Web Design vs. SEO vs. Social Media

If you only focus on the graphics design of your web site and nothing else, you may have a beautiful web site that is hard to be found.  If you only focus on search engine optimization and nothing else, your web site may be friendlier to the web robots at Google than it is to your web site visitors, which can hurt your conversion rate.  If you only focus on social media and nothing else, you may not get the return on investment you are looking for.

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Web design, SEO, and social media are 3 important components of a successful Internet marketing strategy.  If you want visitors to find you, you need outstanding SEO.  If you want them to contact you or purchase from your site, you need great web design.  If you want to create a lot of word-of-mouth recognition or implement a viral marketing campaign, social media can be an excellent tool for you.

As a business owner, you should know that there is no one-size-fit-all online marketing strategy.  There may be a lot of buzz on social media, but it may or may not be right for your business.  This is why we always start by reviewing your business goals.  When clients ask us: “How much should I spend on SEO?  Should I create a Facebook page for my business?  Do I need to redesign my web site?  Is pay per click right for me?  Should I start a blog?”  Our answer is it only makes sense if it relates to your business goals.

Here are some of the questions we will go over with you during our Marketing Strategy Consultation:

What are your business goals? What is currently working and not working for you?

  • How are you attracting new customers? How much are you spending on each of these avenues? What percentage of your new customers comes from each of these avenues?
  • How are you retaining your existing customers? What methods are you employing to encourage repeat purchases?
  • What is the primary goal of your web site?  To attract new customers?  To service existing customers?  To test a new market segment?
  • What are you currently doing with your online marketing?  How does this fit within your marketing strategy?  How does your marketing strategy fit with your overall business goal?  And how does your business goal fit with your lifestyle goal?

Only by taking a look at the big picture can we help you answer questions such as how much you should spend on SEO or whether you should do social media.  A marketing strategy that works wonders for someone else may or may not be right for your business or your lifestyle.  This is the reason we have 2 departments: the technical people who are experts at SEO, social media, and web design, and the business consultants who can help you review and design the marketing strategy that is right for you.  Many of our business consultants are business owners themselves and have tested various marketing strategies in their own businesses, so they speak from experience rather than a memorized sales pitch.

More importantly than knowing the relative importance of web design, SEO, and social media is having a coherent marketing strategy that fits your business objectives and lifestyle goals.  Only then can you confidently achieve the return on investment you are looking for.

[Via Visual Scope]

Email Marketing For Home Improvement Companies – The Marketing Corner

When everything’s going well, it’s easy to find yourself in an email-marketing rut.

Perhaps you’ve gotten complacent with ROI that’s good—but not great. Or maybe you’re boring your customers with the same campaigns they’ve seen a thousand times.

“Whether you want to shake things up or simply polish off the dullness,” writes Patti Renner at The Lunch Pail, “here are some ideas to make your campaigns shine.”

Among her tips:

Energize your team. Add excitement to the creative process with in-house contests, accolades, and rewards. You might, for instance, use A/B testing to determine the winner in a subject-line competition.

Reconnect with your email service provider. There’s a good chance your ESP has developed new technology or features since you first signed up. This is a good time to schedule a new demo or training session, and to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money with your current agreement.

Study other successful marketers. Who’s getting coverage in your industry’s trade publications? Who’s winning awards? Who’s considered the best? Sign up for their emails, Renner suggests: “Learn by seeing what they do and how they do it firsthand.”

Evolve your design. Don’t abandon the carefully cultivated look of your email campaigns—but consider how a tweak here or a change there can make your messages feel fresh and new.

The Po!nt: It’s a perfect time for a breath of fresh air. Remember: A refreshed email campaign can produce refreshed ROI!

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[Via Marketing Profs]

Your Home Improvement Company Is Much More Than Just Your Logo

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Logo design is a part of the brand design. But, a brand is not just a logo design. When does a logo become part of a brand?

To answer this question, let’s first define what a logo is and what a brand is:

What is a logo? A logo is a unique, meaningful design that’s paired with your company name in an interesting and cohesive way. The logo also has a color palette assigned to it. It must be scalable, able to be reproduced consistently in all of your marketing, and timeless — so that it doesn’t get stale or look old too soon.

What is a brand? A brand is “The collection of perceptions that your customer has about your business”. Note that the brand lives in your customer’s mind — and the ideas that they have about your business.

This doesn’t mean that the brand is out of your control. You can control your remodeling client’s idea of your home improvement brand by defining your brand and designing eye-catching, stand-out graphics to communicate that message. Then, use those graphics consistently throughout your home improvement company’s marketing materials. That’s all there is to help your remodeling clients get the right idea for your brand.

