How Well Do You Know Your Target Audience?

Image via Carney

There are opportunities for success and failure in marketing your brand every single day. Actually understanding – not just guessing or assuming – your target audience on a fundamental level, as well as what they want, is at the foundation of every successful marketing campaign. Without this, moving your brand to total obscurity could be one poorly targeted advertisement away.

Why this understanding is so important should be pretty obvious, but what many tend to struggle with is knowing how to jumpstart that process of learning about their target audience. In a recent post from Carney that we enjoyed, it goes into a great example about why this is so darn critical:

Let’s take a trip back in time.

In 1958, Honda made the decision to enter the U.S. motorcycle market. At this time, the US motorcycle market was dominated by Harley Davidson, Indian, and Triumph. Riders of those motorcycles were exactly who you think of when someone says, “biker.” They were leather-wearing outsiders.

Back to Honda, when the Japanese company decided to enter the U.S. market, they went after the leather-wearing biker audience. They built some large motorcycles that could compete with Harley.

How’d that work out?

It was a huge success for Hond…ehh, just kidding. It was actually a total flop. Their large bikes barely sold. In the early ’60s, no leather-wearing outsider wanted to switch from a Harley or Indian to a Japanese bike.

While the US Honda team was trying to figure out why no one wanted to buy a Japanese bike, they noticed something unexpected. Urban-living, non-traditional motorcycle riders were taking interest in Honda’s small lightweight bike, the 50cc Super Cub.

In Japan, the Super Cub had always been incredibly popular among the urban-living, younger audience. But, Honda decided to ignore that market in the US and try something completely new.

Eventually, Honda shifted their marketing strategy to target this urban-living audience. Instead of trying to get traditional motorcycle riders on a Honda, they targeted young buyers who had no interest in the black leather jacket persona.

This was the same audience who loved their motorcycles in the Japanese-market — people who just wanted inexpensive, convenient, individual transportation for short trips around town.

That’s where the famous, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign came from.

The Super Cub’s massive US success eventually allowed Honda to move into the traditional motorcycle market, and it wasn’t too long before they captured 63% of the US motorcycle market.

So, what’s the point?

Honda almost became a footnote in US automotive history because they didn’t understand their target audience. Luckily, they realized it and pivoted before it was too late.

Had Honda originally focused on their strongest audience, they wouldn’t have wasted time and money marketing to an audience who was never going to buy their motorcycles.

 

The author goes on to describe some of their tried-and-true ways to really begin understanding the target audience for your own situation. While no two businesses are exactly the same, these methods will give you the jumping off point needed to create a successful marketing campaign.

  1. Sit in on sales calls with your sales team. Pay attention to the questions their prospects ask and how the sales team answers them.

  2. Spend time with customer service too. You can learn a ton from both happy and dissatisfied customers.

  3. Talk to your customers. For real. Reach out to 10 or 15 customers and ask if you can just talk to them for 15 minutes.

  4. Check out online forums. There’s a really good chance that an online community exists for your target audience. Start with Reddit. Do this for 30 minutes per day for 2 weeks. You’ll learn a lot.

  5. Read review sites. Sites like Yelp, Google, G2 Reviews, Capterra, etc. can be a gold mine for customer info.

 

You can head to the Carney website here to view the entire article about how audience research is driving marketing today.

Need some help with understanding your own target audience? Feel free to reach out to our team to see how we can help. 

Social Balance: How to Choose the Right Social Media Channels for Your Business

There are a lot of social media channels out there, but just because they exist doesn’t mean that your business should be active on it. Companies can sometimes spend way too much time, effort, and advertising budget on social channels that just aren’t right for them.

Social Media Channels: Where to Begin, Anyway?

With so many social media channels in existence today, it can be difficult to decide which selection or spread might be the best one for your brand. Here, we’ll list some of the most popular social media channels in 2019 with businesses, and (more importantly) discuss how they work to best for businesses.

