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.

Using Print Materials to Promote Your Digital Assets

Flipping through a catalog for back-to-school clothes or checking the newspaper for the grocery store’s weekly specials are not only antiquated practices for many of us, but completely foreign for others. However, though digital marketing has become today’s standard, it does not mean that traditional forms of marketing do not still deserve a place in the spotlight. The fact is, through integrated marketing campaigns, multiple forms of media exist to support one another—such as using print materials to promote your digital assets.

The promise of print

As digital has surged, ironically print has seen a resurgence—perhaps as somewhat of a “rebellion” to the digital obsession. In 2017, 134 new print magazines with at least quarterly outputs launched, according to The Association of Magazine Media. In addition, in 2017 the print marketing response rate increased by 190%, with 43% more customers responding to direct mail than the previous year, Digital Doughnut reports.

On top of being a push back against digital, the strength behind print is also that print technology is now the best it has ever been. The caliber of print designs and materials poise print products as  high-quality. Besides that, there’s just something about holding a tangible print product that digital may never be able to replace. Just ask the people who still read their daily papers.

Why using print materials to promote your digital assets is a good idea

Most people are spending their time online—but that does not mean everyone is spending his or her time online, and it does not mean those who are online are living in digital realm 100% of the time. Advertising via non-digital means like print serves to capture the eyeballs of potential consumers when they are away from their screens.

Think about it this way: with money, you’re told to diversify your assets. The same is true for marketing. The more varied ways you are promoting your brand to the world, the better the chance you’ll capture the attention of a diverse and plentiful market of consumers.

All of that being said, digital marketing is still the most cost-effective way to broadcast your messages to the largest audience. For that reason, your print marketing should be supporting your digital initiatives at all times.

What types of print materials should I use?

The types of print materials you should use to support your digital assets will depend on your budget, preference and what means are available to you. Ideas include brochures, business cards, outdoor signage, direct mail, fliers and magazine/newspaper advertisements.

How to use print materials to promote your digital assets

Website

There are very few instances in which your website should not be included on your print materials. Your website is your home base for your digital content, so it should come as a standard part of your contact info on your print media in an effort to drive traffic to it.

Social media

Consumers like to know on which social media platforms your brand is active. Even if you do not list out the entire web address linking to your pages, you can include icons for platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. as indicators for where your followers can find you online.

Email

Not everyone wants to pick up the phone and call—especially these days. Give them another means of reaching out to you by providing your email on your print materials. You can also use print to solicit sign-ups for your mailing list. Place a sign-up sheet at your POS or trade show table, for example.

Content

The content itself of your print material can be used to drive people to interact with your brand digitally. The copy/graphics on your print materials could be advertising an online service. Or, they could be teasing to a further explanation of something that exists on your website, for example.

Incentives

This is really just a more specific example of content. Using print materials to promote incentives that drive people to your digital assets is another helpful use for the medium. Think about having a filer or piece of direct mail offer a code for people to get a discount on your site. Or, you could use print marketing to offer an incentive for people signing up for your email list (20% off an order for signing up, for example).

Augmented reality

Augmented reality technology takes print materials and brings them to life via a smart phone or tablet. Thus, augmented reality makes a direct connection between traditional marketing mediums and digital ones. Read more about augmented reality.

Using print materials to promote your digital assets can exponentially help drive traffic to your brand presence online when done correctly. Need 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.

Optimizing Your Blog Posts for Search: 9 Things That Will Help

Maintaining a blog not only provides value for your brand followers, but it is a means for creating content that will help both people and search engines find your brand among the vast frontier that is the internet. When optimized correctly, your blog content has a better chance of appearing in search results. In optimizing your blog posts for search, there are a handful of checklist items that you should regularly adhere to.

Readability

Whether or not your blog is easy to read can actually factor into its search ranking. Under the umbrella of readability, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Use active rather than passive voice.
  • Break up your copy with subheads.
  • Write shorter paragraphs.
  • Vary your sentence length.

Keyphrase

Identifying a keyphrase is a must for optimizing your blog posts for search. Beyond just identifying it, however, you should also pay attention to its placement, frequency of use (density) and length of the keyphrase itself. You should always include the keyphrase in the blog title, first paragraph and meta description, but you can better optimize your post by also including it in higher-level subheads. In terms of density, we follow Yoast’s rule to have a keyphrase density of 0.5 to 3%.

The length of the keyphrase itself is also a factor. While a longer keyphrase can help you stand out among competitors, it is also more difficult to use it frequently enough in the blog itself. Opt for a keyphrase that includes about four words if possible.

