prompt users to call you. If you are a boutique showcasing clothing for sale, you likely want to ask people to “See more” on your website (linked in your profile). You could also simply ask your followers to use your brand’s hashtag in their posts.
  • Add your hours of operation. This will only apply for certain types of businesses, but it can be useful for places like restaurants, spas, retail stores, etc. When people have quick access to this type of information, they will feel more confident in your brand and its ability to steer them in the right direction.

If you’ve never previously put this much thought into your Instagram bio, now is the time to start! It’s a small space in the digital realm, but one that can speak volumes about your business if you let it.

The McNutt & Partners team 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.

Cleaning Up Your Website: How to Decide Which Content to Do Away With

Your website is a dynamic, ever-changing tool at your disposal that serves to let the world know about your brand—or at least it should be. If the content on your site is sitting stagnant and has been for some time, it may be time to consider cleaning up your website. Doing so will not only show your site visitors that you play an active role in maintaining your digital presence, but it will also give you points when it comes to search engine optimization.

Ask yourself these questions when cleaning up your website to decide what content to keep, and what content to ditch.

Is it timely?

Check the content on your site—which includes copy, images, video, etc.—to make sure that it is timely. For example, you don’t want to still have promotions from Christmas up on your site in July. It indicates a lack of attention paid to your website, which can come across negatively to your customers. Old content adds no value—both to your followers and in terms of SEO.

Is it still relevant to my brand?

Things change over time, which may apply to your business and its offerings. If there is a service being advertised that you no longer offer, then take that content off of your website. If there are employees featured on your “About Us” page that no longer work there, then remove them and update it with your current employees.

Is it serving a purpose?

Do you have old pages on your site with little to no content that are simply taking up space? Get rid of them! Google considers these pages “thin content” pages. In addition to pages with little to no content, thin content pages can be ones with duplicate content, scraped content and pages that are stuffed with keywords. All of these are low-quality in the eyes of the search engine.

Does it need to be updated?

Perhaps you believe a section of content is valuable, but it hasn’t changed since you launched your website. It may be a good idea to update it. You can convey a similar message, but give it a new look with updated copy, images and site features. Giving your site a fresh look every once in a while is never a bad idea.

Should it be redirected?

You may have a URL that provides value (perhaps it has quality links pointing to the page), but the content connected to that URL is old. You can redirect the URL to similar, but updated content. That way, you can maintain the use of the URL while leading your site visitors to newer content.

Is it still working?

It is important to check your links regularly to make sure they aren’t broken. A broken link does not create a quality experience for the user. Start with external links—perhaps you linked to an event page, and the event has passed and the site is no longer in use, for example. Then check internal links to see if any need to be updated, or to make sure that you aren’t accidentally linking to a page within your site that you have deleted.

Are people viewing it?

Another question to ask yourself when cleaning up your website is whether or not people are even viewing your content. Take a look at your website’s analytics from time to time. You may have a page that you think is great, but that has not actually had a great response from site visitors in terms of traffic. Consider deleting or updating the content to make it more attractive to your followers.

Cleaning up your website does not have to be a daunting task. As long as you keep up with regular maintenance of your site, then quick changes here and there should not be too much of a burden.

Need help deciding what should stay and what should go when it comes to your website? The McNutt & Partners team can help! Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

6 Steps for Dealing with Fake Business Reviews

Having a stockpile of online customer reviews on your business benefits you in several ways—from revealing the positive interactions customers have had with you, to boosting your digital relevance in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Addressing less-than-ideal reviews can pose its challenges, but so does dealing with fake business reviews, which occur more often than you may think.

In fact, according to a 2017 study by BrightLocal, 79 percent of consumers have read a fake review in the last year, but 84 percent of people admit that they aren’t confident in discerning them from the real thing.

Why do fake business reviews happen?

Unfortunately, fake reviews are often the result of a competitor looking to discredit a business that the competitor considers a threat. Conversely, businesses can also fake their own positive reviews in hopes of making themselves look better among the competition. Either way, the act of falsifying information by people who are not actual customers often goes undetected by Google. Companies purchase fake reviews, make deals to swap fake reviews, or hire SEO groups to rack up the reviews for them.

What do fake business reviews look like?

