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Total posts: 53
Last post: July 13, 2018

6 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

6 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

By Aztek on  July 13, 2018

It’s not easy to market your brand on social media. With high volumes of content shared every minute, challenging algorithm updates and the pressure to make your brand stand out, it can be easy to make mistakes. To help you navigate through the ever-changing social landscape, we’ve compiled six social media mistakes you should avoid.

1. Oversharing Your Content

Sharing your content multiple times a day per social media platform doesn't necessarily mean your content will be seen by your audience, nor is it necessarily the right strategy. In fact, an overload of content by one brand in a user's newsfeed may not be the ideal experience.

Before you post to social media, consider quality over quantity. Review your social media platforms individually and determine how many posts per day per channel make sense for the results you are trying to achieve. It can make a bigger impact for your brand to post to your Facebook Business Page once a day with an engaging message that resonates well with your audience, rather than sharing multiple blog posts or images that don't have an effective strategy or purpose.

2. Sharing the Same Content Across All Platforms

You shouldn't utilize a "one size fits all" approach when it comes to social media. Your audience may have different intent when scrolling through their Twitter news feed vs. LinkedIn. That being said, your content should be created around the intent of your audience on each of those platforms. Don't assume your audience will consume and interact with content the same on one platform as they will on another.

Rather than posting the same message across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., consider how that content will be valuable to your audience on each of those platforms and how you can create a unique message depending on which platform you choose. If you share without the right social media strategy in place, you could put your brand in a position for ineffective results.

3. Trying to Gain a Presence Everywhere

Just like you shouldn't take one piece of content and post it everywhere, you don't need to try to gain a presence everywhere either. Think about your audience. Where are they spending time online? Which platforms will help you reach your audience most effectively?

Do research and gather insight into your audience's behavior on each of the social platforms before creating new profiles. You will engage more with your audience and align better with your goals if your brand has a strong presence on just a few social media channels, rather than a scarce presence on all.

4. Failing to Engage Your Audience

You may have a presence on the appropriate social media channels to reach your audience, but your success will be limited if you fail to engage your audience. A few ways to maintain engagement with your audience on social media include:

    • Using expertise. Show that your brand is a subject-matter expert on topics, trends, and questions your audience cares about.
    • Being genuine. Don't just sell to your customers. An audience is more likely to engage with a brand they trust than with a brand they don't feel valued by.
    • Asking questions. By prompting a conversation, your brand will be able to better connect with customers and learn from how they interact with your content.
    • Listening to your audience. Your audience wants to be heard. Show them you've listened by providing content types your audience enjoys and responds well to.

5. Not Utilizing Social Media Management Tools

Social media management tools can be your best friend. As beneficial as real-time and relevant responses are for a brand, trying to find time to post unique content on each of your social media channels throughout the day can be a daunting task. Utilizing social tools such as Sendible or Hootsuite can assist with scheduling content ahead of time and collecting data to better understand the impact of your social media efforts.

6. Ignoring Social Trends

Though it may not be ideal, your approach to social media marketing is likely to change as often as the social platforms roll out new updates and new trends emerge. The best approach you can take for your brand is to adapt to the changes and adjust your social media strategy accordingly. Learning to work with the updates and find effective methods to still reach your audience can only help bring a long-term return.

 

Need help understanding which social media tactics are right for your brand? Aztek can help build, maintain and analyze social media marketing campaigns for your business. Contact our team today to learn more.

4 Types of Headlines That Can Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts

4 Types of Headlines That Can Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts

By Aztek on  July 6, 2018

In a world where information is just a Google search away, your content has to compete with everything else that's trying to target your specific audience. That means you need your headlines to stick out so that people choose your content over your competitors.

According to Copyblogger, "8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest."

Any old headline isn't going to cut it for a blog post, guest article, or any other type of content. People want useful, unique, ultra-specific, and urgent headlines, or at least some combination of those four important "u's" of headlines.

Of course, this can be a difficult task when you're trying to balance intrigue with the inclusion of keywords that can help your business. Fortunately, there are some tried and true types of headlines that can help you marry sizzle factor and search value. Here are four types of headlines that can help your business beat out the competition.

The Question Headline

As we've mentioned before, customer questions are a goldmine for generating blog topics and other content ideas. Your target audience has questions that relate to your business. You have answers. Use these questions as the basis for a thorough, well-written article that positions you as an expert.

Not only are these questions great for inspiring ideas for content, they can serve as an effective headline as well. First, a good question can attract an intrigued reader. People are inquisitive creatures, so a well-phrased question can drive a reader to read an article so that he or she can find out the answer. Second, the right query can be a quality keyword on its own. Some users will type out entire questions in search engines instead of short keyword phrases. This can turn that question into a valuable keyword of its own.

While a question may have some search volume, there can be issues with using them as a headline. Question headlines that end in a "yes" or "no" answer can lead users to ignoring them because they think they already know the answer to the question. However, if the question came from your organic keyword referrals, your target audience probably don't care about this problem. "Why" questions are good because they don't obviously answer a question and allow you to position yourself as an expert. Also, avoid using a question headline if you don't actually have an answer to the question. No reader want to feel like they got suckered in to a post with no real conclusion or insight.

