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5 Tips for Optimizing Your E-Commerce Shop

Is your e-commerce shop optimized? It’s almost certainly not. When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day rat race and not keep up with the most current trends. If you’ve let your store go to seed a little bit, it’s time to step up and make a change.

The good news is it doesn’t take long to get your operation into top shape. In less than five business days, you can build up your sales, lower your bounce rate and build up your audience. All it takes is a little elbow grease and a few small adjustments.

1. Harness the power of product images.

According to a study from product-video services company Invodo, 92.6 per cent of all consumers feel that visuals are the most influential factor when it comes to making a positive buying decision. If you’re only using one image, or your images aren’t very high quality, you’re not optimizing the impact of your product pages.

Your product images should be clear and high-quality, but not so high-quality that they affect page-load times, especially on mobile devices. As more and more shopping goes mobile, balancing on that fine line becomes increasingly important. Consider either buying a high-quality camera and teaching yourself to use it or contracting with a professional photographer.

The good news about your photos is that once they’re done they’re done, you might have to do a little resizing and cropping for different platforms, but it’s less work than you’ll probably have to do to massage your copy to match each platform’s algorithm.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Well, a good one is. How good are yours?

2.  Follow up on abandoned carts.

When Envelopes.com was trying to figure out how to optimize its conversion rates, they decided that the best place to start would be high-intent customers who didn’t make a purchase for one reason or another. They concentrated on one area: abandoned virtual-shopping carts. If you’re looking for a motivated audience that’s already interested in your product, you can’t do much better than abandoned carts. A user clicked on your product and not only considered buying it but actually put it in their shopping cart. On the scale of lead intensity, that’s somewhere above “white-hot.”

So what do you do? Just what Envelopes.com did, as their Core DNA case study notes. They found that for their purposes a 48-hour delay worked best on their follow-up emails. Once they sent that message, they experienced a whopping 40 per cent conversion rate for abandoned carts, which is unreal.

Abandoned carts aren’t a failure, they’re an opportunity. Seize it with both hands.

3. Make your site (more) mobile-friendly.

Does your e-commerce platform maximize your conversions, your site load times and your sales on mobile? Mobile e-commerce sales in the United States are projected to break $338 billion by 2020, according to one Statista assessment, and that’s no accident. People are leaving their computers behind to shop from their tablets and smartphones more than ever before, and if your site isn’t optimized completely for mobile, you’re going to lose out.

Recreation-product manufacturer Exxel Outdoors decided to re-platform to a more mobile-friendly site design recently because they weren’t seeing the conversions they thought they should. That decision paid big dividends for them. As it related in a BigCommerce case study, the company saw a 272 percent increase in mobile conversion rate and a 193 percent increase in mobile revenue year over year.

Re-platforming’s one of the more drastic steps you could take, but streamlining your site and making it faster for mobile will absolutely help your conversion rates. Don’t neglect mobile.

5. Fix your SEO for related products.

This is a fairly simple fix, but you’d be surprised how many sites don’t actually do it. If you have related products, concentrate them on one page instead of making a separate page for every model or color. Make one page for related products. Use a drop-down menu or another technique to let users choose which color, size, model or type they want. As Search Engine Watch notes, Zappos does an excellent job of this. This will make sure your SEO juice is concentrated in one page, not spread out across multiples.

6. Write your own product descriptions.

If you’ve worked in e-commerce for any length of time, you’ve probably seen this pattern play out over and over again: A new product comes on the market, you search it on Google and every single listing has the same verbiage. This is lazy, and honestly, it’s just bad SEO and bad practice in general.

Don’t duplicate the product copy you got straight from the manufacturer if you’re a reseller. Make sure you write your own. For one, the copy’s often just plain wrong, even directly from the manufacturer. For another thing, you can bet that most e-commerce sites will copy it directly, which weighs you down in SEO.

None of these solutions is likely to take you long to check on or implement, at least at a basic level. But you’d be shocked what sort of effect they can have on your bottom line. Make sure you’re not leaving money on the table. Optimize your e-commerce shop today and discover what you’ve been missing out on.

