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Chamber Marketing 101: Be Local. Get Connected. Stay Awesome.

You’re a business owner who has an endless array of daily tasks to attend to. Your day-to-day operations depend on your attention to detail and oversight and knowing how to market your business — including chamber marketing — is just one thing of many on your plate. In other words, your time is valuable.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and it’s important to be protective of your schedule, dropping any activities that aren’t productive. One thing you should never skip, however, is an opportunity to network and connect with other local business owners. Joining your local Chamber of Commerce and participating in meetings and other events is an investment in your business. But, this is one investment that you can see an almost immediate return on.

What Is the Chamber?

The Chamber, short for the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, is an organization that helps businesses connect with one another. It’s a platform by which business owners can help influence public policies that benefit themselves, their fellow business owners and the community. It is the largest business association in the country. From 450 local chapters across Canada, they support and represent the interests of over 200,000 businesses. Those local Chambers are an incredibly rich source of valuable resources.

Why Join a Local Chamber?

Membership in a local chamber of commerce has a multitude of benefits for business owners. From networking opportunities to education and business information to advocacy and marketing opportunities, the chamber supports businesses on an individual basis. The most important benefit, however, is being connected to other business leaders within the community who seek opportunities to grow, learn, and do business together.

Networking Opportunities

Communication these days is often accomplished in the digital realm. That doesn’t mean that face-to-face meetings aren’t important. In fact, they’re more important than ever. Monthly chamber events, meetings, roundtable discussions, and other chamber activities are a great way for business leaders to meet and form beneficial relationships. In turn, they can work together to ensure the marketplace remains competitive and that no company has an unfair advantage.

Relationship Building

Local business owners have more in common with one another than profits, they’re also interesting individuals. Building relationships, at the business and personal level, is important for a person’s health and well-being. Taking part in local Chamber activities, like the Bonnyville Chamber of Commerce’s trip to India, is a fun way to make new friends, and build strong business relationships at the same time.

Regularly Scheduled Events

Every local chamber maintains a calendar of events for the coming month, making it easy to plan ahead. While attendance at all the events isn’t mandatory, they provide ample opportunity to learn and grow. For example, the St. Paul & District Chamber is offering several events in January. These events offer help for small businesses, including tax advice, customer service related information and many other business topics.

Chamber Marketing Opportunities

A fantastic way for a business owner to connect with other like-minded individuals is to attend a Chamber Connect event. There’s one held on the 2nd Wednesday of every month at the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce. It’s a meet-and-greet type event where people exchange business cards, discuss important matters, and create valuable partnerships. It’s an especially potent marketing tool for B2B businesses since the members are all business owners themselves.

There are also a number of other ways you can market through your local chamber, including:

  • Placing an ad in chamber email fanouts that go to members
  • Sponsoring an event
  • Advertising on their websites
  • Being listed in their business directory

Policy Input

Business owners are among the most influential people in our communities. They drive economic growth and have a major impact on policies that affect the affect the entire community.

Joining a chamber, like the Alberta LGBT¬†Chamber of Commerce, gives business leaders the opportunity to impact policies and influence the chamber’s advocacy agenda. Whether it’s by participating in a committee, submitting policy change resolutions, or simply speaking out, members are a key element of the chamber’s decision-making process.

Access to Information

Keeping pace with federal legislation, new rules and regulations, and local business initiatives is a challenge, to say the least. Members of the chamber have unlimited access to information about these important topics as well as expert advice from policy experts. Whether it’s a question about local licensing requirements or a federally mandated regulation, business owners can quickly find an answer to avoid complications later. They can also share their experiences and knowledge with other members.

Tools and Resources

Business leaders have access to a wide variety of tools and other resources through their local chamber aimed at helping them to serve the community and their customers better. Small business tools, webinars, videos, podcasts, workshops, and other information is all just a click away. Chamber events and conferences not only provide valuable information but also facilitate networking between members. In addition, many chamber members are also experts in finance, marketing, and other business topics and offer advice and assistance.