 

via GIPHY

The Listicle

Listicles are a sore subject in the writing community. Opponents of the trend argue that listicles are vapid, soulless ways to fill news feeds and garner cheap clicks. Proponents retort that listicles provide readers with an easy reading experience that doesn't have to skimp on quality content.

Either argument can be true depending on the quality of the listicle. As The New York Times wrote, a well-made listicle with good insights "spatially organizes the information; and it promises a story that’s finite, whose length has been quantified upfront."The headline serves as a promise for quality content, albeit one that uses our brain's natural preferences as a trigger for action.

When it comes to crafting a good listicle headline, our brains like numbers. An avid disciple of the AP Stylebook may cringe at the use of numerals under 10 in print, but a study by Conductor shows that people prefer headlines with numbers to those without. Not only do single digits take less space, they also attract attention in a news feed or search engine results page full of words.

It's important to note that while lists are useful, you can't—and shouldn't—convert every piece of content into a list. Some stories are best suited for an in-depth, long-form reading experience. There's no need to rework Moby Dick into "7 Reasons Why Ahab Just Had to Kill That Whale." The headline is a key way to entice readers, but the article itself needs to be worthwhile for readers to take any sort of action

The "How To" Headline

You don't always have to get cute with your headlines. A good "how to" headline is a great way to tell your audience exactly what your post is about and entice the readers who are looking to learn how to do something specific. In fact, you can assemble your very own "how to" headline with this handy, dandy formula:

Headline = "How to" + Verb + Thing + Benefit

To help break this down, let's use a very convenient example from Aztek's Vice President of Digital Marketing Ryan Morgan. About a month ago, Ryan wrote a blog post entitled "How to Plan a Month's Worth of Blog Topics in 15 Minutes." Whether he knew it or not, Ryan followed the formula like he aced Content Algebra 101 during his time at a fine university.

"How to Plan a Month's Worth of Blog Topics in 15 Minutes" = "How to" + Verb (Plan) + Thing (a Month's Worth of Blog Topics) + Benefit (in 15 Minutes)

If you've ever tried to put an editorial calendar or game plan together, you'll know that it can be a pain in the tucchus to come up with multiple blog post topics that not only make sense, but are effective. Now Ryan is promising that he can save your behind by teaching you how to churn out some top-tier ideas in the span of time it takes to try and find your cat when it's time to go to the vet. In short, "how to" headlines are simple, straight to the point, and effective. There's a reason that Copyblogger is using the headline "How to Write Magnetic Headlines" for their ebook on writing magnetic headlines.

The Two-Part Headline

Do you ever feel like you have two ideas for a headline, but you wish that you could combine into one mega headline? Let me introduce you to a lovely character called the colon. This nifty punctuation mark is a clever way to be both creative and practical with one super duper headline.

One of the struggles of creating headlines is to find a way to include specific keywords in a title and make it sound enticing. Let's be honest, certain subjects just aren't that exciting. However, a two-part headline might be just the tool you need to include helpful keywords and charm the pants off of potential readers. For example, people don't really look forward to going to see a proctologist. In fact, up to 40 percent of at-risk individuals haven't had a colonoscopy done because they don't like them, find them unnecessary, and other reasons. However, even a cynic might be intrigued to click on one of the following two-part headlines:

  • The Bottom Line: Why You Need to Schedule a Colonoscopy Procedure
  • Colonoscopy Procedures: 5 Reasons You'd be an Ass to Avoid Them

Whether it's used to introduce a keyword or create a clever setup, the colon plays a key role in these headlines. Also, you may have noticed that you can even combine different types of headlines in to make an even more intriguing title. Who needs one type of headline when you can have two?

 

via GIPHY

The two-part headline: A real tag-team effort

The Keys to a Good Headline

Regardless of what type of headline you choose for your content, it's important to remember that you're making a promise to your readers with every title. Misleading or inaccurate headlines will just result in readers leaving your site as soon as they realize you won't address their needs.

In the end, you need your content to be as good as your headlines. If you can entice readers with a good headline and suck them in with some engaging content geared for their needs, you've got a good base for a strong online presence.

If you need help developing a strategic game plan or creating quality content for your site, we can help. Contact us today to to learn more about our digital marketing services and how we can help you grow your business online.

Categories: Digital Marketing
What Is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

What Is Google Tag Manager (GTM)?

By Aztek on  July 2, 2018

You've probably heard about Google Tag Manager (GTM), but might not know exactly what it is, how it works, or if you should be using it. We're here to answer some of these basic questions and provide information so you can be more informed when the topic comes up at your next website or marketing meeting.

Questions about Google Tag Manager

Released in 2012, Google Tag Manager is a free tag management system that gives you the ability to create, manage, test, and publish tracking tags to your website. But that doesn't explain how cool and powerful it really is.