Determining what is and is not a fake business review can be difficult. Here are a few signs that a review might be fake:

  • A user has posted numerous times in different geographical locations. If you got your hair cut in Austin, Texas on a Tuesday, it’s not likely you had a burger in Anchorage, Alaska on a Wednesday and paid for lawn service in London, England on a Thursday.
  • The text of the review sounds very generic. Often, fake reviewers use a template. They also typically do not mention price, the specific scenario or other personal details about the experience. Look for the name of the business being used frequently (for SEO purposes) and out-of-place sounding keywords.
  • All of a business’ reviews were posted in a short period of time. Reputation management companies sometimes do this to boost a company’s ratings that they work for.
  • There is no text. It’s not always the case, but sometimes if there are a slew of reviews with one star and no text to support it, they may be fake.
  • They fall into Google’s guidelines of fake reviews. Check this link to determine whether the review in question is considered fake or malicious enough to be taken down.

So if you suspect a review to be fake—one that intends to harm your business, what should you do about it?

  • Stay calm. Your first reaction to noticing a fake business review may be to let your anger be known; however, this will ultimately make the situation worse. It’s understandable to be furious about a random person defaming the business you have worked hard to build. But stay calm, and get ready to take the necessary steps to attempt to get it taken down. A bad review does not mean the automatic demise of your business.
  • Think about responding to it. Responding shows that, fake or not, you are willing to address the situation calmly and rationally. Avoid getting personal, keep your response brief, thank your reviewer and invite the reviewer to discuss the situation offline.
  • Flag the review. If you suspect that a review is fake, you can flag it either in Google Maps or in Google My Business. To do so, simply click the flag next to the review. This is the first step in having Google review your request to have the review removed.
  • Prepare your case. Document the URL/URLs that shows the review in question under that person’s username. List your business name, address, phone, website and Google Maps link. Reasonably explain why the review should be removed, why you think it is fake and which of Google’s rules it is violating.
  • Reach out to Google for help. If you haven’t heard from Google after the flagging process, contact Google via other means. There are several of ways to contact the company, outlined here. You could even message the company on Twitter or Facebook if you are desperate for a quicker response.
  • Seek help from the Google community. You are likely not the only one dealing with the problem of fake business reviews. Post about your issue in forums, or even share it on your social media. Your loyal customers will support you and may even combat the negative by posting positive things about your business. Also, on Google, there are “Top Contributors,” which are Google users who have been rewarded for regularly giving legitimate reviews. A Top Contributor may be able to connect with Google faster on your behalf.

Encountering fake business reviews is never fun for anyone, but unfortunately it is one of the potential downsides of your brand having a digital presence, which is critical in today’s technology-obsessed society. The good news is, there are ways to combat these fake reviews in an effort to maintain your business’ true colors in the eyes of current and potential brand followers.

The McNutt & Partners team 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 Things You Didn’t Know About the Fourth of July

It’s that time of year again—when red, white and blue becomes our country’s dominant color scheme, when hot dog and burger buns appear in bins by the numbers in the front of grocery stores, and when we all become patriotic country music fans—at least for a day. The Fourth of July signifies a time not only to appreciate the freedom that defines our country, but to simply sit back, relax and enjoy a summer day spent with family, friends, food and fireworks. As a bit of Independence Day enlightenment, here are a few things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July.

