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Basics of Inbound Marketing

Basics of Inbound Marketing

Posted on Jul 25, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Optimizing your website’s keywords, call-to-actions, and landing pages are fundamental in search engine optimization and getting started with inbound marketing. It takes time to rank higher through organic SEO methods, but inbound marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of capturing the attention of high-quality prospects. The second most important contributor to organic search engine optimization is producing blog content that is knowledgeable on topics within your industry and valuable to your ideal customer. Optimizing your website for conversion and creating content that that resonates with your readers will set you up for continuously bringing in high-quality leads.

Attract

Creating in-depth buyer personas is the first step in understanding your ideal customer, their wants, their needs and their problems. Offering useful information on your website and in blog posts that is tailored to your ideal prospect creates trust and credibility, and ultimately resonates with readers. Developing content that appeals to different, specific target audiences demonstrates knowledge across your industry and can continue bringing readers back for more information in the long run. Publishing valuable content on a blog, along with utilizing keywords and optimizing landing pages, is the most fruitful way to rank organically in Google search results. Once you’ve optimized your website and content management system, pushing content out on social media platforms will drive high-quality visitors to your landing pages and ultimately increase conversion rates. As you outline your buyer persona, keep in mind which social media channels your ideal prospects hang out on, as this should be your primary focus on where to push out blog posts.

Convert

In order to ensure you’re attracting high-quality visitors that will convert to paying customers, you need some sort of information on who is reading your content—this is where optimizing your landing pages becomes crucial. Your landing page needs to consist of a form where readers have to enter information such as their name, email address, and job title to access your content. Construct messages specific to your ideal prospect and A/B test call-to-actions so that you know what is most effective in leading people to enter more information. Landing pages need to be tailored to assure the reader they will be receiving beneficial information, and optimized with keywords and high-quality information in order to increase conversions. Give them an incentive to fill out a landing page such as receiving a free downloadable like an eBook, webinar, how-to guide, or percentage off of their first order. As you embed keywords throughout the content on your website it will increase search engine ranking, thus driving more traffic to your website.

Nurture

Once you’ve attracted the right prospects and converted prospects into leads, it’s important to convert leads to customers at the right time. Keep track of the information you’ve obtained on each lead through a customer relationship management system. This allows you to better engage with each lead, and offer more tailored information specific to their needs until they are ready to convert to a paying customer. If a prospect reads your blog, clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, downloads your ebook and still isn’t ready to become a customer, have a series of emails on deck to nurture them and offer them additional valuable information for free. This additional information should be tailored to their needs and their previous actions, which will tell you what you need to offer them.

Inbound marketing takes time but is more beneficial for your business in the long run rather than pay per click advertising methods. Offering valuable information for free builds trust, brings customers back for more information, and creates loyal customers that will stand by your brand in the long run. Do you need help with your inbound marketing efforts? Contact us here!

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Is SEO Still Relevant in Marketing?

Is SEO Still Relevant in Marketing?

Posted on Jul 13, 2017 by Alyssa Zucker

The general concept is that higher value content achieves a higher ranking in search results, which ultimately increases visibility and drives website traffic. Search engine optimization (SEO) gives your site a fighting chance, by aligning its structure and content to the complex algorithms used by search engines. However, these algorithms and strategies are constantly changing, and have thus made it a struggle to keep up. In a quality-focused world of consumer choice, the question arises: is SEO is still relevant?

SEO

Search engine optimization is a strategy used by over 50 percent of B2B marketers for lead generation. Though the rules may drastically change, like when Google cut the keyword stuffing and backlinking methods, each change opens the door for new tactics to catapult search engine rankings.

Previously focused on desktop search, SEO is currently navigating the trend toward a more mobile-dominated market. This growing need for more engaging experiences on mobile is where responsive web design comes into play (if you haven’t heard of this, it’s time for an update), and new SEO algorithms are adapting to this. Another advancement in the realm of SEO is Google’s introduction of the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP). AMP allows for pages to load more quickly and easily, giving them more opportunity to be seen. AMP also introduces the possibility for publishers and advertisers to retain creative freedom for how their content appears.

Keywords

It is less likely, when searching, that a consumer will enter an exact website URL, opposed to a set of keywords. Keywords allow users to generally or specifically describe their search criteria, in a way that feels more natural than a longer URL. The right mix of keywords can also greatly benefit your search rankings, if users see your site as relevant, based on your keywords.

