Category Archives: Content Development

Local Lead Conversion and How the Spaces Between Platforms Make It Happen

Long title, I know. Sorry about that. Nick here to expand a little on the presentation I’ve been giving lately to local service providers on lead conversion. We have been speaking a lot in front of groups like the Homebuilders Association of Austin, the Austin chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (aka NARI Austin for those in the industry) and so on. My recent presentation for these groups has focused on expanding Rusty Shelton’s overview of building a digital platform and understanding the three different auditoriums that comprise every brand’s marketing makeup.

The Three Marketing Auditoriums – Quick Overview

lead conversion

You’ll notice that all three platforms interact based on the diagram above and, ultimately, the goal is to feed the Owned Platform from Rented and Earned endeavors.  For reference, here’s a quick overview of the three arenas Rusty discusses.

Rented Media

Spaces where many flock to talk, share and consume, but they do not own. You can build an audience for yourself from the milling crowds running around in these spaces, but you have to stay in these spaces to continue the conversation. These spaces are owned by others and you have to subscribe to them and follow their rules if you want to play. Which means that the rules in these spaces can change dramatically and without warning. 

Earned Media

Other spaces endorsing you and lending you to their brand in order for you to gain attention and credibility. They control the messaging, the audience and the space, but their endorsement can drive a lot of attention your way.

  • Magazines, Newspapers, TV and other traditional pubs
  • Speaking/Presentation Opportunities
  • SEO: Google, Bing, Baidu

Owned Media

Spaces you own and control. You have to build your own audience for this space, but you decide how you display and disseminate information from these spaces, and when someone is in this auditorium, you control where their focus goes next.

  • Website
  • Newsletter

The Spaces Between Auditoriums Drives Conversions

When thinking about these three auditoriums (what we do in each one of them and who participates in each of them), it’s important to ask about what happens between them as well. Living between the auditoriums is where engagements of consequence tend to happen. These engagements are usually the action items that lead to real conversion. Let’s break it down.

The Space Between Rented and Earned Media

These are places where your audience lends their credibility to yours but neither of you owns the platforms where these conversations happen. In a word, think reviews. Think of Yelp, Facebook Reviews, and Google Reviews. These are platforms where folks can tell the rest of the world how they really feel, sometimes fairly anonymously and sometimes completely in the light, it just depends on the platform. For service-based brands in fields like moving, construction or remodeling, plumbers, real estate, cleaning, etc., these 3rd party platforms lend a level of objectivity to folks looking for these services, especially when they can see a bunch of perspectives on a single brand all in one place that a business can do very little to modify or change.

Gnash your teeth all you want at the unfairness of these sites, but even if certain claims about fake reviews making up anywhere from 2%-16% of all online reviews, the majority are real and mass review attacks from malicious competitors or disgruntled clients and employees are rare if happening at all. Many 3rd party resources like BrightLocal and Search Engine Land talk review why these review sites are so important to getting found and converting online. So, if your reviews are lacking, your brand is seriously lacking. Get them, respond to them, ask for more of them. If they constantly come back negative, the adage about looking for the common denominator in all of those responses most likely applies.

Also, besides review sites, getting mentioned on social sites in closed groups (think local swap groups and mommy groups on Facebook or sites like Nextdoor.com) can lead to significant lead generation if the general conversation about your brand is positive. Even if an unhappy customer posts something negative about your business in one of these spaces, if your general service for others in the area has been positive, then this can lead to more attention and opportunity for your brand.

Yes, this means you need to be monitoring these spaces, but it’s worth it if these spaces are generating leads. That being said, don’t be afraid to ask customers to give you a shout out in this manner. It really does generate growth for your brand.

The Space Between Earned and Owned Media

This is credibility you have some control over. You not only gain information and credibility, you create an informed position to determine what happens next. In this section, we are talking about testimonials and assessments.

