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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.
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Understanding Your Buyer Journey – 4 Ways This Helps to Build Your Business

understanding the buyer journey

Do you understand your buyer journey (the steps a prospective buyer takes when considering purchasing your products or services)? Whether you operate a brick and mortar business or if you’ve been in business for a while, there’s a good chance that you already have a strong understanding of what drives customers to your business. This blog post is designed to help you to take this knowledge and apply it to your website and digital presence so that you can attract and engage prospective clients earlier and throughout your buyer journey.

What is the Buyer Journey?

The buyer journey can be described as the different stages that a buyer takes to purchase a product or service. Buyer preferences might differ depending on the customer, but the buyer’s journey takes on the same overall process following the steps outlined below:

Buyer Journey Stages

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How to Use Google Grants and AdWords for Non-Profits: Important Changes You Should Be Aware of in 2018

Did you know that Google offers ad grants for non-profit an charity organizations in Canada, allowing them to run their AdWords with a budget of $10,000 per month? If you run a charity or non-profit, this is something you have to take advantage of – it’s free advertising and drives targeted traffic to your site (if you set it up right!).  

  • First, you need a Tech Soup account  and registration – which verifies your non-profit status and eligibility
  • Once that is approved, you can then set up your new Google account and apply to manage your grants ads.

Google Ad Grant Changes for Non-Profits

Over the years, 35,000 non-profits have set up Ad Grant AdWords accounts, and it has been a popular offering, but recently though, Google has been rolling out a slew of changes that govern how ads are set up in the Grants program.

Out-Smarts: How to Use Google Grants and AdWords for Non-Profits: Important Changes You Should Be Aware of in 2018
How to Use Google Grants and AdWords for Non-Profits

I am guessing these changes are because many organizations were lax about maintaining their ads –  setting up accounts, campaigns and groups and then not maintaining their accounts well or keeping up with the new features Google has rolled out over the last couple of years like ad extensions. It could also be because some non-profits didn’t set up their accounts properly in the first place (for example not using geographical audience targeting).

As a result of these changes which were announced in December and went into effect earlier this month, non-profits are scrambling to review their ad campaigns and make them compliant – if they don’t, they risk having their ad account cancelled.

The good news is that there will no longer be the USD 2 ad bid cap which means that non-profits can bid more competitively and show up higher than ever before. There are some caveats though.

The New Google Grants AdWords Rules for 2018:

  • The two dollar bid cap has been removed
  • Advertisers must use maximum conversions bidding – this automatically sets your bidding so that you maximize the conversions of your campaign given your budget (for non-profits that about $333 per day). This means setting up conversions on Google and tracking them using two snippets of code that get added to your site and to the page you want to track.
  • Advertisers must use geographical targeting aka geo-targeting – this simply means that your ads must be targeted to your geographic area and not blanket targeted to broad geographical areas where you don’t operate.
  • Each campaign must have at least 2 Ad Groups that are live.
  • Each ad group must have at least 2 ad variations running.
  • Each ad must have a minimum of 2 site link extensions – site link extensions are links and titles that show up below your ads highlighting important aspects of your business and encouraging people to click through to specific web pages on your site.
  • Your account must show a CTR of at least 5% or your account could be cancelled. This is the rule is the one that everyone is panicking about, but if your campaigns are set up properly with keywords that are tight (specific to what your non-profit does), and you’re not bidding on words that don’t relate to your ad text, you should see your CTR increase.

Ten Tips to Help Non-Profits Comply with the Google Ad Grant Changes:

  1. Have specific campaigns for each component of your non-profit business using specific keywords, both in the keywords themselves and in your ad text and landing pages.
  2. Stop using keywords that are too generic – low-quality keywords.
  3. Conversely, don’t have ad groups that only have one keyword.
  4. Work to create better, target keyword centric ad copy.
  5. Make sure that your landing pages map back to your ad campaigns and groups and that everything works as it should on the page so that visitors convert once the land on your site.
  6. Set up conversion tracking and make sure that you are tracking conversions after people click through to your site.
  7. Use Google Analytics to understand campaign traffic, keywords that are driving visits from people who engage once they land on your site, and bid adjustments.
  8. Don’t use keywords that mention your competitors or other companies.
  9. Implement your changes now, if your CTR is less than 5% for two consecutive months your account could be suspended.
  10. If you don’t have the expertise in-house to make these changes, or the budget to hire experts then consider switching to AdWords Express.

Google Grants can be a great asset to a cash-strapped charity or non-profit organization. Done right, your campaigns can drive targeted traffic to your site, but your site has to deliver too. It is worth taking time to create great landing pages that convert once your visitor lands on them.

