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How to Build a Lasting Brand Identity

The way people see your company is something that lingers long after the latest product marketing strategy or logo revamp. Your brand identity is intrinsically tied to who you are as a founder and what your firm stands for.

According to an Edelman survey, 81% of surveyed consumers stated they must trust a brand they buy from frequently. What elements lead to trust and familiarity, though? It makes sense people want authentic, trustworthy companies that align with their core values. Building the image takes a bit more forethought.

Let the public know who you are with the use of visuals, words, and attitude. Brand identity isn’t something you think about once and forget. The key to becoming recognizable is consistent effort to present a consistent image.

What Are the Elements of Brand Identity?

When you think about one of your favorite businesses, there are probably a few things that come to mind:

  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Logo
  • Packaging
  • Messaging
  • Personality
  • Customer service

All of these things work together and must match the reputation of the brand. For example, if you use messaging claiming you’re a young, hip company, but your color palette and typography is outdated and boring, you send conflicting messages to your users.

Your logo should appear everywhere your brand does. Ensuring everything flows together makes you seem more reliable.

How Do You Build Brand Identity?

Branding isn’t about how you see yourself. It’s tied to how the outside world sees you, which can vary from the way you want to be perceived. Each customer has a different experience with your company. The more consistent you become across various clients, the better chance you have of creating the image you want others to have of you.

Don’t expect people to recognize your brand without massive effort. You can’t just create an amazing logo and call it a day. Everything you do should run through the filter of who you are as a company. You must get the word out in several ways.

There are some steps you can take to increase awareness. Here are the best things for small businesses to do.

1. Create a Brand Strategy

Before you promote your company, make sure you brainstorm and come up with a brand strategy. How do you want the world to see your business? What are the different paths to creating that image?

While you can’t always control the outside world’s perception, you can present information on your business that aligns with the way you want others to see it. Be predictable because you know exactly who you are and what you stand for.

Involve your stakeholders, employees, and customers as you come up with your vision. You might be surprised by the way those who didn’t start the company see it. Their ideas aren’t right or wrong. They serve as a reference to what you’re best at and where you need more work.

2. Choose a Color Palette

The most recognizable brands have a color palette they use over and over. Some of the places you’ll see their company colors include:

  • Logo
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Product packaging
  • Shipping boxes
  • Printed material
  • Advertising

The color palette appears in everything they do, so when someone sees the main hues, they think of the company. Further enhance your image by using customized boxes and labels. Made-to-order packaging is easily recognizable and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.

You can say a lot just through the colors you use, so don’t be afraid to try something different than anyone has before. Just be aware of why you’re doing it.

3. Make a Logo

Now that you have an idea of your color palette, either make or revamp your logo to match your choices. Keep in mind that there is a psychology to colors. If you choose red, you can create excitement. Blue may signify reliability.

While it isn’t an exact science, and people’s life experiences mean their reactions vary, you can use color to drive emotion.

Take the time to come up with a logo that represents your values as a brand. People should understand what you’re about when they see your emblem. If you see a green leaf within a logo, you probably assume the company is natural or eco-friendly, for example.

Make sure you vet your logo. There are numerous stories of brands coming up with new designs only to realize later they look like something other than intended. Have a minimum of five other people look at the design and make sure it works.

4. Audit Your Processes

Think about the way you want customers to perceive you. What are your unique value propositions (UVPs)? Do you want to be known as having the best service in your industry?

Once you identify what makes you unique, make sure your actions match your thoughts. Using the example of excellent customer service again, you should carefully consider all your policies and employee training. How do you handle it if a customer has a complaint?

Take the time to make sure everything about your business matches who you say you are. Survey your customers and ask them if they feel anything doesn’t match your reputation. The more feedback you receive, the better you can change any problem areas.

5. Use Personas

You’ve likely heard all about buyer personas and how important it is to know your customers. However, you can also create a persona for your business. Make up a fictional person with the personality and attitudes you want your company to have.

Your first step is the buyer persona. It’s much easier to promote your company to people when you know what their pain points are and the emotions they feel. You’ll know where to place your messaging to get it in front of them. You’ll understand the best messaging to get your point across.

Once you have buyer personas, dig into the personality of your company. Give your brand persona a name. How will they react to certain stimuli? What is their favorite color? How do they represent your voice?

6. Study Your Competition

According to a recent State of Competitive Intelligence Report, researchers found that 94% of businesses are looking more closely at competitive intelligence (CI) than ever before.

They’re tracking what others in their industry do well and matching customer expectations. CI also helps you find holes in their strategy so you can fulfill consumer needs.

Pay attention to their messaging and how it ties into their UVP. Are you doing a good job of sharing your UVP through your messaging?

Study everything about your competitors. Take the time to visit brick-and-mortar locations, peruse their websites, and stalk their social media. You don’t want to copy another brand. Your goal is to get ideas for what you’re doing well and how you can improve your branding efforts.

7. Stick to a Style Guide

Once you’ve done your research, settled on some specifics, and are ready to dig into branding, create a style guide listing all the details.

As different people work on projects, it’s easy to lose your focus. Make sure you include things in your style guide such as:

  • Brand color palette
  • Logo – where to use it, sizing, positioning, etc.
  • Typography – preferred fonts, sizes, and placement
  • Voice
  • Personality
  • How you want your customers to see you

Be as specific as possible, creating sections in your guide for easy reference. If someone new works on your website, they can refer to the guide to ensure they use the same style as previous designers. You’ll create a consistent image.

8. Seek Out Quality

In your advertising and online presence, you’ll use images. You may have a photograph on a blog post or a hero image of your products on your social media page. It’s smart to think about the ways you want to highlight your brand through photographs.

Come up with rules, such as using only unique images or a certain size or orientation. Perhaps you want to add a transparent color overlay to all images to align with your brand’s color palette.

You should also define the style of the photos. If your brand’s personality is fun, the images should show people laughing, in recreational moments, and enjoying themselves. There won’t be room for somber images.

Make sure they are high-quality, professional photos. The last impression you want to leave of your business is that you’re cheap and don’t really care about quality.

9. Embrace Visualization

Statista predicts the visualization market will reach $7.76 billion by 2023. Infographics and visuals help consumers better understand complex concepts. An image has a much bigger and lasting impression than words alone.

Think about the questions you get from your clients. How can you explain them simply using images?

Look for opportunities to add infographics or pull out pieces of data and highlight them with a pie chart, graph, or illustration. You want to be seen as the go-to expert in your industry. The way to accomplish this is figuring out how to take complicated issues and make them easy to understand.

10. Monitor Your Reputation

One irate customer can leave numerous bad reviews, tell others how much they hate your business, and severely damage your reputation. Whether you deserve the report or not, such low ratings might keep others from giving you a chance.

Spend time looking at reviews of your company. What are others saying? Don’t just read the positive feedback. Pay attention to the negative comments, too.

Whenever possible, reach out to people who complain. Try to make the situation right. If you solve the issue, you may turn an unhappy customer into a lifelong fan. If they aren’t pleased after your best efforts, others will see how hard you tried.

You can also hire reputation management firms to clean up past mistakes. If you had a stint where quality or customer service wasn’t ideal, you should first fix that problem and then seek a remedy to your poor reputation.

11. Keep It Simple

It’s tempting to sing your own praises. You may be great at multiple things, and you really want your customers to know about them. However, for the purposes of branding, embrace only one or two UVPs (unique value propositions). Make sure they are ones your competition isn’t promoting. This gives you a distinctive edge.

Sticking to basic messaging also allows you to drive the same point home over and over. Every time consumers see an ad, your tagline, a post on social media, or get an email from you, they should get a similar message.

People are inundated with advertisements. On a typical day, they might see billboards, hear radio ads, see commercials on TV, get newsletters in their email inbox, text messages, and see ads on social media. Phew! If you want them to remember you, you must say the same thing more than once.

Stick to the same idea, and they are much more likely to remember and associate the message with your brand.

Never Stop Growing

Brand identity gets developed over time with consistent effort. Your core values likely won’t change, but you’ll learn better ways of doing things, and your UVP may change over time. Keep branding in mind when you buy a new product, change your look, or create a marketing campaign. How others perceive you ties into how well you live up to your brand’s promises.

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How to Market Your Business to the Next Generation of New Hires

Recruiting new employees is a crucial element of any successful business, but it’s not just about bringing on potential hires. It’s also important to garner top talent and those with a propensity for moving the business forward.

Of course, it’s no small feat enticing new candidates to join your operation, especially in today’s market and in certain industries where labor shortages are a reality. As if that wasn’t enough, everyone has to contend with the pandemic and the new distanced way of doing things, particularly through remote work.

