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Written by Caroline Cox on Nov 12

How to build brand trust and loyalty with customers and prospects through authenticity

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why owning mistakes is key
  • How to respond to positive and negative reviews
  • Tips for creating trust-building content
  • Ways to showcase the people behind your company

Keeping it real. No filter. Cutting to the chase. When it comes to marketing, we’re living in the age of authenticity.

Consumer surveys show that customers reward the brands they consider to be authentic by purchasing from them over others, according to Inc. These days, most people are digitally savvy enough to know when they’re being sold to. And most may not even mind, as long as the messages they’re receiving are honest.

This begs the question: How can companies build trust in this day and age? Digital marketing is a great place to start.

1. Create content that aims to educate

Content is one of the most effective ways you can foster trust for your brand. Not only does it allow your company’s authentic voice and tone to shine, but it can be used to show your audience that you want to help them, not just sell to them.

While driving sales is one of the big foundations of a digital marketing plan, it shouldn’t always be top of mind when you’re brainstorming blog or other content ideas. Instead, your content should aim to:

  • Answer common questions your clients and prospects have
  • Touch on each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Speak directly to your chosen persona
  • Position your brand as a thought-leader
  • Be easy to read and digest
  • Feature tactical advice and actionable tips

Too much company-facing content can be a turn-off to prospects. Instead, focus on your industry, whether that means expert advice, trend breakdowns, or something in between. Put yourself in your personas’ shoes: what content can you produce to show them you have their best interests in mind?

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

By connecting with your prospects and clients online, you turn individual buyers into a community. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Respond to your reviews

It can be tempting to write up an enthusiastic “thank you” message in response to a positive review — while leaving the negative ones alone to languish. Alternatively, some brands choose to only respond to their negative reviews to offer a rebuttal. 

Customers care more about brand reputation than ever before, according to a survey from Trustpilot. So it’s no surprise to see business experts agree that, if you want to build trust for a brand, it’s wise to respond to all of your reviews.

Thanking someone for a positive review makes the person feel seen and appreciated. Negative reviews are, of course, a bit more touchy. Your type of response should depend on the review itself. If the person had a bad customer service experience, it’s a good idea to respond apologetically. You can also offer up your contact info if the reviewer wants to continue the conversation privately. 

If the issue was a simple mix-up or misunderstanding on the reviewer’s part, you can point this out and, again, offer to continue the conversation privately. 

If the reviewer is a current or former client whose contact info you already have, proactively reach out and try to smooth things over. Best-case scenario: They realize it was an honest error, and update or remove their negative feedback.

3. Start (and participate in) industry conversations

The brands that know how to properly leverage digital marketing to build trust know that it’s all about connection. By authentically connecting with your prospects and clients, you turn individual buyers into a community. 

Starting and joining in on conversations is a great way to foster this community connection in your industry. Social media is often where these conversations are taking place, so get involved! Participate in live chats on Twitter, join relevant professional LinkedIn and Facebook groups, and use popular industry hashtags on Instagram. 

Being part of the ongoing conversations in your field shows you’re paying attention, and it can help grow your company’s organic reach.

4. Use badges and client testimonials to your advantage

Which seems more trustworthy to you: A brand talking about how great they are, or one that lets their clients and business partners do the talking for them?

When it comes to authenticity, it’s better to show rather than tell. Leverage positive reviews and happy client feedback by adding these attributed quotes to your website (as long as it’s cool with the source, of course).

And while you’re at it, don’t be afraid to show off any special accreditations, certifications, badges, or awards your business has accrued, too. Third-party validation makes your brand look trustworthy and helps you stand out. You’ve earned the props, why not share them?

5. Partner with other authoritative brands

Working in a silo can only get you so far. Look into opportunities to partner with other brands, whether for a content swap, joint webinar, or a preferred vendor program. The companies you seek out should ideally be in your industry and have similar target audiences without being competitors.

Build up a relationship with the people behind these brands. You can offer to share their content with your audience, for starters. For the best chance of creating a relationship, reach out in a way that highlights the benefit for them. 

Particularly with more established brands, you may have to reach out to a few before getting a response. Because of this, it’s good to already have a plan or vision in mind for how you could team up in a way that’s beneficial for both of your businesses.

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

If you want people to trust your company, then security should be a top priority. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Make sure your site is secure

Quick ways to lose brand trust: A client getting spam emails from your company or realizing you sold their info to a third party without their consent. If you want people to trust your company, then security should be a top priority.

Having a secure domain (that begins with https:// instead of http://) is a clear indicator that someone can feel safe submitting their personal info via a form on your website. If users log into your site for any reason, make sure you’ve got the proper settings in place to prevent hacking. 

Lastly, if you accept payments through your site or platform, make sure you’re adhering to PCI compliance guidelines (a set of security standards that help keep payment info secure). This will bring you and your clients peace of mind.

7. Own up to your mistakes

Let’s be real: sh*t happens. Sometimes websites crash, broken links end up in blogs, or newsletters get sent out at the wrong time. Instead of trying to cover up a mistake, just own it, apologize (if necessary), fix things, and move on.

Particularly in competitive fields (and these days, most of them are), it can be scary to admit you screwed up. But research shows that people value transparency and the humanizing humbleness that comes with a company saying, “sorry.” No one’s perfect, after all.

8. Give your team time in the spotlight

It’s not just search algorithms that favor sites with human elements (bylines, bios, headshots) over those without. Putting faces to your company reminds people that there are real-live humans behind your product or service. 

Your team is something that makes your business unique — so let them shine! 

A few ways you can highlight employees include:

  • Having them host video webinars or a branded podcast
  • Posting a spotlight series on social media that features different team members with their photo, name, job title, and a fun fact
  • Including a group photo or individual headshots on your website’s About Us page

9. Make your company mission clear

Sometimes it pays to get back to basics. Think about why your business was started in the first place. What’s your mission? What need does your company aim to fill? What problems are you trying to solve?

Mission-driven branding will always come off more authentic than gimmicky ads or sensationalist copy. Keeping in mind why the company was created in the first place can help you stay on course and show people that your intentions are good.

HawkSEM blog: 9 Ways Digital Marketing Builds Brand Trust

Customers care more about brand reputation than ever before. (Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

More and more people are looking to buy from businesses they can trust. As competition becomes more fierce, leveraging your company as a trusted source can be what makes your offering stand out from the crowd.

Now that you’ve got the trust thing down, let’s chat about how we can take your digital marketing to the next level.

 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Jane Serra on Nov 8

Here’s how your e-commerce brand can ensure that this holiday season is your best and (most profitable) yet — while surviving the end-of-year rush.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to leverage the busy season
  • Ways to make holiday e-commerce email campaigns work for you
  • Tips for beefing up your PPC ads
  • Ideas for optimizing your product pages

As the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season picks up and Q4 quickly comes to a close, you want to end the year not with a jingle, but with a bang.

According to Deloitte’s 2019 retail holiday survey, shoppers are expected to spend nearly $1,500 per household during this holiday season. On top of that, those surveyed expect to spend 59% of their holiday budget shopping online.

Even if the weather outside is frightful, a boost in holiday e-commerce sales is always (you guessed it) delightful. So, how can you make the most of the seasonal madness? We’re glad you asked: start with these e-commerce holiday tips that’ll help you turn sales season into growing traffic and a better bottom line.