Chamber Benefit Programs

Chamber membership can also help save a business money through one of the value-added benefits programs available. Programs vary from discounts on professional services and products to access to free business tools. These additional benefits can be a real benefit to new business on a limited budget as well as established companies looking for ways to maximize their profit margins by decreasing costs.

Improved Public Image

Joining the local chamber and becoming a participating member has benefits that are difficult to measure. One of those benefits has to do with public perception. When a prospect or customer sees that you’re affiliated with the chamber, they’re more likely to perceive you as a trustworthy, community-minded business. In other words, membership is like a badge of honour that sets your business apart from non-chamber members.

Conclusion

Your business needs a presence, both in real-life and digitally, and marketing is an absolute necessity in today’s world. If you’re not connecting with local business owners and leaders, you’re missing a very important part of the equation.

If you operate a B2B business, local chamber members are all prospective customers. They’re also allies who will work with you to influence policies that affect you all. In short, joining the local chamber is one of the smartest things a Canadian business owner could do.

Contact us to learn more about the benefits of chamber marketing and how we can help you with your digital marketing strategies!

5 Google Adwords Tips that Turn Clicks Into Customers

Visibility in Google is one of the things you need to do to get more customers. It’s why the Search Engine Optimization industry exists. It’s why businesses fight tooth and nail for every keyword available.

After all, Google’s share in the search engine market is 90.14% around the world. If you want to ensure that your digital marketing effort is productive, you need to prioritize this over ranking on any other search engine.

One of the best strategies is Google AdWords.

Not sure how it works? We’ve got you covered. Here are five Google AdWords tips that will turn your clicks into loyal customers:

1. Choosing Different Keyword Targeting Options

Keyword targeting refers to utilizing keywords relevant to the service or products you offer specifically for ad copy. It’s a system that aims to boost your rankings and ads, and it leans on potential consumers using keywords in their searches.

Keep in mind it’s not as simple as picking a single keyword and then focusing your entire campaign around it. There are different targeting options, which include at the basic level:

  • Exact match
  • Broad match
  • Phrase match
  • Negative keywords

An exact match is what most people imagine when it comes to keywords. You type in “best shoemaker” and your ads will only pop up when someone uses those exact words, in that exact sequence.

A broad match, on the other hand, means your ads will appear when people type in any search using a broad matched keyword such as “shoes”. This means your ad will appear for searches like “best shoes”, “running shoes” or… “horseshoes”.

Phrase match refers to long queries, like phrases or complete sentences, that include the exact keyword. Examples would be “shoemaker in New York” or “how to find the best shoemaker.”

Negative keywords are essentially keyword modifiers. You can add the supplement “horse” so that people searching “horseshoe” won’t see your ads when they type “horse” into a search engine.

2. Choose the Best Landing Page

A common mistake for most people is that they only use their homepage as the landing page for targeted ads.

This is often a bad idea because your homepage doesn’t cater directly to the user queries. It’s a bad practice to let your potential customers clicking through three levels of your site to find the information they want.

If you want to make money with PPC ads, you have to not only bring people to the page, but you have to give them a reason to stay and spend money once they get to the destination. Think about the page your customers will most likely need. In most situations, you might need a specific product page.

For example, if your users search for “blue sunglasses,” you need to make the corresponding product page as the target URL.

The faster you can get them what they need, the more chances you have to convert them.

3. Enable Sitelinks

Doing this means that the bottom of the ad will also show a set of other pages on your website. These high-level links are great when you want potential customers to look for other information and services on your site. Enabling the site links can help get your customers to the places they might want in a quicker, more convenient way, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

If you want to know more about this, Google provides a comprehensive guide that gives a sample pizza store’s site links. You can see the four options it offers which can interest people. Regular customers aren’t likely to go through the same landing link all the time, so the option makes it easier for them to return.

4. Make Use of Reviews to Get More Trust

The most important factor for customers to choose you over your competitors is the customer reviews. When people choose between ads, a lot of customers will pick the website with at least 4.9 stars rating over a business that has no ratings.