How can you market your business to the next generation or an up-and-coming wave of new hires? What are some changes you can make to create a more welcoming and desirable workplace?

Mind Your Reputation

Like it or not, your business and upper management, including you, are going to develop a reputation. That reputation will be visible both inside and outside the company, and that’s true no matter what an organization does to stem the flow of information that’s shared.

This information could be shared openly through social media and professional communities like Glassdoor, Quora, Crunchbase, Indeed, LinkedIn, and many others.

Some 86% of consumers across all age groups read reviews for local businesses. Furthermore, 95% of millennials read them, and 91% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. People tend to base their decisions upon reviews, and they also have an impact on SEO (search engine optimization) ratings.

It’s important to acknowledge that a reputation can and does form, and also how the information is disseminated internally and externally. You must remain conscious about this information, as well as your public image. Negative details are always going to surface at one time or another, but you should be doing everything you can to put forth the best your organization has to offer.

Regular updates from a CEO, founder, or upper management can help turn the tides, as can community-oriented and social movements, particularly those that give back to local communities and support the environment.

Encourage Innovation and Growth

Unique ideas are challenging to embrace because they can either turn out to be positive or negative events. When they are negative, a business can take a hit financially and to their brand image.

The point here is just that change can be frightening, especially for executives who have been doing things a certain way for years, maybe even decades. However, a business cannot continue to grow when it stifles innovation and change, including among employees and top talent. Potential new hires can see this, and they understand what’s happening within a company’s ranks.

If you are not allowing your employees to enact change or make a difference, a lot of candidates are going to walk away. Many from the younger generations are chasing opportunities where they can truly make an impact.

Reward Your Team(s)

When an employee goes above and beyond, are they ignored, do they get a pat on the back, or are they rewarded handsomely? The reaction can significantly impact productivity, ambition, and morale within your company — and, by proxy, it will affect new candidates, too.

Discover and establish new ways to reward your employees for their hard work and successes. There are the tried-and-true methods, of course, like bonuses, promotions, and trophies, but there are also unique opportunities. You might host a live event to encourage and support your best earners. You might offer an all-expenses-paid vacation or a pre-paid dinner out with their family.

New hires will see this happening or hear about it, and it will draw them into your available opportunities.

Create Perks

Parallel to providing rewards and opportunities for growth is the creation of additional perks. These are beneficial things that often align with the office dynamic, improving things like productivity, social interactions, and employee wellness.

Issuing standing desks to an entire department is one example. Offering creative and shared spaces for various teams to work is another. Smart lighting, with the option to fully control scenes, colors, and brightness, is yet another.

Perks might also include on-site cafes or eateries, amenities like a gym, pool, or day care, and much more. Everything from air quality to room color and beyond could be considered a perk, depending on the workplace. Benefits for a family, such as a spouse or children, can also be excellent perks. Even something common, like life insurance, could provide some welcome peace-of-mind for team members with loved ones to think about.

New hires are always interested in these perks and what it means for their overall experience. The more perks, the more likely it is they will sign on, especially if they believe it’s going to improve their workdays and lifestyles.

Be Honest

A colorful job description is one way to attract talent, but it’s not a valid strategy for retaining it. After signing on with the company, people will realize quickly whether you presented a truthful representation or something more fantastical.

It’s better to be genuine and honest. Remain candid about the growth and opportunities available, but be clear about responsibilities and work. It’s always a good idea to mention the amenities and benefits available, but just because they exist doesn’t mean they are accessible. Someone with a 70- or 80-hour workweek is not going to have time to visit the on-site gym.

Establish Top-Notch Training

In a perfect world, finding the ideal candidate is always possible. More than likely, that’s not going to happen often, if at all. Instead, you should focus on a foundation or baseline, which can be improved through solid training.

It then becomes critical to provide that training and continue building on what’s available so that teams and employees grow stronger and more skilled over time. This has the added benefit of giving back to potential candidates. Yes, they might be signing on with a company to work and provide support, but they’re also gaining invaluable knowledge and skills.

Leverage and Encourage Team Bonds

It never works well when you try to force relationships or put forth the idea that your teams are “like family” when they are not. After people sign on, they realize almost instantly how the dynamic is within the office or workplace.

Building strong bonds and relationships is key to having a reliable and productive team. Create spaces that are conducive to creativity and collaboration, and then find ways to encourage these genuine human interactions.

Host a happy hour every Friday night, for example, after work has finished. Host regular events, field days, gatherings, or even celebrations that include the various teams and departments. Competitions can also be a lively and fun event, with proper rewards for the victor.

Many organizations have also found that buddy or ambassador programs help boost new hire and onboarding program proficiency.

New hires and potential candidates will relish the opportunity to participate in these kinds of events and experiences, and they’ll want to become part of the dynamic.

Don’t Forget Your Biggest Asset

While many of these strategies are important for improving the hire rate of new and potential candidates, there is one weapon in your arsenal that will always be the most important: your existing employees.

Word-of-mouth buzz and employee satisfaction can help frame the positivity and success of your brand, both internally and externally. The happier your employees are, the more positively they’ll speak about your organization, its products, and their own responsibilities. This creates a wave of positive information that can significantly impact your brand’s reputation.

Of course, the strategies laid out here are also important, including perks, rewards, the company’s reputation, regular innovation and growth, and team relationships. Focus on all of these things to develop a happy and productive workplace and a desirable opportunity for potential candidates.

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Four Benefits of Hiring an SEO Company

Businesses need customers, and their customers are online. So it’s more important than ever to find your company when they’re searching for your product or service. The issue is, very few people search past page 1 on Google, which means your business must be one page one for your potential clients to find you.

The scary part is, the inverse is also true: if you’re not on page 1 of Google’s search results, your company does not exist to your potential customers!

So if your business is trying to gain more customers, you must deploy effective SEO strategies to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). An effective SEO campaign helps to spread awareness of your brand, builds your company’s credibility, brings more organic traffic to your web pages, improves the user experience, and ultimately converts more of your website traffic into potential leads.

Search engine algorithms frequently change, and your potential customers search the web in different ways as technology evolves. Consider the increasing popularity of voice search as an example. People that use Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home will often use various search terminology when compared to how they type in a Google search on their phone or laptop.

SEO is a continually evolving practice that requires diligent research and adaptation to new technology and processes. This means the best way to approach SEO for most businesses is hiring an established SEO company with extensive experience. 

Below is a summary of the most significant advantages to working with an SEO agency:

Website Improvements

While you may associate an SEO professional with just increasing your website’s organic ranking, an SEO expert can also help you improve the user experience and the conversion rates of your website. Take a look at this case study on Kuykendall Solar, a California solar subcontractor: we were able to optimize their web design and make their site more appealing to their target audience. This produced a 24% conversion rate, which led to a 408% ROI with Google Ads and a 550% ROI with Facebook Ads.

SEO services can also help you optimize your web pages for all devices. For many industries, mobile devices now make up the majority of web traffic. So your site must be easy to navigate on smartphones and tablets. Your site must also load quickly on all devices because it’s a determining factor for organic rank. Also, a fast-loading website ensures you won’t lose potential customers as they wait for your website to load. 

A Healthy Backlink Portfolio

Link building has always been an essential element of an effective SEO strategy. A backlink is simply a link from one website to another. For example, if an owner of a CPA firm based in Las Vegas guest writes an article in Entrepreneur.com, and the article links back to the CPA’s website, that link would be considered a high-quality backlink. 

So why are backlinks so important? Simply put, because they help Google do their job better.

Google’s algorithm utilizes over 300 different ranking factors to determine how every website ranks for their specific keywords. And backlinks are a crucial factor because they help Google determine the most relevant results for every search. 

So if someone in Las Vegas is searching for a CPA firm, there is a strong probability that the CPA firm in the example above will rank higher because a popular website (Entrepreneur.com) is pushing traffic to that CPA firm’s site.

This specific backlink is a big deal in Google’s eyes because it tells them this CPA firm is very good at what they do, which influences Google’s algorithm to rank their site higher.

Digital Marketing Services

While SEO can be a standalone service, it’s usually a component of a more encompassing digital marketing campaign that includes social media marketing and content marketing. This is often where the great SEO agencies separate themselves from everyone else because it takes a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge coupled with years of experience to manage and optimize a cross-platform marketing campaign successfully.  

Social media marketing isn’t about posting on Facebook or Instagram. Instead, it uses those platforms to target potential customers and then push them to their website. Social media ads differ from posting on Facebook or Instagram since the average organic Facebook post only reaches 1.5% of your audience. On the other hand, Facebook ads can reach most of your fanbase with the same message at scale. 

