Category Archives: Good Practices

Social Media Resources for Small Business Owners

social media resources

The key to successfully navigating the digital marketing world requires accessing a simple, yet exhaustible resource: time. Even with an impressive budget dedicated to your social media platforms and digital ads — without setting aside time to research best practices, you’re likely throwing money down a black hole. Before you decide to go all-in, we suggest that you first spend time learning the rules. We’ve rounded up several of our favorite social media resources that we subscribe to in order to stay on top of our game.

Podcasts 

For those that are constantly on the go, driving from meeting to meeting — podcasts are a fantastic tool as far as social media resources are concerned. We suggest that you subscribe to the Social Media Examiner Podcast and tune-in for longer rides. This podcast is filled with interviews from industry experts and the occasional applicable gold nugget for your business. The Social Media Lab Podcast from Agora Pulse consists of data-driven content in short, digestible episodes. It’s an excellent way to test whether what you thought you knew as a digital marketer is in fact…fact!

Websites

The issue with solely relying on podcasts as your educational resource is that they do not require your undivided attention and valuable information often ends up going in one ear and out the other. Which is why Social Media Examiner and the Social Media Lab have website counterparts that you can quickly refer back to what image editing app is a must-download or a new Facebook Ad approach that could be a game changer. 

Newsletters

It’s important to set yourself up for success, and instead of assuming you’ll set aside time each week to continue your digital marketing education… why not have the education come to you? Dedicate a folder of your inbox to continued learning and sign-up for the newsletters that promise valuable information alongside their sales offers. Some of these include the Planoly Blog, Digital Marketer, and the Alter Endeavors Newsletter. And when it’s time to buckle in and take notes, you can easily navigate to your folder and see what’s new in the social media world.

Free Downloads

If you’re looking for a comprehensive document to reference, we’ve created this Social Media Best Practices Whitepaper to help you get started down the right path. We are committed to creating valuable content that helps bring back the human element to the digital sphere and are always available to help you get interactive!

If there isn’t time in your day to learn from these social media resources — we suggest you entrust the responsibility of managing your social media platforms to someone whose job is to do just that. While it’s often cheaper to be a “do-it-yourself-er,” the end result isn’t always the best quality… especially if you dive in with little experience and no guidebook. Our approach is to create a comprehensive social media strategy that addresses your goals and is both cost-effective and worthwhile. If you’d like to discuss ways we can help you achieve your business goals, reach out! 

4 Ways To Strategically Respond To Customers On Social Media

4 ways to respond to customers on social media

With the emergence of social media in the last two decades, anyone can mention your business in a quick Tweet or Facebook post and BAM— it’s there for everyone on the web to see. Once you receive a notification that your company has been tagged, you have a golden opportunity to forge a relationship with a potential customer AND others that happen to see the interaction. As a business owner, it can be a headache to keep tabs on all online mentions and posts regarding your company. Monitoring all of your platforms is not easy to do without dedicating a good portion of your time to it. Beyond the time it takes, you need to create the most important aspects of how you respond to customers — your strategy. There are a few ways that you can approach this: 

One of the most conservative social media strategies you can adopt for your online interactions is to respond to customers in a similar fashion, regardless of the comment.  While this gives your business a more uniform online presence and doesn’t involve a monumental time investment, you run the risk of coming across as a robot and missing the opportunity to connect with a potential customer.  If you reply to too many (or all) mentions/comments in the exact same way, people will think that you’re not even looking at their posts, just replying with a blanket response. Responding to everyone in exactly the same way should be avoided at all costs.

Do you remember high school when playing hard to get was a thing? Well, it’s back, but in response to online reviews and tweets.  Maybe you’ve seen the “clapback tweets” from brands like Wendy’s or Digiorno, but they’ve taken the internet by storm in recent years.  While they may seem cool, is it really a sustainable strategy long-term?  The social media landscape changes so rapidly that this trend may not last, and has a high possibility of alienating your followers and potential customers.  When you don’t have a giant audience, this social media strategy generally becomes too risky to be applicable to your business. Odds are this approach is not for you.

To make the most of all of your business’ interactions online, your best bet (especially as a smaller company) is to respond to customers in a personalized way.  Getting a response that is positive and tailored exactly to them will stick with a potential buyer. Others that see the interaction will be more inclined to do business with you.  You might be wondering “if this approach is so effective, why doesn’t everyone do it?” It’s because of one major resource – time. Unless you can set aside time to dedicate to social media strategy and implementation, you won’t be able to make the most out of your online responses and are therefore missing opportunities.

