Build a Brand Strategy on a Budget

Your brand strategy is like the DNA of your company; it’s how you set yourself apart from the competition and show your ideal customers who you are and why they should work with you.

Without a strong brand, people might buy your products or services — but they’ll forget you as soon as the credit card charge clears.

With the right brand strategy, you could set yourself apart from the competition, develop a loyal customer base, and increase your profits.

First things first…

If you’ve got a limited budget to work with, you want to start with the most important design assets first — your logo. Your logo is the face of your company, so you don’t want to wait until you’re almost out of budget to get it designed.

So, how can you do this the most efficiently, financially? Use a platform like 99designs, where you can run a design contest. You put together a brief for what you need, and then multiple designers send over their ideas. You get to look through everything and only pay for the design you choose. It’s a great way to get exposure to multiple designers and ideas — without having to pay for samples from each one.

Do Your Homework

Strong brands are built on market research – you need to know who you’re selling to before trying to craft a brand strategy.

While large companies often pay consultants to do market research for them, you can easily cut out these costs by using tools from all over the web. Here are a few (free!) recommended tools to get you started:

  • Hootesuite– Manage up to 3 social profiles and schedule your posts in advance. The free plan also includes basic analytics for tracking followers and various growth and content statistics
  • Google Analytics – Shows you all sorts of demographic information about your current users, like their ages, genders, and country of residence.
  • SocialOomph– With the free plan, you can schedule tweets, track keywords, shorten URL’s, and manage up to five Twitter accounts, but some of the more sophisticated features require a paid plan. 
  • Followerwonk– Connect a profile, view authority rankings, see followers and their locations, see when followers are active, and access several other details to further analyze your social audience. Bam.

Find your buying audience, understand their needs, and see how you can help them solve problems. With your research done, you can tweak the design elements of your brand to fit your audience’s demands.

Build A Quality Website

You don’t need to spend a fortune on your website until your business is bringing in enough cash to have it professionally designed. With all of the DIY website builders out there, it’s totally within your power to set up our own creative website if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and apply a bit of sweat equity.

Make sure you choose the right tools that will allow you to scale, iterate and grow. Not all website templates are created (or coded) equally, so be careful of “free” options (there’s usually a tradeoff).

I recommend the Divi theme from WordPress. It’s the most popular WordPress theme for a reason! It’s easy to use and there’s a huge online community if you ever need support or have a question. The sky is really the limit on what you can do with it design-wise.

Create a Color Scheme

This is probably one of the fundamental, yet the most central element of your brand- the color scheme.

You’ll want to create a color palette for your website, social media profiles, logo, business cards–everything. Everything should stick to a consistent color palette. Color is what captures people’s attention at an emotional level, and can set you apart from your competitors.

You can absolutely create one for yourself, but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You’ll want your color palette to reflect your brand’s personality and it should be appropriate for your audience and what you sell. (It’s not just about picking colors you like.)
  • You’ll want to make sure your color palette is functional. The biggest mistake I see people making with their color palettes is choosing way too many colors that don’t work together in practice.
  • Don’t go too crazy–the more hues you have in your palette, the harder it can be to work with them
  • Choose plenty of neutrals to round out your palette – The funny thing is if you use plenty of neutrals and then add “pops” of color sparingly, the color actually stands out more.
  • Make sure you have an “action color” that’s in contrast to your primary brand color(s). This is especially important for your calls to action on your website, you don’t want those blending in (people will miss them=no bueno.)

Take Advantage of Email Marketing

Probably the only thing used more than social media is email. All you have to do is hit the “Send” button, and you have direct communication with all of your loyal customers.

Whether you’re running a promotion, uploading a blog, or selling a new product, email marketing is an easy way to let your customers know what’s going on in your company – with minimal effort.  Don’t use email as an excuse to spam your customers – no one likes that. Ever.

There are many email marketing services for small businesses that cost next to nothing, such as:

Create Quality Content

Creating content is a sound long-term investment, and the only thing it costs you is time.

Articles, guest blog posts, educational videos, and other long-form texts can give you a broader brush with which to paint your brand – generating brand awareness in the process.

