13 ways to develop an organic marketing strategy

While businesses can (and do) spend a ton of money on marketing to see results, they don’t necessarily need to. With some creativity and clever strategizing in the marketing department, a company can see similar results doing it all on its own.

The Business Journals

Developing an effective organic marketing strategy on a low budget isn’t exactly a piece of cake, but it is possible. Here, 13 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust share some key ways to do so.

1. Interview your executives and clients.
Interview your executives and clients (together if possible). Interviews are a quick and scalable way to generate deep thought leadership content. Include your clients and prospective clients to get a two-for-one deal that promotes you both. Integrate social media postings of the published interviews into your and your clients’ platforms for a simple social media campaign with expanded reach. – Ryan Blanch, Repute PR + Law

2. Help current clients with their needs.
Focus on customer service! There are millions of ways to bring in new clients, but customer service is by far the best and most productive strategy. By helping our current clients with their needs, we receive referrals. We feel that our clients are our best spokespersons. The key is to provide top-of-the-line service. – Arnold Garza, Houston Center Real Estate

3. Use measurable tools for assessment.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Focus is essential and having measurable tools to assess success. Public relations and customer relations are the two most affordable programs for early-stage companies. However, to drive social revenue, direct marketing also needs to be part of the program for growth. – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

4. Narrow your audience.
Narrow your audience and then narrow it again (and maybe one more time). Too often, businesses think their audience is “everyone,” which is the fastest way to have an audience of no one. Drill down. Today, you can market online based on gender, race, age, location and interests — the options are nearly infinite. Define exactly who you want to talk to and then go find them. – Sam Davidson, Batch

5. Set KPIs that matter, and keep up with them.
Set key performance indicators that matter and ones that you keep up with! Whether it is paid or organic, it is important that you identify what measurable number you want to focus on. If you’re not sure where to start, do a competitive analysis and see what your competitors have that you want! – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

6. Deliver an incredible customer experience.
Deliver an incredible customer experience. Deliver incredible results and your business will grow without marketing and advertising. Quality is still king, so there are always opportunities for new business because someone is always letting their client down! Deliver a world-class service and you will have more business than you can handle! – David Wescott, Transblue

7. Build meaningful, engaging experiences.
Build experiences that are highly meaningful and engaging, and be able to measure the responses. Give customers opportunities to embrace what you do and what you offer, encouraging them to also invite their communities to join them in supporting you. Conversely, be sure to embrace the community around you by using engagement strategies that leave a positive, lasting impression. – John Harris, Digital Environment LLC

8. Have a defined point of view.
Have a well-defined point of view you want to share. Create a strategy that provides for specific and consistent representation in various channels where your customers are. Create avenues for customers to provide input about what they would like to see and use those customer ideas publicly as you then see to meet those needs. Ask for testimonials and referrals, and use them to market the company. – Kimberly Janson, Janson Associates

9. Join industry-specific associations.
One of the most effective approaches to developing an organic marketing plan is to join industry-specific groups or trade associations. With insights gathered through active participation, an organization can build a targeted marketing plan that will reach prospective customers where they are likely to visit for content relating to their industry. – Quoc Nguyen, Arthur Lawrence, LLC.

10. Create informative content.
Creating high-quality, informative content focused on the right keywords can do miracles for driving organic traffic to your website. This has been the most cost-efficient strategy to generate leads for our company and it’s fully scalable. The key is consistency. Figure out the frequency at which you can post new content, whether it’s daily or weekly, and stick to it. – Peter Abualzolof, Mashvisor

11. Know your core audience well.
Knowing your core audience and segmentation. Also, knowing which customers convert the strongest and have the largest purchase history should be your main target to generate the most amount of ROI. You then can test at varying levels with other marketing channels and diversify the audience. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

12. Collaborate with a microinfluencer.
Collaborate with a budget-friendly microinfluencer with an authentic appreciation for your products or services to strengthen your online marketing strategy. Compared to the classic influencer with tons of followers, microinfluencers have smaller audiences, but can be equally persuasive among their niche audience. To start, look for a well-matched microinfluencer who is open to in-kind trade. – Lincoln Jacobe, 6 Pillars Marketing

