Spring has sprung (according to the calendar, at least) and April is upon us. For businesses, this also means a rapid end to the first quarter of the year; the optimal time to review the preliminary results of your annual marketing strategy. As much as we would love for a marketing strategy to be self-sustaining; a “set it and forget it” feature, it needs to be routinely checked up on and updated for the latest trends, data, and practical tools.

More specifically, it means we should begin asking questions like: Are we making progress toward the goal? Is it still visible? What are we doing to stay focused on the most important initiatives? What (if anything) has changed in our market? How do we need to respond to those changes and by when? Who is responsible for implementing these changes?

First, let’s see where we are. Here are some easy ways to gauge how you’re doing:

Review Your Goals: Even if you didn’t write goals down, this is the time to think through what you wanted to accomplish in 2019 and evaluate what you have and have not. Are there reasons you did not hit specific goals? Learning from the first three months, should any goals be adjusted or removed.

Monitor Social Media: While numbers are, of course, a concrete way to measure your progress, positive feedback from your followers is a great way to measure success as well. Consider posting specific questions regarding how your ideas are resonating with your fans. Asking a broad question like, “How are we doing?” probably won’t get the traction as you hope. However, asking “What do you like about X Marketing Campaign?” probably will garner more honest feedback as it invites direct feedback.

Check your analytics frequently: As we said, numbers are concrete and don’t lie. Compare the past few months to this time last year, or the last quarter of 2018. If you aimed to write more content, even something as simple tabulating the posts that you have written this quarter versus how many you wrote the prior quarter will show how well you have done.

Here are 3 Marketing Trends to watch in 2019 to boost your results:

Every business owner and marketer wants to rank higher on Google, but often don’t know where to start. Google is continuously changing and updating its algorithm, and more often emphasizing paid ads taking up most of the search results. At the core of Google certain things will never change. This means Google still and will always prioritize giving people immediate response results to the things they are asking or looking for. Google is more of a service, not so much a product. Thus, by creating content that comprises of info that your customers are asking or looking for, you’ll drastically increase your chance for ranking higher to capture that relevant search traffic.

One way Google is updating it’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is by showcasing more featured snippets. A featured snippet is a type of rich snippet that is featured as a query result at the top of Google, and most of the time is answering a specific question.

This article by Moz covers the core details about Featured Snippets: what they are, where they are shown, and types of snippets included. Most snippets are formed as paragraphs that are held on an article page that succinctly answers a question from Google in paragraph text form. These make up 82% of the total snippet results.

Make sure to give this content a page for itself on your website. Additionally, make sure to set up the proper technical SEO aspects surrounding that content and your site, so Google’s standards optimize it. This long-form article on Search Engine Journal discusses how to research then create content for Featured Snippets. We’d suggest taking some time to read and review it.

Key Points:

  • Answer people’s question around your product or service concisely
  • Create the content and web page for this query
  • Implement technical SEO elements to the content
  • Get links to and from this page from relevant sources

This past year Google AdWords had a major overhaul as they even changed their name to Google Ads. They wanted to simplify the interface and make a unified brand push, as many of their other brands changed names and features as well (DoubleClick and Analytics suite). This is a big year for Google and rebranding — overall this was a powerful strategic move as Google (Alphabet) seeks to become better at their marketing, therefore shifting the direction and sway of your marketing.

Having worked for Google previously, this seemed like a significant facelift. It took a lot of thought, planning, testing, and implementation. If you’re accustomed to the previous interface, then you’re in for a big surprise. We’re not in Kansas anymore! Nonetheless, we think this was a very strategic and vital change from Google.

Along with the interface changes, Google also added some powerful advertising functions and targeting methods. Our friends over at AdEspresso gave us an inside look by putting together a list of the best continuous updates on Google AdWords— we definitely agree with many of them below!

Here’s our recap of the most notable updates:

  • Four new search ad position metrics

The top four positions of Google search are now taken up by Google Search text ads — with the top ad being recognized as the absolute top.

This conversion tracking feature allows advertisers to import conversions by syncing with the Google Sheets for correct attribution and tracking.

  • New goal-based campaign workflow

Google Ads now will enable you to pick an objective per campaign (similar to Facebook ads) in which you have a focused goal in mind, for Google to then recommend certain campaign types.

