Using BirdEye For Reputation Management

Take a look at the some of these businesses:

Search Term: Laser skin treatments Vancouver
Search Term : Implants clinic LA, Koreatown
Search Term : Best hair salons in Yaletown

Which ones you would consider purchasing a service from?
We showed these images to 10 different people. Here are the businesses that got the most votes from each search term:

  • CüR Laser and Skin
  • LA Dental Clinic
  • Pink Lime Salon and Spa

Does that ranking match your choices? Do you see what’s common between the 3 top choices? Their customers love them and it shows in their reviews.

Your clients might be fans of yours, but does it show in your online presence? If not, then you should consider reputation management software to manage your online reviews. At ElementIQ, we use and recommend BirdEye.

Why Reviews Are Important

As per this Local Consumer Review Survey conducted by Bright Local in 2018, here are 3 charts that explain the growing importance of online reviews among various age demographics:

Chart #1: Do You Read Reviews For Businesses?

Key finding: 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses.

Chart #2: What Is Your Typical Next Step After You Read A Positive Review?

Key finding: 50% of consumers visit local businesses’ websites after reading positive reviews (including 69% of 55+).

Chart #3: How Many Online Reviews Do You Read Before You Can Trust A Business?

Key finding: Consumers read an average of 10 reviews (up from 7 in 2017).

Insights:

  • Online reviews are important to your customers – they are looking to interact with businesses that have a strong review profile.
  • Online reviews are important to customers of all age groups – albeit not equally.
  • The trend of consumers researching a business by reading reviews is on the rise – more people are reading a higher number of reviews before deciding if they want to further research a local business.

Why You Should Use BirdEye For Reputation Management

There are a few different review management tools out there, but BirdEye is our preferred choice because it’s credible, effective, and simple to use!

Credibility – It’s one of few such tools that is fully integrated with Google. It also has one of the widest selection of websites that you can manage reviews on, including Facebook, Yelp, ZocDoc, Homestars and many more. We have seen Google and Yelp remove a number of reviews for various businesses when they are unable to trust the authenticity of a review – this is less likely to happen when reviews are generated using BirdEye.

Simplicity – BirdEye makes it really easy to ask for a review, analyze trends using available data insight charts, and, respond to reviews on different places from one central platform.

Effectiveness – Each of the 3 businesses highlighted at the beginning of this blog post have built a stronger review profile than their immediate competitors. Need we say more?

Features We Love The Most

While being simple, there are a few awesome things you can do – like responding to reviews from within BirdEye and measuring the effectiveness of your review management initiatives from an insightful dashboard. Let’s elaborate. 

Responding to reviews – We already mentioned that BirdEye is fully integrated with Google. This means BirdEye users are able to respond to Google review from within BirdEye. When you click on ‘Reply’ for other platforms like Yelp and Facebook, you will be directed to your listings where you can post a reply.

Microsite – BirdEye automatically creates a microsite for all registered businesses. The microsite contains basic business information, live reviews from multiple platforms and a form users can use to book appointments. This also has positive SEO effects, as we have seen the microsite make top 10 search results for business name search phrases.

Get Your Business To Become Your Customers Preferred Choice 

Imagine that you are trying to pick a place to get a laser skin treatment, or dental implants or a haircut or a pizza. Would you go on Google and search for ‘best ___ near me’? Who would you trust with your health, time and money?

Your customers screen their choices when they search for service providers like yourself – make sure you appear in top search results and ensure that your businesses review profile is compelling buyers to choose you! Contact us and we’ll help you set up your online persona in a way that lets your reviews shine and attract new business!

The Importance of Call Tracking

What is call tracking, and why should you care?

You’ve probably heard that call tracking is important for your business, but why is this the case?

Online marketing campaigns typically drive traffic through multiple channels, such as paid search, email marketing, and social media. These channels work together to drive people to your website, where they can take any number of actions.

As a business owner, you want these people to eventually become your customers. However, when they reach your website, this probably won’t happen right away. Instead, they might show their interest or try to do more research before determining if your business best addresses their needs. Only then will they hand over their hard earned cash.

To understand and improve your marketing efforts, you need to be able to clearly visualize what is working for you and what isn’t. You need to know what activities are causing people to show more interest in what you have to offer, as well as understand their behaviours and how your internet presence can influence these behaviours.

One way of capturing marketing data is by tracking content form submissions. Almost all websites with contact forms will automatically track them. So why don’t we do the same for calls?

Despite the fact that we are living in an increasingly digital area, people are still calling businesses, especially when they’re interested. In fact, the number of calls to businesses is only increasing as smartphone capabilities improve. Phones now, making it easier to call a business than ever before. As well, according to digital marketing expert Neil Patel, calls convert 10 to 15 times more often than web leads.

If you don’t track calls, you are losing valuable data. Calls are far more important than you think.

How Does It Work?

Call tracking provides you with data that shows which marketing efforts are driving calls to your business. In fact, if you don’t track calls, you might not be tracking up to 80% of your conversions. Without accurate conversion data, you can’t appropriately allocate resources towards your most effective marketing efforts. You’re basically throwing money at all sorts of channels, with no idea of which ones are giving you the best ROI. You won’t have any idea which pages, tactics, and campaigns are effective and ineffective, as you will only be seeing part of the picture.

Check out this handy infographic we made to visualize how this works:

To track calls from different sources, digital marketers use something called dynamic number insertion. What this means is that your leads will see a different phone number to call, based on the channel and geographic location they are on. All of these numbers will lead back to your actual number, so the visitors will contact you directly. However, the usefulness of this is that you will receive data about the referring URL, search keywords, landing pages, and ads the caller came through. As well, the tracking code will remember the original channel for each visitor, so they will see the same tracking number each time they visit your site.

