What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is the use of a software platform to automate repetitive marketing tasks. These platforms are typically associated with email marketing but can also automate tasks within lead segmentation, lead scoring, and sales processes.

You interact with marketing automation every day. If you’ve ever left something in an online shopping cart for more than a few hours, you’ve almost certainly received an email trying to pull you back to the purchase. If you still don’t return and complete the sale you may have even started receiving offers and discounts to your inbox trying to sway you back. These marketing events were triggered by your actions and sent autonomously from an automation platform.

As you visit sites and engage with companies online, your actions are most often recorded and segmented so the company can help you along the buying process effectively. If you visit pricing pages, download eBooks, subscribe to newsletters, and more, you’re helping the company understand who you are and how they might earn you as a customer.

What does good marketing automation look like?

Good marketing automation is an organic and natural extension of the company/customer interaction.

Typically, marketing automation begins when a customer exchanges their contact information (name and email) for something that they perceive as being valuable such as an eBook or blog subscription. This process is called lead generation.

When the customer subscribes to your blog they’re expecting to receive content similar to that which led them to subscribe. They’re expecting valuable, relevant information. They didn’t give the company license to endlessly fill their inbox with deals and promotions. When you do send this valuable, relevant content, you might link to further learning about your product or service.

If the customer does start visiting pages about your product, then sending resources like FAQs, webinars or other comparable content can be helpful and timely.

Maybe, the subscriber starts visiting competitor comparison pages, perhaps even pricing pages. You might send them an email asking if they have any questions about your product. And you might send an email from one of your sales representatives with their calendar availability. Testimonials, video demonstrations, and more can be helpful and powerful content to receive when making a purchase decision.

All of these actions can take place autonomously. With little to no sales engagement. Helping your customer along the sales process naturally and empowering the customer to make decisions.

What email marketing can accomplish:
Attract and build a list of leads and potential customers
Automate repetitive tasks like rescheduling and abandoned carts
Automate CRM tasks like lead status, customer type, and buyer stage
Provide timely updates and promotions directly to interested buyers
Nurture and propel leads through the buyer’s journey
Build and nurture customer relationships through timely and helpful content

What email marketing won’t accomplish:
Email marketing doesn’t open the door to list-buying. Cold-outreach may still have a place in some sales plans. But it’s widely considered ineffective and self-damaging to buy lists and perform cold-outreach.
Email marketing won’t move customers directly to ready-to-buy stages. Only 27% of leads sent to sales are qualified to buy. Email marketing helps customers move from stage to stage in the buyer’s journey; it doesn’t move buyers straight to the ready-to-buy stage.

How does marketing automation fit into the customer journey?

Every business is different, so exactly how automation fits into your buyer’s journey will be unique. But for most businesses marketing automation is the framework that sits between almost every marketing event.

Marketing automation can help capture new leads, nurture leads, close deals, boost up customer support, and encourage customer evangelism.

What is the value of marketing automation?

Effective email and marketing automation is consistently one of the highest-return marketing actions. This is because email marketing is one of the few channels that businesses typically can access where they can go to the customer instead of waiting for the customer to come to them.

By meticulously assisting your customers through the buyer’s journey, you build trust and empower them to make purchasing decisions. According to the Direct Marketing Association, companies typically see a $42 return for every $1 spent with an effective automation strategy. With marketing automation, you can build a business that creates customers for life.

How do you get started with marketing automation?

If you’d like to learn more about how marketing automation can help you and your business, and how to get started, you can read more from our eBook on the marketing automation fundamentals.

If you’d like to speak with an Epic Marketing representative about what we could do for you, fill out the form at the bottom of the page, and we’ll get in touch!

Facebook Ads Not Delivering? Use The Ultimate Checklist

There are so many possible reasons why your Facebook Ads are not delivering and it can be so frustrating trying to figure it out. Being a marketing agency means that we see problems like this pop up on accounts for all kinds of different clients. We are always happy to take on more work, so feel free to reach out if you’d like help from one of our specialists. However, if you would like to try fixing the delivery issue on your own, I created this checklist for you that you can go through to get your ads up and running again.