How does Google Tag Manager work?

Most companies are tracking basic information like visits and users. You may also run paid advertising campaigns and use a couple testing tools. All of these need to have unique tracking tags (small pieces of code inserted into a site's source code) placed on your website in order to collect the information they need.

How does the tracking code get on your site? You have two basic options:

  1. Add static code (this is when you have to ask your developers to add a new line of code to the site for everything you want to track)
  2. Add code through a tag management system (like Google Tag Manager)

Don't get intimidated by the name; Google Tag Manager is set up like other web-based systems you've used before. For example, maybe you've used WordPress, Umbraco, or other content management systems. A content management system (CMS) allows you to enter content into a web-based interface to manage the content on your site without going into the code.

Screenshot of Umbraco CMS

Similarly, a tag management system allows you to manage tags through a web-based interface without needing to go into the code.

GTM has two main parts: the web-based interface where you set up the tags, and a container on your website to load the tags.

Screenshot of Google Tag Manager interface

Is Google Tag Manger the same as Google Analytics?

We often get this question from clients when we ask them to set up their Google Tag Manager account. They say they already have a Google Analytics account, so isn't that the same thing?

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics are two separate tools. You will need to set up an account for each using a Google login. Tip: Your company should be the owner of your Google Tag Manager account. If your company works with an agency, you should set up the account and then give access to the agency or any additional users.

You can use Google Tag Manager to implement your Google Analytics tracking code, or you can put your Google Analytics tracking code onto your site without using GTM.

Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics work well together, but they can work independent of each other if you have the proper setup. Either way, you will be collecting data from your website.

What are the advantages of using Google Tag Manager?

Some of the biggest advantages to using this tool are that you can:

Add tracking information without needing to make changes to the code

  • Spend less time waiting on your development team to help with minor code updates (keep in mind that if your site has e-commerce you'll still need to be best friends with your development team)
  • Use built-in integrations with many third-party platforms

Screenshot of Third Party tags in Google Tag Manager June 2018

Collaborate

  • Control who has access to your account and what changes they can make
  • Allow other teams or partners to work on updates and put changes live in the same account using workspaces

screenshot of GTM workspace example

Control versions and test

  • Organize tags and release updates in versions to keep track of changes
  • Use preview mode to test changes before they go live and ensure they are tracking properly

Screenshot of GTM preview debug mode

Should my company be using Google Tag Manager?

This is a more complex question that should involve your marketing and development teams (and a review of your measurement plan and business goals). If you are currently running tracking scripts on your website, you will need to complete an audit and make a plan to transition into GTM—it's not as easy as just flipping a switch.

After you know what you're tracking (and what you want to track), it's best to move all of your tags over at once. You can determine what will work for your team based on your situation, and you'll want to set up testing to make sure it's all transitioned smoothly.

In general, we encourage our clients to move toward GTM because of all the benefits listed above, but the answer really is—it depends.

Where can I learn more about Google Tag Manager?

There are many helpful resources to help you get a better understanding of GTM.

If you need to educate your IT team, you can share this resource from Google: Why webmasters and IT love Google Tag Manager [PDF]. Or find additional details from Google's Tag Manager Overview.

There's a learning curve for anyone starting out with GTM. If you'd be the one in charge of managing this for your company, check out the GTM for Beginners Series from MeasureSchool on YouTube (10 videos).

If you have additional questions about working with Google Tag Manger, transitioning to Google Tag Manager, or if it would be a good solution for your company, contact us and we'd be glad to help.

Container Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

WordPress vs Umbraco: Which CMS should you choose?

WordPress vs Umbraco: Which CMS should you choose?

By Aztek on  June 22, 2018

Considering WordPress for your company's next website? Before you get too far, ask yourself why you're considering WordPress in the first place. I bet there's a good chance it's because it's the only CMS (Content Management System) you know by name. And if you've heard of it, you probably heard that it's free and easy to setup. Both things are mostly true. But (there's always a 'but')...

You probably don't know:

  1. WordPress is less secure and its popularity makes a frequent target of security attacks and hacks
  2. WordPress has a huge ecosystem of plugins and 3rd party tools, which can also lead to security vulnerabilities and poor performance.
  3. It is .PHP based, which is not the preferred language of many professional developers.
  4. It is harder to extend with custom programming than some of its .Net based counterparts.
  5. You'll probably still need to hire a designer/developer to help design, configure, optimize, and launch.
  6. It won't end up being as easy to use for day to day content updates as you had hoped.

Don't get me wrong, Wordpress is fine for many sites. It powers a whopping 30 percent of the Web for a reason. But...

We think Umbraco is better.

To quote one of our senior developers, Frank Branicky: "Wordpress forces a site to be a blog first and shoehorn anything else into that structure. Umbraco comes at it from the other direction." And he's right. WordPress started as a blogging platform that designers and developers sort of morphed into something else. But when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Umbraco has all the CMS features comparable to WordPress. So I won't belabor that point.