When Is It Useful?

Unlike traditional marketing, online marketing has the ability to clearly demonstrate which activities are yielding specific results. When you have this information, you can then make adjustments as needed and optimize your activities.

Imagine you’re working on an email campaign for your business which redirects visitors to a unique landing page. There might be a form on there for visitors to fill out, but there might also be a phone number at the top. If you only track the form submissions, you’re completely missing data about the email campaign. You won’t know how many people called your business because of that specific email. Call tracking will give you that data so you can see how successful the campaign is, and learn and make improvements for the next email campaign you do.

Call tracking can track calls from a wide variety of platforms. If someone calls your business from directly accessing your website, an ad campaign, Google My Business, or even from Yelp, you will know and be able to see exact data. This data will then allow you to better understand your consumers, drive conversions, and help your business flourish.

State of Local Search in 2018

The Gamut of Changes to Google My Business

In less than 2 years, Google has relentlessly rolled out a series of updates to Google My Business features. In 2017, they had added a featured post feature, Q&A section and introduced a messaging option. In December 2017, we wrote about a post on some of the new Google My Business features. In 2018, they have added a business description section which allows businesses to capture user attention with a 250 character message about the business. Clicking this description shows a longer description, up to 750 characters.

What does this reflect?

One thing is clear – Google is devoting a lot of resources towards Google Local. This particular segment has been identified by the search giant as one of its most important segments. To continue being the most popular search engine, it must deliver the most relevant results to users.

Finding service providers is a BIG part of user search behaviour and includes all kinds of queries like restaurants near me, plumbers in Vancouver, dentists, plumbers and so on. In fact, the device you search from would know your location and if one searches for pizzas, one expects Google to show pizza places near me. So we, the users, are even going to stop saying things like ‘near me’ or ‘in Vancouver’ but expect geographically relevant search results for a variety of queries.

This indicates two things –
1. Businesses need to make Local SEO a bigger priority in their marketing plans
2. Google Local is expected to be an important revenue generator for Alphabet

How Significant are Organic Search results now?

Take a look at the Google search engine results first page real estate for the query – ‘Dental Implants’

As you can see, one organic search result popped up right below the top 4 paid ads and then the rest of the organic results are buried half way down the page. For some queries, these results are going to be higher up in more prime spots but for a variety of searches, they are getting pushed as far down as shared in the example above.

The map results are the result of Local SEO and those have become extremely important for businesses to generate phone calls and website leads. These map results can also include paid ads in certain cases. E.g. for ‘Dental Implants Near Me’ –

WHAT IS ONE TO DO?

The Local Search Optimization includes actively managing the following –

  • Citations – business listings across various online business directories
  • Reputation – soliciting and responding to customer reviews across important directories
  • Map listings – updating business information on Google My Business (Bing and Apple listings are less important to maintain as regularly)

SEO For Homebuilders

home in a hand

What is SEO and how does it apply to my homebuilding business? It can be difficult to determine exactly what your new website needs in order to reach your audience of interested homebuyers. In digital marketing, the word SEO is used frequently and it’s often not entirely understood outside of the industry.

SEO is the shortened version of Search Engine Optimization. This is the term used to describe the factors required for your website to appear readily on search engines. When you optimize your homebuilding website in compliance with good SEO practices, it will make it easy for your prospective clients to find. Here’s how to optimize your homebuilding website for SEO.

Top SEO Elements For Your Homebuilding Website

Optimize Your Content For SEO

Your content makes up the majority of your website. Content includes every written, visual or video asset you have online. Content is a very important factor in SEO and ranking status because it tells your users and search engines what your website is about.

There are a few techniques you can use to optimize your content for search engines. As you may know, search engines like Google do not read in the same way that humans do.

Google wants to help searchers find the most relevant information quickly, it does this by scanning keywords on your website. When an interested buyer searches keywords that match the keywords on your site, your site will appear in their search results because Google has determined that your page is a good match for the information that they search.

Google will crawl your entire website, but the important areas within the content that are significant for SEO are your page URL, titles, and headings on the site, meta descriptions, keywords, and images. In this post we will discuss each of these SEO aspects and how they apply to your homebuilding website.

Appeal To Your Target Audience: Use Keywords

Define A Clear URL

Each page of your website has a URL. You want your URL to appear as clean and easy to understand for your readers. Aas well as for Google.) When a URL is specific and to the point, it clearly displays your website name and any brief, additional page keyword information.

Messy URL: “housingcompany.5678234_78/8”
Clean URL: “housingcompany/houses-for-sale-vancouver”

Your URL should contain the name of your homebuilding company and the essential keywords for your specific site page. If your page is about a housing development in Vancouver for example, the URL should contain the name of your company, the name of the development and the location of the development. This type of URL format makes it easy for Google to read, as well as easy for searchers to understand.

If you do not create a custom URL for your site pages, your site will auto-generate URL addresses. These often appear messy and are difficult for users to understand. They often lack keywords and this makes it difficult for Google and other search engines to read as well. Never create two pages with the same URL, make sure that each is unique and specific to the page, just like an address.

Add Title Tags

When prospective clients are searching for your housing developments, they may not know specific terms like the name of your housing company. Clients that live locally may search specific terms, however, the large majority of interested buyers will begin by searching general phrases in Google.