The outdated method of keyword stuffing is no longer relevant due to the trend toward a more narrow focus of traffic. While this update may seem counterintuitive, the new algorithm seeks to strengthen the quality of keywords to refine search-generated traffic into a more potent mix of relevant consumers. These changes ultimately reduce levels of extraneous consumers who really have no interest in your product or service. The remaining traffic is therefore made up of tangible, potential consumers—what the business folk call leads.

To answer our previous question: Yes, SEO is still relevant and vital to your marketing strategy. However, what works in January may change in March, so the ability to adapt is crucial as well. Various components, such as AMP or an up-to-date keyword strategy, work well to complement your overarching SEO efforts. However, one component on its own is no substitute for a solid strategy of thoughtfully implemented tools and resources. What do you think is the most important feature of SEO? Let us know in the comments!

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Five Tips For Your Newsletter

Five Tips For Your Newsletter

Posted on Jul 06, 2017 by Alyssa Zucker

Newsletters are potent in not only staying top-of-mind with existing customers to keep them returning, but also setting yourself on a prospective customer’s radar. Because of the ability to segment prospects and reach specific target audiences, email marketing is still one of the most profitable methods of marketing. Email marketing enables you to create newsletters that are optimized to appeal to specific audiences, and easily reach prospective customers. To optimize your newsletter you’ll want to focus on these five things:  

Don’t Overwhelm your Audience

With a high volume of emails flooding inboxes, sending out newsletters too frequently can overwhelm your audience and deter them from being interested in your content. Newsletters should add value, be informative, and offer insight to readers. By sending out a high-quality newsletter once a week, it allows your audience to look forward to your emails, not dread them. It is also important to note that you should not underwhelm your recipients either. Quality content is the most important thing to remember in deciding when to send out your newsletter. Finding that perfect rate in which to send out your newsletter should be an organic process that feeds off the need to give out more information and updates, not simply because you haven’t sent one out in a few days.

Link Everything

By the point of newsletter creation, you should know your audience, have a handle on what information they’re looking for, and know what topics will be of value to them. Once you know who you are marketing to, it becomes clear what information will attract their attention. By linking every aspect of your newsletter (headlines, images, descriptions, etc.) to its prospective article, you allow viewers easy access to their desired content which ultimately drives traffic. Readers who invest their time to read further on a particular subject are genuinely interested—thus a better representative of a potential client or customer.

Don’t Skip the A/B Split Test

A/B split tests are a way to create the most intriguing subject line by testing it out on a portion of your audience. By formulating two subject lines and sending each of them out to roughly 10% of your target market, you can see which test (A or B) has a higher open rate. Whichever subject line has a higher open rate, that version is then sent out to the rest of your audience. The A/B split test method allows you to test different versions of the newsletter email and push out the version that’s performing better.

Create a Balance

With a myriad of purposes ranging from brand awareness to updates in industry trends, the content you include in your newsletter should be well balanced in its topics. By implementing an educational focus in your newsletters, you attract viewers to your site who possess a  common interest. Integrating your social media accounts into your newsletter also creates a deeper connection with prospective customers, and supports the “show, don’t tell” principle.  Rather than simply stating your profound knowledge on certain topics, it is far better to explicitly demonstrate your expertise.

K.I.S.S.

As always, never forget to Keep It Simple, Stupid. This is the mantra to live by when it comes to email marketing. The truth of the matter is that most people just scan the emails they receive. As a result, long paragraphs of copy derail the viewer from tackling the email at hand. Short, caption-like teasers for blogs and events have much more success in capturing your reader’s attention, informing them, and enticing them to click on the link to read more.

The necessities for every newsletter are different based on who you are trying to reach, but the principle is ultimately the same. Email marketing plays a major role in determining how consumers view your company. Frequency, linking, subject lines, well-balanced content, and simplicity are the first five aspects of a email marketing you should consider when crafting a newsletter. Are you receiving high response rates on your newsletters? Let us know how you keep your readers engaged in the comments below!