  • Create, edit, delete pages
  • Schedule Publish/unpublish:
    So that Labor Day post comes down exactly at midnight (while you are in bed).
  • Version history, rollback:
    Go back and restore any previous version of any page, see who made the changes
  • Preview on mobile:
    See your new page on different mobile devices before you publish.
  • Multilingual site/pages
  • User Roles to manage what people can and cannot do
    Both for the administration of your website (writer, editor, admin, etc.) but also for public users, so you can restrict access to sensitive content on your site.

But here's where Umbraco really shines:

The Image Cropper

If you've ever had to upload an image for your website (and you aren't a graphics professional with years of Photoshop experience), you've probably done it wrong. Your image was the wrong size, or it was too big and took forever to download. Well no more. Umbraco automatically generates all the right image sizes and quality settings needed. It'll even let you decide where to keep the focus of the crops.

Page builder

WYSIWYG page editors are the worst. That's why we love the idea of a page builder. Create complex page layouts without touching HTML by selecting from a list of 'building block' components...just add words, pictures, and video. This will change your CMS life.

Custom templates for more structure

Sometimes the page builder is too open-ended. There are some pages where a more consistent structure is called for, such as a product detail page, or team bio. Umbraco lets you have both. Templates are custom to your needs but enforce consistency.

Build your own forms and workflows (without a developer). If you can build pages, why shouldn't you be able to build forms? Umbraco has one of the best forms editors we've seen. Need a special landing page with a unique form that only sends the results to Linda from marketing? No problem. You can have that up and running in less than 20 minutes.

Manage 301 redirects from within the CMS

Did you know that when you move, rename, or delete a page, you should create what's known as a "301 redirect"? If you didn't, you need to know it's important for SEO and that on some websites, you need your developer to do this for you. But in Umbraco, you can view, create, and manage all the 301s yourself in a simple editor.

Microsoft .Net technology, customizations, integrations

Umbraco uses Microsoft's .Net framework, making it a powerful platform, especially if you want to integrate into other systems such as your CRM or ERP. Or, if you need to incorporate your own custom business rules, Umbraco can be easily extended by your development team.

Open source means not just free, but a strong community of developers and support Umbraco is open source which means it is free to use, with no recurring license fees. Your costs are limited to 3rd party costs for things like custom programming, plugins, and hosting. It also has a strong community of developers who are keeping it up to date with new features and security updates.

Aztek has a starter kit which cuts down on development overhead and code bloat.

We've got lots of experience with Umbraco and have developed a starter kit to make sure we can give our clients access to all the neat things we've built, right out of the gate. This means you'll get more features and value out of your new CMS with us.

See it for yourself.

Not convinced yet? Contact us and we'd be happy to give you a demo and answer any other questions about Umbraco that you may have.

Categories: Web Design
How to Plan a Month’s Worth of Blog Topics in 15 Minutes

How to Plan a Month’s Worth of Blog Topics in 15 Minutes

By Aztek on  June 1, 2018

For many businesses and organizations, a blog is a great way to deliver fresh, topical and relevant content to an audience. A successful blog keeps users coming back (or subscribing) to see what you have to say next. The trick is, however, finding the time to plan and write content on an ongoing basis.

Many organizations are not only challenged by finding the time to write the content itself, but also simply identifying what to write about. Oftentimes this can lead to gaps in content being published, or even complete silence from a blog for months and months.

Well that stops now. Let’s stop twiddling our thumbs figuring out what to write, and let’s put a process in place to quickly come up with great ideas.

What’s the Point?

Before you even start thinking of ideas, remember why you have a blog in the first place. This may be different for different organizations, but it typically includes some combination of the following goals:

  • Establish your organization as a thought leader in your industry
  • Drive traffic to your website by answering prospect/customer questions
  • Engage your audience or the community through content
  • Share company, product or service news
  • Improve their site’s overall search engine optimization

Always come back to the goal(s) you have for your blog. If you’re attempting to provide educational content for your audience, sharing information about the most recent company picnic might not be a good fit.

Can You Monetize It?

This is a quick but important point. In for-profit companies, the likely primary goal of the blog is to support lead generation and sales. When considering blog topics, ask yourself the question, “can I monetize this topic?” Here are some quick questions to help you answer that question:

  • Does this content attract prospects that would be interested in my product(s)/service(s)?
  • Can I identify a call-to-action to lead a prospect to the next step in the sales cycle?
  • Does this content give a prospect the information they need, without “giving away the farm”?

The last point may only be situational, but consider an IT consulting firm. If they write an in-depth article with step-by-step instructions on how to set up a network, they unintentionally take themselves out of the equation. A better approach in this case would be to write about the benefits of leveraging an IT consulting firm for setting up a network.

Answer Customer Questions

One of my favorite ways to identify blog topics – make a list of your top 5, 25, 100 (however many you like) questions that your prospects and customers ask you. Rank them by most popular/common. Answer these questions. Rinse. Repeat.

