4 Actionable Ways to Build a Brand

In business and ecommerce, your brand is your lifeblood. The reputation you have, the experiences you create, the ways you differentiate — everything rolls up to brand.

Can you technically sell products online without an established brand? Sure, maybe for a short period of time. But can you build and grow a sustainable, profitable business without one? Good luck. Can you compete with other companies that market and sell the same products in the same category to the same group of people? Doubtful. Can you create something memorable that keeps people talking and coming back for more? No way.

Without an established brand in place, you won’t survive. To make it, you need to create and manage something unique that customers can experience and interact with. You need something that influencers can get behind. You need something that people can brag to their friends about. You need to build a brand.

Here’s how to start building one for your business:

1. Create a brand book.
To build a strong brand for your business, a good place to start is by creating a brand book that all employees, contractors and agencies can rely on when creating experiences for customers.

This resource is your single source of truth. It’s a living document that everyone can reference and use when they want to understand and portray your brand voice, personality and style.

It should include information that is core to the ongoing development and preservation of your brand, such as your brand promise, mission statement, core values, key messaging and positioning statements about your products, customer personas, visual style guide and communication guidelines for each channel and medium you use when interacting with customers.

A brand book can be as simple as a Google document shared with all members of your team, or it could be a professionally designed and printed resource that you give to each employee or agency who works for you. What matters at the end of the day is not the look of the resource, but the value and usefulness of the content inside.

2. Turn customers into micro-influencers. 
There’s been a lot of talk about influencer marketing this year. In fact, it will probably go down as one of the most overused and misunderstood marketing concepts of 2019.

Is it worth all the hype (and the investment)? My take is yes, as long as you realize one simple truth: you don’t have to hire the Kim Kardashians of the world to get the kind of ROI you’re looking for. In fact, you’re probably better off avoiding big-name celebrities and well-known influencers altogether. Instead, you should be partnering with micro-influencers.

Here’s how micro-influencers are different than influencers. An influencer is a well-known social media personality or real-world celebrity with a huge audience of followers — we’re talking in the millions. You can hire them, but campaigns are expensive, and you might not get the level of engagement you’re looking for.

A micro-influencer, on the other hand, is someone who is less known but still has a decent amount of followers — think more like 5,000 or 10,000 — and influence in a particular industry.

More brands are turning to micro-influencers for two main reasons: they are less expensive and their posts tend to lead to more engagement, comparatively. In fact, Buffer found in a recent study that the less followers an influencer has, the better engagement they get.

So where do you find these influencers? Before embarking on a quest to discover, negotiate with and hire an obscure stranger that probably knows nothing about your product, turn to your existing customers instead. The best ones are probably already talking about your products to their friends anyway.

3. Build a brand photography library.
It’s time to say goodbye to stock photos. Your brand deserves better, your customers deserve better, and you deserve better. You work hard to build products that solve problems and create delight for your customers. The lifestyle photos you use in marketing campaigns should align with the standards you set for every other aspect of your brand — product quality, messaging, customer support, etc.

Stock photos are convenient, but they rarely allow you to create the emotional response you need to create to convert an interested buyer into a loyal customer.

To build a stronger, more recognizable brand for your ecommerce business, you need to spend time building a library of brand photos that help you connect with customers, showcase products and differentiate from competitors. Think of this photo library as an extension of your brand. You create standards when it comes to your logo, your fonts and the copy in your product descriptions. Your photos should also have a distinct style that customers can quickly recognize when scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.

4. Become a publisher and a storyteller.
Marketers have been saying it for years, and it still remains true today: content is king. If you want to connect with prospective customers, you have to build trust and credibility with people. The fastest way to do that is by creating content and positioning yourself as a knowledgeable thought leader in your industry or product category.

In previous years, that meant creating a blog and sharing articles — or if you were really ahead of the times, you might have created videos. But today, winning the content game isn’t about creating a blog or writing articles — it’s about creating an entire publishing arm for your brand that allows you to create and share many different forms of content, from podcasts and interactive presentations to printed lookbooks and long-form interviews with customers.