 

Blog Source: Entrepreneur | 5 Quick Tips for Optimizing Your E-Commerce Shop in Fewer Than 5 Days

 

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7 Tips To Optimize Your SEO Keyword List

Tweaking your keyword lists is like regular car maintenance: you have to do it, or else things stop running properly.

Evaluating and optimizing your lists on a regular basis keeps your content high up in search engine rankings.

However, keyword optimization is not always straightforward.

Google’s algorithms grow more sophisticated constantly, and your old bag of keyword tricks becomes less and less effective.

Still, keyword optimization is an essential part of any successful content marketing strategy – it’s just more nuanced now.

Best practices change from year to year based on Google’s changes and user habits.

This list will help you keep your content among the top results and bring in more visitors.

1. Map Your Keywords to the Buying Journey

Not every potential customer starts their journey with the exact product they want in mind — just like not everyone needs to do extensive research.

Your keywords should be targeting everyone whose interests match the content on your website.

Just make sure to map their stage of the buying journey to the appropriate page.

Awareness Stage

Customers in the awareness stage are trying to pinpoint a solution to their problem or what type of product/service satisfies their need.

For this type of search, consumers will use general terms, such as “how to stay fit” or “what should I feed my dog”.

When mapping your keywords to this stage, you should create pages that answer common questions related to your offerings and simply inform the reader as opposed to selling something.

Consideration Stage

Your audience is already looking for a specific solution and evaluating options in the consideration stage.

This means it’s time to build trust and convince your prospects that your solution is the right one.

To attract these types of buyers, focus your keyword selection on the value of your solution.

The Decision Stage

In this stage, your customers have direct commercial intent.

At this point, you should use keywords like “buy,” “order,” “demo,” and so on.

Then, it’s up to your content to turn that prospect into a new customer.

2. Use a Keyword Optimization Checklist to Build Your Lists

Keeping track of every aspect of keyword optimization can be overwhelming.

Every section of your website should be taken into account, from subheadings to meta titles. That’s why having a checklist is essential.

Having a structured workflow makes your job much easier. That’s why you should follow a plan when you’re working on your keyword list.

Here’s a shortlist you can use to get started and create your own workflow:

  • Prioritize your efforts and categorize your keywords by segmenting your webpages into groups based on topic and conversion rate.
  • Align your top pages or groups of pages with their targeted key phrases, search volume, and difficulty score.
  • Create a list of long-tail variations based on your top keywords.
  • Don’t forget about branded terms.
  • Enable Site Search in Google Analytics to discover the search terms your web users are actually interested in.
  • Gather keywords with geo-modifiers.
  • Run a competitive analysis to discover some overlooked keywords.
  • Align your newly discovered keywords with your existing pages or create new web pages for your website.

3. Pay Special Attention to Mobile Keywords

People don’t use the same queries to search across all platforms.

As a result, the most popular keywords can change depending on the device the user is searching from.

On mobile, in particular, the queries tend to either be shorter due to the less comfortable keyboard or much longer because of voice search (for example, “coffee shop Paris” versus “where is the nearest coffee shop?”).

Make sure you take both versions into account when optimizing for smartphone and tablet users.

Another important aspect to note is that location is a huge component of mobile searches.

In fact, according to Google, 94 per cent of users search for location-based info.

That means that, if you have a brick-and-mortar location, you should pay special attention to keywords like “near me” and “nearby.”

Also, optimize your Google My Business page and make sure your NAP information is accurate so your company shows up when users are looking for businesses in your niche.

4. Conduct a Keyword Audit

Even if you used a checklist to come up with new keywords, it never hurts to bring in a third party to check your work.

This is where online SEO auditing tools like Woorank and SEO Site Checkup come into play. Such tools check your on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and even your website’s mobile usability.

Most of them also identify issues like broken links and defective webpages. Plus, many SEO audit tools also give recommendations to improve site visibility and ranking.

You can also conduct audits periodically on old content that’s still ranking for a solid number of keywords but might need an update to perform better.

This is a great way to rediscover old hidden gems and get them to drive better traffic. After all, just because the content is a bit older doesn’t mean it’s completely useless.