Example of phases users search:

“Homes For Sale In Vancouver.” “Apartment Developments In Langley” “Custom Homes In Burnaby” “Vancouver Real Estate”

There will only be a small number of searchers that know the specific name of your company or development. There will be many more interested searchers who type phrases like “Homes For Sale In Vancouver.” when you include both the development name and the location in your headings and title, you are telling Google that your page has information relevant to both possible search methods. As a result, you will show up more frequently in searches as your title content indicates that your page is informative.

The headings and subheadings on your pages help Google, as well as your site visitors, understand what your page is about. When they search these general terms, your content will appear if it has the same keywords in the title. Just like in your page URL, specific keywords are important in the titles and sub-heading of your housing company page content.

Your heading should match the keywords that you use in your URL as well as your page title.

Write Captivating Meta Descriptions

You want to take every opportunity possible to catch your prospective client’s attention in a sea of other real estate listings and housing developments.

Your meta description, although not an official ranking factor by Google, plays a very important role in your ability to grab your viewers attention.

In the search results displayed below, the meta descriptions are the grey text under the page title and the site URL. When a viewer is scrolling down a page of search results, they are quickly scanning the meta descriptions to find a page that stands out to them. Google helps your searchers along by highlighting their key search terms in the meta descriptions. In this case, the search was “Housing Developments In Vancouver.” Those keywords are highlighted in the meta description below:

seo for homebuilders

This means that when you are publishing a page, you should take the time to edit the meta descriptions. Write a captivating preview of what your page is about. It’s a good idea to incorporate the keywords that you used in your page URL and your title as well.

Optimize Your Images For The Web

Your home building company is likely to have many images and visual content of your homes and developments. Images are an excellent resource for your website and when they are properly optimized for SEO, they can be a great way to gain visibility and rankings on search engines.

  • Use Alt text that is relevant to your images
  • Name your images differently using keywords specific to the image content
  • Write an image description wherever it’s relevant
  • Ensure your images are properly condensed (Large images can slow your housing website down)

Competitor Analysis and Link Building

A major factor in SEO ranking is the number of links that point to your website. Google and other search engines place a high value on content. When your content is credible and helpful to others, businesses and other websites will link to your content. Google takes these links or “backlinks” as they’re called in SEO, and uses them to determine the credibility of your website. If you have several different, credible and related websites linking to your pages, Google will deem your site as helpful and important.

A great way to determine your backlink profile is by performing an SEO audit. It’s also important to understand how your homebuilding company ranks when it’s compared to your top competitors. If you have a company that is competing closely with you for rankings on Google search results, chances are, they’re one of your competitors.

Eventually, you may want to rank above your competitors. In order to do this, you must first assess your competitor’s websites. You can perform a competitive link analysis in order to gauge the level of authority your competitor’s website maintains. A link audit helps you understand what companies and websites your competitors are associated with.

Contact A Digital Marketing Agency

Many developments and housing companies hire an external digital marketing team to help organize and implement an effective SEO strategy. If you are looking to optimize your website for prospective clients, a digital marketing company could be beneficial in helping you achieve these goals.

It also gives you time to focus on your homebuilding business! ElementIQ is a full-service digital marketing agency located in Vancouver, BC. They have worked with housing companies as well as developers to help create a clear brand image and increase visibility for home builders.

Save Google Analytics Historical Data From The GDPR Update

google analytics update

Recently, Google announced an important update that will affect your Google Analytics historical data. Google noted that they would be changing their data retention policy, in order to align with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The update affects users historical data on their websites. Starting May 25, 2018, the new data retention settings are being applied automatically to your Google Analytics account. The new settings will make you lose all your historical data that is more than 26 months old.

Continue reading or watch the video included to find out how to fix the problem in 2 minutes if you don’t want to lose your historical data.

Why Is My Historical Analytics Data Important?

Google Analytics is a powerful FREE tool used to generate and analyze reports on website traffic. It’s an IMPORTANT tool for reporting, analysis, and benchmarking.

Your website is one of your most powerful digital assets. Historical data allows you to compare data collected from years ago and compare it to your website’s current performance. It offers incredible insight into your user experience, behavior and web traffic.

With the GDPR update, you will lose data that could have been used to generate great insights. Imagine not being able to see a 5-year trend line of users and sessions, or comparing last 24 months of website traffic with previous 24 months. Google has provided the option to retain your historical data before the update occurs on May 25th, 2018. Follow the steps below in order to save your historical data.

Here’s How To Save Your Google Analytics Historical Data

  1. First login to analytics.google.com
  2. Go to the Admin panel from the left navigation menu
  3. Click on ‘Tracking info’ from under Properties
  4. Choose ‘Data Retention’
  5. From User and Event Data Retention, choose ‘Do Not Automatically Expire’
  6. Save

And “Voila!”

We’ve also created a helpful, step by step infographic to further illustrate how to save your Google Analytics historical data!

google analytics historical data

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Google Analytics historical data update or you would like to see more insight from your Google Analytics account, give ElementIQ a call at 604.909.3750. We are a full-service digital marketing agency and we are able to assist you with all of your marketing needs. You can also check out our Google-related blog posts for more information regarding the Google Search Engine and Google Analytics.

How To Avoid Common Networking Mistakes

avoid networking mistakes

Even the most seasoned businessperson can find themselves in the midst of a networking nightmare. It doesn’t matter how much practice you’ve had, there’s always room for improvement. When it comes to professional development, networking events often come to mind.

Whether it’s your first day navigating a company party or you’re representing your brand at a nationwide event, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid networking mishaps. Here is a list of common networking problems, and how to correct them!

