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Blogging for Business

January 7th, 2014 by Erin Peters

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” thumb---blogging

In today’s online world, blogging allows you to engage your target audience, attract new customers & establish credibility.

With the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, frequent, fresh, high-quality content is critical for increasing your website’s ranking.

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to improve your organic search performance because every time you write a new post, you create a new URL for your site.  Every new URL is a brand new opportunity for your website to be ranked in search. Building rich content means more traffic. And fresh content is still a key to beating out your competitors in the search engine results page. Search engines are looking for active websites on a particular searched term or topic.

Make sure you create UNIQUE content.

Search engines will penalize you for duplicate content, which is content also found on other sites.  In your blog posts, it’s important to use keywords that you want to rank for.

infographic---blogging-200px

Blogging allows you to build your brand as an expert. Display your talent and knowledge in articles that demonstrate why someone should hire you or purchase your product. Build trust with consistent, honest and helpful content. Blogs provide another source to deepen the connection with your customer. Customers want to feel they have a personal connection with your company. Today’s marketer helps customers solve a problem or find a great solution.

What’s a cool side effect of blogging? The process encourages you to stop and think deeper.

Create content that’s creative and interesting. Ask yourself, would you want to read it and share it with your network?

Search engine algorithms can detect if a blog provides a good user experience. Utilize tagging features and make sure the author, title and publish date are easily identifiable.  With the increasing number of people accessing information on mobile phones, it’s important that your blog is viewable on mobile devises.  Make it responsive!  If your blog isn’t responsive to mobile and tablet devices, readers are more likely to find similar information on another site. Include social sharing icons so that search engines and potential readers or customers can recognize which articles are popular.

  • Make it unique
  • Make it optimized
  • Make it responsive
  • Make it social
  • Make it creative

From Fortune 500 companies to smaller shops, millions are utilizing blogging because it provides endless opportunities for your website to rank in search.

Blogging helps you stand out among your competitors. Just ask Google.

Why Your Business Can’t Ignore Mobile Social Media

December 18th, 2013 by Erin Peters

I’ve always considered myself to be a social creature. And I’m not the only one. It should be no surprise that the social advertising market is projected to grow to $11 billion by 2017. That’s $11 billion, with a “b”. Well-executed mobile strategies will offer the biggest payoffs for savvy marketers. thumb---mobile-social-media

Did you know that almost eight in ten (78%) of consumers say that the posts made by the brands they follow on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook influence their purchases?

66% of those who shop online more than twice per week say that they would be more inclined to shop at a brick and mortar store if they offered mobile checkout facilities. And according emarketer.com, in 2015, mobile advertising (on Facebook and Twitter) will account for 55.3% of ad revenue vs. online advertising.

Last year, social networking surpassed gaming as the most-engaged mobile activity. According to Business Insider, three of the world’s 10 largest social networks are mobile messaging apps — namely, WhatsApp, LINE, and WeChat. Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter are becoming mobile-based.

Mobile has changed consumer behavior and the way we communicate.

Here’s the proof:

  • Facebook mobile is the largest source of social traffic. Facebook reached 1.16 billion monthly active users at the end of the second quarter this year. As of September 2013, 874 million people used Facebook’s mobile app, up by 45% from the year before. According to Shareaholic’s Social Media Traffic Report (October 2013), publishers saw average referral traffic from Facebook mobile grow 253% between September 2012 and September 2013.Mobile Social Media Infographic
  • With more than three-quarters of monthly active users visiting on mobile devices, Twitter has even said (via their blog) that Twitter was born mobile. The average Twitter user follows five or more brands.
  • Google+ is the fourth most popular smartphone app globally, trailing behind Google Maps, Facebook and YouTube.
  • Geo-targeting can pinpoint the exact whereabouts of your customers so you can deliver relevant ads. The ability to leverage smartphone users’ GPS to deliver an ad relevant to their location increases relevancy.
  • 40% of YouTube video plays in the U.S. now come from mobile.
  • 30% of frequent online shoppers, purchasing online more than twice per week, use Pinterest to discover new products. Mobile Pinterest usage increased 60x last year.
  • Instagram is growing in popularity with 18% of cell phone owners using the photo-sharing application. Photo and video sharing have become commonplace in daily life. Use this mobile medium through events and contests, encouraging people to post images from an event location or share insider product images to create a buzz and excitement around your brand.
  • Mobile pageviews on LinkedIn are up 250% in 2013.