Pretty much like the site links mentioned above, your customer reviews are great extensions for your ads. However, doing this requires you to register to the Google Product Search. The reason behind it is that the search engine uses all the reviews it pulled from all over the internet to ensure that the aggregate score is trustworthy and not prone to manipulations of any kind.

5. Geotarget Your Preferred Customers

This tip is one of the most common things you must do to get the most out of your Google AdWords campaign. Despite this, geotargeting is often forgotten and overlooked. It’s vital to target people within your area especially if your services depend on a fixed location, like local businesses and the like.

If your business is in Canada, it doesn’t do you good to target potential customers in Korea. Do this properly, and you’ll get benefits like a higher probability of getting clicks and turn those clicks into guaranteed sales.

Bonus: Pause Your Underperforming Ads

The harsh truth is that not all your ads will get you conversions and sales. In fact, basing it on averages, most of them will not perform as well as you want them to. You can optimize all your ads in lots of different ways, but if it isn’t performing well, it won’t be for the time being.

If you continue seeing any significant performance metrics with your ads, you might want to pull it out. It’s not hard to see when the ad isn’t doing too good. Don’t spend money on ads that aren’t getting you any new customers.

You need to ensure that your Click-Through-Rate (CTR) should be at a minimum 0.5%. The average of a successful AdWords text ad often sees a CTR at 2%.

Get Google AdWords Tips Today!

Promoting your business with the use of Google AdWords is a great way to get an audience and generate conversions. However, you need to remember all these tips to ensure that you get the money you’re paying for. After all, it’s important to maximize your budget to ensure that you can expand in the future.

There are other Google AdWords tips to consider, like integrating your Adwords account with your Google Analytics. It might be a long road ahead, but all of it is worth getting more revenue from your conversions.

Do you need help with a better online presence? Contact us today and we’ll help you get started!

Personal Branding vs. Corporate Branding: What’s The Difference?

Chances are if you’re reading this article you already understand the importance of branding. Branding is an integral part of marketing. It works alongside your other marketing efforts to create a vision of what your company’s values embody.

Corporate branding and personal branding do however have some rather critical differences.

It can be easy to mix the two up and blurring the lines can sometimes leave you, and your company in a sticky mess.

Many worry about their company image becoming too personal and don’t ever attempt to incorporate any personal branding. For others, the thought of using corporate branding scares them. Some just have no clue about the difference between the two.

Luckily, this article will clear up some myths and take you through the difference between corporate branding and personal branding for you.

Let’s get started.

First, a Quick Overview of Branding

When you are considering branding first, you have to understand what that actually means.

When it comes to the dictionary definition, Branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.

Here’s the simplest way we here at Octopus Creative define brand: Branding is about the promise of a memorable experience. It’s about creating an expectation and delivering it consistently every time anyone comes into contact with your brand, whether it’s the way you answer the phone, how your website functions, your social media presence, your brand voice or how your product/service performs. It’s how you make your customers feel when they are interacting with your brand.

In essence, branding is taking something as simple as water, which is clear, transparent and seemingly obvious and creating a perception and belief in the brand created.

For example:

  • Perrier’s water branding makes it seem refreshing, bubbly and high-end
  • Evian’s brand makes you feel young
  • Fiji Water’s brand embodies health, purity, and nature

But all are just clear translucent water; it’s how they created the brand image that made them stand apart.

So why bother branding? Because the main benefit of branding and the reason to employ branding is to boost profits.

What’s the Difference Between Corporate Branding and Personal Branding?

When it comes to the difference between corporate branding and personal branding, it’s important to look at both the pro’s and con’s of both types of branding and when it’s most effective.

When a Personal Brand Works

It’s never been easier to create a personal brand for yourself. The tools that are available today allow you to create a website and social media for yourself as a brand that can run alongside your business.

Deciding which type of brand you want to create for your person is a challenging subject, so let’s go through some benefits and negatives.

Pro’s of a Personal Brand

Personal brands can be flexible. This is an important point to remember, as your business grows, sometimes so do the services that you offer.