Menu:

Ads Are Disapproved
COVID-19 Ad Disapprovals
Your Ad Has Too Much Text
You Forgot To Publish Your Ads
Your Billing Method Failed
You Reached Your Spending Limit
You Reached Your Budget
Your Campaign Ended
Your Audience Is Too Small
You Recently Edited An Ad
Your Ad Is Stuck In Review
You Have Too Much Audience Overlap
Your Ad Falls In A Special Category
Your Ad Is Low Quality
You Used Accelerated Delivery
Other Reasons

Ads Are Disapproved
There are a lot of reasons why your ads might get disapproved. Facebook’s official list of ad policies is here, but I will list some of the most common reasons that ads get disapproved:

  • Too much text in your image; tool listed here
  • Your product is not allowed to be advertised on Facebook
  • Your ad copy is inappropriate or not allowed; Facebook doesn’t allow overly sensational copy, bad grammar, or content that assumes the viewer’s personal attributes
  • Your image or video is inappropriate or falls into the Adult Content category

Occasionally, fixing the problem is as easy as removing a question mark, but sometimes you really need to dig deep into Facebook’s Ad Policy page to find the exact reason why your ad is being disapproved.

If you’re wondering what your error is, you can hover over the red warning triangle for more information. You can also click “Edit” on the disapproved ad and you should see a specific reason listed there as well.

COVID-19 Ad Disapprovals

Businesses in all industries have been affected by COVID-19 in some way. If you are like us and are still able to run Facebook ads during this pandemic, you might have run into the same problem that we are seeing. Some ads that merely acknowledge COVID-19 are getting disapproved for “Controversial Content”. The specific Facebook policy is designed to stop price-gouging of sensitive products like hand sanitizer and medical masks, but in some cases ads are getting disapproved by mistake. That full policy from Facebook can be found here.

The main policy summary states:

“Ads must not contain content that exploits crises or controversial political or social issues for commercial purposes.”

Our ads definitely aren’t exploiting this crisis, but still some of our ads and our clients’ ads were getting disapproved for this reason. I tested removing words like “COVID-19”, “pandemic”, and “hand sanitizer” and republished them. In some cases, that worked.

You also have the option to request a manual review. As long as you are not exploiting a crisis, once an employee at Facebook views your ads they should easily be able to see that your ad is okay to run. I have been able to fix ad disapprovals for controversial content this way several times. In my experience, it has taken 24-48 hours for decisions to be made after submitting an ad for manual review.

Your Ad Has Too Much Text
Facebook wants their ads to feel more organic, so they restrict how much text can be overlaid onto your image. This is an issue that comes up fairly frequently with clients who don’t know about this rule. They want to the name of their business really large, or they want to promote a big wall of text because they want customers to know every single thing about the sale they are running.

You can fit plenty of copy into the Headline and Text portions of your ad, so follow Facebook’s rule and keep the amount of text on your image to 20% or less.

If you want to test your image to see if it follows the 20% text rule, Facebook has a text overlay tool that you can access here.

You Forgot to Publish Your Ads
If you manage Facebook campaigns long enough, this is bound to happen. Go back to Ads Manager and see if your ad is still a draft or if it has been published. You can review all current drafts by clicking “Review and Publish” in the top right corner.

Your Billing Method Failed
Sometimes a payment fails, credit cards reach their limits faster than normal, and the payment method needs to be reauthorized. Open up Ads Manager and check to see if there are any red warning messages. With that information in hand, open up the main menu, go to Settings, and click Payment Settings to manage your billing method.

You Reached Your Spending Limit
Spending limits can be useful tools, but if someone else sets them without telling you, then you might find yourself wondering why your ads aren’t running.
There are a few places in Ads Manager where you can set and edit spending limits.

  • The account level (Found in Payment Settings)
  • The campaign level (Click Edit on any campaign)

You Reached Your Budget
You can set lifetime budgets at the campaign level. If you forget to add more to the budget or to create a new campaign, then you might be surprised when your ads stop delivering at the end date you set.

Your Campaign Ended
Like the previous tip states, you can set lifetime budgets at the campaign level. If you forget to add more to the budget or to create a new campaign, then you might be surprised when your ads stop delivering at the end date you set.

Under the Delivery column you will see that your campaign says “Completed” when it has reached its end date. You can duplicate the campaign and start again or you can edit the completed campaign and add new end dates and an increased budget.