First, if you are going to get testimonials, try to get them as video testimonials, especially if you’re a B2C (business to consumer) type business. And with the video testimonials, you can always transcribe them for the written one. Typically, I encourage B2C companies to focus on building their reviews on 3rd party sites, but there is always merit to owned testimonials as well. For B2B (business to business), it’s easier to lend credibility to testimonials that come from other brands – accountability is easier to maintain.

Now, for the game changer in this category – assessments (or quizzes, if you prefer). Not just surveys. Surveys miss a step and provide non-specific results when someone hits the submit button. Create an assessment with results logic at the end of their feedback journey that provides them with specific calls to action or things to do based on how they answered your questions. Not only are you capturing all that useful data, you are driving your captured audience to then do something you want them to do. Basically, you are earning their feedback and then in turn controlling what they will potentially do next after giving you their knowledge. For satisfaction surveys, if they score high enough in their satisfaction, drive them to leave your brand a review. If you want to build an email list, then use an assessment to not only capture their email address but give them something of value in return and drive them towards action items that matter to them and to you. There are a few systems out there you can use for this. We use Catch Engine for assessment marketing.

The Space Between Owned and Rented

Gain some control over a rented space for your messaging. This one is all about Pay Per Click Ad campaigns. Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Youtube Ads – you name it Digital Ads.

For this arena, it’s all about great content and crafting the right audiences for your ads. The nice thing is that you can control exactly who can see your ad campaigns on platforms like Google and Facebook. These platforms are getting eerily good at tracking everything from individuals’ interests to income to job groups to family dynamics. Seriously, it’s messed up, but man can it be effective.

Know your audience, research your competitors, craft your message, spend some money on design and start testing campaigns against each other with different focus groups.

You don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to run decently successful digital ad campaigns that focus on lead conversion. Sometimes $40 on the right boosted post on Facebook, with the right audience, can generate 5 deck jobs. We had it happen for one of our construction clients.

Wrap It Up, Nick

This is a fairly brief overview of what I dive into in my seminar, but hopefully, it gives you something to think about when considering your marketing strategy. All three auditoriums are crucial to local lead conversion, long-term brand development and marketing success, and do not neglect the spaces between. And if you’d rather have someone else handle your marketing, don’t hesitate to contact us. Cheers y’all!

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before a Website Redesign

website redesign

Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start, especially when embarking on a website redesign. At Alter Endeavors, we try to break the process down into steps to get a clearer picture of what exactly we need to do to create a new and improved website for our clients. As an example of the steps we take, our Projects Assistant at AE, Rachel Clark, has narrowed it down to the three questions to ask before beginning a website redesign.

1) What is my timeframe/budget?

A lot of the time companies want to launch their site around a specific event such as a holiday, a book launch, a date that is relevant to their industry, etc. So when discussing your timeframe, you need to be sure to plan accordingly if you are trying to launch by a specific date or event. For example, our client Steve H Lawton planned to have the website redesign launch at the same time as his new book release for optimal traffic. After discussing your timeframe, it is time to figure out your budget. At AE, we discuss a baseline budget without clients at the beginning. That being said, we know that ideas and plans can change throughout the creative process of re-designing a website so we also discuss the importance of a “flexible budget” so that we can adjust along the way if necessary.

2) What do I want to change?

Next in line, is deciding how much of your website you want to change. Is it a single page, a quiz, or your whole website you want to revamp? Are you trying to keep your current content or completely redo what you have? What are you trying to change about the design of the website? Do you like your current colors and logo or do you want to create a completely new brand guide? All of these questions are important to consider before starting a website redesign.

3) Who do I want to work on it?

Your final decision to make before re-designing your website is who you want to work on this project. Do you want to do all of the work yourself? Do you have an employee who has website experience that you want to head up the project? Are you both going to collaborate together or are you going to give them the reins? Or, do you need to hire someone to do the re-design for you? When making this decision you need to consider who has the time necessary to take on this project. A website redesign can be a large task and you don’t want it to be forgotten about or swept under the rug because you are too busy to give it your energy and focus.