If you’ve created your brand completely around one service or product offering, suddenly changing that could be a problem for your corporate branding. Developing a personal brand is something you build around your name and you as an individual, therefore it’s easy to change what your focus is.

If you want to develop a speaking career, a personal brand is a great way to begin as it can help to associate your name with your area of expertise.

Personal brands also tie really well into one-man-band industries. If you are an author, artist, professional speaker, or Youtuber, having a strong personal brand will help to boost your business and attract new and interesting customers, viewers, bookers, or whomever your target audience is.

Con’s of a Personal Brand

When you invest heavily in a personal brand, you will need to associate your brand with what you do. You can do this with something like a tagline that you use regularly with everything you do. You can also associate with what you offer by pairing your name with interviews, articles, creating social media posts and booking speaking engagements around your area of expertise.

This can be risky though. If something were to ever happen to you–whether a medical issue or a PR issue–you may not have the framework in place to have your business run without you in the spotlight, and you may not be able to effectively separate yourself from the business, which is you.

It can also be hard to sell a business that has been built on a personal brand, and even when starting out it can be an important factor to consider. You may have no plans of selling your business now, but if in the future there’s even a chance of this happening, it’s an important thing to consider.

When a Corporate Brand Works

When you are looking to create a corporate brand, it’s going to take a lot more upfront work. Why? Because rather than using your name you’ve built years of credibility behind, you’re going to be making a new one, out of thin air.

This can mean a lot of hard work as you craft meaningful words out of nothing but the effort could be well worth it in the end.

Let’s run through some of the reasons you may or may not decide to choose corporate branding for your business.

Pro’s of a Corporate Brand

When you focus on corporate branding, you force yourself to consider the plans for your business–your business is now a real, legal person if you’ve formed a corporation. When it comes to selecting your businesses name, you have to think about a variety of different things like:

  • Who your ideal customer is
  • What your business will offer
  • What people will know your business for
  • How you want to stand out in a crowded market

Going through this process helps you to create a vision in your head for what you want people to know your business for and where you see it going. This vision goes above and beyond the name and tagline of your business.

Corporate branding also allows you to position the company exactly where you want to be from the get-go. You can use all the words you like, so make sure to find a few that adequately express what your business is offering.

This helps you to get your customer to understand exactly what you are all about from just hearing your name.

Corporate brands are also a lot easier to sell than personal brands. If you can create a recognizable brand that’s an asset, then other people may be happy to pay for.

Con’s of a Corporate Brand

Unlike personal brands, corporate branding is much more labour intensive. You’ll create a picture of what your company is all about, while you are still building it from the ground up and you may have to do it with multiple people that need to try to come to a consensus.

You’ll also find that corporate brands aren’t as flexible to change as a personal brand. If you decide to change course and offer something completely different you may force yourself to start a second business.

What Branding Is Right for You?

With both choices presenting different advantages, it’s time to consider which brand option is the best for you and your business.

For more help coming up with a spot-on brand strategy for your business, contact us today.

SEM: What is It and How to Get Started

Online advertising has a lot in common with its analog counterparts. You want to place your solution where the most people can find it–high traffic areas.

If you are new to the online business game, the prospect of getting your solution on the front page of Google may sound daunting. There’s a lot you need to do, from blogging to keyword optimization–all falling under this vague label, SEM.

Check out this article for a head start on learning about what SEO SEM marketing is and how it can help you rise through the ranks of Google.

What Is SEM?

Okay, let’s start with the basics.

SEM stands for search engine marketing. The term encompasses a series of strategies that work together to improve your standing in Google’s ranking system–which is based on a complex set of algorithms we don’t need to get into today.

SEM is a term that is sometimes used interchangeably with PPC (Pay-Per-Click) and this is about paying for ads that show up on Google and Bing or even on sites like Youtube and Kijiji

In all reality, SEM encompasses SEO, and SEO SEM marketing isn’t just for people trying to make their mark on a global or national level. Often, it works well for small businesses like restaurants and shops that rely on connecting with their immediate community online to boost sales in person.

 

So, Can I Really Influence Search Results?

Yes, but you’ll need to put in the work or pay for the clicks.