Your Audience Is Too Small
This error usually doesn’t come with its own special warning, so it can be easy to overlook. If you narrow your audience down too much by geographic area, gender, age, interest, or some other demographic, then your ad set might be too small to run at all.

Check out the Audience Definition section at the Ad Set level to see what your potential reach is. If it says your audience is too small here, then you might need to make some changes.

You Recently Edited an Ad
Facebook ads often take up to 24 hours to get approved and start delivering again after you make an edit to them. I know it can be tempting to make changes every day, but it is best to plan ahead and make edits less often.

Your Ad Is Stuck in Review
Facebook ads often take up to 24 hours to get approved and start delivering again after you make an edit, but has it been longer than that?

During busy online sales times like Black Friday, approval times for new ads can take even longer. I have seen ads take up to two or three days to get approved and start delivering during those busy times. If you have an important campaign coming up, don’t wait until the last minute to publish your ads.

If that is not the case, try duplicating your ad and often the new ad will get approved quickly.

You Have Too Much Audience Overlap
If you are running too many ad sets with very similar audiences, then your ads might not spend their full budgets. Luckily, Facebook has an audience overlap tool that will let you see how much your audiences overlap.

Open the main menu in Ads Manager and click on Audiences. From there you can select up to 5 audiences, click the three dots, and click Show Audience Overlap.

I have seen this problem mainly when advertisers are using a lot of look-alike audiences that they don’t really realize are very similar.


Your Ad Falls in a Special Category
“If you’re based in or targeting the U.S. and are creating a campaign that includes ads that offer credit, employment or housing opportunities, you must choose the category that best describes your ads.”

If your product or service falls into one of these 3 categories, then you will have to deal with some restrictions. You can find more information here, but before you can run your ads at all, you will have to designate which category you fall into or your ads might get disapproved.

You can find these settings at the campaign level.

Your Ad Is Low Quality
“Low-quality ads on Facebook, such as ones that include clickbait or direct people to unexpected content, create bad experiences for people and don’t align with our goal of creating meaningful connections between people and businesses.”

You can read more about Facebook’s policy here.

Just know that low quality ads might work for a little while, but eventually they will get disapproved and can even lead to your ad account getting suspended if the content is bad enough. Promote the best product you can and create ads that have honest, enticing copy and imagery.

You Used Accelerated Delivery
Accelerated Delivery is an option at the campaign level of your ads. If you select it then Facebook will “spend your budget and get results as quickly as possible.” It sounds pretty good, but you may be left with no budget at the end of the month if you are not careful.

Other Reasons
There are a lot of reasons why your Facebook ads might not be delivering or why they are disapproved. If you make it through this whole checklist without finding the solution to your problem, then you have found a truly unique issue and I’d love to hear about it. Fill out our contact form with your issue and we can work on it together.

DSLR Video Tips and Tricks

Video production on a budget can be difficult, especially when you need to produce a commercial-quality video. We don’t all have access to a $60,000 RED Cinema camera, so what do we do to produce high-quality content?

Many people have access to a DSLR camera, so we’ve come up with some tips and tricks on how to make a quality video with one.

Pre-Production

Research
Learning all you can about the upcoming project you’re working on is vital. Understanding the brand you’re working for (whether it’s a company or yourself) is important to first establish before continuing a project. Think of these three questions when you’re researching and preparing for your video:

1. What is the video trying to accomplish?

2. How have other people done it?

3. How can we do it better?

In the business of content creation, it’s about being aware of your purpose and accomplishing that in a creative, innovative, different way. Take time to strategically create a concept.

Create a Shot List
The angle of your shots and the way that you frame them all matter. Create with purpose and with a vision of the end result in mind. Have specific thoughts in mind. How are you going to balance each shot? The rule of thirds applies not only to photography but also cinematography. Pay attention to where your subject is and, if they’re going to move, where you will also move in order to keep them in frame.

Depth of field is another aspect of creating a shot that is important to think about. Referring back to the first question in the previous section, what is the video trying to accomplish? In some videos you might want the subjects and background completely in focus and, for other videos you may want one subject in focus and everything else blurry.