HawkSEM blog: 10 Ways to Take Holiday E-Commerce Sales to the Next Level

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest days of the year for most online retailers. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Create a personalized shopping experience

Page journey tracking (or what Google calls flow visualization) can identify a customer’s cursor at every stage of the shopping process through checkout. Not only can this help you identify strengths and weaknesses on your site, but you can use these details to reveal different information and products to different customers based on their browsing history and content interaction. 

Add a call to action (CTA), reduce page length, or insert an exit-intent popup to help engage the customer more effectively. You can also re-engage repeat customers through remarketing ads that include similar products or special offers like a discount or free shipping.

2. Leverage peak promotions

If it seems like every other company is blowing up ad space and social feeds with holiday catchphrases and Santa Claus memes, that’s probably because they are. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are two of the busiest days of the year for most online retailers, with the month of December not far behind. 

Google Trends suggests people begin to holiday shop in September and are in full purchasing mode by mid-October. This means it’s wise to form a strategy early so it can be ready to roll before the big buying push — not afterward. To make promotions as effective as possible, figure out when peak purchasing times are and design campaigns to be released ahead of time.

3. Prioritize customer service

As the number of shoppers and purchases increase, so do the questions. 

Here are just a few FAQs to be prepared for:

  • How many days does it take to ship a product out?
  • Are there any additional promos or deals going on?
  • Will it be here by the holidays?
  • How can I find or track my purchase?

Adding an FAQ page to your website makes it easy for shoppers to find the info they’re looking for, and it gives your team members a link they can send to those with the same questions.

However simple you make accessing this page, some shoppers will likely still reach out in an email or through social media messages. In some cases, shoppers will even want to talk to an actual human being and will make a phone call. To handle the increase in these types of customer questions during the holidays, have multiple communication options available to customers. 

Pro tip: While you can hire a seasonal elf or two to handle the phones, a chatbot might also be necessary for those nocturnal shoppers who need help with purchases in the middle of the night.

4. Create holiday e-commerce email campaigns

Email is one of the most effective marketing methods you can leverage when it comes to holiday e-commerce strategies. Cyber Monday drove $7.9 billion dollars in e-commerce sales in 2018, according to Big Commerce. Furthermore, Shopify reports that approximately 24% of those sales were through email.

Holiday email marketing lets you meet your customers and potential buyers where they already are — but to stand out in an overflowing inbox, you’ve got to get creative. 

When crafting your emails, we recommend you:

  • Keep the message short and include eye-catching, themed visuals
  • Create a “holiday countdown” email that tells recipients how much time they have left to place an order for overnight delivery, free shipping, etc.
  • Always include a clear CTA that leads back to your site
  • Add a limited-time offer (LTO) — customers are more likely to take action when they know the deal won’t be around for long
  • Segment your email lists so you can send the most relevant products to each group
  • Optimize for mobile, as the percentage of people purchasing straight from their phone continues to rise

Is your company participating in any philanthropic initiatives during the holidays? Whether it’s donating to a nonprofit organization or volunteering, highlight this in your email. Consumers tend to favor brands that give back over those that don’t. 

Pro tip: Plan to launch your holiday campaign before Black Friday. Data shows that Thanksgiving Day is actually the fastest-growing day of cyber week for e-commerce sales.

HawkSEM blog: 10 Ways to Take Holiday E-Commerce Sales to the Next Level

Customers value sustainability more and more — and it can affect a purchase decision. (Image via Unsplash)

5. Focus on video ads

Video ads on sites like YouTube and platforms like Instagram’s IGTV can produce better results than a text advertisement in some instances.

The current generation of shoppers mostly prefers video ads, and this type of ad tends to be a better way to engage consumers. Live-action features like Instagram Live also make it easy for e-commerce brands to get traction through promotional videos.

6. Use ad extensions and sitelinks

Because pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns encourage targeted traffic, they’re on the top of most e-commerce brands’ wish lists. When your company ad comes up, give customers the option to click on sales products, special holiday gifts, bonus offers, and similar promotions. 

Using ad extensions and sitelinks gives you the chance to add more context to the ads you publish. When a brand is searched for on Google, sitelinks can appear below the ad’s main URL. Similarly, Google Ads can include ad extensions that provide more info about whatever your ad is about through copy.

These sitelinks and extensions reduce the amount of work shoppers have to do, which can encourage them to click the link. You can also use review ad extensions to mention price reductions, special holiday shipping information, and more.

7. Target the eco-consumer

Customers value sustainability more and more — and it can affect a purchase decision. Get creative by highlighting any eco-conscious efforts you have at your company (hopefully you have a few). It may be the tipping point that gets someone to choose your product over a competitor’s. 

Consider (and following through with) the following to comfort shoppers concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases:

  • Reduced packing material
  • Re-usable boxes
  • Recycled (or recyclable) packing materials
  • Eco-friendly package transportation
  • Packing a multiple-item-order in as few packages as possible

8. Create a holiday gift guide (or related content)

Who doesn’t love a gift guide? Adding a fun branded gift guide into your email newsletter can be a highly effective way to grab the attention of shoppers and help boost sales. It’s safe to guess that subscribers are already familiar with and fans of your brand, so these guides connect with consumers through convenience as well. 

It saves shoppers from having to scroll through page after page or list after list of older or less relevant products and showcases the new merchandise or services alongside (ideally) special promos and ways to save.

If you only have one or a few products or a gift guide just doesn’t mesh with your brand, you can also consider creating holiday-specific content, such as a gated guide or e-book that provides value to the consumer and incorporates your product.

9. Focus on review sections

When 91% of customers who browse internet products read reviews, you know they’re incredibly valuable. Online shoppers tend to pass over or red-flag products with no reviews or too many negative ones. 

You can beef up your credibility by adding review sections, making them more prominent on your product pages, or asking previous satisfied customers to provide reviews via automated emails.

10. Ensure your site is speedy

Oh, what fun it is to shop on a site with an average load time of under two seconds! (…Not.)

Radware found that after three seconds, 57% of site visitors left a page they were unable to interact with. Simply having a fast load time can double traffic — no sleigh required.

Site speed can also influence repeat business, as 79% of shoppers who had a poor impression of website performance are unlikely to purchase from or revisit that site, according to Kissmetrics.

HawkSEM blog: 10 Ways to Take Holiday E-Commerce Sales to the Next Level

Deck your site with holiday cheer and watch the sales grow. (Image via Unsplash)

The takeaway

The holidays should be a time of cheer — not a time to run yourself and your team ragged trying to keep up. Hopefully, these tips can put you at ease and show you how your e-commerce digital marketing holiday campaign can be your most successful yet. 

Now that you’re excited (or at least a little less Grinch-like) about the holidays, it’s time to deck your site with holiday cheer and watch the sales grow.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Nov 4

5 strategies to lower CPA for SaaS companies while keeping sales high

Here, you’ll find:

  • Why PPC isn’t the only way to keep CPA low
  • How content, SEO, and landing pages can help lower CPA
  • Why audience targeting is crucial (and not just on Google)
  • Reasons why you should also measure LTV

Sure, a productive tech company’s office needs things like pens, paper, and sticky notes. (Oh, and snacks — don’t forget the snacks). But at the end of the day, digital rules all. It’s what lives at the core of these businesses — and that includes software as a service (SaaS). 