Facebook

The classic. Facebook has been around long enough at this point to boast friendships on it lasting — at least — ten years. As far as social media networks go, Facebook can proudly label itself the gold standard of the social media community, because its primary goal is just that: building a community.

Source: https://www.musicalamerica.com

Any business that wants to see any life at all online quite simply needs to have a presence on Facebook. Through ads, mentions, and engagement to a full-blown marketplace, Facebook has skyrocketed in relevance since its inception. Over the years, Facebook’s explosion has created a myriad of opportunity as well as risk. The biggest risk for businesses, though (beyond not creating and maintaining an active profile) is relying on it as a lone vehicle to increase their web traffic.

  • Great for: An up-to-date and well-maintained Facebook page is the first step to establishing legitimacy for any business. At its best, it is a vehicle for online and physical business traffic and is effective for businesses of almost all sizes to build awareness of their brand, as well as establish relationships with their online community.
  • Pitfalls: The popularity of Facebook and the recent changes to its algorithm affects what users see in their feed. Marketers need to be strategic about what they post and when so that their business is well-positioned to reach as many users as possible.

Instagram

It’s almost impossible these days to have a product or service on the market that isn’t in some way marketed through Instagram. And can you blame it? Audiences are intensely visual, and this is a fact that is increasing over time.

Source: https://www.instagram.com

Instagram relies on this as a method to reach a wide range of audiences. Its newest feature, IGTV, is ever expanding their reach to new levels, in an attempt that rivals even YouTube as it makes its move to position itself as a competitor to streaming giants like Hulu and Apple TV. The strength of Instagram is that it is a fantastic way for businesses to build brand awareness and generate leads through storytelling and real engagement with its audience.

  • Great for: Great for very visual products and services, but also is a great opportunity for marketers to be creatively strategic, as there are so many ways to get creative about showing your brand in action.
  • Pitfalls: Traditionally, it was difficult to make conversions through IG, because the options for direct sales were limited. Things are changing now, as businesses are finding ways around this through the use and continued development of add-ons that make Instagram feeds instantly more shoppable.

Twitter

Twitter has long made its mark in social media by being the long-running voice of the people. Businesses have come to rely on Twitter as a great way to get audiences involved in their brand’s day-to-day marketing voice. Twitter functions a lot like the voice of a brand and is able to provide near to constant communication with an audience.

Source: https://www.twitter.com/calacademy

The way Twitter functions allows users to be involved in the day-to-day discourse of trusted figures and brand ambassadors, so Twitter has established itself as a reliable and accessible brand voice over time. This has been expanded even more recently as Twitter has extended its trademark 140 character limit to encompass 280 characters. It seems like a small feat, but in actuality allows for everyday users become reliable brand ambassadors themselves for businesses or causes.

  • Great for: Businesses that need to share news, specials, and rapidly changing information with their clients. Serves also as a great vehicle to mobilize their audience to share brand-specific information with other users.
  • Pitfalls: The sheer volume of tweets on Twitter make it entirely possible to get your message completely lost along the way, which means it never lands where your target audience is most likely to see it. That makes strategic timing and planning of tweets crucial so that your messages don’t end up being, well, just noise.

Snapchat

Snapchat isn’t just for kids. Savvy marketers know that even though there are many SM channels that utilize the smart features that Snapchat originated, like disappearing stories and the ubiquitous filter technology, Snap just keeps growing!

Source: https://www.snap.com

In 2018 alone, Snapchat was slated to generate over $1.2 M, from advertising and branded content. And those trends show no signs of slowing. What’s the secret behind Snapchat’s success? Well, it’s highly visual and makes use of users’ shrinking attention spans. And for younger users that are saturated with the contrived ads they’ve grown up with, it can be an incredibly effective tool to see branded content in use in an authentic way, by people they can relate to.