1) You’re A Wallflower

As tempting as it is to stick to the sidelines, networking is an inherently social activity. It may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if this is your first networking event. However, it is vital to get out and circulate the room. If you appear visibly nervous or anxious when meeting new people, take a few deep breaths and try to calm down. Force yourself out of your comfort zone with these simple steps.

Find A Common Connection

The fastest way to break out of your bubble in a sea of strangers is to find someone in the room who you already know. Look for a friend or co-worker, even someone in your same line of work and start a conversation. Have your friend or colleague introduce you to their friends and so on. When you have a mutual friend introduce you to others, it’s an immediate conversation starter.

Appear Open To Communication

Convey open and welcoming body language and personal confidence will follow. When you carry yourself well, people will sense that you are approachable and open to interaction. Here is a useful article about how to convey positive body language while networking. Don’t forget to smile. It is the single most important way to appear relaxed, approachable and friendly (even if you’re nervous.) There was also an interesting study done by Scientific American that noted that smiling can actually make you feel physically happy as well. Use a natural smile to both ease your nerves, and convey to others that you’re approachable.

Make The First Move

Have confidence in yourself, step out of your shell and make the first move. There will be those who find that connecting with others comes naturally to them, but there will also be a lot of people in the room who probably feel the same way as you! If you do not recognize anyone in the group, simply approach a group of individuals or someone standing on their own. Introduce yourself and state where you work. They will do the same.

2) You Aren’t Sure What To Say

This point is closely connected to the previous point. It can be difficult to start a conversation with someone who you don’t know. In general, you may simply not know what to say to them.

Even when you’ve planned out things to say and conversation topics the night before, there’s always the dreaded mental blank that happens mid-conversation.

Don’t Overthink It: Say Hello

Every conversation starts with a warm “hello.” This simple greeting breaks the ice, it lets the other person know that you are interested in talking to them and it will help you feel more comfortable since it is a word that you use every day.

Listen Instead

If you are at a loss for words, focus on listening instead of being the one speaking. If you listen to the conversation long enough, you can craft questions based on things that were mentioned. People love to talk about themselves and what they do. You’ll be seen as a good listener. When you are actively listening and genuinely interested in a conversation, your questions and responses will flow naturally.

Find Common Ground

A great way to segway into a conversation with someone is to make a general comment. You can compliment the person you are talking with. Or simply start by discussing the networking event. Is there food being served? Was a lovely speech just made? Find a common ground with the person you are talking to and let your general statement flow naturally into a more in-depth conversation.

3) The Conversation Doesn’t Feel Natural

Often, when you are at an arranged networking event, it can seem a little awkward at first. If you took the first step and made the introduction, there is still no guarantee that the conversation will flow smoothly. It can take years of practice to master the art of conversation, but there are still a few things that you can do to make the conversation come more naturally.

Relax, Feel At Ease

There is a good chance that your conversation doesn’t feel natural because you feel unnatural. To put that in different terms, you may not feel entirely at ease. Stay calm and try to follow the natural flow of the conversation. Do not overanalyze yourself as you’re talking. When your mind relaxes, you’ll appear more relaxed.

Be Authentic

There is a lovely, recent article from The Huffington Post about networking that I recommend to anyone looking for quick tips on networking. In the article, they discuss what they term “authentic networking.” In essence, this means that you should be “present” in every conversation you have with someone. It will feel much more natural if you simply turn off autopilot and become genuinely interested in connecting with the person you are talking to.

4) You Forget Names Easily

If you’re anything like me, you forget names almost immediately after you hear them. Trust me, you’re not alone. This is a common phenomenon, but also, one of the most awkward ones. Forgetting someone’s name can come off as disrespectful. It seems like you don’t care enough about the person to even know their name. But at networking events, there is so much going on. There is background noise, you are often multitasking and names simply escape you! Here’s what to do.

Do Your Research

At larger events, there is often a list of attendees and speakers either online or on a welcoming brochure. Use these to your advantage if you can’t quite place the face to the name.

Sometimes name tags are also worn and in this case, you have nothing to worry about. But if you’re really bad with names, you can always simply share your business card and ask that they do the same. You should be collecting business cards anyway for follow-ups so this is your best bet when you know you’ll forget the name.

Connect on LinkedIn if the timing seems appropriate. That way you can easily place a face to a name for future reference. You may also bring a small notepad and pen. Jot down names immediately if you are prone to forgetting. You can also write down other essential information like phone numbers, company names, and industries.

5) You Don’t Listen

Practice describing what you do in no more than 2 sentences. We all know you’re a busy person, and you manage multiple different tasks throughout the day. When you are preparing for a networking event, keep in mind that the others mingling may not know specific industry terminology or details. Have a general description of what you do prepared beforehand and summarize it. Do not drag on about your day to day tasks. You could end up boring the person you’re talking to. Try and ask as many questions as you answer and let the other individual talk as well.

6) You Feel Under Or Overdressed

It is always a good rule of thumb to be overdressed rather than underdressed. When you are unsure of the dress code, play it safe and dress for a corporate environment, suits, collars shirts, and blazers. If you are still unsure about what to wear, the easiest way to find out is to take to social media.

Research Past Events

Research the company hosting the event and visit their Facebook and Instagram pages. You can infer their level of formality from images they post of company events.

Layering

Keep in mind that you should dress in a way that you want others to perceive you. If you are attending this networking event in hopes of finding a new job, you should dress for the job that you want. There is nothing wrong with being slightly overdressed. A good rule of thumb is to overdress but wear layers that you can remove if the atmosphere is more casual. For example, wear your dress shirt with a blazer so that you have the opportunity to remove the blazer if you feel overdressed.

