Have Yourself A Merry Little Marketing Plan

The holiday season, also known as Q4 in marketing land, is quickly picking up speed. (Don’t blink or it’ll already be 2018.) While most of the holiday marketing hoopla is geared toward B2C companies offering free shipping and 50% off deals, B2B brands have a unique opportunity to better connect with customers and even get the ball rolling for a prosperous new year.

As your trusted integrated dgital marketing agency, we rounded up our top tips to help you do just that. An early holiday gift, if you will. Let’s go walking in a digital wonderland…

Check Your List (Twice)

The December customer is different than the average customer during other months of the year—but it’s not all bad news. In fact, many businesses have “use it or lose it” budgets. Your objective is to understand your customers’ needs, target them appropriately and then intertwine your goals.

For example, consider your various prospects:

  • Bottom-of-the-funnel prospects are working toward closing a deal, so any actions toward this group should, as always, be focused on fostering your relationship and keeping them engaged in the conversation. Sending those prospects a little “surprise and delight” in the form of a small gift card or industry-specific gift (ex: premium coffee for us in #agencylife) is a great way to stay relevant.
  • Middle-of-the-funnel prospects are still considering your offerings, therefore, send them personalized, non-monetary gifts, such as premium content pieces related to your services and industry. See #2 below for some ideas.
  • Top-of-the-funnel prospects need to simply understand your business. This isn’t a place to get too specific or flashy with your product, rather, create more surface-level content to send via email. (Middle-of-the-funnel requires more detail than this group). Again, see #2 below for some ideas.  

When it comes to your current customers, this season is all about appreciation—with a hint of up-sell and cross-sell. As these customers have already proven their value to your company, first let them know you are thankful for their business, and then offer a discount for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Along with that, consider sending a personalized, handwritten note, as well as an additional gift, like gift cards or a nice bottle of wine (no one wants a big basket full of stale crackers and jams). Happy current customers = happy 2018.

Give the Gift of Content

Your content marketing strategy doesn’t get a winter vacation. In fact, you need to work a little harder to keep your voice heard over the bells and flashy sales. Cut through the clutter by creating relevant and timely content, like industry-specific trends reports, year-in-review blog posts and even new year checklists. With one piece of premium content, you can then develop related infographics, email campaigns, teaser blogs and social media posts.

For example, last year, Sparxoo wrote a 2017 Digital Marketing Trends report – a premium content piece. To support it, we created additional blog posts and published them throughout the first quarter of the year. (Shameless plug for two of our favorite posts: 2017 Digital Detox: Part 1; Three Steps to Total Marketing Integration.) This allowed us to deep dive into different aspects of the trends guide and keep the conversation rolling through to March.

And don’t forget to leverage your top performing content from earlier in the year as well. That piece you wrote in March? Turn the topic into the basis of a Twitter chat. The webinars and videos you recorded? Make a montage of the highlights and distribute as “tips of the year.”

As for social media, continue to post throughout the month, but adjust your schedule for the holiday season. (Hint: Refer to last year’s analytics to see what worked.) It’s ok to decrease in frequency, as long as you maintain audience engagement and interaction.

Resolve to Evolve

You should now be finalizing your budget and business plan for 2018. Pro tip: If you’re working with an integrated digital marketing agency, they’ll lead the planning for your SEO, content, PPC and email marketing strategies. If you’re going on your own, before you make any decisions, look at what worked for you last year and compare that to your current goals. Are they aligned?

After that, do some research. Connect with clients and prospects to uncover their pain points and learn how your business did (and can) help in the new year. Also, evaluate your competitors and where you stand in the marketplace, both locally and nationally. Other ways you can evolve include ramping up your content marketing (hello, video!), taking a mobile-first approach to design and development, and even starting an influencer marketing program.

‘Tis not the season to be a Scrooge. Luckily, adding a little holiday cheer into your marketing isn’t as hard as you think. With some upfront planning and creativity, you can have your pecan pie and eat it too.  

