Category Archives: Blogging

The Ultimate Online Branding Checklist

social media

Branding is no longer just the logo and colors you slap on your products or hang from the walls of your trade show booth. While these physical pieces of branding are still very important, they only account for a very small portion of your overall branding strategy.

The bulk of your branding? In today’s world, that’s found online.

It’s your website, your social media accounts and your email campaigns. It’s everything your customers see when they search you on Google or research your products on the web.

So take a minute to look at your online presence. Is it branded properly? What is it saying to your potential customers? Is it selling them on your company or making them run for the hills?

Go through this checklist and make sure your online branding is up to snuff – before it’s too late:

  1. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate website. Your website is going to be your first touchpoint with customers, so make it one to impress. Your site should be sleek, professionally designed and, most importantly, easy to use and navigate. Confusing menus or overly complicated designs are just going to turn users off, so keep it simple and beautiful at every turn.
  2. A well-honed voice. Just like your customer service reps have a voice on the phone, your brand needs to have a voice on the web. It should show off your personality and values as a company, and it should carry over through everything you do – your website, your social posts, your email newsletters and more.
  3. Matching social media accounts. On the web, your brand needs to have consistency so your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other social accounts fall right in line with your website. They should share the same logo, have similar design schemes, and the same voice.
  4. Online customer service. The service you deliver is a big part of your branding too. It’s what makes people feel a kinship with your brand – what keeps them coming back for more time and time again. So don’t slap a phone number on your website and call it a day. Invest in online chat functionality, install web contact forms, and make getting in touch with your team a breeze. Don’t forget to also have the right staff in place to manage those contact funnels. You don’t want long queues or angry customers.
  5. Good calls to action. What’s the point of pulling in customers online if they’re not converting in some way? Make sure you have a call to action on every point of contact with a customer on the web – a product to buy, an ebook to download or at the very least a contact form to fill out. The more you interact with a customer, the more chances you have to impress them and draw them in for more business.

Want more help with your online branding? Contact the branding experts at Haley Brand Intelligence today. We’re here to help.

 

Spark Social Media Engagement With Brand Storylines

Spark Brand StorylinesYou’ve read the blogs and downloaded the apps. You post content to your social media pages on a daily basis.  The problem is, you’re seeing little, if any, traction. Odds are, you’re falling into the same trap as countless other brands that attempt to manage social media as a one-way push of information instead of a two-way conversational opportunity.

One-way conversations on social media do not cultivate vibrant, purposeful conversations with your consumers, nor do they serve as an avenue for building brand advocates. However, when you change your game plan and open up your daily posting activity to two-way conversation starters, you’ll spark engagement with your consumers and light a fire under your social media strategy that will grow and grow.

Brand Storyline Conversations

It’s so easy to ignore a brand that doesn’t engage with you, but it’s hard to ignore a brand that strikes up a conversation with you. Conversations build relationships, demonstrate what sets your brand apart from the others, and keeps your brand top-of-mind with consumers.

Brand storylines take the conversation from general to something very specific – storylines create two-way conversations that revolve around a brand’s offerings, brand lifestyle and core values. It’s a great way to engage users and to discover what they truly think about your brand and where they’d like to see you take your product roadmap in the future.

Elements of a Brand Storyline

What makes brand storylines so effective is that they are crafted to connect with and focus the conversation with your target audience specifically around your brand. It’s subtle and, if done correctly, won’t come off as a commercial or marketing blurb.

A brand storyline is comprised of three essential elements:

  1. Expertise: It’s a topic you and your team know well and draws from your company’s core expertise.
  2. Strong Opinions: It’s a topic your company is passionate about. You can take a stance on it and boldly share your opinions.
  3. Point of Sharing: The topic resonates with your target market and encourages others to participate in the conversation.

As with anything, craftsmanship matters. If any elements are missing from the social media strategy architecture, much like a three-legged stool with only two legs, it won’t be useful and will fail to achieve the end goal.