Meta description

The meta description is often the preview text that appears below a link title in search results (also called a snippet). Adding a meta description is key for optimizing your blog posts for search. On top of that, you should pay attention to the length of your meta description. Google typically uses snippets that have between 120 and 156 characters.

Text length

Text length relates to readability as well as being a factor for SEO. The number of words on any page of your site affects whether or not it will rank in search. Pages with more text are easier for search engines to recognize and conclude what the page is about. The type of page will ultimately determine how much text appears on it, but in general your blog posts should be at least 300 words long. Keep in mind that if you do have long amounts of text, you will need to break it up using subheads and links for readability.

Featured image

Blog posts are not all about the copy, however. Images should always accompany your blog posts. They are not only visually stimulating, but they can help in optimizing your blog posts for search. Images simply make your content more appealing while providing yet another means for a search engine to recognize you.

Image alt attributes

One way that search engines can recognize your visual content is through alt text. Alt text serves to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. You will get even more points toward SEO if your alt text includes your keyphrase.

Links

Including links in your blog copy is another checklist item for SEO. This includes both internal links (links to other places on your site) and outbound links (links to other websites). Internal links can help you guide your site visitors and search engines to your other important content. External links also provide value by giving an essential pat-on-the-back to another well-written resource. The idea is about online karma—that if you do it for others, they will link to your page in return.

SEO title width

The SEO title is the blog title that is visible in a search engine before people get to your website. It can be different from the full title that appears on the blog post on your site. Your SEO title should neither be too short, nor too long. Too short means that it is not making full use of the available space. Too long means that it will get cut off by the search engine.

Categories and tags

Categories and tags serve the purpose of sorting your blog posts, which help make things clearer for search engines and people alike. Read more about the case for categorizing your blog posts.

A plug-in can help you keep track

We just threw a lot of info at you—so how will you keep track of it? At McNutt & Partners, we use Yoast SEO. Yoast is a plug-in tool for WordPress that guides you to meeting the highest standards of SEO and readability for your content. In other words, Yoast holds your hand through the process of optimizing your blog posts for search. If your post is optimized, it gives you a (literal) green light. If not, it tells you which of the above items you need to fix.

Need help optimizing your blog posts for search? 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.

Remembrance and Retail: Why We Have Memorial Day Sales

They say that Memorial Day is the best time to buy a mattress. But how did the holiday, which started as a response to the Civil War, go from remembering fallen soldiers to reaping the benefits of retail sales? The truth is, the reason why we have Memorial Day sales is not unlike the commercialization of any other holiday.

A few sentences about Memorial Day’s origins

Let’s keep this part brief:

  • The Civil War happened, and approximately 620,000 soldiers died.
  • Several unrelated commemorations of the dead that included putting flowers on graves led to organized memorial observances across the country.
  • In May 1866, Waterloo, New York, claimed its first annual community-wide memorial service and was later recognized as the “Birthplace of Memorial Day.”
  • In May 1868, a general ordered that May 30 be set aside for decorating graves of those who died defending their country, which came to be known as “Decoration Day.”
  • In 1967, after World War II, federal law declared “Memorial Day” the official name.

So, how did we go from somber to celebration?

Though 150 years seems like plenty of time for Memorial Day to evolve into something other than its intended purpose, the surprising fact is, the shift happened pretty quickly after the holiday was established.

Early speeches for Memorial Day (then Decoration Day) made references to celebrating Union soldiers’ fight to end slavery. By the 1880s, somber songs played on the holiday were replaced with more uplifting tunes rallying around pride for country. After all, when acknowledging the dead, it’s not uncommon to pair mourning with a celebration of life, which is what started to happen.

Authors, historians, sociologists and other such scholars critiqued the changing tone of the day. After Decoration Day in 1875, the New York Tribune wrote, “The old pathos and solemnity of the act have vanished…,” and then in 1878, “It would be idle to deny that as individual sorrow for the fallen fades away the day gradually loses its best significance.”

In 1972, (after the holiday became part of a three-day weekend, but more on that in a minute), TIME wrote that Memorial Day had become “a three-day nationwide hootenanny that seems to have lost much of its original purpose.”

And here we are, still writing about it.

But the sales. We want to know why we have Memorial Day sales.

The impetus for why we have Memorial Day sales has to do with the holiday becoming a guaranteed day off for workers.

The federal government started the trend by giving Civil War veterans the day off to honor their comrades beginning in 1888. State governments passed individual laws declaring Memorial Day a legal holiday starting with New York in 1873. At this time, the holiday was designated as May 30, no matter what day of the week it fell on.

The holiday was changed from May 30 to the last Monday in May in 1971, in an effort to create a three-day weekend for workers.