7) You Don’t Follow Up

Stay connected with your new contacts after the networking event. Send an email or follow up with a friendly call, reminding the person where you met, your company and what you spoke about at the event.

Timing Is Everything

It is most effective to follow up with those you meet at a networking event within 24 hours of meeting them. Your follow up message doesn’t have to be lengthy. Simply remind the individual of your name, position and your reasons for connecting. Share your contact information or reach out on a professional networking service like LinkedIn.

Get Out There And Meet New People!

Hopefully, these quick tips can help you ace your next networking event. If you have any personal tips you want to share about networking, write them in the comments below! You can network anywhere, including formal business events or summits. Here is one of our accounts of a marketing summit, if you are interested in learning more about the process.

New Google My Business Features For Your Business

gmb profile

I wanted to share some recently introduced Google My Business features that a majority of local businesses are not yet using. They were discussed in details during the ‘office hours’ webinar hosted by Local Marketing Institute.

These new features can help you further promote your offers or content and encourage/enable new ways for users to interact with your business. So without further delay, let’s dig into these 3 new(er) features:

GMB Posts:

Google Posts are similar to Facebook posts, except that you need to log in to your Google My Business dashboard and then create a post in there.

The advantage is that your post will show up on the knowledge graph when people search for your business on the Google search engine.

In this post, you can promote blog posts, events, offers etc…

As you can see, a thumbnail of the image, dates, short description and a link to your website or landing page can all be included.

Keep In Mind:

  • Posts will stay live for 7 days, after which they just get archived
  • It will be shown on mobile (Android and IOS), Google maps, desktop and tablets
  • Although there is no conclusive evidence, it appears that these posts can positively influence your business ranking on maps and organic search

Questions & Answers

This was a feature that was rolled out a couple of months ago. It allows users to ask a question which can be answered by anyone in the community and by the business owner.

To manage conversations, the owner needs to be logged into the associated Google account on an Android mobile phone or tablet. IOS devices do not have the ability to manage these conversations yet.

If you are signed in to that Google account on your Android phone/tablet, you will receive a push notification when someone asks a question or someone in the community responds to the question.

Just the way reviews show up, the name of the person who asks or answers the question will show up. If the user is a ‘Local Guide’, then that badge will show next to the person’s name. If the business owner responds to a question, it will show up as a response from the business.

Keep In Mind:

  • Only Google maps on Android/tablet can be used to manage Q&A’s
  • You have to be signed in to the respective Google account
  • You get push notifications on mobile when people ask or answer questions
  • Anyone can answer questions – answers will show up as answered by individuals name, individuals name (local guide), or the business owner

GMB Messaging

Business owners can login to the Google My Business dashboard and turn on messaging.

They can choose the phone number which will receive the messages if consumers choose to engage with the business in this way.

The option to message a business is, currently, only going to be visible to users who find the business listing via mobile web search. They will not see the option to message the business if they find the business on their desktops/laptops.

Interactions will be exactly the same as regular text messaging as the message from the user will reach the SMS app on the listed business phone number.

Keep In Mind:

  • Use Allo (app by Google) if you want to separate personal texts from business texts. It will allow business texts to be directed to the Allo app.
  • Enable if you can commit to reply within, at least, a day. Although, Facebook and Google want businesses to reply almost immediately – which is not always practical.

Note: If you are a dental clinic or a law firm, the Google My Business guidelines are slightly different than what they are for regular businesses. The features discussed above will still be applicable. But we had recently published a post to highlight some of these differences. Click here to read it.

How to do Keyword Research 101

After spending the last couple weeks doing keyword research for some of our clients, I’ve decided that now would be a good time to shed some light on how it’s done. Before we look into how its done, it is essential that we understand why it’s done.

“In order to rank for searches and be visible to potential customers, your website must be optimized”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said these words to me, I’d have enough money to make rent this month. However, it clearly doesn’t solve my SEO problems, neither will it answer your questions on Search Engine Optimization. Thus, I’m going to take special efforts to make it crystal clear for you.

To simplify, Keyword Research is the process of discovering key search terms that internet users may be using to search for products or services through the medium of a Search Engine. This is then followed by optimizing your website, to naturally contain these keywords in the text or other forms of content.

How To Do Keyword Research?

Understand The Nature of Your Business:

It goes without saying that knowing your business (or the one you’re handling marketing for) is one of the most important things in any aspect of marketing. If you don’t know your company’s values, products or services, it is a good idea to start off by getting your hands on a catalogue or a similar resource that lets you understand the business.

Once you understand the products or services that the business offers, you’ll be able to categorize the keywords according to product or service type and also be able to figure out which keywords are more relevant than others. Let’s say we have a small online store that sells two products- Bread and Butter. When we try to hunt for keywords to target, we can separate them into two sections (at least) by product type so that it is easier to implement optimization and also track keyword performance.

Focus on Your Buyer Persona:

Buyer personas play a huge roll in keyword searches. If you know the kind of customer you are trying to target, you’re already halfway there. The challenge really is to be able to think like the buyer of your product or service. Let us look at an interesting scenario:

Case Study

One of ElementIQ’s clients, Keating Dental Arts, is a full-service dental lab that caters to dentists across North America. Let’s take a look at a snippet of their website traffic source by keywords.

If you take a look at the image above, the phrase ’emax stain and glaze’ brings 99 visitors to their website. The phrase is quite technical and will probably be used by dentists or people who are in the profession. Since KDA is a dental lab that only caters to dentists and not dental patients, It is a good idea to spend time optimizing for more technical keywords like this one so that it drives more traffic from dentists.

