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My Internship at HMG—What I Learned

My Internship at HMG—What I Learned

Posted on Aug 01, 2017 by Alyssa Zucker

Having taken two advertising classes before beginning my internship with HMG, my knowledge of the marketing industry was limited. I remember sitting in the conference room listening to all the tasks I was going to take on and all of the social media accounts I was going to manage and being so excited to expand my knowledge in the field of marketing. Fast forward seven months, and I can honestly say I’ve gained value far beyond the tasks given to me.

My timing with joining HMG was optimal, as I got to witness and participate in the rebranding process first hand starting at the root of the company. I was able to work with our marketing coordinator, Emily, to generate a list of core values that represent HMG Creative. We started off with words, which turned to sentences, until we finalized a group of phrases that best suited HMG. We then got to watch our own language turn to art as the core values we produced became a mural on the wall right when you walk into the office.

Having a minor in Rhetoric and Writing, I was hoping I would be able to use writing in this internship. I was ecstatic when I was tasked to produce multiple blogs per week which allowed me to delve into researching the marketing industry, and expand my knowledge and understanding of the innovations in the fields of marketing and advertising. Writing these blogs gave me the opportunity to learn the terminology and services of the marketing industry. I am now comfortable in my understanding of marketing vernacular such as SEO, PPC Advertising, Inbound Marketing, A/B Split Tests, Wireframing, tracking ROI, UX Design, and so much more.

In the past few weeks of this internship, I was tasked with the seemingly daunting responsibility of writing eBooks. Understanding that eBooks can be vital to our inbound marketing strategy, I felt immense pressure to produce something that serves to demonstrate our expertise as a company. Once I began writing, these eBooks felt almost like a final exam for this internship. As I started to put words on the page, I realized how much I have truly learned working here. Being able to tie in my previous blogs to sections of the eBook and write in depth about concepts that were so foreign to me just seven short months ago solidified how much I have learned here at HMG Creative.   

I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow at such an amazing company. Working here reassured my decision to enter the marketing industry in my future. I’ve enjoyed every single day I’ve come into work, and I look back on this experience with nothing but positivity. Thank you, HMG Creative!

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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 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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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!

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Understanding the Basics of Google Analytics

Understanding the Basics of Google Analytics

Posted on May 09, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Google Analytics is a potent tool for leveraging data to gain insight into your current audience, as well as develop a deeper understanding of how to reach your target audience. Top marketing professionals analyze data obtained through Google Analytics to identify how, and from where, website visitors are arriving (we’ll dig into this in a little bit). If you aren’t already utilizing this incredibly powerful service, here’s an overview on how you can make smarter, data-driven decisions that better your chances for more conversions and higher return on investment (ROI). Oh, and it’s free.

Audience

So the first thing you need to do is look at who has already been visiting your website. Google Analytics tells you almost everything about each visitor including their demographics, interests, location, behavior on the site, and what device they used to visit your site. From this, it generates relevant comparisons, using the copious amounts of data collected on each user. With access to such an extensive amount of data, Google Analytics allows you to get a clear picture of who is viewing your site and whether you should alter marketing initiatives in order to cater to your target audience.

Acquisition

Now that you’ve determined the makeup of your audience, the next step is discovering how users got to your site. The overview section (under acquisition) breaks down incoming site traffic into general sources: social media, email, direct visitors, organic searches, referrals from other websites, paid search and other. The information is then further digested into graphs to illustrate the percentage of users from each category, their session time, bounce rate and conversion rate. If the right people are already visiting your website, this feature of Google Analytics can help identify where and how to reach others like them.

Behavior

The “Behavior Flow” chart that Google Analytics creates according to time period is the easiest tool, in my opinion, to analyze each user journey. This chart offers the ability to walk through the steps of each user journey, and possibly determine what drove them to each page. This feature provides in-depth data on the most and least visited pages of your website. Such specific data is beneficial to improving the less-viewed portions of your site, and maintaining those more frequently viewed. Considering this data within Google Analytics helps to identify the popular sections of your site, and thus point you in the right direction for which aspects need extra attention.

Conversions

Now for the good stuff. Once you’ve identified your target audience, optimized your marketing initiatives and increased traffic to your website—you can sit back and watch the conversions roll in. Conversions tie in directly with your goals. For example, if your goal is for people to fill out a “Let’s Talk” form, Google Analytics can track how many visitors were served the form, and compare that to the number that completed it. Ecommerce businesses can track key performance indicators (KPI) like product performance, sales performance, transactions and time to purchase.

Knowing and understanding how each element of Google Analytics functions helps the tool to behave as a messenger, that keeps you informed about which areas of your website are successful and which are under-performing. What do you think is the most important aspect of Google Analytics? Be sure to let us know in the comments!