5 SEO Myths You Need To Stop Believing

At this point, we’ve all heard the saying, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.” That Wikipedia bio that says someone died? That news story about an alien invasion? That rumor about another celebrity divorce? You shouldn’t be so certain. (Well, that last one might be true.) The same goes for what you hear about SEO—you need to stay up-to-date on trends. And while not every strategy is perfect, as an SEO agency we’re here to make sure you don’t set up your project plan based on false assumptions.

Put on your myth-busting hat (a white one, of course) and let’s put these search engine optimization myths to bed, once and for all:

1. The more links, the better

Believe it or not, quantity does not defeat quality when it comes to links back to your site. Think about it this way: Would you rather have 100 bracelets from the dollar store or one from Tiffany’s? In a search engine’s eyes, low-quality site links are a major red flag—and they even have the ability to detrimentally affect your SEO statistics and rankings. As we head into a new year of search, shift your focus to 1) building relationships with high-quality sites and 2) creating a complete backlink profile, rather than just single links. When searching for reputable places to gain links, make sure to consider the site’s domain authority (DA) and spam score, as well as if the content aligns with your audience. If those markers don’t…errr…hit the mark, then move on to the next one.

If you change anything with your link-building strategy in 2018, change the way you connect with outlets. Solid relationships + aligned outlets = improved DA and keyword rankings.

2. Social media doesn’t affect SEO

While it doesn’t directly affect rankings, social media does have an impact on SEO and your company’s bottom line. Why? For one, when you post to social media, you create a backlink that brings traffic to your site. These visitors will then (hopefully) find an optimized landing page chock full of information they need. And when coupled with an exceptional user experience on your site, you’ll get even more traffic and potential conversions in the future. Sounds like a win, right?

Second, social media platforms are an additional way to create a community and connect with your audience. You can create locally-optimized posts (see #3 below) and high-quality, regular social content to increase brand awareness. A stronger social presence will lead to greater search visibility in general.

Your next steps: 1) Optimize your social media accounts by ensuring all profiles are up-to-date with contact information and business locations. 2) Craft a solid content plan—one that incorporates regular updates and blog posts—to keep your brand in the minds of consumers.

3. Local SEO doesn’t matter anymore

Umm…says who? Let’s back up:

72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source)

18% of local mobile searches lead to a sale within one day. (Source)

88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. (Source)

It matters.

Local search is highly targeted, timely, and a way for smaller businesses to compete with the national giants. For example, when users searches for “sushi” instead of receiving hits for places in another state, they’ll see places that are 5 or 10 miles from their location. So depending on your business size and model, your strategy will need to focus on the elements of local SEO, including NAP accuracy, Google My Business profiles, local citations, and more.

4. Images don’t require optimization

Here is a myth that needs to be busted, crumbled and defeated ASAP. Images should always be optimized for the following:

  1. Size: The bigger the image size, and the more images you have on your site, the slower your page loads. Search engines view this is a user experience hindrance and will penalize you for slow site speed. Optimize your images to a standard size and make sure to only upload photos under a certain size. (We recommend keeping photos below 70kb and using WordPress Smush if possible).
  2. Alt Tags: Since search engines can’t see images and interpret what they are, you need to be their eyes, ears, nose, touch—the whole shebang. That’s what alt tags do! In each alt tag, write in plain English and include any keywords that you’re optimizing the webpage for. Don’t keyword stuff (black hat alert).

Find images that align with your content and consider writing captions if it would make sense for the visitor.

5. It’s all about ranking

There is so much more to SEO than getting your website ranking for any number of keywords. The project strategy and plan you create should encompass multiple goals—like improving domain authority and increasing organic traffic and leads. Beyond your established goals, focus on enhancing user experience, optimizing content, and continually updating your site in order to provide the best and most accurate information to the visitor (AKA your target audience).

Though #numbersneverlie and search rankings are certainly a factor that show success, don’t let it be the almighty driving factor behind your SEO. Remember: SEO is about bringing quality organic traffic to your site (through targeted, strategic keyword rankings) and gaining leads from user-friendly, optimized landing pages. Leads and conversions matter the most, right?

With this newfound knowledge and game plan for SEO superstardom, 2018 will be the year you deliver the WOW experience to your customers—and the data proof to your boss.