Just like the example above, focusing on industry-specific keywords and how the buyer uses those keywords, most definitely will benefit your process of optimization.

Start With Words Then Move to Phrases:

There are three kinds of keywords that you must consider when trying to optimize your page for both organic and paid searches – Generic Keywords, Broad Match Keywords, Long-Tailed Keywords. You can read more about these types of keywords here. The idea is to jot down words that are most relevant to your business or product/service. Let’s say you are a dentist (or you’re marketing on a dentist’s behalf), the words that you should start your research from would be something similar to these:

  • Dentist
  • Teeth
  • Denture
  • Dentistry

The above list is just an example, your list may look different in comparison to the one above depending on the nature of your business. The idea is to use these words to generate other keywords closely related to them using sophisticated tools.

Once you have this list, it’s time to put some tools to use.

Grab Your Toolkit:

The tool I like using for keyword generation is the built-in Keyword Planner (formerly keyword tool) that Google offers in it’s AdWords platform. The keyword planner looks something like this:

The keyword planner can be accessed by clicking on the tools menu in AdWords. You will need an AdWords account to access this feature. However, you do not need to spend money on ads to avail this feature.

Once you’ve gained access to the keyword planner, its only a few minutes before the magic happens!

We want to work in the ‘Multiply keyword lists together to get new keywords’. The idea is to enter a set of keywords in the List 1 section and another set in List 2 section. Here’s what I’ve entered, just for example sake:

Next, we want to adjust the location settings to our liking. This is important if your business caters to a specific locality. I’m going to set it to Burnaby.

The resultant page will give us a few keywords that are a product of the two lists. It is important to note that NOT all of those keywords are going to be relevant.

Once we have our final list of keywords, we can move to optimizing the pages we like.

Keep Track of the Keywords That You Feel Are Most Important:

Ranking for keywords is always a quality over quantity game. You’d rather rank for the most relevant keywords to your business to get the best possible conversion rate. However, to get the best possible results from keyword research and optimization, it is essential that we track the keywords that seem most relevant to the business and it’s goals. I personally use Ahrefs to accomplish this. I will soon be writing more about Ahrefs to help out with keyword tracking and analysis!

Contact Us

If you have more detailed questions related to Search Engine Optimization, you can leave a comment down below or get in touch with the ElementIQ team here.

Create A Great Email Marketing Campaign

I recently had the pleasure of attending a webinar lead by Eric Shanfelt, email marketing guru, and digital marketing specialist. The webinar was hosted by the Local Marketing Institute. They provide frequent webinars about various e-commerce and digital marketing subjects.

Eric shared some valuable information that can often be overlooked when you are trying to coordinate an email campaign. Sometimes we get so caught up in deadlines and clients that we forget about the most important factor in email marketing: the audience itself. Eric gave some insight into what users really want to see.

  • They want short emails
  • All emails should be mobile responsive
  • The information should be relevant and useful to the user

Eric noted that emails should be relatively short with a single CTA (call to action). You don’t want to distract your users with long, intricate copy, too many offers or irrelevant information. A good email is a simple one. In order to have a focused and clear email, there are a few things you should keep in mind first. Eric outlined six main factors that contribute to a great, streamlined email campaign. These are:

Audience, Acquisition, Content, Frequency, Delivery, and Analysis

Let’s discuss what each topic means and the ways in which they, as a whole, can create a great email marketing campaign.

1. Audience: Define Your Audience

Your audience is the first and most important factor in your email campaign. These are the people who open and interact with your messages. In order to send emails that these individuals want to open, you need to be sure you know your audience.

If you work in the field of e-commerce or digital marketing, you may be familiar with the concept of buyer personas. These are fictional representations of your target audience. They are the product of market research and analysis into your customer demographics. Before you create an email campaign, you must consult your buyer personas.

Ask Yourself The Following Questions:

  • What is my audience interested in?
  • What do they want to know?
  • What’s their daily life like?

You want to make sure that the people receiving your email newsletters truly like the content you create for them. Do the market research before-hand and find out the age of your audience, their interests, and daily routine. Once you have a good idea of who you’re sending these emails to, you’ll be able to create custom content, catered to what they like.

2. Acquisition: Build Your Email List

How do I define an audience when I don’t have subscribers? There are many different ways to build your email list. A powerful email campaign coupled with an organized, clean list of subscribers is the recipe for success when it comes to email marketing. You can’t send out a campaign without subscribers. Here are a few ways that you can attract new email subscribers.

How To Build Your Email List

  • Have a prominent signup form on your website. You don’t want potential subscribers scrolling and searching your site to sign up for your list.
  • Ensure you have a prominent signup form on social media. You create and share quality content on your social media channels. Build your email list by letting your followers know where they can get even more great content and insider information on your email list.
  • Leverage POS systems (point of sale systems) You can automate subscriptions to your email list. Simply incorporate it into your POS system. After a purchase, let your users know where they can learn more about you, and stay updated on your products. Create an automated request to subscribe.
  • Have a strong customer feedback system. Gather customer feedback at every opportunity.
  • Train your employees to ask. If you are a business owner, let your employees know that they should always be gathering potential email subscribers for the business. They can ask your customers directly!
  • Use incentives. Give your customers that extra push and give them an immediate reason to sign up for your email list. Let your customers know that they can receive special offers and give them a sample by offering a one time discount to those who sign up. You can use different offers or create a giveaway to get them excited about receiving your emails.

