Privacy, Social Media and Mobile Devices

The original title of this was “What did you think social media meant?” But the issues we face today go beyond social media and enter into many private aspects of our lives. When, in the early 2000’s social media began to blossom, most of us were excited to be able to connect with and reconnect with family and friends both near and far. We didn’t give privacy much of a thought.

Even fairly recently a relationship initiated via a Facebook comment turned into marriage for a family member. How cool is that?

How personal is your personal data? Is privacy important to you?

So let’s be clear, because our goal today is to make things more transparent, every EULA (End User License Agreement) you accept – upon joining FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. or upon setting up a new device like your iPhone or Droid – has ramifications. Ever read any of these? Nope, me neither.

So what did you agree to?

Some of the scary stuff that FB knows about you:

Open / login to your FB on a computer. Then click on settings (currently under the down arrow at the top right). Then along the left click on ads. There are a variety of things you can view here that Facebook knows about you. You can even ask FB to remove or turn off some of the items. But to get to the most personal items, click on Your Information and then on Your Categories.  Facebook knows what devices I access FB from and with what browser(s). They know my political stance. . . a whole bunch of other things I don’t think I’ll share here.

What about other social media sites? Are you on Twitter? If so, login and click on your profile photo in the top right and then click on Settings and Privacy.  On the left click on Your Twitter Data.  Some key things to review include Interests from Twitter, Apps on your devices, and Tailored audiences. One of the nifty things you can do is request an archive of every tweet you’ve ever tweeted.

Are you on Instagram? Probably the most interesting (and scary) item about Instagram is that it accesses the microphone on your mobile device by default. Whether you use a Droid or an iPhone you should be able to access the permissions in your settings. I went in to see what had access to my microphone and sure enough, Instagram was turned on. I had given Instagram permission to eavesdrop and they undoubtedly were.

So since we’re looking at devices, take out your mobile device – or devices as many have more than one. Open the settings.  On my Google Pixel (that FB knows I have), I click on Apps & Notifications then on App Permissions.  From here I can see which apps can access my camera, my contacts, my location, my microphone, my texts and more.

But to see everything that Google knows about you is probably the most alarming. Log in to your Google account and visit https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity. I log in to Chrome on my work computer. I have two Droid devices. Google tracks every app I use every time. It logs every website I visit. It knows every place I go and every place I have been stretching back to 2011. It knows where my home is.  I often speak texts instead of typing them. It knows everything I’ve said with these. It – or perhaps I should say THEY – have recordings of everything I have said to my phone. Under ad settings they list dozens of topics you like.

Some of these sites and companies allow you to remove or turn off settings to give you more privacy. Some, like Facebook, boldly tell you that turning them off might not mean you won’t get those ads anymore.

In any case we all can and should review these settings. It is your life. Take control.

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Building Your Brand Digitally

We work with a lot of smaller companies who tell us straight up that they are too small or below the radar to have a brand.

We say hogwash!

Every single organization – for profit or non-profit – has a brand. Included in the brand are tangible and intangible things like:

  • Reputation
  • Logo
  • Standing of the leaders of the organization
  • Iconic images
  • Presence on the internet (web site)
  • Presence on social media
  • A song or ditty that represents your organization
  • What your customers think of you
  • A particular phrase or tag line that people associate with you

You can control a lot of these aspects of your brand digitally and those that you can’t control, you can still influence.

If you hear of a company or meet someone interesting at an event and immediately do an internet search for them or their website, you can understand the power of your digital brand. Sure it is easy for the big brands. I actually rewrote the first sentence of this paragraph, changing “google” to “do an internet search for”.  We get the big brands, from Nike’s swoosh to McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” to the theme song for “Game of Thrones”. But for “little brands” like you and I, what are we to do?

First thing is to do a search for your name. Don’t add a “.com” or “.org” on the end. Just your name. And look at the results. Check beyond Google. At least add Bing into the mix. Do you like what you see? Here are some things to look for:

  • Does your company or organization dominate all the listings? It should.
  • Have you claimed your location on each site you search on?
  • Are the images the location associates with you appropriate to your brand?
  • Are there reviews of your business? If so, are they favorable?
  • Do any of your competitors appear in the results?