One of the best ways to ensure you’ve got a place at the top of the heap is to regularly put out high-quality content that actually helps people. This means you’re writing (or paying someone to write) how-to guides that inform–not blatant product plugs. Essentially, you’re writing industry-specific articles that keep others informed. The point is, you’ve got something other people don’t–a skill, an awesome menu, or insight into a complex topic people want to learn more about.

Some Strategies for SEO SEM Marketing Content include:

SEO & PPC: Keyword Research

Because we’re talking content strategy, your starting point should be keywords. Why? Because keywords signal to Google that your content can help answer the questions web users are asking and it also forms the foundation of your PPC bid strategies.

Pretty simple, sure. The hard part, however, is finding out which keywords relate to your business. Start by making a list of all the terms that correspond to your website–then see how your competitors rank for those keywords.

Hubspot has an article that lays this process out in simple terms.

SEO Specific: Writing Blog Posts and Articles

Once you’ve got your keywords in place, it’s time to get writing. Blogs and articles are an easy way to share bits of information with your audience. They function as a way to add more pages to your website, increasing the number of times your site is indexed by Google.

Additionally, good content functions as a sales pitch of sorts for your company. If people like what you have to say, they may subscribe to your RSS feed, keep tabs on your social channels, and more.

SEO in 2018: Video Content

Video is blowing up these days–and for good reason. Short videos on Instagram stories or on Facebook present a unique opportunity to connect with your customers and show off the more “human” side of your business.

Spreading The Word: Promoting Content Via Social Media

Social media is especially important to small businesses. While you might feel like this isn’t the best use of your already limited time, think again. Pushing blog posts, articles, and updates out through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram is a great way to reach your audience and drive traffic back to your website. Plus, there are plenty of programs–Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social–that allow you to pre-schedule posts and save time.

Beyond the promotion part of the equation, social media can help you keep tabs on what content is performing well for your competitors as well as what people are talking about in your niche.

SEO Basics: Don’t Forget About Backlinks

Building backlinks is a little tricky.

Google uses a variety of signals to determine the quality of the links that connect to your website, and some are better than others. If a popular news source or a government website connects to your content, that can be a huge boost–a vote of confidence that prompts the search engine to bump you up.

But, you’re not going to get these links overnight, no matter how good your product or your content. To get started, reach out to smaller blogs and review sites and find out if they’ll link back to you. Ask customers to link to your site or do something newsworthy.

A lot of backlink building has to do with building relationships with people willing to talk about you online. If you’re active on social media, create good content, and offer top-notch service, it’s a matter of plugging away and making an effort to connect. If your content is lacking or non-existent, spend some time improving what you’ve got.

Pay Attention to the Competition

SEO SEM marketing doesn’t exist in a bubble. You can’t keep your head down and bang out content without keeping tabs on the competition.

Take a look at competitive sites in your niche and see what others are doing in terms of content. Are people making videos to promote their products and services, or are blog posts more the norm?

Make Sure Your SEO SEM Strategy Is Well-Documented

Monitor your efforts and see what sticks. Maybe your articles do better than your videos or vice versa. Maybe you need to spend more time fostering the kind of relationships that build backlinks.

Track your metrics through tools like Moz, AhRefs, and Google Analytics. Seek out broken backlinks and remove them. Make your content as attractive and grammatically correct as possible.

There’s a ton you can do, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work on the docket, we understand. Octopus Creative¬†specializes in the full scope of web marketing services from content creation to search engine optimization and SEM.

Call us at 1-866-205-8488 to learn more.

The Impact of Voice Assistants on the Future of SEO

Voice assistants are changing the technological landscape. As technology evolved from PCs to mobile, from typing to voice controls, companies had to adapt to these changing environments.

Voice search is growing at an exponential rate and will become the norm. Comscore predicts that voice searches will make up 50% of all searches by 2020.

Since people are looking for information using voice commands, that will certainly impact search engine optimization.

Will your company be prepared?

Keep reading to learn how voice search will impact SEO and how you can prepare for it.

What Are Voice Searches?