Now there’s a chance that your competitors are leveraging this exact same strategy, so you’ll want to make sure your content is more thorough and does the best job of answering these questions. Just remember, make sure you can monetize the content.

If you don’t have a good concept of what customers or prospects are asking, you likely have some great resources internally that do – most of the time, customer service or customer-facing employees can provide a wealth of ideas.

Quickly Research Content Ideas

If you need some additional ideas for topics, there are some great tools that make it incredibly easy to take something simple and turn it into a content idea with one wave of the magic wand (or button click).

For the sake of example, let’s pretend you’re a mortgage lender. One of the things you may want to write about is…you guessed it. Mortgages. Sound too simple? It’s not. Here’s what to do.

Take the keyword, mortgage, and plug it into a few of these tools:

  • LSI Graph – my favorite tool that provides ideas based on latent semantic indexing
  • Infinite Suggest – a great tool that shows you autosuggest results based on a keyword
  • Answer the Public – shows you questions that people ask based on a specific keyword (just went to more of a premium model, but you can still get some ideas for free)

Five minutes later, you’ll have ideas like:

  • Mortgage lending definitions
  • Mortgage interest deduction
  • Why do mortgage rates go up?

Now go take a nap, because you just saved yourself a ton of time.

Putting It All Together

You’re in a time crunch and you need to plan a month’s worth of content in just 15 minutes. Let’s say you’re writing one blog post a week – 4 blog posts total. Here we go:

  • 5 minutes: Re-visit the goal of your blog and think about your goals before brainstorming content
  • 5 minutes: Write a list of 2-3 questions that your customers or prospects constantly ask
  • 5 minutes: Pick 1-2 keywords, plug them into the content tools above, and walk away with 2-3 more ideas

And there you have it. No magic. No hacks. Just simple, effective blog topic planning.

If you’re ready to develop a more strategic plan and goal for your website, or need assistance producing enough content for your blog, get in touch with us!

Categories: Social Media | Blog
10 Tips for Creating a Social Media Strategy

10 Tips for Creating a Social Media Strategy

By Aztek on  May 18, 2018

Social media is a beast that can’t be ignored, and it's safe to say that the same old approach may not last forever. When revamping or creating a new social media strategy for your business, here are some considerations to help guide you through the process.

1. Audit your social media channels in the current day

Before diving in, it’s important to understand how your social media channels are currently performing and at what level your audience is engaging with your brand. Here are a few questions to ask as you review:

  • Which social platforms receive the highest levels of engagement?
  • What types of content appear to resonate well with your audience?
  • How well does your content drive referral traffic back to your site?
  • Do your customers or audiences from social media turn into conversions?
  • What are your competitors doing in the space?

2. Define your audience

Evaluating your brand’s current and emerging audiences on a periodic basis is a step that shouldn’t be overlooked. If you have a clear grasp of who you’re reaching, you’ll understand how to tailor your messaging and what opportunities you may have to better reach your ideal audience if you are not doing so already. A few steps you'll want to take when defining your audience:

  • Think of your ideal audience or customer base...
  • How large is your audience?
  • Where is your audience located?
  • What is your audiences age, gender or demographic?
  • What are your audience's interests?

3. Determine which social platforms your audience uses

Once you define your audience, you’ll want to understand which social media platforms are most popular with your audience. Though your business may have a presence on social media, take time to evaluate whether each platform is right for your brand. You want to know what content is reaching your audience, and, more importantly, encourage your audience to take some sort of action with your brand.

At Aztek, we recommend our clients focus more effort and time into the platforms that work well for their audience rather than joining several social media sites that may not be as impactful.

4. Lay out your business goals and objectives

Whether it’s replying back to your customers, sharing a blog post, or using a specific hashtag, you’ll want your actions to align with your business goals. Think about the outcomes you’d like to see from your social media efforts and keep them in mind when you take action. A few business goals could include:

  • Generating more website referral traffic
  • Increasing the number of followers to your Business Page
  • Increasing the number of purchases to your brand’s store

5. Determine how you will measure success

Once you have identified your overall business goals, you’ll want to establish how you can measure success so that your efforts work towards a target metric and hold you accountable. Set specific targets you'd like to reach so that you can work to stack up your success each month.

Example: Drive 150-plus visits to company website from Facebook per month.

6. Consider what (quality) content you’ll share

Think about how the content you create will align with your audience’s varying intent on each of the platforms. For instance, a user on Facebook may have higher intent to purchase a product for personal use or share a humorous photo with a friend, but may not be all that interested in an educational post about progressing their career. That approach might be better well-suited for LinkedIn.

Think about the types of content you’d like to see produced and shared by your brand, then compile or formulate the actual content from there.

7. Establish a cadence for sharing content

Publishing content once or multiple times a day on each social platform may not be feasible for your organization or strategically make sense. Think about how often you’d like to post to each of your channels and how this plays into your objectives.

It's helpful to determine the right cadence for each social platform. Create a monthly content calendar that outlines upcoming content ahead of time. This way creating ideas and finding quality content to publish won’t need to be a daily task.