If you don’t like any of the answers to these questions, we can help. Want to do it yourself? Here are key things to do:

  1. Claim your location in search engines like Google and Bing (and any others that pertain to you)
  2. Upload photos and other images that are related to you in your location profile
  3. Encourage happy customers to provide favorable reviews on sites like Google and Yelp
  4. Make sure you have a social media presence. If for no other reason, do it so that your search listings will have more links to your brand.
  5. Make sure your website is optimized for search engine indexing so that all of your pages will appear in search results.
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Little Data

In the Internet world, Big Data is a big buzz word. With the right tools huge volumes of data can be digested, analyzed, and summarized with amazing speed. Technology like this is what is driving technical inroads in an array of industries from understanding the human genome to making digital currency like Bitcoin to understanding shopping patterns of given demographic segments.

But what about Little Data? Your little website. It may not be as big as Facebook or have as many visitors as Amazon or Walmart but there is still an incredible amount of data that is available from your slice of the Internet. So how can you turn little data into a big benefit?

  • Email tracking
    Every mass emailer (aWeber, iContact, MailChimp, Robly , etc) has a variety of tools that can help you track the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Some of the key metrics you should look for include Total Opens, Unique Opens, Unique Clicks, Click to Open Rate, and Device type (responsive)
  • Social Media tracking
    You can track just about everything with social media. Some of the key things that will be of value to you though include: how many visitors to your website you got from social media, how many friends, followers or fans you have on your profile or your company profile, how many shares or views your posts or articles got and so much more
  • Site analytics (Google Analytics or some other analytics package)
    What started off as a way to track the number of visitors has now become a very sophisticated way to track any number of activities both on your website and prior to arriving – and even after leaving for that matter. You can learn what your visitors do, what devices they use, how fast your site is, create funnels and track actions
  • Call Tracking
    There are a variety of services that you can set up that will help you to track where your calls are coming from – from a specific landing page for a specific campaign, from a social media campaign or even from a print campaign
  • Campaign tracking (with specific landing pages or domains)
    You can create custom urls or even custom domains to run and track specific campaigns. Running an end of the year campaign to boost sales? You could have a special url (sometimes called a purl for personalized url) like http:// <your-domain>/christmas and track all the clicks to that link.

So even with Little Data (the data that you have available to you on your little slice of the internet) you can harness the power of Big Data and get a much clearer picture of what is actually happening. You can then design a specific plan to get that traffic to take the action(s) that you want them to – whether it be make a purchase, fill out a form, make a phone call, sign up for a seminar or some other factor that is part of your conversion process.

Need help figuring out how to do this for your site? Call us at 303-268-2245 ext 4.

 

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Social Media: Is it Worth it?

A decade ago, social media was fun. It was new. It was fresh. Perhaps even exhilarating. But now we live in a strange new world of social media where jumping to conclusions, imputing opinions falsely and disparaging anyone who disagrees with your politics or religion or race, or even gender is the norm.

With the recent disturbance in Charlotteville, Virgina, the mob (on social media) incorrectly identified one of the participants in a picture as being from Arkansas. And they unleashed on him, publishing his home address and calling him all kinds of vile things. Only they had the wrong person. When his employer – the University of Arkansas – pointed out they had the wrong man, many still refused to back down.

We have a client in the Denver area who received a bad review from someone in Seattle. It turns out the someone in Seattle had a bad experience with a similarly-named company in the Seattle area. We actually helped them reach out to the individual so they could correct it. Guess what the response was? That person was so enraged at that other company and too busy to be bothered to find the right place to complain so they refused to take it down. Yes, they understood they were complaining about the wrong company but they wouldn’t take it back. That would be like going to McDonald’s and picketing because your Whopper wasn’t prepared correctly. And refusing to stop picketing even after it is pointed out that Burger King is a couple of blocks away.

But what to do? Your marketing team is telling you the company needs a strong social media presence. Can you navigate social media and survive? There is no cure for stupidity as the examples above show. But there are many things you can do depending on your brand, your audience, and your message.

Don’t be afraid to be sassy if it fits with your image AND if the medium is right. Wendy’s made their mark on Twitter by being (for the most part) funny but also pretty sassy:

But beware – you have to finesse this just right or you will get roasted.

But that is probably a bit too aggressive, amusing though it may be, for most of us. In a B2B (Business to Business) environment, establishing your company or your brand as the thought leader can move the needle in your direction. Two ways you can do this are

  1. Post original content and
  2. Share other good content.

Number 1 is the sexy answer. And a lot of folks seize on it – “Yeah, we’ll post one a week, maybe even every day!” and follow that regime religiously for a week or two. It takes more than a week or two to establish yourself as a thoughtful thought leader.  The easiest, by far, way to proceed, is to put into writing one or two of the conversations you find yourself having with clients or prospects each week.  That is, in fact, why I’m writing this right now. Had “the social media” talk several times over the last few days. By sharing, and sharing consistently, people know who to turn to for help and more importantly, you stay in front of them so they don’t forget who you are!

