research phase - blog post

16 Tactics to Help Prospective Clients Find You in the Research Phase

When customers are in the research phase of the sales cycle, how will they find you? 

The research phase of the Buyer Journey is a stage that all customers will go through before making a purchase (we discuss this in greater detail in a previous blog post). It is a safe bet that many (if not all) of these customers are doing their research digitally. 

It’s not only crucial to achieve a level of visibility online; it’s also essential to stay on top of what your competitors are currently doing to attract the same audience. 

How can you do this without being overwhelmed? 

This blog post will explore 16 essential tactics that will help your company get found during the research phase by the right clients. 

Tactics to Use During the Research Phase

Claim your Google My Business Listing: Google My Business is by far the easiest way to generate online visibility. When you register your business on this platform, you can show up in Google Map Searches, which is beneficial, especially for local targeting. Google My Business also allows for customer reviews. This is crucial information to provide during the research phase, as it boosts trust from customers. 

Optimizing your Site for Local Search: Making changes to your website to target local customers is another excellent way to increase being found during the research phase. They do not have to be significant changes, either! Statistics show that four out of five consumers include local businesses as part of their research.  Creating locally-focused content and ensuring that your business information (including your address and phone number) is consistent in all your online platforms is a start.  

Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Pay-per-click advertising is an effective way to expand your reach and hone in on the audience you want to attract. Platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads allow you to target your audience based on their demographic traits and location. You also have the opportunity to show up on keyword search results that your audience might commonly be using. 

Instagram Stories & Reels: Publishing content on your Instagram timeline is the bare minimum nowadays. Provide your audience with more insights into your business using Instagram Stories and Reels. Utilize Stories in your account to nurture your followers and create Reels (with relevant content) to attract new ones. 

Create, engage and moderate through Facebook Groups: Facebook Groups are different from Facebook Pages. Groups take on a more holistic approach to audience engagement. Followers and existing customers can communicate directly with your company with Facebook Groups. From discussing services/products to getting access to exclusive news, Facebook Groups are a great way to create a deeper connection with your audience – more so than what you can start with your Facebook Page. 

Use great images and include ALT TEXT: Including alt text in your website image is often overlooked, but it’s essential for good SEO. This element is designed to help people who can’t see images to understand what they are about. It’s a fantastic feature that allows inclusivity among users. Aside from this, it also helps with SEO. Search crawlers cannot technically “see” the images on your website. Instead, they rely on this alt text to understand the context of the image. That is why it’s important to include alt text in your images. It’s an excellent opportunity to be discovered on another tab on SERPs. 

Publishing content on LinkedIn: LinkedIn has transformed its reputation in recent years. It has become a space to read and share relevant and rich professional content. Creating content on LinkedIn also demonstrates authority and expertise in your sector. 

Using Hashtags on Instagram and Social: Ever wonder what those hashtags do for your posts? This connects your content to specific topics, events or conversations. While hashtags are an effective way for new users to discover you, it’s wise to use them wisely. 

Secure your Website: Securing your website is essential if you are looking to build trust with your customers. Adding an SSL Certificate indicates to users that any information they provide to your website is safe and confidential. Recently, Google has included SSL as part of their search engine algorithm, which can ultimately affect your website’s rank. 

Creating a Social Media Contest: When done correctly, social media contests have the capability of not only generating brand exposure for your business but it’s also a fantastic way to increase your lead generation. One way to do this is to ask users to provide their email address as a form of entry. Do not forget to include an opt-in checkbox as part of the form! This will filter subscribers from the general entry pool. 

Listing your Company Website in all the Right Places: When other businesses or content creators mention your business on their website, it indicates to their followers that you are a reputable company. Aside from generating a sense of “social currency,” getting backlinks from other sites increases your site’s SEO value and the likelihood of appearing higher on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). 

Conduct proper On-Page SEO for your website: Many of the tips that we listed on this blog are tactics that help your SEO performance. It’s also essential to make tweaks and changes to your website content to further increase your SEO. Polishing on-site elements like your Title Tag, Meta-Descriptions, and headers are ways to improve your searchability. 