Once a content calendar is finalized, consider taking advantage of a social media scheduling tool. Here at Aztek, we’ve utilized a few social media management tools such as Sendible and Hootsuite.

8. Review your opportunities for paid social advertising

It will be beneficial to consider paid social advertising as another component to your overall social strategy. Not only can paid advertising compliment your organic efforts, but it presents an opportunity to target audiences or consumers that may not already be engaging with your brand and grow your following. You have more control of the audiences your messages will reach and with greater exposure, there's a greater likelihood you'll reach some of your target goals (ex. "X" number of new page followers or "X: number of new subscribers to company blog).

9. Adjust your strategy as changes to the social platforms are ruled out

2018 has already been a busy year filled with updates for a number of leading social media platforms—and more changes are sure to come. It can be hard to stay informed, but keeping up with the latest social media trends and algorithm updates can have an impact on your brand’s visibility to your audience.

A few helpful resources include Social Media Today and Social Media Examiner.

10. Identify what process or tools will work best for you and your team

Coming up with the right strategy can take a little trial and error, but that’s all a part of finding success and what ultimately works best for you. Try out a variety of posts, read up on the latest news, and bounce ideas off your team. The good news is that no strategy needs to be—and shouldn’t be—the same for every brand.

Need help creating a social media strategy for your organization? Aztek can help build and maintain social media marketing campaigns for your business. Contact our team today to learn more.

Categories: Social Media
Helpful Online Writing Resources

Helpful Online Writing Resources

By Aztek on  April 23, 2018

Whether you're crafting a short slogan or creating a long article, your words matter. Well-written content can serve as an important cornerstone for your business' digital marketing campaign. Of course, the trick to earning this campaign is to write well.

At Aztek, we've written before about the importance of blogging and how typos can wreak havoc on your digital efforts. This time, I'd like to focus on a few tools that can help you avoid mistakes and create quality content that will help your business. A few good writing and editing tips can help, but online resources can also help you craft some great content.

Grammarly

You don't need to write in Microsoft Word to enjoy a good spelling and grammar checker. Grammarly is a writing-enhancement platform that's available as an online text editor and a browser extension. Once you sign up, Grammarly will proofread whatever you write in an email, on social media, or wherever else you need to type out a few words.

Grammarly does more than just catch misspellings. The software is designed to make context-specific suggestions, allowing it to highlight problems that a standard Microsoft word checker won't catch. Grammarly can also teach you more about grammar and writing. When Grammarly's AI flags a potential issue, it'll also offer an explanation of why it should be changed. This can help you clean up your copy and learn about exciting errors like comma splices at the same time!

Hemingway Editor

 

Longer isn't always better. The Hemingway Editor is inspired by Ernest Hemingway's famously simple writing style. Appropriately, the online editor and the desktop app allows you to copy and paste your words into a field to learn if you should pare down your prose.

The Hemingway Editor looks for a few different issues that can complicate your messages, such as an overuse of passive voice and adverbs. It also judges the readability of your work. In general, lower grade levels are more accessible to a wider audience.

To be fair, the Hemingway Editor is not perfect. An ideal grade level can be subjective, especially for businesses that need to use technical information. The Hemingway Editor is best used as a visual reminder that you rely too much on passive voice or unnecessarily complex sentences. From there, you can rework your words and make your writing bold and clear.

Calmly Writer

The internet is full of shiny objects. These distractions are the mortal enemies of your deadlines. They will take you away from your lovingly-crafted sentences and leave you in a dizzying spell of cat videos and emails. Even if you manage to do some work, these distractions can cause you to not spend as much time to evaluate your work and see if it can be improved. Calmly Writer tries to eliminate these threats to productivity and quality.

Calmly Writer is a text editor that eliminates the clutter and lets you focus solely on your words. The tool provides writers with a blank slate with no distractions. It even hides formatting options unless you highlight a specific word or phrase. All you need to do now is turn off your phone, turn off email notifications, and ignore any other tabs. Fighting distractions is an uphill battle, but Calmly Writer is a great start.

Purdue Online Writing Lab

You don't need to be a student to take advantage of the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University. This site houses a multitude of articles on a variety of writing subjects.

If you have a specific grammar or style question, OWL should have an article for you. If you're wondering how to properly cite sources, OWL can help. If you wanted more to learn more about the writing process, OWL... well, you get the picture.

Merriam-Webster and AP Stylebook Online

This may seem like cheating, but it's hard to go wrong with a few good books. I've kept a copy of both the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and AP Stylebook at my house since my journalism professor made me buy copies of each for a class. Both have been worth every penny.

While I may keep physical copies of both the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and AP Stylebook, you don't have to. Both Merriam-Webster and AP Style can be found online to help you determine the true meanings of words and figure out exactly when you're supposed to spell out a number and when to use a numeral (that's a post for a different day).