Content marketing is so effective because it acknowledges how the majority of people make buying decisions. For example, when was the last time you clicked on an ad and bought something? It’s probably been a long time! Most people research before they purchase anything. For example, when I shopped for an iPhone case, I read reviews on various cases and a few articles before making up my mind. Another word for this is content marketing.

Most people are in research mode as they shop. Sure, Google & Facebook Ads produce new customers, but you’re appealing to a small percentage of people that made up their minds and want to buy now. The majority of your potential customers are looking for great information to base their buying decisions on, and that’s where helpful articles and videos come in.

As a more specific content marketing example, take a look at our website. We’ve produced blog posts and videos designed to inform and educate, instead of asking for the sale. Of course, some companies will implement the strategies and tactics we teach and have success. But many people are looking for an agency to help them with these tactics. So by offering many insights like our internal processes, how we manage campaigns, what works best, etc., it slowly positions us as an expert in our reader’s eyes.

So the goal of content marketing is to get your potential customers to perform their research on YOUR website.  

But it doesn’t stop there. We create ads on Facebook, Instagram, and Google to push targeted traffic to various blog posts and videos to answer their marketing-related questions. We then show them similar blogs or videos they may be interested in, which increases their time on our site and builds our reputation.

We call this creating a gravitational force around our brand. Since at any time, we’ll have over 1,000 people reading various articles or watching videos on our site with the goal of them ‘orbiting’ closer to calling us, eventually becoming a client.

A Tailored Approach

The best SEO companies can adapt their approach to fit you and your business model. Some businesses need long-term SEO services behind the scenes, while others may need SEO specialists to take a more visible role in their company’s growth. For the most effective results, an agency should get to know your business so they can determine how much time and effort should be spent on each element of the campaign.

Most SEO agencies start by analyzing your current web presence and your direct competitors to see how you’re ranking. It’s important to remember that you’re not trying to beat Google, you’re trying to outrank your competition.

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What Does An SEO Company Do?

Photo: © 20th Century Fox, All Rights Reserved.

Search engine optimization (SEO) can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re new to digital marketing. If you’re shopping for SEO services, you’ve probably come across multiple SEO companies and digital marketing agencies. Although most SEO agencies describe their professional services on their website, it can be difficult to navigate SEO terminology to decipher what they do. 

So, what is an SEO agency, and what can SEO do for your business?

What is an SEO agency?

An SEO company (or agency) offers professional search engine optimization services to organizations to improve their online presence and search engine visibility. Search engine optimization is a collection of processes and tactics that result in your website ranking higher in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

One of the major benefits of partnering with an SEO company is that they offer specialized experience in helping businesses rank on search engines. SEO professionals provide a wide range of services, from website audits and web design to a personalized SEO strategy, and can help your business implement specific tactics to reach your goals. 

Every good SEO company shares the same goal for its clients: to grow their business. Ultimately, an SEO company’s job is to partner with you to boost organic traffic, drive leads, and increase sales through search results.

What are SEO services?

SEO services are categorized into two areas: onsite SEO and offsite SEO.  

Onsite SEO focuses on tactics to make your website more search engine-friendly like adding relevant keywords, internal linking, updating metadata/alt image tags/schema, increasing site speed, and user experience-related design.

Offsite SEO consists of tactics deployed outside of your website that also result in a higher organic ranking for your website. These tactics primarily focus on earning high-domain-authority backlinks and updating 150+ online directories (or citations) like Google, Yelp, YP.com, to name a few.

It’s important to point out that not every SEO agency specializes in onsite and offsite tactics. This is mainly due to the high degree of technical ability onsite SEO requires, and the level of expertise offsite requires to gain high-quality backlinks.

More specifically, SEO services typically involve:

Business evaluation and site analytics. SEO companies typically start by evaluating your current website and what keywords it’s currently ranking for, which involves looking at the site’s architecture and content to assess factors such as coding and keyword density. Evaluating your current website is the best way to determine your website’s existing strengths and weaknesses before developing a robust SEO strategy.

In addition to website analysis, the SEO agency will consider your business and industry. They will look into your target audience and overall business goals before implementing an SEO strategy. By learning more about your goals and target audience, the SEO agency can decide which tactics can best improve your website’s organic ranking.

Developing a long-term SEO strategy. After completing an in-depth analysis of your website, an SEO agency can help you create a long-term SEO plan. Developing an SEO strategy and drafting goals for your SEO campaign depends on your industry, type of business, and overall goals.

An experienced SEO firm will consider what they’ve learned from your site audit and analysis to develop a personalized plan for your website. Part of developing a powerful SEO campaign involves keyword research to identify the keywords and phrases used most by your target audience. 

Optimizing web design and load speed. Search engines focus on serving the best possible results, creating a positive user experience, and prioritizing content that offers significant value. So if your website takes a long time to load, Google will not rank it very high. A web developer with extensive technical SEO experience can optimize your UX (user experience) for desktop, tablet, and smartphones, boost your load speed and fix any technical issues that could be slowing your site down.

Update your citations. Many of your potential customers use Google, Yelp, and other online directories (or citations) to search for local businesses. So it’s crucial to keep your listings updated to increase the amount of leads produced by your online presence. 

While there are a handful of these directories that everyone regularly uses (Google, Yelp, Bing, etc.), there are over 500 citations, worldwide! An SEO agency can help business owners to determine which directories are relevant to their businesses and potential customers, and strategies to optimize each listing to boost local SEO, rank higher, and build your online reputation.

Building a high-quality link profile. First of all, what is a backlink? It’s one of the most critical aspects of your offsite SEO campaign! A backlink is simply one website linking to another website. Google puts a lot of weight on backlinks because they demonstrate your authority in your industry. For example, if a realtor in Los Angeles writes an article for Zillow that talks about LA real estate trends, and that article links back to that realtor’s website, that link would be considered a high-quality link in Google’s eyes.  

So why is this important? Because Google rewards relevancy! They want to provide their search traffic the most relevant results that line up with their search. So if a local real estate website has very respected, highly-trafficked sites like Zillow linking to them, this shows Google they’re very good at what they do. Google, in turn, rewards them with a higher organic ranking. 

Yet, Google won’t put your site on page one just for one great backlink. They look at your entire link profile to assess the quality of the inbound links your website has earned, including the number of links, and their diversity. The quality of your link profile helps search engines rank your website and understand how your site relates to your competition with similar products or services.

Benefits of SEO

If you’re thinking about developing an SEO strategy, you’ve probably already considered the obvious benefits: more leads, sales, and revenue. While these are important, there are various other tangible benefits of working with an SEO agency:

Improved search engine rankings. An experienced SEO firm can help your website rank higher in search engines. Using current SEO tools and strategies, an SEO specialist knows what it takes to optimize your site and make it more appealing to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The higher your website ranks for relevant keywords, the better your chances of reaching potential clients.

Increased website traffic. In addition to boosting your site’s performance in organic searches, SEO companies help improve the quality of traffic visiting your website. If you’re ranking for keywords and phrases that align with your product or service, the website traffic you’re bringing in will be more likely to purchase your product or service.

Measurable results. SEO firms can also help your business grow by delivering quantifiable results and valuable insights. This data analysis is often applied to benefit other segments of a marketing campaign like Google Ads, Facebook ads, content marketing, and even traditional advertising channels.

Boost Your Online Presence with SEO

If your business is actively pursuing new customers, developing an SEO campaign is a great idea. So the next question is, where do you start? 

You can build an internal SEO team that is actively engaged in increasing your organic ranking by focusing on:

  • Technical SEO: JS frameworks, XML sitemaps, taxonomy, redirects, log files
  • Data SEO: reporting, feeds, data visualization, structured data, location data
  • Content SEO: keyword research, creative assets, copy, internal links in copy, semantic HTML

Or, if that requires too many resources, consider hiring an SEO agency. Keep in mind that not all SEO professionals are created equal—many just focus on one or two aspects of onsite and offsite SEO processes and tactics.

Ultimately, the best SEO firms have a deep foundational understanding of onsite and offsite SEO processes and tactics, and how they relate to each other. This expertise is vital because it allows them to understand your competitor’s tactics and recommend a strategy designed to boost your website’s organic rankings without breaking the bank.

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Marketing Your Business During COVID-19

I originally wrote this article in the Business Journal about marketing your business during COVID-19. Yet, one thing I didn’t address is how the needs of your potential customers have changed in the new economy, and how pivoting to meet their needs can establish your business as a market leader.