  • Massachusetts first officially recognized the holiday. Massachusetts was the first state to recognize the Fourth of July as an official holiday on July 3, 1781. It wasn’t until June 28, 1870 that Congress included the Fourth of July in its list of federal paid holidays, along with New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • But Rhode Island has been celebrating the longest. Rhode Island is home to what has been dubbed “America’s Oldest Fourth of July Celebration,” in Bristol, Rhode Island. The celebration of the country’s independence started in 1785, two years after the Revolutionary War ended and 85 years before the Fourth was decreed a federal holiday. Today, the town starts the celebration on Flag Day, June 14, and continues it through a 2.5-mile parade on July 4.
  • Fireworks are a fan favorite. The American Pyrotechnics Association reports that around 15,000 fireworks displays are put on in celebration of Independence Day every year. Most small towns spend between $8,000 and $15,000 for their fireworks displays. However, bigger cities get into the millions. For example, Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks display in New York cost about $6 million in 2012.
  • Thomas Jefferson was ahead of the times. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on a “laptop,” which was a writing desk that could fit in one’s lap. In addition, it is generally known now that the Declaration wasn’t actually signed on the Fourth of July; it was officially voted in favor of on July 2. John Adams believed that this was the day that Americans should officially celebrate their independence.
  • Jefferson and Adams share a significant death date. By an interesting twist of fate, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both died on July 4, 1826,—50 years after the Declaration was adopted—perhaps solidifying the date as being apt for a celebration of independence despite the July 2 adoption. Another president–James Monroe, the nation’s fifth president, died on July 4, 1831.
  • Americans aren’t the only ones celebrating. July 4 also marks an independence day in the Philippines and Rwanda. Known as “Republic Day,” July 4 marks the date when the United States officially recognized the Philippines as an independent state in 1946; however, since 1962 the official Filipino Independence Day has been recognized as June 12. Rwandans celebrate “Liberation Day” on July 4.
  • It’s no secret that we love hot dogs…but you may be surprised as to just how much. The Fourth of July is the biggest hot dog day of the year in the United States, with Americans consuming about 155 million of them on Independence Day alone. Another fun fact: The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council reports that that amount of hot dogs can stretch from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles more than five times!
  • But how about some turtle soup? Turtle soup? That’s right. Legend states that on July 4, 1776, John and Abigail Adams feasted on a celebratory meal of turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas and boiled new potatoes in jackets. Just a little different than the hot dogs, hamburgers, baked beans and Lay’s potato chips that we’re used to.
  • Eating salmon is still a tradition up North. During the summers in New England centuries ago, salmon was abundantly available, so it was common to see on the table for Fourth of July celebrations. That tradition continues to today, as the fish is traditionally paired with fresh peas.
  • And don’t forget the beer. In addition to hot dogs, the Fourth of July is also the country’s top beer-drinking holiday. In 2017, more than $1 billion was spent on beer alone, which was more than the cost of burgers and hot dogs combined. Another $568 million was spent on wine.

And there you have it…10 things you didn’t know about the Fourth of July to heighten your understanding and perhaps useless trivia about our nation’s Independence Day. From the McNutt & Partners team, we wish you a happy, fun and safe Fourth of July!

The McNutt & Partners team 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.

A Look at the Evolution of Digital Marketing

The innate desire to showcase one’s products and/or services for sale in an effort to be successful is one that dates back to the marketplaces of antiquity. For example, evidence suggests that Umbricius Scauras of Pompeii, circa 35 C.E., had mosaics on display in his household indicating the fish sauce he was known to manufacture—an inscription translated as “The flower of garum (fish sauce), made of the mackerel, a product of Scauras, from the shop of Scauras.” Commercialized marketing as we know it today is more common starting in the 19th century, when printed newspaper ads reigned supreme. As is evidenced in the fact that you are able to read this blog right now, marketing evolves as means of communication do. Cue the age of digital marketing. Here, we’ll take a look at the evolution of digital marketing while pinpointing the specific advancements in technology that got us to this point.

1980s: Computers become personalized.

Tech company IBM launched the first personal computer in 1981, and the rest is history. The roots of digital marketing were planted during this decade, at which time computers became sophisticated enough to store large volumes of consumer information. Databases were used to store and organize customer information, initiating the shift between simply selling a product and personalizing marketing efforts based on consumer preferences. In 1986, contact and customer management company ACT! introduced the first database marketing software to the business realm.

1990s: The mass adoption of the internet.

This is arguably the single most significant event that has affected marketing over the past three decades. The World Wide Web project launched in 1991, but mass internet use did not take off until the introduction of the first successful large-scale web browser, Netscape, in 1994. Over the next two years, the number of people using the internet grew from 16 million to 70 million. In 1996, Americans were spending an average of 30 minutes per day online (significant for that time period). With more internet users came more opportunities for email, search engines and e-commerce sites to thrive. Yahoo! and Amazon launched in 1994, eBay in 1995 and Google in 1997. Email became a popular form of marketing, up there with traditional mediums like TV, radio and print.