The easiest and most effective social media strategy that you can apply (especially if time is a constraint) is to have Alter Endeavors manage your company’s online presence.  We have experience in digital marketing spanning a variety of industries. At the end of the day, having Alter Endeavors manage your social media presence frees you from checking your business’ platforms multiple times a day and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. Your input helps us create the most effective social media strategy possible for your business, and we will respond to every mention, review, post, or tweet referencing your company in a personalized and professional way.       

A mention on social media is an opportunity to forge a relationship.  It’s imperative that your business is taking advantage of these opportunities by replying in a way that shines a positive light on your brand — even in response to criticism! If you’re not 100% comfortable responding to any potential post about your company, give Alter Endeavors a call.  We’ll work with you every step of the way to create a personalized response strategy for your brand and ensure that your presence online is uniform and professional.

4 Holiday Marketing Tips to Try This Season

holiday marketing

Holiday marketing may seem more relevant for some brands like e-commerce companies or businesses with a tangible product, but everyone from B2B (business-to-business) to service-based companies can participate in holiday marketing.  These 4 tips will help you get started with planning your holiday marketing strategy.

Put a Holiday Spin on Top-Performing Content

Don’t know where to start? Mine previous data for an idea of what works and what doesn’t. The holiday season occurs at the end of the year, so you have almost an entire year’s worth of data to analyze to find top-performing content and review what strategies work the best.  Google Analytics can be used to find the most visited pages on your website or your most read blog.  Use this information to put a holiday-spin on the information housed on those pages. You can also find top-performing content on your social channels by researching what posts on Facebook or Instagram received the most likes or engagement.  Take that newfound data and then strategize how you can recreate something similar for the holidays!

Publicize Your Holiday Traditions

Participating in holiday-themed marketing may be easier than you think. What are you already doing that is holiday-related? Does your office have a holiday party?  Is there a friendly gingerbread house-decorating competition?  Does your company attend or sponsor a community event like a tree lighting or a canned food drive?  Identify what you are already doing and then don’t forget to take pictures during the event, invite others to join you for the event and tag other community partners!

‘Tis the Season to be Service Minded

How can you help solve a potential client’s problem or make their life easier during the holiday hustle?  Frame your holiday marketing within the context of solving a client’s problem.  Product-based companies may have the right gift, but a service-based company could help free up time and energy for clients to spend more time with family or cross other important things off their to-do lists.  Is there some tax advantage or another benefit for the customer if they purchase your product or service before the new year?  For instance, there are tax benefits to purchasing a new website before the end of the year  You know the ins and outs of your brand, but many potential clients may be encountering your brand for the first time, so don’t shy away from foundational messaging that can help the consumer.

Read Holiday Marketing Guides from Relevant Social Platforms

Pay attention to the platforms that move the needle the most for you. The one constant of the social media landscape is change.  Many social platforms like Facebook and Pinterest publish holiday marketing guides to help businesses craft their own holiday marketing strategies. These guides can be invaluable when it comes to inspiration for new ideas or provide guidance for structuring things like your ad budget.  For example, Facebook put out this Holiday Marketing Guide. In this guide, Facebook shared the results of a survey, “an average of 62% of surveyed people report doing most of their holiday shopping in December. Among these people, 1 in 4 make their purchases between December 11–20.”  This means that you may want to dedicate the lion’s share of your Facebook ad budget to marketing efforts between December 11th and 20th!  You know the platforms that are most valuable for your business, so don’t ignore great advice made available to you.  

Need help with your holiday marketing strategy or want to get a head start on your 2018 marketing strategy?  We would love to answer any questions you may have and start a conversation with you, contact us here.

The Fine Line Between Social Sharing and Bragging

The Fine Line Between Social Sharing and Bragging

Recently, Hurricane Harvey attacked Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast traveling thousands of miles and devastating communities with over 50 inches of rain and winds of over 130 miles per hour. Tens of thousands of people were displaced by Hurricane Harvey and it is estimated that damages could cost up to 180 billion!

Countless individuals and businesses rushed to offer aid in the form of physical help, financial and material donations, fundraisers, benefits and more, including several of our own clients. Throughout helping to broadcast and coordinate these relief efforts, we have encountered two schools of thought when it comes to social media and charitable involvement. Everyone wants to help, but not everyone wants their philanthropic efforts disseminated to the world. Some generous donors and do-gooders would prefer to remain anonymous, while others are okay with sharing about their donations. But, when is sharing about your brand’s charitable involvement considered bragging? And when is social sharing a means for inspiring, organizing and spurring others to action?

First and foremost, one should remember that social media is a tool. Like any other tool or resource, social media can be used for good or evil. Money is a resource that can be hoarded for greed or given to help others. Cars are a tool that when driven recklessly can kill, or when used responsibly can help deliver resources to those in need.  Similarly, social media is also a tool that can be used for bullying, bragging, tearing others down or it can be implemented to organize people and grow businesses. How the tool is used is up to the individual.

