Author Archives: Rachel Clark

How to Create Content That Draws Traffic

create content

Drawing people to even the most well-designed websites can be challenging. Creating content that draws traffic to your site is important, but even more crucial is making sure your SEO-approved content makes sense and keeps their attention. In this blog, I’ll go over the importance of UX-friendly content meant to prompt reaction, and give you an outline to create content that works in your favor.

Well-cultivated UX

The content on your site should be created with user experience in mind. You’re probably already on the SEO bandwagon with the rest of the internet, but if not, be sure to optimize your site for search engines for the best chance at drawing people from Google or Bing. Find your site’s most and least visited pages through Google Analytics, to identify weak areas and improve your content accordingly.  Most importantly, make sure the placement of content on every page of your site is visually navigable, with an easy-to-understand format and clear visuals where necessary. Every bit of your content is there for a reason—nothing is there without reason.

Create Content That Elicits a Response

Good content should elicit a response from the people who interact with your site. First, it’s important to identify the response you’re looking fordo you want people to contact your business for services, or take an online assessment that will give you information on site visitor demographics? Knowing your end goal will help you focus your content—the more focused, the better your responses. Finally, be sure to give explicit calls-to-action to get people moving, directing them to the right page or giving them access to a simple contact form. Bottom line: if you ask people who go to your site to do something, make sure they know what they’re being asked to do, why they should do it, and how.

The Anatomy of Good Content

Now that you know the importance of well-structured content, we’ll take a closer look at the most important components:

1. A strong headline.

Having a strong headline to bring the reader in is the first thing that will grab their attention. Remember, not too general—stay focused. Make it a simple, direct statement that your next section expands upon.
“Bring Austin’s #1 Churros to Your Celebrity Event”

2. Create content that is engaging & thought-provoking.

Answer the question created by your headline. Be prepared to back up any claims you’ve made. Use visuals and graphics where applicable.
“In 2016, Churro Monthly named us the #1 Churro Spot in the Austin area. This March, we launched our catering business at the SXSW premiere of the Lord of the Rings Ultimate Director’s Cut.”
[Pictured: Elijah Wood eating a churro like his life depends on it.]

3. A clear call-to-action.

As I mentioned earlier, CTAs tell site visitor exactly what to do, and where, with the information you’ve just given to them.

“Contact us to cater your next birthday, party, or movie premiere.”

[contact form]

(P.S. This content was created for example purposes only. There is no Churro Monthly, nor is there a LotR Ultimate Director’s Cut. Elijah Wood does, however, love churros.)

It’s an art form to create content for your site that meets all of the above criteria, but it’s not impossible. Be sure to make navigable content through research, practice, and reworking for the best user experience. Give visitors to your site direction with focused content that keeps their interest. Once you’ve nailed your perfect method, you’ll be able to fill your site with searchable, interesting content that gets the right benefits for your brand or business.

Christmas with Kentucky – A Holiday Marketing Case Study

marketing

According to branding legend, foreigners visiting Japan in the 1970’s on Christmas had a hard time finding turkey to have for their holiday meal, so they had the next best thing—a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The story was passed on from employees to managers and eventually turned into the wildly popular “Christmas with Kentucky marketing campaign that spun into a national phenomenon. Now, families in Japan line up around the block at KFC locations, sometimes reserving special Christmas with Kentucky dinners that include champagne and cake, months in advance. At first glance, waiting in line for hours at a fast food restaurant on Christmas sounds crazy, but by looking closely it’s easy to see the tradition’s familiar roots, and learn a few lessons about successful marketing.

Think Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box (or bucket) helped KFC become a holiday success in Japan. Fast food places from the west, like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and KFC, started popping up in Japan in the 1970’s, and now have thousands of locations nationwide, plus Japan-based fast food chains to compete with. By thinking beyond the scope of what fast food restaurants are known for—a place to grab a cheap, quick meal—KFC turned an amusing anecdote into a nationwide phenomenon. Pay attention to the most unconventional ways people interact with your business or brand—it could give you inspiration for a new approach to your marketing.

Create a Niche

In an alternate reality, Japanese families are lining up around the block at Burger King locations across the nation for their annual Christmas Whopper. It sounds crazy, but the reality is, any other fast food company could have done what KFC did by using aggressive marketing to cement their product as the thing to have for Christmas dinner in Japan. KFC created a niche for themselves in a market where the population doesn’t celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday. Look for holes that need to be filled, and see how your brand or business could fit, then laser-focus your marketing to cement your legacy.

