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Finding business success during COVID-19: Digital marketing makes a difference

With today’s health concerns and economic instability, there are a lot of uncertainties facing consumers and business owners alike. And, despite understandable anxiety in the wake of this  “new normal” we’re all adjusting to, there may be a surprising silver lining.

 

Businesses have an opportunity to scale-up their existing sales and services by creating or revitalizing their online presence. More than ever, consumers are looking online for safe shopping options or ways to access services they need, day-to-day. And, for savvy businesses with an online presence, this can translate into valuable new opportunities to connect with potential customers.



A shift in marketing focus

Online marketing and sales have been growing for several years. But, since COVID-19 started moving through the United States earlier this spring, we’ve seen a swift expansion and evolution.

 

Businesses that are surviving are those who are looking closely at their consumers and implementing new ways to serve their changing needs. And doing so while keeping both their employees and customers safe. For example, restaurants and shops have pivoted to offer more online ordering and digital sales for deliveries or curbside pickup options. Some companies are transitioning to remote working models. And others that currently aren’t able to host or attend trade shows, events, or conferences have gone digital with virtual webinars and interactive meetings. 

 

Person-to-person interactions may be happening less, but businesses can still personalize and cater to their customers in impactful and important ways. The marketing landscape is indeed changing, but digital platforms offer a host of quick ways to adjust and accommodate.

 

Making it work for you

If you’re already managing a digital marketing plan—you’re on the right track. And, if you’ve not yet set a digital marketing plan into motion, this is the perfect time to start. 

 

Some good ways to set your business up for online success through the pandemic and beyond include:

 

  • Connecting with customers in new ways

The main purpose of any solid digital marketing strategy is to seek out ways to capture traffic and direct consumers to your business’ website or social media pages. By engaging your target audience in these ways, you’ll be on a solid path to convert them to leads—and make that final sale.

 

With digital marketing, you have an added advantage in today’s market: You’re able to social distance with online options—and you’re immune to COVID-19 risks. That’s a bonus for you and your customers.

 

  • Using tools to reach them where and when they need you most

Another advantage of online marketing is that you have an opportunity to add several highly beneficial tools to your marketing toolbox. Three powerful tools you can leverage include:

  1. SEO, or search engine optimization, is essential to getting your web presence noticed. And, if you’re already optimized, don’t forget to implement regular “check-ups” to stay on top of current keyword trends. (When optimized correctly, potential customers will be able to better find you when typing in keywords related to your business and services.)

  2. Boosting your social media or blogging presence can also help get the word out regarding your online business. Integral digital marketing tools, a good social media presence and keyword-heavy blog will help drive more traffic to your site and bring in more leads.

  3. Finally, location SEO citations are another important way to get your online business noticed. Think of local SEO citations as the inner circle on a target. SEO helps customers get close to the bull’s eye—and local citations bring them within the innermost circles. Beyond just keyword optimization, local SEO citations include your address and phone number, providing another avenue through which you can reach customers.  

 

Align with a marketing pro, to help you manage the heavy lifting

We know you’re busy. And with today’s market instabilities, you’re no doubt concerned, too. Partnering with a professional marketer can help you gain access to the tools mentioned above. Plus, give you a direct line to an experienced team who can help you make the right decisions to keep your business running—and get your name and services in front of new clients.

 

The Branding Agency is your advocate during these trying times. We’re here to help small business owners like you build strength and excel in the months and years ahead. 

 

We know times are tough and we’ve recently released a new collection of web packages to help <link to your new web packages page>. As an alternative to the high-priced traditional advertising firms and the low-buck website mills, we’re able to offer customized services that the big firms just aren’t able to handle. Give us a call at (704) 800-7413 to learn more about our services.

Haley McGraw, a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Meet the Team: Haley McGraw, a rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The Branding Agency actively works within the community to help elevate and empower local students. We participate in internship programs with several North Carolina institutions, to help college students gain valuable experience, further advance their areas of study, and build valuable foundations for life-long careers.

 

We’re excited to introduce our most recent intern, Haley McGraw. A rising senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Haley is majoring in advertising and digital communications. 