In a B2C (business to consumer) business, the obvious medium is Facebook. And it can be a great tool to get the word out.  The good news is that Facebook is working to stop clickbait (headlines that entice you to click the link only to be spammed with something other than what you clicked on or simply stupid stories) which is very annoying for users.

How can you use FB in a good way? Several quick tips:

  • Create (or review) your FB company page. It is still changing. Fill out as much of your profile as makes sense – the more the better
  • Get some happy customers to write reviews on FB for you
  • Add pictures and, if at all possible, videos
  • Post regularly. Some can be specials or products or events but some should just be fun. “Here is what we are doing the office today” along with a picture of a fun staff or customer event.

Social media is a great tool to connect with people in ways that weren’t available a few years ago. Instead of having the communication be one way – from the company to the target audience, there is an opportunity for that audience to respond.  So be prepared for the responses, keep your sense of humor, and keep it real by showing the human side of what you do.

 

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Running the Wrong Race

This last week I had an email conversation that went something like this:

Potential Customer: I’m interested in what you do – how much does it cost?
Me: Well, we build websites to meet our customers’ needs and business goals. What are yours?
PC: I already have a web site, how could you help me grow and become more visible?

And that was when I knew this guy was running the wrong race.  If you have a VW and you think you’re going to race it in NASCAR. . .  well you only win that race in Disney movies.  We still had a good conversation and he is considering his options but that conversation surfaces the biggest issue we see in the digital marketing arena today.

If you have built your website to display your wares like the ancient markets where, on market day people would walk by and some would stop and buy from you and you want a powerful, inbound campaign that brings people to you, you need to start with your web presence in general and your website specifically.

How do you gain a new customer now? What is the decision point when you know “I just got a new customer!” If that isn’t built into your website, how will it help you grow? Take some time to ponder this. It really is the crux of the matter and key to winning the race.

Understanding the key decision point(s) your customers face and then putting that into your site shows your customers you understand their pain. Why does every mortgage lender have a mortgage calculator on their site? That is the issue or pain their customers face – “How much will I be paying?” While that is important, everyone (all mortgage lenders) do that. So what is the decision point that comes up when your customers choose you? That is the issue to build into your website.

Once you have your site optimized to help you attract and capture new leads or more business, then you’re ready to run the race – whether it be Search Engine Optimization, Paid Advertising, Social Media Marketing, email marketing or some combination thereof.

Whatever you decide, if you think we might be able to help you, give us a call today at 303-268-2245 and ask for Brian.

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Inbound Leads

Inbound Leads or Inbound Marketing.

Those two terms are buzz words. Everybody wants a good inbound lead – much better than an outbound lead.

But what is it? How does it work? Why do you need it?
In a nutshell, inbound marketing is attracting people to your organization rather than you going out to meet them.

How does it work?
The most well-known strategies are digital marketing campaigns like blogging, search engine optimization and pay per click. Over the last several years, social media marketing has also grown very prominent as a way of driving people to you or your website.

The concept of an inbound lead is very attractive. You don’t “do anything” and the lead comes to you. But the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to generate an inbound lead. A LOT. First you have to have a web site that is tailored to handle inbound leads and that requires careful planning and thoughtful design.

Next you need to have a plan about how you are going to generate those leads. I STILL hear from organizations that say “We tried social media but it didn’t work.” When I ask what their plan was, I’m met with silence. If you don’t have a plan it isn’t going to go well.

Your plan for generating those leads will likely include two or more of the following:
Content Generation: You need to create ORIGINAL CONTENT. Copied from your industry email or a partner’s website isn’t going to help much. You need to have original content that is exclusive to your website / social media.