Make Marketing Fun

If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’ve probably seen a handful of quirky advertisements from Japan. Ad campaigns get rolled out for new menu items at fast food places often, and it’s exactly ads like this that helped make “Christmas with Kentucky” a widely-known phrase and an annual tradition. You probably won’t have to recruit major Hollywood stars for your commercials, but having a finger on the pulse of pop culture keeps you on-trend. Don’t be afraid to loosen the tie—Japanese commercials might seem strange to the West, but they blur the line between entertainment and advertising. In a time where the internet makes this a necessity, looking to a market where the two were integrated long ago gives good insight on how risk-taking in marketing can work to your advantage.

Your brand or business exists with a purpose in mind, but looking beyond the strict guidelines you’ve set for yourself can lead to creative new branding ideas. Once you’ve found that unique thing that sets your brand apart from your competitors, strategically target your marketing. Don’t be afraid to take risks and have a little fun, especially in holiday marketing. After a long, stressful year, the holidays are a time to take a breather, have a little fun, and look forward to the year ahead—maybe over a bucket of fried chicken.

Vine’s Shutdown – Social Media Changes and Their Effect on Business

social media changes - the vine shutdown

Social media changes are inevitable. Vine, the popular video short-form video streaming service, announced last week that it would soon be shutting down for good. The app’s millions of users, many of whom use Vine to promote themselves or their brand, are now either left scratching their heads trying to figure out how much the loss of this platform will harm their business, or shrugging and moving on to one of the many other social media sites they use. The loss of Vine serves as a grim reminder of the reality of the internet—at any time, a popular website with a strong user base can shut down, for any reason. Diversifying the types of social media sites where you promote your business is important for this reason, but ultimately, the one online platform that matters the most for your business is the one you create for yourself.

All Roads Lead to Rome

Having a presence on social media is crucial to the success of your brand. Promoting yourself or your business on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram allows for boosted interactivity and generates interest. When using social media, avoid making it the cornerstone of your enterprise. Instead, use it as a tool to drive traffic to your own website, space which you have full control over. By doing this you will minimize the negative effect of turbulent social media changes.

Even Giants Fall

Vine’s shutdown serves as a reminder of the mortality of the web and its indifference to the individual user. Companies that run social media websites are, after all, companies, and can be acquired, altered, or even shut down at any time for a variety of reasons beyond your control. Inherently, social media’s aim is to improve communication and interaction among its users, but the site itself isn’t responsible for meeting your personal needs. Understanding this when working with social media will allow for balance and stability when it comes to creating an online presence for your brand.

Own Your Space

Think of social media as a series of rented spaces and auditoriums from which you promote your original content. These places allow you to reach potential customers with important information, but can only be molded to your needs so much; you can build a set to put on a stage, but you can’t tear the space down and rebuild it. For the best, most customizable online experience, a personally-managed website is the best option. Own a space that can be organized, changed and molded at any time to suit your personal needs making it immune to social media changes.

Social media can, and should, be an important aspect of your brand’s online presence. However, these platforms should be used as roads to your castle, not pieces of the foundation that if removed would bring down the whole structure. An owned space like a website, with a presentation and content you control, should be the focus of your brand.  Social media platforms can be used to promote your website, having these elements work in conjunction with one another will ensure a healthy online presence for your brand.

Going Viral: What to Do When You’re Internet Famous

going viral

SONY DSC

Internet fame comes swiftly and unexpectedly. It starts with a single social media post, and eventually takes the internet by storm. Going viral. What is it that causes one out of thousands of Tweets, posts, or videos a day to become so popular? Digital content goes “viral” for a variety of reasons, and this sudden boost of internet celebrity is always handled differently. However rare internet celebrity status may be, it’s important for businesses or individuals to know what to do with their sudden fame. In today’s blog, I take a look at why content goes viral, how internet fame helps (and hurts), and what you can do should you find yourself suddenly internet famous.

Why is it going viral?

The town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming’s live feed of an intersection near the town square became an overnight success, often with over 2,000 unique viewers at once. A strong social media presence and promotion on YouTube made the stream’s overnight success possible. Other popular internet memes, such as “LOLcats,” follow a simple formula: the content elicits an emotional response, is easy to understand, and can be easily duplicated. Sharing and promoting your content on sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and others makes it easy to view and share. If your content makes people laugh or smile, you’re more likely to see it spread, and telling a joke that is easy to repeat ensures others are “in” on the joke.

The Good, The Bad

Going viral for the “right” or “wrong” reasons makes all the difference in the trajectory of your internet presence. Grumpy Cat and Doug the Pug, two adorable pets with millions of followers, became popular for arguably the “right” reasons: being cute animals with a humorous social media presence. Conversely, when a mattress store in San Antonio released an insensitive “Twin Towers Sale” ad, the negative online backlash led to the store’s eventual shutdown. Turning internet fame into a success story requires care and cultivation, and monitoring social media outlets to prevent bad PR is essential for making a name for yourself for the wrong reason.