13. Speak at events and write articles.
I’ve found the most powerful organic marketing strategy is public relations. PR provides authentic, credible and affordable awareness and perception-building. Speaking at industry events, writing articles for industry publications, submitting for awards and making yourself available to the media are all foundational PR strategies that move the needle. – Kent Lewis, Deksia

11 Ways to Measure Your Marketing ROI

11 Ways to Measure ROI

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 5, 2019

Sometimes, marketing efforts feel like day after day of trial and error in an economy that’s constantly evolving. Technology is changing, social media sites rise and fall, and “hot trends” that work for one business might not be suitable for another. To ensure you’re investing in tactics that will deliver the best results for your brand, you’ll need to regularly review your efforts across the board.

11 Ways to Measure ROI

It’s not always easy to determine and quantify those results, though. That’s why we asked the experts from Forbes Agency Council to explain how they measure the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing efforts.

1. Launch A Content Marketing Campaign

There is no reason it should be difficult to measure ROI today. We have so many tools and ways to glean metrics, and the expectations on marketing to generate sales are too high for us to forsake data. If you’re not measuring anything today, start with some simple content marketing. Get a few campaigns going and you’ll have benchmark numbers—traffic, leads, conversions—in no time. – Sarah Mannone, Trekk

2. Understand Your ‘Whys’

A marketing campaign absolutely cannot be successful without a tight strategy. You should know the reasoning behind everything you do. These “whys” should align with all of your goals. These goals must be measurable, whether that’s in terms of engagement rates or direct sales. By doing this, you can show the ROI of each individual tactic throughout the duration of your marketing campaign. – Lisa Arledge Powell, MediaSource

3. Segment Your Activities

My startup is built around measuring ROI for marketing activities. Usually, I track sales, the lead volume against website traffic, the sources of traffic and total traffic over different periods of time. If you can segment branded search, traffic, leads and sales down to each marketing activity, then it is easy to track ROI. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

4. Check Your Traffic Sources For Each Campaign

One of the most important places to start assessing ROI is looking at your sources of website traffic (organic, social, paid, referral, etc.) per campaign to see what is driving the most website visits and qualified leads. From there, determine what sources are driving the most customers. This data will help you see what sources are most impactful for qualified lead generation and customer acquisition. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions

5. Establish The Right KPIs

We all know some desired results are easier to measure than others. That’s why it’s important to establish quantitative key performance indicators, such as impressions, CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and sales, as well as qualitative KPIs such as loyalty, reputation management and third-party credibility. Measurement is not black and white anymore, and marketers need to adopt a modern mindset in order to measure true impact. – Ashley Walters, Empower

6. Measure Consistently

Every dollar of marketing investment should be analyzed to determine if it is effectively driving sales or critical KPIs. Tracking through online sales, leads, traffic, point-of-sale (POS) data or anywhere else needs to be brought into the same tech platform to analyze and determine marketing effectiveness and then be displayed in a dashboard or through a consolidated report. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, HAWTHORNE LLC

7. Conduct Customer Research

Good customer research is absolutely the best way to gain and measure the ROI of your marketing activities. Make research the foundation of your campaigns. Let it inform your strategy. Track your efforts with a comprehensive platform that integrates your contacts with your personas, website, email marketing and campaigns. You’ll be able to see and improve your ROI. – Mary Ann O’Brien, OBI Creative

8. Automate And Integrate

Marketing efforts don’t always show obvious results because they exist early in the customer journey. Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot or Pardot, when integrated with your customer relationship management (CRM), can tie your marketing efforts directly to qualified sales leads and ultimately closed business. Connecting Web traffic to prospects and prospects to closed sales is the ultimate goal of measuring marketing ROI. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

9. Know Where Your Leads Are Coming From

We are in the digital marketing area, so all our advertising is actually tracked. For leads, we know we get X amount from search engine optimization (SEO). We get Y amount from pay-per-click (PPC). We get Z amount from social media. We have yearly budgets and track leads into clients and budget appropriately. Network events and conferences can be harder to track, but usually, you can attribute spikes in leads online to attendance. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