But more importantly, great content allows your target audience to respect you as an authority– you can answer customers’ questions and give them the advice that makes them trust your brand.

Also, creating content gives you an opportunity to collaborate with other companies in your industry, granting you more exposure through their viewers.

So, if you don’t have a blog – start one! It’s a key strategy for organic marketing; Your blog could give someone their first exposure to your brand.

Blogger or Hubpages is a great free platform for creating a blog.

Wrapping it up…

All of this focus on design should be working towards one goal: Creating a durable brand identity.

Your brand doesn’t need bells and whistles to be powerful – many of the best brands don’t rely on expensive gimmicks and stunts. Instead, they’re successful because they communicate their companies’ goals, values, and mission in a clear way.

 

 

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Marmalade May 6, 2019 0 Comments

Common Marketing Mistakes- How to Convert Traffic into Sales!

If your website is getting solid traffic, but your shopping carts are collecting dust, I’m here to show you some website mistakes to avoid if you want to convert traffic into sales.

Some of the points below touch on content, while others touch on copy. What’s the difference? Basically, all copy (words written to make sales) is content but not all content (words, images, video, etc.) is copy.

With that distinction made, let’s jump right into these five content-related reasons why I might visit your website but refuse to buy:

Your Website Copy is Too Generic

Copywriting is all about crafting words in a way that will convince someone to buy—and let’s face it, many business websites out there aren’t very convincing. A common problem is that their copy is just too generic. They’re trying to be all things to all people.

Here are a few guidelines to make sure your ideal customer knows you’re talking to them.

  • Define your ideal customer and the problem you help them solve.

Before you write a single word for your website, you need to know to whom you are writing and what problem you’re helping them solve.

  • Write a headline that directly addresses their problem and your solution.

When someone lands on your homepage for the first time, you want them to think, “Hey, that’s me!” They want to know they are in the right place. Usually, this can be achieved by simply stating a problem your ideal customer has and your solution. For example, let’s say you sell eco-friendly glass water bottles to the earth-conscious consumer. Your homepage might start with a headline that says, “Tired of throwing away harmful plastic water bottles?” or “Want a reusable water bottle that’s good for the earth?” That ideal customer is going to answer with a resounding “yes!”

Your Business Doesn’t look Legitimate

E-commerce faces a significant challenge. Potential clients can’t see you or your product in person. This can be a huge barrier to establishing a trust that you are who you say you are.

When someone walks into a clothing store, for example, they’re often greeted by a smiling employee, and they can get a feel for the atmosphere. That goes a long way toward building trust, and very quickly.

But when someone visits your website, they’re missing all those physical cues; you need to fill them in with great content that builds trust.

Here are some content pieces you can add to your website to build credibility:

  • Reviews- We as consumers love hearing about others’ experiences with a product! So if you have an e-commerce site, install a ratings/reviews plugin to increase conversions.
  • Testimonials-Reach out to your favorite clients or customers and ask them to tell you what they like best about your business. Then ask if you can display that on your website and marketing materials. Adding testimonials to a page boosted the conversion rate up to 25%.
  • Your physical location– This is the easiest little piece of content to add to the footer of your website and/or your contact page. It helps show that you’re a real business!
  • Guarantee– If you can, offer a guarantee. There’s no better way to vouch for your product than to say you’ll give someone their money back if they’re not satisfied. It could even be free shipping/returns.
  • Information about and photos of you and your team– People want to do business with people, not a website. Show your face to help them feel more at ease with the transaction. The perfect place for this is your About page, an often-overlooked page that can boost your conversions.
Money Back Guarantees are a simple way to build customer trust and loyalty.

Your Blog is weak

There are so many benefits to blogging for your business, and one of the big ones is that it can help convert traffic into sales. Here’s how your blog can work for you:

  • Attracting the right customers. Your blog content should be crafted in a way that attracts relevant visitors and helps move them through the sales funnel, from awareness of a problem, to considering different options, to acting and buying.
  • Generating leads. According to HubSpot, businesses that blog generate four times more leads than businesses that don’t. And more leads mean more sales!

Make sure you get their information so you can keep nurturing that relationship. Blogs are a fantastic way to do that because you are offering your expertise for free, and that will entice a visitor to hand over their email address in the hopes of getting more.

