Category Archives: Good Practices

How to Build an Online Presence for Your Business

online presence

Building an online presence can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. Hopefully, this article will serve as a guide on how to get started online and tell you what we, at Alter Endeavors, think is necessary for every business to have online.

Pick your Platforms

Let’s start with the fact that in a world where there are literally endless social platforms on the Internet, you absolutely have to set limits. Which means you don’t have to be on every social platform. At AE, we suggest starting with a 1-3 approach. Meaning, at a minimum, choose between one and three social media platforms, and concentrate on doing those well. But how do you choose which platforms are right for you? First and foremost, your choice is based on WHO you are trying to reach. Who are your essential, must-have customers? Are they even on this platform? If your people are there, you HAVE to be there. Once you decide, you may need a basic guide on how to start a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, or Houzz account.

Focus on your Core Values

A major part of establishing a company is promoting your core values and your mission statement. When setting up your platforms, the “about section” should have a strong description that is unique to your brand. Consumer loyalty increases drastically when their values align with a brand they use, and this can be a key aspect of who your loyal customers are. Once again, consistency in your about section/bio is important across all platforms to enforce your brand’s image. So, when choosing your mission statement, be sure to take the time to develop it so that it exemplifies what is unique about your brand and what makes you stand out from your competitors.

High-quality Images

When starting to build your online presence, it is paramount to collect high-quality images and logos for your company. An example of high-quality photos that you may want to use on your accounts is pictures of the interior and exterior of your brick and mortar locations to use in your marketing efforts. Not only do you need easy access to these photos, they should be consistent across all of your platforms. Your brand must be the same in all of your marketing, or your customers won’t recognize it easily. Once you have high-quality photos of your logos, you can use them as your profile picture on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to help people recognize your online accounts as legitimate. By keeping your logos consistent across all of your platforms it will increase your brand recognition. After collecting all of your high-quality photos and logos to create your online presence, it’s smart to save them all together somewhere so that you have a source for content later as well.

 Sizing for Photos

When creating your online presence, make sure that your platforms are uniform and appealing to the consumer. Incorrect sizing can easily mess up the look of your photos. Whether it is your cover photo on Facebook or an Instagram photo, it is important that you use the appropriate size and dimensions, or your page could look unprofessional. For an easy guide on what dimensions you need to use on certain platforms, click here.

Add Updated Contact Info

If a customer wants to contact you and can’t find the correct information, it could quickly lead to bad PR. To avoid potential bad publicity, it is necessary to add a link to your website, as well as your correct phone number and address to your online accounts so that customers can reach you. By adding your contact information, you are able to openly communicate with your customers and hopefully strengthen the connection between your company and its customers.

Establish your Business

A good way to establish your business online is by claiming your business on Yelp as well as setting up a Google My Business account. While there are many benefits to claiming your business, the biggest one for growing your online presence is that it improves your search engine optimization (SEO). Your company will show up when searched for and potentially when someone searches by your location. By setting up an account for Google My Business, you verify your business information, help customers find you, as well as continue to tell the story of your business.

Ask for Reviews

Last but definitely not least, growing a positive image for your brand online is necessary. While people may find your product interesting and want to try it, many consumers go to your website, Yelp or other review pages to find out what others think of you. This is why it is important to reach out to loyal customers and ask them to leave a review. This extra bit of work may end up being what makes a person decide to support you or not. In a constantly changing online world, people expect to know if they can trust a company prior to buying from them. By asking your loyal customers for reviews, it ensures that your business is receiving positive and sincere reviews that can help your brand.

Start with these tips and you’ll have a solid online foundation for your business. Hopefully, this article was helpful in leading you to create your online presence. If you need more help building and maintaining an online presence for your small business, we would love if you considered Alter Endeavors!

Brand Guidelines: Why They’re A Necessity

brand guidelines

First things first — What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines help explain how a brand and its associated marketing materials should be used internally and externally. This resource (if leveraged correctly) can be invaluable to a company, as it protects your investment in your brand. Setting your own guidelines gives you additional control over marketing practices, as well as ensuring that your brand has a consistent message. On a large scale, you lay out best advertising practices for each media channel and create a base from which you can build on. On a smaller scale, you won’t have to answer the same basic questions over and over! 