10. Revisit Your Goals Regularly

The first step to measuring ROI is not at the end of a project; rather, it’s at the beginning. That sounds contrarian, but during the planning phase, it’s imperative to align on the goal(s) in order to effectively strategize, implement action, track progress, communicate and pivot as needed, and then measure success. If you don’t define and continuously align on goals, the ROI will be impossible to measure. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

11. Ask Your Clients

We have clients fill out a quick survey for their personal goals and the brands with specific KPIs, which is quite helpful for referring back to throughout an engagement. In e-commerce, we’ll use cost per acquisition against predicted lifetime value to measure what works across the online touchpoints. Both ways help get at indisputable numbers for what success looks like. – Jacob Cook, Tadpull

12 Planning Strategies to Keep Your Editorial Calendar on Track

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: July 28, 2018

Creating content has quickly become one of the core activities for most brands’ marketing teams. Blog posts, social media, videos and other assets serve to establish a company’s expertise while building trust and interest with their current and potential customer base.

As the demand for unique, original content continues to grow, the best way to keep up is a solid, well-organized editorial calendar. Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or a formal project management tool, planning out your content in advance can help you stay on top of long-lead deadlines for “evergreen” pieces. Here’s how 12 Forbes Agency Council members recommend preparing for those deadlines on your editorial calendar.

1. Build A Strong Backbone, But Leave Room For Flexibility

Start by brainstorming a list of most asked questions. This should be the backbone of your content. Strong content answers questions people are searching for and will draw them to you as the expert answering their questions. Make room in your calendar for flexibility to pivot with pop culture and industry breakthroughs. The top priority is to bulk up your calendar by scheduling strong content. – Katie Harris, Spot On Solutions

2. Get Specific

Staying on top of your editorial calendar is a key component to content marketing success. Create content topic lists, assign internal content and topic ownership, and include specific publish dates on the calendar that aren’t just rough estimates and that targets a specific target audience. Be specific. – Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc

3. Plan A Timeline That Covers Every Phase Of Your Campaign

Start out with the date range you need to go “live” with the campaign. Back out from there to plan for all phases of the campaign and parallel developments that include other departments/dependencies. Give yourself extra days if there are any review phases from third parties. Finally, publish your calendar to all parties and make sure there is agreement and accountability to adhere to deadlines. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com

4. Create A ‘Dream’ Calendar And A ‘Necessity’ Calendar

Many times, brands start by creating their dream content calendar, with lots of new content being generated constantly. That’s great, but there needs to be another calendar that defines which of those deadlines and pieces of content are absolutely necessary for a campaign to work. Then, start by making sure you make everything on the “necessity” calendar, and if there is more time, do the rest. – Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design

5. Engage Influencers

It’s a fact of business: brands get busy. If the team isn’t able to churn out enough quality content on a consistent basis to fill an editorial calendar, engage influencers to produce high-quality (and authentic) content to repurpose on your brand’s social channels. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group

6. Have A Defined Editorial Process For Responding To Timely Events

Editorial calendars are tedious and out of date the minute they are written. A defined editorial process, however, gives you the flexibility to create content in the moment, reacting to or even initiating timely conversations. A focus on process and speed will let you plan for spontaneity. – Jerrid Grimm, Pressboard

7. Track Short- And Long-Lead Deadlines In A Well-Organized Spreadsheet

Spreadsheets are key and also a great visual representation of the timeline and content that needs to be prepared and published in time for editorially relevant milestones like company launches, holidays or seasons. Focus on overlapping content angles so that your content stays fresh and you are addressing both short- and long-lead deadlines simultaneously. – Sara Shake, Mad

8. Repurpose All Content

Users consume content differently on all platforms. Focus on creating evergreen content that can be repurposed and added to over time. Be sure to distribute that content throughout all social media platforms. As you learn to leverage the distribution of your media, you will see it is easier for you to fill in your editorial calendar. – Breynan Hammons, Innvio

9. Share The Process

Content creation should be shared, not siloed. Involve multiple people by creating a process and having stages in place. Having deadlines to pass the project to others for editing, proofreading and design help keep the author on track and accountable. This helps keep larger projects, like whitepapers, on track and moving forward, rather than waiting on one person. – Nicole Mahoney, Break the Ice Media