The online Merriam-Webster Dictionary is free and easy to use; just plug in a word in the search field to see results. Like a physical copy, you'll have to pay for the AP Stylebook Online. OWL does have a convenient page with some of the more commonly searched AP Style questions, although the full Stylebook will have more for you to peruse. Also, both AP Style and Merriam-Webster are active on Twitter if you like accounts that share helpful language tips and throw shade in quick succession.

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Writing isn't always easy. Some people have an ability to weave words together at will, while others just don't word good. Either way, creating good content takes time and effort, but it can lead to great results for your digital marketing efforts if done right.

If you're struggling to create quality content or just don't have the time, Aztek can help. Reach out to us today so that we can work with you to bolster your business' digital marketing campaign through quality content.

Categories: Digital Marketing
4 New AdWords Features You Should Use in 2018

4 New AdWords Features You Should Use in 2018

By Aztek on  April 13, 2018

The face lifts to the Google AdWords platform and experience aren’t the only changes we’ve seen roll out in the past six months. There has been an influx of new features that can help increase campaign results and overall ROI. Here’s a rundown of the top four we think are important to use in your campaigns in 2018.

Demographic Targeting for Search Ads

Previously, true demographic targeting was only available for display ads in Google, but it has now been expanded into search ads as well. Similar to the way Facebook allows us to drill down into specific categories for users to create more targeted audiences, Google now allows you to add additional layers to your search campaigns to more closely match a searcher’s intent.

New demographic targeting options include gender, age, household income, parental status, and more. These additions allow you to be more considerate of your buying personas when you’re creating search campaigns. This will lead to more qualified clicks that are more likely to lead to conversions.

Custom Intent Audiences

These audiences are exclusive to the Google Display network and allow advertisers to find people who want to buy the products or services they offer based on historical data from your previous campaigns, website, and YouTube channel.

There are two ways you can use the custom intent audiences. First, you can combine URLs, search terms, and topics to create an audience. Second, you can allow Google to create an audience for you with machine learning. Which one you choose can depend on the goals of your campaign.

Custom intent audiences are a great way to refine your display targeting and to help drive more qualified leads, as people who are going to fall within these audiences are active researchers who are likely in the midst (or at the beginning) of their buying process.

Promotion Extensions

This is a new extension that can be used to add more value to your text ads by highlighting your sales and promotions for people who are searching for the best deals during certain time frames. The extension displays up to two lines of text that includes details of your promotion.

The promotion extensions can easily be added to any existing campaign or ad group from the extensions tab in AdWords. Currently, they can only be run during specific time periods designated by Google like holidays, back to school, Black Friday, etc.

Ad Variations

Google is attempting to make A/B testing as easy as possible for advertisers. Under the Draft/Experiments section in AdWords, there is a new tab called Ad Variations. This allows users to apply mass updates to your ads, which allows advertisers to quickly and efficiently create new ads to test things like CTAs or headlines. You can then set a time frame for the experiment and note what percentage of users should see the new variation to help determine which ad is more successful.

Testing and optimizing ads is essential to increasing conversions in AdWords. With this new feature, you’re able to do so in a timely fashion without having to rewrite or create entirely new ads or campaigns.

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These are some of our favorite new Google features that we think can be most effective for businesses. If you have implementation or best practices question, give us a shout. We’re here to help! We’re sure there’s more to come throughout the year, so check back with us in a couple months to get more AdWords scoop!

Categories: Digital Marketing
Content Round Up: 3 New Resources

Content Round Up: 3 New Resources

By Aztek on  April 6, 2018

This resources roundup includes a podcast, an article, and an infographic. We love finding different mediums of ways to improve our work. Let's get to our favorites from this past month!

Article: Why Your Content Should Focus on Helping, Not Selling by Amy Murnan

What we Liked: This article is full of good tips about what kind of language should be used for certain types of content, accompanied by examples. Plus, the guidelines around not always using content to sell are ones that we try to stick to as a company.

Favorite Quote: "....the article is focused on its audience and their needs throughout. This presents a much more positive image than if Sujan spent the article talking about how great his business is!"

Incorporating the Value: As an agency that survives on selling services, it's important to remember that we don't always need to be overtly selling. Sometimes it's good to keep in mind that valuable content helps potential clients see that we are here to help regardless of if we become their agency. Helpful content also builds trust. As Murnan mentions, no one wants to be sold to all the time. Simply having information that may answer someone's questions, without the possibility of a pitch, gives us a better image as an agency.

Podcast: Content Strategy Pitfalls Podcast: Tools by Alan Pringle

What we Liked: This podcast covered the issues with relying on tools during the content strategy process. It was full of good reminders that while tools can be extremely helpful, they can slow you down if you don't have a good idea of what you actually need from them.

Favorite Quote: "If the tool's not a fit, that doesn't make it a bad tool; it just makes it a bad tool for that project" - Sarah O’Keefe

Incorporating the Value: It's important to think through the types of tools we use and how we use them. Evaluating tools is an important part of making sure we are doing our jobs efficiently. Having just gone through a tool evaluation for our social media management system, we understand the ups and downs of finding what works. A good tip from this podcast was to have user stories ready so that you can use them to help evaluate a tool that is under consideration.