Influencer Marketing: Research shows that influencer marketing works. This tactic increases a business’ brand awareness while allowing it to reach new audiences. This approach has also shifted in past years – businesses no longer need to partner with influencers who have a massive follower base to get a good return. Micro-influencers have the potential to reach an incredibly engaged audience. This increases your likelihood of being noticed by a new audience. 

Creating Infographics for Pinterest: Believe it or not, Pinterest is a fantastic platform to generate brand awareness for your business. Individuals on this platform have a higher intent to buy because they are more engaged. Sharing content-rich information through an infographic is an effective way to capture the attention of this audience. 

Guest Blogging: While it may seem counterintuitive to write content on other businesses’ sites, it is an effective way to get new exposure to an entirely new audience. Partnering with another website increases your knowledge and authority in the given topic. It’s also a great way to increase your backlinks. 

 

The research phase of the Buyer Journey can mean a hit-or-miss for your business. Some users may turn into customers while others might not. The best way to increase the likelihood of choosing you is to make your business as visible as possible. The tactics that we listed above are a great way to get started. 

 

If you need a full strategy or more insights on how to maximize your online visibility, our team is ready to help you! Contact our team to learn more. 

pinterest marketing banner image

5 Effective Pinterest Marketing Tactics for your Business

Pinterest marketing – yes, this platform has come a long way from being a place to share recipes and interior decor. Pinterest is one of the most underutilized, yet effective marketing tool for businesses. 

But we understand the hesitation behind using this as a marketing tool. With Instagram, Facebook and TikTok being one of the most used social media platforms for marketing, it can seem daunting to learn something completely new. 

The strategy behind Pinterest marketing differs from that of others as well. It’s not just about sharing real-time moments or promoting products on your timeline. There’s a certain finesse that Pinterest requires. When done correctly, you can generate more leads, purchases and conversions. 

So, if you are still determining whether Pinterest is the right strategy for your business, we encourage you to read on!

Here are 5 of our top strategies that will jumpstart your Pinterest marketing approach. 

pinterest audience inforgraphic

Why does Pinterest Matter?

While platforms like Facebook, Instagram and increasingly, TikTok have been some of the most used social media channels for businesses, statistics show that Pinterest offers plenty of opportunities to grow your bottom line. 

According to a 2020 study, women make up 76% of Pinterest’s global user base. This is important, as this demographic often has significant buying power and use Pinterest as a way to help in making shopping and purchasing decisions. According to Pinterest, when looking at North America, 80% of women are responsible for household buying

When looking at the bottom-line, purchase transactions that were generated by Pinterest were around $140 to $180 per transaction. This is significantly higher than other platforms like Facebook, which saw an average of $80 per transaction. 

It’s clear with these numbers, that Pinterest can capture highly engaged and qualified buyers, who are ready to purchase or invest in your product. 

But before you start Pinning to your profile, there are a few things you need to do, to ensure that your profile is getting the right traction that you are expecting. 

pinterest marketing branding your pinterest profile

Branding your Profile

Just like you would do for your Facebook or Instagram Business page, your Pinterest profile must also reflect your brand. 

Keep your profile picture consistent with your other social media profiles. It is also a good idea to have a clear description of what your Pinterest page and boards are about. You can also utilise main keywords in your display name as well as the “About You” section of your profile.

Pinterest also allows for cover photos and even video covers, so make sure you include this in your profile. The main tip here is to make sure that your profile is complete. 

But branding doesn’t just end there! You can also create pins that work as cover photos for your boards. When someone lands on your profile, they can see a clear visual brand that goes beyond your general profile information. 

Another tactic is claiming your website on Pinterest. Claiming your website is beneficial as it allows you to get attribution and analytics for your content. It may take a bit of back-end work with your website – all that is required is to embed a bit of code on the header section of your site. 

resizing pinterest posts

Size Matters for Pinterest Marketing

One of the most important things to keep in mind when creating your first post is its size. Pinterest works a little differently than other social media platforms in that the best performing images are presented in portrait mode.

