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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The outdated method of keyword stuffing is no longer relevant due to the trend toward a more narrow focus of traffic.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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What’s Booming in Austin?

What’s Booming in Austin?

Posted on May 30, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Earlier this year, U.S. News ranked Austin, Texas the best place to live in the United States. The city is growing faster now than ever, and people are wondering what is drawing such a large crowd to Austin. Along with it being the Live Music Capital of the world, Austin’s job market is thriving and businesses are flourishing. U.S. News analyzed the cost of living, job market, quality of life and desirability to determine rankings which resulted in Austin being the most desirable place to live in 2017.

There are multiple free shows in Austin just about every night. With companies like Do512 and 365ThingsAustin, you can sort through everything going on in Austin on any particular day and make after-work plans just like that.

Although nightlife in ATX is booming, that’s not the only reason people are flocking to Austin. The tech industry is offering more jobs in Austin than any other industry. Tech startups are popping up everywhere, and companies need to fill roles like data scientists, web designers, and UX designers more and more each day.

What’s next? Austin is expected to have a population of about three million by 2030, currently sitting at just over two million. With the number of people moving to Austin steadily increasing, homebuilders are having a tough time keeping up with the demand—hence the skyrocketing living expenses. So whether you’re in the job market or simply looking for a cool, hip place to relocate, now is the time to get here!

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The Difference Between AR and VR

The Difference Between AR and VR

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Alyssa Zucker

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality blur the line between reality and fantasy. VR transports our perception into another realm, and AR introduces elements of illusion into the lens of our everyday scenery. Whichever technology you choose to alter your reality, this concept is gaining attention in the digital world. VR goggles went from an idea in a lab to a Christmas present in an incredibly short time period. AR has come a long way as well—it went from being a simple concept to the star of the hit iPhone app “Pokemon Go”; however, even these seemingly new forms of technology are beginning to be replaced by new advancements.

Virtual Reality

When a new and innovative product hits the market, it’s typically targeted at high-end spenders and technology-hungry consumers. Virtual reality has just made itself available to the common consumer with the introduction of Google Cardboard. This contemporary contraption allows you to turn your smartphone into a VR headset. While it may seem like a minuscule development in the VR/AR grand scheme, the ability to give the average consumer a sense of virtual reality at a low cost is really a bold step forward. For example: compare Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, and Samsung Gear VR. These headsets all require the use of a smartphone and have price tags that range from $15-$99 but are still priced on the lower end compared to the headsets that die-hard gamers go for.

PS lovers, of course, have the option to stick to their ways and purchase the PlayStation VR headset. Branding itself as a PlayStation accessory rather than a VR competitor, this console introduces a new outlook of VR to big time gamers. PlayStation VR offers PS fanatics the chance to play their favorite games virtually for $399. Bought by Facebook, the Oculus Rift has surmounted the competition with the ability to plug into a computer and display 3D images on all screens by tracking your head movements. This next-level Oculus Rift VR experience that comes with the convenient aspect of mobility stands at the price of $599. Next, the HTC Vive is among the VR top picks with approximately 70 sensors, 360-degree coverage, the option to place sensors around your home for the most effective game play, and functions to reduce motion sickness. This top-notch VR headset runs with the price tag of $799. In the world of gaming, big name companies are moving quickly to find the next big thing in virtual reality.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality and mixed reality have slight differences, but together they are moving up on the must-watch list. Rather than being limited to the world within a game, AR and MR allow features within the game to be displayed on your kitchen table, or on your bathroom wall. At a whopping $3,000, the Microsoft HoloLens is the top trending product in the realm of AR. For a slightly lesser $599, the FoveO uses eye-tracking sensors to form a new way of connecting to the console.

Just like with the introduction of “Pokemon Go”, augmented reality is working toward a casual transition into your everyday life. Snapchat filters are the most commonly used forms of AR, and most of us don’t even realize it. Along with the filters, the new introduction of the Snapchat Spectacles, or Snapchat glasses, allows your eyes to become your Snapchat lens for $129, thus the colloquial future of augmented reality.