Want to see two great examples of ecommerce brands that operate like publishers? Take a look at what Filson and YETI have been up to lately.

Wrapping up.
To compete in the world of ecommerce, you need to have an established brand. To win, you need one that is uniquely delightful and unforgettable in the minds of your customers. You can’t get there overnight, but you can get closer each day by becoming hyper-focused on and obsessed with how people experience your brand on social media, on your website, on Amazon, in email and in real life. Need more? Contact TBI Digital and schedule a consultation.

Why Your Brand Needs Both PPC and SEO

SEO vs. PPC – Which Is Better?

The world of search engine marketing is generally divided into two camps: PPC and SEO. Paid Search leads to instantaneous results – immediately putting your brand in front of your target audience – but can be very expensive depending on the level of competition. Meanwhile, Organic Search costs nothing (well, except timeeffort, and expertise), but can take months to see similar results to Paid Search.

Brands often find themselves debating between the two options – pitting the pros and cons of each option against each other to determine the best fit for their business. Should you pony up for paid campaigns or put in the work to build your organic ranking?

One of the worst kept secrets in search engine marketing is how paid search ads and organic search engine optimization work in concert to boost the performance of the other. Choosing one over the other is akin to purchasing a “buy one, get one free” product and not taking the freebie. If you’re going to tackle the world of search marketing at all, it is in your business’ best interest to double down on your efforts and achieve greater success. Here’s why:

Google Adwords Auction Algorithm

Advertising on Google AdWords is often compared to an auction. Advertisers tell Google how much they are willing to bid to show their ad for a particular keyword and Google puts the highest bidder in the #1 position. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, unlike a true auction, the process is much, much more complicated. An Adwords keyword auction involves an algorithm, a team of mad scientists, and possibly alien technology. However, the concept is very simple: $$$.

Google gets paid per click (hence the PPC acronym) and while – all things being equal – Google would logically choose a $10 keyword bid over a $1 keyword bid, Google stands to make more money if 11 people click on the $1 ad than if only 1 person clicks on the $10 ad. In other words, Google considers behavioral factors in conjunction with an advertiser’s keyword bid.

What are those behavioral factors? Well, Google became the search giant they are today not only by showing search results but by showing relevant search results. Google wouldn’t be a synecdoche for “search” if users didn’t consistently find what they were looking for when googling. In addition to the keyword bids, Google Adwords’ auction algorithm also considers the relevance and user experience of the landing page the ad directs to.

SEO Improves PPC Performance

Landing page relevancy is where search engine optimization comes in to play. One of the key tenets to SEO is improving a site or pages relevancy to certain keywords and all of the optimizations that go into improving a page’s organic ranking – keyword usage, metadata, page speed, etc – also lend themselves to improving the page’s relevancy in paid search.

In short, making organic search optimization changes to a page tells Google that page provides a better, more relevant user experience and Google subsequently lowers the cost-per-click (CPC) it takes to get your ad shown for that keyword.

Countless case studies have shown how SEO-friendly pages can drastically lower the cost and improve the performance of a campaign – up to a 38% decrease in CPC – driving more traffic for less ad spend.

That’s right. In addition to improving your organic rankings, an effective SEO strategy can actually save you money on your PPC campaigns.

PPC Improves SEO Performance

The beneficial relationship between organic search optimization and paid search performance isn’t a one-way street. While paid ads don’t directly affect organic rankings, there are many ways in which paid ads can help improve organic performance.

The most notable of these is that the presence of paid search ads can actually improve the CTR of an organic search listing. Case studies have shown that search users are more likely to click on an organic result when there is a paid ad present for the same website. There’s a good reason for this – the presence of both paid and organic results for the same brand improves recognition and evokes a stronger reputation in the mind of the search user.