If you’re one of the non-profits that have neglected their campaigns over the years, this is the perfect time to restructure them and to take advantage of some of the great enhancements Google has been rolling out recently.

If you are concerned about your non-profit ads and don’t know where to start, we’d love to review them for you and make some recommendations. Get in touch with us here.

 


Marketing Predictions and Digital Trends for 2018

Ten years into the great social media experiment and 2017 was the year we saw Facebook hit the 2 billion user mark, the proliferation of real-time video across social platforms and the continuing email renaissance. With 2018 coming up fast upon us what better time to reflect on the past year, to dust off the crystal ball and to predict what 2018 will bring for marketers.

This post is divided into five sections to mirror the disciplines Out-Smarts focuses on websites trends, SEO – getting found when people search online, email marketing, social media and overall marketing strategy.

Website Design Trends

We know that Google is going to continue to emphasize the importance of mobile in 2018 so expect to see function taking precedence over form with a focus on usability and minimalist site navigation and content proliferating. It’s going to be interesting to see how the content is king crusaders balance their obsession with publishing content with minimalism and mobile. Expect to see more valuable content related to buyer intent rather than simply content for the sake of putting something out there.

Will 2018 be the year when small businesses finally catch up? 50% of small businesses still don’t have a website; we’re hoping this new year will be the one the laggards finally catch up. It is interesting that social media adoption for small business is much higher than website adoption. The popularity of social media is likely because of a low barrier to entry of social platforms. However, it is important to consider that you don’t own your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages (or any other social media presence you might have) the social media company owns it. What happens if they switch directions or go out of business? A website belongs to your business, not to a third party.

Watch out for more animation (logos in particular) and websites that incorporate GIFs in 2018 too – hopefully, they’re less cheesy than their Flash predecessors. Artificial Intelligence is going to be everywhere in 2018 too as enhancements make Chatbots get better and better at answering questions and simulating conversations with website visitors.

Search Engine Optimisation

Don’t let anyone tell you that keyword research is no longer important. It is and will continue to be, but there will be a shift in 2018 to focus more on semantic search, buyer intent and topics rather than specific keywords. SEOs will focus more on having their site show up at the right time when people are actually considering a purchase, rather than having the site show up to attract particular personas.

Another aspect that should be on your SEO radar in 2018 is voice search which means you need to hone your long tail keywords, i.e. keyword phrases that are hyper-specific to what you are selling.

Image search will continue to grow in 2018 so now might be the time to make sure all the images on your website have well thought out and optimized alt tags.

Email Campaigns

The email renaissance will continue in 2018. Get ready to watch videos embedded directly in email campaigns. Technological enhancements in email clients will continue to lead to more and more email apps that support embedded video. Right now less than half of all email clients can play embedded videos but thanks to Apple mail, iOS and Samsung this is changing. Up until now, most senders have opted to embed a fake play button in the email with a link to the video on a separate site or by GIF.

Including video in emails can lead to big increases in open rates – Campaign Monitor

Watch for more sophistication in list segmentation too. Segmenting campaigns so that specific audiences receive emails that contain content tailored to their unique perspective.

Social Media

2017 was the year of streaming video in social media; LinkedIn In and Twitter followed Facebook Live’s lead and began supporting live streaming video content. In 2018 watch out for growing adoption of these technologies and more creative live streams.

Over 8 billion videos or 100 million hours of videos are watched on Facebook every day (TechCrunch, 2016). – via Buffer

Not doing short video is not an option – Kat Hahn

In 2018 we will also see the increased adoption of short-lived content, content that’s only available for a short period of time before it disappears, – like Instagram stories and Snapchat. Marketers must start developing strategies to maximize the reach and impact of ephemeral content as well as considering tactics to get this content noticed.

On platforms like Instagram and Facebook, only a tiny percentage of followers actually see the content you share on your page. To get noticed in 2018, you will need to invest in ads on these platforms. Consider video ads to spice things up a little.

Social media analytics, measuring tools and management solutions will become more sophisticated in 2018 with an emphasis on enterprise social marketing integrating all platforms.

How Marketing Strategies will Evolve in 2018

2018

I am going to go out on a limb here and predict that 2018 will be the year that our obsession with all things digital and only digital will end. It’s also going to be the year we’re going to start calling our discipline marketing again (rather than digital). Marketing in 2018 will encompass all aspects of the marketing mix, both online and off and marketers will use the means most likely to help them attract their target audience.

Consider this, there are 65 million business pages on Facebook, 90% of businesses use social media. These are substantial numbers, but for marketers this means that it is becoming increasingly difficult, not to mention more expensive, to get noticed. If you want to attract your target audience’s attention in 2018, then widen your horizons and consider sending them a direct mail piece (depending on the audience) in a nice coloured envelope with handwritten wording. It will likely be the only physical mail the recipient gets that day (or maybe that week or month!), they’re going to open it, and if your copy is effective they will act on it!