Whatever their market and target audience, SaaS brands create software to solve a problem. Because of this, it’s likely that digital marketing and paid search have been part of your core business from the start. But, no spoiler alert here: as your business changes, so should your digital marketing strategies.

One metric you’re likely familiar with in your SaaS paid search strategy is the cost per acquisition (CPA). Also called cost per action, CPA is defined as an online advertising payment model in which payment is based solely on qualifying actions such as sales or registrations. 

Many SaaS companies only associate PPC or paid search with improving cost per acquisition (CPA). And while you’ll find a wealth of information linking the two, it’s worth noting that these things are not mutually inclusive. 

If you’re a SaaS company focused on CPA over cost per lead (CPL), you’re already ahead of the game. Many businesses get too hung up on low CPL. But even if an ad doesn’t bring in a ton of leads, if the conversion rate is high, you know you’re doing something right.

Lowering your CPA is a broad-based task. PPC is just one tool available to help you accomplish this. As you’ll see, there are other digital marketing strategies that you can also leverage that’ll help you bring in new business without breaking the bank.

HawkSEM blog: Digital Marketing Strategies to Lower SaaS Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

You don’t need to overhaul your content in order to make it a solid tactic for attracting new, high-quality leads. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Leverage good ‘ole SEO

With new online marketing trends cropping up nearly every day, it can be easy to overlook the effectiveness of good old-fashioned search engine optimization (SEO). 

This isn’t meant to downplay the complexity of this style of marketing. Rather, it’s to remind you that you don’t need to overhaul your content in order to make it a solid tactic for attracting new, high-quality leads.  

By simply understanding search engine algorithms and how to mold your SaaS content to better accommodate them, you eliminate the need to rely solely on developing new advertising campaigns. By learning to master the intricacies of SEO, you can enjoy benefits such as:

  • ‘Evergreen’ sustainability
  • Greater ROI
  • More leads and sign-ups
  • Free or inexpensive traffic increases
  • Increased authority in your industry or field

For SaaS companies, in particular, gating content is a great way to generate leads. However, it doesn’t do a whole lot for your SEO since the content isn’t publicly available without filling out a form. Content marketing can still be a big boon for your biz, though (we’ll get to that in the next section), whether or not it’s indexed for SEO.

2. Focus on quality content marketing

In the world of internet marketing, if SEO is what brings them in, then good content is what keeps them around. Rather than understanding how the search engine ranking system works and manipulating it to work in your favor, content marketing is about understanding your customer base and tailoring your content to them. 

However, knowing your customers entails a lot more than just having their names and email addresses on file. You need to understand what really makes them tick when it comes to doing business, such as their:

  • Buyer personas and backgrounds
  • Intent
  • Problems and pain points
  • Expectations
  • Values

What makes SaaS content marketing such a cost-effective method at improving your CPA is that you already possess most of the information needed to improve your content. A thorough analysis of your sales history and the feedback provided by customers will give you a wealth of information on what content and topics really hook customers. 

It’s also worth taking the time to see how your competition stacks up in the content marketing department. Which topics are they outranking you on, and how are they doing it? Identify content gaps and see how you can leverage them for your own brand’s benefit.

By highlighting new trends and innovating ways to help your audience, you can start building the relationship and brand trust. See what you can learn from your competitors in the SaaS space, then determine how you can beat them at their own game. (In your own voice and without plagiarizing, of course.)

Add into that a detailed analysis of keyword trends and their conversion rates, and content marketing allows you a virtual sneak peek inside of customers’ heads without them even knowing it.

Understanding just how to use SEO and content marketing to bring new visitors to your site is key if you hope to see high conversion rates from your organic traffic.

3. Optimize your landing pages

In case it wasn’t already apparent, we’re big fans of landing pages around here. That’s because we know it’s a solid way to take a user from an organic search result, paid search ad, or marketing promotion straight to a specific page on your website with a clear call to action.

An optimized landing page can be a major key to your digital marketing success, particularly when the competition is stiff and the cost-per-click (CPC) is high. A few ways to ensure yours are optimized include:

  • A killer headline
  • A consistent message
  • A mobile-friendly experience
  • A thoughtful design

Experts know that designing your landing pages to have a specific purpose and drive a particular action will help boost your conversion rate.

Plus, a lot of SaaS lead capture campaigns represent just the starting point. Once they’re in, you can work your lead through an email drip campaign or additional display remarketing that serves up something like a free whitepaper download. These follow-up efforts are natural areas to iterate on and optimize.

HawkSEM blog: Digital Marketing Strategies to Lower SaaS Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA)

Demographic targeting and ads on social media platforms are great methods for meeting your prospects where they are. (Image via Unsplash)

4. Find your audience

Google’s audience tools are great for targeting users in the consideration stage. You want to get your SaaS product in front of people who are looking to buy what you’re selling, are similar to an existing audience you have or are researching one of your competitors. 

Using Google Ads audience targeting to pinpoint or even just “observe” these users can be highly valuable and help you lower your CPA. Just don’t forget to perform regular testing so you can be sure you’re aiming in the right places. 

But this doesn’t just apply to Google. Demographic targeting and ads on the main social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) are great methods for meeting your prospects where they are.

Connect with these users through offering high-value content that shows you’re a thought leader and leads them right to (you guessed it) an eye-catching landing page.

5. Don’t forget about lifetime value (LTV)

CPA is no doubt a crucial metric for SaaS companies. But to get a full picture of your digital marketing ROI, you should also be looking at LTV. 

Many SaaS companies operate on a subscription or annual contract level, meaning the transaction isn’t a one-and-done deal. Looking beyond the initial CPA can tell you much more about the actual value and ROI of your efforts. 

For example, if your customer refers two other businesses who end up purchasing your product, you’ve just saved money by not having to use marketing to gain that business. The LTV can also be affected if your customer re-ups their contract for 2 years at once. 

The Balance Small Business explains that a simple way to break down this number is through the following formula:

LTV = Lifetime Customer Revenue – Lifetime Customer Costs

The takeaway

For SaaS companies, there’s no shortage of data — the key lies in translating all of that noise into a cohesive and useful narrative. 

Combine these marketing strategies with a successful PPC campaign, and you can immediately see your site quickly transform into a powerful (and efficient) sales tool. 

We’ve helped plenty of clients strengthen their online presence and achieve a greater ROI from their marketing dollars. Looking to join the ranks? Let’s chat.

This post was originally published in September 2014 and was updated in November 2019.

 

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 25

Highlighting 5 HawkSEM clients who hit the big time through major funding or IPO

Here, you’ll find:

  • Lessons learned from some of our accomplished clients
  • The path these companies took to succeed
  • Why there’s more than one way to define “success”
  • How you can put their tactics into practice 

We love to see our clients go on to accomplish incredible things, from awards and funding rounds to acquisitions and IPOs. 

Of course, we can’t attribute all of these brand successes solely to our partnership (though hopefully, we’ve helped!). So we dug a little deeper into a handful of these companies to see what lessons we can learn from them.  

By emulating these successful brands, you can be that much close to achieving similar greatness. Below, we’ve highlighted a few best practices you can follow at your own company.

Zephyr prioritized growth and innovation without skimping on customer experience — and reaped the rewards as a result. (Image via Unsplash)

Always be iterating

Based in San Francisco’s Bay Area, Zephyr is an end-to-end test management company. Since 2007, they’ve made a name for themselves through providing agile testing software to thousands of enterprise teams in 100 countries around the globe. 