10. Plan, Measure And Refine

The most successful content marketing efforts start with a strong strategy, careful planning and are hyper-focused on your buyer persona. Invest time to be thoughtful upfront, and map specific content types, themes and placement for the full year at once. At the beginning of each new quarter, review the performance to date and refine your content planned for the rest of the year accordingly. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

11. Diversify Your Subject Matter Expertise

Implement strategic plans for long-lead cadence and themes to ensure each post serves a purpose. Whether it’s entering the conversation around a holiday or making sure you’re diversifying subject matter, being able to see the road ahead is key to measure success and audience interaction. Line up executives in advance for appropriate thought leadership to grow value and awareness. – Scott Kellner, GPJ Experience Marketing

12. Understand Your Overall Editorial Philosophy

While content marketing is powerful for brands, too many companies focus their attention on the form factor of publishing and not enough on their overarching philosophy. If you know the philosophy or ideology you want to share, you can look for events and opportunities that enable you to instantiate your philosophy. This will allow you to create content that’s more authentic and valuable. – Hamid Ghanadan, LINUS

How Voice Technology Is Changing The Way We Work

How Voice Technology Is Changing The Way We Work

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: July 27, 2018

How many times have you set a reminder, sent a message or searched for the answer to a question, simply by speaking into your phone? Voice technology, combined with built-in AI assistants like Siri and Cortana, have made these situations commonplace, and it’s changing the way we live our daily lives.

But voice technology isn’t just useful in the consumer realm: Businesses can — and already do — greatly benefit from the ability to give commands, look up information and dictate notes using just their voice and a smart device. Here’s what nine Forbes Agency Council members believe the future of voice technology in the workplace looks like. How Voice Technology Is Changing The Way We Work

1. Improved Internal Information Sharing

IBM Watson has been building customized voice applications for the enterprise. Think: Being on the factory floor and having access to all of the company’s intranet, process documentation and HR documentation, all without lifting a finger. Making information accessible to everyone will help all levels of the organization to be more efficient. – Dan Golden, Be Found Online

2. Increased Productivity Through Multitasking

Being able to ask simple questions, set meetings, timers, reminders and more, without stopping what you’re doing can be incredibly helpful, and already is. Alexa is a key office tool for me today, ensuring I keep track of action items and to-do lists, and reminding me of upcoming meetings. – Molly Mulloy, Crafted Communications

3. More Free Time For Administrative Executives

Voice assistance has the possibility of freeing up valuable time for administrative executives, allowing them to shift their focus to higher priority to-dos on their list. Inputting meetings on calendars, sending quick texts and other similar tasks will be replaced with voice technology. – Priscila Martinez, The Brand Agency

4. Greater Control Over The Work Environment

It is predicted that by 2020, 30% of all web searches will be screenless, and within four years, shopping online by voice-only is expect to reach $40 billion. While I am working through my emails, I use Alexa to replenish snacks by ordering from Amazon, get restaurant recommendations, search for the latest stats and change the office temperature. I can also ask Alexa to answer my calls. – Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand

5. Automation Of Mundane Processes

Alexa for business utilizes simple voice commands to control the equipment in the room, set up meetings without issues, and save time in the corporate world. It also can report to the IT department about broken printers, etc. Looking longer-term, I feel one of the biggest value propositions of voice assistants will be the ability to automate mundane processes. – Imran Tariq, WebMetrix Group LLC

6. Streamlined Workflows And Reduced Communicative Friction

Google has already introduced the ability of voice tech to schedule appointments, impacting our daily processes. Soon we’ll be able to say out loud, “Schedule a meeting with Tom at 2 p.m.,” and done! Between emails, instant messages and endless office minutia that can take time out of our day, voice tech will soon be an invaluable tool for streamlining general workflows and reducing friction. – Bernard May, National Positions

7. Greater Insights Into The Consumer Mindset

Aside from the utility of audio assistants in the workplace, which could be used to book meetings, manage to-do lists and send messages to colleagues, voice technology could help marketers get in the mindset of consumers by exploring voice search results and popular Skills/Actions. Voice gaming, for example, could be used as a model for how consumers will navigate website content by voice. – Nina Hale, Nina Hale / Performance Digital