Conclusion

2018 is going to be an interesting year; technological advancements will continue to speed up. To be effective as marketers, it’s going to be important not simply to jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing but to consider options strategically and with your target audience in mind (rather than from a product or service-centric perspective). That said, video popularity has been growing year over year and won’t stop. Cisco predicted that video would account for 80% of internet traffic by 2020. So if you do nothing else, consider how you might incorporate video into your digital approach in 2018.


E Marketing – Add It To Your Marketing Mix Right Now

Did you know that email is the most popular activity on smartphones or that 53% of people open email on their mobile phones?

Over the past few years, email marketing has seen a huge renaissance. E marketing isn’t as sexy as social media but it is a workhorse and when it comes to conversions it blows social media out of the water.

If you craft your email strategy and build your campaigns the right way, then they can offer a return on your investment (in both time and money) of up top 44% for every dollar spent – according to Campaign Monitor.

Hands Up, Who Has an Email Account?

The answer is everyone. Email is effective because of it’s wide reach – 2.3 billion people have email addresses and many (like me) have more than one (there are over 4 billion email accounts).

For most people email is the thing they check in bed before they go to sleep, and first thing in the morning when they’re having their coffee (or on the loo!). It is versatile for all business types and it has a low barrier to entry since it is so easy to set up. Even better – when it comes to your campaigns and lists you are in full control (as long as you stay CASL compliant).

You Need An Email Marketing Plan

Crafting an email marketing plan that takes into consideration your target customers and resources is key. It should set out your business goals, map your email goals to your business goals, and outline the steps you will take to achieve them. Doing so makes it easier for you to stay on track and makes a successful campaign much more achievable.

Here’s What to Include in your E Marketing Plan:

  • Goals (Strategic, Campaign and Overall Email Marketing) – make them quantifiable i.e. $ sales, % increase in website traffic, number of leads of hope will result.
  • Audience – identify who will receive your campaign (more on defining your audience below).
  • Research – sign up for third-party newsletters to get ideas.
  • Tools – determine which email marketing tool is best given what you want to achieve.
  • Design – what will your email template(s) look like? Note that it should be about 500-600 pixels wide and vertical in design.
  • An outline of content: topics, subject, images and links.
  • Lists – identify where your lists reside i.e. in Excel, your CRM or….). First name and email addresses of subscribers in CSAV format will help you upload them to your email marketing tool.
  • Timelines / Responsibilities and Schedule – who is responsible for what and when (this includes writing content, sourcing images, laying out the campaign, proofreading, approval, send and monitoring).
  • Compliance – are you following the rule of law when it comes to sending email? Learn more about the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation in our blog post
  • Testing – determine how you will test your campaigns before they go out to make sure they work on all devices
  • Tracking – outline the tools you will use and how you will monitor the effectiveness of your campaign

Check out these email marketing plan examples from Constant Contact (this one is more of a content calendar than a plan) and Hubspot.

Four Tips for Email Campaign Success

1. Define your audience – determine whether you will you send it to current customers, past customers, new projects, suppliers and partners, or by geographic area, age, gender or job role. Hint – segmentation will increase your conversion rate.

2. Create great content starting with a content list:

  • Determine what content will be included  and outline general content types
  • Identify who is going to write it
  • Determine whether to recycle content you’ve already created or create new content (bear in mind that content should be useful and add value)
  • Get creative – if you have a popular Tweet – expand on that
  • Add great images to the mix 

3. Outline Timing – the frequency of your email blasts will depend on your target audience, products/services and the resources you have. It’s better to send fewer higher quality email campaigns than try to send too many. If you get a great response and have the time resources to do so, then increase frequency

4. Scheduling – Work back at least a month from your intended send date to give you enough time to get this right.

Week 1 – Editorial basics – develop content topics, graphics, ideas, and define your audience then start tracking down your lists. If you don’t have an email tool set up this is the time to do so then create your template (most email marketing tools have templates you can adapt or you can have your developer custom code one for you).

Week 2 – Write, refine and expand on what you want to say, source images and/or photos, and define subject lines (here’s a handy tool to test their effectiveness).

Week 3 – Log in to your email marketing tool, create your campaign and add your content. Send a test campaign.

Week 4 – Get feedback, refine and improve your campaign. Send your campaign (Wednesday or Thursday morning is a good time if your audience is corporate, if it’s consumer then evenings, weekends or earlier in the morning will be best).

Week 5 – Track responses and measure success based on the goals you set at the start.

Week 6 – Start over!

If you need help or support with your email campaigns, please reach out. We’d love to work with you!