Cue the opportunity to travel! And what does travel mean? Spending money.

Even for those not traveling, a day off from work means a day, in the eyes of retailers, for people to shop. Increasing commercialization of the Memorial Day holiday started with this shift to it being a three-day weekend in the 1970s. From there, the public image of the holiday for many became more about vacation and retail and less about commemorating the dead—especially for those with no ties to the military.

Back to mattresses…

As you can see, it doesn’t take much for a national holiday to turn into a commercial event. Besides the simple fact of having a day off from work, the time of year also has to do with why retailers have pegged Memorial Day weekend as an ideal time for sales. For example, summer is a prime time for moving—hence the mattress sales. Consumer Reports says that in 2019 specifically, May is also the best time of year to buy grills, freezers, decking material and blenders.

Relishing sales while paying your respects

Though power tool ads boasting “Best Savings of the Season,” may not be what the speech-givers at the first Memorial Day gatherings had in mind, the retail side of the holiday has become ingrained in our culture—whether we like it or not. In acknowledging why we have Memorial Day sales, also take a minute to recognize Memorial Day’s roots. From laying flowers graveside to a simple moment of silence—it’s the least we can do in being thankful for our freedom.

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.

Digital Dollars: Digital Ad Revenues Soar to Record-Breaking Highs

As we seemingly live and breathe online, it’s no surprise that the world of all-things-digital is thriving. In fact, our time spent online increased by 20 percent in the past year, according to the study we are about to delve further into. In the marketing space, digital ad revenues recently reached record-breaking highs—soaring past $100 billion annually for the first time ever in FY 2018 according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. While the numbers show extreme promise for the digital advertising realm, some experts point out that threats to that success do exist. Let’s look at a few other statistics from the IAB’s report.

digital ad spend infographic

The breakdown

  • Digital ad revenues reached $107.5 billion in 2018. It’s the first time ever that digital ad revenues have surpassed $100 billion in any given year. Up from $88 billion in 2017, it marks a double-digit growth of 22 percent.
  • It was the ninth consecutive year for double-digit growth. Digital advertising continues to gain momentum, growing faster than any other marketing medium.
  • TV ad revenues were $71 billion in 2018. In the same time period that digital ad revenues broke $100 billion, TV ad revenues only saw a slight increase over the previous year’s $70 billion.
  • Mobile had $70 billion in ad spend in 2018. This captures about 65 percent of digital ad revenues and is a 40 percent increase from the previous year. Another fun fact: Mobile surpassed desktop in 2016 for the first time since the IAB started tracking these numbers.
  • Video comprised $16.3 billion in 2018 ad spend. That signifies a 37 percent increase over 2017’s $12 billion.
  • Desktop is down at 35 percent of revenues. As mobile thrives, desktop is diminishing. Ad spend for desktop platforms was down from 43 percent in 2017.
  • Social media measured $29 billion. This marks almost a 31 percent increase over the previous year. Story formats, available on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, could have helped fuel the bump, the IAB speculates.
  • Search advertising is still booming. Search ads make up about half of all digital ad revenues. The numbers rang in at $48.4 billion in 2018 up from $40 billion in 2017.
  • Digital audio is on the rise. With podcasts being popular and radio streaming services flourishing, digital audio is up 23 percent to $2.3 billion over last year’s $1.6 billion. Last year was the first time digital audio was included in the report after it topped $1 billion for the first time.

Obstacles for marketers

Though the bread and butter of marketers is tracking consumers’ digital behaviors, there’s a fine line between doing so and respecting consumer privacy. In 2017, Apple launched its first iteration of Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Apple Safari, which essentially inhibits the ability for tracking cookies to operate in the open web. Apple launched a second iteration in 2018. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google announced that it would be putting out its own set of tools to limit the way that tracking cookies are being used.

The takeaway? Marketers are facing obstacles as the landscape changes, but some factors are also swinging in their favor.

Technology that could help

The IAB bases which digital categories it includes in its report on whether or not a category represents at least a 2 percent minimum share of digital ad revenues. Digital-out-of-home advertising (think digital billboards/displays) is one of those categories that did not make the cut this year, but one that is poised to do so. Standard out-of-home advertising was up 10 percent according to the report, with much thanks to digital opportunities. According to Adweek, more than 50 percent of all out-of-home marketing buys are now digital.

In addition, the increasing sophistication of technology like AI sets brands up for success in a treasure trove of ways, including its ability to collect data and deliver ads using more relevant, personalized methods. Looking forward, experts expect 5G technology to further add to marketers’ abilities in promoting speed and efficiency in placing advertisements.