Grow, or Let Go

There are a few ways to grow from or sidestep internet fame or infamy. Interaction with new fans and followers goes a long way; you probably won’t have to do push-ups in the street, but positively acknowledging the sudden hype lets new followers know you’re “in” on the joke. If you find yourself in hot water online, try if possible to avoid stirring up more trouble; if necessary, issue a single note of acknowledgement and apology, then let the issue fade naturally. Keep in mind, internet fame fades as quickly as it comes, so ride the wave of success while it lasts but understand that your fifteen minutes can, and will, eventually end.

“So… how do I become famous online?”

There’s no ultimate formula for online success, and the reasons for why things become popular online vary too much to predict whether your content will go viral before you post. However, making emotionally-charged content easy to understand and duplicate is a tried-and-true formula for many of the most popular memes. The various success stories make internet fame alluring, while the tales of tragedy from online infamy may scare individuals or businesses into staying safe with digital content. Ultimately, staying true to your brand’s message online takes top priority, and if your next post on Twitter or YouTube becomes popular, enjoy it while you can.

Web Presence Management for Your Business: Three Things to Keep Track Of

web presence management

What is the key to web presence management for your business? Here are three things to watch.

As a business professional, the process of keeping all of your web-related information organized can easily go awry. But, the benefits of keeping this info on hand, from website and social media logins to design elements, should not be taken lightly. It’s especially important for our team of developers and designers at Alter Endeavors, and is crucial for us to help you build a cohesive overall web experience for your brand. In this blog, I’ll break down the most important things to keep track of and why.

1. Your Web Logins

One of the first things we ask for at Alter Endeavors is an itemized list of your login information. This includes usernames and passwords from places such as web domain host sites, social media pages, and mailing lists related to your website. Keeping all of this information in one place will not only be helpful for you – especially if you work across multiple platforms – but it also comes in handy if you’re temporarily or permanently handing control of these accounts over to a web design or social media team. Of course, security is important when it comes to such sensitive information; using a password encryption service can help you keep your sensitive information safe.

2. Any specific creative or design information

Becoming familiar with the design elements of your current site is also important. Be sure to keep track of specific things like color hex codes (a six-digit number that corresponds to a specific color), fonts, and template names and sources for your currently-existing site. If your company has a specific color associated with their logo, or a custom font used on their web pages, it helps to have this information on-hand to carry over on other platforms related to your site. Even if you plan to completely overhaul your site’s design, this information serves as a good frame of reference for designers.

3. Contacts

Know which web design companies, graphic designers, and even photographers you’ve worked with in the past. Even if you haven’t worked with them in a while or don’t regularly keep in touch with them, holding on to their contact info can help you in the long run. This especially comes in handy if you’re trying to collect information for something in one of the two other categories mentioned, but just can’t find it. You never know when you may need their help again on a future web design project!

Managing the building process of a website can be a difficult task, but having this information on-hand will make the process run much more smoothly. Not only will you be able to easily hand over web and social media logins and design element specifics to our talented team, you’ll know who to reach out to if you forgot anything or want to hire someone you’ve previously worked with. When it comes to building a website, having everything in one place can greatly improve the experience.

Pokemon Go Popularity: A Marketing Tool?

pokemon go popularity

Pokemon Go Popularity is Real

Pokemon Go popularity is astounding. They’re everywhere – people wandering in crowds around parks, malls, and cities, phones out, playing the augmented reality application, Pokemon GO. Around 4 million people per day play the popular mobile game, using their phone’s GPS to find cute little creatures called Pokemon. The game rewards real-world exploration, encouraging players to visit real-world locations that double as in-game checkpoints to collect items and battle other players. With so many people playing (myself included), it’s no wonder everyone from local businesses to multi-national corporations are trying to cash in on the cultural phenomenon. Using these techniques, it’s easy to turn Pokemon into profit by driving players into your stores and creating new opportunities for customer engagement.

“So you wanna be a master of Pokemon (Go)?”

It’s fairly easy for businesses to cash in on the Pokemon Go popularity. In-app purchases or a little playful advertising are already helping businesses become Pokemon Marketing Masters.

Lure Pokemon – And Customers!

Many businesses near a PokeStop, an in-game location where players receive necessary items, have seen increased foot traffic in and around their stores. Stores near one of these PokeStops can purchase Lures – modules attached to these checkpoints that draw rare Pokemon – for about $1 per hour. The effect of Lures can be seen and utilized by other Pokemon GO players, a strategy that is already benefitting some restaurants by luring in customers, along with Pikachus.