Even when a paid ad and organic ad are shown separately, a search user may be more likely to click on an organic result from a site or brand they recognize over one they have not seen a paid ad for. In both scenarios, the paid ads help drive more organic clicks, which in turn improves the organic ranking (as Google weighs CTR on organic results as well!).

Other Factors In Paid Search Ads Influencing Organic Rank

Additionally, paid ads allow you greater control over the messaging of your brand. Paid ad copy can be time sensitive, personal, creative, even inventive and compelling – and that messaging is then imbued into your organic search results, which tend to be dryer and more factual by nature. With the combination of paid search ads and organic listings, you don’t have to choose between focusing on keyword-rich information or showing off the personality of your brand. You can do both!

In an even bigger way, paid ads can help increase the organic ranking of a page by encouraging some of the most important behaviors to organic ranking: sharing. Back-links and page visits are a major factor to a page’s organic rank and introducing that page in the form of a URL can help lead users to content that they’ll link to, bookmark, and mention on social media. Voila! – suddenly a page with no organic juice is in the hands of the very users who can help push that page to a top organic ranking – all thanks to a paid ad.

SEO + PPC = An Integrated Search Marketing Approach

You’ve heard the saying “I’ll scratch your back, if you scratch mine”, but in search marketing, a one-two punch of a dual PPC and SEO strategy makes both search methods scratch better. You could put all your eggs into one basket and slowly improve your organic rankings OR rack up credit card points with paid search ads, but why would you choose when you could increase your free organic traffic, while simultaneously lowering your PPC ad cost and improving the performance of your paid campaigns?

TBI Digital specializes in both PPC and SEO. Contact us today to find out how our experts can help your business reap the rewards of both.

The Importance of Design in Social Media

Take a second and observe your surroundings. What do you see? You’ll maybe see a book, your phone, your laptop, a poster on your wall or even a cup of tea. Each one of these objects was designed in such a way that would be convenient and aesthetically pleasing for you. Now think about the social media platforms you log onto on a daily basis. You’re exposed to a flood of “Likes”, tweets, tags and messages every day. However you don’t really remember all of them, do you? Well, here is where graphic design comes into play. If you really think about it, it’s kinda simple. Until and unless you see an image so catchy, that you absolutely have to share it, you won’t give it a second thought. With attention spans decreasing, it has become increasingly important for brands to up their design game on their social media pages.

Consistency is Key

Brands are becoming more and more active on social media. When a brand uses an image consistently throughout their social media platforms, you have a better chance of remembering it. If you relate to the image or if it manages to evoke any of your emotion, you may even share it. Inadvertently, you’ve just advertised the brand on your own social media. This is the power of good design. Take the Oreo’s Instagram account for example. To simplify it, Oreo is a company which makes cookies. What could they possibly come up with that may interest you? However, Oreo’s design team has come up with some of the most creative things you could do with an Oreo cookie. They may not advertise it straight up, but once you look at their page, you might as well get up and buy a pack of Oreo.

Show-off your Culture

Similarly, images are not just used to advertise your product. They can be used to convey a company’s culture as well. Most of the time, companies are so focused on advertising the product that they forget about who really makes their company a success. In such cases, social media becomes a perfect platform to showcase a company’s “behind-the-scenes” activities. Images of employees having a little fun or working hard can help customers relate to a company on a more personal level. Cisco is one example of such a company, which uses its Instagram account to not only showcase their expertise but also to showcase its employees.

Color it Up

The role of graphic design doesn’t just stop at pretty pictures. It also has a lot to do with branding a company. The colors a company uses, where the brand is placed, everything leads to how a company is perceived by you. While the big shots in the corporate world use soothing and limited colors, Google uses bright and a variety of colors in their graphics. This brings a sense of youth and playfulness in the way Google is perceived. The use of different colors also means that Google isn’t a company which is limited to a certain set of services. It conveys a sense of unlimited possibilities, hence setting Google apart from the rest of the world. If you’ve ever looked at Google’s social media pages, you’ll see how consistent they are with their branding. Google uses the same logo, the same cover image throughout their social media. This brings a sense of unity and builds a sense of familiarity with the user. Having a consistent look and feel on your social media goes a long way in building trust as well.