The Basics — Logos, Fonts & Colors

One of the most integral parts of your brand identity is your business’ logo.  The usage of your logo should be explicitly laid out in your guidelines. Imagine if your logo was displayed differently on every different media type, potential customers would be confused and may not even make the connection that all of your advertisements are for the same company. Using your brand identity guidelines, you lay out exactly when and how your logo (or which logo, if you have multiple) is used.  It is also important to set in stone exactly how your logo may be used in relation to other business’ logos.  For example, when displaying your logo alongside other logos, your logo would ideally be the same size or larger.

Establishing a base for all produced creative materials will streamline the creation of marketing materials for your company and save you vast amounts of time in the long run.  Regulating minor things like the fonts and text colors to be used will eliminate being asked the same questions multiple times, and having a list of hex color codes to pull from is exponentially easier to navigate than having the entire color wheel at your disposal. Knowing precisely which logo should be used on a particular media type, along with the set fonts and color palette will provide a solid foundation to build on.

Focus on Consistent Messaging

Implementing a template or layout can take this concept to the next level. If the branding on the ad is already laid out, so you can spend more time on your advertisement’s message. This brings us to the another goal of your brand identity guidelines: to eliminate confusion between your brand and another and to cut through the white noise in the marketplace. Establishing a proper procedure for each type of media and sticking with it will ensure that your company is represented in a consistent and recognizable way. If your business had two locations, would you use two different versions of the logo on the exterior? You’d want to use the same logo and sign layout to achieve brand recognition in your community.

How to Create Your Own Brand Guidelines

Brand guidelines can be executed in a multitude of ways, so long as the basics are covered and it helps your brand focus on consistent messaging. Take a look at two examples of brand identity guidelines below and note the differences and similarities:

Mozilla’s Firefox branding guidelines are brief but effective.

Nike’s Football (or Soccer, depending on the continent) Division’s branding guidelines are more in depth and show the emotion that they want to evoke through their branding.

Brand identity guidelines can be succinct or expansive, very simple or extremely detailed.  One company’s guidelines will vary greatly from another, even within the same industry.  Establishing comprehensive guidelines for your company not only gives you more creative control over your advertisements, but it keeps your message consistent and protects your investment in the company. Setting up your guidelines sets your company up to succeed, and failing to do so puts your company at risk of brand confusion — something that hurts your business in the short and long term.

If you would like to discuss developing branding guidelines for your business, we’re more than happy to have that discussion. The Alter Endeavors team consists of several branding experts — both in conception and execution.

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!

Three Benefits of a Diverse Portfolio

diverse portfolio

Many agencies will specialize in one particular industry or type of client. If you peruse our portfolio, you will see that our clients range from local businesses and brands to doctors, financial firms, authors, speakers, thought leaders, lawyers, resorts, apartment complexes, commercial real estate and more.  The benefit of specializing in a particular industry or vertical means that an agency will become highly proficient at representing a specific type of client or industry online.  Alter Endeavors has taken a different approach.  Website design, development, and online marketing are all extremely dynamic.  Instead of positioning ourselves as experts, we prefer to be known as life-long learners.  There is no way to master something that is constantly changing, alternatively, we place our focus on research and ethically following best practices for sustainable growth that can adapt with variable platforms and burgeoning client needs.  Our diverse portfolio enables us to experiment and apply effective strategies across various fields.  Specializing may be easier, but we are more concerned with what is best, not what is easiest.

Three ways our diverse portfolio benefits us and our clients:

Relationship-Based

The clients of agencies that specialize all have something in common—they are involved in the same industry or vertical.  Our clients all have something in common too—they all have a relationship with Alter Endeavors.  The best way to get new clients is to keep the ones you have and grow through their word-of-mouth recommendations to others.  We don’t want to build your website and disappear, we want to build a relationship with you and retain you as an ongoing client. Building trust online is a strategy we use for our clients and ourselves. You can’t fabricate integrity, but you can build trust online by implementing a well-rounded digital marketing strategy and continuing to meet the needs of a growing brand.

Best Practices

It may be easy to spot all the differences between our diverse clients, one is a moving company another is an expert on introverts.  The real strategy is isolating what successful brands in various industries have in common. We are able to identify best practices that transcend specific verticals and help our clients thrive.  Clear calls to action on a web page and a design that directs visitors to take the desired action are one strategy that can be applied to almost any client.