Infographic: A Brief History of Content Marketing by Outbrain

What we Liked: This infographic does a nice job of giving the high-level history of content marketing. In the digital age, we can often forget that content marketing is not a new concept and that it has actually been around for quite a while.

Favorite Quote: "If there’s one thing we can tell from content marketing’s timeline, it’s that good content stands the test of time. Whether you’re writing an agricultural magazine or starting a branded podcast, telling the best stories will give your brand a place in history."

Incorporating the Value: As a digital marketing agency, it's important for us to understand how the field has evolved. Knowing the history of content marketing makes us better able to explain it to our clients as well as gives us some extra points at fancy cocktail parties (just kidding, we don't go to those...but our cats seem to appreciate the fun facts).

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We really enjoyed all of these resources, and hope you did too! Let us know what you thought or if you have any additional recommendations. You can tweet us at @aztekweb.

Categories: Digital Marketing
Shifting from Traditional Marketing to Digital Marketing

Shifting from Traditional Marketing to Digital Marketing

By Aztek on  March 30, 2018

More and more, Aztek is working with clients that shift some or all of their traditional marketing and advertising budgets to digital marketing. Obviously, the massive technology shift from traditional media to digital media is behind much of this swing, but we'd like to dive a little deeper into what the transition looks like.

At some point, often once a year, organizations evaluate their marketing budget. This means taking a look at the thousands of dollars that are going out and trying to understand what’s coming back in return. Over the last decade, many organizations have realized that they don’t have a concrete answer for this question, and it has led them to re-evaluate their marketing spend.

Before we go on, let’s set the record straight. There is definitely still a place for traditional media in all forms. But organizations must evaluate if it is the right fit for them. Here are a few things to consider during this evaluation process.

Cost

For most organizations, this is the driving factor. An annual or semi-annual assessment of traditional marketing spend typically reveals large amounts of money being doled out for print advertisements, radio advertisements, direct mail campaigns, and more.

Now let’s pretend a company is running a quarterly print ad in a prominent regional publication, sending out a direct mail campaign two to three times a year, and running radio ads. Their traditional media budget could easily fall into the $50,000-$100,000 range. This organization’s leadership, at some point in time, needs to justify these costs.

On the other hand, let’s look at some of the cost benefits of digital marketing:

  • Pay-per-click advertising models allow advertisers to set a very specific budget within a very specific timeframe
  • Online advertising costs less to reach people—this infographic suggests that a print ad costs about $20 to reach 1,000 people, while Google Adwords might only cost around $3 (even less for social media advertising)

Trackability

Here we go with that question again: “What are we getting out of this investment?” With traditional media, it can be challenging to track ROI, conversions, and results. Sure, there are some effective methods, including:

  • Driving traffic to landing pages (But please don't use a QR Code! Yuck.)
  • Tracking changes in sales/lead generation (hard to attribute precisely)
  • Tracking coupon redemptions

At the end of the day, having a really good concept of the value of traditional marketing is tough, and adds a lot of work in terms of tracking in the first place.

Digital marketing, on the other hand is—you guessed it—easier to track:

  • With digital marketing, sales and/or lead generation can be tracked down to specific channels (pay-per-click, email, search), specific campaigns, locations, new vs. returning visitor, etc.
  • Dollar amounts can be assigned to sales/lead generation from everything above to evaluate the true ROI of each digital marketing investment an organization makes
  • Organizations can make better decisions in the future because they know what’s working now and in the past

Targeting

Most organizations (hopefully) know their audience well. They understand what they read and what they listen to. Using this information, organizations can handpick magazines, journals, radio stations, and more for advertising opportunities. Here’s the problem with this model: advertisers pay for the entire audience.

If a magazine has a circulation of 30,000 people, advertisers pay for all 30,000, regardless of their demographics, buying habits, intent, job title, etc. Media kits are a great way to get a good idea of the makeup of a magazine or radio stations audience, but you can’t pick and choose just certain people from that circulation or listenership.

This is what some may affectionately call “spray and pray.” Pay for everyone, pray that some people are interested.

Let's look at benefits of targeting with digital marketing:

  • Advertisers pay for the very specific audience they want to reach. With most social networks, this means drilling down geography, job title, interests, and more. With search advertising, it means targeting the very specific keywords that lead a user to your product or service.
  • In-depth analytics provide advertisers with a view of which audience members are leading to conversions, and which are not. This allows advertisers to make well-informed decisions in the future.

Is It Time To Switch?

If you’re a traditional advertiser or marketer, some of the ideas in this article may resonate with you. It might not be time to abandon traditional marketing all together, but starting to shift some of that budget toward digital marketing may give you a better, more trackable ROI along with better data to make future advertising decisions.

Whenever you’re ready to have a discussion about shifting some of your budget to digital marketing, we’re here for you.

Categories: Digital Marketing