In 2016, Zephyr announced they had received $31 million in Series B funding. The funding was invested by Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm Frontier Capital, which focuses exclusively on software and technology-enabled business services brands. As a fast-growing product, Zephyr poised itself for this investment by gaining a reputation not just for appealing to a wide variety of industries, but for providing visibility and iterating quickly to meet customer needs. 

We worked to help Zephyr get proper conversion tracking in place (our audit revealed that their tracking was off). By improving their campaign structure, tightening their keywords for higher intent, and rolling out new ad copy that improved their quality score, the company was able to test innovative campaigns melded with offline marketing assets for a tailored digital experience. 

Zephyr is a great example of a company that prioritized growth and innovation without skimping on customer experience. As a result, they reaped the rewards. 

“Doubling our conversion rate was just a dream until you guys showed us the way.” – Zephyr

Don’t be afraid to be first

Back in 2007, it’s safe to say that the business of video for companies and brands was nowhere near where it is now. But that didn’t stop the brains behind Panopto from cornering the market on what’s been called “expert learning” videos. 

For nearly 10 years and with just $8 million in total investment, Panopto continued to build their brand up and amassed a roster of hundreds of enterprise and academic customers. Then, in 2016, the company announced that they’d secured more than $42 million in minority-growth funding led by Sterling Partners. This funding has helped them grow while remaining steadfast in their field, even as more competitors crop up.

We helped Panopto ramp up their rate of acquired users per month while lowering the average user acquisition cost. We also revamped their remarketing efforts with custom designs and upgraded display assets. This allowed them to run critical campaigns related to integrations with which they were compatible. This resulted in a boosted brand resonance in the digital marketplace that helped them win users over their competitors.

Another key advantage Panopto has over the competition? Those years of experience when they bet on themselves by doing what few others were. 

Try to remain agile

In 2017, monitoring software development company AppDynamics scrapped their previous plans to get an initial public offering (or IPO, making them a public company that could raise capital from public investors). Instead, they were acquired by networking hardware company Cisco for a cool $3.7 billion. 

AppDynamics’s software helps big-name companies like Expedia quickly catch any issues or bugs on their mobile apps or websites. This is a crucial need when a few bad reviews can hurt your bottom line. These days, TechCrunch reports that the brand is thriving and expanding. 

During our time together, we restructured a good number of AppDynamics’s key campaigns and helped manage bids that balanced their costs and growth. We also rolled out multiple rounds of keyword expansion and helped improve their quality scores and clickthrough rates (CTRs) through additional ad types.

When you look at AppDynamics, It just goes to show that remaining nimble, particularly in the tech field, can pay off in dividends — even if you have to quickly change course.

“Having such a large account gave me tunnel vision. Hawk’s expertise helped immensely. I couldn’t reach these goals without you.” – AppDynamics

Thanks to impressive profits and demolishing growth goals, Datadog was confident that IPO was the way to go. (Image via Unsplash)

Keep the big picture in mind

Datadog is a cloud-based monitoring and analytics software-as-a-service (SaaS) company based in NYC. They help brands improve performance and user experience through leveraging data and other tools.

Just before Datadog IPOed in fall 2019, Cisco Systems offered them a $7 billion buyout. Instead of taking the cash, they decided to go public. Thanks to impressive profits and demolishing growth goals, they were confident that IPO was the way to go. 

Turns out, their gut instincts were right. Shortly after their opening, Datadog shares rose 39%. It can be scary to walk away from a big-dollar buyout, but the team knew they had even greater goals they wanted to achieve.

During our partnership, we helped Datadog create new landing page assets that greatly improved performance. We also set up proper conversion tracking while helping them scale their budget efficiently and effectively. We’re proud to say that we partnered with them during a stage of critical growth for their company.

Meet your target audience where they are

Mobile Data Labs’s MileIQ began with a mission to be the most seamless and stress-free mileage logging mobile app. The company automated the mile-logging process through their precise recording, one-swipe classifications for business or personal travel, and special features that let you customize your log for more accurate deductions and reimbursements.

By putting a big focus on mobile and SEO, MileIQ put in the work that got them in front of their target audience. After multiple successful funding rounds, MileIQ’s parent company was acquired by Microsoft in 2015. At the time of the acquisition, MileIQ had reportedly amassed more than 1 million clients and had been the top-grossing finance app in Apple’s App Store for 20 months. 

To beat out the competition, the minds behind MileIQ knew they needed to make the logging process as streamlined as possible. They needed as much exposure to their target audience as well. The HawkSEM team worked with MileIQ to improve their organic footprint and site traffic. 

We focused on elements like featured snippets — where you rise in search engine rankings by answering common search questions concisely — while optimizing their website and expanding MileIQ’s global reach to align with new national and international markets. Exposure begets exposure, and the snowball effect of MileIQ’s growing traffic led to their star continuing to rise.

The takeaway

We’re passionate about helping our clients take their digital marketing to the next level. Through things like a refined strategy, better targeting, increased organization, and creative copy, we aim to help our clients grow and achieve greatness.

Want to know how we can help you do the same? Let’s chat. 

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Caroline Cox on Oct 23

7 ways that a digital marketing agency can help take your in-house team to the next level

Here, you’ll find:

  • How agencies improve in-house marketing teams
  • The added benefits agencies bring with them
  • Ways agencies can align multiple in-house teams
  • How agencies can help your programs improve faster

Whether you’re a one-person marketing master or have dozens of colleagues on your team, managing a digital marketing program encompasses many factors. From paid search campaigns and optimization to content creation, evolving industry practices, and more, it can feel like you’ve got several plates spinning all at once.

That’s where partnering with an agency comes in. Not only can an agency help you keep those plates balanced, but they can juggle other aspects you hadn’t even thought about. 

Read on to find out about the 7 main ways agencies and in-house marketing teams can come together to produce greater results than the sum of their parts.

1. A broader view of your program

There’s a lot to be said for seeing both the forest and the trees. Being able to see the big picture without letting details slips through the cracks is perhaps an underrated skill — but it’s one that many agencies know well. 

One of the biggest benefits of partnering with an agency is how it offers a broader view of your program as a whole, including its strengths and weaknesses.

It makes sense: when you’re part of an in-house marketing team, it’s easy to get tunnel vision when it comes to your digital marketing efforts. Agencies offer an outsider perspective and can address blind spots you didn’t even know existed.

HawkSEM blog: How Working with an Agency Improves Your In-House Team

Partnering with an agency means you basically have access to a whole additional team of marketing pros. (Image via Unsplash)

2. Combined years of marketing industry experience

Add up the years of experience your team members have. By working with an agency, you can instantly double or even triple that number — not too shabby, right? 

Partnering with an agency means you basically have access to a whole additional team of marketing pros. Depending on the company, some of your account managers may have worked in the industry for several years in different roles across various industries to boot. 

By combining your knowledgeable team with another knowledgeable team, you’ve got that much more experience that will no doubt come in handy, especially when changes arise and tough decisions need to be made.

3. Insider access to the top platforms

Oftentimes, agencies have developed partnerships with professionals at different platforms, from Google and Bing to Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. 

Not only do these partnerships help potentially expedite issues when troubleshooting, but they can keep you ahead of the game when it comes to platform updates and news. 