The next time you’re on any of the social media platforms you use, think about what makes you share a post, or what really appeals to your senses. Also look at a few companies and see if their social media pages have a sense of unity in them. The role of graphic designing is increasing at a rapid pace and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

TBI Landing pages

Why you need a landing page

TBI Landing pages

What is a landing page?  It’s a page that someone can land on. A landing page, however, is strategically written and designed with a specific purpose determined by business objectives. The end goal of a landing page: conversion. If you want to generate leads, learn more about your audience, or improve your marketing efforts, you need a landing page.

What are the basic components?

Images

  • The right image is worth a 1,000 words especially when it comes to conversions on your landing page. Use on-brand images that evoke emotion and increase the tangibility of your product or service. For example, using an image of real people enjoying the benefits of your product or service is more effective than an unbranded, impersonal stock photo. Because Google can’t “see” images, adding alt text or image titles helps the search engine recognize and categorize your image. Lastly, make sure your image is a high quality because no one likes a blurry photo.
  • Headline
  • Most people will spend a short time on your landing page, even when you’ve spent hours writing 500 words of copy. Landing pages are meant to be straightforward. Your headline needs to grab a visitor’s short attention span. In a few words, tell your visitors what benefit or what value they can expect from converting. Create a compelling headline, but be clear and concise.

Copy

  • Once you’ve piqued your visitor’s interest with an effective headline, the body copy of your landing page is where you elaborate the benefits of your product or service. Keyword research should guide your word choices, but keep in mind that you still want to be brief. You can break up the copy by using headers and bullet points. This makes it easier for the visitor to know what’s important. Remember to ask yourself: how are you going to solve your potential customer’s problem? What can you provide that your competitors can’t? Another way to provide value to visitors on your landing page is by sharing a customer testimonial or a case study that support your claims.

Call-to-Action

  • Last, but not least is the call-to-action or CTA. This is the part of your landing page that tells visitors what they should do to convert. CTA’s are usually made in the form of a clickable button. Basic examples are: “Buy Now” or “Start Your Free Trial.” When choosing the best CTA for your page, it’s essential to test different colors, where the CTA is placed and CTA copy to determine which one gets the most conversions.

A landing page can have more components, but not all are necessary. When creating a landing page, the most important thing to have is one single goal. It eliminates any chance of distraction that would prevent your customer from converting.

The REAL reason why you need a landing page…

A landing page can guide your potential customer to the next phase of your digital marketing strategy. It can be used to promote a campaign, provide an offer or capture contact information— moving potential customers down your conversion funnel. It depends on your objectives and audience. If you want to increase the number of webinar attendance/sign-ups by five percent, you’ve got yourself a landing page goal. After running your first campaign, you can experiment with changing one aspect of your landing page (i.e. title, call-to-action, etc.) to refine your strategy.

With a thoughtful landing page, you learn more about your audience and what they’re looking for when it comes to your brand, product or service. You can take these new discoveries and apply it to your business strategy.

With the right branding, web design and marketing strategy, you can boost your business’s digital marketing efforts.

Contact TBI and find out how we partner with you to accomplish your business’s goals.

Undervaluing Design in your Marketing Strategy: Big Mistake

With all of the talk in recent years about digital marketing, SEO and online presence, it’s no wonder that design has taken a backseat in the communications and marketing realm. BIG MISTAKE. While digital marketing is an incredibly powerful strategy for reaching large audiences, without excellent design, consumers will be less apt to engage with your brand. Instead, TBI recommends that you look at a holistic marketing approach – combining solid design, traditional advertising and digital media into one potent symbiotic campaign.