A voice search is an internet search that’s done using your voice, instead of typing.

They’re done by using voice assistants, the main ones being Google Home, Cortana, Alexa, and Siri. You can find these assistants on any number of devices, from smartphones to home speakers.

The big reason why mobile searches are on the rise is that they’re fast and convenient. We can only type about 40-60 words per minute. We can speak 150 minutes per minute.

They’re also easily accessible. All you have to do is make a verbal request to your phone or your speaker and you can have your answer instantly.

How Will Voice Assistants Impact SEO?

Voice assistants are changing the way we search for information, which means that search results will be impacted, too. Here are the top things you need to know about how SEO and voice search.

The Rise of Micro moments

The first major change to SEO is how people are searching. The same way that mobile changed how we search, voice search is expected to follow a similar trend. Searches have become more urgent and impulsive on voice and mobile.

Google classifies these searches as micro-moments. They’re the moments when we want to know something immediately and we pick up a smartphone to get the information.

There are four types of micro-moments.

I want to know” moments happen when someone is researching, but not ready to buy. They want useful information.

An example would be if someone sees a TV commercial and wants to know more about the company or product.

I want to go” moments are when people are looking for a local business. Most of these searches are for restaurants near me.

I want to do” moments happen when people are looking for information on how to do something. This could be how to do a home project or how to lose weight.

I want to buy” moments occur when someone is ready to make a purchase. They might need more information on what to buy or how to buy.

The lesson for your business is to be the one to provide the information at that moment. You have to be mobile friendly. Plus, your information has to be relevant to the questions at hand.

Search Results are More Personalized

Keywords are still relevant to search results, but they won’t dominate search optimization the way they used to.

There’s been a shift from keyword-based results to semantic results. That means that Google is getting better at understanding what you’re really looking for.

For example, if you search for “movies Cold Lake,” you’ll get results about the movie theatres closest to you and their movie times.

Voice assistants integrate with your smartphone and other devices. They already store data about the apps you have on your phone, what you’re searching for, and places you’ve been.

That information allows search engines to give you the information that is most relevant to you.

How Can You Prepare for Voice Search?

It may seem overwhelming to understand how your search results will be impacted by voice assistants. There are ways to prepare your site, and it’s not as difficult as it may seem.

You just need to put yourself in the user’s shoes.

A Mobile Site is Non-Negotiable

If you were to only do one thing to get your site ready for voice searches, it is an absolute must to make that one thing to get your site ready for mobile searches.

That starts with having a responsive website.

Google has already taken a step in that direction by implementing mobile-first indexing, which means that it will crawl the mobile version of a site to see how it should appear in search results.

You’ll want to check to see how mobile friendly your site it. A good place to start is by using Google’s Mobile Site Speed Test.

It will tell you how your site operates on mobile devices and give you tips on how you can make it even faster.

Local SEO is Critical

Just like on desktop and mobile searches, local SEO holds the same level of importance in voice searches.

Think about the “I want to go” micro-moments. How can you position your company to be in those search results?

  1. Claim your Google My Business and Bing Places Listings. These listings have to be completely filled in and with photos.
  2. Encourage online reviews. This is part of the directory listings. Google knows that when people are looking for information, they’re looking for the best. The more positive reviews you have, the more likely you’ll appear at the top of search results.

Create Content That Answers Questions

Content still matters for SEO. With voice assistants, you need to shift your content strategy because search has become a two-way conversation.

People are generally looking for immediate answers to questions. Search terms start with Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

These phrases come naturally when we speak, but not so much when we type.

For example, when you type a query, you might just type “Sinclair CANWNT” to learn more about Christine Sinclair’s career with the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team.

When you’re speaking naturally, you’ll say “When did Christine Sinclair start with the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team?”

Your task is to create content around such questions as they relate to your business. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think about how they would go about finding information about your product or service.

Voice Assistants are the Future

Voice assistants are an exciting wave of the future.

By understanding how they are used, you can prepare your business to pounce on the emerging opportunities.

If you have any questions about how you can get your business ready for voice search, contact us today.