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On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Three Experts Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

At HMG Creative, we know that like most things in life, blogging is better when done with friends. So we searched from coast to coast to bring you some of the most-respected marketing experts in the business. We know it is important to not only share our thoughts and insights, but impart the expertise and perspective of others; and we think these 3 individuals got it going on. Enjoy opening these 3 gifts from industry experts and friends of HMG Creative.

6 Ways to Use Images to Improve Your Web Conversion Rate by Tim Ash
CEO SiteTuners, Author, Landing Page Optimization

5 Types of Blog Content That Drive Engagement by Shelly Kramer
Founder and CEO V3 Integrated Marketing, FORBES Top 50 Social Media Influencer

3 keys to Scaling Content Marketing Success by Lee Odden
CEO TopRank Marketing; Author, Optimize


On the Third Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Lee Odden Blogging

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 by Amy Kauffman

I had the pleasure of meeting Lee Odden and his awesome right-hand lady, Ashley Zeckman, at a marketing conference here in San Diego. Lee has a reputation that precedes him, and for good reason. From search, social to PR and optimization, Lee knows how to breakdown valuable and actionable information whether he is speaking to a crowd of hundreds or taking pen to paper in his book. Enjoy this post from Lee on content marketing, think: “sharable.” 

And for more insights be sure to follow him on Twitter @leeodden.


3 Keys to Scaling Content Marketing Success


Is Your Content Findable, Engaging & Shareable?

“KISS” is probably the best advice when it comes to giving advice (Keep It Simple Stupid) and for that reason this post is short and sweet on the topic of how to ensure your great content attracts, engages and converts.

Whether your goals are narrowly focused on revenue or more strategic involving branding and community as well as growing the business, the scalability of effective content is essential in today’s competitive marketplace.

No matter how much you invest in content marketing strategy, planning, production, amplification or analytics, there are three key requirements that each content object should satisfy. Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared.

Findability – A lot of our work involves content development and the way many organizations are structured, content discovery isn’t a driver, but more of an afterthought.

Effective content marketing is about creating information that’s useful for specific audiences and with certain outcomes in mind.  While intent and context are often satisfied, the question of findability is usually underestimated. In particular, I’m talking about optimizing for search or social discovery. There are also promotion channels such as email, cross linking from existing content, 3rd party editorial links, news release distribution, social promotions, pay per click advertising and social media advertising.

What good is the great content you’re creating if no one can find it? By ensuring findability through optimization and promotion, the reach and amplification for content can be extended dramatically and for a very long period of time.   If you set goals for social and organic search traffic for the content being produced, those involved might become as thoughtful about content optimization as they are about content quality. This isn’t either or, expect both.

Engaging– Competition is tough and as more brands employ content publishing in their mix, it’s important that the content being produced considers engagement. How? Relevance, context and experience are good starters.

Is your content object relevant for the audience that will discover it? Is the information useful? Does it provide utility? Is it thought provoking? Does the information help satisfy the reader’s goals and at the same time, help bring them closer along in the buyer journey?

The notion of engagement can be very subjective so be sure to identify goals for engagement whether it’s a combination of page views, comments and social shares or traffic and conversions. Monitor interactions with content to discern trends so you can optimize future content object performance.

Sharability – A lot of optimization for search and social media performance is about making it easy for buyers to do what you want them to do. Adding social share widgets is part of that. Writing compelling titles that work for short character counts in social sharing situations like Twitter is also a best practice. Content quality and relevance come in to play for sharing as well.

Are you creating content that’s so good, people will want to share it with others? Have you made it easy for them to share?  Sharing for sharing’s sake isn’t going to solve any business problems, so make sure you know: Does the act of sharing help fulfill your objectives for the content?

There’s a lot of great brand content and story out there that isn’t getting the exposure that it could, simply because content producers are not tasked or accountable to one or more of these three simple requirements: Findability, Engagement and Shareability. Ensuring these characteristics are present for each content object through a process is a sure way to scale content marketing effectiveness whether your goals are social, PR, customer service or marketing focused.


On the Second Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Two Tutorials

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 by Johnny Jeffers

Our second day of Christmas will celebrate, or should I say educate, you on two dynamic tools in today’s social world: HootSuite and WordPress. If you’re not already familiar with the two, check out the links below to see just how easy it is to get started. If you’re already a pro, take a look anyway and brush up on those skills or discover a hidden feature!

Hoot Suite is a social media management tool that allows you to control various platforms in one place.  Here at HMG Creative, we use one HootSuite account to allow all of our social media managers to post and schedule content to our various platforms.

WordPress is web software almost anyone can use to create a beautiful website or blog.  The program began in 2003 with a single bit of code and since then it has grown to be the largest, self-hosted blogging tool in the world. Check it out!


Woot Woot for HootSuite!