So I’ve updated this article, below:

These are some challenging times. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of consumers have stopped buying nonessential products and services, impacting tens of thousands of businesses. In addition, any advertising a company is running that’s asking for a sale can appear callous and insensitive.  

While the above may be true, your business still needs to survive!  

So the issue many companies are currently wrestling with is how to pivot their marketing strategy to be more reflective of the times.

Reduce your marketing budget?

As a business owner, one of the worst feelings is when you realize you’ve wasted money on something. This can be especially true for companies that offer nonessential services and continue to spend a lot of money trying to gain customers. In other words, why continue to advertise if no one is buying?  

Many of these kinds of businesses have asked themselves this same question, and as a result, they either reduced their marketing budget or eliminated it.  

However, by severely cutting your marketing budget, you will miss out on one of the most significant opportunities to earn future customers!

Opportunity 1: People Are Online More Than Ever

Hootsuite, a popular social media management tool, recently did a survey that found the average person spends 6 hours and 42 minutes online every day. With the majority of Americans now spending more time at home, they inevitably are going to spend more time on their devices. This can potentially increase the amount of time they spend online by as much as 50%!  

The issue is, fewer people are looking to buy right now. So your marketing strategy needs to appeal to your potential customers that will need your product or service in the future.

Top of the sales funnel

When advertising to potential customers, you should consider their stage in the sales funnel. Potential customers at the top of your funnel usually haven’t heard of your product or aren’t very familiar with it. So the primary goal of marketing at the top of the funnel is brand awareness. Top-of-funnel marketing channels include traditional outreach like TV, radio, and billboards; and also generally-targeted digital banner ads, Facebook, and Instagram ads as well.  

Middle of the sales funnel

Potential clients that make it to the middle of your funnel have heard of your company or the product you sell, and they’re doing research, comparing you to your competitors. So the goal to reach potential clients in the middle of the sales funnel is to educate and persuade them – but not yet ask for the sale. Targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are great middle-of-funnel marketing channels enabling you to reach potential customers.

Bottom of the sales funnel

Finally, the bottom of the funnel is where someone is ready to purchase; they’ve done their research, and they are focused on getting the best deal—this where your company asks for the sale. Popular bottom-of-funnel channels include Google Search Ads and Bing Search Ads. Ads on these channels can appear when your potential customer is ready to buy based on their search query’s intent.

To make the most of your target audience spending more time on their devices, your marketing strategies must focus on building brand awareness at the top of your funnel and educating your potential customers in the middle of your funnel.   

Here’s a video we created that highlights this strategy:

Importance of building trust

No matter how you’re reaching your target audience, people prefer to do business with companies they trust. This is why focusing on top and middle of the sales funnel strategies is so important because once you’ve built trust, your marketing will produce more customers.  

As an example, Google “Los Angeles personal injury attorney,” click on a few of the Google Ads, then take a look at the websites those ads are promoting. Most of the sites won’t win any design awards, and yet those attorneys are gaining a lot of clients with Google Ads because they’ve taken the time to build trust among their target audience with top and middle of the funnel strategies.

What do you promote?

During the pandemic, people aren’t buying as many products or services right now. But they’re still online and still looking for ways to improve their lives and their careers.  

So to appeal to potential customers tastefully at the top of your sales funnel, consider the following strategy:

  1. Write a blog post or a new web page on how your industry is affected by COVID-19 and the specific steps people are taking.  
  2. Then create Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn ads around this blog post to inform your target audience, but not selling them. This could even become a series of blog posts, depending on how long the pandemic and its effects last. It could first discuss who/what is affected by the virus, and then, later blog posts could explain how your industry is recovering from it. 
  3. You will also want to install a remarketing pixel that enables you to stay in front of your potential customers throughout the sales funnel.
  4. Now that your audience is aware of your business, develop middle of your sales funnel ads (both static and video ads) that detail your company’s value, experience, some case studies, and further industry insights. The goal of these ads is to only appear to people that have seen your COVID-19 related ads and have read your content.  
  5. Over time, as your potential customers consume your content, your company will become an industry expert in their eyes.

Trust = New Customers

After three to six months of running your top-of-funnel and middle-of-funnel ads and reaching thousands of people multiple times with timely and helpful messaging, you’ve finally created some powerful brand awareness and trust.  

Then, once the COVID-19 pandemic has receded, you can then target all of these potential customers with bottom-of-funnel channels like Google Search & Bing Ads. These search ads will be even more effective because you’ve educated your potential clients, so they’re now aware of your product or service, they’ve already compared you against your competition, and many of them are ready to buy.

Opportunity 2: Thriving in Our New Reality

While economists’ opinions vary greatly on how quickly our economy will recover, many agree there will be a partial bounceback as people return to work. 

The issue is, the needs of your potential customers might have changed. Sure, they’re still price and value-conscious, but many of them won’t buy from your company unless you can prove you’ve taken all the proper health precautions to ensure their safety.  

Then once these precautions are installed, the next step is to “out-precaution” your competitors. Many of your customers will pay more for this increased level of vigilance.  

Like it or not, this is our new reality. This is also your biggest opportunity.

To date, most businesses have taken all of the necessary steps to ensure the health of their customers. Yet, very few of these companies have done a great job communicating this on their website and their marketing outreach. And still, even fewer of those businesses recognize the potential of their precaution protocol as a customer acquisition channel.

For these reasons above, it’s a great time to pivot your current marketing strategy to meet this current and future need.

Creating a Post-pandemic Marketing Strategy

For companies with an established marketing strategy, the good news is they don’t need to start over. And for companies without a plan in place, it’s the best time in the last 50 years to create a marketing strategy!

When companies hire us as their CMO (chief marketing officer), we always start with a competitor analysis and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to understand our clients’ services, products, values, goals, and competitors. So this will also be an excellent place for your company to begin, in light of our new economic realities.

After gaining a better understanding of how your company is positioning itself and where your competitors stand, it’s time to assess every available customer outreach channel to determine the best ways to convey your message.

There are twenty client acquisition channels to consider:

  1. Business development
  2. Referral programs
  3. Public relations
  4. Unconventional public relations
  5. Content marketing: blog posts, social media ads, display ads, video ads
  6. Search engine marketing: Google, Bing, and Yahoo ads
  7. Offline/traditional advertising: TV, radio, billboards, newspaper, direct mail, etc.
  8. SEO (search engine optimization)
  9. Email marketing/marketing automation
  10. Viral marketing
  11. Engineering as marketing (ex: creating lead capture forms)
  12. Hiring a sales force
  13. Blogger targeting
  14. Trade shows
  15. Offline events: meet up’s
  16. Swag products: branded promotional material 
  17. Webinars
  18. Influencer marketing: hiring a brand spokesperson
  19. Networking 
  20. Guerilla tactics

Here’s a more in-depth description of every customer acquisition channel.

When going through every channel, we create one to three ideas for each. Once they’ve been recorded, we grade them based on their ICE score, which rates the idea’s impact, confidence, and ease of implementation, on a scale of 1-10. The top-scoring ideas then become phase one of the new marketing strategy.

This pragmatic approach to growth requires a company’s stakeholders to all contribute to the formulation and ranking of each idea. It’s only when there’s complete buy-in by every department head that the best ideas can be identified and implemented.

After managing thousands of marketing campaigns and over $19m on the Facebook and Google advertising platforms, we’ve learned the hard way how to ensure a successful campaign. So by employing the same measures we use above, your business can be confidently positioned as a market leader in the new economy.

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Attorney Branding in 2020

It’s more difficult than ever to run a successful law firm. Attorneys must not only be experts in their specific field, but they must also excel with client intake, attorney marketing, and branding their firm. While many law firms are focusing on their client intake process and their advertising, the majority of attorneys neglect building their brand, which is a huge mistake.

Branding drives your law firm’s image, sets you apart from competitors, and often is responsible for your clients choosing your law office over other firms. So crafting an effective and innovative attorney branding strategy is one of the essential elements of running a law firm. 

What is Attorney Branding?

Your law firm’s brand is the overlap of your firm’s reputation in the legal field, and your brand promise to your clients. Your law firm’s brand is the foundation of your legal practice and includes your client outreach, law firm marketing plan, and your firm’s mission and values.

Whether you run an established firm or are just getting started, attorney branding can seem overwhelming. Yet, the right branding strategy can help you distinguish your legal practice and grow your client base. To succeed in the competitive market, you’ll need to implement powerful digital marketing strategies, experiment with innovative law firm marketing ideas, perfect your sales process, and track your business goals and metrics.

Building Your Law Firm’s Website

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Yet for the majority of attorneys, the first impression their website makes is a bad one!  