3. Content: Plan Your Content

There is nothing worse than receiving an email that doesn’t make sense, seems out of context or contains information that you don’t find appealing or relevant. Create and share quality content with your subscribers to keep them up to date and in the loop.

Ask Yourself

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What information would your customers find valuable?

Email campaigns are part of your content marketing strategy. You need to carefully plan out what each email will say. Set a positive tone for your email and pick your voice. Are you speaking on behalf of your company, the owner or is the email going to sound more personal?

You can share your current site content in your email campaigns as well. Let your users know about a recent ebook you’ve created or share the latest blog post with them. Make sure that the content you share with your users is relevant, relates to your company and to your users. Here are some tips on how to write good copy for the web.

Another important aspect of content is images. Try to avoid putting all of your written email copy in your email as an image. Images are unreliable and do not always render. Have the core of your email copy in plain text. Use images to supplement your message but make sure that your email is still easy to read and understand without any images.

Pro Tip

Eric Shanfelt mentioned that you should never use canned content. By this, he means that you shouldn’t buy content that is created in mass amounts for your industry. This copy is often general, it is not tailored to your business. Share posts that are about specific aspects of your company and avoid sharing general or bought content. Your users want to feel as though you are writing to them personally. They want the content you share with them to apply to your company and their interests.

4. Frequency: How Often Should I Send An Email?

The consensus on this varies. On one hand, you don’t want to overwhelm your email list by sending too many emails too frequently. Your subscribers are likely to get irritated, annoyed or mark you as spam and abuse. On the other hand, you don’t want to send your emails out so infrequently that users forget they’ve subscribed to your list.

They may wonder why they are receiving an email from your company if they’ve gone months without seeing a notification from you. This is also a reason that many people unsubscribe. So how frequently should you send out your email campaigns?

  • No more than weekly
  • No less than monthly
  • Every other week is optimal

You want to keep your emails short and sweet. In order to do this, you should send them out on a regular basis. Otherwise, you’ll end up cramming too much information into your messages. Keep your emails as simple updates to stay in your subscribers’ minds and avoid giving them too much information all at once.

Welcome Emails

Outside of your regular email campaign, be sure to send out welcome emails to those who are new to your subscriber list. You can include a double opt-in form in this email to ensure that your new subscribers really want to receive your emails.

Thank them for signing up and share the perks or benefits of being on your list. The welcome email should leave them excited and awaiting your next newsletter. You can create a welcome email template and schedule it to send to every new subscriber. Most email service providers allow you to automate this process.

5. Delivery: Help Your Emails Get Opened

When you put effort into your list, audience, and content you want to be sure that your emails actually get opened! This can often be one of the trickiest parts of your email campaign because it relies on getting into your users’ inbox. Avoid spam filters by using a reputable email sender.

Once your email gets into the users’ inbox, you need to give them a reason to click on your message. Use a “from name” that you know they will recognize, generally, this should be the name of your company. However, if your name is used synonymously as part of your brand, you can use your name as the “from name” You can also make the email sound more personal by using your own name and the name of your company. For example: “Karmen Clark, from ElementIQ.”

Similar to your subject line, your preview text gives context and credibility to your email campaign. Give your users incentive to open your email by creating a compelling subject line.

In Summary

  • Use a reputable email sender
  • Make emails mobile responsive
  • Use good from and subject line
  • Leverage preview text

These are the most effective ways of getting a higher open rate. When your email provider sees that your emails are getting opened, you gain credibility as a business and your emails are more likely to be seen as informative, rather than spam.

6. Analysis: What Are The Results Of Your Campaign?

Whether you use your email campaign to drive online sales, provide updates to your subscribers or promote exclusive, in-store offers there should always be a clear goal in mind. In order to improve your campaigns and determine whether or not your emails are achieving your goals, you need to analyze the results of your campaigns.

  • Look at the metrics and adjust
  • Look at any replies to your email and respond to people who write to you.
  • Analyze the ROI. The rate of return is the best way to determine whether or not your email campaign is actually driving sales.

Eric Shanfelt shared a list of statistics at the close of his webinar. These were the general numbers that determine good a good email campaign. You can use these benchmarks as a basic indicator of whether or not your email campaigns are meeting your goals and serving their purpose.

Good Email Benchmarks

  • 20% Unique open rates – If it’s less than this, your subscribers aren’t that interested. How did you build your email list? You may want to clean out your list or change your on-site opt-in process.
  • 2.5% Unique click rate – This is a good click rate. This depends on the nature of your email and your brand it only applies to a direct offer
  • 0.3% Unsubscribe rate = Good
  • 0.02% Abuse report = Anything more than this and your users are thinking “I didn’t sign up for this, it’s spam”
  • 0.45% Hard bounce rate = This is an optimal percentage for hard bounces. Anything more and you should look into cleaning your mailing list.

Note

Clean out your unresponsive emails regularly. Remove subscribers that show no activity over a year. They’re dead weight. When you send to a streamlined list you have a better response rate. Your subscribers are there because they are interested in your products and your company.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, the information from this webinar was helpful. Eric Shanfelt holds frequent webinars about various aspects of digital marketing. He is well known in the industry for his success with email marketing and e-commerce. He’s also the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. If you are interested in staying up to date with our blog posts from ElementIQ, be sure to subscribe or comment below!

Should I Hire A Marketing Agency Vs An In-House Marketing Team?

agency and in house marketing

The question will always arise at some point. Whether you are just starting out with your small business, or you own a well-established company one question remains the same: “How should I manage my digital marketing strategy?”

Digital marketing is just a simple Facebook post twice a week right?

