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Don’t Let Your Brand Get Left Behind in the Mobile Age

There’s no doubt about it — cell phones and tablets have made us a mobile-focused society. A recent study done by Cisco reveals that 40% of 18-30-year-olds in the U.S. check their smartphones at least once every ten minutes, and 42% of respondents stated that they would feel “anxious, like part of me was missing” if they couldn’t check their devices constantly.

With this extreme dependence on mobile technology, it only makes sense that your brand should have a mobile presence. Below are some ways you can make your brand go mobile.

  • Mobile Web. Half of all local searches are performed on mobile devices, and mobile Internet usage is projected to overtake desktop usage by 2014. Is your existing website optimized to be viewed on mobile devices? Nearly 60% of web users say they expect a website to load on their mobile phone in 3 seconds or less, and 46% of consumers are unlikely to return to a mobile site if it didn’t work properly during their last visit. Setting up the content of your website to be easily navigable is a critical step toward making sure you aren’t losing mobile users.
  • SMS. Text messages are a simple, cost-effective way to reach your customers, drive sales and gain valuable insight. 44% of Americans have already opted-in to SMS marketing campaigns. Are you reaching all of your potential audience? While mobile web has limited reach (85%), SMS reaches 100% of cell phone users. The numbers don’t lie: text message open rate within 3 minutes is 97%, and SMS coupon redemption rates are 10x higher than that of traditional paper coupons.

Another exciting development in the mobile space is augmented reality (AR). AR takes traditional print materials and gives them a digital spin, using an app and triggers on the ad to create a 3D experience. Global revenues for AR apps are expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2015, and can be a remarkably effective marketing tool to generate excitement around a brand.

In addition to utilizing Mobile Web and SMS, don’t neglect social media as part of your mobile strategy. Among the 19-29 crowd, 62% use their mobile phone to log in to social networks on a daily basis. Many mobile users use social media to find company/brand contact information, so it’s important to stay visible in the social media realm.

Your Website Isn’t Going to SEO Itself

When you create a website for your company, product, service, etc., you’re getting one step closer to one of your ultimate goals: being top-of-mind to your target audience. That’s not something that can happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen just because you created a website. Along the way, the next best thing to being top-of-mind is being top-of-Google.

If you weren’t aware that you could control such a thing, it’s time to get started. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a monumentally time-consuming task, and the nitty-gritty is best left to experts for the best results, but you can still make some easy initial steps to improve your rankings to make your page more visible to your audience.

For this blog, I will focus on Google. Additional steps may be required to optimize your site for other search engines like Bing, but this will be a good place to start.

Submit your site. Google can’t rank you if it doesn’t know you’re there. Take a look at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and follow their steps and best practices to have your website submitted.

Content is king. It seems obvious, but how many websites have you come across where the only useful information is the contact information? Create content that is compelling to your audience, and try to include images and video whenever possible. Don’t forget to label those images and videos with relevant keywords.

Keep up with keywords. When creating the content for your website, make sure it contains the keywords that your audience is looking for. This will require occasional refinements and updates — you won’t get everything right the first time. Pay attention to what terms are converting best, and adjust your content accordingly. Pay attention to what your competitors are doing and see if you can learn from either their successes or their mistakes.

Titles and tags. To go further with your keywords, make sure they are included in the page title, meta tags and header tags. Meta tags are especially important. The meta tag is what will pop up on a Google search result under your website’s name. While this does not affect your page rank, it will make it easier for the user to see what your website is all about and click through.

Be social. Even if you don’t think social media outlets are right for your industry, stretch your imagination. Being active in social media is quickly becoming as essential as having a website in the first place. Create profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and consider looking into Google+, YouTube and Pinterest. You may find that some or all of the latter three may not fit your business. There are many resources online to teach you how to utilize them effectively. All of these outlets will give you an SEO boost.