A bad website can cost the average personal injury attorney over $400,000 a year in lost cases. While some attorneys still don’t see their need for a great website, the majority of law firms understand the importance of an optimized site. The issue is, these law firms don’t know how to create a website that converts traffic into potential clients.

For an easy solution, many attorneys use legal website companies to create their site. These templated sites look professional, but they often use cheesy stock images and boilerplate content, resulting in a lackluster performance.  

Instead, your website should be a reflection of the value your firm provides. For example, when we designed the website for Freedman Law, we focused on two sustainable competitive advantages they have: 300+ Google reviews and $1.25B they’ve won for their clients. This info is located entirely above the fold of the website, meaning there’s enough information at the top of the site so that their potential clients don’t even have to scroll down. New content was created, and photos were taken for this website project, and since it launched, it’s converted an additional 35% of their site traffic into a phone call or email inquiry.

In addition to investing a lot of time and resources into your home page, your “About Us” page is usually the second-most popular page on a law firm’s website. Your “About Us” page should explain your mission/values and tell the story of your firm’s brand. This is important because potential clients make decisions emotionally, then they justify them rationally. That is why it’s crucial that your homepage and About Us page outlines your sustainable competitive advantage, your values, and your extensive experience.  

Additionally, add specific practice area pages that lists the legal services you offer and the type of law you practice, client testimonials, a blog, case studies, and a FAQ page to your website. Over time, create new content for your law firm’s website, such as videos, podcasts, and blog posts, to foster a relationship with potential new clients. 

Digital Marketing for Law Firms

With over 1.2 million lawyers in the United States, integrating digital marketing into your law firm marketing strategy can help you promote brand awareness, build a loyal client base, and differentiate yourself from the competition.

SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) involves optimizing your law firm website content and website design to help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). When making your law firm website search engine-friendly, it’s crucial to consider numerous SEO strategies and best practices, including keywords, links, local SEO, and metadata. 

If you’re new to SEO, write each web page as if you’re talking to your target audience. This approach can help you create high-quality content and rank higher in organic search results. 

If your marketing budget allows, consider hiring a team of legal marketing experts to optimize your web design and help you create great content for website visitors. An experienced marketing company can help you create a mobile-friendly website design to optimize your website for mobile devices, build your brand identity, and take your SEO efforts to the next level by implementing a strategic SEO campaign.

PPC Ads

Pay per click advertising (PPC) like Google Ads, are online ads that attorneys pay for when potential clients click on them. These ads are very effective because they only appear when your specific keywords are searched. So when someone clicks on your PPC ad, they’re actively searching for your service.

When using PPC ads, one vital thing to remember is that ads should always link to a designated landing page associated with the specific ad. In other words, your landing page should match what the ad offers. For example, if your PPC campaign was for personal injury services and clicking on your ad sent potential clients to a page about estate planning, you risk losing the business of a new client looking for a personal injury lawyer.

Social Media Ads

There are two main channels to consider with social media: organic posting and using their advertising platform to reach potential clients. For the majority of law firms, posting consistently on Facebook or Instagram doesn’t create a lot of clients. This is mainly because your organic posts on Facebook typically appear to only 1% of your fanbase. And how many people that used a personal injury attorney or a criminal defense attorney, plan on using them again?

In other words, when it comes to social media for attorneys, forget about continually posting on social media. It’s almost a waste of time. Instead, focus on utilizing social media advertising platforms!

With the Facebook/Instagram advertising platform, you can target people based on age, demographics, where they work, and where they live, to name a few. And when these people click on your ad, they’re pushed from Facebook to your website! This is a great way to cost-effectively build your brand by reaching your target audience multiple times a month, with various content focused on your sustainable competitive advantage, your mission/values, and your expertise.

Attorneys that invest in branding like this find that these efforts improve the performance of their other advertising channels, since they’re building trust.

Legal Online Directories

Listing your law firm in online legal directories and local directories can help increase your law firm website’s search engine rankings and help you build credibility in your practice area. Listings in some directories are free, while other directories, like FindLaw, charge a fee to list yourself.

Google My Business

Attorneys should also create a Google My Business profile. With countless prospective clients using Google to search for attorneys over legal directories, creating a Google My Business account for your law firm can help increase your online presence. Keeping your profile updated, responding to online reviews, and adding an FAQ to your listing are great ways to boost your SEO, increase your visibility in SERPs, and build your reputation.

Email marketing

Email marketing campaigns can help law firms attract new leads and concurrently build a robust referral process. Whether you send updates about your firm, recent cases you’ve won, or various ways you’re giving back to your community, email marketing can help your firm make an impression on potential clients and generate referrals from past clients.

Guest blogging

This is another effective way to drive new business to your firm’s website. To start guest blogging, create a list of legal publications and blogs you’re interested in guest posting on, check the guest blogging policy, and apply to be a guest blogger. By doing this, it will help you build your website’s authority in Google’s eyes, and it builds credibility among your target audience. 

Client testimonials

Online reviews and testimonials are powerful SEO elements for attorneys. Although word-of-mouth referrals are essential to lead generation, many of your potential clients visit Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook to read reviews from former customers. Reviews from satisfied clients provide instant credibility and often result in new business.

Does Traditional Advertising Still Work?

Over the last ten years, digital marketing has taken the wind out of traditional advertising’s sails. Channels that were once very popular like billboards, TV commercials, radio, and newspaper ads, are now seen as expensive and not as targeted. Yet, while traditional advertising may have suffered, it is still a very effective way to reach a broad audience.  

For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney, your target audience is very general since people can get hurt at any age. This makes targeting them both easy and hard. On the digital marketing side, it’s impossible to predict when someone will get injured and need your services. Google Ads is a great way to get in front of people once they’re injured and are searching for your services, but these ads are very costly.  

This is why targeting a broad audience can be much easier by utilizing a traditional marketing channel like radio or a billboard. Sure, your ad appears to many people that do not need your services, yet, but over time, these kinds of traditional advertising channels build brand awareness and trust among your target audience.

While there’s pro’s and con’s to traditional and digital advertising, the most successful law firm’s use a combination of both methods of outreach to win more clients.

How to Measure Success

To measure the success of your marketing efforts, you must first define what KPIs (key performance indicators) you’ll be monitoring. The top KPIs are phone calls and emails from potential clients. But it’s essential to define other metrics of success that can lead to new clients, like dwell time (duration of time on site), where users clicked on your site (use Hotjar heatmaps for this), and how long they watched various videos on your website.

If you’re not sure where to start, use Google Analytics to track website visits, create SEO-specific goals that focus on increasing your page rank, and determine which type of content is trending on your website. 

Once these KPIs are determined and your marketing campaign has launched, you must review its performance on a weekly or biweekly basis. Keep in mind that your goals may change due to new service areas your firm offers, an increasing number of new leads, new relationships within the legal industry, and growing awareness of your law firm’s brand.

Converting Visitors into Clients

Digital and traditional marketing can help you attract potential clients, but that’s only half the battle. The most successful law firms have invested thousands of hours into perfecting their sales process. This process begins by educating people with their marketing messaging and is reflected across the entire client intake process, all the way until the case is settled. 

The Bottom Line

Crafting an effective legal marketing strategy and sales process takes time and effort, especially if you want to build a strong brand and distinguish your firm in the legal industry. If you don’t have the time or experience to devote to attorney branding, working with a professional SEO agency can help you achieve the best results. Whether you’re a new attorney or a partner in a large firm, an experienced marketing agency can help you navigate the branding process and create a strategic law firm marketing plan that ties into your sales process.

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Growing Your Bank’s Customers During (and After) COVID-19

It’s become increasingly harder for financial institutions to create and retain their customers. For example, due to the higher customer acquisition costs in the banking industry, it can take two or more years for the average bank or credit union to profit on a new customer/member. Adding to this complexity, once a new customer is created, it has become even harder to retain them over a two-year period. Here are some key banking retention statistics to consider:

  • Customer churn rates hover around 11%. Yet the annual churn rate on new customers hovers around 20–25% during the first year.
  • Banks spend approximately $200 to acquire a new customer, yet their average customer generates $150 in revenue annually.

A bank’s profitability is linked directly to their customer’s lifetime value—the longer the customer relationship, the higher the chance the customer will become profitable. But with nearly one-quarter of new customers closing their accounts and more than one in 10 current customers defecting to another financial institution, a significant attrition problem exists in the banking industry today. 

So, how can you drive new business while retaining customers?

Importance of Customer Loyalty

Customer satisfaction is a measure of how products and services provided by a company meet or exceed customers’ expectations. Customer satisfaction signifies how much customers “like” your financial institution and how happy they are with your products and services. On the other hand, customer loyalty is determined by the degree of a customer’s intention to recommend your bank to others and continue investing in products and services.