A lot of the time, our employees at AE are given different projects and tasks based off of their expertise or interest in the area. For example, our employee Nic Weiss was put on the team handling our client Aero Designed Systems because of his interest in how things work. By matching up our employees to clients in industries they are interested in, we are able to ensure the best overall performance we have to offer.

Now that you know the 3 questions to ask yourself before re-designing your website, it’s time to get the ball rolling. If you answered “who do I want to work on it” with hiring outside help, take a look at our Portfolio Page at Alter Endeavors and Contact Us if you like what you see!

The Secret to More Engagement Online? Be Yourself.

engagement

At Alter Endeavors, we believe that a major key to success for your brand is being genuine. The more you express yourself and your brand in a genuine way, the more likely the audience is to engage and become a loyal customer. So, one of our lead Senior Consultant’s at Alter Endeavors, Aubrey Berkowitz, is here to talk to you about creating an engaging, content-based, and most of all genuine, strategy for your brand.

I want my company to be seen as innovative online. I’m willing to do anything to drive more traffic. Why shouldn’t I try something different?

There’s always that inherent fear that “if everyone else is doing it, then we should be too”. At Alter Endeavors, we believe in building online platforms for our clients. This is inherently a more long-term approach. One of the reasons we’ve been reluctant to incorporate Snapchat campaigns into our Social Media strategies is because we’ve yet to develop as an agency a conversion-focused strategy on that platform. As of now, its current user demographic doesn’t fit with the customer demographics of our clients. It doesn’t mean that we avoid innovation, but rather we prefer to develop a complete strategy rather than rush to join in on a trend. In digital marketing, the pioneers get killed and the settlers get the land. 

So what should I focus on in digital marketing? 

As a Senior Consultant here at Alter Endeavors, I always tell our clients—don’t focus on what everyone else is doing, focus on being you. People will work with companies they trust, and the way you position your messaging online allows businesses to build trust with the customer before they ever even engage. The brands that have the most success are the brands that stay genuine. Your digital marketing efforts should follow the same logic. The mission of digital marketing is to create meaningful conversations and through those conversations initiate pathways to convert the user into a customer. 

Why is a content-based strategy the most effective way to grow engagement? 

It’s not just about engagement but quality engagement. We want to have conversations online with the right people—users that could potentially become customers or clients one day. From that perspective, simply paying for traffic through Google Ad words or Facebook PPC campaigns isn’t always the most effective strategy. At the end of the day, the internet has become the number one source of content on the planet. We use the internet for a variety of reasons, but it always comes back to content. Content-based strategies rely on that user need and the resulting value exchange. By creating quality content, a user will be a more qualified prospect to be a future client or customer. The secret is including calls to action or conversion points within the content that integrates a business’ sales process.

What are some recent strategies used by Alter Endeavors to grow traffic and engagement? 

Sometimes the solution doesn’t involve more volume online—and that can be an eye-opening conversation. First, at Alter Endeavors, we evaluate the “online hub”. Where are you driving traffic back to in the first place? The answer should be a well-branded website with appropriate messaging. You can’t convert traffic into customers if the conversion points don’t exist. 

Secondly, we’ve recently had a great deal of success using Facebook and Social Media Ad campaigns. Our team creates customized target markets based on each individual client that focus on engaging with the right users. These social media ads are usually tied to blog posts that include valuable and relevant content. For example, we might run a Facebook ad for Square Cow Movers that promotes a recent blog post about moving to a new city. 

Finally, our tool Catch Engine has been a huge success story for Alter Endeavors. Catch Engine is a quiz or assessment for small businesses, speakers, authors, or thought leaders to promote engagement on their site while receiving information such as emails, names and data. Think of it as a way to turn goofy Facebook quizzes, such as “What Disney Princess Are You?” into a revenue-generating tool. 

It’s time to get started!

We hope that this served as an informative, how-to for what to do to increase engagement for your brand and that you feel better prepared to plan your online strategy. So, are you ready to increase your engagement online in the best way possible? Ask for Aubrey and you won’t regret it!