Compare and Adapt

A huge element of an online presence involves experimentation. Everything from a social media strategy to Facebook ads requires patience and a willingness to try something new.  When we work with clients from diverse industries, our experimentation powers are magnified because we are able to compare what is working in one field and apply it to another.  As life-long learners, we are prepared to be surprised by what we can learn from the success of our smaller clients and adapt that for our larger clients and vice versa.  A diverse portfolio provides us with the opportunity to compare and adapt.

The next thing we want to learn: how we can help your unique brand grow!

So, You’ve Been Burned By Your Digital Marketing Agency…

burned by your digital marketing agency

A number of our clients come to us with burn scars—battle wounds from working with a digital marketing agency who either could not or would not live up to what they promised to deliver.  Sometimes an agency is overwhelmed, does not understand the client’s brand, needs, or the agency is simply dishonest. Regardless, at the end of the day, your brand may be suffering from serious burn scars.

Having a negative experience with a digital marketing agency can carry some advantages. Ultimately, the experience makes you wiser and more knowledgeable about what to do and what to avoid when you start shopping around for a new agency.  That being said, how can you make sure you are signing a contract with an ethical and competent agency; one that will deliver a product built on best practices while understanding your brand and helping it grow the right way? The answer? You need to do some homework before signing on the dotted line. Dig deeper to discern the true nature of an agency before contracting with them.  Here are a few things to consider before choosing a digital marketing agency.

Ask Others

Asking others about reputable agencies can go both waysask for recommendations and references. Query colleagues, business partners or other brand owners in your industry about which web agencies they used.  You will probably get recommendations for companies you should contact and some companies you shouldn’t. Once you contact a digital marketing agency, don’t be afraid to ask for references of recognizable (i.e. easy to find online and well-established) brands they represent. You wouldn’t hire a babysitter without doing some background work, why would you trust your website or online presence to just anyone?

Is The Price Too Good To Be True?

If you have a few proposals from different agencies in front of you (which you should), and pricing between them is radically different, you need to seriously be asking WHY. 

Typically, pricing variations within a digital marketing agency are based on four things: team, technology, process and expertise. Someone that comes in really cheap may be relying on some kind of automation service and/or outsourced contractors to produce and disseminate content and/or build platforms. This may be totally fine in certain cases with certain companies, but diligently assess the quality and customization of their work for other clients.

Outsourcing, if very well managed, can be totally great; however, experience has taught us over here at Alter Endeavors to keep all of our services US-based simply due to communication and timelines. It makes us a little more expensive, but we are also able to control the outcome of services rendered much more closely, quickly and efficiently. This may change for Alter Endeavors if we ever come across an outsourcing resource that we feel meets our needs.

Technology can also mean automation. Some automation, especially when it comes to analytics and goal tracking is great. For example, we created Catch Engine to help automate some aspects of lead generation or review acquisitions, but not everything. If any agency says they can have you simply fill out a survey and then put you into their system for insta-automated-magic success, run away as fast as you can. Things need to adapt and change constantly, and artificial intelligence isn’t far enough along (yet) to replace the human element in this process.

Speaking of process, ask about it. Cheap pricing can possibly mean an agency is new or inexperienced or dishonest enough to simply ignore the need for a process to discover and help achieve brand goals online and off within a promised time frame.

Lack of experience or expertise may also be a reason for cheap pricing. The agency may be hungry and is willing to work for peanuts in order to build experience and their portfolio. It may be that an agency, although inexperienced, could be able to quickly adapt and grow into an effective marketing machine for your brand, just be careful that their inexperience does not cost you time, money or reputation.

On the flip side, seriously question higher-priced agencies. Just because they are the most expensive does not mean they are the best either. Ask the same questions above and vet them further with the following techniques as well.

Have More Than One Conversation

Just like if you were buying a car or a house, don’t be pressured into doing something you are not ready to commit to.  For many small to medium-sized businesses, the budget required to create a website or maintain a social presence is not insignificant.  Before entrusting any agency with your funds, interview them more than once.  You want to make sure that the digital agency is a good fit for your brand.  Be honest with the agency about your needs and timeline and a reasonable agency will do their best to give you a good idea of what they can accomplish and how they can meet your needs. Good agencies will tell you upfront when they are not a good fit for your brand, but will then suggest someone they think might be—something we do over here at Alter Endeavors more often than folks expect. 

Ask About the Team

If you have met with a representative of a digital marketing agency in person, more than likely, your first point of contact will be someone working in sales.  As the conversation progresses further, don’t be afraid to ask to speak directly with someone you will be working with.  The process of building a website is very intimate—you will be entrusting this agency with passwords, your email and more.  Ask to be put in touch with your potential point of contact.  A good relationship with your point of contact is necessary, especially if you might be signing up for an ongoing social engagement. You will be corresponding with your account manager on a monthly basis or more.