  • Great for: Authentic marketing, targeted to a younger audience. This is perfect for larger businesses that have highly visible content, and products or services that can be seen in use.
  • Pitfalls:  Snapchat doesn’t currently have the capability to allow users to like and comment on each others’ rapidly disappearing content. So for now, influencers and representatives have to rely on their perceived influence, as it doesn’t foster the more personal engagement that users can find with other social media channels. And as advertising is available through Snapchat, it can end up being costly for smaller to medium-sized businesses.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a goldmine for audiences that are looking to get inspired. Try to remember a time before you’ve heard the term “Pinterest-style (wedding/party/living room).” It’s nearly impossible. That’s because this highly visual platform is an effective tool for users to curate their online experience by selecting highly visual content that helps them to create a series of mood boards featuring their favorite photos and products representing a common theme or idea, and all according to their taste.  

Source: https://business.pinterest.com

This means that they are more likely to be looking to purchase items or products that they find once they have been added to their curated collections. Why is this huge for businesses? Pinterest utilizes nearly every stage of the traditional marketing funnel to build interest, build relationships between the community of users and the businesses, and to lead potential customers to make purchasing decisions.

  • Great for: It’s great for products because often users want to create a custom list to shop from and Pinterest’s idea boards make products accessible and easy to shop.
  • Pitfalls: Pinterest has a weakness, and which is that it is all too easy for businesses to create spam that erodes user trust over time. Marketers need to be strategic about maintaining links about available products so that users can rely on them, and businesses can maintain credibility.

Finding the Balance in Social Media Presence

With so many options available, how do you know which is the right choice for your business?

Let’s take a look at a few steps that will help you determine some deciding factors to choosing the right option for your brand.

Step 1 – Figure out your goals for social media

This may be the most important step in any marketing strategy. At what part of the marketing strategy are you hoping to reach your audience? Determining whether you are trying to build engagement, or actively convert leads into returning customers will be your first step in deciding which social media channel is right for your business.

Step 2 – Define your target audience

Who do you want to engage with your brand? It’s so tempting to get ambitious here because it’s natural for businesses to hope to court as wide an audience as possible. But your best strategy here is to build a marketing persona and market to your target audience strategically.  Putting some research into who they are, what they would like, and what their needs are will help to determine an effective social media strategy.

Step 3 – Figure out where your target audience (and competitors) are operating online

What’s your audience doing online? And who (or what?) are they engaging with while they are there? This takes the strategy of defining your target audience to the next level. Using analytics tools, and A/B testing will help you to determine what SM channels your target audience (and competitors) are engaging with and will give you a clearer picture of how to narrow down your focus, and strengthen your social media strategy.

If you are trying to get your brand out there to reach your audience, you’ve got to know who your audience is, what they are looking for, and how to work with where they are looking online! Knowing the strengths and downfalls of the most popular social media channels will be the first line of attack in determining how to create an effective social media strategy.

If you need help determining how to best position your business in the ever-shifting market on social media, don’t be afraid to reach out. We stay on top of the latest in social media trends so that you can do what you do best!

How to Use the Psychology of Color for Your Brand’s Personality

psychology of color

Quick…. Think of your favorite brands from your childhood. What do you remember about them? How did they make you feel?

We probably don’t spend too much time thinking about why we find certain things more visually appealing than others. But the truth is that those feelings actually have deeper roots than we think.

Color is a critical part of all of our experience.  We become instantly attracted to or repulsed by the combinations of colors we experience, simply by walking into a room, reading a menu, or looking at a brochure. And yes, this absolutely extends to the decisions we make when we are deciding on making a purchase, both big or small.

What’s up with Color?

From logos to landing pages, to print media or full websites, color is something that creates a visceral reaction in humans. We can’t help it! Colors create an emotive response from each of us, whether based in culture, past experience, or personal preference. There is no way that we are not affected by color, even from our earliest ages.

No small feat for something that technically, doesn’t actually exist. Color is essentially based in perception, and businesses know this. The way we experience brands are rooted in those perceptions, but even knowing that doesn’t stop the way that we feel when we derive a common meaning from each of those colors.

Let’s take a look at some popular brands and how they use color to shape our decision-making experiences.