5. Keep an Eye on Keyword Trends

A trend can lead to a big boost in traffic if you know how to leverage it.

Plus, if you get on board ahead of time, there’s less competition compared to more general keywords.

Some keyword research tools, like Soovle, can identify the trending words of the day for you.

If any of them are relevant to your niche, add them to your list. Just don’t forget to clean up the list every once in a while so that your previously trending keywords don’t pile up.

This strategy can give you a short-term boost while you’re waiting for your long-term content to take off.

Google Correlate is one of the best ways to discover seasonal trends and come up with fresh keyword ideas.

This lesser-known tool reveals keywords with similar time-based or regional search patterns to the search query you provide.

6. Don’t Underestimate Long-Tail Keywords

Voice search is becoming increasingly popular, now that virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are becoming more mainstream.

Many users now prefer to use their voice to find what they’re looking for instead of typing. This applies especially to mobile devices and even TVs.

But if you aren’t adjusting your keyword list to these new trends, you’re missing out on this audience.

To give you some perspective, a study of 1.9 billion keywords found that 29.13 per cent of keywords with 10,001+ monthly searches are made up of three or more words.

One surefire way to make sure you’re capturing the voice search audience is to employ more long-tail keywords.

When speaking, users are more likely to ask questions like “What are the best lead generation companies in the US?”, as opposed to typing in “best lead generation companies the US.”

Keep this conversational tone in mind when selecting keywords to make sure that your content appears in voice searches.

7. Track Your Internal Site Search

Some of the best keywords might have been right under your nose this whole time, specifically on your own website.

Looking at these queries can help you learn about how people are using your site and get keyword ideas that you’d never think of otherwise.

Plus, if you find that some searches are followed by the customer leaving the website, you can create content that matches those terms.

Conclusion

Keyword research is one of the highest return SEO activities — and these seven tips should give your traffic a significant boost.

And even if you’re already following best practices and your lists are constantly updated, experimenting can yield surprising results.

So the next time you manage your keyword list, use these guidelines to breathe some new life into your strategy.

Who knows, maybe you’ve been missing out on some profitable keywords!

 

Blog Source: Search Engine Journal | 7 Tips That Will Help You Optimize Your Keyword List for SEO

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Guide For Your First-time Home Renovation

Congratulations on crossing another milestone in life – getting your first home! But amidst all the excitement you are probably feeling jittery about the home renovation process. Fret not.

In this guide, we will share some insider tips to avoid getting duped for your first home renovation project. Choosing your ideal contractor or interior designer, the theme, getting a loan and more, we got you covered.

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TAKE TIME TO PLAN YOUR RENOVATION

Start planning your renovation the moment you get the floor plan, and not till you get your keys. Because with more time on hand, you’ll be able to ask around, meet different interior design companies and compare offers carefully. Since you’ll likely be spending a 5-digit sum for your first home renovation project, never rush into making a decision!

In addition, with more time on hand, you can prevent unnecessary mad rush and save more money too. After all, unexpected delays practically happen all the time.

CONSIDER AN INTERIOR DESIGN THEME THAT SUITS YOUR LIFESTYLE

We understand that almost every new homeowner wants the interior design of their home to be as up to date as possible. However, don’t try to incorporate too many trends into your home. It is essential to consider an interior design theme that fits your budget and lifestyle instead of following trends blindly. Do choose a pragmatic style that suits your needs, or even increase the value of your property should you rent or sell your home in the future.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT CONTRACTOR OR INTERIOR DESIGNER

In case you didn’t know, hiring an interior designer (ID) typically costs more than a contractor. Why? Because an ID is really a project manager, who will oversee the entire renovation project from ideation to completion. On the other hand, a contractor is a person who can carry out your specific requests.

Thus, if you are going for basic renovation and know exactly what you want, hiring a contractor may be the safer bet. It certainly makes sense to hire a contractor directly to save money. However, if you prefer an easier time or still unsure of what works for your home, it is best to hire an ID for peace of mind. Just remember to follow up on the timeline and get updates on the progress regularly from the ID.