8. Easier Documentation And Note-Taking

Every company needs some degree of process documentation, standard operating procedures and long, tedious written forms of communication. Yet, no one ever has the time to write them, so why not say them using voice technology? It’s easier to edit something than to write it from scratch. – Brooke Weller, iProspect, San Diego

9. Uniquely Human Jobs

Voice has already started to make its way into the workplace to improve worker efficiency. Dictation allows you to take real-time detailed notes during a meeting so there are no discrepancies. Cortana helps you search, schedule appointments and set reminders. When used effectively, technology will allow the worker to focus on strategy and creativity, the elements that make us uniquely human. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, hawthornedirect.com

If You Want To Humanize Your Brand On Social Media, Try These 10 Tactics

Forbes Agency Council

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: June 3, 2018

The reason channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are so successful is because they encourage two-way conversations with customers. If you want those conversations to be successful and ultimately lead to conversions, you have to remember that people want to talk to other people, not faceless businesses. That’s why it’s in your brand’s best interest to show your human side in social media interactions and posts.

We asked a panel of experts from the Forbes Agency Council how to humanize a brand on social media. Their best answers are below.

Forbes Agency Council

1. Strike The Right Balance Between Personality And Professionalism 

Be real. Show yourself in your “personal” element while out on the job, giving back to the community, traveling and working with friends. But always remember to be appropriate because things will live online forever. It’s important to strike the right balance. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castrohawthornedirect.com

2. Show Some Character 

Brands often fail to captivate their audiences when they try to play things too safe. Don’t be afraid to show some humor at appropriate times or take a stance on some relevant issues. While there are always lines you shouldn’t cross, keeping things too sterile and not showing a personality doesn’t help you connect with consumers. – Greg Kihlstrom, Yes& Agency

3. Be Consistently Unique 

Every person has a unique voice and character that contributes to their overall personality – this is true for brands, as well. A consistent brand voice can do a lot to support the image you want your brand to portray. Not to mention, it can have a positive impact on the kinds of conversations you are having with your audience, making them feel like they are talking to a friend, not just a brand. – Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand

4. Be True To The Voice And Tone Of Your Brand 

The key to humanizing a brand on social media channels is authenticity and consistency. Staying true to brand voice while communicating with your audience honestly and openly is paramount. Audiences don’t want to see their favorite sneaker brand posting boring, sales-heavy content, just as they don’t want their bank posting cat memes. – David Harrison, EVINS

5. Define Your Brand’s ‘Personality’ 

Humanizing your brand on any digital asset is giving life to your brand. First, you should decide its personality. What kinds of things would your brand do, eat or listen to if it were human? Where does it hang out? Who are its BFFs? Where would I see your brand on the weekend? At a concert? In the mall? Let your brand “date” its followers. That means real interaction, all the time. – Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate

6. Go Behind The Scenes 

Your followers want a window into your brand. That is why they follow you. They want to see the culture of your company, people and what your day-to-day looks like. Make sure to mix professional or staged images with lifestyle shots and a look behind the scenes. If you have a set theme or look for your Instagram page, then utilize the Story feature to give your followers a true look at your company culture. – Meredith Xavier, The Ligne Group

7. Embrace Storytelling 

“Storytelling” is such a buzzword this year. Brands are getting smarter about humanizing messages across all content, whether it’s posted on their own site or on a social media channel. This is a trend to really embrace on social media. Tell your followers a story – something to which they can relate. – Matt Bowman, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency

8. Show Off Your Team 

Strong brands attach loyalty not just to their products or work, but also to their teams. Your audience is interested in more than your work and thought leadership pieces – they also want to know about the people behind the brand. Behind-the-scenes videos, birthday celebrations, fun outings and team bonding activities are all great ways to show off your culture and connect with your audience. – Nicole Mahoney, Break the Ice Media