People and companies alike want to share their lives and their products and services. Your customers are connected and savvy. Mobile allows for instantaneous connections and stronger relationships. If you haven’t already, put mobile at the heart of every social campaign.

The future of communication is in the palm of your hand. And the future is now.

Graphtek Supports the Coachella Valley Community

December 13th, 2013 by Erin Peters

Here at Graphtek, we not only want to help businesses grow, we like to see our community grow and prosper by supporting non-profits like Desert Best Friend’s Closet.

Desert Best Friend’s Closet empowers low-come Coachella Valley residents to attain employment through education and wardrobe services. Desert Best Friend’s Closet partners and collaborates with other agencies in the Coachella Valley to provide interview-appropriate attire at no cost to individuals seeking employment who do not have the means to buy such attire themselves.

Graphtek made a donation to the cause by building the site in approximately two weeks, for free.  We launched it on November 13th 2013.

Graphtek President, Kate Spates said, “I was so excited to hear Desert Best Friends Closet was chosen for the Extreme Non-Profit makeover and I couldn’t wait to dig in to redesign her website. I felt like her website could do a better job to simplify what Connie’s organization does, what they need from the community and who they help. By using images with text in the photo slider at the top, along with simple calls to action, we achieved that.”

“This site shows Desert Best Friend’s Closet as a more polished and professional agency that we are striving to become,” said Connie Golds, President and Co-Founder of Desert Best Friend’s Closet.
We want to wish Desert Best Friend’s Closet and those seeking employment big successes in 2014 and beyond!

gra-blog-post---BFC-before-and-after

Branding Basics: Set Yourself Apart from the Start

December 12th, 2013 by Erin Peters

Any business owner will tell you that in order to build awareness, connection, and trust, it requires consistent interactions. Your brand is no exception. thumb---branding

A brand is a multidimensional medium that can be your greatest differentiator and competitive edge. Branding is fundamental. Your brand is your promise to your customer. What you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy. Branding promotes recognition.

A company’s brand can be key to its success.

So, where do you start?

1.    Do Your Research: Who is most likely to buy your product? Set a specific, actionable goal. Include a clear vision statement that outlines an aspirational view of the impact you plan to make on the business world.

2.    Claim Your Name: Distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. This means the URL, the Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social channel URL’s, as well. Go to GoDaddy.com and make a list, because your favorite may not be available in all channels.

3.    Make it Simple: The name should be short and memorable. What are the core features and benefits of your products or services? Define why your customers should buy your product and identify with your brand.  Answer what can be easily seen and measured: price, quality, service and features. Simplicity is the cornerstone of a good brand. Colors and language should all be considered from everything to logo design to the content on the website.Business Branding Infographic

4.    Differentiate Yourself: No one likes a copycat. You want to set yourself apart from competitors. Branding should explain, in tone and visuals, how you’re different from them. Make sure you’ve got something interesting, relevant, and memorable to say.

5.    Use Emotion: Consider a spokesperson. Potential customers will typically connect with a person more so than with a brand. Take Flo from Progressive or the gecko from Geico. A good brand connects with people at an emotional level.

6.    Be Consistent: A company should have a consistent look-and-feel.  Create consistent and engaging content in order to educate people about your brand and products so they get to know you, like you and trust you.

7.    Market Yourself: It’s not enough to claim your name anymore. Engage in social media and be a part of the conversation. Here, you can use emotion and humanize your brand. This also means fully integrating social media onto your site. You’ll look savvy and increase connectivity at the same time.  And who doesn’t like a company that’s in the know?

8.    Monitor Your Reputation: Start by setting up a Google Alert, which allow users to select keywords to track and to receive e-mail updates whenever they appear on the Web. And services like Viralheat detect whether a post is positive, negative, or neutral. If you don’t have time, consider hiring a digital marketing agency.

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, because it’s a company’s face to the world. It requires passion, vision and courage.  And smart branding allowed the company to clearly communicate a change in direction or new era for the company, while continuing to build its reputation.

What makes a great website?

November 7th, 2013 by Erin Peters

Good web design is a careful balance between technology and aesthetics.  When you visit an eye catching website, what is it that makes it stand out?  Is it the visuals?  Is it the content? Or, the easy navigation?

The following are some important factors to take into consideration when designing or purchasing a website.