And since agencies generally have higher management status with the likes of search engine brands, they can often get access to beta testing before other companies. This means they’re sometimes testing out new automation and algorithms that could help your business down the road.

4. Less time spent troubleshooting and testing

You should always be honing your digital marketing strategy. Not only does that take time, but it involves brainstorming, testing, data gathering, and analyzing, among other tasks.

An agency can benefit your in-house team because they’ve been there. Depending on how many clients they’ve worked with, they’ve likely got the experience that will help fine-tune and iterate your program faster. 

What this means for you: less time spent on what isn’t working, and more time on what is. 

5. Keeping an eye on your competitors

Remember that tunnel vision we talked about? While you may not want to admit it, it’s easy for this to happen when it comes to your brand versus your competitors, too. And it’s understandable: you’re trying to make things happen for your company, so you don’t want to spend too much time on others.

But knowing what your competitors are up to helps you stay in the game and, more importantly, not fall behind. A good agency will keep an eye on your competition, from the keywords they’re bidding on and the content they’re creating to approaches you could adopt for your own success.

HawkSEM blog: How Working with an Agency Improves Your In-House Team

Whereas a consultant is often one person, agencies may have 3-4 people working on your account. (Image by Unsplash)

6. A new set of resources

If your business is trying to decide whether to partner with a consultant or an agency, this is another big differentiator. Whereas a consultant is often one person, agencies may have 3-4 people working on your account.

Agencies often come with experts in fields like search engine optimization and search engine marketing. But many also have on-staff developers, graphic designers, and content writers you can also leverage.

7. Connecting marketing to other teams

Your marketing team isn’t the only group that stands to benefit from an agency partnership. It can also help align other departments in your organization, resulting in better communication and a more streamlined process overall.

By implementing lead scoring, for example, an agency can create a more unified relationship between sales and marketing by putting more emphasis on the quality of a conversion. Or by putting cleaner data into your CRM, you can give your e-commerce procurement or fulfillment teams a better understanding of order volumes to prepare for in the future.  

The Takeaway

Partnering with a marketing agency doesn’t mean that your in-house team has failed or isn’t up to snuff. Actually, the opposite is true. 

By adding the additional layer of knowledge, insight, and hands-on action that agencies provide, you can see a significant boost in how your current SEM and SEO programs perform. 

HawkSEM would love to be that game-changing agency for you — want to know more? Let’s chat.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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Written by Jane Serra on Oct 11

Rapidly changing technology, new strategies, and advanced algorithms make digital marketing an ever-changing landscape for small-to-midsize companies.

When you’re managing this side of the business, you’re likely stretched pretty thin as well.

If you’ve been barely keeping your head above water with your SMB’s digital marketing tasks, we’re here to help! We’ve gathered some tricks of the trade that can help boost your following and grow your business as we head into the next decade and beyond.

Here, you’ll find:

  • Ideas on how to focus your content
  • CTA tips
  • Social media best practices
  • Optimization strategies tailored to SMBs

1. Make shareable, quality content

High-quality content that speaks authentically to your target persona (or personas) is a critical part of your SMB marketing, no matter your industry. It can help promote your brand by attracting website visitors, building a strong relationship with your target audience, and even boosting revenue. 

Plus, creating a strong resource library helps make your SMB stand out from the competition as a trusted thought leader. These are just a few ways you can make content shareable:

  • Make it easy to find — and read: When publishing content, use bullet points and headers so visitors can scan the content quickly (yes, things are about to get meta). It’s also wise to ensure your website and blog are search engine-friendly through tactics such as:

– H1 and H2 tags for headers and subheaders
– Metadata for categories, titles, and descriptions
– Alt tags for images and video
– Both internal (linking elsewhere on your site) and external links in the copy
– Short, easy-to-digest paragraphs

  • Focus on educating and helping your audience: Shareable content is often about solving a problem, answering a question, or evoking emotion. The best content is helpful and empathetic, not merely self-promotional. Do what you can to offer useful tips and insights with tangible actions and an immediate value. When you have content that resonates with your customers and prospects, sharing can skyrocket.
  • Include share buttons: This may seem obvious, but one of the quickest ways to make your content more shareable is by adding share buttons. These are tools you can embed into your posts that allow the reader to share the content on social media with just a few clicks. 

2. Choose thoughtful visuals

You don’t need the budget of a Fortune 500 company to have sleek imagery on your website, landing pages, and social media profiles. Visitors don’t always read every word — they often scan the page. Images that are relevant and eye-catching typically perform better than text alone. 

Inserting well-designed infographics and high-quality images into your content not only makes it more easily digestible, but it also looks more authoritative, cohesive, and professional.

Pro tip: Need a simple infographic or logo designed but don’t have the funds for a full-time designer? Websites like Fiverr and Upwork offer a global network of freelancers, so you can connect with someone who can work with your timeline and budget.

HawkSEM blog: SMB Digital Marketing: 8 Tricks of the Trade

Consider including more than one CTA button on your homepage — and make sure it pops on the page. (Image via Unsplash)

3. Make calls-to-action (CTAs) clear

When you’re an SMB, every lead could be a potentially game-changing sale. Because of this, it’s crucial to nail your CTAs. A big part of that is ensuring your visitors understand what you want them to do. You can do that in a few ways, including:

  • Adding a call to action, an invitation to share, and a place to comment on your content
  • Considering pop-ups that invite a user to subscribe to your newsletter
  • Including more than one CTA button on your homepage — and making sure it pops on the page

4. Use social media strategically

Perhaps unsurprisingly, social media is a must for SMBs looking to increase your brand’s visibility. But experienced marketers know you can’t simply post your content and expect to rack up likes and followers. Sure, social media allows you to connect and interact directly with your customers and prospects, but it should be a two-way conversation.

To see and be seen by your target audience, you need to be where they are. Include relevant hashtags in your posts, follow customers and prospects, and seek out industry conversations and live chats that you can add your insight to.

5. Go behind the scenes

One of the benefits of being an SMB: less red tape. That means that if you’re releasing a new product or launching a new brand, you can share behind-the-scenes glimpses and stories without having to wait for approval from half-a-dozen execs. (Though, depending on your role, you should pass the content by your manager to ensure what you’re sharing isn’t embargoed or not ready to be public.)

Showing and talking about what you’re working on as a company humanizes your brand and offers a level of transparency you don’t often get from bigger brands. This also lets you showcase your passion for the product or services you offer, and invites people to join your journey. Lastly, it gives them an incentive to follow along and see when your product is officially unveiled and released.

HawkSEM blog: SMB Digital Marketing: 8 Tricks of the Trade

Save money and potentially find your biggest fans by partnering with a micro-influencers you come across in your niche. (Image via Unsplash)

6. Engage micro-influencers

Did you know that micro-influencers reportedly have seven times the engagement rate on Instagram as influencers with larger audiences? These types of online influencers generally have 1,000 to 10,000 followers, and they’ll often partner with brands to showcase their offerings in exchange for goods or a fee. 

Save money and potentially find your biggest fans by partnering with micro-influencers you come across in your niche, if they exist. These online personalities can target specific communities more effectively, bringing your brand to the attention of the precise customers you want.