9. Have Real Humans Respond To Customers’ Posts 

A simple “Thank you!” for a positive comment will go a long way. More detailed responses to actual questions or complaints will be even more successful. For brands that are really concerned about how they’re perceived by consumers, invest in a team of humans who understand your brand ethos, products and services to manage social pages. – Jeffrey Kamikow, Cross Audience

10. Stop Posting Like A Marketer 

Avoid using industry slang, formal sentences and third-party language. Social media is all about creating dialogue and building relationships. Create posts that are conversational in nature and use “you” and “me” phrases. Act like you are talking with your neighbor and post content in a way the creates that environment. Be human. – Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions

10 Places To Look When Your Website Traffic Is Dropping

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: June 2, 2018

For companies that generate most of their leads and sales online, bringing in steady website traffic is critical. That’s why a sharp decline in traffic sends the average business into full-on panic mode.

While you should be concerned about a sudden dip in site visits, there’s often a logical explanation for it, if you know where to look. Sometimes it’s a simple and fast fix – a coding error, for instance – while in other cases, such as an algorithm change, it might take a bit longer to bounce back. Either way, it’s important to look for the root of the problem so you can fix it.

Ten Forbes Agency Council members explain some potential reasons your site’s traffic may have tanked, and what you can do about it.

1. Tracking Tags

The simplest explanation for a sudden and unexpected drop in website performance is often analytics tags failing to fire. Always check tracking first to make sure website visitors are being accounted for before making drastic changes. Reconciling tracking issues will help mitigate the long-term impact. Additionally, making friends with your IT department will help avoid issues before they arise. – Nina Hale, Nina Hale / Performance Digital

2. The Front End Of Your Website 

 The first thing to investigate after a major dip in traffic is your website itself. Is it actually working? Is there a problem with the domain? Mechanically, is everything functioning as it should? If all that checks out, make sure the critical inbound links are still intact. If the majority of your traffic comes from inbound campaigns, ensure your inbound marketing platform is working properly. – Jeffrey Kamikow, Cross Audience

3. Google Analytics 

When the world is crashing around you, trust the data. Dive into Google Analytics and try to pinpoint where things went south. Think back on marketing tactics you recently pushed live and find the correlation. This should lead you to an internal audit, where you may discover an internal tool is broken or an external force is impacting your site. – Kirk Deis, Treehouse 51

4. Google Search Console 

If you don’t stay up to date on major Google algorithm changes, you’re falling behind. If your site is not mobile-friendly, improperly secured or using outdated practices for SEO, your rankings may be dropping. Check your Search Console, work with your team to fix the problem, and start subscribing to the right resources to avoid this in the future. – Stewart Gandolf, Healthcare Success

5. Traffic Sources 

After confirming that there’s no recent update to search algorithms throwing things out of whack, identify which traffic source has seen the greatest decline – direct, referral, organic, paid, social. After pinpointing the source, work backward to determine what actions (or inactions) could be at fault. Check your content consumption and be sure it is on point with your target audience. – Keri Witman, Cleriti

6. Your Site’s Code 

When we see a sharp decline in traffic, we first check the site’s code. During site changes and redesigns, SSL and 301 redirects are often overlooked, causing Google to de-index the site’s pages and search rankings to drop. The drop in rankings can dramatically decrease visitors. So when building a new site or making changes to your current one, double-check your redirects before pushing live. – Michael Weinhouse, Logical Position

7. The Bigger Customer Engagement Picture 

Don’t panic, and take a step back to see the bigger picture. Perhaps customers are engaging with your website primarily on mobile rather than desktop. If your mobile site isn’t optimized or they are instead using your app, then this could be why. This gives you insight into how consumer behaviors change over time and where they are most likely to engage with your brand. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad

8. External Backlinks 

A client once had a downward trend in organic traffic. We audited all the checklist items to figure out what the issue was and we were stumped. We then evaluated the search trends of their top backlinks and found that their highest authority backlink had the same drop. To fix our client site, we had to fix the referring site. External forces are sometimes just as important as internal factors. – Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

9. The Last Item That Changed On Your Site 

When diagnosing an issue, you need to think back to what was the last item that changed. It could be a code push that somehow removed analytics from your site, it could have been a change to content that has caused a decline in search traffic. Did you make a change to your advertising? Sudden declines (or increases) are often traceable back to the last modification (big or small) that was made. – Greg Kihlstrom, Yes& Agency