Customer loyalty is more difficult to earn than customer satisfaction, as it requires regularly exceeding your customers’ expectations. Consequently, not all banks can successfully earn customer loyalty. Ultimately, failing to prioritize customer loyalty can lead to customer churn and lost profits. To keep customer retention rates high, banks must search for opportunities to foster customer loyalty.

Issues With Tracking Customer Retention

Monitoring hidden defections can help banks distinguish loyal customers from satisfied customers. A standard defection is when a customer closes all of their accounts at your bank or credit union and leaves for another financial institution. A hidden defection is where customers simply leave their existing accounts open, but open a new account at a different bank or credit union. Hidden defections make customer attrition challenging to manage and highlight the importance of customer retention optimization—but what’s the best tactic to detect if your customers are considering defecting?

Many financial institutions are unaware of the extent of their customer retention issues because of blind spots in their retention efforts. Banks track client exits, which are the most visible form of attrition because they’re easy to monitor. Yet this approach doesn’t account for hidden defections that comprise the majority of customer attrition.

Hidden defections might not match the traditional definition of customer attrition, but the impact on your bottom line is still the same. Whether new users stop using their account, open a new account at a different credit union, or purchase financial services from another institution, the net result is the same. 

The good news is that banks and credit unions can reverse attrition and increase customer retention rates by studying their customer behavior and investing time and resources into customer relationship management.

Give Your Members a Reason to Stay

To keep customer retention high and attrition low, it’s imperative to find out what customers are at the highest risk of defecting and give them a reason to stay.

1. Find out when customers leave. Use customer data to track the customer journey from customer acquisition to departure to find out what point customers leave during the onboarding process. Analyzing when loyal customers depart can help you craft a customer retention strategy to target their pain points during the onboarding process and once they become a customer.

2. Predict which customers might leave. Apply predictive analytics to determine which customers are at the highest risk of defecting. Next, focus your customer retention strategy toward loyal customers who have a high customer lifetime value but are at risk of defecting. Can you move high-risk customers into new features or services like online bill pay, debit cards, freebies, or a customer loyalty program?

The best way to craft an effective customer retention strategy is to consider the following attributes of your existing customers: 

  • Length of relationship with your bank or credit union
  • Log of credit union visits, customer service phone calls, or live chat interactions
  • Types of financial products and cards owned, i.e., home mortgages, debit cards
  • Customer behavior, average order value, and transaction histories across multiple channels
  • Automatic payment, online bill pay, and web-based channel usage

Customer Retention Strategies for Banks

Members used to think that switching primary banks was a time-consuming, inconvenient task. Yet, according to Accenture, this perception has changed. Today, millennials believe switching banks isn’t as challenging as it used to be. 

So here are five ways to gain more members during and after the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Start a newsletter email campaign. Encouraging customer interactions beyond branch visits can have a significant impact on the success of your customer retention program. Email marketing can help your bank foster long-term customer relationships. Newsletters also show long-time customers that you appreciate their business, and can build the goodwill needed to obtain referrals.

In your email newsletter, consider discussing industry trends, best practices for banking safety, or new features. Additionally, link to your social media profiles and send out quarterly customer satisfaction surveys.

You can segment your email recipient list based on the specific services your members are receiving. This approach allows you to create much more targeted content, resulting in higher conversion rates.

Many banks utilize a CRM to manage customer interactions.  These CRMs also allow financial institutions to design the e-blasts, segment their recipient list, and monitor the campaign’s effectiveness.

2. Send out customer satisfaction surveys. Customer surveys can significantly influence your bottom line by collecting valuable insights about customer behavior. By requesting customer feedback through customer satisfaction surveys, banks can:

  • Analyze customer behavior and user experience
  • Achieve an accurate understanding of overall customer experience
  • Identify and resolve urgent issues and weaknesses in the customer journey
  • Evaluate loyalty and customer satisfaction
  • Identify your customers with a high customer lifetime value (i.e., promoters who are likely to provide referrals)
  • Obtain valuable insights to improve new products and services

Capturing customer feedback is essential to reassess your institution’s best practices and determine how market and competitor developments are changing customer behavior and their expectations. 

Customer surveys can be helpful to capture unbiased customer reviews like whether fees or a lack of customer support may influence user experience (micro-level). Or whether a large number of customers complain about specific customer issues or subscription services (macro-level). With customer satisfaction surveys, customer success teams can pinpoint the most pressing retention threats to provide a better customer experience.

High customer satisfaction not only increases customer retention but also promotes customer engagement and increases your average customer’s lifetime value. When customer satisfaction is high, customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, post online reviews, and refer your financial institution to others.

3. Go the extra mile to provide value. In an Accenture customer survey, almost half (45%) of all respondents reported they would remain loyal to their bank if their institution offered them discounted financial services or products. Customer retention improves when customers are given a wide range of discounts and incentives on travel, auto loans, and home goods, 

So your customer retention strategy should offer discounts and freebies to expand your membership and reduce your churn rate.  

However, banking institutions often find it challenging to get customers to sign up or use loyalty programs. Approximately two-thirds (67%) of existing bank customers do not participate in rewards programs or loyalty programs offered by their primary bank. Because five out of six consumers don’t know that their bank provides a customer loyalty program in the first place, customer relationship management is the first step to optimizing customer retention and promoting customer acquisition.

4. Offer robust mobile services. According to a recent Bain & Company case study, banking customers who are frequent mobile users are 40% less likely to switch banks than the average customer. Mobile banking can have a significant impact on customer experience and loyalty, making mobile banking an excellent way for banks to reduce churn and encourage brand loyalty.

Mobile apps create strong relationships between banks and customers. Banks should aim at making their mobile app a valuable tool to help customers meet their financial goals. For example, banks can add a personal touch by providing customer support with routine banking needs, eliminating the need for a branch visit. When banks introduce mobile apps with new features that assist with reaching personal savings goals and monitor purchase frequency, customers feel satisfied and respected. Combined with friendly user experience, banking automation is a powerful tool in bank customer retention.

While most banking mobile apps group purchases into specific categories (bills, groceries, etc.), banks should help customers track purchase frequency, track vital metrics, and provide valuable insights into spending habits. To retain loyal customers, banks should help them track their long-term financial goals with a mobile app. Otherwise, banks risk increased customer churn, as customers may opt for a bank that provides superior financial services.

5. Focus on delivering a better customer experience. It’s essential to prioritize user experience to ensure long-term customer relationships. Make customer support and excellent customer service your bank’s principal focus. Adjust your sales, customer service, and marketing strategies based on customer feedback. Craft a retention strategy that focuses on offering customers a better understanding of how your bank’s products and services can meet their financial goals.

Great Banking Experience = More Profit

The banking industry has a unique set of challenges in the area of customer defection. So developing customer retention strategies based on user behavior will help financial institutions provide meaningful and effortless banking experiences. In turn, industry data is showing that this kind of improved experience will drastically improve retention rates and lead to increased profitability. 

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Attorneys Win More Clients With SEO and Content Marketing

Advertising on Google can get very expensive, especially for attorneys. It’s not uncommon for lawyers to pay over $100 for one click on a Google Ad! And on top of that, a Google Ad is only ‘renting’ space at the top of Google. So once you reach your daily allotment of clicks, your ad disappears until the next day.

It’s a costly reality. So the goal of many law firms is to stop paying for ad clicks and start investing in an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy to rank on page one of Google.

Sure, investing in SEO can also be costly, but it’s often much less expensive than Google Ads and it can be more effective. For example, let’s suppose you invest in an SEO strategy and you eventually rank on page one of Google for the search ‘personal injury attorney.’ Depending on the size of your geographic area, this search can produce 300+ organic clicks to your website in one month. Compare that to Google Ads where one personal injury-related Google Ad click costs $100, the monthly value of this SEO campaign is over $30,000!

The internet offers an extensive Rolodex of qualified legal services. Unfortunately, many of those services get lost on page 4 or page 5 of the search results. So how do you ensure your website lands at the top? A good, strategic SEO strategy can be the answer to landing your law firm’s website and not your competitor’s on the first page of Google’s search results.

Prospective clients turn to Google, Bing, and other popular search engines to ask specific questions, such as: What is my case worth? Will my personal injury case go to trial? What happens if I’m partially at fault for a car accident? Should I hire a personal injury lawyer? Who’s the best attorney near me?

When your target audience searches for information related to your law firm’s services, will they find your law firm’s website? If you integrate an onsite and offsite SEO strategy designed to respond to these questions, they eventually will.