Scout the Area
Lighting
One of the most important things to pay attention to while you’re filming is lighting. Think about it, videography and photography are all about capturing light. Having good lighting is vital, but if it’s unavailable then you may want to consider bringing your own lights.

Space
Ideally, you’ll know the location of your shoot in order to properly plan out your shots and know what space is available. This isn’t always the case. There are a lot of times when online research is your best friend. Utilize your resources to learn as much as you can about the location of your shoot beforehand. In a lot of instances, you won’t be able to find out everything until you’re actually there. Budget time to see the space before you begin the production and make adjustments as needed.

Production

Lighting
Be intentional in your choice of lighting. Lighting creates a mood. Always have the purpose of your video in mind because that will help determine what subjects you want in certain lighting at specific times. These are likely decisions you’ll have to make for every video you’re shooting.

Focus
Keeping your subjects in focus at the right time is difficult, especially if you’re shooting a video with photography lenses. Keep in mind that photo lenses are varifocal. As the focal length moves, the focus moves as well. This change in focus is called “lens breathing,” and it’s something to keep in mind during production. If you have access to cinema lenses (or parfocal lenses), then shooting video will prove to be easier. Those lenses are designed to keep moving objects in focus as you zoom in and out because of the way they’re built. PetaPixel provides a good explanation and demonstration of the differences between varifocal and parfocal lenses.

Stabilization
One of the biggest drawbacks about shooting on a DSLR is fighting camera shake. As much as we wish we could all have perfectly steady hands, it’s not possible. Luckily, there are tools available like a steadicams and glidecams. Thes are more expensive options, but if you have the funds to purchase one they’re amazing.

A more DIY and budget-friendly option is to use the strap that comes with your camera, put it around your neck and extend it until it’s tight around your neck. Use both hands and hold the camera (one on each side). This creates three points of contact (like a tripod) and it becomes easier to stabilize the camera better than if you were to hold it free-hand.

Aperture
Knowing your settings on your camera are important. As you’re capturing your images, your aperture setting determines how much light is allowed to enter into the camera. Have the subject well-lit to have a smaller aperture.

The further open the aperture is the more light is allowed to reach the sensor, however, you create a shallow depth of field which makes your plane of focus smaller. It is harder to capture moving subjects and keep them in focus when your plane of focus is narrow.

A wide open aperture can create a beautiful shot with foreground and background items blurred and softened so adjust accordingly to available light and style of shot.

Camera Movements
Don’t take moving the camera for granted. Just because you can move it, doesn’t mean you always should move it. Have a very specific purpose to move the camera because as a videographer it’s your job to know when and where to move it. Those movements need to be smooth for post-editing, which is why creating a shot list is so important in pre-production.

Post-Production

Organize Folders in Premiere Pro
We prefer using Adobe’s Premiere Pro as our video editing software and it makes organizing your clips and audio files much easier. Having organized folders will make all the difference when editing your video. Utilize bins and groups and label them in a way that is organized and clear. A good tip is to label them in a way that if an outside person needed to find a clip, it would be easy for them to find it whether it be labeled by location, date, event, etc.

Here’s a tip on how to quickly organize your footage.

Post “Warp Stabilizer”
The warp stabilizer feature in Adobe Premiere Pro is one of your best friends, especially if you’re not using a Glidecam or a DSLR stabilizer for your video. This feature stabilizes shaky footage, which should give you a little sense of relief because now you know you don’t have to be perfect! Adobe provides a great tutorial on how to use the warp stabilizer feature.

Cut to the Music
Music can make or break a video, so it’s important to choose a soundtrack that fits the purpose of the video. One of the biggest pieces of advice we can provide {which takes some planning, but is worth it), is to choose your soundtrack before you create your video. Pre-determining your soundtrack allows for you to create your shot list and plan your cuts according to the track. It’s amazing how much more professional your video will turn out just by creating your video with a soundtrack in mind.

Keeping these ideas in mind will help you on your journey to creating high quality, captivating content. Don’t worry about creating the perfect video on your first try, practice makes perfect! Remember that competing with other content creators is no easy feat. Make sure to add your own style to your videos. Do something different, dare to be unique.