Why Design Matters

Brand Awareness

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a great logo is worth millions. Why? Because good design transforms and transcends a complex idea into a neat, easily digested image that effectively conveys your message, representing the essence of your unique organization

First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions

First impressions can either make or break a person, and the same goes for brands, too. While the impression may be subliminal, a great logo makes a person want to act. At TBI, our number one priority is to make your targeted audience act positively and to reach audiences that may not know they need your product or service.

Competitor Envy

Great design not only increases your audience and engagement, it also differentiates you from your competitors – a good thing when you have several direct competitors vying for the same customers you are. Good logo and overall branding design makes you look reputable, instilling trust and the desire for people to do business with you.

Marketing Reach

So, your company has invested in a digital media strategy and online advertising campaign – congratulations! You’ve taken the first step in reaching more customers than you ever thought possible. But – and this is important – if your logo is subpar or doesn’t effectively represent your brand, you may not convey the message you want to your target audience. Spending a bit more time and money on a holistic branding approach will definitely pay off for you, your organization and your audience.

Tell It

Take your business or organization to the next level and expand your audience reach with the power of design, digital media and good content strategy, TBI can help. Our comprehensive approach to branding, marketing and advertising combined with our professional team of designers, digital media strategists, content specialists and videographers bring your story to life. We’ll reach and engage a world of audiences on a variety of platforms, ensuring that your brand tells a strong, clear message.

7 Digital Marketing Trends For Your Brand Success in 2016

Digital marketing has undergone major makeovers in the past few years. Your brand success in 2016 depends on two aspects- A. knowing the marketing trends and B. consistently applying them and creating unique consumer experiences. As a digital marketer, keeping up with ever changing trends is a job in itself. We’re here to help.

The rise of content marketing
Companies running an active blog generate 67% more leads on a monthly basis compared to those who don’t blog. Content marketing strategies will continue unabated in the upcoming months.

Blooming marketing analytics
Marketers are already using dozens of analytics tools to keep a track of engagement and business performance on digital platforms. Expenditures on marketing analytics are set to rise by over 60%. Market data will become crucial in any brand endeavor and customer acquisition tactics. Companies are all set to utilize the vast information and content pool created online by consumers. Decision making in an overload of information and content, will be led by real data and not mere instinct.

More videos
The use of videos for marketing purposes has been steadily growing. Videos are a perfect way to show how a product works. Brands have started focusing on video content more than their text-only content strategy. Videos allow for greater engagement, lower site bounce rates and also showcase product usage in multiple scenarios. Browsing through their social media timelines, consumers are more likely to get attracted to a video advert that immediately grabs attention. We do expect to see a lot more ‘how to’ or inspirational brand videos for some years. Social media driven videos whether on Facebook, Vine, or Instagram are likely to go up as well. Video traffic growth has been shared by Cisco in its reporting stating:

It would take an individual over 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2019. Every second, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2019. Globally, consumer internet video traffic will be 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2019, 79% in 2018, and 74% in 2016 up from 64 percent in 2014.

Humanization is the new automation
The only way to make consumers interact with content, is personalization. Offering personalized content means sharing relevant and knowledge based posts to offer a solution to consumers. Companies that have been making an effort to humanize their content strategy, have been able to:

a) increase sales,
b) inspire users to stay longer on their websites &
c) foster customer satisfaction
It’s important here to note that personalization requires companies to first know their consumers well. This may well begin by drawing out buyer profiles and knowing consumer demographics, and behavioral preferences. One size definitely does not fit all!

Storytelling
How do you stand out when the entire industry is focusing on churning out relevant content? You simply ditch the conventional and try something unexpected – storytelling. Unique storytelling techniques are the most sought requirements laid down by leading brands. Perfect for driving in engagement and nurturing leads, stories help brands align consumers to the emotional core of the brand. A mix of visual and contextual storytelling inspires emotions in consumers and increases trust.