Pinterest mentions that images or posts that have a vertical, 2:3 aspect ratio, perform better than others. You may have read somewhere that the longer the image, the better the performance (think long infographics or collages). Be very careful of using a long portrait size for your Pins as parts of it may get cropped when it’s viewed as a thumbnail. Canva is a great tool that offers an easy and quick way to automatically size your pins cover photos. 

If you are going to Pin a longer image, make sure that it offers valuable information and content to your audience.

pinterest marketing boards

Re-Pin & Post Original Content

Managing a Pinterest board can be demanding. This is why some businesses avoid the platform altogether. 

Just like with any social media platform, engagement is key to high performance on Pinterest. Engagement comes in the form of sharing (or re-pinning) user content that relates to your product or service. The frequency of this is substantial – we are talking about 10-12 pins per day. This does not include posting original content! Luckily, there are plenty of social media and content management platforms that allow you to do this quickly and effectively. We recommend Tailwind – it allows you to schedule your organic pins, re-pin other work and create evergreen posts under one roof. Alternatively, Pinterest allows you to natively post and schedule your pins. 

Pinterest gives preference to unique and different images, so it is best to keep your images fresh and different every time you Pin. If you are looking to feature a specific Pin, you can do so by creating different images that link back to this same post.  

Organizing your boards is another effective way to clearly illustrate what your business offers to other Pinterest users. Create different boards that echo aspects of your business to properly highlight your products and services. 

pinterest marketing - keyword research

Use Relevant Keywords

Customers look to Pinterest for research and recommendations, so it is a good idea for your posts to appear on the platform’s search results page. 

When crafting your pins, use relevant keywords in your image copy and description so that it gets discovered. It is also worthwhile to add hashtags to increase the impressions that your post receives. 

Try not to overstuff your description with keywords. Look at the post as if you were your target audience. What type of information would they look for on Pinterest? Work backwards to determine the right keywords to use, and try not to “force” the keywords in your copy. 

You can also run a general keyword research by entering keywords into Pinterest’s search bar and view top posts and assess the types of keywords they use in their copy and image. 

pinterest content ideas

Pinterest Marketing Ideas to Get you Started

The last bit of your Pinterest marketing approach involves determining what types of content to highlight on your profile.

Unlike Instagram or Facebook, which invites businesses to showcase both products and real-life experiences, Pinterest takes value in information-rich content. 

If you are stuck on what types of Pins to create for your profile, here are a few to get you started:

  • Product features
  • Infographics that echo your sector or industry
  • How-to guides 
  • Recipes
  • Ebooks or guides
  • Creating a “Best of” board that you can Pin all your content to. 

Pinterest can appear as an absolute beast to manage. But with the right strategy and approach, your business can benefit from a wealth of high-quality web traffic and even experience conversions!

If you are still trying to wrangle the ins and outs of Pinterest management and content creation, we’re here to help! Contact our team and let’s set up a quick one-on-one consultation to see how we can assist you. 

Chatbot Marketing: How to Use it for your Online Sales Strategy

chatbot marketing best practices

Websites nowadays are making it even easier to connect directly with their customers using chatbot marketing. You’ve probably seen this on websites already. Some Chatbots are either a pop-up or appear as a small icon on the bottom right-hand corner of the page.  

You might assume that chatbots are a nuisance to the overall customer experience, butstats show otherwise. Surveys indicate that 55% of customers would prefer to communicate with companies through messenger. With chatbot marketing generating an 80% open rate and a 25% click-through rate, there’s no reason to ignore this as part of your business’ overall marketing and sales strategy. 

Chatbot Marketing: What is a Chatbot?

A chatbot is an application that uses artificial intelligence to engage with your customers directly in real-time.

Customers receive quicker responses from Chatbots and the interaction is designed to look, feel and sound as if a real-life human is on the other side.  