Beware of renovation packages that sound too good to be true. It is also advisable to check the contractor or ID’s background. To avoid risks, choose from the list of HDB approved contractors and CaseTrust-accredited ID firms. You should also check up the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE)’s blacklisted contractors (renovation and interior design). By choosing a trusted contractor or ID, if the firm doesn’t deliver on its promises, you will still be able to receive compensation or recover your deposit.

DON’T RUSH YOUR RENOVATION

Never rush through your renovation, especially the design phase which is the most time-consuming. Once the renovation commences, any changes will not only result in exasperating delays but also likely to add on to the cost. Furthermore, do evaluate carefully what your ID proposes. You don’t need to oblige readily just because the renovation package sounds attractive.

SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST RENOVATION LOAN

As mentioned earlier, renovating your home will easily cost a 5-digit figure. For most of us, this isn’t exactly a cheap sum, to begin with. Just to give a rough idea of renovation costs in Singapore, the average cost of renovating a 4-room HDB flat is about $53,000. While we discourage getting a renovation loan as far as possible, if you really need to, do shop around and compare the rates offered by different banks carefully.

One crucial point to note is that the maximum loan you can get is $30,000 or 6 times your monthly salary, whichever is lower. If you prefer to pay a flat rate interest on the total loan amount, get a renovation loan from RHB. All the other banks offer only loans with monthly interest based on outstanding amount. You should also be mindful of the loan coverage in order not to stretch past your original budget too much.

SCRUTINISE YOUR RENOVATION CONTRACT BEFORE YOU SIGN

This may sound like common sense, but there are many who do not examine the contract in detail before signing. We understand you may be too tied up with other commitments, but surely this big investment is worth the time and effort scrutinising all the fine print? Your ID may be industry famous or highly recommended by your best pal, but never let your guard down. It is important to fully understand your renovation contract details. Ensure that there is a comprehensive breakdown of the scope of work and costs for each project stage, such as:

  • Space planning/design fees
  • Project management fees
  • Coordination fees
  • Labour costs
  • Charges of materials, accessories, fixtures etc.
  • Workmanship warranty
  • Dispute resolution clause

In addition, always check both the schedule and payment terms before you sign the contract and negotiate if you need to. It will be difficult to make any changes to the schedule and terms once the contract is signed. No matter how much you trust the ID or contractor, please make payment only to the company, and not too early. After all, this is a business transaction. The last thing you want is to end up with delayed completion or worse, non-completion for your renovation!

BE WATCHFUL OF EXTRA RENOVATION COSTS

Besides the obvious interior design charges, there are many costs involved in renovating a home which you need to look out for. These can be quite significant if you are not watchful.

A. ELECTRICAL WORKS

How many electrical points are you installing in your home? Refrain from requesting the installation of too many power points, just for the convenience of powering up your appliances easily. Because the current market rate for each additional electrical point is at least $60! So if you are only using regular household electronics, using a power strip extension cord or adapter is the more economical option.

B. CONCEALING ELECTRICAL, PHONE AND LAN CABLES

We know the numerous electrical, phone and LAN cables get in the way of a beautiful and neat home. Nonetheless, try to strike a balance between hacking the walls to insert the cables and burning a hole in your wallet. Furthermore, imagine the trouble you have to go through to hack the wall again if there are electrical problems that affect the concealed wiring. Be creative in concealing such wiring with your furnishings instead, so as to save some money. Google cable management tips and you’re good to go.

C. FLOORING SPECIFICATIONS

Make sure you ask your ID or contractor for the specifications and cost when choosing the type of flooring for your home. Check the exact pricing and dimensions of the tiles instead of just knowing the range. A more affordable and time-saving option is the waterproof Vinyl flooring as it is also easier to install. Other materials such as marble, mosaic or homogenous tiles require hacking of the floor which will be more expensive and time-consuming.

D. WALLS

Remember, hacking the wall = more cost involved. Therefore, try to go for designs that do not require hacking the wall as it is a laborious and pricey job. To cut down unnecessary spending on the installation of feature walls, get your creative juices flowing by using furniture pieces to liven up your home.