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Digital Marketing Basics - Your 4 StepGuide to Online Success

Many small & mid sized companies are often surprised to hear that paying for targeted web traffic is a must-do. But, it is true! Any US metropolitan location it’s essential that you invest in a paid traffic strategy for your online business. Without it, your competition might be leaving you in the dust, when it comes to conversions.

 

For example, some of the most successful brands—like Amazon and Apple—spend millions of dollars on paid search advertising and targeted website traffic. Putting dollars behind traffic can be the number-one gamechanger between you and your competitors. 

 

But, before you get started, it is important to run a preliminary analysis of your website data. Doing an audit now gives you an invaluable opportunity to see where you started—and track how paid search advertising influences your metrics.

To kick things off, access your Google Analytics account and look at your average daily website visitors over the past year. A starting, profitable baseline for an average online business is somewhere between 50 to 100 website visitors per day. (Depending on your target audience and your business’ location, make sure to omit any visitors from other countries to get a more accurate view).

No matter if you’re hitting 50 visitors per day, or falling a little below that profitability baseline—we can help you gain traction with several fast fixes! Taking action now can help you get positive results soon.

 

Let’s take a look at what you can do to ensure you’re putting money where it will work the hardest for you and your online business.

1.) Make sure your site can support a traffic boost

First thing’s first: Is your existing website up-to-par, and ready to support a traffic boost?

 

Answering this important question can be difficult to tackle on your own. Assessing if your site is working smoothly and efficiently on a surface level, and behind the scenes, is an in-depth process. Hiring an agency to run an audit of your site is a sure-fire way to check the health of your existing website, identify problems, and administer fixes.

 

The Branding Agency likes to use SEMRush, a software service that offers online visibility and marketing analytics software subscriptions. This powerful SEO tool and a browser extension can provide important data about your site (including a close look at your traffic, keyword help, lead generation, and more). 

 

When you enlist our help, we’ll get you onboarded with SEMRush and manage the comprehensive analysis of your site. With SEMRush’s help, we’ll scan for hundreds of both technical and SEO mistakes—and get important online updates live for you, ASAP. 

 

2.) Get local citation services in place

Even if you have a physical storefront or office for your business and an online presence, you still may not be reaching all your potential clients. An important piece that you could be missing is location citation services for your business. 

 

Location services ensure that your business name and address are mentioned online (even if there’s no link to your site in those mentions). Good examples of local citations can be found on chamber of commerce pages, online white pages, and so on. 

 

This type of citation is an important component that search engines like Google and Bing take into consideration when ranking your site against your competitors. Without those citations, your site is missing out on important ranking opportunities. And, if search engines aren’t ranking your business high enough, customers aren’t going to find you online. Which is bad for your business.



3.) Partner with a pro for paid search

If you’ve not done so already, launching a paid search engine advertising or pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaign is a great way to boost your online business.

But, launching a paid search campaign can be a complex endeavor and one that we wouldn’t recommend doing on your own. Instead, working with a credentialed agency (one with good Google relationships). The Branding Agency can help you tackle keyword research, bid on keywords (we usually start with 500-1,000 keywords, and hone down from there), and update your geolocation, too.

 

Running a campaign for three months or so can build a valuable database from which you can map out a solid keyword strategy for your site—and good keyword data can quickly translate into great profits!

 

4.) Optimize your SEO

By partnering a PPC campaign with organic, well-crafted search engine optimization, you can build a double whammy with which to get ahead of your competition. 

 

You have an optimization opportunity to appear in not just one, but multiple Google search results. Once in the paid search section and once in the organic search results.

 

Plus, you can also win a third placement: In the map pack section. And, if you are able to boost your location citations, you’ll have mastered all possible SEO hot spots.

 

That’s a win-win-win that we can help you achieve!

 

Ready to get started?
Contact us HERE to learn more about how we can help you improve your website performance and achieve online success.

 

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Website Maintenance: The Importance of Keeping Your Site Secure

You may have the best site, with great SEO optimization, stellar content, and innovative design. But, if you’ve not updated your site security, hackers, Google penalties and fees, and more can negatively impact your web presence and your business’ success.

From out-of-date plugins, to poor passwords, to weaknesses in server security—once someone finds a crack in your site, they have the power to sneak in and take control. Through gaps, hackers can insert harmful SEO spam, malware, viruses, spyware, and worse.