For Attorneys, Rank Is Critical

If your law firm ranks on page one for specialty-specific target keywords like ‘dog bite attorney’ or ‘workers comp lawyer’, you will drive more organic traffic and increase your website traffic to attract new leads. The goal is to prove to Google that your firm is the most relevant search result for the specific searches that are the most important to you. When clients ask Google for legal advice, your page should be the one that answers their questions best.

For example, SEO strategy utilizes relevant keywords within the content of your website to increase the quantity of organic search traffic Google sends to your website. SEO can directly help your law firm’s website improve its ranking for target keywords and place your practice areas, landing pages, and blog posts in front of your target audience. This is all without paying for Google and Facebook ads for new clients.

The Benefits of SEO for Law Firms

Since law firms are in one of the most competitive, locally-based industries, many law practices fall into the trap of investing a lot – sometimes too much – money into PPC advertising like Google Ads and Facebook ads. While this method can bring businesses to the first page temporarily, it’s more effective in the long run to focus on optimizing your website to organically rank for your specific keywords.

Unlike Google Ads, search engine optimization involves creating high-quality content designed to help your target audience. This will allow you to rank for your desired keywords and just as importantly, you’ll be positioned as an expert in your field based on the advice and insight you provide.

Practicing SEO can take a lot of time, leading many firms to seek out the services of an SEO digital marketing agency. A team of digital marketing professionals with specific experience in legal marketing can provide you with a detailed audit while helping you set specific goals for your personal injury practice. They can also and maximize your ROI (return on investment) and conversion rate by connecting you to your ideal clients.

Getting a Head Start

The best way to understand how SEO works is to think like Google for one second.  If a new law firm just launches their website, will Google want to list it on page one?  Of course not! Their website has only had a handful of people on it and their are 100+ other attorney websites in the same area that have had thousands of people on their website.  

Google rewards relevancy so whether you have a new website or an established one, it’s your job to prove to Google that you belong on page one. So here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Google’s goal is to provide specific, relevant answers to searchers’ queries.
  • Google uses an algorithm to index billions of web pages and selects the results deemed most relevant to the query.
  • Google ranks organic search results by the popularity and authority of each website.

Consequently, a powerful SEO strategy must focus on improving your website’s relevance, authority, and credibility level among potential clients. The first thing to do is set up a Google My Business (GMB) account to list your law firm as a local listing. 

Listing your legal practice as a local business influences the kind of results your law firm shows up for and allows your business to rank higher for local searches. Snippets of information such as online reviews – along with your law firm’s email address, phone number, and other contact information – will appear there.

The next step is to ask past clients for online reviews on both Google and Yelp. Whether you’re a small firm or a bigger personal injury firm, online reviews and testimonials carry a lot of weight in search results, as they can help you perform higher in local SERPs (search engine results pages). 

According to a 2018 survey by Moz, positive reviews can also help you perform better in local SEO. For better results, strategically ask your clientele for reviews at the right place and the right time.

SEO and Content Marketing

To attract more potential new clients to your law practice, you need to implement both a powerful SEO and content marketing strategy. Marketing for personal injury lawyers requires upping your game to the next level by:

  • Optimizing landing pages and FAQs for target keywords
  • Offering a smartphone-and tablet-friendly web design
  • Incorporating high-quality backlinks and citations
  • Creating relevant content worth finding

What Makes a Powerful Strategy

Digital marketing and content marketing work like peanut butter and jelly. One without the other, especially for law firms, is only a half effort. To enhance your strategy and achieve the best results, improve your search engine rankings, and broaden your online presence, high-quality content is necessary.

Regularly post relevant, new content on your legal website and across social media platforms like LinkedIn and your firm’s Facebook page. In addition to social media marketing and posting content on your new website, a quarterly email newsletter or an email marketing campaign are effective ways to stay on the mind of past clients and earn new referrals. Over the last seven years of hundreds of attorney marketing campaigns, we’ve proven that 80% of new clients Don’t even come from marketing, but from referrals.

An effective content marketing campaign will improve your credibility, build public relations and establish rapport with potential clients, and provide a boost in search engine results. Optimized content that showcases your expertise in the legal profession can help your landing pages and target keywords rank higher in search engine results, allowing you to genuinely connect with prospective clients.

Relevance and Specificity

Google operates by identifying the intent of every search. An example of an informational search might be, ‘What does a personal injury attorney do’? A solution-based search would sound something like, ‘Personal injury attorney near me.’ If your law practice provides direct answers to these queries, it could give your legal website an advantage at the top of Google’s search results page.

When combined with relevant content discussing how to choose a personal injury attorney, which is more high-intent, you can strengthen your marketing strategy and connect with new clients at all stages of your sales funnel.

Major Takeaways

Search engine optimization is the best long-term solution to gain new clients as long as you provide relevant (and well-structured) content that answers prospective client’s legal questions.

Also, by measuring your organic search results with tools like Google Analytics, you can refine and improve your online marketing strategy. By pairing SEO with an effective content marketing strategy, you can directly improve your search engine visibility, attract qualified leads, and build your firm’s credibility as a leader in your area of law.

CRM-ADslarge

Using a CRM in the Banking Industry

When you sit down to brainstorm marketing strategies for your bank, chances are you cycle through some of the same tactics that left your institution feeling stale in the first place. You can’t blame yourself. For years, the customer banking experience reflected what banks represented: generic sign-up incentives, stuffy gray offices, and financial stress.

Now, banking customers are savvier and much more willing to personalize their banking experience. The digital age has pushed the industry forward, giving marketing teams every opportunity to keep the evolution feeling fierce and fresh.

One way to further push this personalized experience is to invest in a solid CRM strategy. A great CRM can work to finesse your relationship with your customers and their ever-changing needs. The CRM can pull and manage data that will inform you what your people want and when.

A great way to see your customer’s needs through is to find a solid CRM strategy that can respond to shifting dynamics in a way that feels immediate, relevant, and personal.

Using a CRM

Customer Relationship Management sounds straightforward enough, but sometimes changing dynamics within your customer base make identifying a clear strategy challenging. In the banking industry especially, the client’s needs are always changing. A customer’s employment status, where he or she lives, or whether or not he or she is inclined to bank in-person or on mobile may cause banking needs to fluctuate. Loyalty to a specific bank is rare, and many times, customers use different banks for different services.

A solid CRM strategy responds to these shifting dynamics. It can identify where there are holes in communication between your bank and your customer base, and fill needs that may be currently missed. For example, if your bank offers excellent rates and lending terms but doesn’t do its job communicating these terms to your audience, the point is lost. There is a lot of information on the Internet, so above all, people want to trust you.

Staying on the same page as your customers will keep you informed about what their needs are. When you step in to feel those needs, the customers will feel cared for. This feeling leads to higher customer retention which leads to loyalty.

Before you get the warm fuzzies, challenge your team to a step back and look at where your cash is going. If it’s going into advertising, stop. The key to an improved customer relationship in this digital era isn’t in advertisements, in but personalized communication, reliable customer service, and engaging leads.

The heart of CRM is the response customers give your business. Like any successful relationship, the flow of communication goes both ways. If you give better service, you will receive loyalty. If you offer incentives, you will gain clients. And most importantly, if you smile, they will smile back. 

Curious as to how a CRM system could bring your financial institution to the next level? Here are a few of our favorite benefits:

  • Customer Satisfaction and Retention
  • An Efficient Inbound Marketing Strategy
  • Increased Productivity

Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Especially for local businesses, the marketing strategy we can’t stress enough is to keep and maintain a relationship with your existing members. (This is why it’s essential to have a referral strategy.)

Customer outreach can be done through email marketing and a few well-thought-out Facebook or Instagram advertising campaigns. A CRM system makes it easier to keep tabs on your customers’ communications with your credit union or community bank.

An Efficient Inbound Marketing Strategy

Have you ever heard someone say: “It’s like the blind are leading the blind”? Without a CRM (or analytics software or another way to gather data) this is the best way to describe your current inbound marketing strategy. A CRM system gives you the power to see which strategies are working and which aren’t.

In addition to seeing where your leads are coming from, CRM software allows credit unions and community bank owners to sort customers based on specific factors such as age, interests, gender, etc. (How else are you going to reach millennials?) 

Using this information, you can create customized marketing materials for each customer who walks through your door, whether that means coming up with a witty social media post, crafting a blog, sending out a newsletter, or adding a variety of keywords to the backend of your website.

Increased Productivity

Financial institutions that use a CRM system also see higher staff productivity and increased sales. (How’s that bottom line looking now?) Having easy access to customer data up-front helps tellers work quickly and efficiently, while also providing better customer service.