7. Embrace video

In a world where the attention span of website visitors has shrunk to about 8 seconds (according to Digital Information World), video content can be an effective way to attract and capture your audience’s interest in a snap. Here are some things to consider when planning a video strategy:

  • Plan out your purpose: Concentrate on the purpose of the video and how it’ll be used. Are you using it as an educational tool? Building brand awareness? Your goal can help determine where you want consumers to view the video, whether it’s on your website, YouTube channel, or another platform. Customize it to fit both your target audience and the location.
  • Find the human element: Unless it’s a commercial, the video shouldn’t simply be all about your brand. Video is a powerful medium and most effective when focused on the human part of the narrative. Create stories with a clear idea, passionate message, or practical how-to that shows what makes your brand unique.
  • High-quality, not perfection: You don’t need a big-business budget or high-end production equipment. With a solid strategy, content created with a smartphone can have the desired effect. A well-edited DIY video can come across as more authentic than a scripted TV spot when its purpose is clear. Consumers may even dismiss content that feels overproduced.
  • Don’t forget to optimize: We’ve talked before about the importance of optimizing your videos. A few ways to do that are by: including captions, optimizing the page the video is hosted on, and investing in paid ads for promotion.
HawkSEM blog: SMB Digital Marketing: 8 Tricks of the Trade

If you don’t have a strong foundation, your efforts may not pay off as well as they could. (Image via Unsplash)

8. Go back to basics

No matter how many tips and tricks you use or how relevant your strategy, if you don’t have a strong foundation, your efforts may not pay off as well as they could. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly but is also formatted attractively for desktop users. 

Optimize for page speed and traditional SEO. If you haven’t already implemented structured data, it can help increase click-through rates and result in featured snippets.

SMB digital marketing is continuously evolving. If you haven’t looked at your content in a while, it may be time to dust it off and update it. Rejuvenate your SEO strategy by adding a few new tactics and revisiting older content. It can be a game-changer when it comes to attracting more visitors to your site and increasing brand awareness.

 

When you’re in charge of digital marketing for a small or midsize business, you’ve got a lot on your plate. By keeping these tips in mind, you can add a little method to the madness, stay relevant in your industry, and beat your competitors to come out on top.

Jane Serra

Jane Serra

Jane Serra is the VP of Marketing at HawkSEM. She's an accomplished marketing executive with more than 12 years of experience leading digital marketing teams across demand generation, branding, events, content, and communications. When she's not strategizing, networking, and honing her craft, she enjoys traveling and scrolling Yelp for new restaurants to try.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 27

When you’re searching for a partner to help boost your company’s marketing ROI, you’ll likely come across both consultants and agencies.

They offer similar services and may even promise similar results. So, how do you know which one to choose?

A marketing consultant is a person who works with a company or brand to create and implement marketing strategies. A consultant usually helps create a detailed marketing plan, messaging, and methods for spreading the word about your product or business, and monitors the results.

Alternatively, a marketing agency is defined as “offering a broad range of services to help you implement an integrated marketing strategy for all your brand goals.” Often, this translates to a team of experts you work with on various campaigns, ad initiatives, and more. In some cases, consultants can even partner with an agency themselves.

Still not quite sure what differences exist between the two? Read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.

HawkSEM blog: Marketing Agencies vs. Consultants

When searching for ways to boost your digital marketing ROI, you’ll likely come across both consultants and agencies. (Image via Unsplash)

Marketing Consultant: Cons

When you hire a marketing consultant, you’re often hiring a one-stop shop. That means one person tasked with not only your marketing strategy but the strategies for their other clients as well. With all that juggling, it can be tough to find a marketing consultant that’s as available as you need them to be.

And because there are only so many hours in a day, marketing consultants often adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts in the interest of bandwidth, which means less time spent optimizing or drilling down into what’s working and what’s not. 

Marketing Consultant: Pros

For those with smaller budgets, a marketing consultant may be the best way to go. You may not get as much optimization or testing with your strategy, but if you’re just starting out, consultants can be a cost-effective option. And, since they’re typically a one-person team, they may have more wiggle room when it comes to negotiating or working with your budget. 

With a consultant, you’ll always know who you’re dealing with. You can build a one-on-one relationship with that person and know exactly who you’re communicating with at any time.

Plus, a marketing consultant can work with you to solve problems you don’t have answers to, while a bigger company may opt for an agency because they’ve already identified problems internally, but they don’t have the time or expertise to fix them.

Marketing Agency: Cons

Whereas a marketing consultant is a single person focused on strategy, a marketing agency typically provides a team focused on both strategy and execution. That often means there are multiple experts at your disposal.

But this, of course, comes with a cost. Marketing agencies often have a higher fee because of their more robust roster of offerings. It’s like the saying goes: You get what you pay for.

There’s also the matter of access. Because marketing agencies are so hands-on, they may require access to your CRM and other various systems. While it isn’t a requirement, not having this level of access — or not having approval from higher-ups to give the agency this access — may mean more work on your end to properly implement strategies and get things done. 

Marketing Agency: Pros

Biased, us? Well, yes. But we still think there are plenty of pros worth listing here that give (good) agencies an edge. For starters, you’ll likely find that a consultant doesn’t come with the same level of resources an agency can provide. From blogs and guides to webinars, along with relationships with the likes of Google and Bing, an agency can’t be beat. 

With an agency, even if you’ve got just one point of contact, you’re also getting access to experts in all aspects of digital marketing, from SEO and paid search to PPC and everything in between.
Plus, if you want to scale your company (and who doesn’t?), you probably want to partner with a company that can scale with you. More often, that means a marketing agency. 

Bigger teams are also more likely to have the bandwidth for constant testing while staying up to date on the latest industry developments, releases, and success stories. This means your strategy will stay optimized and on the cutting edge — not outdated.

HawkSEM blog: Marketing Agencies vs. Consultants

Marketing agencies are often a team of experts you work with on campaigns, ads, and more. (Image via Unsplash)

The Takeaway

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both of these options for digital marketing management — it all depends on your needs and goals. Overall, the main differences between the two come down to budget, time, and bandwidth.

If you have a team that can internally test and implement ideas from a consultant, go for it. But if you’d rather have a team of experts to create and optimize strategies for you, you’ll want to look at an agency.

Here at HawkSEM, not only do we provide the expertise of an agency, but we set ourselves apart through no annual contracts, a patented ConversionIQ optimization system, and a steadfast dedication to getting you the ROI you deserve.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 19

The best marketing tools, tips, and trends we took away from this year’s Inbound marketing conference.

Here, you’ll find:

  • How to make your brand stand out
  • Ways to leverage your team’s ideas
  • Tips for aligning your sales and marketing teams
  • Keys to successful email marketing

Over four days each September, Hubspot gathers more than 20,000 marketers together in Boston for their Inbound conference, giving attendees an opportunity to learn, laugh, and connect, all in the name of marketing. Between the live comedy and entertainment events, more than 250 speakers, and interactive experiences galore, it’s not your average industry event.

At this year’s Inbound conference, the HawkSEM marketing team heard from dozens of speakers from around the country (and beyond!) talking about all the latest and greatest tools, tips, and trends, from LinkedIn ads and email newsletters to native advertising and everything in between.

Below, we’ve highlighted a few of our top takeaways from this year’s sessions.