Spark Your Social Media Engagement

Most companies today have some sort of online social media presence. However, to stand out, your brand needs to go further – you have to find ways to spark engagement and keep your brand top-of-mind with your target audience.

Brand storylines shift the customer experience from a one-way marketing pitch to a two-way conversation wherein you are able to plant the seeds of a relationship. And after all, relationships are the core of any fundamental business development strategy.

So, what conversations can your brand spark within your marketplace? Defining those conversations and creating strategies that will ignite and engage your target audience is what we do at Haley Brand Intelligence.

When you’re ready to create your brand storylines and spark two-way conversations for relationship and business success with your consumers, contact the team at Haley Brand.   We’ll design a social media storyline of success for your brand!

B2B Buyers Research Online Before Buying

b2bmarketingSimilar to their B2C counterparts, studies are showing that in order to stand out and grab new business, B2B companies need to pack their websites with informative content to perform well in search results and engage potential customers.

In order to generate leads online, companies are turning their websites into information destinations for potential consumers doing research on their buying needs. Just as they do for themselves, when looking to purchase for business, consumers use search engines and social channels to find out as much as they can about a company and their products before making their final purchasing recommendations or decisions.

According to a recent study by the Acquity Group, 94 percent of business buyers and purchasers complete some sort of online research before making a purchase decision. The methods they use follow similar trends seen on the B2C side of business:

  • 77 percent use Google Search or Bing
  • 84 percent check the company’s website
  • 34 percent visit third-party websites to find out more about a company
  • 41 percent read online reviews about the company, their products and customer service

Like their personal consumer counterparts, business consumers consult an average of 10 online sources before finally making their purchase decision.

Create a Competitive Content Archive

Depending on your industry and size of purchase at stake, consumers may or may not want to conduct the entire transaction autonomously online. However, regardless of industry or size of purchase, the fact remains that consumers will do research before making their decision

In order to capture their attention and earn their trust to move on to the next phase of the purchase life cycle, you need to have an army of content resources ready and at their disposal to answer their questions. A strong content archive can educate your leads and help guide them through the sales funnel.

For many consumers, a lack of online information about a company is becoming a deal breaker and is seen as a warning sign; companies without content or willingness to provide information are viewed as too new, not large enough, and having no stamina or longevity.

Give your consumers what they are thirsting for – create a content archive that is full of information about what sets your company and products apart, provides insight into who you are as a company, and explains to the consumer why they need you. And once you’ve created the content, you’ll want to share it across the web on various social platforms, forums and industry publication channels. The more of your information that gets out there, the more the search engines will find it and deliver potential consumers to your site.

Doing the research, planning and outlining a plan of attack, and creating informative and captivating content is a huge task and one many companies don’t have the resources to achieve. That’s where Haley Brand Intelligence comes in. Our team of industry experts can create a content archive and content marketing strategy that will get your company noticed and bring leads to your doorstep.

When you’re ready to engage prospective consumers online, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let our team create a content strategy that will deliver for you.

3 Revealing Musts From the Content Marketing Institute

The practice of online content marketing is a mainstream practice and one that has been adopted by both B2B and B2C marketers over the past 10 years. In their fifth annual report, the team at the Content Marketing Institute has provided facts about the trends, challenges and best practices found within the science behind content marketing.

The detailed report offers insight into several areas, but there were three in particular that stood out to us.

Guidance for B2B Marketing Content Creation

Not surprisingly, there isn’t a definitive answer on this. However, the report found that 59 percent of B2B marketers publish content at least weekly. Of that, 42 percent publish new content daily, leaving only 20 percent who stated they only published once a month.

This percentage is growing annually as more and more content marketers discover the power of online content development. Publishing content occasionally is no longer an option; daily interaction on social media and minimum weekly blogging or on-site content creation is now a requirement in order to stay ahead of the competition.