Know Your Goals

Sometimes a less than satisfactory website or failed social campaign isn’t the result of an incompetent agency, but a premature or undeveloped business idea.  In order for an agency to execute a solid product, you need to enter knowing your goals and your business. A deadline, eager business owner or half-baked plan can lead to a hastily put together website or social media presence that doesn’t truly represent the brand or achieve the desired goals. Put the time and thought into developing your business, sales funnel and calls to action first.  If you don’t have all the details ironed out, it’s not a deal breaker.  You may need to build extra time into your website building or social media planning process so that your agency can assist with your overall branding strategy.

No agency is perfect, including Alter Endeavors, but great agencies know this. Great agencies have systems in place to deal with infrequent mess-ups and failures. They are also constantly proving that their successes far outweigh the occasional, inconsequential blunder. There is definitely a difference between an agency who can help your brand thrive online and an agency who cannot —maybe even hurt it. Want to start a conversation with Alter Endeavors about your online presence?  You can ask us ALL the questions (we don’t mind).  Our goal is to build a powerful and sustainable online presence that will help you grow your brand!

How to Build Trust Online – The Trust Relationship

build trust online

Internet users are exposed to thousands of online ads daily, but how can your businesses stand out from the rest?  Trust.

Cultivating business relationships requires that you build trust online. Someone must have confidence in you or your brand before handing over money to purchase a product or service, contacting you for more information or progressing your businesses relationship to the next level.  Consumers are already highly attuned to looking for markers of trust in the real world.  The restaurant parking lot is packed—the food must be good.  This store is well maintained and the restrooms are clean—management must care about the customer’s experience.  The clothes in this boutique feel well-made—these products are high-quality.  How can you translate this physical experience into a digital one?

Your online presence is more than just a website, Facebook page or Yelp reviews.  You don’t need to become caught in the false idea that you must be on every social platform, but must understand that a complete digital marketing strategy and web presence encompass multiple pieces.  These tips can help you evaluate your current web presence and digital marketing strategy or create a digital marketing strategy and develop an online presence if you are just getting started.

Truth

You can’t have trust without truth.  There is no way to manufacture trust or “fake it till you make it” when it comes to building online confidence in your brand.  Today’s consumers can easily tell the difference between the genuine and the phony.  No marketing team, agency or expert can help you build trust online and establish your online empire if you don’t already have a legitimate business.  Before embarking online, conduct an honest gut check of what you already have in place.

Out of Date or Up to Date?

Are tumbleweeds rolling through your social profiles that haven’t been updated since 2014?  Is your website over 5 years old or not optimized for mobile?  If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are out of date!  Why should it matter whether you are out of date or up to date?  If you are going to put the effort into doing something, why would you leave it half-done?  An up-to-date online presence demonstrates that you care.  I want to patronize a business that extends effort, is consistent and cares about all aspects (even the small details) because that means the business values me and will take care of me as a customer.  An updated website is like having a clean floor in your brick and mortar establishment.  Active social accounts are like having an employee greeting patrons as they walk in.

How Do I Contact You?

How easy is it for a potential customer to get in touch with you?  Online users shouldn’t have to search on your website to find a phone number or physical address (if your business has one).  Creating clear CTAs or Calls to Action helps guide your potential customer down an intentional path that you have created for them. The path or funnel makes it easy for them to understand your business, purchase a product or service or take the desired next step.  Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram also make it easy for customers to get in touch with you.  Do you have someone monitoring your social channels, ready to respond to mentions, tags or inquiries?  Building trust means that a customer doesn’t have to scour the web for an email address to complain if there is a problem or find out more before pressing “Add to Cart”. When you are accessible online, it is easier for your audience to ask questions, connect with you and do business with your brand.