1. Speak to your customers, not your colleagues

There are some things that you know implicitly, but they don’t really click until you hear them said out loud — this was one of those things. The idea of writing for your customers instead of your colleagues sounds like a simple idea. In a session led by copywriter and marketing strategist Margo Aaron about creating effective newsletters, this takeaway stood out.

Margo said your content — whether it’s a newsletter, website copy, or a blog — should feel like an inside joke with your audience. You don’t need everyone to get it, you just need the right people to get it. She added that it’s also important to speak their language, know their pain points, and address their needs accordingly.

Pro tip: FOMO is the key to email marketing — according to Jay Schwedelson of Worldata, who led a session on this topic, B2B emails with an offer that expires see an approximately 55% higher response rate overall.

2. Stand out with your unique brand story

When you’re working within a saturated market, you’ve got to get creative when it comes to finding ways to stand out. Luckily, you’ve got something unique just by virtue of existing: your brand story. No two brand journeys are alike — whether it’s the road that led to the creation of your business, the need you’re addressing, or how you position yourself in the market, no one is doing exactly what you do, exactly how you do it.

Led by Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA, this session on brand story highlighted the fact that talking about your brand story makes you stand out and humanizes your company, reminding customers and prospects that your team is made up of people, not robots. Adding a human element to your business allows people to feel more connected to it, and even trust it more because of its authenticity.

3. Document your strategies

Sure, you have your processes down pat — but having clearly documented strategies for your processes, whether for marketing or elsewhere, has a multitude of biz benefits. Influence & Co.’s Kelsey Raymond emphasized this in her session on generating revenue from content marketing.

By defining clear processes for things like content creation and social media promotion, you can make sure your mission and values are clear while keeping other team members in the loop. Not only does this add transparency, but it helps add a “method to the madness” and allows you to easily iterate once you examine what’s working (i.e. what’s bringing you the most business) and what’s not.

4. Align your sales and marketing teams

Kelsey and others also mentioned the importance of aligning your sales and marketing teams. But what exactly does that mean? Both teams can play a crucial role in helping the other succeed and reach their goals (and no, it’s not enough for them to simply sit near each other in an open office).

To keep the conversation flowing, it’s a good idea to set up a Slack channel or a recurring meeting to discuss ideas, do check-ins, conduct brainstorms, and talk about new ways to collaborate. Creating content that speaks to what prospects want will help the sales team thrive, and knowing what themes are coming up during calls will help the marketing team know what potential content types or topics to tackle in the future.

Pro tip: According to multiple Inbound speakers, link-building is still a valid marketing strategy — if deployed properly. Instead of sending mass cold emails to an “info@” email address, take time to find the right point of contact, send out a personalized message, and make sure the content you want them to link to is a high-quality resource.

5. Prioritize relationships, not just sales

It’s a common trap to fall into: the sale closes, you high five your colleagues, then move on to the next one. But those who more-or-less cease communication after they land the sale are missing a huge opportunity. As Ashley Faus of software development company Atlassian pointed out during her session on content strategy, when a prospect becomes a customer, it’s time to shift your mindset from driving a purchase to driving a relationship.

A happy customer will stick around. Not only that, but they’re more likely to spread the word about your business, leave a positive review, and even be open to cross-sell or feature opportunities. Telling people how great your company is will only get you so far — having happy customers doing it for you is worth its weight in gold.

6. Leverage your team’s ideas

Unless your company is you and you alone, let go of the belief that you have to ideate in a vacuum. In her session on brand publishing, marketing pro Kathleen Booth suggested getting more than just your marketing team involved in content creation.

Not only does this allow you to create more content overall, but it lets your team members shine in a way they otherwise wouldn’t in their role, and it shows prospects and customers that you’ve got a team of experts across multiple departments. We get it, people are busy, but even a short article, published Q&A, or a bi-monthly cross-team brainstorm session can yield serious results.

Pro tip: Not convinced that optimizing your historical marketing content is necessary? Consider this: a whopping 89% of the content Hubspot ranks for is more than 6 months old.

7. Don’t be afraid to innovate

The lightning speed at which trends come and go — in marketing and across industries in general — can make it hard to keep up while also working to check off your day-to-day tasks. But that also leaves you open to being left in the dust when your competition jumps on board.

While it’s unreasonable (and inadvisable) to explore several new things at once, you can start with one or two, track results, and go from there. Consider newer avenues like podcasts, native content, social videos, and chatbots. These channels were created to meet people where they are, and adopting them can keep your brand cutting edge. And even if your experiment fails, it’s not a mistake — it’s simply a learning experience.

8. Tracking is a must

Without proper tracking, you’re basically flying blind. Whether you use a CRM, work with an agency, or employ a different tracking tool, you should always know the status of your efforts, so you can analyze the data to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of your strategies.

Not only does tracking increase transparency, but it can also help you lobby for more of a budget from higher-ups and illustrate how a new process is performing. The more you pay attention to how your campaigns are tracking, the better you can make them in the future.

We learned a ton about today’s marketing landscape at the 2019 Inbound conference. Let us put that knowledge to good use through helping your marketing ROI soar by requesting a consultation.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her nearly 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Sep 17

This primer helps you understand Amazon Advertising, determine which methods are best for your business, and gives you the steps to ensure your ads are a success.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What is Amazon Advertising?
  • How to set up your brand for Amazon ads success
  • The various types of Amazon ads
  • The approaches you can take to ad creation

Understanding the Basics

We’re going to take a shot in the dark and guess that you’ve likely seen Amazon ads before. When searching for a product on Amazon, you’ll often see a few “Sponsored” items at the top of your results. And it’s not just products — brands and entire stores can advertise themselves as well.

Amazon Advertising (formerly known as Amazon Media Group, Amazon Marketing Services, and Amazon Ad Platform) may seem daunting at first. But know that if you’ve launched a website or are familiar with social media for businesses, you’ll probably catch on quickly. The moving parts are different, but the way they interact will probably seem familiar.

Amazon Advertising refers customers to your product pages, and traffic to those pages is a big part of influencing your placement in search results. The relationship between your product page and ad content is a lot like the relationship between your website landing pages and the Google Ads that drive traffic to them.

But there’s a key difference here: the diversity of ad choices and placement. Unlike search engine ads on Google or Bing, your campaign can also appear in recommendation emails, on-site product recommendations, and banner ads, in addition to the keyword-inspired campaigns that bear resemblance to Google Ads.

Alright, now that we’re on the same page, let’s break it down.

Amazon Advertising- HawkSEM

Optimize Your Product Pages

Before taking out ads on Amazon, you need a fully optimized product page. Each aspect of the page description and layout is integral to your success, so it helps to have a checklist. You can opt for a DIY approach and build your own internal team, or you can outsource your digital marketing to pros who know the platform.

Either way, deciding on your goals and tracking their success can help you best manage your outcomes. Here are some things that should be on your list:

  • Product descriptions with information vital to the buyer, including specifications for technology, cut and fit information for apparel, and other similar details
  • A narrative description connecting your brand and a small group of keywords to the product specifications
  • Selected keywords for the product page metadata
  • Quotes from editorial reviews, if applicable — often relevant for books and other media

While Amazon restricts the number of keywords you can include in a product listing’s metadata, you can use other keywords in your product description, and the algorithm will identify and weigh them accordingly. This is a great way to leverage multiple terms while giving extra support to your highest priority selections.