As for whether you should paint your walls or use wallpaper, think long term for practical reasons. Painting your home with a light neutral colour is a hassle free option, and it also brightens up and makes your space appear larger. Or if you prefer using wallpaper, go for high-quality wallpapers that do not curl or fade out easily in our tropical weather. Instead of trending wallpapers, classic ones are a safer bet as you won’t know how long the trend would last. You wouldn’t want to spend money on revamping your walls within a short time, would you?

E. STORAGE

It is common that your ID proposes more storage than you need in the proposal, because storage is normally charged based on per foot run. Thus, do evaluate the amount of storage you really need, and not just agree blindly to the proposal, just because it looks so beautiful. Never spend on something that becomes a white elephant in the future.

F. HAULAGE FEES

After all the renovation, there is bound to be debris to be removed in your home before you move in. If you are staying in an HDB flat, ensure you call up the town council to check on the haulage (debris removal) fees. For private property, do get a few quotes yourself instead of simply accepting whatever your contractor quoted, as they will definitely outsource the haulage service. As a benchmark, haulage fees typically range from $300 to $600, depending on how extensive your renovation is.

G. CHEMICAL WASH

Last but not least, for a major overhaul of your home involving large-scale flooring and painting, you will need a chemical wash to remove cement stains and dirt throughout the home. It is usually included in the contract for any major renovation works. Do check all the water holes to ensure your contractor doesn’t chuck any cement or sand inside, as this will result in unnecessary chokage in the future.

SPEND A FEW DAYS IN YOUR NEWLY RENOVATED HOME BEFORE MAKING THE FINAL PAYMENT

Finally, the renovation is done and it’s time to tour your newly renovated home! Before you make the final payment, spend a few days walking around the house with as many friends and family as possible. This is so that little things such as a cabinet door that doesn’t close properly, uneven flooring or malfunctioning power points can be spotted. Ensure your ID settles all these problems before closing the project with the balance payment!

Hope the above tips are useful for your first home renovation. Share them with your friends and family if you like these tips!

 

Blog Source: Asia One | Home renovation guide: Tips to avoid getting duped when renovating your first place

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Guide To Choosing A Creative Agency

Whether it’s planning a rebrand or reworking your marketing strategy, a good partnership with an effective creative agency can help your business grow.

For business owners, choosing a creative agency to partner with can be a daunting task. You may know you want help with a rebrand or marketing campaign, but where to start looking is another matter.

Allowing agencies to pitch for your business is a great way to be sure your budget is spent wisely. The pitching – or procurement – process will help you to understand what you need and lead you to the ad agency best suited to the task at hand. There are essentially three parts to it.

1. The pre-pitch process

Before you begin your search, work out your objectives and how you think this project will meet them. You don’t need a comprehensive plan – the successful ad agency can help with this – but setting clear goals will give both parties a good starting point.

Next, ask your network for recommendations and research each lead carefully. While you may wish to use a local ad agency, modern technology means you can work with agencies from anywhere in country, or even the world, so don’t let geography limit your choices.

When you’ve narrowed down a list of agencies, your research should consist of:

 Looking at previous work and case studies
Have they worked on projects of a similar size and scale in your sector? Is there any mention of return on investment? Perhaps an agency’s previous output looks great, but does it work?

 Looking at the agency’s resources and financial background
While smaller agencies may serve you well, if you need full-service support then be sure they have the skills and resources to deliver all work competently and effectively.

At this point you will have started developing a list of agencies you would like to approach based on the work they’ve done previously. However, a more important factor to consider is how well you’re likely to work together.

2. Developing relationships

Before you ask an ad agency to pitch, it is useful to hold a “chemistry meeting”. This is a perfect opportunity to discuss your goals and answer questions from their side, while you work out if you meet with the people you might be working with in the flesh. These meetings can save you a huge amount of time in the long run.

Invite a maximum of three agencies to pitch at the chemistry sessions. When you invite them, decide if you’d like to see their creative ideas to judge how they propose to answer your brief, or if you just want them to offer a top line of how they’d approach the brief.

If you want creative ideas then you may have to offer a fee for their time. Your budget will determine this. When inviting the agencies, even if you’ve met them before, be sure to provide as much information as possible. If you’re vague about what you want it may result in you wasting your time with unsuitable responses.