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Five Tips for Branding on Social Media

Five Tips for Branding on Social Media

Posted on Jun 13, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Brand strategy as a concept can often be bit murky or esoteric. Whether you’re an established business or an individual searching for a more prominent way to self-brand, it can be difficult to identify a starting point and select a course of action. Social media offers endless opportunity for engagement, so maintaining a cohesive presence across platforms can be daunting. It’s important to remember that your strategy is your anchor, and keeps your team in sync with how your brand interacts with the world.

There are also many tutorials out there, but the truth is that it just takes practice. Proficiency with social media is one of those things that comes through experience. To help get you started, here are some widely accepted components for a basic, well-rounded strategy:

Finding Your Voice

Establishing values early on is essential for staying true to your brand’s roots. Consistency and authenticity (ie: with dialect and tone) also help to foster trust that you are who you claim to be. With that, you develop a personality on social media that makes it easier for consumers to relate and entices them to engage more. People want to feel like the content they are consuming is genuine, and will likely form a positive association with your brand when that is the case. Again, finding your voice on social media takes time, but as long as it’s natural it will soon become second nature.

Tell Your Story

Here at HMG we’re currently in the process of a complete rebrand. When I joined the team in February, one of my initial goals was to increase engagement on social media. The first thing that came to mind was to tell our literal story by sharing what’s happening around the office. However, we also like to see what’s going on throughout the community, which helps to tell a different, more casual side of our story. Once some time has passed, share a few throwbacks to apply a very personal tone to your progress. People love to see others succeed—it’s both motivational and rewarding.

Engage With Your Audience

As you find your tone and start to post more frequently, you’ll see more engagement (trust me). Sparking conversations with your followers makes them feel valued and acknowledged, which creates a sense of community. Keeping up with platform updates will also help you to find new ways to interact with your followers. People tend to notice when a specific brand interacts with them and may become more likely to consider or recommend your brand as a result.

Post Regularly

Staying relevant is every brand’s top priority. Consistency plays a direct role in staying in the consumer’s top-of-mind—even if you only post twice a week. Although the more you post, the more engagement you will likely see. Scheduling specific days for certain content also makes producing content easier and less stressful. For example, I post every Monday. There’s usually a lot going on around here, but if it’s a quiet day in the office I’ll post a little motivation Monday (since we could all use that from time to time). That takes the pressure off if it’s one of those rare, still days in the office. Posting regularly also gives your followers something to look forward to. So if you’ve just hit a milestone with a cool project, share the progress!

Stand Out

Adding value to your content is the number one thing you can do that will make you stand out. This is another one of those easier-said-than-done things. Maintaining your personality throughout your content, while continuously sharing valuable information for your readers to digest will result in reciprocated engagement as well. Share insight, ask questions, ask others for their opinions and post visuals such as photos and videos. It’s always a great feeling when you know that you’ve delivered awesome content. On the other hand, sharing another’s authoritative content says a great deal about what you appreciate and support from your peers.

Social media opportunities are wide open for reaching new consumers. As simple as this all may sound, there are many things that even big brands forget to take in consideration. While it remains a relatively new tool for branding, it has also become essential for adapting to the latest trends, technologies and markets. Let us know how your brand strategy leverages social media in the comments below!

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Rebranding—Sharing Our Experience

Rebranding—Sharing Our Experience

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Scaling a business can happen intentionally, or otherwise, unintentionally. Either way, you’re going to have to manage pretty big changes. For us, this means expanding our services, refreshing our entire brand, revamping our website, moving into a bigger office and welcoming new members to our team. Needless to say, we’ve been busy! Throughout our growth and rebranding experience, we’ve really taken a step back to evaluate our core values and focus on why we do what we do. At the end of the day, what we find to be most rewarding is building relationships and sharing the joy of flourishing in doing what we love. Our team finds great value in truly getting to know our clients’ stories on a personal level and authentically producing premium deliverables so that their businesses can succeed.

Branding

While we provide everything from light refreshes to complete overhauls for our clients’ brands, we also need to update our own brand, from time to time. Our old logo will always have a special place here at HMG. However, after nearly 14 years of only subtle tweaking, it was time to give our logo and brand the revamp they deserve. Our main objective for the logo redesign was to create a clean and appealing mark, which we plan to leave on the next 14 years.

Typography

We incorporated lightly-modified typography that draws classic and timeless aspects from Futura, but with a more contemporary feel—similar to Avenir. Following the necessary planning and modifications, we feel that our new typographic treatment will be here to stay for the long haul.