Your online image should reflect your offline identity. Ultimately, you want your website to connect the user with the information they are searching for. You want to do this by peaking and keeping their interest.  This is where your company should craft a mission statement and business goals and objectives.  A pretty site does nothing without strategy.  A well designed website should fulfill the business objective, whether it’s to inform or sell.

Your target audience’s interests should be the overarching consideration in determining the style of your site.  Consider Orbitz.com or Expedia.com websites. Their layout and styling focus on the search tool rather than adding flashy elements.Web-Design-Infographic_200x765

Understanding the human thought process is important in designing an idyllic experience on the web.

–    Clean Visual Design: Keep is simple. You’ve heard it over and over. The visual effects play an important role in the communication of content, but only as long as it serves the website’s primary purpose. The aesthetics should support the navigation and interaction functions.  CSS transitions can help us to make website interactions more human.

–    Ease of Use: Start out with a structure that appeals to and works with your audience first. The last thing you want is for visitors to become flummoxed by a confusing website. Simply, make sure people can effortlessly find the information they’re looking for. This is where text structure, search placement and other site elements come into play. If your viewers have to go searching, then your navigation is too complex. Knowing how users move around a web site is useful in keeping their interest and helping them easily find what they’re looking for. Increasing the usage of the successful callouts and eliminating the ineffective ones will increase conversions.

–    Functionality: Whether it’s to inform, entertain or serve as an e-commerce platform, a good website has to serve its purpose. It can be the most strikingly beautiful site you’ve seen in years, but if you can’t find the information quickly, you’re going to leave. Your site on a mobile device should anticipate their need and address it with design and navigation that allows them to easily find whatever it is they need. Make the site intuitive.

–    Speed: About 30% of consumers will start to abandon a website after 5 seconds of loading time.  There are many factors to consider in making a site load faster. Simplify design elements can not only increase the speed, but can be popular aesthetically. It won’t matter how pretty your site is if nobody waits around long enough to read it.

–    SEO:  A gorgeous website doesn’t do much good if no one can find it!  Content is king! This can be augmented through blog posts, static pages, eBooks, YouTube videos and more. Keywords, frequency and relevance are crucial in your SEO efforts. Establish an ongoing content marketing campaign where relevant and timely content is placed on your website, regularly. Google will reward websites with fresh, relevant content.

With the massive increase in mobile usage, responsive web design provides an optimal viewing experience across all devices.  Creating a website version for each resolution and new device would be impractical, given the endless number of resolutions and devices. New devices with new screen sizes are being developed every day, so web design should automatically adjust.  Responsive design is just that, responsive. It’s the concept that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.

Believe it or not, there is a science to how we view the web. Companies like Google, Barnes & Noble and eBay are all integrating neuroscience discoveries into their web design.  Our eyes will be drawn to certain common elements of web design.

EyeQuant uses algorithms based on eyetracking studies and research to evaluate web sites, claiming they can predict where a viewer’s attention will go when they load a web site. Realeyes uses computer vision to read people’s faces and to measure how they feel.

The significance of a good web design in the modern day is monumental. Be sure you have an expert/s working with your business’ best interest in mind.

Confessions of a Digital Marketing Executive

November 6th, 2013 by Mike Cheley

I still struggle with the idea of social networks. There, I said it. I am a CEO of a digital marketing company and I struggle with social media. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest… But before you go off and say to yourself, I knew it, it’s all bunch of hooey. Let me add, I also struggle with traditional old fashioned networking.

Put me at a chamber mixer, and I am the guy having a beer with an old friend. Over the years, I have read half dozen books on the power of traditional networking. It’s hard to ignore the math. It costs little, it can have geometric reach and according to the books, it’s easy. Well maybe for the authors.Baron Christian

So the truth is that it’s not the digital networking, it’s networking in general that presents the challenge. Being both a geek and a creative has me genetically predisposed to be an introvert.  You see, for me being spontaneously interesting, clever or funny just doesn’t happen. I could never get past the question “so what do you do?“ By the time I could muster up the next question, the conversation already reached that painful chasm of silence.  So quickly the exit line… “it was nice to meet you”, which puts an end to the networking effort. But what I did not realize until recently is that, digital networking is also tailor made for the introverted and socially awkward.

In the digital world, you have time. You get to consider you responses, you get to post something interesting when the thought occurs and you get to share your knowledge to an audience that inclined to be interested. Oh, and the best part, like Baron Christian de Neuvillette, you can have someone else help you with the words.