  • Search Engine Optimization: While content is king in SEO, there are other things you can do to both optimize your site for search and provide good reasons for other good sites to link to your content which helps with SEO.
  • Pay Per Click Search Campaign: The two main targets are Google and Bing but with the right strategy, you might be able to target a lesser search engine that your target market is known to use. A good PPC campaign, together with good SEO can place your site front and center for the right keywords, allowing you to dominate the landing page.
  • Social Media Campaign: You need a clear plan for who you are targeting and why. With this clarity you can determine which media to use. Facebook is the largest forum but might be the right forum, especially if you are in the B2B world where using LinkedIn might be better. But the list of social media sites you can use is large and ever changing: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and Snap Chat are some of the most well-known but the list is much longer.
  • Video Campaign: While technically video is content and belongs with content generation, it is unique enough we break it out. Video blogging can be very effective in the right context. Or as anyone who has every watched Super Bowl commercials can attest to, humorous or quirky videos can attract a lot of eyeballs which can translate to lots of visits and then to new clients.

If you or your organization are ready to build your inbound leads and aren’t sure how to proceed, give Brian a call at 303-268-2245 ext 4.

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Web site – Marketing Vehicle or Sales Tool?

“Our web site is just a brochure” , “We don’t get any business from our web site – it is just there to help close the deal”, “We want our website to help generate more leads”, “Our new donation portion of the website generated a 350% return on our investment in one year”. These are just a few of the many quotes we hear from customers.  Often the focus is on web site marketing. But the first question you should ask yourself is, How does our site fit in to our business?

Notice that the question is not “How does your site fit in to your marketing plan?” For for-profit businesses the customer cycle is generally:

Attract -> Engage -> Convert -> Retain

And non-profit organizations have a similar but slightly different cycle:

Attract -> Connect -> Engage -> Inspire

In both cases the first step in the cycle is attract. And for most web design firms and web customers, that is, unfortunately, as far as the conversation goes. The web site is seen purely as a marketing vehicle to attract eyeballs. But that is missing a lot of opportunity.

A well-planned and well-designed website can and should help with every step of the customer cycle. Sure it should help attract new people. That is marketing 101 and careful planning needs to go into how your website fits into your marketing so you can get the most from it for the marketing perspective. But what is the next step?

Once you have attracted someone to your site, what do you do with them? This is one of the biggest problems with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns. You drive a lot of people to your site but have given little to no thought of what to do with them once you’re there.

This is where you want to engage them with your offerings or connect them with opportunities. But only a little at a time.  If you give people too many choices, they will likely select “None of the above” and go to a different site.

Of course, for an ecommerce site it is easy to measure conversions. The same thing applies to a non-profit with online donations. But what other opportunities might you be missing if that is all you are measuring? A newsletter sign up, for example, could be more valuable over the long term than getting that first time visitor to buy or donate.  Regular contact can turn into a bigger customer or a major donor.

Whether you acquired the customer through your website or through other means, have you considered how your website can serve to retain and even inspire? Creating an account and interacting, either with your organization or other users can be a fantastic retention tool.

When choosing a firm to assist with your web site, look beyond the glitz and fancy moving parts. Are they taking the time to understand your organization and how they can help you grow? If so, congratulations! If not, contact EduCyber at 303 268-2245 – Brian is at extension 4.

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8 Awesome Internet Marketing Steps Our Customers Do to Grow Their Business

Internet marketing – marketing your business through digital channels like your web site, social media and other Internet venues – is not as difficult as it sounds. Try it

  • Continually add testimonials and positive feedback from customers. They don’t have to brag about how good they are. They let their customers do the bragging for them and now it doesn’t sound like bragging. It is simply another satisfied customer.
  • Post updates to their blog on a regular basis (multiple times a month). This helps establish them as thought leaders by posting new information regularly. It also tells search engines and visitors that they are current.
  • Post to social media – whether it be FB or LinkedIn or other venues – regularly with links back to their web site. This attracts visitors from social media that wouldn’t otherwise make it to their web site.
  • Use good SEO tactics when posting new content or updating existing content. There are plugins and tools that help you do this and make it much easier to do well.
  • Create specials whether it be products or services and integrate them into the website. Using time sensitive specials helps create the urgency that gets them to take action
  • Keep their code up-to-date – actually we do this for them but it keeps their customer info secure and helps protect them from hackers.
  • Use email marketing to stay in touch with their customers. Effective newsletters help you stay in touch with your customers and drive them back to your website where you can re-engage them and get more business.
  • Create hooks that engage web visitors and helps convert them to customers. Some use forms, others actually have us create applications that pull them in and give them value.
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Begin with the End

Some of the complaints we’ve heard over the years:

  1. I tried a Facebook campaign. It didn’t work.
  2. Our website doesn’t really generate any business for us, it is just a brochure.
  3. I don’t’ know whether our website brings any business or not.
  4. My clients don’t have time to read blogs so I’m not going to blog.