The Most Effective New Methods for Content Marketing

One of the things the report does well is create a distinction between method usage versus effectiveness and establish the importance of how the two concepts must work together for long-term strategy success.

Case and point, search engine marketing (SEM) is seen as being effective by more than 52 percent of B2B marketers surveyed for the report; however, content marketing tools, which can help establish baselines, report on impact reach and outline keyword strategies for optimal performance, are only used by 13 percent.

If these tools were used when strategies were developed, these marketers would see a drastic increase in their overall effectiveness, making the effort they are putting into its use more cost-effective, impactful and worthwhile.

Adjusting the Right Budget for the Job at Hand

The report had a surprising find – on average, only 16 percent of the B2B marketers surveyed spent most of the budget on content marketing and 44 percent admitted that they spent less than 25 percent on content marketing.

Although it is clear that historically the bulk of most of these budgets is being spent on avenues other than content marketing, more than 54 percent of those surveyed stated that they will be drastically increasing their spend over the next two years in order to stay ahead of the competition.

The Haley Brand Intelligence team understands the pressures of needing to maximize your budgetary dollars. Our team of industry professionals knows how to deliver on performance without breaking the bank.  When you’re ready to take your content marketing strategy to the next level, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let us guide you toward online performance success.

Winning Strategies Focus on the Three R’s of Content Marketing

Have you ever noticed that when you see a McDonald’s, typically you will also see a Burger King? Or when you see a Target, odds are a Walmart is in close proximity? With brick and mortar brands, this is visually obvious, but the same coincidence is true when it comes to online space. Type in the keywords for your brand and you’ll notice that you might appear in the search results, but so do your closest competitors.

content-marketing-smallA little competition is actually a good thing. It gives brands a benchmark to compare or strive toward. It also provides consumers with choices. That’s right, I actually said that consumer choice is a good aspect of competition. A healthy bit of competition serves as a natural reminder for brands, forcing them to consistently have a gut check, evaluate current positioning and offerings, and push toward product enhancements.

While competition can be great for creating product roadmaps and defining consumer demand, it does make the landscape a bit more treacherous for online content marketers. Have no fear – we have three rules of content marketing that will steer your content marketing efforts toward search results success.

Roulette Anyone?

One of the biggest hurdles for any content marketer is to figure out how to create pieces that are not only interesting but also entertaining. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to make it fun – take it back to grade school and make it a game. Get consumers involved through a game of chance…a game of roulette.

Don’t leave the reputation of your brand to chance but rather make the involvement of your consumers exciting by engaging them in a way that they’ll never be completely sure what they’ll get. Make your message the surprise.

An excellent example of this is the new Doritos campaign, which is aptly named Doritos Roulette. This incredibly creative campaign has chip lovers across the globe rushing to purchase the mixed bag of regular Doritos with a handful of extra spicy ones in order to play the game for themselves. And word is spreading like wildfire on Vine and YouTube as consumers film their games and share their experiences.

By creating something that is fun and engages consumers in such a way, Doritos has established a campaign that is self-feeding with a message that is spreading virally and organically across cyberspace.

Rivalry Develops Advocates

Rivalries are a staple of our everyday lives through athletic teams, hometown cities and our brand preferences. New York vs. New Jersey, University of Texas vs. Oklahoma University, Pepsi vs. Coke – it’s something that is ingrained in our culture.

So why is this the key to content marketing? Glad you asked! These rivalries are key drivers for creating brand advocates. Think of how many times your grandparents preached about the dependability of a Buick as you were growing up or how many times you found yourself buying the maximum amount when your favorite but slightly more expensive brand, Tide, went on sale. Brands can become such a part of our lifestyles that, as consumers, we do a great deal of storytelling in hopes of swaying others on behalf of our favorite brands.

This natural tendency of rivalries helps create some of the strongest brand advocates. As content marketers, it is our job to fuel the fires of rivalry, providing our advocates with additional ammunition and publicly thanking them when they take a stand on our brand’s behalf.