As our firm grew from web developers and traditional marketers, to digital marketers, I have experienced the power of social networking dozens of times. We have used it to effectively position our firm as a thought leader in our local market. Our president is asked at least once a week to speak on digital marketing. When we were looking for a new bookkeeper, we posted on social media and had a half dozen recommendations with-in hours, most of them from the more valuable employee pool, those currently working but looking to make a change. We get at least two to three opportunity leads a week.
Bottom line is bottom line results. Just as in the case with traditional marketing, reach and frequency is the key. But in this space it is not about buying more ad space. It’s about sharing knowledge.   It’s about telling the story of your brand. It’s about connecting. It’s about earning the right to do business with someone. The adage that we choose to do business with people we like and just as in that chamber mixer, if someone finds you interesting, knowledgeable and likeable; they are more likely to be a prospect or customer.

As in any endeavor, you can’t go to one mixer and say networking is part of your marketing. Networking requires consistency, participation and frequency. So get started or if you are started –do more.  Oh and if words or the lack thereof are your excuse, find your own Cyrano.

Why Should Your Business Invest in Facebook Ads?

October 23rd, 2013 by Erin Peters

There are over one billion people on Facebook. According to HubSpot, 93% of adults on the Internet are on Facebook. Facebook like thumb

Facebook’s three ad formats have been combined into one:

• Page Post Like Sponsored Story
• Page Post Comment Sponsored Story
• Page Post Ad

A “Like Ad” is simply an ad on Facebook that shows one of your friends has Liked a certain page.

Now, when you promote a post from your Facebook Page, the ad will automatically include likes and comments. According to research from Nielsen and comScore, this social context leads to better performance and ROI.

“Like Ads” work for a few reasons:

– They’re easy to set up
– There’s no commitment, try a week test
– They instantly get your page exposed to new fans
– They have social proof, which encourages others to also like the page.

Facebook ads of course, have great targeting options.

Facebook ad infographic

6 reasons why Facebook ads work

1. Location – Are you a local business? Try targeting a city or zip code within 50 miles of your business.
2. Age – If you’re product is more suitable for certain ages, specify this in the set up. It’s a good idea to also create a couple-several ads, testing age ranges, to see what performs best.
3. Gender – Promoting a make-up seminar or women’s clothing? Well, don’t waste your ad on 60 year old men.
4. Precise Interests – This can be powerful and Facebook ads ace in the hole. If you’re in the business of organic pet food, you might want to target those who have “liked” animal related pages, fitness, Whole Foods, etc.
5. Broad Categories – Use this category to target people that share similar interests as well.
6. Connections – Here you can choose to show the ad to “anyone”, “Only people not connected to your page” or “Advanced connection”.
7. Friends of Connections – We all consider friend recommendations when thinking about a purchase. That’s why this feature is great. From here, you can choose to only show the ad to people whose friends have already “liked” your page. Birds of a feather flock together.

Facebook ads hold an overall premise that recommendations from friends and companies alike are going to be more effective than traditional display advertising. Andrew Lipsman, VP of Industry Analysis at comScore, and co-author of the recent study, “The Power of Like[2]: How Social Marketing Works performed a collaborative study between comScore and Facebook.

According to Lipsman, “Facebook ads can absolutely drive advertising effectiveness,” he says, “but there aren’t enough data points to generalize yet.” In other words, there are many variables at play, including the type of ad, demographics, image used, location, product and creative elements.

The study found that “fans” of retailers, on average, spent significantly more at those stores than did the general population — more than twice as much at Amazon, Best Buy and Target, and almost that much more at Walmart.

What differentiates Facebook ads from traditional online advertising is their effectiveness is better judged on the basis of the “behavioral lift” from the message a user has received after they’ve already liked the brand.

So, why do Facebook ads work?

1. They are well targeted. Advertisers can tell Facebook who exactly should see the ad.
2. The second reason lies within the creator of the ad and their ability to create good copy, striking imagery and targeting that makes sense for the product or service.

“One of the biggest benefits for Facebook advertising is that you are reaching your target demographic in their comfort zone. When a person is logged into their Facebook page, they are comfortable. When they see your ad on their Facebook page there is a certain amount of trust that is inherent and that you don’t get when seeing a random link on a Google search.” ~ Tyler Barnett, founder and president of Tyler Barnett PR.