3. The pitch

Unless you’ve asked for creative work to be provided and paid for any time used to develop it, you won’t be given creative solutions to your challenge. Many tried and tested agencies will not pitch offer creative solutions for free unless they’ve agreed to do so beforehand.

Instead they will suggest how they will approach your challenges and how much it would cost. The standout agency will be the one that has done research into what it is you need and how you are likely to get there, and also one you feel the most comfortable about working with.

Creative industries also have trade standards that they may be committed to. Members of the Design Business Association (DBA), for example, abide by pitching standards for the benefit of businesses that approach them. Sites like Creative Barcode have information on the sharing of ideas between parties.

Your primary goal is to find a professional, trustworthy creative agency that you can develop a strong relationship with. Some agencies will have great ideas but if you don’t get along, or there is poor communication and understanding, then those good ideas will end up being very expensive. Even if you are looking for a short-term project you need to keep a long-term relationship in mind. If the agency you choose delivers the results you need, then you may not have to look for another agency for future work.

Glossary of creative industry terms

It’s easy for any business to fall into the trap of using sector jargon. Here are some phrases you may hear from a creative agency, and what they mean:

  • Brand – Often thought to simply mean a business’s logo or name, “brand” really describes what people think about your business and what your name and logo mean to your customers.
  • Positioning – where your brand sits within its sector. For example, Waitrose is aligned with high quality, Aldi is seen as good value.
  • Brand equity – the value, financially and strategically, of your brand. Customer loyalty and market share will also be a factor in a brand’s value.
  • PPC advertising – Short for Pay Per Click, and a very cost-effective way of advertising if done correctly. The cost of your adverts on social channels, search engines and other websites in this instance is based on how often someone interacts with the campaign.
  • Challenger brand – a new viable brand that is showing growth in a sector already dominated by established brands.
  • Differentiation – What makes you more desirable and unique within your sector? Your business and marketing strategy should use this to develop your positioning and core messaging.
  • Touchpoint – Any time that a customer comes into contact with a brand. This can be through a marketing campaign, in-store display, social media, website, word-of-mouth referral, or through a salesperson or member of staff. Touchpoints also exist post-sales to establish customer loyalty and repeat business.

Source: An expert’s guide to choosing a creative agency | The Guardian

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Helpful Tips On How To Choose A Good Advertising Agency

Whether you are interested in online ad serving or public relations assistance, choosing the right advertising agency will be essential for the successful promotion of your company. Today, there are a wide range of agencies with different specialities offering such services. This makes the process of choosing even more difficult. Here are some tips to help you select the best ad agency for your needs.

Identify Your Needs

Before you even start to evaluate advertising agencies, you must first identify your needs. Do you want to focus on online marketing or social marketing, are you looking for a company that makes use of an ad server or maybe you want to organize promotional events? Each advertising agency is specialized in certain marketing techniques, making it crucial that you align with the correct one. This is why you should have an idea about the most suitable promotional strategy for your business. Think about what you want in the short term and what you may need in the long term as well.

Take a Look at the Agency’s Website

A good first step to helping decide which advertising agency to pick is visiting their website. Not only can it provide a lot of useful information, including a list of clients, it is imperative that you feel it is well designed, after all, that is what the company should be good at. Clearly, the website should also be easy to find and have pages on multiple social networks. If they will help promote your business then they should be good at promoting themselves as well. All in all, the site should have an innovative design, clear information, and a well-structured portfolio.

Examine the Range of Services

Every ad agency usually specializes in a certain area of advertising but it is also important that they offer a wide range of services so you do not have to use multiple agencies in order to accomplish your goals. Also, your advertising needs may change over time and you do not want to have to change agencies unless it is truly necessary. This is why you should work with an ad agency that has professionals capable of handling multiple aspects. The size of the advertising agency is often not the most important factor. Smaller agencies can give you more personal attention than a giant one. The experience of its professionals is much more determining for success.