Social media management is just one aspect of a much larger, cohesive marketing plan in action. As your business grows, you will find a greater need for a streamlined strategy.

You need online reputation management, paid ads, an email campaign, credible backlinks, social media calendars with engaging content, a functioning website with direct workflows, consistent – keyword rich content, and so much more in order to keep up to date and visible for your target audience.

You need a marketing team. But should that team be a part of your company, or should you look for a marketing agency? The following content compares both options, so you can make a more informed decision.

Consider Your Digital Marketing Needs

As a business, you have marketing requirements that are just as unique as you are. Your choice of marketing strategy will depend on your exact needs. In general, an in-house marketing employee has a very specialized set of skills.

They may be a social media specialist, copywriter, analytics professional or focused on paid search and ad words. In contrast, when you hire an agency, you are hiring a team with a variety of diverse talents.

1. Skillset: Specialized Vs Diverse

In-House Marketing

Those working in-house are keenly aware of your brand. They intimately know your goals and desired image because they eat, sleep and breathe your business. They are generally extremely specialized in the one area of marketing that you need.

It is rare to find an in-house marketing employee, well practiced in all aspects of digital marketing. Generally, there are various specializations that need to be combined for a cohesive and successful marketing strategy to take place.

Agency

Marketing agencies work with a variety of clients. All aspects of your marketing needs are met due to the sheer number of individuals working throughout the agency. When you hire an agency, there is no need to outsource work that your in-house workers can’t complete. Agencies possess a much more diverse skill set. You have separate individuals assigned to every different aspect of your marketing strategy.

The answer here comes down to asking yourself, can I afford to hire multiple people with different skillsets for my in-house marketing team? Or should I simply contact an agency where there is a talented team already assembled?

It depends entirely on your company needs. If you only need one aspect of your marketing campaign managed, you may want to hire a single in-house employee. If you are looking for a full-service marketing strategy to manage all aspects of your online presence, then it makes more sense to choose an agency.

2. Ease Of Communication

Communication is important in any business. In order for work to run smoothly, communication is key. Types of communication vary dramatically between an in-house marketing team and an agency. Both are effective and depend on your preferences as a business.

In-House Marketing

When you have an in-house marketing team, communication is relatively easy. You can get content and projects approved the same day they are created, there is very little wait time on assignments.

Agency

Due to the number of clients and client needs, it can take slightly longer for communication between clients and digital marketing agencies to occur. Generally, your agency will update you weekly or monthly, with what they are working on and what has been done. If they are waiting on your approval or want to discuss anything with you, it is done via an arranged meeting, email or quick phone call.

Both agency and in-house communications are effective, they are simply different. An in-house employee is right in the office with you, so it is easier to discuss ideas quickly. An organized marketing agency, however, will stay up to date with all communications needed in order to keep you informed.

3. Variety

Marketing is a naturally creative career. It attracts minds that are constantly thinking, busy and interested in what’s new. Marketing teams need to effectively make a brand seem interesting, and unless you’re selling fidget spinners, it’s easy for creative minds to get bored.

In-House Marketing

An in-house marketing team is solely devoted to you, your company and your brand. They are always thinking about ways to promote your image and products online.

As beneficial as this may be ( they intimately know your brand) it can also lead to a plateau in creativity and new ideas. Your in-house team can lack variety or get stuck in a rut. This can lead to a lower rate of employee stability. You may see your in-house employees jump between jobs due to sheer boredom.

Agency

Your agency has several other unique client accounts that they work with daily. Their minds are fresh as they navigate new topics at all times. It leaves very little room for boredom. It is also possible that they have similar clients to your company, depending on how specialized the agency is.

They may focus on one sector of business (such as marketing just for dentists or real estate) Agencies are working with several different clients related to your account, which makes it much easier for them to keep on top of industry news and trends. They are always motivated and rarely bored by what they do due to the variety of topics they get to work with each day.

Factor In The Costs

Cost is the final factor that should be considered when making any decision surrounding your business. Is it cheaper to choose an in-house employee or an agency? Again, the cost will depend entirely on your needs. But here is a general overview.

In-House Marketing

Initially, it may seem less expensive to hire a single employee for your marketing strategy. However it is a long hiring process, you need to ensure that this person fits in well with the rest of your company.

There are unforeseen costs that can arise after hiring, for example, you could hire a social media manager but then realize that you also need a paid search specialist to complement the social campaigns.

When you hire in-house you also need to consider the costs of adding a new team member to your office. Aside from salary, you need to budget for an office space, computers and programs that they may need. You may even find you need to pay for extra training if your in-house employee has a specialized skill set and needs to branch out.

Agency

When you hire an agency there is a pre-set price in place. There is an entire team of talented professionals that combine their skills to cater to all aspects of your marketing campaign. An agency pays for its own software, tools, and tech. They manage their own training and ensure their employees are up to date with education on any new programs and software.

Determine the annual investment you want to make in digital marketing and meet with agencies and in-house candidates alike.

Choose What Works Best For You

In the end, the choice is yours. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option. It is a good idea to meet with marketing agencies and potential in-house employees as well. Some businesses even settle on a mixture of both. Whatever the need may be, it is essential to have a prominent online marketing strategy for your business in the digital era.

In order to gain visibility, leads, and sales, you need to consider your businesses personal goals and how they can best be achieved. At ElementIQ, we offer a full-service digital marketing strategy, covering everything from paid search to content creation and promotion. Let us know if you want to learn more about working with a marketing agency!

Have you worked with a marketing agency before? Do you have an in-house marketing team? Share your thoughts and insight in the comments below!