And to make things more interesting, Facebook is now in the remarketing game. Remarketing is not a new concept for advertisers; Google has been doing it through their display network for years. For example, a shopper has been checking out a blender on Target or Macy’s. When they come back to Facebook, they can show the user that exact high-tech blender they were considering on the brands website. Because chances are, those prospects will head to Facebook later, at some point.
Studies show that there is a significant increase in the click through rates on advertisements that are integrated with remarketing. It’s a friendly little nudge at the end of the marketing buying cycle.

It’s still relatively new to Facebook as they only released this functionality in 2012 and marketers were limited to targeting based on demographics and educated guesses. Second, according to Facebook, more than 950 million people spend over 6 hours per month on Facebook’s site. That’s huge.
Facebook began opening up news feed ad inventory to Facebook Exchange at the end of March and expanded the inventory offering to all its FBX partners in May. Triggit, a Facebook Exchange (FBX) partner, says that the FBX news feed click through rates now rival those they see from AdWords.

And on October 8th 2013, Facebook just announced an overhaul of both its basic ad-buying platform, Ads Manager, and its Power Editor, both now boasting a more streamlined interface. Now, advertisers are first asked to identify their objectives. This could be a sales conversion on a website or increasing total page Likes.

Once an objective has been identified, Facebook guides advertisers to the most appropriate ad. The advertiser then chooses where the ad appears, in the News Feed or the right column. Users can also now upload multiple images for a single campaign, allowing five different ads to run at once. In the analytics dashboard, you can now quickly assess which images are performing best.

Have you tried advertising in Facebook?

PPA Partners Website Launch – A Case Study

September 12th, 2013 by Erin Peters

If you’ve been in business for any period of time, you know how important it is to have an online presence.  The internet is the world’s new market place.  But what if you needed a website launched fast and you don’t have months to wait for your site to be live?

The following are just some of the steps that need to be considered when launching a website.

PPA Partners logo

  • Navigation and wire frame

  • Color scheme and branding

  • Content

  • What about social media links?

  • Google Analytics should be installed

  • Title Tags and Meta Data

  • Install a favicon: this brands the tab in the user’s browser

  • Adding a sitemap

  • Testing: cross-browser checks

An established renewable energy consulting company recently came to Graphtek wanting an updated, clean and professional looking site. PPA Partners works to implement an energy generation strategy and financing options for projects and companies.

One of the numerous projects they were working on was The Center for Solar Energy in collaboration Texas A&M University-Central Texas. Graphtek worked with PPA Partners to develop a website for this project, which is a research and development facility that when completed, will be the largest in the world.

PPA Partners wanted to have a new site up and running by the launch of the CSE project. They had a good amount of press for the launch and wanted to make sure their new site was up and running to display the type of work they do to other potential clients.

Graphtek had all of the client assets (which is key!) and the Graphtek team started design on Tuesday June 25th 2013. The client hired a copy writer for the content (who worked to complete it over that weekend) and PPA Partners was designed, content inputted, programmed and live by the end of the day on July 1st.  This included a live news article feed from green technology companies. Great job Nicole!

That’s 5 business days, from start to finish!

At Graphtek Interactive, we work with our clients in optimizing the best approach to a website launch to give your investment the best chance for success.

5 Reasons to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency

September 11th, 2013 by Erin Peters

You’ve decided you need help with marketing your product or service and you’ve joined millions who know that digital marketing is a more cost effective and valued way to reach qualified customers. Digital agencies come in many shapes and sizes, from high end global clients, to boutique and specialty agencies.

Imagine that a sudden rain storm has flooded your backyard and is starting to seep into your newly carpeted game room. Instincts tell you to grab some towels and prepare for the impending stream of sludge.  You wouldn’t think to fix the broken pipe that has released the deluge, so you call an expert not only to fix the problem, but to design something that will work during future storms. Think of a digital marketing agency not only as your plumber, but as your house architect, construction contractor, handy man, real estate agent and property manager.

According to 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends research, put together by none other than the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, 64% say their biggest challenge is “producing enough content.”

It’s simply more efficient to engage a full service agency as your marketing partner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Social Media Statistics of 2013

August 28th, 2013 by Erin Peters

We’ve reached a time where social media is no longer a novelty or trend. If you haven’t joined the bandwagon, following are some stats to prove you should. Breaking news can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube. It continues to grow as common practice, and new platforms continue to appear and have business relevance and marketing importance.social-media-stats-2013-intro-image

As of January 2013, the five largest social networks based on active monthly users were: Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million) and Google+ (343 million) followed by Twitter and LinkedIn with 200 million active monthly users each. Read the rest of this entry »