There are several pros and cons to broadcasting charitable efforts or keeping quiet about them, and the line between bragging and social sharing can get blurry at times.

Let’s start with a few of the negative aspects:

Bragging

What’s the point of your philanthropic efforts if you are just going to boast about them?  The point of doing something for someone else is not that you receive credit or brownie points for your work or donation, but that the organization that needs help, receives that help. Brands or businesses that prefer to give anonymously want to keep the focus on others and not on themselves. Posting about your charitable involvement could easily cross that bragging line, so businesses need to be careful how they portray and post about their donation.

Self-serving

Really, it all comes down to the motivation behind your charitable involvement. Are you giving or participating to serve others or to serve yourself? Giving can certainly help sales, but perhaps that should be a byproduct of your motivation and not the main cause for it. By keeping quiet about your businesses’ philanthropic efforts you avoid the whole mess of appearing to be giving for your own gain.  Before sharing about your donation or benefit, consider the source of your desire to give.  If the desire to help is genuine, then you are headed in the right direction.

There are several pros to sharing your philanthropic efforts with others too:

Inspire

By taking the onus to step forward and do some good, you can inspire others to do the same. Monkey see, monkey do isn’t always a good thing, but when it comes to charitable involvement, it is! If everyone else is helping out, social sharing can encourage other individuals and businesses to do what they can to participate too. Inspiring and spurring others to take action is definitely one of the more positive aspects of social sharing.

Publicity

By sharing your benevolent efforts with others online, you are helping to bring awareness to charitable causes and the need you are helping to fill.  Others may not realize that a specific non-profit exists or that there is a need going unfulfilled. You can bring good publicity to other organizations and your own business through the profess of social sharing.

Community Involvement

When you offer opportunities for others to help contribute to your charitable involvement, you are strengthening the community and providing others with the chance to partner with you to do some good for others. A strong community can help meet the needs of more people and a connected community can rally together to help a greater number of people. You can encourage your audience to buy your product or service, but you can also encourage them to join with you in a specific benefit or fundraiser for a worthy cause.

What it all comes down to is your motivation behind giving and how you broadcast that message. From the language, you use to the organizations that you choose to partner with and the causes that you elect to support, sharing your charitable efforts with others has the potential to inspire, spur others to action, bring awareness and strengthen the community.  Finding the right balance between social sharing and bragging can be tricky. If you need help navigating the field of social sharing and charitable involvement, we would love to help you get started!

The Importance of an Online Presence Audit

While the importance of having a website with useful information and resources about your company is a necessity, businesses often forget to periodically check that current information is accurate and consistent across all platforms. Completing an online presence audit every few months can minimize the problems customers come across while maximizing your chance for engagement and sales. Below, I will discuss the importance of conducting an online presence audit, and what exactly that entails.

Contact info

First, it is important to audit all of your owned, rented and earned platforms to double-check that the contact info on every platform is consistent and correct. Your contact info includes: website address, physical address, phone number and email. On some platforms like Yelp and Nextdoor, you may have to submit a request to change your info or verify your number. Keeping your contact info up-to-date is extremely important; otherwise, you risk either losing a customer or irritating them because they can’t get into contact with you and that could lead to a frustrated potential customer before you even have the chance to interact.

About section

Most companies have a slogan or a few sentences that they consistently use to describe what it is they do or the services they offer. But, a lot of the time that description changes over time with the company and it’s easy to forget to go back and update your bio sections to reflect your new description of your brand. This can quickly lead to your platforms having different and confusing versions and leave your customer with an incorrect idea of your brand identity. Creating a consistent brand identity and image across all platforms can help customers recall and remember your brand better.

Links and submission buttons

Though it may seem obvious to make sure your links and submission buttons properly function, a lot of the time we trust in technology too much and assume that these will work. Every once in awhile it is good to go back and confirm that your links actually take people where you want them to and that your submission buttons properly submit the information they’re supposed to. A common issue we’ve seen at AE is that many people will link to their social sites such as Twitter and Facebook and when you click on that link it takes you to the homepage of those sites and not the actual company profile. So, go through your platforms as if you were a customer or client and try your links and different buttons to see if they are properly functioning.

Audit time

Alright, guys, it’s time to start checking. We know this process can be tedious and boring at times, but trust us when we say it’s all about the little things. Those simple fixes you make on your online platforms can be the make or break between whether a potential customer actually makes it to you or not. Best of luck out there, and if you’d rather have someone else run your online presence audit, you know where to find us!

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!