Be Upfront

While you can’t manufacture trust, you can build faith in your business through transparency and value.  Blogs, social content and web pages that preemptively answer questions, give helpful tips or provide free, valuable content help forge relationships online.  People understand that you are trying to sell something, but you can make their life easier while also building brand affinity.  Educating your client, offering a solution and alleviating concerns all before a purchase is even made, demonstrates to your audience that you understand their point of view.  The more time a client spends on your website, the more likely they are to make a purchase from you.  Display customer video testimonials on your website or encourage happy clients to leave a review after taking a Catch Engine survey.  What happens if your client is not satisfied with your product or service?  Do you have a guarantee or return policy?  If you do, make it easy for your client to know what will happen in a worse case scenario.  You can also follow up with clients who had a negative experience and stymy negative reviews with a Catch Engine survey. Transparency around your process and policies will empower customers to easily make a purchase decision, confident in the fact that they can trust your brand to make things right.  An active social presence where you respond to positive customer reviews, mishaps and shoutouts further expose your commitment to serving all customers.

You can’t fabricate integrity, but you can build trust online by implementing a well-rounded digital marketing strategy.  Let’s have a conversation about your online presence!

5 Reasons You Should Trust Your Social Media To An Agency

Social Media

As a small business owner in 2016, chances are you recognize the value of being present on relevant social media channels. For those who are just getting started, we bet the thought of handling social media on your own has crossed your mind. And we understand! After all, who knows your business better than you!? But it’s important to be honest with yourself and understand 5 reasons you should trust an agency with your social media…

Quality Content Takes Time

Time is an incredibly valuable resource, especially to entrepreneurs, and people tend to underestimate the hours of research that social media management involves. A well-rounded social media strategy includes original content as well as relevant curated content. Original content includes images, infographics, and blogs. Curated content should be from a mixture of community and industry sources. Beyond creating and curating quality content, there are the tasks of scheduling the posts, responding to comments in a timely manner, and researching the ever-changing industry. Most business owners don’t have time for all of this, but we do.

Social Media Must Be A Priority

For those who do manage their own social media, there are most likely times where it gets put on the back burner to devote more attention to other aspects of the business. It’s easy for one day of skipped posting to turn into a week – which goes against one of the major rules for social media management: consistency is key. When you outsource your social media, you are paying for an expert to make it a priority. When business picks up and attention is needed elsewhere, the quantity and quality of content will not suffer.

Social Media Requires a Big Picture Approach

At Alter Endeavors, my job as a Content Strategist is to ensure that your audience understands your overall brand and mission, before addressing the niche crowd. It’s important not to alienate visitors or readers by using technical language or assuming a general introduction isn’t necessary. Outsourcing social media helps maintain a consistent image for the brand and prevents the channels from turning personal or unprofessional.

Trust the Experts

You are an expert in your field and we are experts in ours. Changes in social media aren’t always front page news, but they do have the capability of affecting your business. From new posting options to play with, altered algorithms to consider and a wealth of new apps and websites that assist in content creation, our research is never done. At Alter Endeavors, we make a point to spend time reading the fine print and adopting best practices that ensure longevity.

Do What You Enjoy

We have clients in a variety of industries and they all love what they do. We have immense respect for those who pursue their passions and we are happy to say that everyone at Alter Endeavors has done the same. We love working alongside our clients to bring their vision to life. Some days call for perfecting an image on Canva and researching the brand’s competitors, while others are spent drafting blog posts with a coffee mug that says “It’s Blogging Day!” in hand. The work required to assist a brand in their online marketing efforts varies from day to day and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Web Design Mistakes – 3 That Seem Like Great Ideas

Is your Website “Naughty or Nice”? Are there web design mistakes that seemed like a good idea at one time?

web design mistakes

We’re in November, which means it’s officially the holiday season and digital marketers can pound holiday metaphors into oblivion. At Alter Endeavors, we’re always happy to audit a website and give feedback. We fundamentally believe that every website should be unique in its branding, calls to action, and user experience. Over the years, we’ve seen a wide array of web functionalities and marketing ideas that are designed to increase engagement or conversions. Most of them work, but here are a few ideas that seem “nice” but are actually web design mistakes that could end your website up on the “naughty” list.

1. Slide Show Carousels

If I’m a business owner and my business offers different service lines or promotions, a slide show carousel may seem like a great idea. It allows pictures to scroll through so that users can see my business’s versatility. But, that’s the problem. Your website should be designed to optimize interaction. When someone visits your website, they should be clearly directed towards the engagement that maximizes conversions for your business (or your call to action). By presenting multiple options, such as a carousel, you’re actually encouraging users not to click further into the site. Need more proof of how a carousel can frustrate users? Click Here.