And every one of these complaints were voiced during a client interview (to see if we would work together).

The problem in each case is that these potential clients started with where they were at currently instead of where they wanted to be. So though you may think it goes without saying, it doesn’t.

You should start your internet marketing with the end in mind. In every case, yes every case, people want to grow their business. But what that means for marketing and how their website fits in to the bigger marketing campaign is never the same.

Think about how you get new customers. If you are a non-profit organization, how do you get more donors? More volunteers? If you a service based organization, how do you generate more leads? At what point in the sales process do you usually close the deal? If you are a product-based organization,  the question is easier – how do you sell more stuff? But it isn’t necessarily an easier answer. Instead of asking themselves “How can we sell more iPads and iPhones” Apple asked themselves, what else can we sell to people that are already buying our stuff? And they came up with the Apple Watch.  So you really need to ask yourself the hard questions – Are we selling everything to our customers that we can? Are there other needs that we can meet? Are there other markets that we can create? Many of us didn’t know until a month or so ago that we needed a fancy watch. Now we do.

Once you have the outcome determined, building a website that works is much easier. Suddenly your “just a brochure” site becomes a lead generating machine. Your “validation of who we are” site becomes a “scheduling follow up meetings” engine that keeps your sales schedule full. Your “we don’t know if our site generates business” site becomes a “we closed a record number of deals thanks to our site” tool that sets you above your competition. Your “unplanned social media campaign” suddenly begins to send people to your site to schedule meetings or buy stuff.

Did you end up with a website that doesn’t know where it is going? Contact us today!

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The Importance of Being Heard

How do you get your message out? More importantly, how do you get your message out so that it is heard above the cacophony of others struggling to get their message out?

That is the trial of the age in which we live. People are constantly exposed to messaging whether it be via TV, radio, online music, Internet browsing, Facebooking, email campaigns, ads in your favorite apps, or a combination thereof (for example, we just signed up for HuluPlus and one of my kids first questions as we were enjoying reruns of a favorite program was, “How come there are commercials? Aren’t we paying for this?”). Now there is group texting as a targeted way to get your message out – this supposedly requires the end user to opt in but we’ll see how long that lasts.

So what is the best answer? There is no single BEST WAY. But it is very important for you to understand who you are trying to reach and what that particular audience is most likely to respond to. In other words, you should not try the shotgun approach. I recommend, instead the artillery approach: carefully determine where your message needs to go, and then fire away, but don’t stop there. Find out if you were on target and if not, then readjust your settings and fire again.

How does that work?

Well in actual artillery you usually have a forward observer who scouts out the location and communicates the coordinates back. This forward observer is crucial. Without one, the artillery has no idea where to fire. In your campaign, you need to do some forward observing. Where is your target? Where will they be when you begin your campaign? How are they “outfitted”? Do they use smart phones? Do they text a lot? How do they receive news and information? Via the Internet? TV? Radio? How do they interact with various media? All of this information should be gathered as part of your forward observing.

In real artillery the forward observer communicates with the fire direction center which actually computes the distance from the target, the precise direction to the target and handles all the other data calculations. For you this means you need to evaluate the data you discover or receive about how your target actually behaves so you can determine which forms of communication are most effective for your target.

The command post is where the power lies – it is the command post that controls the firing of the guns. For you this means now you get to make the decisions: What venues will be used (provided the input from the fire direction center); when the campaign will start; whether it will be shooting only once or “walking the fire” onto the target with multiple shots.

But the story too often ends there. What you need, just like real artillery, is to go back to the forward observer and make sure you hit the target! For your business, that means you need to measure the results of your campaign. Did you hit your target sales? Did you get the right number of leads? Did the phone ring enough times? Whatever you determine, at the outset you want to measure, you have to actually measure. If need be, now is the time to readjust your sites and fire again. If you scored a direct hit, you can determine whether it makes sense to go after the same target again or whether to shift your sights to another, similar target.

While the goal of an actually artillery campaign is to rain down death and destruction, the goal of a business communication campaign is to grow your business. So in your case, collateral effects aren’t damaging. If you focused on one specific area of communication and got lots of collateral effects such as people close to the target area calling, buying  or otherwise doing business, this is even more data you can take into account with your next artillery campaign.

(Details on artillery taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_artillery)

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