Red

         

Meaning: Excitement, Passion, Strength, Energy, Violence

In branding: In some of our most popular brands, we tend to associate the color red with energy, excitement, strength, and passion. Coca Cola uses this perception to their advantage, as they take the top spot as a reliable industry leader in refreshing beverages. Target is adept at using this in its logo to inspire confidence in their customer base that yes, you can find exactly what you need within their doors.

Example: Coca Cola, Target

Blue
          

Meaning: Trust, Loyalty, Dependability, Friendliness, Calm, Tranquility

In branding: Ah, trusty blue. Few colors are as popular in branding, because blue and its many hues are able to communicate so many different but important messages to consumers. Nothing shows this better than Facebook’s logo. At its essence, Facebook is essentially a space to connect with friends, and nothing conveys this more efficiently than through the use of the color blue. Even Blue Apron is in on the action, as there are few things more relaxing than the comfort of a good meal at home.

Example: Facebook, AT&T, Blue Apron

Yellow

     

Meaning: Energy, Positivity, Happiness, Extraversion

In branding: Yellow can be a tricky color to brand with, because it can create such distinct reactions in people. At its core though, yellow tends to represent energy and positivity. IKEA utilizes this effectively by featuring the color prominently in its logo. What could be more exciting than the possibility of a creative new beginning for your living space?

Example: Denny’s, IKEA, Post-It

Green

Meaning: Freshness, Energy, Vitality, Health, Nature

In branding: We can often find green where we need to express some vitality or freshness, which makes it a really popular color for brands that want to associate their products with health or nature. Whole Foods is a great example of this, and its name has become synonymous with fresh, healthful products.

Example: Starbucks, Whole Foods, TicTac, Sprite

Orange

Meaning: Excitement, Warmth, Confidence, Friendliness, Optimism

In branding: Well, hello there Orange. Often associated with friendliness, extraversion, and excitement, it’s no wonder brands use orange to inspire optimism in their customers. Check out how Tinder uses the color in its super simple logo to inspire people to use their dating platform. Get out there!

Example: Home Depot, Nickelodeon, Tinder

Purple

        

Meaning: Wisdom, Royalty, Spirituality, Honor

In branding: There’s something about purple that inspires a sense of respect. Depending on its warmth and hue, brands often use purple to evoke feelings of authority with their customers. We often tend to associate the color with a sense of wisdom and royalty. Is it any coincidence then, that Hallmark uses a crown in its logo? We think not.

Example: Hallmark, BBC

Black

         

Meaning: Elite, Exclusivity, Sophistication

In branding: There’s a timelessness to the color black that we’ve come to rely on. Often exclusive, sophisticated, and always impactful, businesses have come to rely on the color to communicate the message of sophistication. Think about how Uber uses black all through its branding, from its logo, to it’s “elite” “black car” upgrades; this message is an intentional one.

Example:  Uber, Louis Vuitton, Apple

Pink

       

Meaning: Romance, Innocence, Femininity, Innovation

In branding: Depending on its shade, the color pink can communicate so many things. When it’s soft, its more obvious qualities of romance and femininity are highlighted, and brands like Victoria’s Secret know this and use this to appeal to its clientele. When it’s used at a deeper shade, like magenta, you’ve got a sense of fun and innovation behind it. Think Lyft’s pink mustache campaign, which serves to communicate the direct opposite of older brother and chief competitor, Uber.

Example: Victoria’s Secret, Dunkin’ Donuts, Lyft

Brown

Meaning: Earth, Nature,  Reliability, Dirtiness

In branding: Brown is another color that can be so effective when used well and can go so wrong when used ineffectively. It often serves to communicate a connection with nature and a sense of reliability. Brands like Cotton and UPS know this and use the color to craft a message around reliability with their brands.

Example: UPS, Hershey, Cotton

Color and Your Brand

It’s almost impossible to dive into the meanings of all colors, just like it is almost impossible to detail each person’s experience with those colors. But what’s crucial to know is that color is indeed important, and it absolutely has an effect on our deepest and earliest emotional responses. These feelings, of course, affect our buying choices, and even the way we elect to engage with our favorite brands. For marketers, it’s critical that we are taking this unique psychology into consideration when building out brand personalities.