About the report

The IAB initiated its “IAB internet advertising revenue report” in 1996. Conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, the report includes data reported directly to PwC from companies selling internet advertising as well as publicly available records. Read the full 2018 IAB internet advertising revenue report here.

Summary

The numbers behind digital ad revenues in 2018 show promise for the industry—including agencies like ours that work among a variety of trade verticals. Need help with your digital marketing efforts? Call McNutt & Partners at 334-521-1010 or visit www.mcnuttpartners.com

The Case for Optimizing Copy Across Social Platforms

When our time is limited, we often look for the shortest route, not necessarily the most effective one. On social media, it can be tempting to craft a single message and blanket it across all of your social platforms. In other words, you write a post, and then you post the same thing to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Though it’s not necessarily a bad thing to post the same graphic or video to each of your social platforms on the same day, it can hurt you if you’re not optimizing copy across social platforms.

What copy are we talking about?

When you post a graphic or video to social media, it’s best practice to include a caption to go along with that visual media. The caption should either give a quick summary/explanation of the graphic or video, or if it’s a video, it could tease the video’s content. In general, captions should also include a call to action.

What do you mean, “optimizing copy across social platforms”?

Optimizing copy across social platforms means crafting your messaging differently from social network to social network in an effort to take advantage of the best features of each.

Let’s look at an example. Say you wrote the following social copy to go with a graphic about your new intern, Bob.

“Introducing our new intern, Bob Boberson! Bob is from Ontario, Canada and graduated from Auburn University with a degree in International Studies.”

Now, you go into your preferred social media management tool and send out that same copy and that same graphic to your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

WRONG!

Though that copy might be fine for Facebook, where studies have shown that users generally prefer to see fewer hashtags, it’s not the best copy you could be putting out there on Twitter and Instagram, for example. That’s because you’re missing out on some of the desired features of the other networks—like hashtags, tagging and more.

So, what should I do?

Let’s take the same example from above and show how we would craft it for each Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:

Facebook: Introducing our new intern, Bob Boberson! Bob is from Ontario, Canada and graduated from Auburn University with a degree in International Studies.

Twitter: Introducing our new intern, Bob Boberson! Bob is from #Ontario, #Canada and graduated from @AuburnU with a degree in International Studies. #EmployeeSpotlight

Instagram: Introducing our new intern, Bob Boberson! Bob is from Ontario, Canada and graduated from @auburnu with a degree in International Studies.

.

.

.

. #employeespotlight #meetus #meettheteam #ontario #ontariocanada #canada #auburn #auburnuniversity #auburnal #wareagle #internationalstudies #digitalmarketing #advertising #advertisingmomentum #mcnuttpartners

See the differences? It’s the same message, just formatted differently depending on the social network. Instagram thrives on the use of more hashtags (but we like to hide them from immediate view, hence the trail of periods). Twitter copy is limited by characters, so we only add a few hashtags there. Also, on both Twitter and Instagram, we use the “@” symbol to tag Auburn University.

Why does this even matter?

In addition to making sure you are utilizing the best features of each social network, optimizing copy across social platforms also makes sure you are not posting irrelevant copy. For example, if you wrote the above Instagram example first and just sent it along to Facebook without changing it, then your Facebook copy is going to have an “@auburnu” in it that is not actually clickable or leading anywhere. Also, your Instagram hashtags are going to be overkill on Facebook.

Put plainly, it just looks messy. Taking the time to format your copy from social platform to social platform does just that—takes time—but it is time well spent in the long run. It creates a more professional look for the content your brand is putting out there, which will help to instill confidence among social media users that you know what you’re doing.

Summary

The short way is not always the most effective way, which rings true when it comes to writing copy for your social media posts. Take the time to craft your messaging so that it makes each social platform work for you, not against you.

Need 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.

Hootsuite vs. ContentCal: Social Media Management Tools Compared

Your time is precious. If you’re not doing one thing, your time could likely be spent better doing something else that’s either more productive—or more fun. As social media has become a main means of marketing to the masses, social media management tools have been born as a result. At McNutt & Partners, we not only create the content that goes out on our clients social media pages, but we also send it out to the world. Doing that for the hundred-plus individual social media accounts we manage would get tricky without the help of the social media management programs we use—Hootsuite and ContentCal. Here, we’ll do a quick comparison of Hootsuite vs. ContentCal and point out some pros and cons of each.