Recognition Is the End Result

Want to increase your brand’s organic reach without spending a fortune? Recognize your consumers. This gesture of recognition often instills a sense of pride and provides a natural motivator for increased word-of-mouth advocate marketing.

You see this in restaurants all the time – a menu board full of sandwiches named after the store’s more famous and/or loyal patrons. Domino’s recently took this cue and created an app that allows customers to not only customize their pizza but also name it, and they can even earn money for local charities when other consumers order one of their creations.

Not only does this give consumers a chance for the public spotlight, it also allows Domino’s to put themselves in a position of charitable giving within individual communities, giving consumers even more reason to pledge their loyalty to the brand and return again and again.

Creating a Game Plan for Your Brand

The first step to any journey is always the hardest. At Haley Brand Intelligence, we’ve helped hundreds of brands create roadmaps for success with their content marketing strategies. If you’re ready for your brand to get into the game, contact Haley Brand Intelligence and let us guide you to a winning strategy.

Ace Your Content Marketing Game to Drive Higher Traffic

The world of content marketing is an unglamorous and sometimes unrewarding place. We spend hours poring through analytics to determine high-performance keywords and the online habits of our target audience in order to create better and stronger blogs, press releases and emails. You write, rewrite and send your content off to editorial. Once cleared, you send your hard work out into the world…and then you wait.

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Hours and days go by and you begin the slow process of analysis; watching and studying in order to see just how accurate your original planning was and how appealing others find what you have created. You have now entered the hardest part of being a content marketer – evaluation. Writing can be so personal for many, so waiting to see what others think and determine how well it performed can be agonizing.

But then the stats come in and you see you were on track. After a quiet moment of celebration, you begin the process again by creating new content that will build on the moment of this most recent piece.

And thus is the day-to-day reality of so many content marketers. But how is it that some brands appear to have figured out the secret sauce of social media success while others still struggle to create content that performs well and connects with their target audience?

The truth of the matter is that the road to social media success is different for every brand. Every brand has its own unique map to success. The key ingredient to their secret sauce, though, is that they understand how to read the cryptic feedback and directions they are receiving from their analytics and turn them into a championship guide for brand content marketing success.

Grab Your Caddy and Hit the Links

Believe it or not, content marketing is the golf game of online user engagement. Some days, your game is off and your content fizzles away into the black hole of cyberspace. Other days, you continue to hit hole-in-one after hole-in-one with content that delivers a punch and expands your reach through viral, grassroots efforts. It’s this success, just as in golf, that keeps us coming back for more.

Content marketing is a game of patience and one that we must practice daily. It’s not just something where you can pick up a club for one day and simply expect to automatically remain under par. It takes practice and commitment. It takes an appreciation for the game. It takes years of working with and understanding the course.

Over time, just as with golf, your understanding of the game will increase and your performance will improve, garnering you better page rankings and a stronger online reputation.

Appreciate the Best Practices of the Game

While you’ll never have a guarantee that your content will go viral, there are things you can do that will ensure a better performance and increase the longevity of your pieces. Following these tried and true tactics is the first step to any successful plan:

  • Know your target audience – Take time to get to know your target audience, where they hang out and what their “hot button” topics are. This will guide you in creating a roadmap for your brand’s content strategy.
  • Freshness is key – Ensure you’re putting out new content on a steady and consistent basis. Your audience will come to expect it and look for it, and your rankings in the various search engines will rise.
  • Variety is the spice of life…and content marketing – Mix up your formats and spread your brand message via blogs, emails, videos and infographics. This gives your content additional channels to travel and increases your probability of sharing.
  • Let your audience be heard – Add social sharing icons to your content to make it easier for users to share, but also include an avenue by which they can respond directly to you. Let them share feedback on your content, your brand and your products. This not only gives them the chance to connect with your brand, but it will also give you insight into what products and services your audience is seeking.
  • Know your game stats – Review your content performance on a daily basis and work with your team to adjust your strategy on a monthly or weekly basis so your game stays fresh and on target.