If you aren’t sure how to get started making sure your brand’s personality is well communicated, don’t worry! We can help you with that, and more. Hit us up!

25 Excellent Optimization Tips From SEO Specialists

SEO optimization tips

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something we’d classify as “gruelingly worth it.”

As part of such a dynamic, constantly shifting area of online marketing, it’s one specialty that takes life-long learning, and consistent education and testing in order to truly master. Even then, the strategy differs greatly from industry to industry, and business to business. While there are some set SEO best practices that should always be addressed, optimizing for search is a practice that’s never truly over.

If you’ve ever felt downtrodden from your SEO efforts, you’re not alone (far from it!). If you’re looking for some inspiration, motivation, or a fresh new tactic to try out for your own search engine activities, look no further than these tips and tricks from SEO experts around the world.

1. “SEO is much more than just rankings and traffic, it’s a complete marketing process from bringing in the right visitors to converting them into brand advocates. You can’t just pick one part of the process and expect your business to shine.”
— Moosa Hemani, SETalks.com

2. “Spend more time on promoting your content. I have the rule to devote more time marketing our content than writing it to get the most value out of each piece. Promote your content on social media both organically & paid.”
— Adam Rowles, Inbound Marketing

3. “Never underestimate the SEO power of refreshing and republishing your historically popular posts. Gently rewriting, or adding in more information or variety to the existing content is a solid strategy for bringing more high-quality traffic in via organic search.”
— Ariel Phipps, Oliver + Sons Digital Marketing

4. “Your competitors are your best friends in helping you boost up your site traffic.”
— Iftekhar Ahmed, IftiSEO.com

5. “Do competitor research in regards to links to see what kind of things your competitors are doing that are actually attracting links (as opposed to building their own links).”
— Marie Haynes, Marie Haynes Consulting

6. “Only a user-centered strategy is future-oriented. That is exactly what search engines want: Get the user the best search results. If it is useless for the user, it is useless for the business. Instead of trying to be smarter than the algorithm, focus even more on creating awesome and useful content for your customers.”
— Nina Baumann, Linkspiel.de

7. “The beauty of SEO is that, instead of pushing a marketing message onto folks who don’t want to hear what you have to say, you can reverse-engineer the process to discover exactly what people are looking for, create the right content for it, and appear before them at exactly the moment they are looking for it. It’s pull vs. push.”
— Cyrus Shepard, Fazillion Media

8. “Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.”
— Marc Ostrofsky, Author of Get Rich Click

9. It’s much easier to grow your business by getting more traffic than by playing with your conversion rate.
— Balazs Szilagyi

10. “To make search engines fall in love with your website, try to please your audience first, because search engines are also trying to do the same.”
— Shubhanshi Aggarwal, GrowWithWeb.com

11. “The reality is SEO can benefit from PR best practices and PR can benefit from SEO best practices.”
— Dave Lloyd, previously Adobe

12. “Search marketing, and most Internet marketing, in fact, can be very threatening because there are no rules. There’s no safe haven. To do it right, you need to be willing to be wrong. But search marketing done right is all about being wrong. Experimentation is the only way.”
— Mike Moran, Mike Moran Group

13. “A real estate agency in Wichita has no shot at ranking for the phrase “real estate;” a lawyer in Fresno has no shot at ranking for the word “lawyer.” Optimize for relevant, specific keywords that will bring targeted traffic.”
— Matt McGee, previously SearchEngineLand.com

14. “It is still important to pay attention to quality content vs. just content. Google is watching all the websites very closely and may penalize the websites with duplicate/thin/low-quality content.”
— Pratik Dholakiya, Preceptist

15. “Successful SEO is not about tricking Google. It’s about PARTNERING with Google to provide the best search results for Google’s users.”
— Phil Frost, Main Street ROI