10 Tips to Optimize Your Instagram Business Profile

Businesses are taking Instagram by storm. Think about it… between mommy bloggers, foodies, travel junkies, and the hundreds of Harry Potter fan accounts, the latest updates, though fun for personal accounts, seem to benefit business profiles the most.

Since Instagram’s launch in 2010, the industry and usage have both shifted from the fun, personal account into a bigger push into business and sales. As a growing platform, good changes need to be made in order to attract new users and retain the current ones. In August of 2016, Instagram provided users with an option to create a business account that allows the businesses (and users if they desired) access to analytics and options for e-commerce.

As Instagram continues to release update after update, it’s important to optimize your profile and take advantage of those features. Here are ten ways that you can improve your business profile.

Engage with Your Followers

Engagement is a key part of IG’s algorithm. The more engagement you receive on your posts, the more likely your profile is to be seen. Instagram likes it when you, as the profile owner, engage with your audience. The quality of your followers is valued greater than the quantity of your followers. And remember, the quality will lead to more quantity.

Create Discoverable Content

An article by Rival IQ, suggests that you ask your users not to tag your photos, but instead to use a custom hashtag to make your content more discoverable to those that may not follow you. This concept makes sense due to the fact that when you’re tagged in a photo, only those who are already following your profile will see it, but hashtags make it available to a broader audience.

Strategically Share Content

What you share, when you share it, and how you share it matters. Create a content calendar and plan out your content in order to accurately tell your brand’s story. The visuals you post and the captions you use create a brand experience, and you want to make sure you’re properly conveying the right one for you.

Create Captivating Captions

Instagram shows the first two lines of your caption – choose your words very carefully. With ten or so words, you’ll have to captivate your audience quickly and get them to click the “more” to view the rest of your caption. How you’ll accomplish this completely depends on the industry you’re in, but experiment and try new things.

Utilize Instagram’s New Features

Why would IG come out with new features just for you to ignore them? The new features may not apply to every business, but it can be argued that every new feature is designed to increase engagement. Especially utilize the new features that stories have offered. Polls, Q&As, stickers, gifs, countdown timers, etc. are all there for your benefit. Take advantage of them. IGTV is an up and coming resource for your followers. It gives you the opportunity to upload up to 10-minute long vertical videos that a mommy blogger could use to showcase her latest unboxing or your company can upload a tips & tricks video that’s applicable for your business.

Go Live

Using Instagram’s Live feature is going to benefit your profile. The algorithm is set to favor a user when they go live, notifying its followers and trying to get you seen by the most amount of people.

Build a Trackable URL for Your Bio

Creating a URL that you can track will help you to get the necessary data to continue to optimize your Instagram Profile. Building your URL can help you discover where traffic is coming from, how many people click on your link, etc. This principle can also apply to other platforms, in fact, I’d suggest creating a separate URL for all different platforms to gain more insights. We use Google’s Campaign URL Builder to set up individual URLs for different platforms. We are also able to track the data in Google Analytics. Here’s a guide on how to use Campaign URL Builder and a Youtube video to teach you how to use this tool.

Fine Tune Your Bio

Use keywords. Add them in your description, use special fonts and emojis. The idea is to do something to stand out and make your purpose clear. Add a call to action to your bio. The key is not to make it too busy. Oftentimes, influencers and those similar make their bios too busy. Use fancy fonts sparingly and make it clean. Your bio is one of the first things people read about your brand, make it count.

Utilize Influencers

Partner with other brands or people. Optimize your brand and use people that would benefit your company and those that can benefit from you. Remember that they’ll be adding value to your brand and you will have to add value to them in some way. Influencer marketing is growing and Instagram is one of the best platforms to use this marketing technique.

Be Authentic

Be you. Social media has received a lot of hate the past couple of years regarding the “appearance of perfection.” This is your opportunity to change that perception. Be authentic and allow your audience to see the raw parts of your brand.

As one of the fastest growing social platforms, Instagram is constantly adding new features and changing its algorithm. Staying on top of what is happening with the social channel is one of the best things you can do for your business. Don’t fall behind! Following these tips will help your Instagram business stay fresh and visible.

The 4 C’s of Social Content Strategy

Imagine your company is a kingdom. A kingdom needs someone (or something) to rule over it and protect it. The question stands, who (or what) controls your kingdom?