Micro targeting
Targeting niche audience sizes and making use of data led advertising tools bringing in more effective results from campaigns. Targeted campaigns are two times more effective than non-targeted one size fits all campaigns. A study suggests that retargeted display ads inspire a lot more people to search for the product. It comes as no surprise that businesses are making targeting strategies more elaborately than ever. Facebook and Instagram allow marketers to really delve deep into the various options to select the right users, definitely allowing brands to spend their dollars wisely.

Online advertisements
Internet advertising is expected to rise by 10% on a global rate. Mobile ads will grow by a whooping 45% and online ad expenditure is set to rise through the year. With organic reach on platforms like Facebook taking a nosedive, and Google ad-words consistently becoming more expensive, it comes as no surprise. Sure organic branding and growth is one way to go, but targeted paid advertising is definitely allowing firms to expand their consumer acquisition at a faster rate.

6 Reasons Why Your Website Should Have a Blog

A 2014-2015 study by HubSpot found that companies that blog are 13 times more likely to generate a positive marketing ROI.

If you want to increase the visibility and credibility of your company to consumers, you should consider regularly posting quality content on your website that will be interesting and useful to them. A blog is where this content should be housed, whether or not you call this section of your website a blog. On many sites, the “blog” has a different label, such as News, Press or Articles.

1. Drive Traffic to Your Website

In addition to the ROI a website with a blog can generate, websites with blogs may be able to get more traffic than websites without blogs. So how do blogs drive all this additional traffic?

Good SEO results are largely driven by new content and relevant keywords, so not only do you need fresh content, you also need a place to house it. Blogs provide you with the platform to do just that: adding fresh content to your website gets it placed higher in search engine results than other websites, which makes it more likely to get clicked.

2. Convert Traffic Into Leads

Now that your website is getting more traffic, you have the opportunity to convert that traffic into leads. Each new piece of content gives you the opportunity to generate leads, and the way to do that may be by adding a call-to-action to each blog post. Try offering something that consumers will give up their contact information for, such as a free e-book, free webinar, free consultation or quote. Once you have their contact information, your sales team can follow up with those leads.

3. Become an Authority in Your Industry

The best small-business blogs can answer potential customers’ common questions and discuss industry trends. If potential customers view your blog as one that can provide helpful information about relevant topics, they may be more likely to do business with you than with your competitors. Interesting and unique content can also give you the opportunity to drive traffic to your website through inbound links. In fact, the Hubspot report found that websites with blogs have 434 percent more indexed pages than websites without blogs.

4. Build Relationships With Potential Customers

The comments section on your blog is the place on a website where you can have a two-way discussion with consumers. Encouraging engagement on your blog can be as simple as asking questions at the end of a post to get the conversation going, waiting for readers to leave comments and then interacting with those readers. By responding to your readers’ comments, you have the opportunity to build trust and gain insight into what your customers are looking for.

5. Give Your Social Media Efforts an Added Boost

Blog content can be perfect for sharing on social media. When you create original content that’s valuable, interesting and entertaining to your target demographic, you can be more likely to get social shares. An added benefit: Unlike posting curated content on your social channels, content that’s shared from your blog will point directly back to your website.

You can also add social sharing buttons to your blog so visitors can easily share your content—turning your readers into your own grassroots marketing team.

6. Drive Long-Term Results

So you write a post on your blog, promote it on your social channels and hopefully get some shares. After that initial flurry of activity, the traffic driven by that post will slow to a trickle. And that’s the end of that, right?

Not by a long shot. That page is now ranked in search engines. Just like the rest of the static pages on your website, this blog may continue to be visited as long as it’s on the Web. In fact, a website with a substantial amount of blog content can continue to boost total traffic from old blog posts, providing the potential of a pretty substantial return on the few hours you invested in writing a post.

From a practical standpoint, adding a blog to your business website may just make sense. With minimal expense and effort, you can boost search engine rankings, build credibility, increase website traffic and foster relationships with customers. This, in turn, can make your readers more likely to hire you or purchase products from your company, in addition to recommending your business to others.

Courtesy S. Rand