Level Up Your Website Content to Convert Traffic into Sales

Now that we’ve talked about some website mistakes to avoid regarding your content, did you spot any that you’re making? Maybe you’ve got a beautiful website. Maybe you’ve got lots of traffic. Good design and high traffic are great—but they’re meaningless to you as a business if they don’t convert buyers.

So, if you want to convert traffic into sales, try these solid tips for improving your content:

  • Show proof that you’re a credible business.
  • Write helpful blog posts that solve your ideal customer’s problem.
  • Craft copy that speaks to your ideal customer.

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Marmalade April 26, 2019 0 Comments

Email Marketing, Are You Doing it Right?

The idea of email marketing might appear out-dated to some of our younger audiences who spend their days almost entirely on social media. And don’t get me wrong. Social media marketing is highly effective in increasing sales and boosting your brand’s image. But no other channel will give you a better return on investment than email marketing.

In fact, according to Adobe, for every $1 spent on email marketing, you’ll average an ROI of $40. Almost double the ROI of the second-highest channel, SEO.

But having a large email list isn’t going to do you much good if all your emails are going unread or sent directly to the spam folder. Here are Marmalade’s top tips for sending emails that connect with your audience and doesn’t get lost in the inbox.

Spamming Doesn’t Work

This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget this very simple rule.

A good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to recognizing spam is this—if your email isn’t immediately delivering value to your audience, then it’s spam.

No one likes getting hit with dozens of emails about a product launch they don’t care about. That’s something a surprising number of internet marketers tend to forget about.

In order to make sure your emails always stand out in a cluttered inbox, you must always be giving your audience a reason to read your emails. I don’t mean writing a catchy email subject line, although that does help, but instead, constantly delivering something your audience will find valuable.

You must put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Every time someone opens one of your emails, regardless of whether it’s automated or not, you should be rewarding them.

Instead of constantly sending promotional material, they regularly send emails out where they teach their audience helpful skills like how to hang a painting. It sounds simple, but it’s also ridiculously effective.

Keep it Personal

One of the main advantages email has over other channels is that it gives you the chance to get as personal as you want to be, unlike social media or traditional advertisements where you craft a message that’s as universal as possible and hope for the best.

Building an email list is crucial because it’s the best way to build a relationship with potential customers in an intimate way. You’re not just a status update that’s there and gone, you’re right in someone’s inbox. where they receive other important communications from their work, family, and friends.

Show That You’re Human

Have you ever been on a terrible customer service call with a robot? I don’t mean someone that sounds like a robot, but a literal robot. Those incredibly annoying automated menus that are worse at pronouncing your name than Starbucks baristas.

crowded-inbox-screaming-into-phone
“FOR THE LAST TIME, MY NAME IS PATRICIA. NOT
PAMELA”

30 minutes into your call with, CompanyX, you find yourself mockingly singing the waiting music every time it loops around. You’re just wishing that you could talk to a human, someone with at least some capacity of understanding you.

If you’ve ever felt that type of frustration, why would you want to subject your audience to the email equivalent?

Tired businessman with laptop on desk in office
“OK, FINE. You win. I’m legally changing my name to Fartell Chuggins”

Now think about your branding for a second. With the emails you send, are you coming off as a robot, or as an actual person, people would want to respond to?

An easy way to start doing that is to stop using the standard company email whenever you’re sending a message. If the first thing people see is an email coming from “noreply@company.com” they immediately know that it’s an automated email.

Set Up Trigger Emails

The most effective method of ensuring customer loyalty is to simply check in on every once in a while. It adds that little bit of a personal touch and shows that you care.

Whether it’s an email simply saying “thank you” when someone downloads an e-book, or a gentle reminder that their subscription is expiring, emails like these go a long way to making sure that you and your brand are never too far from your customer’s mind.

The best thing about this approach is that the entire process can be automated incredibly easily. Thanks to the power of email automation software, you can send emails that are triggered by the actions your customers take.