With more people shopping and relying on online services, Chatbots are a great way to enhance the customer experience, while also driving them deeper into the sales funnel. 

But before you dive head-first and add the chatbot feature on your website, there are a few things to consider. 

Chatbot Examples

The first thing you need is a software or an app that integrates seamlessly with your website. It’s also essential to consider how often you’ll be logging onto the actual app itself to monitor your chats.

If you’re not expecting to access it often throughout the day, you’ll want to select an app or system that can be connected directly to one of your main forms of communication (like email, Slack or SMS). 

Here are some online apps that can be added seamlessly to your website. The best part is that they offer a free account option (so, no need to pay upfront!):

  • ManyChat: ManyChat is a great tool if you want to integrate Facebook Messenger and SMS chatbot functions directly to your website. Their free option is generous, allowing you to integrate across different digital marketing platforms like Mailchimp and Shopify.
  • Tawk.to: Tawk.to is another fantastic free platform that allows you to add a native chatbot into your website. It offers a language translation feature. This gives you the ability to communicate with customers who speak different languages while speaking in your native tongue. 
  • Hubspot Chatbot: If you’re looking for a one-stop shop in CRM, Hubspot is one of the best platform to work with. Their Chatbot automatically integrates with their CRM. You can easily manage conversations, audience segmentation and conversion reporting all in one place. 
  • Drift: Drift is another great free platform that can easily be connected to your website. This is a great option for service-focused businesses, as its advanced features allow you book consultations or meetings with customers directly through the chat. 

Chatbot Marketing Best Practices

The investment in using a Chatbot app is minimal than the amount of time you would spend connecting with potential customers (chatbots are after all, a tool connecting with your audience in real-time). Most apps will simply ask you to register your account and have your website URL handy. If you have a web team, you can also have them assist you with setting this up. It usually takes a few minutes! 

The best way to maximise your return-on-investment (ROI) is by creating and implementing plan on using the tool effectively. Here are a few key factors to practice when using your chatbot:

Create a Live Chat Profile: The whole purpose of the chatbot is to make your customers feel as if they are talking to a real life person, rather than…well, a bot! Many of these apps allow you to create different live chat profiles. This means creating a personal avatar with your name, contact information and photo. Make sure to complete your live chat profile as much as possible, to elevate that sense of personal connection with your customer. 

Use the chat feature only when you’re online: Customers expect quick feedback when using a chatbot. This positive experience can increase the likelihood of them purchasing a product or service. It would be counterintuitive to add a chatbot to your website, only to respond to inquiries sparingly throughout the day. Make the chat feature available only when you’re online. You can even delegate a member of your team to be responsible for managing and responding to inquiries. 

Provide chat prompts to streamline the inquiry process: Managing chat conversations can be time-consuming, especially if you’re trying to determine the reason why a customer is inquiring in the first place. Easily categorise the purpose of the chat by offering chat prompts to your customer. This allows you to drill down and understand the inquiry without having to spend additional time investigating.

Connect with customers proactively: Waiting for customers to interact through the chatbot is a missed opportunity. Be proactive and start the conversation! Many of these apps allow you to see how customers interact with specific pages on your website. Ask questions and spark the conversation to keep them engaged. 

Be conversational: Aside from providing your customers with quick feedback and answers, one of the biggest benefits of having a chatbot is to articulate that YES!, there are in fact, humans behind the company. It might be good to keep the tone light and conversational, depending on the nature of your business. 

The one thing that we should emphasise is that managing a chatbot is a team effort. Team members managing these inquiries should be properly trained on using and interacting properly with customers through the chatbot. 

As a team that specialises in website UX and digital marketing, we can help you understand and enhance your chatbot marketing strategy. Feel free to contact our team to learn more. 

Teen using TikTok - Out Smarts Marketing

TikTok Marketing in 2020: How to Use TikTok for Your Small Business

When you think of the short-form video platform, TikTok, you may picture a teenager filming themselves doing a viral dance video. But dancing is just one of the popular forms of content being uploaded to the app that has taken the world by storm and is all over the news right now as we wait to see if it will be banned in the US or bought out.