Color palette

From the beginning of our rebranding process, we made the choice to use our original HMG blue as a starting point. From there, we decided that the updated color palette should be simple, yet dynamic enough for integration across all brand assets. The new color palette has already started to appear on a few pieces of internal collateral, as well as on the winning entry in the 2017 Pixelwood Derby.

Icon

For our icon—we aimed to produce something that could stand alone and be recognized as ours. To achieve this, we crafted an abstracted composition that, upon closer inspection, reveals “HMG” in the angles. This was also created entirely with simple 90-degree angles.

Social Media

Every business has a story. We leverage social media to chronicle our company culture, the talent of each person on our team, and also some of the less extravagant bits of our day-to-day story. We value the personality and character of each member of our team and have found Instagram to be a great tool for showcasing the talent and creativity that flows throughout the office. We also make use of the real-time engagement that social media offers. Watching our peers succeed in the Austin community has been invigorating, and being able to interact and congratulate them on their success brings us all closer.

Through Facebook and Twitter, we’ve seen great interest in our blog and the informative content we post on hot topics within the tech industry. Readers benefit from our blogs which further explain certain areas of the industry, offer deeper insight into specific services and explain how they can get their head around ROI and many other topics. The majority of our posts are geared toward helping marketers better understand the digital world and the current trends that shape it.

What’s next?

Our vision for revamping our website is to create a more seamless user experience. Users should be able to quickly navigate to information on our services, and the information should be direct and easily absorbed. The ideal result of this would be that current and prospective clients come away with a clear understanding of who we are, what we do and how we think. Smoothing and polishing a user’s journey is essential for not only demonstrating your own understanding but also the value placed on each user’s time. For this reason, it also should never be unclear how a user would get in contact.

Now that we have laid the foundation for our updated brand, you can expect to see much more in the coming months. We have started planning our new website which should bring together all of our hard work and revamped branding elements. Let us know if you like what you see!

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How We Work With Clients

How We Work With Clients

Posted on May 16, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Finding the right agency can be a difficult and stressful process, usually due to several factors simultaneously in motion. You may need help developing a branding strategy before it’s time to begin the web project, or you may need to coordinate ongoing marketing efforts, such as PPC or retargeting, within the scope of a much larger project that is already underway. It can also be tough to choose an agency that fully understands and harmonize your story, brand and culture consistently through every single project. However, the right fit is usually self-evident, meaning that you’ll know when you’ve found the right one.

Here at HMG, we pride ourselves on the authenticity of both our creative process and work itself. Staying true to our core values, our team of experts collaborate daily to maximize creativity and apply diverse perspectives to each client and their story. First and foremost, our top priority is to cultivate long-lasting partnerships with every one of our clients. Maintaining transparent communication is key to developing rapport and managing expectations throughout the course of each project. We also consider ourselves to be part of each client’s team, committing ourselves to the development of unique, high-quality deliverables that position them for success.

As a full-service marketing agency, our professional bandwidth allows us to cater to marketing needs across the board, from brand assessment and strategy, to web development and implementation of interactive marketing initiatives. Whether you need one of our services or five of our services plus ongoing maintenance, we tailor each project to align with your specific needs, brand and culture. During the kickoff meeting, we will dive into your values, your target audience and your customer journeys. Then we will incorporate our findings into your web project, digital marketing strategy, or whatever else you may need.

And now for the fun part—budgeting! Establishing a clear understanding of your budget upfront allows us to remain transparent when communicating realistic expectations for how a project will align with its existing budget. We generally make two budgeting methods available: fixed-rate bids and ongoing retainers.

Large-scale projects which clearly define a set of deliverables, such as a web development project, typically work best with a flat, fixed rate, which can be easily made into a monthly investment. Fixed-rate billing also works well when bundling services together, into a custom package. However, quite often, a client will also require ongoing marketing services in addition to a larger fixed-rate project, which would necessitate a retainer.

A retainer is a pre-purchased block of hours. Retainers are usually implemented when our services are required on an as-needed basis. With a retainer, you have more flexibility for how the hours are spent and on which projects or services they are allocated—whether that be PPC, retargeting, web maintenance, or ongoing creative services such as print collateral.

In this digital age, technology is rapidly changing and the need to keep up with its dynamic evolution is greater than ever. So let’s connect and chat about how we can support your marketing efforts!