10. Adblockers 

Check whether you are getting “adblocked” by any browsers, which may be redirecting traffic from your site. Also check on whether you might have had “false” traffic coming to your site from foreign websites, which was then rectified and now has new accurate website traffic numbers. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castrohawthornedirect.com

Autonomous Vehicles Will Be A New Opportunity For Marketers

Autonomous Vehicle

Author: Forbes Agency Council;  Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: June 4, 2018

Autonomous vehicles have been at the forefront of innovative thinking and Autonomous Vehicle development for some time now, and automakers are already exploring how they can fit into this new future.

Earlier this year, Toyota announced its vision to transform from a car company into a mobility company, while the Ford Motor Company is creating a reliable future of transportation through a systems-based approach for smart cities. Other automotive companies have pilot programs for autonomous vehicles that will become increasingly ambitious in 2018, reflecting a broader vision of what this technology will be able to do.

The reality is, despite ambitious projects already in the works by Ford, Tesla and BMW, autonomous vehicles won’t be ready to ship to the public for several years. Even with friendly city regulators, the real-world hurdles will take time to navigate, but the momentum is strong.

While the automobile as an ad medium is still in its infancy, marketers are starting to think about the enormous and exciting implications. As a full-service, data analytics-based media agency, we would welcome this additional channel to our cross-channel mix.

A New Marketing Medium

With the advent of self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles comes a new concept for the consumption of content. Vehicles will be the new living room, featuring multimedia surfaces for viewing a variety of media and advertising/branded experiences. They will encompass a 360-degree environment, all from the comfort of your moving living room. Autonomous vehicles will become the new entertainment field, so while consumers are relaxing on their commute to work, they will not only be on their phone and computers, but they will also have touchscreens in the car and projections or even holograms on the windshield with which to interact.

Cross-channel advertising opportunities in this fully immersive environment could combine the offline mediums, where commercial ads would sponsor your video content or streaming TV series; an outdoor/billboard type of environment where a product placement or still ad billboard could pop up before any article or organically flash across your screen as you geolocate near a particular store or brand, and radio spots could be micro-targeted for your demographic and sponsor podcasts and music channels. And of course, there would be digital banners and pay-per-click (PPC) targeting on your computer and mobile devices.

While it may seem like it could be a further invasion of personal space, the in-vehicle experience will actually be more customized with personalized content based on past likes and online activities and histories. Imagine restaurant or activity recommendations made on the fly. The vehicle might even be programmed to take passengers directly to recommended destinations upon opt-in from the passenger. Eventually, the vehicle might even be able to be commanded to suggest a customized day, curated entirely by the autonomous vehicle.

So, what do brands need to consider when they begin to add in-vehicle advertising and marketing to their media mix? The new self-driving vehicles will begin to not only shift the way people look at transportation but also change the way people behave within those vehicles. It will mean a whole new level of personalization to the brand experience where, if an advertisement comes into your car, you could click on the ad and the vehicle could physically take you to where you can personally experience the brand or the offering.

Overstimulation of advertising could obviously be a challenge, where the consumer begins to become numb or tune out the many stimuli. Therefore, just as marketers work hard at adding value today, they will have to continue creating content that is brief and engaging and that the consumer is genuinely interested in.

Looking To The Future

How will the addition of in-vehicle marketing opportunities continue to affect the overall industry landscape for marketers moving forward? First of all, when you consider that the average person today spends about 17,600 minutes each year driving, it isn’t a stretch to think about how that consumer’s time will increase once self-driving cars and other autonomous forms of transportation are the norm. And that expansion speaks volumes about how important a medium in-vehicle could be to marketers in the future.

Marketers will have to continue working with data scientists and technologists on enhancements with geotargeting and using the vehicle as a large beacon to better refine customer segmentation and location. Those marketers who are savvy about creating highly customized, value-added content for their brand that truly resonates with their in-vehicle engaged audiences will be successful.