Hootsuite

Pros

  • Direct Instagram publishing. Hootsuite has been granted access by Facebook to allow direct Instagram posting. This means you can schedule Instagram posts through Hootsuite and send them directly to Instagram without having to use the app on a smart phone or tablet. Huge points to Hootsuite here.
  • Developed analytics. When managing social media on a client’s behalf, analytics are key. They show that what you are doing is actually making a difference. Hootsuite has offered analytics for some time and includes categories ranging from the big picture to individual post breakdowns.
  • User-friendly mobile app. Hootsuite’s mobile app, while admittedly offering room for improvement, does provide all of the basics necessary for publishing/scheduling posts on the go. The desktop version is still the most effective way to use the program, however.
  • Integrated apps. Hootsuite offers a slew of integrated apps (some free, some paid) that aim to make your social media management experience easier. Apps like pixx.io and OneDrive help manage media, while ones like Channelview Insights and Panoramiq Insights provide analytics for YouTube and Instagram, respectively.
  • Built-in link shortener. No one likes to see lengthy links. Hootsuite provides a convenient link shortener on its “compose message” tab, which makes it convenient to produce a more appealing link.
  • More social channels. In looking at Hootsuite vs. ContentCal, Hootsuite offers more social networks to connect to, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, WordPress, YouTube and Pinterest.

Cons

  • Random failed posts. Sometimes Hootsuite randomly fails to send out posts—and explanation as to why is lacking. Hootsuite does send notifications when this happens so you can make sure to post manually if need be. This seems to happen most often with Instagram accounts with direct publishing enabled. Typically, the error message states that the social network rejected the post for “invalid data”—despite it being in the same format as thousands of others we’ve sent out before, as well as the post going through successfully when we re-send it through Hootsuite, exactly as it was originally scheduled.
  • No Facebook tagging. Hootsuite no longer allows you to tag other Facebook users in Facebook posts. If you want another page to be tagged in a Facebook post, you have to log into Facebook and manually do it.
  • Lacking user support. We all need to ask for help every now and then—even as marketing professionals! But in our personal experience, Hootsuite’s ticket-based support has been unhelpful at best and almost nonexistent at worst. Getting detailed technical answers about recurrent issues has proven impossible at times.
  • Cluttered user interface. Hootsuite’s interface is much more cluttered than ContentCal’s, with individual posts displaying in some views as tiny slivers, and filterable only by account, not by client or other grouping.
  • More expensive with support for fewer profiles. Hootsuite offers plans that range from Free to Enterprise, (which prompts you to call for pricing). The highest stated price tier on Hootsuite’s website is the Business plan at $599 per month. It includes up to 50 social profiles. The lowest is the professional at $29 per month and includes up to 10 social profiles. See ContentCal’s comparison below, but overall Hootsuite’s price tier offerings are fewer with more limited profile options. See the full list of plans here.

ContentCal

Pros

  • Facebook tagging. ContentCal recently rolled out the ability to tag other Facebook pages when creating and scheduling a post for Facebook. This is helpful from a marketing standpoint to be able to tag brands that you may be mentioning on behalf of your clients. Hootsuite removed this ability following Facebook’s crackdown on user security following the Cambridge Analytica data breach in 2018.
  • Helpful customer support. ContentCal features a “chat” option in the bottom right corner that puts you in direct content with one of a handful of people on their team—with name and photo included. We appreciate this personal touch, and every time we’ve reached out to ContentCal, our questions have been answered. ContentCal’s support team, which includes some more senior members of their staff, are all currently located in the UK. Their in-house staff communicate much more effectively than many outsourced or offshored teams (including some of Hootsuite’s) do, which makes for a smoother experience start to finish.
  • Easy stream selection. Considering you are using the same text and same image across several social platforms (Facebook, Twitter an Instagram, for example), ContentCal makes that more streamlined than Hootsuite. When you go to make a post in ContentCal, all of your platform options are there grouped together. In Hootsuite, you must select from a list that is categorized by social platform, rather than by client or user.
  • Intuitive, organized interface. ContentCal’s core concept is the use of calendars—hence the name—for organizing social media profiles. Not only does this calendar view make it very easy to group accounts by client, it also allows users to quickly and easily see, at a glance, what’s scheduled in the coming days, week, or month. ContentCal also offers custom channels, allowing users to schedule content – albeit without automatic posting – for anywhere they wish, such as a website, blog, or even offline advertising.
  • Integrated apps. ContentCal has long featured direct integration with Bitly for link shortening. Over Easter weekend, ContentCal announced that users can now connect to more than 1,000 apps by connecting ContentCal to Zapier. Apps include Slack, Trello, Dropbox, WordPress, MailChimp and many, many more.
  • Less expensive with support for more profiles: Like Hootsuite, ContentCal also includes plans that range from Free to Enterprise/Custom (call for pricing). Their highest stated price tier is $399 per month with unlimited users and unlimited calendars. Their lowest is $12 and connects up to four social accounts with one user. Compared to Hootsuite, ContentCal offers more price tiers and also has the benefit of unlimited profiles at its highest level. See the full list of plans here.