For example, many SaaS companies like Dropbox will send an email if their customer hasn’t used their service in a while. It’s a simple reminder to the recipient that they still exist and why they’re helpful.

crowded-inbox-dropbox-example

According to Smart Insights, triggered emails have a 152% higher open rate in comparison to traditional emails. As long as the email itself is always timely, relevant, and valuable, it could be all you need to nudge someone from being a casual viewer to a lifelong customer.

Rent the Runway does a fantastic job with trigger emails in their email marketing strategy. On the anniversary of a customer’s first purchase, Rent the Runway will send an email celebrating the event.

crowded-inbox-rent-the-runway

It doesn’t matter if you’ve only used their service once or multiple times, you’ll still receive that email. It even adds an incentive and offers a $20 discount off the subscriber’s next purchase. Not only does this simple email encourage recipients to continue to use Rent the Runway’s service, but it adds a nice personal touch that makes the customer feel special.

In Conclusion…

One of the fastest ways to alienate a potential customer is to sound like you’re a robot and that you don’t actually care about your customer. Simple tactics like we’ve outlined in this article can be the difference you need to make someone feel like they’re actually connecting with your brand.

In today’s world where we’re inundated with marketing messages from every corner, the thing that’s going to make sure you stand out in a crowded inbox is by being personal and authentic when it counts. Don’t do your brand disservice by being generic and getting sent straight to the trash folder.

Do you have any other tips for making your email marketing more personal? How do you feel about businesses using email marketing automation? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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Marmalade April 15, 2019 0 Comments

Use Facebook to Increase Conversion Rates

Facebook ads get 22 billion clicks a year, and those ads reach a total of 1.6 billion active monthly users. It’s clear Facebook is an attractive channel for advertisers. Here are some methods we practice to use Facebook to increase conversion rates.

Targeting

Facebook’s targeting capabilities offer a scary amount of information – which is great for advertisers.

Facebook’s targeting options are immense, allowing you to pinpoint highly specific audiences that are likely to buy into your brand.

To make this happen, you’re going to layer targeting options to reach highly focused audiences and create ads specific to them.

Let’s say you’re a travel brand, for example. Your broad campaigns (like the one I described above) will play on the basic desire everyone has to travel, escape their job and taste luxury. You’ll also be targeting soft conversions with those campaigns – something like signing up for price updates when the hottest deals are available.

By targeting Life Events on Facebook, you can reach people who have a wedding coming up; people in the market for a honeymoon. So, instead of generic holiday ads, you target these people with offers for the ultimate honeymoon. Then, layer some demographic targeting as well to target men who are getting married, and offer them the perfect honeymoon for her.

You can use interest targeting to pinpoint couples who’ve shown an interest in cruises or other holiday types. The list of targeting options goes on and there’s almost no limit to how specific you can be. Find that sweet spot where your ads are seen by enough people to maximize leads, but guarantee they have a high possibility of converting.

Remarketing

Facebook optimizes ads for a wide range of campaign objectives. You’ll be asked what your advertising goal is as soon as you go to create an ad. This includes a Conversions objective which allows you to target new and previous visitors based on actions they take on your site, in a similar way to AdWords remarketing.

The great thing about the Conversion objective is it allows you to track a wide range of actions users take on your site and use this to a place where they are on your sales funnel. With this attribution, you can create ads designed to nudge them along the buying process.

Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a tracking code (like AdWords cookies) that allows you to track users and target them with remarketing ads. This is how you track user actions through your conversion objectives, which I mentioned earlier. Facebook Pixel essentially means you can do the following:

  • Conversion tracking: See how successful your ads are by tracking the actions users take after clicking through to your site.
  • Optimize bids for conversions: Automatically adjust your bids so ads show to people who are more likely to convert.
  • Remarketing: Target previous visitors who didn’t convert the first time with remarketing ads.
  • Reach a wider audience: Use Lookalike Audiences to reach people with similar interests as your existing customers and leads.

Custom Audiences

To create a Custom Audience you upload email lists and Facebook finds the accounts of those people, allowing you to target them with ads on Facebook. You can upload your email marketing lists and target your existing customers, whether they initially came from Facebook or not.