Ask for a Written Proposal

By this point, you should have already limited the options to a few advertising agencies. It is now time to request a written proposal. The written proposal will insight with respect to the professionalism and the approach of the ad  agency. Usually, the add agency will ask you to specify exactly what you need to be able to provide you with a proposal and a price. Be clear when you describe your company’s goals, the market and the advertising strategy that you are looking for. Be realistic and honest when describing your needs. A good specification from you will allow agency representatives to write an adequate and accurate proposal. Require proposals from different agencies and compare the results that you receive.

Schedule Your First Meeting

Loaded with multiple proposals, schedule appointments with at least two agencies. It should go without saying that you come to the meeting prepared highlighting any questions you have about the proposal. During the meeting, make sure you discuss exactly how the ad agency plans on implementing their proposal and be sure to get a schedule to keep track of progress. It is imperative that the ad agency have an accurate way of measuring their results without bias so that you can understand how they performed against your objectives. You should get all of the answers that you need to decide and be happy with the selection. If you are finding communication difficult at this early stage, you should probably work with the other alternatives.

The right advertising agency can do a lot for you. So choose the professionals to work with, determine your goals and try to have realistic expectations. Get enough information and shop around before you make up your mind.

Source: AdSpeed | How to choose a good advertising agency?

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Important Tips On How To Hire An Ad Agency

Types of Advertising Agencies

All it takes is one Google search to learn that there are thousands of advertising agencies to choose from. But if you have never worked with an agency before, how do you narrow the field?

In this article, we’ll review 8 different types of ad agencies and when they’re the best option, and then talk about some common pitfalls to be aware of as you’re reviewing potential agencies.

Full-Service Ad Agency

A full-service advertising agency offers a comprehensive range of services that address both the traditional and digital marketing aspects of a business. Full-service ad agencies are made up of a team of experts, and they’re a one-stop shop of services:

When to use: A full-service ad agency is appropriate if your business needs the full-stack of marketing. They’ll be able to deliver results through a TV ad as well as a social media campaign. Because their marketing activities are so comprehensive, you’ll also want an internal hire who can devote a lot of their time to working with this agency.

Traditional Ad Agency

Traditional ad agencies primarily work with traditional forms of media, such as newspapers, television commercials, radio, and print.

When to use: Traditional ad agencies are best suited towards companies who are trying to reach a local audience. A strategic direct mail campaign for a local restaurant or a billboard promoting the opening day of a new museum can be an effective use of traditional forms of media.

Digital Ad Agency

A digital advertising agency specializes in all things online. They probably have familiarity with traditional media, but their primary focus lies in the digital sphere, including:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Website Design and Development
  • Lead Generation
  • Email Marketing
  • Account Based Marketing
  • Marketing Automation

When to use: Digital ad agencies are the best fit for companies trying to reach a very specific audience because digital marketing platforms allows for advanced targeting capabilities and wide reach. Digital ad agencies are also a good fit for companies looking to improve their online presence and generate more leads through their website. Digital marketing agencies tend to have a mix of graphic designers, web developers, copywriters, ad specialists, photographers, and videographers.

Social Media Ad Agency

Social media ad agencies focus on one thing and one thing only: social media. They are a team of content creators and ad optimizers that will max out your social channels. They may focus on many social channels or be experts in a single channel, such as LinkedIn. Because of recent social media algorithm changes that resulted in a drop-off in organic reach, expect social media ad agencies need to charge a budget for ad spend.

When to use: Social media agencies are a good fit for companies who are looking to accomplish a single goal, such as selling skateboards, through social media platforms. These marketing agencies usually have a creative team, a content team, and might even have photographers and videographers.

Public Relations Ad Agency

Public relations, or PR, agencies serve to improve and manage the public image of a company and its employees. PR agencies are often used for enterprise-level companies and CEOs, focusing on getting the company or the CEO featured in the news, on industry websites, and in the community.

When to use: PR agencies are best for organizations looking to improve the public’s awareness of the brand or their public image. PR agencies are especially important for brands that are frequently in the public view because they help manage the public’s impression of the organization or its leader.

Branding Ad Agency

Branding agencies specialize in, you guessed it, branding. They’ll usually conduct thorough market research to better understand the competitive landscape and offer a range of services that include logo design, brand name development, creative identities, and signage.