Is Your Brand Ready for Your First Set of Clubs?

Being able to perform well in the game of content marketing requires skills and a deep knowledge of the game. Just as with golf, working with a pro from the start will help your brand to develop a strong swing and appreciation for the game.

The Haley Brand Intelligence team is full of pros – we’ve studied user behavior and engagement for years; we’ve practiced our swing so that we are able to hit consistently long drives down the online fairways; and we know how to drop it in for putt. Wherever you want your brand’s game to go, Haley Brand Intelligence can provide the guidance to get you there.

Content Originality for Brand Marketing Success

Keyboard ButtonThe tenacious efforts of brand marketing writers to come up with original content ideas regularly have always been admired by those in the online content marketing world. The tireless efforts of marketing content are well worth the time and effort spent, as it’s proven that these efforts have a substantial impact on an online brand marketing campaign and a brand’s regular SEO performance.

As the facts outline, an online brand marketing campaign is incomplete and lacks power without powerful, original content spearheading the effort.

The Statistics

  • If there is original, fresh content on the company’s website, 78 percent of consumers develop a positive attitude toward a brand feeling the brand is open to developing a relationship
  • Original and captivating content is ranked as the third most important element when it comes to influencing buying decisions
  • Brands that regularly update their blogs and participate in social media enjoy a staggering 97 percent higher performance of inbound links than brands that do not – and even more impressively, brands that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month
  • Eight out of ten chief marketing officers swear that custom content positively affects the target audience and should be featured prominently in the marketing campaign mix
  • 62 percent of brands that blog outsource their content marketing efforts in order to save costs and ensure the process is maintained consistently
  • The average user spends less than a minute paying attention to a television, outdoor or radio advertisement, while an interesting content marketing piece can hold the user’s attention for a whopping 25 minutes – blogs and social media make up 23 percent of all the time the average user spends online daily
  • 68 percent of consumers spend time reading blogs and content from brands they are interested in
  • Content creation is ranked as the single most effective SEO technique by a survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa

There is no doubt that fresh, compelling content is a key driver to the success of any brand marketing campaign. Original content through an effective content marketing campaign entices, engages and builds trust with the target audience, driving them to find out more about the brand or the product or service on offer. And content that users find interesting is often shared, increasing a brand’s online reach exponentially.

Optimize Your Blogging for Online Brand Marketing Effectiveness

9765092_sLooking for a better return on investment for your marketing dollar? Something that will not only increase your search rankings but also will increase your overall marketing reach? Then blogging is a tool you need to seriously consider.

Blog posts that are written to entertain and educate humans and are optimized through the use of keywords for search engines are one of the best ways to maximize your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy. So how many blogs posts do you need to publish each week in order to achieve and maintain high-ranking SEO?

Successful SEO created content that converts visitors to leads has two key components: optimization and localization. Your blog content should be optimized through the use of the keywords that your customers are most likely to use when researching for a product or service you offer. The keywords must also be personally relevant and actionable. So the answer is, it’s not about how often you blog but more so about how well you blog.

One of the best ways to keep your target audience engaged is to create content that is both entertaining and educational; something that will keep them coming back for more and something they’ll find worth sharing with other people. To do this, write about what is important to your customers. Find out what they are talking about on social media channels and pay attention to their emails and feedback comments. Your customers will basically provide you with the content strategy that will be most appealing for them.

Also, a great way to keep content fresh and engaging is to include guest bloggers. Bring in outside writers or customers to create blog content. Another great resource is probably sitting within your building right now – your staff. Hearing a firsthand perspective from someone in your company is an excellent way to build a more personal relationship with your blog followers.

Just remember, blogging is a way of speaking directly to your customers, so keep it light, natural and honest.