When Hiring An Agency, Look For These 11 Traits

Forbes Agency Council

Author: Forbes Agency Council

Original Publication: Forbes

Date Published: March 5, 2018

Forbes Agency Council

Finding a digital agency that you can work with is key to the success of your business. You may have a long-standing relationship with a firm, but it just might not be providing your company what it needs to reach its marketing strategy goals.

According to a report by the Association of National Advertisers, as few as 2% of agencies actually strongly agree that the client approval process works well. This may be important to your company, and without the level of service that you expect, you can be left with a poor taste in your mouth about the agency you are working with.

Eleven members of Forbes Agency Council share some of the most important but often overlooked characteristics that businesses should be looking for (or avoiding) when picking an agency to work with. Here is what they had to say:

1. Team And Expertise

I can’t stress this enough because these days, it often happens that when you hire an agency, the people selling to you are not the ones who will be handling your account. And, oftentimes, you get handed off to junior people who don’t deliver, leaving you disappointed. – Suttida Yang, Fastmarkit

2. Effective Onboarding Process

During your vetting process, be sure to inquire about the agency‘s onboarding process and communication systems. A seasoned agencyshould be proactive in sharing how they will engage with you, including the agenda for the kick-off call, how they will immerse themselves in our business, and how they handle day-to-day communication and project management. – David Lewis, DemandGen International, Inc.

3. Shared Values And Work Ethic

When picking an agency, businesses should look for a company that shares the same values and work ethic. Working with an agency is a collaboration and partnership, and should be a relationship that is vetted thoughtfully. – Lauren Shirreffs, 2Social

4. Being A Resource Fit

When selecting the right agency to work with, be honest about yourcompany’s budget and look for “resource fit.” Traditional agencies can be costly or slow to produce, or have too many processes and approval layers built in for your high-growth department, while lighter-weight agencies may not be able to scale up in the way you need. Make sure to choose partners on skill, access, scale and speed. – Megan Groves, InterimCMO

5. Responds To Your Inquiries In A Timely Manner

How soon do they respond to your inquiries or needs? If they’re not responding to you in a timely fashion or not responding to what you’ve specifically requested, get ready for more of the same as you work with them. Does your agency hear you when you reach out? Do they listen to you when you state your concerns or have questions? Also, do you have access to senior management? If yes, great! – Daniel Lazarz, Life of Dad Agency

6. Transparency

Transparency is crucial. If an agency promises a deliverable that sounds too good to be true, it generally is. Ask difficult questions, and remember that you get what you pay for. – Amanda Stein, EXPAND

7. Knowledge Of Technology And The Niche

Many digital folks lack knowledge of classic traditional advertising and the role of creative and the science behind it, and many traditional advertising agencies do not keep up to speed with the fast-evolving digital world because they are uncomfortable with technology-intense projects. Finding the creative folks with knowledge of classic advertising and good understanding of technology is key. – Nikolai Mentchoukov, LIQWID(R)

8. Creativity And True ROI

An agency should be able to develop beautiful, creative campaigns and deliver a return on advertising spend — the right brain has to meet the left brain. Look for an agency that clearly understands data-based analytics and how their marketing efforts can be quantified for every dollar invested. If they can’t demonstrate true ROI, they’re not the right fit. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne

9. Access To Your Future Account Execs

Don’t just talk to the “closer” when meeting with potential agencies. In most small firms that is usually the principal of the company, and larger firms have a business development team comprised of salespeople. Speak to the account execs that would potentially work your account. Ask how long they’ve been with the firm, what motivates them and what their passions are. That will tell you a lot about the firm. – Dan Kahn, Kahn Media Inc.

10. Proprietary Tools And Methods

Businesses should look for agencies that have proprietary tools and methodologies, based on best practices, new technologies and an innovative approach to communications. – Teresa Villarreal, Newlink

11. Ability To Listen And Understand

A key characteristic that businesses should look for in an agency is their ability to listen and understand first. Agency partners that listen to their clients’ marketing challenges and understand their clients’ businesslandscape are only then able to recommend well-crafted creative marketing solutions. Beware the agency that knows all about your problems before you have had the chance to brief them. – Kenny Eicher, The CSI Group