 

Select a Format

There’s no one-size-fits-all method to Amazon Advertising, and new products are introduced regularly. Because of this, it’s wise to keep an eye on the site’s advertiser information to stay in the know about feature updates and developments.

These are the major ad categories you can choose from when setting up a campaign, and it’s a good idea to experiment with them since it’s hard to predict which format will reach your audience best for a given product.

  • Product display ads work by selecting other products or keyword-related interest themes to seed your product as a recommended product or similar option
  • Sponsored brand ads display as banner ads in search results for selected keywords, similar to the mechanism for Google Ads
  • Sponsored product ads appear within the search results for selected keywords as promoted results relevant to the person’s search

As you can see, your choice of keyword is vital to your success on the platform. Even with product display ads, identifying the right interest or theme is important, and on-target keywords can help with that, too.

Again, it helps to run test campaigns in each format to figure out which one delivers the best return for a particular product, and to see if using a few ad campaigns together provides even better results.

Amazon Advertising- HawkSEM

Decide on Self-Serve vs. Premium Ads

The best way to understand the difference between self-serve and premium ad formats is to determine where you’re more likely to see each one. Premium ads display more often as visual banner and sidebar ads on Amazon, and they’re also available to shoppers who aren’t on the site through Google’s Display Network.

Affiliates who sign up to advertise for Amazon on their sites often display premium ads. Self-serve ads are the ones that appear in the search results and on individual pages, like the types listed above. It’s worth playing with both options because they reach different audiences, even when they’re attuned to the same keywords.


Conduct Your Keyword Research

The research you put into appropriate keywords is the key to getting the returns you want out of Amazon Advertising. You can do manual research by plugging words into Amazon’s search bar and seeing when you find products similar to your own, but that’s time-consuming.

Alternatively, there are digital tools that purport to use Amazon’s API to provide accurate information, but if you don’t understand the technicalities here, you may get lost. One of the best ways to get the results you want quickly is by enlisting help.

Amazon offers its own marketing tools to assist new advertisers, which can give you some starter keyword recommendations. These aren’t always right for your product, but they can be a place to begin testing.

If you opt for enlisting professionals, you don’t have to worry about whether you’re investing in the right digital tools for your keyword research because you’re working with people who already have the tools and know how to use them.

Using Amazon as a marketplace and order fulfillment hub is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs, but it’s not a guaranteed road to riches. You’ll need a good strategy and determination to play the long game to get the results you want.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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Written by Sam Yadegar on Aug 28

Expand the reach of your business with the latest and most effective digital marketing tactics.

Over the past year, Facebook and Google both announced major changes to advertisements on social media feeds, search pages, and websites. These days, digital marketing trends are leaning more towards personalized promotions featuring content and media, transforming digital marketing as we know it.

Even though keywords and audience targeting remain at the core of many search and social ads, businesses and sellers can now make use of new visual marketing tactics to stand out from the competition.

Online marketing agencies already use insights gathered from analytics and artificial intelligence or machine learning to precisely target ads and deliver personalized promotions. Most experts recommend combining these new strategies with conventional search engine optimization (SEO) methods such as site optimization and offsite links.

For example, an innovative marketing plan for digital platforms might unite a paid search campaign with pay-per-view Facebook video advertising or cross-platform social ads. No matter the method, marketing agencies and clients must account for the ever-changing ways customers access information, communicate, and shop.

Here, we’ve laid out five digital marketing tactics that brands and businesses can pursue with a full-service agency.

HawkSEM blog: 5 Cutting-Edge Digital Marketing Tactics

Gallery carousels at the top of search result pages often draw more clicks than text-based ads. (Image via Unsplash)

1. Explore visual product presentations

E-commerce merchants and vendors have plenty of options for showing off inventory. The newest Google advertisement styles include Discovery, Gallery, and Shopping Showcase ads. Each of these varies in terms of display location and potential reach.

Businesses can invite prospective customers to swipe through Discovery image carousels in YouTube feeds or under the promotions tab in Gmail — gallery carousels at the top of search result pages often draw more clicks than text-based ads. And businesses that use Google Product Shopping listings can develop Showcase ads that present a selection of similar items.

A Premier Google and Bing ads partner can identify ways to maximize visibility to likely customers within a digital advertising budget. In general, marketing tactics that display pictures or videos of individual products or selected items from an inventory tend to drive up clicks and sales.

2. Zoom in on customers

Search engines and social platforms select ads to serve based on private, secure user data. On Facebook, for instance, ads may show based on recent life events that a user reports, or updates related to demographics or geography that could increase the likelihood of a successful conversion.

Whether the primary goal of a marketing campaign involves attracting new customers, touching base with repeat customers, or increasing transaction amounts, a digital marketing strategy shouldn’t stop at the homepage of an online store.

Encouraging site visitors to sign in and build profiles based on page views or order data can be useful for making personalized recommendations across the web.

3. Engage across channels

No matter where your ideal customer spends time online, content tailored to a particular social media service can increase audience engagement — no surprise there. But it can be a challenge to manage a brand image across multiple platforms.

The right digital agency can work with clients to deliver dynamic ads and branded content through Facebook Ad Manager, Instagram Ads, LinkedIn, and more.

4. Explore video ads

Video marketing has become one of the most effective ways to reach customers and achieve brand recognition. But those that want to use video ads as part of a digital marketing strategy should be aware of the possibilities and limitations of various platforms, from Google and YouTube to Facebook and other social networks.

YouTube bumper ads are timed at six seconds and air before video content. These ads are particularly popular and effective for clients with limited video ad production budgets.

Depending on available editing resources, a client may want to consider using the new bumper machine that generates these brief ads from videos shorter than 90 seconds and has a few simple editing features.

Pay-per-view is available to video advertisers on Facebook. These placements resemble pay-per-click search advertisements in the sense that advertisers don’t pay for views of sponsored results or other search ads that don’t get clicked. A fee is only charged when a viewer watches more than 10 seconds of a video promotion.

This digital marketing tactic encourages brands to craft content that prospective customers consider more compelling, engaging and interactive.

5. Secure conversions and leads

Businesses and web-based brands may drive up site traffic and increase visitor engagement and interaction by eliminating potential sources of friction from the conversion process.

Customers should be able to access an easy-to-use e-commerce interface and proceed through seamless, secure payment processing and effortless lead generation. As time goes on, a digital advertising agency can deliver demographic and geographical insights to inform remarketing initiatives.

A full-service online marketing agency may be able to offer support when it comes to processing payments. From SaaS support for omnichannel payments to more secure methods for handling recurring or tokenized transactions and customer contact data, agencies can help brands develop easily identifiable and user-friendly checkout interfaces and order updates for recent purchases.

Approaching payment processing as a marketing tactic lets brands and businesses obtain all of the data necessary to cultivate a consistent customer base. Securely obtain contact information and other useful details for personalized promotions while gleaning insights from accurate demographic, location and search reporting.

It’s now possible to grow a customer base through behavioral, demographic or geographical promotions and recommendations. An effective digital marketing strategy should also make brands or businesses more accessible, responsive, and trustworthy. Increase the number and quality of conversions, leads and win rates today with the best online marketing agency.

 

At HawkSEM, we provide a customized approach based on your particular needs. Our passion for results and drive to meet goals ensure we do right by you, generating a higher ROI. Contact us today to learn how we can help dramatically improve your digital marketing results.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

Questions or comments? Join the conversation here!

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