Cons

  • No direct Instagram publishing. Perhaps one of ContentCal’s biggest drawbacks—(and one that is frankly out of their control) is the fact that one cannot publish directly from ContentCal to Instagram. Instead, ContentCal’s app sends a push notification reminding you to post manually through Instagram’s app. Facebook is in control of which platforms are granted access for direct publishing, and ContentCal is currently on the waiting list.
  • Less-developed analytics. This barely counts as a con because ContentCal does offer analytics; however when comparing Hootsuite vs. ContentCal, the latter only started offering analytics recently. This simply means that ContentCal may need some time to continue to develop theirs in order to catch up with Hootsuite.
  • Limited mobile app functions. ContentCal’s app currently does not allow you to create and schedule posts. It basically serves the sole function of providing reminders that it’s time to post on Instagram. It does send your post information to Instagram upon your prompt considering you are logged into the correct Instagram account on your phone or tablet.
  • Fewer social channels. Posting through ContentCal is currently limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. When comparing Hootsuite and ContentCal, Hootsuite offers a few more options. However, with the new Zapier announcement (see “Integrated apps” under “Pros” above) there may be room to expand.

Summary

In weighing Hootsuite vs. ContentCal, there are some major plusses and minuses on both sides. Perhaps in an effort to reach some equilibrium, or to see which one comes out on top eventually, we currently use both. If you’re deciding one way or the other, use this as a guide to determine which pros you can’t live without—or which cons are just too much to bear.

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.

Identifying Marketing Goals: Looking at the Short and Long Term

We’ve all got big dreams. We dream about the fancy house we’ll live in one day, the trip around the world we’ll eventually take, and the heights we’ll ultimately reach in our careers. It’s a cliché that you’ve heard before, but keep in mind that there is a difference between dreaming and doing. You can dream all you want, but without taking action to make those dreams a reality, they’ll remain in your conscious mind. In marketing, setting goals is just as important to realizing your dreams as in any other aspect of life. Identifying marketing goals should be something you assess for both the short and long term as part of your marketing strategy. If you’re in need of some direction, check out the examples of marketing goals outlined below!

Short-Term Marketing Goals

Short-term marketing goals are ones that you should focus on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis depending. Your short-term goals are not only important for providing a means to an end (i.e., your long-term goals), but also for giving you those little bursts of confidence and senses of achievement that simply feel good.

When identifying marketing goals, consider these examples for the short term.

  • Attracting more social media followers. A well-followed social media page is a happy social media page! Think about what you can do on a daily basis to earn more followers for your social platforms.
  • Improving social media engagement. Even more important than follower counts is the amount of engagement you have on your social posts. Engagement includes the frequency with which people interact with your content—typically in the form of “likes,” “shares,” and “comments.”
  • Increasing website traffic. If your website is floating out there in cyberspace with no visitors, it’s not really doing you much good. You should be using supporting forms of media—like social, email and traditional media—on a regular basis to drive traffic to your site.
  • Growing your email list. Email is a marketing tool that is still relevant and cost-effective. Growing your email list is something you can do on a short-term basis to bolster your brand.
  • Producing more valuable content. Providing value to your brand followers is important for customer acquisition and retention. Evaluate the content you are currently pushing and assess where you can improve.
  • Enticing followers to download your content. Along with producing valuable content, you also want people to consume it. For example, if you provide resources on your website in the form of downloadable PDFs, then tracking the number of downloads per day—and increasing that number—is an example of a short-term marketing goal.
  • Generating leads. Content leads to…leads, leads lead to…sales and sales lead to…success! Each of the above short-term goals serves this short-term goal, to collect leads to business.

Long-Term Marketing Goals

Long-term marketing goals are not ones that you’ll be able to notice on a daily basis, simply because they take longer to achieve. Considering your long-term goals all at once can seem overwhelming, but that’s why you set goals in the short term to help you along the way.

When identifying marketing goals, consider these examples for the long term.