Why Every Digital Marketing Company Needs a Content Strategist

While many companies know the importance of supplying interesting content as well as the importance of creating a well-thought-out strategy, the title “Content Strategist” is still not seen as often as you may think. While this role plays a key part in the success of any Digital Marketing company, the duties of this position are still unclear to many. At Alter Endeavors, we are privileged to work with an amazingly skilled Content Strategist, Teylor Schiefelbein, who is an integral part of our team, and we’ve asked her to share with you exactly what that role entails here at AE.

First off, what does Alter Endeavors do?

Alter Endeavors is a Digital Marketing Agency, which can mean a lot of things nowadays. For us, it means that we communicate your passion and brand to the world through any means (that fit within best practices) necessary. We specialize in social media integration, digital marketing strategies, and website design and development so that they work cohesively with your offline efforts. Each member of our team is diligently working towards the same goal: reintroducing the human element to digital marketing.

What do you do as a Content Strategist?

In order to reintroduce the human element to digital marketing, I first have to understand the person behind the brand. My first task as a Content Strategist when meeting a client is to listen. Before I can speak on your behalf and accurately represent your brand online, I have to have in-depth knowledge of your business and its product or service. It’s imperative that I understand your business goals, the audience that you’re trying to reach, and what makes your business unique. This knowledge is paramount in developing an authentic and consistent voice to use across all digital marketing efforts. Whether I’m crafting a message for a social media platform, a Facebook ad or website content — it will represent you and your brand in a human and relatable way.

Why is having a Content Strategist Important?

We know that effective communication is essential for healthy relationships, and the same applies to the business-to-consumer relationship. Effective communication is not a one-way channel; it is an open pathway that requires interaction from the sender and receiver, the business and the consumer. While having a website that contains accurate and updated information about your business is incredibly important, the conversation does not stop there. Consumers have an overwhelming number of options in the marketplace and not only do they demand accessible information — they demand to know why they should purchase from your business. As a Content Strategist, it is my job to form a relationship with your audience and convey how your particular brand is unique. I create and reinforce relationships with online users by sharing valuable industry information, community happenings and engaging content. 

At Alter Endeavors, we strive to have open, clear communication with all of our clients. We hope this was just that, an informative and interesting way to learn exactly what it is our Content Strategist does. Now, hopefully, there is only one question left: Where can I find a great Content Strategist to promote my brand? Look no further!

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.

How to Write Content that Builds Trust in Your Brand

how to write content that builds trust

Hey guys, Nick here. Do you wonder how to write content that builds trust?  This will kick off our series about what we call the Trust Puzzle, a challenge every brand faces when building a presence online. Content is a subset of the Trust Puzzle. Types of content include text, images/graphics and video. Why do we care about good content? Why does it matter? The simple answer—content drives conversion. This article focuses on writing content for the static pages of your site.

As your brand’s primary hub, your website has to speak authentically, eloquently and concisely. Long gone are the days when Google favored awkward, bulging, keyword–stuffed paragraphs of non-sensical vitriol written for the sole purpose of trying to “dominate the front page of Google…” Bleh, good riddance. This does NOT mean keywords are no longer a requirement when building out content for your website, quite the contrary; however, Google’s algorithms now allow for a much more authentic, realistic approach to written content.

What works? Regardless of what kind of content you are writing for your site, whether a services page, a mini biography or a blog article, there are tactics that will always help. Let’s break it down by the numbers:

  1. Get Past the Blank Canvas
    I call it blank canvas syndrome. I tell you to write the content for a page, a week goes by and you tell me, “I’ve got nothing to say!” Yeah you do, it’s just overwhelming to figure out where to begin. If you are anything like me, you tend to overthink both your writing capabilities and your standards. I’m a better editor than writer, something I hate admitting. So, I had to come up with strategies to actually get something written out that I could then edit. The next few points are some of those strategies.
  2. Let Your Sitemap Be Your Guide
    Determine the purpose of the page you are writing. Typically we never start with the home page when writing content for a website. Every subpage on a site has a purpose, lending itself to the overall goal(s) of the site (whatever your site’s conversion goals are) and the home page serves as the nexus for that overall goal. This is where keywords can come in handy. If you know the 2-3 relatable keywords to a page, they can help drive the written conversation you are about to have on that page.
  3. Does Your Writing Support Your Mission Statement?
    Write down your brand’s intent or mission statement. If your brand doesn’t have an intent or mission statement, spend your time figuring that out first. For Square Cow Movers, we came up with “Movers with Manners.” Let your brand’s statement become the lens through which all other content has to pass through. If you start writing something that does not support this statement, delete it and try again.
  4. Write for a bit
    If you are anything like you me, you would now start writing for a little while, then stop after about 30 minutes, look at the jumbled mess you just vomited out of your fingertips, and then start editing. I start teasing out the structure of what I want to convey on a page or a section from the heap I just created, creating headers and/or lists for each section. If you are not like me, you might start by planning out the sections you are going to make on a page before you write. Whatever works, just start writing. After that timer goes off, start organizing and editing. Keep paragraphs 2 – 5 sentences in length and break up sections with headers. It makes reading for the end user so, so much easier.
  5. Record Yourself (optional endeavor from point number 4)
    Maybe talking is more your thing than writing. You can talk about your services and solutions  and brand history, etc. If so, then compose a series of questions to ask yourself for each page that needs to be written. Get something you can record yourself with, hit the button and start talking. The transcribed text from that recording is the equivalent of the strategy laid out in the previous point.
  6. Talk Out Loud To Find Your Writing Voice
    Literally, I talk out loud sometimes when I write. In order to imitate another brand, I will come up with a different voice from my own when I speak. If it’s appropriate, sometimes I’ll allow my colloquialisms to come through, or those of my client. For example, the owner of ABC Blind & Drapery, Ken McWilliams, has a wonderful speaking voice. Ken sounds a little like cross between Johnny Cash and Jimmy Stewart in their later years. Still very much the heart and soul of ABC Blind, I speak in Ken’s voice whenever I write for his brand—a Texas gentleman with a kind heart and a passion for the historic brand he has helped cultivate for the past 40 years.
  7. Know Your Audience
    If you are writing in a language other than your native tongue, you may want to consider either hiring a native speaker to help you, or sending your writing to a native speaker who would bluntly tell you if it sounds genuine. Always consider the voice of your intended audience when writing marketing content. Unless I have some gimmick in mind, if I am writing for a New England or Canadian crowd, I will leave the words “y’all” and “folks” out of my vocabulary. If I need to relate to a national audience, I would downplay my southern twang, if not do away with it completely. I’m proud to be a native Texan, but I need to relate to my audience first before they will listen to me.
  8. No Fluff, No Bull If you sound like this, stop it: “Our service results will shock you! You will be amazed by how incredible our product will save your wallet! Learn how you can make billions by not working at all with our revolutionary whatever! Trust us, you will be amazed!”
    It’s okay to be fun or funny, but always be sincere. Telling someone what their reaction will be (ex: This will shock you!) is an immediate turn off. Also, avoid saying things like, “Surely you will find this helpful.” People can make their own decisions and surely you will agree with that.
  9. Learn Some Grammar Stuff There are lots of great tools online for grammar. Typically, I’ll write first before going back and editing, but oftentimes I’ll refer back to tools like:
  1. The Comma Queen – Great quick videos, easy to search
  2. EduFind – An English Grammar Guide
  3. The Elements of Style – An awesome book to help you write better

Time to start writing content for your website, and if you need help, contact us!

A lesson about blogs and content

Awhile back I was trying to be creative with a Square Cow Mover’s Blog. These guys have been an incredible client of mine over the past year and a half. They have been open to new ideas, patient with me as I try to figure things out and allow me to experiment with their brand.

Definitely recommend them as your moving company if you are in the Central Texas Area.

Anyways, I wrote a blog article some months back and incorprated some pop culture items. I mentioned the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I also said something about packing a suitcase or run the risk of going naked for a week. This proved to have an interesting effect on our SEO results for Square Cow. Continue reading