Aspects of your home improvement company’s brand that you have complete control over include:

  • The story that you’re telling about your home improvement business. The first step in creating your remodeling company’s branding is to figure out who you are, what you do, what makes you different and who your best remodeling clients are. And, to put that all together in a simple, easy-to-say and easy-to-understand brand story. Use that as the foundation for all of your visual communications, business and marketing writing, and your home improvement marketing design and strategy.
  • Your logo. Your logo should be designed to visually tell your brand story and to be attractive to your best remodeling clients.
  • Your Visual Vocabulary. Your logo is just one piece of your visual home improvement company’s communication tools. If your marketing materials just had your logo and text on white paper, that would be a big start, but you’d be missing some big opportunities to making your designs more eye-catching. Your visual vocabulary is all of your additional graphics — like background colors or patterns, header designs, stock photos, your headshot, borders, special treatments for buttons or special offers, images of your products (like a product shot of your ebook), and your font styles and color palette. This gives you more tools to create stunning designs for your brand.
  • Specific marketing material designs. The design of your remodeling company’s business card, letterhead, brochure, ebook cover, website, blog, and even your home improvement company’s Facebook page are all a crucial part of your brand. These materials should reinforce each other and match without blending together too much.

So, a brand is much more than a logo — it’s the consistent story that you tell through your unique graphics (and all the other ways that you talk and write about your remodeling business).

Once you create this memorable home improvement company look and feel, your clients will all be “on the same page” about your brand. This means that their comments and buzz about your remodeling company can reinforce their ideas about you — and the ideas that you want them to have about your remodeling business.

 

Using QR Codes In Home Improvement Marketing – The Marketing Corner

You may have noticed the proliferation of QR codes in your mailbox in the last few years. We certainly are moving toward a digital world, and QR codes are part of that evolution.

A QR code is a two-dimensional barcode that’s read by a camera-equipped smartphone with a QR code-scanning application (app). These codes let companies connect offline customers with online (Web) content in an engaging and interactive way.

How QR Codes Work

When customers scan your QR code with their smartphone, they can access a good deal more information than you would ever be able to fit on a direct mail piece, sign, ad, or business card.

The process is simple. A customer—or potential one—scans your QR code and is instantly directed to a Web page or other online content for…

  • Product information
  • Coupons and special offers
  • Contest entries or giveaways
  • Surveys and video clips
  • Promotional or informational videos
  • Sending of text or email messages
  • Liking a Facebook page or follows on Twitter
  • Checking in via foursquare or Google Places
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When a Business Should Use a QR Code

QR Codes are a great choice if you want customers to…

  • Learn something, such as product information or reviews
  • Receive something, like special offers or coupons
  • View videos about your business, products, or services
  • Do something, such as provide an email address or mobile number

Plus, you can track when customers scan your QR code and which offers and messages interested them most. You can adjust your next print/QR campaign accordingly to give customers more of what makes them respond.

Where Businesses Can Get QR Codes

So, how do you go about getting a QR code? Numerous online sources can convert a standard URL into a QR code (for example, http://www.qurify.com and http://goqr.me ). In many cases, it’s free.

Once the URL is converted, you can download the QR image file and then print it, upload it as a Facebook profile photo, or post it elsewhere online. Some QR-conversion sties can also encode maps, text, etc.

QR Code Specs and Best-Practices

Here are a few tips to help ensure you’re making the most of the QR code…

Size: Minimum size is 1 inch by 1 inch, ensuring that all smartphones are able to scan it.

Color: Black and white works best, but you can use color as long as there is a high enough contrast between dark and light areas.

White space: Leave a white border around the QR code so that scanners can read it properly and it stands out.

Call to action: Make sure you are clear about what you want customers to do and how scanning the QR code will benefit them. For example, “Scan this code to receive a coupon for 20% off your next purchase.” Remember, scanning a QR code requires effort and action from consumers, so they are highly unlikely to pull out a smartphone unless they know they’re going to get something in return. Therefore, it is important that you give some information on what the QR code links to and, depending on whom you’re targeting, instructions on how to download a QR code reader. In short, you need to entice the user, so make sure the content you are offering is worth the effort.

Written URL: It’s best to write directions for scanning the QR code at the top and put the URL underneath. Also, keep URLs short so they are easy to remember and quick to scan.

Test It: It’s easy to assume that because the QR code worked when you created it in the office it will work on a poster or billboard. Once you’ve received the final product, make sure you test the QR code using different reader apps and smartphones from a range of angles and distances. If you can’t get it to work in perfect conditions, then it’s not going to work at a bus stop. Modern, savvy consumers will become extremely annoyed if their efforts to scan a QR code come to naught.

Track It: As with all new technologies, it’s important to track how users interacted with your QR codes so that you can use the data to plan any future campaigns. You can use Google Analytics (among others) to create a custom campaign URL to track the number of people who have scanned the QR code.

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Finally, it’s good to keep in mind that QR codes do not replace print, but they can supplement it in new, unique, and interesting ways. Ask your printer for assistance or examples of how QR codes can be used as a key element in your mailing and marketing campaigns.

[Via Marketing Profs]