During this time, the customer information databases of the 1980s were evolving into what we know today as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. First called Sales Force Automation (SFA), this technology automated the functions of database marketing, including tracking interactions, controlling inventory and more. In 1999, the first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company was born—Salesforce.com. Salesforce changed the game by helping businesses not only collect and store customer data, but interpret it as it applies to consumer trends in a web-based fashion.

2000s: Social media is born.

As more and more people were now using the internet to research products and services, a concept called marketing automation was conceived, which was the first technology built by marketers for marketers with a digital foundation. Marketing automation refers to software platforms designed for marketing companies to allow them to better market on multiple online channels at once. In 2001, the dot com bubble burst, and marketers began to rely more heavily on inbound marketing via information sharing—with the consumer now taking an active role in sharing their own information via social media. LinkedIn was founded in 2002, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005 and Twitter in 2006. With social media as an aid, it became easier for marketers to start tracking trends in consumer behavior. Marketing became channel-specific as these social platforms became increasingly popular.

2010s: Smartphones overtake personal computers.

In the evolution of digital marketing, we are still catching up with the proliferation of smartphones. Smartphones are now the primary digital device people use for getting online, with U.S. adults spending an average of 258 minutes per day on mobile media in 2017. Though the iPhone was released in 2007, it has taken the past decade for smart phone use to truly become an everyday staple for the masses.

Now, digital marketing is about integrating oneself into the mobile experience. Apps, augmented reality and more continue to push the limits as to what is possible in the digital marketing realm. The challenge for marketers is to provide consumers a seamless experience across multiple digital venues, rather than considering the dissemination of their content from channel to channel.

The evolution of digital marketing so far has involved the swift adaptation of the earliest personal computers taking up space on a physical desktop to the ability to harness the internet at our fingertips. For more insight into the digital marketing community, continue to follow the McNutt & Partners blog.

The McNutt & Partners team 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.

How Your Business Can Benefit from Having Its Own App

Years ago, thanks to tech giant Apple, we got used to hearing the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” Now, that phrase is literally a reality for almost every human need imaginable. In 2017, there were about 2.8 million available apps in the Google Play Store and about 2.2 million apps available in Apple’s App Store. Whereas apps were once reserved for larger-scale organizations, the market for branded apps has since opened up to a range of business models—from the individual entrepreneur to the mom and pop operation and beyond. In terms of marketing, you want your brand to be visible where your consumers are already looking. You also want to make it as easy as possible for them to interact with your brand. That being said, there are a variety of ways your business can benefit from having its own app.

  • Increase your brand’s visibility. Having an app branded specifically for your business provides yet another channel for followers to consume your brand and its offerings. In the United States, the average person spends more than two hours on his or her smart phone on a daily basis. Thus, here enters the idea of putting your company in the direct line of sight of existing and future customers.
  • Make accessing your content easier for your clientele. In attracting consumers to your products and/or services, you want to make the process of them acquiring those products or services as easy as possible. A mobile app for your business has the ability to offer many features that will streamline the interaction between your customers and your brand. Allow them to make purchases directly through the app, look up information about your business, or interact with someone on your end who can help answer questions—the list goes on and on.
  • Offer value to your followers. Another way your business can benefit from having its own app is that it provides a venue for you to offer value to your customers. For example, if you have been using a loyalty program with printed cards and stamps, make it digital via your own branded app. Not only can you provide incentives strictly to the people who have downloaded your app, but you can also send push notifications about special events and deals, or send thank you messages after a customer has made a purchase—all through the app.
  • Engage better with your customers. Along the same lines as offering value, an app gives you another way to make connections with your brand followers. People want open lines of communication between themselves and the businesses they choose to remain loyal to. A presence in your followers’ app drawer lets them know that they have a way to easily engage with you if need be. Vice versa, you can use your app to communicate with customers in various ways—(some mentioned in the point above).
  • Heighten customers’ confidence in your brand. Having your own branded app shows that you are in tune with technology—and that you are paying attention to the wants and needs of today’s modern consumers. All of this will help your followers instill trust in the fact that your brand has their best interests in mind.
  • Complement your existing digital assets. In your entire arsenal of digital assets (website, social media etc.), your app is just another tool to help you succeed. Whereas a website requires that users put in a URL, an app can take them to your content with a simple click of the icon on their smart devices. Both serve their purposes, as a website is appealing to those taking their time on a desktop, while an app is better suited for someone engaging with your business while on the go.
  • Keep up with the competition. The last thing you want is to get left in the dust by your competition. Your business can benefit from having its own app in the simple sense of staying on par with (and hopefully outshining) your peers.