  • Increasing annual sales. You’re likely no stranger to this one in identifying marketing goals. The long term nature of this goal is in the phrase itself—annual. The point of being in business is to sell, after all.
  • Improving your search ranking. Every brand’s goal is to get to the first page of Google search; however, search engine optimization is not something that happens overnight. Small drops in the bucket are necessary to eventually improve your ranking.
  • Enhancing brand awareness. Brand awareness simply means having others notice you. Shout outs from social media influencers, being asked to speak at your local chamber of commerce, or even strong word-of-mouth advertising can all contribute to your overall brand awareness.
  • Cultivating a positive online reputation. Awareness is one thing, but reputation is another. You want people to be aware of you, but in a positive light. A solid set of positive reviews via Facebook or Google, for example, is something that you have to build over time.
  • Retaining more customers. If consumers are happy, they’ll come back. You can’t have repeat customers until you have first-time customers, so this one falls into the long-term goals category.
  • Launching a new product or service. Planning on putting something new out for your followers? Good for you! It takes time, and that’s OK. This long term marketing goal may warrant a build-up over several years.
  • Implementing a new marketing strategy. A marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan for achieving your short- and long-term marketing goals. It’s all come full-circle!

Identifying marketing goals makes it easier to paint a clear picture for where your brand is, where it is going and where you want it to be.

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.

Operation Marketing: 8 Components of an Effective Marketing Strategy

How many times have you seen ad agencies advertise that they can help you “develop a killer marketing strategy”? (For some reason, “killer” is a frequently-used adjective in this context, but moving on.) Hearing that you should have a marketing strategy, but not knowing exactly what that entails, can certainly invoke a bit of anxiety. We’re here to help ease your concerns. The components of an effective marketing strategy are concepts you are likely already familiar with.

What is a marketing strategy?

Put simply, a marketing strategy is a plan of action. It is a means to an end—a set of actions leading up to a goal or set of goals in regards to advertising. In other words, if you’ve got goals for your brand or business, a marketing strategy is a research-based, organized plan for setting those goals in motion.

Why is having a marketing strategy important?

Defining marketing strategy also involves taking into account your audience and its needs. A marketing strategy serves to identify your target audience and outline how your marketing messaging is going to appeal to your audience’s needs. Without strategy, you might as well be throwing wet noodles against a wall to see what sticks—and with oodles of competition out there, you can’t afford to be throwing wet noodles.

Developing a marketing strategy will help to keep you focused on your objectives—and the tactics involved in reaching those objectives. All of this is in an effort to make sure you get what you want out of your marketing efforts with the overarching goal of seeing your brand thrive. A marketing strategy can ultimately save you money—so you are not wasting your time and money on futile efforts.

What does a good marketing strategy include?

OK, time to get out your pen and paper (or more likely, computer and keyboard). Note these components of an effective marketing strategy:

  • Target audience. Before you craft your marketing messaging, and before you decide how you’re going to put it out there, you need to know who it is that you are talking to. Just like you might talk differently in a business meeting than you would on a Saturday out with friends, the theme of your marketing messaging—and the way it’s delivered—depends on who is on the receiving end. You can define a target audience for a particular campaign, or define one for your marketing strategy overall—as long as you make sure you are marketing to people who are actually (potentially) interested in your product or service.
  • Market assessment. Examining market dynamics is another among the components of an effective marketing strategy. Once you know the types of consumers you want to pinpoint, you need to examine trends happening within those respective markets. For example, look for opportunities in the marketplace where consumer needs are not currently being met, and focus on solutions in those niches.
  • Awareness of the competition. The goal is to always be ahead of the competition, so you don’t know where “ahead” is unless you do your research. Study what your rivals are doing in order to position yourself optimally in the market. The idea here is to determine what you can be doing differently than other brands in your market, not to replicate what they are already doing.
  • Objectives—short and long-term. We all want to strike it rich and retire happy. But when it comes to components of an effective marketing strategy, we need to be a little more specific. Short-term goals could include generating leads, growing social media following by “X” amount or increasing website traffic. Long-term goals are the results of achieving short-term goals, and can include items like enhancing overall brand awareness, improving your Google search ranking or cultivating a positive brand reputation via positive reviews. Everything your marketing strategy encompasses serves to make these goals a reality.
  • Appealing content. A solid requirement for a marketing strategy? Marketing content. What words, stories, images, etc. are you going to use to appeal to the masses? This is where you will decide on your marketing messaging—on the hook you are going to use to appeal to your potential consumers. The specific content involved in this messaging will depend on your target audience; however, to appeal to human beings, your hook should do at least one or more of the following:
      • Create a narrative
      • Appeal to emotions
      • Add value for consumers
      • Be relevant and relatable
  • Multiple marketing channels. Hand-in-hand with what your content is saying is how you are putting it out into the world. Your marketing strategy should detail what marketing channels you will use to disseminate information. Your content should exist on multiple platforms, which may include social media, websites, apps, or traditional marketing means like print and out-of-home (OOH) advertising like billboards or signage.
  • Timeline for execution. Creating a timeline for executing your marketing strategy will help you stay on task with the steps you’ve outlined to meet your goals. Having a specific timeframe in mind is also inherently necessary for goal-setting, as goals typically include having “X” activity done by “X” amount of time.
  • A budget. Thinking about money is never the fun part, but budgeting for your marketing strategy will ultimately help you save in the long run. It will prevent you from overspending on potentially ineffective efforts—especially if you do all of your research first.