How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Blog Headline

Your company blog headline, more than any other aspect of your blog (style, visuals, or conversion points), will determine how successful you are in converting your content to sales. An attention-grabbing, keyword-targeted headline compels potential buyers to click through from the search engines to your blog and introduces them to your service or product.

So what makes a successful headline? A strong blog headline will:

  • Rank well in search engines for high-volume keywords
  • Attract high-quality traffic to your website (low bounce rate, higher page views, and time on site)
  • Convert traffic to new leads and sales
  • Increase return visits to website from existing leads and long-term customers
  • Promote engagement and referrals through social sharing

Here are five elements of blog titles that attract more traffic, convert more leads, and bring existing customers back to your website again and again:

Headline Elements: Keywords

No matter what, your title must contain a keyword that is relevant to your target audience. Keywords are the online equivalent of a well-placed billboard. It puts your message in front of thousands of potential customers every month.

Headline Elements: Customer Usefulness

Customers turn to the internet today for information, so customer-centric, customer-focused blog headlines that solve a specific customer problem are more likely to earn the click-through from search engines than marketing messages focused solely on your product.

Headline Elements: Actionable and Time-Sensitive

You always want to respect your readers’ time. Your customers are faced with more available information than they can read and typically limited time. Write blog headlines that tell customers and potential leads that you are providing information that is relevant to their situation; make it easy to understand and immediately actionable.

Headline Elements: Inspirational

Read any ad in a magazine or online periodical and you’ll see one element of consistency – inspiration. The majority are focused on how to be happier, more successful, learn how to better use your time, or take better care of yourself. Although the methods of how people consume information today may have shifted more heavily online, the inspirational “how-to” is still the most effective tool to grab the attention of your target audience.

Headline Elements: Character Limit

Search engines typically only show about 60-65 characters of your headline, so anything more than that is being wasted and is not seen by potential customers searching for your products or services online.  Say it clearly, say it succinctly, and create a headline that packs the punch in less than 60 characters.

Become a Brand SEO Major Leaguer

12426119_sWhat’s the secret to notable SEO brand success? Is it luck? Science? Voodoo? Do you need some special superpowers or advanced technological expertise to become a notable hotshot? Actually, not really – you just need to understand the rules of the game.

Content marketing is one of the best ways to achieve more visibility for your company in search engines. And something as simple as a well-crafted blog and monthly newsletter can give you an opportunity to differentiate your product in a crowded market and connect with customers online.

For many marketing teams, terms such as SEO copywritingkeyword research, and creating clickable headlines is a process that can seem mysterious and overwhelming. Fortunately, it’s all very simple to create once you understand the concepts around content that ranks well in search engines.

Keywords Are, Well, Key!

It might seem a bit counterintuitive, but just because you’re selling a “blender” doesn’t mean that’s what your customers are looking for exactly. To benefit from online content, understand what the keywords for your products and services are. In this case, the keywords would include something like: blender, mixer, mixing stand, kitchen tools, etc. You have to know all the ways your customers, and potential customers, might go about searching for your product or service.

After you know the words and phrases, then it’s time to incorporate them in a way that the search engines will be able to find them. The more they find in what is considered to be “fresh content” (i.e., content that has been posted recently and isn’t the same thing over and over), the better your ranking results.

There are three easy ways to incorporate your keywords and phrases into your site in order to impact your rankings:

  • Whenever you incorporate a keyword or phrase into your blog, newsletter or social media content, embed a hyper-link (like this) to the product or service on your website. With this technique, not only the word, but the link to your site, plays a huge role in impacting your search results.
  • Incorporate keywords and phrases into your page metadata. This counts as separate content and is something the search engine web crawlers automatically look for.
  • Get the content out there! Newsletters are great, but they won’t help your search rankings and count in your content scoring unless you promote it via the web. Have a page on your website for items such as newsletters, emails, and special offers. Then promote these content pieces via social media. This will not only give you a list through keywords, but the links back to your site will substantially impact your overall ratings.