Founded in 2012 by the Chinese company ByteDance, Tiktok was aimed to be a replacement for its failed predecessor, Musical.ly, another short-form video platform based around lip-syncing to premade audio or songs.

What is TikTok?

TikTok allows users to produce short-form video content that is up to one minute long, which appeals to audiences’ 8-second attention spans, therefore, the shorter the better. Users create short music, lip-sync, dance, comedy and talent videos of 3 to 15 seconds, and looping videos from 3 to 60 seconds.TikTok marketing for business - Out Smarts Marketing

Like other social media platforms, TikTok uses hashtags that allow users to promote their content to a wider audience – helping the content get found. Using at least one broad hashtag for example, #foryoupage, and one specified niche hashtag, like #skincarereview is recommended. Users can make videos using soundtracks from other people’s original sounds, or choose from the wide variety of suggested songs or audios.

Additionally, users can ‘duet’ another user, which means that their video will show as a split-screen with the duetted video. Videos can either be set to public, private or for friends only (friends are users you mutually follow).

Generally, a user’s ‘for you page’ consists of a video feed on different topics, from cooking to pranks to promoting activism like the Black Lives Matter movement. On the ‘for you’ page’, videos from creators with both large and small followings are shown. If a video is getting one or more like per 10 views, it will get shown more often, therefore, quickly obtaining thousands of views.

The views to likes ratio is a useful tool for advertisers or small business owners to use to determine if their marketing is influential.

TikTok Statistics

The success that Tiktok has had in the past two years is tremendous; In September 2018, downloads surpassed those of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, making it the most popular downloaded app. In 2019, downloads soared to 738 million.

TikTok can attribute a lot of its booming success to its genius algorithm that allows videos to go viral in a matter of hours. It does this by presenting a series of videos onto a user’s ‘for you’ page’ which is TikTok’s curated page, to present new content to users.

TikTok Marketing

Although it may be perceived as merely a platform for teens to showTikTok marketing for business - Out Smarts Marketing personalized content, many small business owners are taking to TikTok marketing to promote their products or services, especially those with a younger target audience. With the hashtag “#smallbusiness” having nearly 3 billion views, entrepreneurs can produce videos showing their product, behind the scenes content, and advertisements of their services for their future potential consumers.

One example of this is MyGlow2 (@behindtheglow2), an account for a small beauty business, with nearly 100 thousand followers on TikTok, provides videos of their upcoming products, information from the founders and the meticulous packaging steps for the products.

In Vincent Buchiachio’s article for Business 2 Community, ‘How Can TikTok Help Your Small Business?’ he explains that following hashtag trends on are a useful way to promote your business on the plaftorm. When posting a video, TikTok will suggest trending hashtags that users can upload with their video to promote their content to a wider viewing audience. These hashtags are beneficial and should be added to each video to ensure maximum reach.

TikTok For Business

There are a few ways in which companies can pay TikTok to show their ads. The first way is through a brand takeover which will show your add at the beginning when a user opens the app. Brand takeover ads are timed, therefore, users are forced to not skip the ad, similar to YouTube videos.

The next type of paid advertisement is through native ads which play in the middle of the users’ content and look just like other content, these ads can be skipped through and are not timed.

TikTok – Things To Consider

If you are a business contemplating whether or not TikTok is the platform for you to market on, there are a few things to consider. The main demographic on TikTok is between the ages of TikTok 16-24, therefore, it is imperative to consider whether or not your target consumer fits the demographic on TikTok.

However, if you are a business owner on the fence about choosing between trying to promote your product with or without utilizing the paid advertisements, it is valuable to understand that your product promotion can still be shown to a large audience without paying for advertisements.

Although TikTok has grown to be one of the most popular social media platforms in the past two years, some users are skeptical of the fact that TikTok is a Chinese based platform which means there are different regulations regarding privacy and data sharing. Due to this, the United States government is suggesting a full ban on the platform. Watch this space as we update this blog accordingly.