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Carousels can also be web design mistakes because they create an issue in regards to load time. When the page is pulled up, all of those images must load as well, which increases your load time. How does this translate to dollars? According to a recent study, for every second your website takes to load you are losing 16% of your traffic. If a carousel adds an extra second or two to your load time, you’re potentially losing up to 1/3 of your traffic before visitors even see the site. And while load time isn’t a major factor in Google’s search algorithm, it does play a part—so there’s that to consider.

2. Keyword Stuffed Copy

There’s a reason that black hat tactics exist in SEO. Because originally they worked. Keyword stuffing was a very popular technique 5 years ago because the content was designed to be recognized by crawling google bots rather than the users. In that respect, keyword stuffing seems like a “nice” idea to boost your SEO rankings. However, keyword stuffing is a web design mistake and a fast way to end up on Google’s “naughty list” and actually hurt your SEO rankings.

First, Google’s algorithm changes frequently. It’s designed to find optimal content for the user based on their search. Over time, Google’s algorithm advanced to the point where it is able to recognize what is valuable content and what is not.

Second, keyword stuffing is not designed to create easily digestible content for the user. Often times, the content overwhelms the user. Optimized content should encourage the user to engage further—either taking them deeper into the site or directing them towards a call to action. As Amy Renken of Amy Renken Writing Services put it, “when writing content for the internet, focusing on appealing to the human audience is just as important as writing for the search engines bots.”

3. Autoplaying Videos

If you’re considering a video on your homepage, first, I would like to highly recommend this idea. Video creates a palatable means of engagement with visitors and even helps your SEO rankings if executed properly. However, multimedia such as video that “autoplays” can actually decrease engagement on your site and are widely considered a mistake for website best practices. Here’s Sarah Murphy’s take, from our video partner Golden Arm Media:

“Autoplay videos on your homepage take viewers by surprise, particularly because of the audio. Instead, when a viewer clicks play to view the content, they are already more invested because they had to opt in to view it. It gives them the chance to be curious first, and dig deeper. Forcing it upon them with autoplay is an almost guaranteed way to turn them off before they have the chance to learn about your company. Just think about when you’re reading an article online, and a video ad starts playing—it’s not a very pleasant experience.”

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Web Design Mistakes to Avoid

In whole, these are three ideas that seem like a great concept on your site but could actually put your website on the “naughty list” with your users and customers. Rather than a carousel, focus on one clear call to action. Instead of keyword stuffing, create content that is relevant to your business focused on creating engagement. Finally, video can be an excellent way to reinforce branding or give further insight to your business—just don’t force it upon your users!

Local Social Media for Brick and Mortar Businesses

local social media for businesses

When devising a local social media strategy, the benefits of customizing the approach specifically for a business and its customers is invaluable. Sure, there are general guidelines that apply to almost every industry, but the blog I wrote about Social Media for Service Based Companies is not the same advice I would give for brick & mortar establishments. If you’re a small business owner with a set locationhere is the best way to market your business on social media.

One of the main differences between local social media for service based companies and brick and mortar establishments is the end goal. For service based companies, we are constantly driving traffic to the company website, specifically the contact page. There is stress put on educating the public about the need for the service in question and demonstrating that the company is an expert in its field. For brick & mortar establishments, the goal is to drive traffic to the location! Convincing people to stop by a restaurant or clothing store means appealing to a want that can be fulfilled immediately. Hungry? Stop here for lunch. Need a new outfit? We’ll outfit you! The recommended platforms don’t change, but the way they are used most certainly does.

Facebook is an opportunity to interact and showcase a businesses’ involvement in the community. It is also a way to highlight the brands a store carries or if applicable, the local farms a restaurant sources ingredients from. Facebook also allows event pages to be created in order to generate buzz for any upcoming special events or merchandise sales. Facebook should be updated consistently and with a variety of information that is relevant to the customer base.

Twitter has proven to be an excellent way to manage customer service. A brand’s Twitter feed can include much of the same information that is on its Facebook newsfeed, but posted multiple times a day. Interact with audiences that you are hoping to attract by retweeting or mentioning them in your own tweets. Make sure to reply to any comments, complaints or suggestions in a professional and friendly manner. Keep in mind that there are brands that have built a following by the way that they respond to customer comments on social media, whether it is diligently (JetBlue) or with humor (Skyscanner Jen).

We love Instagram for brick & mortar establishments. This is an opportunity for restaurants to flaunt appetizing photos to the foodie community and for clothing stores to capture the attention of fashion influencers. With this platform, it pays to research popular hashtags and to have an ongoing rapport with repeat customers and ignite discussion with active Instagram users. We suggest that the filter used for images stays consistent and that the wording of the captions matches the messaging on all other platforms. This is a good time to define whether your brand is for or against the use of emojis!