Investing in your own mobile app can not only extend an additional means for customers to interact with your brand, but it can also paint your company as being cognizant of the need to adapt modern technology in our fast-paced world.

Interested in your business’ own branded app? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us today at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

What Makes a Memorable Marketing Hook?

 

As a brand, your consistent, overarching goal is likely to attract customers who will spend money to support your business. Let’s be honest—you wouldn’t be in business if you were not trying to make money. In bringing up the concept of a marketing hook, we must cue the fishing analogies. In this sense, you can think of the marketing hook as not only the hook itself used to catch the fish, but also the bait to attract them. You want your bait to be enticing—to appeal to the fish you are trying to catch so that you can get them on the hook. When creating a memorable marketing hook, you’re essentially doing the same thing. The content of the hook is the bait that you will use to attract customers to your brand.

Keep in mind that the hook does not convey the entire offering. Rather, it is just a teaser of content to get your followers to want to pursue your brand further. Give them a taste, but leave them wanting more. A hook can come in the form of a jingle, a catchy phrase/tagline or even just a description of a special offer, (i.e. A gym might say, “Contact us today for a free nutrition and fitness assessment.”)

Let’s look at a few famous jingles and taglines that have made their marks on society:

  • “A diamond is forever”—De Beers
  • “Just do it”—Nike
  • “Every kiss begins with Kay” –Kay Jewelers
  • “The happiest place on Earth”—Disney
  • “We deliver.” U.S. Postal Service
  • “What’s in your wallet?”—Capital One
  • “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”—MasterCard
  • “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” —Federal Express
  • “The quilted quicker picker-upper”—Bounty
  • “The breakfast of champions.”—Wheaties
  • “Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Maybelline.”—Maybelline Cosmetics
  • “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”—M&M’s
  • “Tastes so good, cats ask for it by name.”—Meow Mix
  • “Nothing runs like a Deere.”—John Deere

And the list goes on and on. There are a few qualities that these successful hooks share that have made them staples in most of our minds over the years. Consider these characteristics of a memorable marketing hook:

  • They announce new information. Sometimes your hook will serve simply to announce something new that’s happening with your brand. Perhaps you just picked up a new product, or your brick-and-mortar store is expanding. You’ll want to share this new information with your clientele.
  • They’re creative. A trend you’ll notice among some of our famous taglines mentioned above is that they include a play on words, or a pun. (i.e. The U.S. Postal Service’s “We deliver” implies that the service delivers packages, but it also delivers you the quality service you expect). Consumers will appreciate the effort spent on creativity, and a play on words will make them stop to think twice. The more time they spend thinking about your brand, the better.
  • They catch you off guard. As we mentioned above, a memorable marketing hook is one that makes you pause to think. Asking a question, is one way to do this, for example: “Are you tired of your auto repair services throwing a wrench in your plans? (Yes.) Check out (insert name) for effective, fast auto body repair!”
  • They are unique. As with a logo, a marketing hook is a sensory way that people will identify with your brand, whether they see it on a billboard, hear it on a TV commercial or read it in an email. Thus, you want to make sure you stand out among the competition and that you are not ripping off an existing hook.
  • They elicit emotion. Happiness, positivity, pride, progress—these are all examples of emotions that a memorable marketing hook should portray. Take the Marines: “The few. The proud. The Marines.” This hook effectively makes the audience feel prideful for this group that puts its lives on the line to protect our country. Whether it’s whimsy, security, passion—an emotion that is able to be portrayed in just a few words is a sign of success.
  • They offer a key benefit. Attract potential customers by offering them something they want. Is it a bonus? A solution to a problem? A new feature? You need to explain to your audience why they should choose you over the competition, and the way to do that is to offer something that benefits them and their life. (i.e. “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” –Federal Express)

A memorable marketing hook is one that will not only draw customers in, but one that they will continue to remember and repeat to their fellow consumers. Need help coming up with a creative hook for your business? The McNutt & Partners team can help. Call us at 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page!