Creatives and visuals play an important role in marketing. They’re responsible for establishing a brand, evoking emotion or convincing consumers to think or act in a certain way. The influence content marketing has for a brand is substantial and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Content strategy is the thing that can make or break your company in a social media aspect.

Keep in mind these 4 principles when creating a social media content strategy.

1. Content is King

Your brand is determined by the content that you produce. The media that your brand delivers on social platforms (such as its images, videos, graphics, etc.) is an important aspect of how consumers view your company. Due to the fact that social media is such a powerful tool, having a strong presence that provides valuable content can make your company. On the flip side, having mediocre content that doesn’t pull people in may possibly break it.

Social media marketing brings a new perspective to your company. You have the ability to show others what you’re about as opposed to telling them. Many people are visual, and content provides the value that they’re looking for. Provide new and exciting original content. Engage with users and create a loyal following.

Don’t forget that your brand is determined by your content, which is why content is king.

2. Consistency

I believe that consistency is one of the key elements in creating positive content and a sense of loyalty to a brand. People rely on consistency in their life, and you have an opportunity to provide it for them. Post content on a schedule. Developing a habit of posting consistently is important for consumers and for social platforms’ algorithms.

Make sure the content you post is consistent in representing the ‘why’ of your business. There are two spectrums of posting. The first one is to just throw out content recklessly whereas, on the opposite side of the spectrum, you may not post as often, but what you do post is meaningful and intentional. Create a content calendar. Without creating one, failure is more likely to occur. Social Media Today mentions the “Consistency Pizza” consisting of volume, quality, voice, and topics.

Consistency not only in posting but also in the content itself is also vital. A ‘clean’ feed is ideal. If you’re a photographer, create a feed with similar edits so your future clients can get a ‘feel’ of your editing style. A videographer should also abide by the same principles, so why shouldn’t your brand? The images and graphic style should represent your company. Using the same color scheme for graphics and similar edits on posts with similar content will help assist in creating a great social feed.

3. Culture

Representing a culture is important in social media marketing. What sort of style and “feel” do you want to show your consumers? You may want to portray a specific culture of your company. You may even want to portray a culture from around the world. Identifying a target audience and being able to cater to their needs is an aspect of culture that should be considered. Remember that what works in one city, state or country may not work in another because social media trends are constantly changing and tend to move from region to region.

Referring to a company’s vision and goals will help to guide the social feed in order to create a culture on social media. Is your goal to advocate healthy eating because it makes you happy? Great! Use that as a guide to create content that emulates that. Keeping culture (in all aspects) in mind, will help assist in pulling people towards your brand.

4. Collaboration

Collaborations involve you and another party offering a service and working together in order to both benefit. Collaborating with other important brands, people, groups, businesses, etc. is a great way to gain more exposure for your brand and the brand you’re working with.

Consider creating a brand ambassador program where people from different locations promote your product or service to their own social following in exchange for a discount of sorts. By having brand ambassadors post content featuring your product, you receive free marketing and potentially more conversions because it’s coming from a friend as opposed to a ‘faceless’ company.

Collaborating with local influencers or celebrities (depending on your company and its purposes) will help gain momentum with content marketing. Consumers will see your brand as one that is associated with the influencer and could increase a following and assist in creating more of a loyal following on social platforms. Finding the right influencer can be difficult. Social outreach is one way to contact an influencer, but there are also great tools created to connect you to the best fitting influencer for your company.

Post driving content with the intention to pull people in. When you do this, the goal and one of the purposes of social media content strategy is met. Remember, pulling people in is only half of the battle. How will you captivate your audience and keep them wanting more? Provide value. Be intentional with your posts and promote meaningful reactions. Keep these 4 C’s in mind as you continue in your social content strategy. These efforts will help ensure your kingdom protected from competitors.

Content Marketing Strategy Must-Haves for Your Website

Content marketing is its own kind of marketing beast. If it’s fed properly, it can be as majestic as a lion, king of the jungle and ready to engage. If it’s not given the proper digital diet and care, the content on your site lags like a sloth, unuseful and unseen at the bottom of Google’s SERPs (search engine result pages).