16. “You can’t just ‘SEO’ your website and be done. It’s a forever moving goal post.”
— Stoney deGeyter, Pole Position Marketing

17. “Think beyond commercial keywords. The majority of search engine users start with a question. Answer those questions. Make your content marketing stand out from the ever-growing crowd. Think of SEO as a list building and lead acquisition exercise and not just sell, sell, sell.”
— Marcus Miller, Bowler Hat

18. “Optimize for what would happen IF you ranked, do not optimize to rank.”
— Will Critchlow, Distilled

19. “Create quality backlinks ONLY from reputable sources. It’s important to understand that links from low-quality directories or other such sites will only get your website penalized. The harder it is to get a backlink, the more valuable it will be. Backlinks are still the most important metric for SEO, but their quality is what makes the difference between success and failure.”
— Felix Tarcomnicu, Monitor Backlinks

20. “On-page SEO is no longer satisfied by raw keyword use. Matching keywords to searcher INTENT is critical.”
— Rand Fishkin, SparkToro (formerly of Moz)

21. “Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first.”
— Wendy Piersall

22. “When a site links to your blog or a post you’ve written, Google sees it as a recommendation to their readers, like a vote of confidence. Write great content that helps your audience, guest post on other blogs, feature in roundups, and you will get lots of backlinks. These will increase your ranking in Google’s searches and your domain authority.”
— Minuca Elana, MinucaElena.com

23. Good SEO work only gets better over time. It’s only search engine tricks that need to keep changing when the ranking algorithms change.
— Jill Whalen, High Rankings

24. “Never focus on building backlinks, focus on earning backlinks.”
— Naveen Kumar, F5TheRefresh.com

25. “Don’t invest it all in Google. You never know what’s coming down the line and, although we target traditional search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo), your users may not. Pay attention to social search, because it’s growing. Some people get their news from Facebook and Twitter. Others find out about products on Facebook or Instagram.”
— Gabriella Sannino, Level343

 

What are you doing to stay ahead of the SEO curveIs there a strategy you’re excited to test out soon?

We’d love to hear your thoughts or provide any SEO services where needed! 

This article was originally published on March 22, 2018.

SEO Tips for 2018: Here’s How to Rank Higher

SEO tips 2018

Search engine optimization is a total BEAST.

According to HubSpot, 80% of your website traffic comes from a simple search query. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important. Without proper planning, strategy, and continuous maintenance, SEO can quickly become a maddening way to spin your marketing wheels incessantly. However, with some of the right techniques in place at the right times, you can quickly climb the ladder of Google search rankings and make it in front of those qualified eyes you’re desperately seeking, meaning you’ll get more traffic, conversions, and increased revenue.

We’re always doing our due diligence to stay in-the-know where SEO tips are concerned – this time, our friends at Backlinko did not disappoint! In fact, the author stated that “these are the same tips that I’ve used to grow my site to 186,081 visitors per month.”

Impressive, no? 

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty… here are Brian’s top SEO tips for 2018 that businesses, freelancers, and the like can take advantage of in order to better their search engine standings.

1. Use Title Tag Powerups

2. Stop “Pogosticking”, Get Higher Rankings

3. Delete Zombie Pages

4. Do An Industry Study

5. Use a “Feeler” Email

6. Optimize Content for Google Hummingbird

7. Add Text Content to Infographics, Podcasts, and Videos

8. Give Old Content New Life

9. Build Backlinks From Speaking Gigs

10. “The GSC Hack”

11. Create Linkable Content Around “Shoulder Niches”

12. Get Links From Sites That Use Your Visual Assets

13. Create Branded Keywords

14. Provide “What is X” Information For Definition Keywords

15. Replace “Published On” Dates with “Last Updated”

16. Use Google Images to Find Guest Post, Column and Interview Opportunities

17. Tap Into Google’s Underrated Keyword Research Tool

 

Keep reading on the Backlinko blog to learn more about all these amazing SEO tips for 2018 >>

And check out our own articles on mastering and understanding SEO for your website.