All of these issues can leave your site exposed and vulnerable to legal action from visitors to your site, and may put you on a permanent search engine black list, or cause you to lose important and sensitive data.

That is why it’s so important to ensure your site is adhering to the latest security protocols. There are a few basics you can take care of, to keep your site safe and protected. But ultimately, investing in professional security and protections is your best bet to keep your business online and running smoothly.

Here are a few answers to common questions we hear from clients—and important things you should know about the impacts a security breach, hacking, or spam attack can have on your website and business.

Why are hackers and spammers out to get me, and what are they looking for?

Don’t take it personally! Cyber predators aren’t targeting your website, they’re instead looking at your content management system (CMS) WordPress plugins and hoping to find cracks in your security. One of the most popular CMSes in the world today, WordPress is a prime target for hackers looking to boost their own SEO or to make extra money off your business’ site. 

A sure-fire sign that your Wordpress site has a security breach can be the appearance of strange or random ad links. If a hacker gets through one of your security holes, they’ll be able to attach ad links to your site—and get paid, if your site visitors click on those links. 

What happens if I don’t maintain site security?

Unfortunately, if you don’t invest time, expertise, and a little bit of cash into maintaining your site’s security, you are setting yourself up for some very expensive consequences.

Worse case scenario: Google may issue your site with a manual penalty, which can take you off Google Search for 30 days or more. And, that means anyone looking at search keywords tied to your business and services will NOT see you. Your site will essentially become invisible to anyone who doesn’t have your webpages already bookmarked.

When a penalty is issued, Google stops sending organic traffic to your site. If you’ve been hit by a hacker or SEO spam, you’ll notice in your Google analytic reports that your traffic will have dramatically dropped. A devastating hit to your traffic can occur in just a manner of hours, but the damage can be long lasting.

What happens if I do get hacked or penalized?

Managing a penalty or hacking, and getting your site back online is complicated. You’ll need to identify security breaches and figure out exactly how the hacker got into your site, fix the security issues, and then get to work on having your site--and all your fixed pages—re-evaluated under Google review. The review process alone can take weeks, and if fixes aren’t evaluated to successfully in place, you’ll need to start the full process all over again.

In addition to penalties, hackers can cause additional damage to your site, including: 

  • Site warning alerts and blockages. You or a site visitor may see a Google warning alert, when trying to reach your site through Chrome. A message reporting “Phishing attack ahead” or “This site contains malware” may pop up, when you type in your site’s URL.

  • Website terminator or temporary removal. Your website is taken offline by your hosting service. If your site is attacked, your posting provider will receive security warnings or notifications from site visitors, initiating security tools to kick into gear and take your site offline.

  • Performance issues. When your site has been hacked, or is carrying malware, speed and responsiveness can be negatively impacted and greatly slow down performance.

  • Wordpress email functionality cessation. If you have WordPress email tied to your site, spam and malware can also impact your ability to send and receive emails. (When your site server is hacked, your email can also be affected, too.)

Unfortunately, finding a pro to help you shed Google manual penalties and get your site back online can cost big bucks. Negative user experience, like the issues cited above, can be the death bell for your site. Visitors who are exposed to warning alerts, pop-up ads, slow pages, and other negative experience issues when trying to reach or maneuver through your site, are less likely to try and visit you again in the future. 

Help! So, what can I do to protect my site?

The best way to keep your online business safe is to partner with a reputable company that offers website maintenance, like our team at The Branding Agency. 

Knowing how much time and energy (and cost!) go in to fixing a security breach is key. But, knowing who to go to for help to protect your site—so you don’t have to deal with costly negative issues—is priceless.

To keep your site safe, we offer important services that manually update important Word plugins every week and run backups in case a plugin update breaks your site. For $150, you can subscribe to this service and receive valuable added layers of protection—and peace of mind. 

Want to learn more about how we can help you keep your site secure? Give us a call at (704) 800-7413 or email us today to learn more about how we can help improve your website performance with an in-depth site audit. Our affordable, expert services and helpful resources can get your site quickly evaluated and putso you can start seeing positive results. 

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We are an alternative to the high priced traditional advertising firms & the low buck mills that can not offer customized services.

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