The good news is there are simple techniques that content marketers can use to help your website gain traction with search engines. These techniques provide the nutrition your site needs to continue to grow and thrive in the online jungle.

Here are five common components that you may want to incorporate into your content marketing strategy in order to help your site dominate search in your niche.

Too busy/lazy to read the whole thing? Here’s an infographic.

1. Call to Action

According to Optimizely.com, a call to action (or CTA) is a prompt of sorts that ask the viewer to act on a specific request. Some typical examples of CTAs include:

• Sign up now
• Buy now
• Learn more by clicking here
• Contact us today

The CTA is a common feature of the sales funnel and is one of the most important features. It increases sales and newsletter memberships. A simple call to action also allows you to extend the reach of your marketing efforts without having to do much.

The best CTAs are easy to read and stand out on the page according to HubSpot. Take, for example, DropBox’s bright blue sign-up button that stands out against its all-white background.

dropbox logo

Other effective calls to action include Panthera’s “Join the pride today,” which appeals to cat lovers; Quick Sprout’s “Are you doing your SEO wrong?”; and OkayCupid’s bright green “continue” button on the dark blue background.

2. Local Relevancy

When it comes to digital marketing, few techniques can help a local business owner out as much as having local SEO content on their website. As Yoast points out, most people who use local search terms aren’t looking to buy online. Instead, they need information that will direct them to a local brick-and-mortar store, where they can take the next step.

To attract these customers, you’re going to need to do a couple of things. First, you need to make sure that you’re using unique localized content for each page. Basically, this means that even if you have an office in two different cities for the same business, the content for each page won’t be carbon copies of each other.

You’ll also want to add your business’s contact information (name, address, phone number, email, etc.). Moz additionally recommends that you put a Google map on your site. All of this type of information helps search engines categorize your site correctly.

Additionally, you should be using keywords/ keyword phrases with a local flair. For example, if you’re a dentist in Fort Worth, Texas, make sure that your business’s website uses words like “Fort Worth dentists” or “dentists in Fort Worth” throughout.

3. Internal Links

The internal linking strategy that you use on your site is important. It shows search engines like Google the relevance of pages, the relationship between pages and the value of the pages.

There should be a lot of links to the most important topic-related pages, the ones that pass the most link value. From there, link to subpages about similar content. You want Google to see what pages have similar topics and information.

The anchor text used in linking is also important. Anchor text is the clickable text that your reader sees. It should contain keywords or relevant content to what it’s linked to. The content around your anchor text says more about relevancy to Google than the anchor itself, so be sure that you aren’t over-optimizing.

4. SEO Components

SEO elements like metadata, subheadings, alt text, and other components also help your website rank better by making it easier for search engines to categorize your content.

Metadata includes title tags and meta descriptions. Title tags indicate to search engines what your page is about. It’s currently recommended that title tags stay below 70 characters and include localization. Meta descriptions are written so the reader can understand what information your content is going to give them. These typically include a CTA and it’s recommended they stay below 140 characters.

Another important thing to have are headings. An H1 is the title of your page. It’s an HTML code that search engines crawl to understand what your page is about. It’s similar to a title tag, and oftentimes are the same. You should only have one H1 on each page so search engines don’t get confused about the topic of your page. Subheadings should be labeled as h2, h3 and so on.

For example, let’s say you’ve written a blog post about Alice in Wonderland. In this example, this is the H1 for your page. Some of the subheadings that might appear on your blog post would be “Alice Meets Hatter,” “Alice Cries a Pool of Tears,” “Alice Meets the Red Queen.” These subheadings give the reader a preview of what they’re going to read next. In this case, the content will be about the Mad Hatter, the pool of tears, and the Red Queen.

Finally, visual elements like photos and illustrations should have alt text that tells search engines what the photo is about. Going back to the Alice example, if you have a photo of Alice in her pool of tears, the alt text and file name should include that.

alice in her pool of tears

content marketing utah

5. Up-to-Date Content

Keeping the content on your website up-to-date is important because it signals to search engines that your website is current and you’re actively contributing to the web. Along with helping you build your reputation with search engines as an expert in your niche, it also helps keep your site at the top of the SERPs as long as the content is relevant and useful.