  • TrueView beta closes, open to all advertisers

TrueView now opens up ad targeting options with TrueView in-stream for all YouTube advertisers on Google Ads.

This sequences out video ads to specific targets which are perfect for courses or services that need to focus on building a funnel of viewers leading to a conversion or specific action.

  • Call and Message Reporting Updates

Google Ads integration with call and message tracking has gone next level with in-depth reporting of text and call functionality.

Content Marketing

Everybody talks about the importance of content. But can it really be that important? Well, it depends: Is it good? Does it solve a problem or answer a question? Does it provide value? Does it instill emotion and invoke a reaction? These are the questions you must ask yourself.

The right content can make all the difference. Remember the Dollar Shave Club viral video? The answer is probably yes.

You can create thoughtful and creative content on a shoestring budget. The right content can even go viral if you’re strategic enough.

Content doesn’t always constitute of video; it could also be presented in text or audio format. Some people are better at writing or speaking than they are at being on camera or producing video content. Audio and text are also arguably more affordable and easier too. Video seems to dominate the emerging content spectrum. According to WordStream and others, the video appears to be the preferred means of content consumption with over 55% of people watching online video daily, and roughly 500 million hours of daily video content consumed on YouTube.com daily.

According to Merchdope, there are 1.3 billion users on YouTube.com and about 300 hours of video content is uploaded every 60 seconds. So, it’s probably safe to say that not all this content is good content. Furthermore, it’s probably safe to say that not all content is uploaded from businesses; a large percentage is lacking clear strategy and emotion.

Our friends at Vidyard explain how creating an emotional response helps drive action using video. If you can make people feel something; happiness, sadness, fear, guilt, despair — or a range of other emotions — people are genuinely more likely to remember the video, ultimately leading to top-of-mind brand awareness. According to a study by Nielsen, in this article written by Forbes, in a 2016 study they found that when individuals have a positive emotional association with a specific brand, they are 8.4 times more likely to trust the company, and 7.1 times more likely to purchase from them. That study also leads to a 23% increase in sales from that video campaign.

Key Points:

  1. Less is more; stop creating so much mediocre content
  2. Focus on more prominent creative content campaigns
  3. Document over create (to publish consistent content)
  4. Create an emotional response

The key is that movement is action. Take some time out of your schedule and reflect and plan. We are here to help or answer any questions you have. We look forward to working together more this year!

Project Picks of 2019

As the first quarter wraps up, we wanted to share some of our favorite projects of 2019 so far. Needless to say, it’s been a busy three months, with 18 website launches, 47 being worked on and 21 completed videos. Take a look at some of our first quarter favorites.

Wild East (Web Development) | View Website

The Appalachian Trail is more than a footpath in the woods. It is the backbone of a great landscape. With its scenic views, native plants and wildlife, American history, and unique communities, the Wild East landscape is a worldwide destination for your own unforgettable adventure. We loved working with our new fields at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on the first phase of this important initiative. You can read the full case study here.

I Only Fly First Class (Web Development) | View Website 

I Only Fly First Class isn’t your average travel agency. Their team has been to a combined 94 countries on every major airline. They visit dozens of lounges and airports each month. This real-world experience has taught them the value of award miles and redemption tickets, which they now pass along to their clients in order to provide the best business and first class tickets at the best possible prices. We loved working them on a brand refresh and website overhaul with custom API integration for booking travel easily online.

Menno Haven – Happy Place (Videos) | View Videos

The message is simple, you can find your happy place at Menno Haven. Our friends at Menno Haven wanted a series of videos to showcase this simple yet powerful message. Our video team worked with Menno Haven to create a series of long and short term videos to be used on in a integrated marketing campaign.

ATC Auto Center (Digital Marketing)

At [atc] their customers are at the center of everything they do. From service and repairs to preventative maintenance, they aim to put you back into the driver’s seat of your car, and your life, as quickly as possible. They own and run 2 service locations in Georgia. We have been working with them for nearly a year on digital marketing to bring their great message and services to a larger audience. As they continue to grow they were looking to add quality team members to their team who meet the high standards they carry everyday. We worked with them to run a targeting campaign that brought in many qualified applicants.

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