You can then use your Custom Audiences to create more relevant Lookalike Audiences. Don’t upload your entire email list and creating a single Custom Audience. Upload segmented lists based on the actions people took when they first signed up.

facebook social media conversions

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Marmalade April 11, 2019 1 Comment

How to Increase Social Media Engagement

Although social media engagement has dropped by 50% over the last three years, 92% of marketers still believe that social media is vital to their business. This is probably because social media marketing doubles the conversion rate compared to traditional outbound marketing methods. 
Why? Because social media engagement strengthens brand loyalty, builds customer-brand relationships, and increases word-of-mouth advocacy, which is a much more effective conversion tool than advertising.

So, what’s caused this massive drop in content engagement? A common business misconception that simply being on social media is enough.

Showing up isn’t enough anymore. Intelligent marketers know that you can’t just throw a bunch of posts out there and hope that something sticks.

Audiences today are so desensitized by the flood of content that brands need to find new ways to proactively reach out, rather than passively waiting for them to engage.

If you’re seeing a decline in your engagement rates, here are five tips to break you out of your slump.

1. Be Active

The number one key to social media engagement success is to build long-term, meaningful relationships with your audience. Viral content isn’t going to cut it anymore. What audiences really want is responsive conversation, interaction that they know will make a difference.

Most brands have adopted social media, but their engagement efforts have generally only been one-way. They’re using social media as a bullhorn, rather than the walkie-talkie it’s designed to be.

If brands don’t respond to comments or messages, it screams, “We don’t really care about you.” Consistently responding to followers can create a domino effect, starting with an increase in your post’s organic reach and visibility on news feeds, leading to even higher engagement rates.

Respond quickly and consistently to as many comments as possible; never use cut-and-paste responses.

Flaunt Your Personality

People will judge your brand based on the way you interact with them on social media, so always be genuine. Understand your social media brand voice!

This is particularly important because 80% of people on social media choose to follow brands based on whether their content feels and sounds genuine.

In fact, people often unfollow brands for not having a personality, or for using slang and jargon that doesn’t match their brand voice.

“Don’t just give your customers something to talk about, give them somebody to talk about.”

Jay Baer

Whether you’re sassy like Wendy’s, or quirky like Starbucks Coffee, know who you are and don’t be afraid to let that personality shine.

P.S – Try replying to comments and messages with GIFs or memes occasionally  Its’s an easy way to inject some fun into your page.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback

Ask your followers for feedback on your service or product and respond to each of their comments- especially the negative ones.

Start a conversation about a trending topic. Ask what questions they would like to see answered in the next blog or post. Ask them how they tackle certain challenges or what was their best experience with a certain product. The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be to come up with great questions and better content. Increasing social media engagement moves beyond extracting likes to making real connections with consumers.

Alternatively, set up a poll just for fun. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all have built-in poll functions for you:

4. Set a clear call-to-action

If anything, 2019 is the year of transparency. The cultured audience knows when they’re being tricked into something and 66% of consumers feel deceived when they realize they’ve been baited into reading sponsored content.

The main takeaway is this: be upfront with what you want.

Using words like “follow”, “retweet”, or “follow” can result in 20x the engagement rate compared to posts without clear CTAs.

5. Recognize your fans and post user-generated content

@frank_bod on Instagram–
With their catchy hashtag, #letsbefrank, and an army of influencers in tow, Frank Body created a community that consumers were desperate to be a part of it.

Fans appreciate being recognized by their favorite brands, and reposting UGC is a great way to strengthen your community and potentially increase sales.

Don’t believe me? See how the ‘InstaWhopper’ campaign by Burger King gathered over 34,000 coupons in 3 hours. Or, how this #AIRMAXLINE campaign by Nike resulted in over 15 million impressions and an increase in social media engagement in just two weeks – 100% organically.

Basically…

At the end of the day, social media is all about building relationships. Be a good listener, be authentic, be consistent, but shake things up sometimes. And remember that it’s not just about you and your needs.

In exchange, you’ll get a better understanding of your consumer base, which will help you to build better products or provide better service– both key components in improving your business.

Remember, relationships also take time to build, so don’t be disappointed if your engagement rates don’t immediately increase overnight.

Most importantly, social media is a continually evolving playing field, so be ready to adapt your strategy at any time.

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Marmalade March 31, 2019 0 Comments