There are a lot of ideas for the future with augmented reality, most of which we’re hoping to see once Apple joins the game. Presently, the merging of smartphones and AR seems to be the biggest trend in this idea of distorted perception. In the near future more ideas will become reality; along with Apple, the auto industry is not too far behind. With digital screens displaying vital information and self-driving cars on the horizon, things will be shifting very quickly. Whether it’s virtual, augmented or mixed reality, the reality of it all is that the industry is constantly updating and adapting—follow our Facebook page to keep up!

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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!

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Client Disrupts Entire Spa Industry

Client Disrupts Entire Spa Industry

Posted on May 04, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Technology has disrupted many industries in its rapid evolution over the past 50 years. Keeping up to speed with tech trends, much less staying ahead of the game, can be a real challenge. As a result of the demanding digital age we now live in, the vast majority of industries have integrated technology into their systems. With this in mind, the team at The Spa Mart knew to approach their new spa distribution venture with a strong emphasis on technology.  

That’s where HMG Creative came in. We were contacted by the development team, and immediately understood their vision for a top-notch eCommerce and online education website that would better serve spa professionals. We took their idea and molded it into a fresh, bold brand to encompass the values and traditions of the spa industry.

After completing The Spa Mart’s branding, we shifted gears into a six-month web development project that takes advantage of Magento 2.0, the successor to the widely popular eCommerce platform of the same name. We’ve also incorporated a system called Odoo, which is an inventory control manager that will allow The Spa Mart to better manage orders and control their back office system. Our client’s main goals were to build and nourish relationships with their customers, help their customers grow their own businesses and provide premium customer service. With the website functioning as the nucleus of their company, we integrated different customer journeys to provide optimal user experience for each customer depending on individual needs—whether they seek to purchase products or search for an online course.

The web-development project consisted of site hierarchy, user experience design, visual design and content strategy. Currently in the optimization and customization phase, the ability to continuously manage and optimize the site is a primary focus as we perfect the site’s flow. As they say—a high-quality, growth driven website is nothing without proper marketing. Taking this to heart, we are also currently in the process of developing a tailored digital marketing strategy to include powerful digital media management, such as pay-per-click advertising and retargeting.

The Spa Mart has been an incredible client, and our team here at HMG is grateful to be able to work with such amazing folks. We share the passion for building relationships and helping others grow their own businesses, so here’s to flourishing in doing what we love!

The Spa Mart’s site is currently active, fully responsive and hosted at HMG Creative.

If you would like more information on our services, leave us a comment or click here.

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How Influencers Have Impacted Marketing

How Influencers Have Impacted Marketing

Posted on Apr 13, 2017 by Emily Ballard

Influencer marketing seems to be taking the lead as this year’s most “influential” marketing approach. Have you ever noticed someone you follow on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat mention different products from time to time? I hate to break it to you, but that influencer you follow was more than likely paid to mention that product on their personal feed. This approach gives companies access to thousands, if not millions, of people they would not have otherwise been able to reach.

Influencers are seen as thought leaders for very specific niches. For example, if an influencer is regarded as being someone who is “trendsetter”, the second they mention a brand or product, their followers are immediately opening up a new tab to get their hands on it. This causes a spike for the number of search mentioning that particular product. This is exactly what companies want, and why they are willing to pay big bucks to influencers to push their products to their loyal, unsuspecting followers.

Influencers make it easy for a lot of companies to reach thousands and even millions of people in their target market because of the fact that there are influencers in just about every niche. By sharing their stories, influencers have made themselves relatable to a wide range of people. There is a good chance that no matter what your product is, there is an influencer that has thousands of followers that are right in your target market. Once a marketer finds an influencer that has a sizable audience they want to reach, they don’t have to work very hard to reach possibly millions of people that sit right in their market!

Influencers are also well connected with other influencers, possibly in a different niche. When influencers partner with other thought leaders, that’s double the exposure to your brand. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat all have messaging features as well. If someone sees something they think a friend might like, they can send it to their friend via direct message. At that point, the friend is exposed to the influencer, and thus your brand or product.

Social media has opened a new world to marketing. With the rising number in internet users that use ad blockers (about half), your retargeted advertisements are now less likely to be seen. With social media influencers, even though they may mention that the post is an ad, it still has a massive impact on the actions of their followers. What influencers are you following?