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 by Stacey Donelan


If you’ve never heard of this odd application before, never fear (I was just introduced to it a few months ago)!  Once you get started, it’s a piece of cake.  For those of you that love organization, it’s a wonderful tool for you to manage all of your social media platforms in one easy place.  Although there are a few different types of HootSuite accounts, the version we will be investigating will be the basic account.

So let’s start with the basics.  All you need to do is go to and create an account.  This doesn’t require much but an email, name and password.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll start by adding a social network.  As you can see, the three networks you are initially offered are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  By clicking on “add a different social network”, you are given many more options, such as: Google+, foursquare, WordPress, MySpace and mixi.

Choose the account you wish to sync first, allow HootSuite permission to that account and voila!  You should see something like this:

You can either compose or schedule a message by clicking in the “Compose message” box.  You will need to select your account by searching in the box which is right next to message composition.  To schedule, choose the calendar icon and pick your desired date and time.

If you would like to make any changes or view your scheduled items, choose the arrow icon located on the far left Dashboard.

To add on additional accounts.  Select the “+” tab at the top of the page.  You will then see the option to “Add Stream.” With the basic account, you are allowed up to FIVE different streams.  (Other accounts will allow for more streams depending on the price.)

You should now be able to complete the basic functions of HootSuite!  Can I get a woot, woot?!  If you’d like to learn more, you can always check out the free online tutorial they offer every member or contact us and we’d be happy to help.  Good luck!


On the First Day of Christmas, HMG Gave to Me: Business Cards Half Off…That’s Almost FREE!

Posted on Dec 13, 2012 by James Trumbly

We are embracing the Holiday spirit at HMG Creative by celebrating the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  For 12 days in December (starting today) we will have a product discount, fun videos and great marketing tips to get your business ready for 2013!

So… eh hem,  “On the first day of Christmas HMG gave to me… 50% off business cards…That’s Almost FREE!”

Often the first impression potential clients have of your business is your card. Make sure you’re giving the right impression with a high quality card stock. We have many choices to suit your style including Satin Laminate and even high quality Recycled Papers. See our full line of options at HMG Printing. You can also give your card a check-up by reading our blog post from our very own, Rob Ridgeway, to determine if your card is “cardworthy.

We hope you enjoyed our “First Day of Christmas.” And be sure to stay tuned for the next 11 days, you never know what else we might have up our Christmas sweater sleeves!


Glance Back at 2011 As You Gear Up for Holiday 2012

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 by James Trumbly

A quick trip to the mall this morning revealed that stores are already gearing up for Thanksgiving and—yikes!—Christmas shopping. 10 percent of retailers have already sent a Christmas email to their subscriber list, but don’t feel bad if you haven’t yet. There’s still plenty of time to get your jingle on. Check out what worked and what didn’t during the 2011 holiday season:

What Worked: Sending Emails During the Week of Black Friday

While email opens were average on Black Friday itself, the week leading up to it was a good week for email marketers. Nearly 16 percent of email subscribers made a purchase in response to an email that was sent during the week of Black Friday.

What Didn’t: Relying on Gimmicks to Earn Better Open Rates (like certain words in the subject line)

Popular subject line word choices for 2011 included “free,” “sale,” and “shipping.” Surprisingly, these words did not result in higher open rates. However, the word “coupon” did entice more people to open an email, although it wasn’t used as often.

Take away: Tried and true subject line methods of stating clearly what your email contains, piquing interest, and promising value earn more opens than gimmicks.

What Worked: Sending Emails to Subscribers on Christmas Day

Surprisingly, 6 percent of the emails sent on Christmas Day were opened, despite the many festivities of Christmas morning and dinner with the in-laws. That’s just 3 percent less than average. Also, people spent over 170 percent more on their mobile devices this year than they did on Christmas Day 2010.

What Didn’t: Expecting Better Response Leading Up to Christmas But Ignoring Christmas Day

Actual customer behavior showed that click-throughs increased on Christmas Day, meaning that the savvy marketers who sent a Christmas Day email were rewarded for their efforts with a spike in sales.

Takeaway: People are already looking for sales and after-Christmas deals even before the wrapping paper has made it into the trash can, so give them plenty of shopping options.

What Worked: Using Social Media to Promote Specials and Sales

Promoting sales and specials on Facebook and Twitter creates buzz as your fans share with their friends, giving you a much broader reach than just your subscriber list.

What Didn’t: Failing to Link Social Media Campaigns With Other Marketing Efforts

Of course, Facebook and Twitter can be limiting in their own way, so don’t expect them to do all your marketing for you. People need commonality across marketing venues to keep them oriented.

Takeaway: Coordinate your social media marketing plans with other marketing campaigns to create a unified strategy that reaches as many people as possible.

The 2012 holiday season is upon us. By reflecting on what did and did not drive sales last year, you can create an effective marketing strategy that will keep shoppers merrily clicking away, even when the weather outside is frightful.

Statistics Source: Epsilon 2012 Holiday Trend Report