Typically, search engines favor new and relevant content over old and outdated content. And given the fact that millions of new pages of content are created daily, content updates are one of the simplest things you can do in your content marketing efforts to keep your site on top.

By incorporating calls to action, local relevancy, internal links, SEO components and up-to-date content you can make sure you have a majestic lion. It’s good to be king.

Content Marketing Strategy Infographic

 

How to Use Instagram for Your Small Business

 

Instagram burst onto the social media scene back in 2010 allowing users to snap and edit photos with friends and family. Maybe you’ve wondered about how Instagram can be used to promote your business or if you should even be making an effort there. If you’re on the fence about it, here are some quick stats about Instagram that might change your mind:

• Over 60% of users log in daily, making it the second most engaged network behind Facebook
• Instagram was used by 48.8% of brands in 2016 and is expected to grow to 70.7% this year
• Top brands post 4.9 times per week on Instagram
• Engagement with brands is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter
• 50% of Instagram users follow brands, making them the social networkers most likely to do so

Clearly, Instagram isn’t just for sharing filtered pictures of your dinner or your furry friend anymore! If you’re not sure where to start, here are some tips for getting your business Instagram-ready.

1. Get Familiar With Instagram for Business
Check out Instagram’s own blog for businesses to get started. Here you will find valuable tips and tricks as well as announcements about updates or new features that you could be incorporating into your posts.

2. Create a Cohesive Looking Profile
Instagram is all about the visuals and imagery. Make sure your images all feel the same stylistically and play off of each other to paint a bigger picture. A simple way some accounts use to maintain continuity is to use the same filter on every post. You can also alter different filters so they continue the same feel when looking at your profile as a whole.
This also extends to the content and captions you post. Keep everything similar by sticking to the same amount of hashtags, separating them the same way in every post, etc. Hashtags are a big part of Instagram and creating your own brand-specific posts you and your fans can use is a great way to engage with loyal customers and hopefully find some new ones along the way.

3. Cultivate a Following
This may seem like the most difficult step but it’s really the easiest! Connect your Facebook account, use relevant and popular hashtags, and engage with others by following and liking their photos and that’s all you need to do! Another helpful hint would be cross-posting your Instagram images to Facebook to help fans from there find your profile.

4. Go Behind-the-Scenes
Instagram is a fun place to take your followers behind the scenes of your business! Post pictures or selfies of your employees or a day in the life at your company. It will make them feel like an insider and like they’re part of the process. This is especially easy to do with the new Instagram Stories feature, which allows you to post images that last for 24 hours before they disappear.

5. Entice Your Followers
Offer your followers exclusive access, discounts, or flash sales using Instagram. It’s also a great platform for running contests and partnering up with other small businesses to help each other gain followers. When setting up a contest or event on Instagram, make sure to outline the rules and have a short deadline. You don’t want to have a situation like the Sunny Co Clothing swimsuit giveaway.

Instagram is an ever-changing and evolving social media platform that is really a lot of fun once you get started! It’s an extremely creative platform that can be used in a variety of ways to work for your business. If you have any questions or need help coming up with the right Instagram marketing plan for you, get in touch with us!

First Impressions Can Make or Break Your Advertising

Studies show it takes as little as one-tenth of a second for us to formulate a first impression. However, many business owners don’t understand that the same thing applies when it comes to advertisements. Whether you like it or not, prospective patients and customers are judging your business in a split second based on the look and feel of your advertising. In a society that is flooded with advertisements, a successful ad has to stand out and make an immediate positive impression or it will be skipped over.

Think about the highest quality business you know of. What does their advertising look like? Now, think about the worst quality business you know. What does their advertising look like? Chances are there is a big difference in how you view the two company’s advertising in terms of credibility and professionalism. Some ads probably make you assume that the business is located in a back alley, while others make you picture the business in an impressive office building.

Your ad could have the absolute best messaging and content, but your readers won’t even get that far if they aren’t first enticed by a creative look and fee. That’s why you need a professional marketing firm involved with your advertising that knows how to accurately portray your business image.

At Epic Marketing, we know how to design attention-grabbing ads. Our creative team has more than 40 years of combined experience and has helped all of our clients improve how their business is portrayed through advertisements. Don’t take a chance with your image. Call Epic today to take your advertising to the next level.