Link Building Strategies in 2020: 5 Creative Approaches You Can Take

5 link building strategies - an infographic

There are multiple ways to create link building strategies in 2020. The purpose and objectives are the same – however,  sharing information, collaborating digitally with others and leveraging content through more digital avenues has made it an opportune time to focus on building links. 

If you need a refresher on link building, check out this post from several years ago (which we’ve updated)! Many of the tactics we mentioned on this old article can still be utilized in your strategy today. However, there are a few that we didn’t mention, which we’ll dive into in this post. 

Why does Link Building in 2020 Matter?

If you’re familiar with SEO, you may have heard link building as part of the overall strategy. There are three types of links your website can generate: internal links, external links and backlinks. While all enhance your website’s performance in terms of SEO, backlinks, through link building, offer the greatest value. 

Link building has always been an essential part of SEO, but with more businesses appearing online, this is a great way to stand out from the noise.

Make no mistake – link building strategies is a long-term effort, where there are no shortcuts! But if done properly, businesses can experience immense benefits:

  • Generates Quality Traffic: Referral traffic can occur when credible websites direct their users to other sites like their own. This means a greater likelihood of attracting qualified visitors and familiarizing them with your product and services (leading to sales and conversions).  
  • Establishes Credibility: If you receive an external link from a website with high domain authority, it’s their way of saying that the information your website is presenting is informative and trustworthy. Consider it their “seal of approval”! 
  • Creates Visibility: This tactic is another effective way to compliment your existing efforts in achieving more brand visibility in other channels. 

other link building strategies

Link Building Strategies for 2020

There are a ton of ways that you can expand your website presence using link building strategies. Tactics like building a Google My Business page or registering your website in local directories are quick ways to generate links back to your website. However, there are other ways to link build which can benefit your strategy for the long-term. While it requires more leg-work, the opportunities to link build using these tactics are endless. 

Guest Posts – Guest posts are beneficial for two reasons. When you are writing as a guest contributor for another organization, chances are they will provide an “About Author” section that gives you another opportunity to link back to your website. But being a guest blogger goes beyond the intended purpose of creating links back to your website. Guest posts are different from sponsored content, because you are making the effort to build connections with businesses who own these websites, while also adding value to their existing views. Because of this, you are also solidifying connections and relationships in addition to your main strategy of link building.  

404 and Error Pages – These pages are also known as broken links. A website might possess content that has links that are no longer relevant or even live. If you see this occurring, it might be worthwhile to reach out and see if the webmaster can replace the 404 broken link with a working link to your website. But this is just the start – 3xx and 5xx error pages also provide opportunities, too. 

Infographics – In a world where people are visual readers, infographics are a great way to increase the shareable nature of your content. According to websites like Hubspot, infographics are the fourth most used type of content marketing. When you share content that is visual and informative, it will be shared social channels and can be a great visual to complement a blog. 

“Shout outs” in your own blog post – When you create a blog post with links that drive traffic to other websites (e.g. like writing a top 10 list of the most influential businesses in your sector), it grabs the attention of these businesses. This will increase the likelihood of your content being shared on their social channels. This is also a beneficial strategy to strengthen your relationships with other companies and content creators. 

Blog Commenting – When done properly, commenting on blogs is a great and organic way to add links to valuable pages online. We mentioned this before in our initial post, but if you are going to use this strategy, make sure your comments add value. Anything that isn’t well-thought through might be perceived as spam and can be deleted. 

Here’s one last thought that we’d like to leave you with, and it is that your link building strategies require you to chip away on the progress slowly. 

Provide high-quality content that users would be interested in by illustrating your expertise on the certain subject. 

So, take the time to create content that is relevant to your target audience. Make sure that the information that you’re sharing is new, fresh and is evergreen (meaning, the information will still remain relevant, regardless of the current times). 

If you’re still wondering what the best approach is with regard to link building, let us help you along the way! Feel free to fill out our form and book a consultation with our team.