This will all seem overwhelming to you at first. Well, that’s because it is. But don’t be discouraged, and don’t stop learning! There are plenty of resources to guide you, such as Google itself and specialty blogs such as SEOMOZ. If it’s in your budget, don’t be afraid to hire a consultant for more advanced techniques. But by following the steps above, you’re already leaps and bounds ahead of where you were before.

5 Ways to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

It should come as no surprise that having an online presence is absolutely essential for any business, from the smallest of small businesses to companies in the Fortune 500. But having an online presence doesn’t mean simply setting up a website. With Google, Facebook and Twitter among the top 10 most-visited sites on the web, it means keeping up in the social media realm, as well.

So where do blogs come in?

As long as you’re creating quality blog posts, they can be shared on Twitter, Facebook and beyond. If it is shared by others, that means more Followers and Likes for your pages, and increased visibility. As your blog and other social media outlets grow, you’ll climb up the rankings on Google, increasing visibility and driving traffic to your site. And that’s the ultimate goal — you want to be the first name that comes to mind in your field.

There are literally millions of blogs out there. Over 100 million from Tumblr and WordPress alone. I would give you an exact number, but it will probably grow before you even finish reading this sentence. How can you make your blog stand out? Here are 5 steps you can take to ensure that you’re maximizing your blog’s potential.

1.   Put some thought into the headline. Whether you write your headline first, last, or somewhere in between, it’s highly critical to make it attention-grabbing. Invest some time and put some thought into it. The headline has to be eye-catching, or else you’ll lose a lot of readers before they even bother to look at your content.

2.   Engage with your readers. Enable commenting on your blog. In fact, encourage it. Be respectful, but also maintain an authority over the subject matter. Answer questions, and thank users for their time and their feedback.

On the subject of commenting, Do not, under any circumstances, delete negative comments. Deleting a negative comment is a very effective way to turn an unsatisfied user into a ruthless spokesperson for the destruction of your brand image. Respond politely, apologize for the user’s poor experience and let them know that you will do your best to resolve any situation of dissatisfaction.

3.   Post consistently. You don’t want your readers to forget about you, do you? Set up a schedule for your blog posts. Keep it manageable based on your workload and on how often you predict that you’ll have something to write about.

Consistency doesn’t only apply to the schedule. Make sure every post is written in your brand’s unique voice. If you don’t feel that your brand has an established voice, your blog is a great place to start.

4.   Write great content. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Boring or useless content probably won’t be shared by others. But it’s easier said than done. You have to write blog posts that are informative. Bring something new to the table. Something that will solve a problem for the reader.

Readers share content for a number of reasons. It can simply be to bring valuable and entertaining content to others. It can give self-fulfillment or help them define themselves to others. It can be to share causes or brands. While you’re writing, ask yourself how you can fulfill these needs for your readers.

It is also important to present your information in a compelling fashion. Put it into a story that your readers can relate to. Relate it to current events, make it funny, make it inspirational. Or, make a list. The list approach has been used, maybe even abused, quite a bit, but it remains highly effective. There are entire websites devoted to lists. If you’ve read this far, you’ve proven my point!

5.   Share, share, share. Everywhere. Share your post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and anywhere else in your social media reach. You want your readers to share your post with their Facebook friends, retweet it on Twitter, discuss it on LinkedIn, email it to their family, friends and coworkers.

Remember, just as you do in your blog, respect your commenters. Sharing is a double-edged sword; readers can share your wonderful, informative blog post, or they can share how you deleted a negative comment rather than dealing with it like a professional.

All of these social media factors work together. When your article is shared on these outlets, you’ll gain followers and have potential to improve your search engine ranking. This will drive traffic to your site, and ultimately, drive business.

So will following these tips make your blog, and ultimately your business, rich and successful?

Nope!

But it’s a good start. It’s a long and volatile road. In the digital age, it’s a road that can’t be avoided. Don’t be afraid to get your brand’s unique voice out into the world — become a trusted thought leader through blogging and sharing.