Three top banking CRM vendors to research: 

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 CRM for banks features an elaborate customer view profile that includes account and interaction history, profitability, banking preferences, and other individualized tracking. The goal is to create a clear customer picture by pulling from as much specific data as possible. The system also helps project a sales forecast by identifying patterns in repeat sales. The forecast can help identify an ideal time for a promotion or product launch.

Pega CRM

Pega is ranked as one of the best CRMs for banks because of its elegant analytics system. It processes customer data and generates forward-thinking next steps to take with each customer. The platform is also customizable with basic coding, so marketing teams can tackle some support on their own. Pega automatically generates the code that will make your CRM customizable to how you want it. Pega also offers Better Business software that can make the client onboarding more in-depth and efficient.

SugarCRM 

SugarCRM is most lauded for its customization capabilities, and has both on-premise and cloud accessibilities. The secure system is especially beneficial to banks, as they know your client (KYC) master data management (MDM), and advanced analytics systems help drive choices by context. It is also friendly to a myriad of devices for client-facing employees to utilize.

In this age, it’s critical to take advantage of where customers are doing their finances: online. Utilizing digital marketing from chatbots to digital financial service to features that are friendly to mobile devices will warrant a faster and more approachable customer-service strategy. Your younger audience will thank you for the easy-to-access mobile offerings.

Throw It Back To Traditional Banking

When you hear the term “traditional bank,” maybe you are taken back to your childhood. You may remember running down the street to brick-and-mortar locations with your parents, seeing a friendly teller with a hot pot of coffee and a bowl full of lollipops. Or if you are one of the Baby Boomers, maybe you become nostalgic for the days when your kids were young.

The truth is, in the digital age of the financial industry, the model isn’t that different. Digital experiences can be just as personal if you know how to work them. Clever blog posts, personal copywriting, and strategic Vimeo videos can hook and retain your audience.

Let’s face it: Big data shows that many people are suspicious of big banking, mega insurance companies, and federal credit unions. Ease their concerns with a content marketing strategy that makes your folks feel at home.

Leverage Your Marketing With Attention to Detail 

Figuring out how to design a solid marketing strategy takes time. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the grand scheme of things, set actionable goals one task at a time. A strong CRM implementation can help answer these goals by streamlining your marketing process, making your life easier and more organized. The customer experience drastically improves when the customer feels listened to and responded to.

If your marketing department is still feeling a little weary about implementing brand-new tech into your marketing strategy, don’t worry. Banking is an industry where successful marketing ideas Don’t run dry? everyone needs a bank. Finding digital growth is about harnessing what makes your business uniquely resonate with people. With a few personalized strategies, leveraged by an effective CRM, your marketing efforts won’t go in vain.

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What’s Your Marketing Secret Sauce?

The term ‘secret sauce’ was originally coined by Jack in the Box in the early 1980’s as a way to distinguish their flappy fast food burgers from their competition.  While their mix of mayonnaise, mustard, and chili sauce (oops, I think I just gave it away!) may have increased sales, fast forward 30 years and the term ‘secret sauce’ is more often used to describe what makes a company unique.

So What’s Nettra Media’s marketing secret sauce? 

Simply put: as a marketing agency, we Don’t rely on paid advertising to create explosive growth for our clients.  This is a big statement for us since we’re the most established Google Partner & Facebook Partner in Central California.  But more importantly, this is a huge paradigm shift since 98% of all marketing agencies scale in two ways: paid ads and billable design hours.

The issue with a typical marketing agency approach is twofold:

  1. Advertising never comprises more than 30% of a business? new customers.
  2. The majority of a company’s new customers come from referrals, business development strategies, and other non-advertising sources.

The current advertising agency (or marketing agency) business model can really help businesses that already have a marketing strategy in place since they’re asking the agency to carry out specific client acquisition tactics like SEO (search engine optimization), Google Ads, Facebook Ads, social media posting, or web design.

Yet many companies spending thousands of dollars on Google Ads have not spent a dime on creating a dynamic referral process.  This blows our minds since this kind of referral system can easily outproduce the best marketing campaign on Google!

Every business knows it’s usually 20% of their customers that comprise 80% of their business, and yet they have very few business development strategies aimed at creating more relationships like these. 

So to create scalable growth, we started developing non-advertising-related strategies that not only worked but outproduced a typical advertising campaign by up to 3X, creating millions of dollars of new business for our clients, above and beyond the performance of any advertising campaign.

This realization led us to develop one of most growth-centered approaches of any marketing agency within California.

We’re a marketing agency to some of our clients

As the most established Google & Facebook Partner in Central California, creating new customers with digital media comes pretty easy to us. So some of our clients that already have marketing and client acquisition strategies in place, hire us as a traditional marketing agency to fulfill specific tactics like SEO, Google & Facebook Ads, and email marketing, to name a few.  We love these relationships and are experts at scaling companies through these tactics.

We’re also an Outsourced CMO if you need big growth

To help companies create big growth, it requires us to wear the hat of an outsourced CMO (chief marketing officer). The CMO approach gives us greater visibility into a company’s customer acquisition channels, their business development outreach, and similar strategies with the goal of developing/refining new methods of outreach, their implementation, execution, and optimization.  In other words, as an outsourced CMO we become our clients? growth partner, focused on increasing the lifetime value of their customers and also decreasing the cost of acquiring customers.

Marketing summit

The success of our outsourced CMO service is reliant upon gathering as much relevant data as possible, understanding the client’s organization, services, goals, and competition.  Then we outline all of the potential customer acquisition channels and with the client in the room, we hold a series of meetings we refer to as the Marketing Summit. 

In our Marketing Summit, we come up with a viable idea for all 20 client acquisition channels, and then we rate each idea based on its impact, confidence of its success, and its ease of implementation.  The top scoring ideas then become the basis of a phased marketing plan.

For more insight, here’s an outline of our Marketing Summit:

WEEK 1

Getting to Know You (and your Competition):

  • Perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis
  • Nettra will access your digital presence before this first meeting and we’ll review the findings
  • Nettra will perform a competitor analysis before this first meeting and we’ll review the findings

WEEK 2

Focus on Acquisition Channels:

  • Cover 10 to 15 of the customer acquisition channels, create an idea for each

WEEK 3

Finish Acquisition Channels, then Rate Ideas:

  • Complete the remaining acquisition channels
  • Rate each idea (from 1-10) based on it’s impact, our confidence in its success, and it’s ease of implementation
  • Sort the top ideas into Phases 1 & 2  of the marketing plan

WEEK 4

Present Details and next steps for Phase 1 of the Marketing Strategy:

  • Nettra will take the findings from Week 3 and do the research before this last meeting to determine what roles Nettra and client will play, and the costs associated for each client acquisition channel we’ll initially target
  • For each channel, we’ll determine performance goals to gauge success

Our clients love the Marketing Summit because it helps them strategically allocate their marketing budgets instead of copying the marketing of their competitors or hopping on the newest trends.

In our experience, simply spending a lot of money on digital media will never produce substantial growth.  The key in successfully scaling a business is uncovering the levers of growth that are often hidden within the product or service itself, then optimizing the product offering so that your customers will rip it out of your hands.

So by gathering the above data over a series of meetings, coming up with customer acquisition ideas and rating each idea with the clients in the room, we create a concrete foundation to scale future growth. 

20 client acquisition channels

There are many ways to create clients, but we’ve invested thousands of hours to identify 

every client acquisition channel and we’ve listed them below:

  1. Business development
  2. Referral programs
  3. Public relations
  4. Unconventional public relations
  5. Content marketing: social media ads, display & video ads
  6. Search engine marketing ads (Google, Bing, Yahoo)
  7. Offline / traditional advertising (TV, radio, billboards, newspaper, direct mail, etc.)
  8. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  9. Email marketing / marketing automation 
  10. Viral marketing
  11. Engineering as marketing (creating lead capturing platforms)
  12. Hiring a sales force
  13. Blog targeting
  14. Trade shows
  15. Offline events (like organizing a meetup) 
  16. Swag products (branded promotional material)
  17. Webinars
  18. Influencer marketing (hiring a brand spokesperson)
  19. Networking
  20. Guerilla tactics

The truth

Your potential customers are out there! You can target them, reach them, and even engage them, but that doesn’t mean they become your clients.  

Companies that take the time to develop, implement, and optimize their marketing strategy will keep winning new customers.

The businesses that continue to market like their competition, spending thousands of dollars on advertising without investing any resources in other client acquisition channels, will continue to lose customers and market share.