We know—all of these components of an effective marketing strategy can seem overwhelming. If that’s the case for you, then enlist some 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.

 

 

Images and SEO: Best Practices for Using Alt Text

In 2019, we’re always searching. Searching for something to make for dinner tonight. Searching for a route to take on our next road trip. Searching for someone to call our significant other. With search engines like Google at our fingertips 24/7, both searching—and ideally, finding—have become second nature. In marketing, we want our brands to be found in these everyday searches, and that’s where SEO (search engine optimization) comes in. You may know that the copy and keywords in your online content have a direct effect on SEO, but images and SEO also go hand in hand, which requires using alt text.

What images should I optimize for search?

Before we talk about using alt text, let’s pinpoint the images that we will be applying it to. Though images are a powerful tool to have on deck in almost all instances of marketing, here we are specifically referring to the images that you post to your website—such as on your blog. Pairing your blog copy with images is a smart move for getting more people to engage with your content. It’s been proven that people respond better to visuals than text, so as a rule of thumb, every article you post to your website should have an image to go along with it.

You can and should also optimize stand-alone images posted to your site’s other pages beyond your blog. This includes images used as buttons for calls to action, like “click here,” and “read more.”

Adding alt text to your images is an important way to help them get indexed by search engines.

What is alt text?

When it comes to images and SEO, there’s a little terminology you need to get to know: alt text (sometimes called alt tag). The term “alt text” is an abbreviation for an alt attribute on an “img tag” in HTML.

If that confuses you, the basic principle of alt text is this: it describes the appearance and function of an image on a page. For example, if there is a picture of a stack of waffles, the alt text could simply read “waffles” or “stack of waffles.” If there is an image that calls for viewers to click to redeem an offer, the alt text could say “button to click to redeem offer.” Short, sweet and simple.

A few more specific uses for alt text includes:

  • Help for the visually impaired. Screen readers read off the words included in alt text for blind and visually impaired persons visiting a website to tell them what is on an image.
  • Search indexing. When search engines are crawling websites, they’ll use the alt text on the site’s images to better categorize them.
  • If an image does not download for whatever reason, the alt text will be used in place of the image.

Why is alt text important?

Using alt text both improves the user experience and can benefit you in terms of SEO. To address the first point, alt text at its base function serves to describe to users what they are seeing. As mentioned above, this includes screen readers that serve to help the visually impaired. Adding alt text to your images ensures that you are not leaving anyone out when it comes to being able to interpret your content.

Images and SEO comprise another equally important reason for using alt text. Though search engines are smart, they still can’t “see” images like humans can—with context taken into account. Thus, alt text serves to tell search engines what they are seeing. For example, if you have a picture of Tom Hanks wearing a sombrero and eating an omelette on your site, a search engine might see it as “man, wearing hat and eating.” However, if you want to rank for a picture of “Tom Hanks wearing a sombrero eating an omelette,” the alt text allows you to add that level of specificity.

Where do I add alt text?

In HTML code, alt text looks like this (using our waffles example from above):

<img src= “waffles.jpg” alt=“waffles”>

At McNutt & Partners, we use WordPress as the platform for our websites. WordPress makes it foolproof to add alt text sans code. When adding an image to a post in WordPress, look for “Attachment Details” on the right side of the “Add Media” screen. Then, you simply add your alt text where it says “Alt Text.”

Best practices for using alt text

Though we used a very straightforward example, there is an art to writing alt text that can make it more effective. Here are a few practices to follow:

  • Be accurate. Make sure the text you’re using to label the image as, is actually what the image conveys.
  • Be brief, but comprehensive. Most screen readers cut off alt text at about 125 characters. That being said, “man wearing sombrero eating omelettes for breakfast” is better than just “man eating.”
  • Avoid unnecessary words. Along the same vein as keeping things brief, you don’t need to include phrases like “image of,” or “picture of” (i.e., “picture of waffles). It is inherently assumed that alt text is referring to an image.
  • Use keywords. Alt text gives you an opportunity to include keywords that you would like to rank for in search. Make sure to include them in order to reap the benefits of using alt text for SEO.

Using alt text is a simple task with potentially huge payoffs that you should add to your SEO checklist. Need 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.