Google Reviews – How To Get More Reviews for Your Business

Good Google reviews are super important. When people Google your business the first thing they are likely to see is your Google My Business listing. If you have lots of great reviews that helps to get people through your door to do business with you, and it helps with your website positioning.

I was asked recently how to get good reviews and how to get rid of bad ones. Unfortunately you can’t just delete bad reviews. Trying to get them removed can be arduous too, so the best way is simply to get more good reviews!

Here are a few ideas and suggestions to make the process easier for your customers (and for you too!) – these will work for Google but you can adapt and use them for Yelp reviews, and Facebook too.

Google Reviews – How To Get MoreGoogle Reviews

1. Many people don’t know how to give a review on Google. Prepare a one sheet handout giving them detailed directions showing them how to submit a review for your business. Email these to your customers or give them to them at the checkout (depending on the type of business you operate).

2. If you collect email addresses for your current customers (recent customer in the last 2 years only!) you should send a follow up email those that buy from you. Thank them for their business, ask for a review and give them directions as outlined above. You could also send this to your newsletter subscribers encouraging them to review your biz. Be careful though, because of the Canadian Anti Spam legislation you can’t simply email everyone and anyone.

3. Run a monthly promo: each review is entered into a draw each month. At the end of the month draw one and send them something good like a gift card or a voucher they can use next time they do business with you.

4. Make sure your staff know how important it is to get good reviews and incorporate asking for reviews into your business processes.

5. Seek out those who give good reviews and make sure to thank them. If you ignore them then they’re certainly not going to give you more!

6. Add an ask for a review on your invoices / receipts.

7. Showcase reviews on your website and on your social feeds too.

8. Depending on your business model you can add a call to action button on your website encouraging people to review you.

10. When you set up your My Business listing Google probably sent you a ‘Review us on Google’ sticker. Display this prominently.

Of course getting good reviews starts with having great customer service. The better your service the more likely your reviews will be great too!

Related articles:

Listing Your Business on Google

Tips for Staying CASL Compliant


11 Tips For Staying CASL (Canadian Anti Spam Legislation) Compliant – Small Businesses

With the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation just days away from becoming the law, here are 12 tips to help you get opt ins and to remain email compliant. If in any doubt or you have any questions, consult a lawyer.

1. Sort your lists – if you already have an opt in process then those contacts on the list that have opted in (either on your website or through filling out a form) don’t need to re opt in. Remember to keep track of them. The rest do, so get ready to send out a communication to those you have implied consent from to get them to give you express consent.

2. There are several exemptions rules such as family members who don’t not need to opt in.  Read this post. If your business is as a political party or charity then you are exempt from the rules too.

3. Make sure that your opt in email and all further communications include:outsmart_bizcard

    • clear unsubscribe links so that people can remove themselves from the list easily and at any time
    • your name, company name and address
    • an outline of why they are receiving your communication

4. After you have send out your opt-in email, you have to remove the people from your list that don’t opt in so make sure you have accounted for this in your email process and that you are easily able to track. Most newsletter tools like MailChimp facilitate this although there are varying degrees of easiness in doing so. Delete those that don’t opt in so that you never, ever contact them again.

5. Put in place processes to help you track future subscribers both online and off. This should include having a double opt in when people subscribe via your website (this is not mandatory but more of a safety net just in case). In person you should create a template that states clearly what people are signing up for then have them fill out their contact info to be added.

6. You can’t collect email addresses at trade shows any more and simply add them to your newsletter and you shouldn’t anyway because it’s rather a slimy tactic.  Instead have people fill out a form that states clearly that they are subscribing. There are also apps like Chimpedeedo that facilitate this.  We haven’t use these so if you have please share your take.

outsmart_handshake7. If you have a subscription opt widget in on your website make sure it is worded right so that peope know exactly what they are subscribing to. Remember the double opt in for this too.

8. Each newsletter or communication you send should state clearly why you are sending and have an easy to unsuscribe link preferably right at the top. Again most newsletter providers make this easy for you to do.

9. Get consent from people in real life – you can’t just add someone to your list because you met them at a networking event.  Verbal consent is okay but it is hard to prove so a good idea might be to get new contacts to write newsletter subscribe on the back of their cards. Make sure and keep them in a file though just in case.

10.  Never harvest or buy email email addresses. EVER. This is cheap and tacky and says exactly that about your brand. Who wants to do business with someone or some company they can’t trust from the get go?

11. Add value rather than overtly selling. No one likes to be inundated with emails that have the sole purpose of selling your products or services in a cheap and nasty way so instead why not find creative ways to add value for your recipients and tell them something valuable that they don’t already know.  Get creative.

Related posts:

What is CASL and why you need to know.

When is it okay to make contact Electronically – CASL