One of the most impactful and easiest steps for local social media you can take is to double check that all of the pertinent information about your store (address and phone number) is easily found across all social platforms. For restaurants, this means linking to your menu and providing numerous photos. For product-based stores, it’s important that sales are publicized and that store hours are made apparent. At Alter Endeavors, we make a point to occasionally view our social media profiles as visitors, where we check links and think like a potential customer.

We live in a day and age where the question, “How did you hear about us?” is as commonly answered via “Facebook” as “ word of mouth.” Just today, I visited a coffee shop after seeing pictures of their decor and Nutella waffle on my explore page on Instagram! You don’t need photographer quality photos or fresh daily content, just start by making sure your ‘About’ section is complete!

Viral Marketing – Is It a Myth?

viral marketing

Is viral marketing a myth? One of my favorite requests from potential clients is, “I want to go viral.” or “I want my brand/company to go viral.” When a prospect demands virality (not to be confused with virility), it opens an opportunity for Alter Endeavors to educate and guide a client towards real digital marketing success, defined by target audiences, conversion goals, and user flow. Viral content has very little control over how it spreads and who it spreads to, thus the name. Going viral can be great, don’t get me wrong, but popularity for popularity’s sake does not offer guaranteed exposure to ideal clients…nor does it necessarily help a brand achieve their financial or networking goals. Instead, what about a rock solid marketing framework with creative, engaging content, reached goals, social engagements and conversion numbers?

First, let’s define what “viral” means. When a YouTube video goes viral, for example, it is being shared organically and indiscriminately and freely, like an infection (hence the name…) Content, whether a gif or video or image or story, goes viral because it fulfills some kind of entertainment value. So, when you bring your brand to Alter Endeavors and say, “I want to go viral,” are you really trying to tell us that you want to lose control of your marketing and branding to the masses for 5 seconds of entertainment? Probably not. I think what you mean to say is, “I want to maximize my brand’s exposure to my intended audiences, driving as many people to my defined calls to action as possible and reaching my marketing and sales goal with the budget I have laid out for these efforts.” If this is what you meant to say, then Alter Endeavors is a great fit for you and your digital marketing efforts. Look at companies like Dollar Shave Club and Squatty Potty. Their unprecedented successes were textbook situations of preparation meeting opportunity, which some folks may interpret as “lucky” and others misinterpret as “viral”. Now, the questions is, how do we help?

You are the expert of your business. We provide a digital marketing framework with a a creative edge that will give your message legs online in the most successful way possible. We thrive at helping businesses manage their online presence long-term through continuing our internal education and adapting to change across all relevant digital platforms. By tuning into webinars, reading industry articles, researching new ways to run Facebook ads or participating in other professional development activities like attending Social Media Success Summit (which I am currently attending), our digital marketing efforts on behalf our clients find the greatest success possible with the intended audience. Simultaneously, we think of new and creative ways to help brands engage with a greater scope of their target audiences by engaging with them through new, creative content.

That being said, don’t go floating off into the stratosphere thinking Alter Endeavors is going to make your business an overnight success. Rarely does a company, especially one struggling to stay afloat, experience instant gratification from our digital marketing efforts. Our primary goal is longevity for your brand, helping to establish your business as a trusted and vested member of your community. Whether your community is the physical area surrounding your business, a defined digital audience, or both, the best way to grow a business is through word-of-mouth. Nielsen’s latest Global Trust in Advertising report finds that 92 percent of consumers say they trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of advertising. A flashy video or the best ad copy isn’t going to help you grow sustainably, building a relationship with customers and having those customers share their experiences with others over and over again will. So, how can you build credibility online?

Through maintaining a consistent social presence, you can remain top-of-mind with current and potential clients, build relationships, solicit reviews, address customers who had a less than stellar experience, feature fan-generated content, thank fans for engaging with your brand, send Catch Engine surveys to drive positive online reviews (and manage bad customer experiences), gather data and intelligence on your topic area, and more.  The strategy we recommend for your business will be tailored to your industry, community and needs.

Our ideal client, those we have the most success with, are other salt of the Earth folks who pursue their brand with passion and integrity.  Join us in growing your brand in a sustainable and ethical way.  Want to get started, contact us!