Playing Along

If your business doesn’t have a PokeStop in sight, worry not – there are plenty of ways to get in on the Pokemon popularity. Acknowledging the popularity of the game through promotions based on in-game achievements or rewarding players that use the app in their stores.

@Brands: Where’s the nearest Charmander?

Social-savvy brands interacting with players have already received positive feedback from consumers. With roughly 1.6 million mentions per day on Twitter, it’s easy to understand why many stores and organizations like the New York Police Department are finding ways to incorporate Pokemon GO into their social media content.

Promoted Locations

Coinciding with the release of the game in Japan, McDonald’s turned their 2,300 Japanese locations into Gyms, places where players go to battle Pokemon. Soon, other businesses will be able to buy sponsored in-game locations as well. According to a recent survey of players, the most-frequented establishments are retail stores that cater to millennials and casual-dining restaurants, so these businesses may want to take note.

Is Pokemon GO a fad?

It’s hard to tell for now how successful the game will be down the road, but it seems promising; Pokemon GO combines a well-loved nostalgic brand with a new technology, integrating nostalgia with innovation. New features will be added soon, such as the ability to trade Pokemon with other players and adding more Pokemon to the game. And as the app continues to launch worldwide, the amount of downloads continues to grow. Looks like for the foreseeable future, Pokemon GO isn’t going to Pokemon GO away.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

  • Rachel Lynn Clark, Project Coordinator

Writing Effective Emails, Get What You Need (and Sound Human)

Writing Effective Emails

The EmailBot 5000

From a young age, writing effective emails meant to me that they were ruthlessly efficient. I relayed only the most important information in as few words as possible—why would I want to waste my time typing when I have important work to do, and why would I want to waste someone’s time with pointless reading? This ultimately resulted in emails devoid of emotion, which translated to rudeness, making people hesitant to correspond with me. Turns out, writing effective emails is not easy.

When Writing Effective Emails, Balance is Key

When you’re communicating important information to colleagues and business partners, you shouldn’t write like you’re texting an old friend. You also don’t want your emails to sound like they were written by Spock, even if they say exactly what needs to be said. Even Spock was half-human; writing effective emails is important during the work process, but you don’t have to sacrifice your humanity to relay or ask for information.

How Formal is Too Formal?

  • Play it Safe

It’s always a good idea to start off a bit formal when corresponding with new coworkers or clients—sort of like wearing a blazer over your t-shirt and jeans for the first few weeks of a job.

  • Go with the Flow

Stay within your vocabulary comfort zone when typing out the copy of your email, to ensure the message sounds organic. Don’t type like you just swallowed a thesaurus if that’s not how you normally speak.

  • Mind Your P’s and Q’s

Of course, remember to say “please” and “thank you” in your email. It may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook when you’re writing dozens of emails every day.

How Casual is Too Casual?

  • Know your Audience

Knowing the communication style of the person you’re corresponding with, the type of conversation you’re having, and learning to match it, is important to a successful dialogue.

  • OMG, no THX

However familiar you are with a client or peer, avoid texting-style abbreviations in emails. Not only can they confuse the recipient if they don’t know what the abbreviation means, but it looks incredibly unprofessional.

  • :’-C

Speaking of unprofessional—and I hope you already know this—please NEVER use emojis in an email! A potential boss once added a “;-D” face to a request to interview me for a job. It was weird.

How to Write an Organic Email

Now that you’ve achieved professional balance, let’s walk through the process of writing a professionally-human email!

1. Make sure your respectfully-worded correspondence is organized effectively, with the most pressing information on top and arranged in descending importance.

2. Be sure to include a polite call-to-action:

“I’d appreciate any notes you have on this document,” “please send me the photo edits by Monday”

3. Double-and-triple check for grammatical errors, missing information, and tone

4. Never send a one-word email; if you don’t need to say much, keep it short and sweet with a brief sentence:

“Thank you for sending me your documents, I just received them and I will review them this afternoon”

Efficiency Isn’t All Bad

It’s possible to send efficient emails without sounding robotic. When writing effective emails they can be casual and relaxed, but shouldn’t lack professionalism. But if your correspondence comes off as uptight, you could risk a bad digital reputation with the people you work with. Kuki yomenai is a Japanese phrase that refers to someone that “can’t read the air” of a conversation and says and does all the wrong things. These are lessons I’ve learned (mostly) the hard way, but hopefully with my insight, you can avoid being a total kuki yomenai in the workplace.

Happy Emailing!

-Rachel Lynn Clark, Project Coordinator