When to use: A branding agency is best if you are considering or planning an organizational rebrand, or are interested in seeing how your current brand is perceived in the market.

Creative Ad Agency

Creative agencies focus on the design and graphics of a brand, but outsource the strategy and execution to other marketing partners. They usually excel in logo design, print marketing, letterheads, billboards, and business cards.

When to use: These types of agencies are well suited for organizations who need to create a cohesive look and feel of their brand or who need to create some new marketing collateral.

Media Buying Ad Agency

Media buying ad agencies focus on media planning and media buying, and they usually tailor their services to a specific channel. They identify a time frame, recommend a budget, and establish markets for reaching the target audience.

When to use: Media buying agencies are great for organizations looking to only use a single channel. These agencies may have a creative team in-house, but they are typically most effective when paired with a creative ad agency.

Common Mistakes to Look for When Choosing An Ad Agency

Great – now you’ve determined what kind of agency will work best for you. Next comes the evaluation process, which can be long, arduous, and anything but crystal clear.

There are a few red flags to keep an eye out for while you’re assessing vendors.

An Ad Agency that Follows a Streamlined Approach

Although ad agencies service a wide variety of industries, many don’t offer originality or distinction. They create a streamlined approach to make their work easier without considering what’s best for their clients’ business.

When a company requests individualized treatment, some ad agencies will awkwardly respond, “Sorry, we don’t do that for any of our clients. We’ve always done marketing this way, so you’ll have to accept our method and trust our marketing process.”

This is a major red flag.

Marketing is far more art than science. There is no magic formula. There is no guaranteed blueprint. What worked last year may not work today, and what worked this week may not work next. The same strategy that worked for an optics company may not work for a large parts manufacturer.

We believe each client should have an individualized approach that caters to their specific business goals.

An Ad Agency that Focuses on a Single-Channel Campaign

Some ad agencies are only comfortable with what they know. If they have experience with traditional marketing – print advertisements, TV commercials, and radio ads – they limit themselves to that single avenue. Likewise, some digital marketing agencies might discourage traditional marketing, calling it old-fashioned or outdated, and end up missing out on valuable audience reach and marketing opportunities.

A successful marketing campaign uses a multi-channel approach to reach sales prospects wherever they may be. Multi-channel campaigns often include a healthy mix of two or more of the following: social media marketing, website work, email or traditional mail marketing, online or traditional sponsored ad work, content marketing, and more.

The advantages of capitalizing on multiple channels include:

  • Reach a wider audience
  • Increase brand awareness via multiple avenues
  • Target potential customers where they are
  • Increase sales opportunities
  • Create a cohesive marketing strategy
  • Eliminate missing gaps in marketing reach

A traditional campaign shouldn’t compete with digital marketing. Instead, these two campaign strategies are both well-traveled roads that lead in the same direction – to marketing success. Traditional and digital marketing campaigns work together to further the company’s specific goals and outline success by reaching customers online, watching TV, in the car, and out of the home.

An Ad Agency that Doesn’t Offer Proper Reporting

When it comes to marketing, we aren’t the first to admit that reporting can be difficult.

Marketing is meant to change actions. But in order to change someone’s actions, you first have to change their beliefs, and in order to change their beliefs, you have to get their attention.

Actions may be measurable (someone filled out a form on your website), but beliefs and attention are far harder to measure. That’s why we look at metrics such as overall traffic, SEO, and click-through rates; these metrics can give us an educated guess about beliefs and attention. For example, if you have more overall website traffic and new users than you did at the same time last year, your agency is getting the attention of more folks.

Marketing reports can get as granular as you’d like, but it’s important to remember that it’s not always a 1:1 result.

That being said, reporting is still incredibly important, especially when you’re relying on an outsourced company to be or aid your marketing team.

Regular reporting should help close the gap between your business goals and marketing execution.

An Ad Agency that Is Stuck in Time

Technology is changing at lightning speed, especially new digital marketing technology. Every week, a new product, app, or communication tool has launched that promises to change the face of marketing forever.

A lot of technology dramatically changes the marketing landscape.

Take social media, for example. In 2018, organic (unpaid) posts from business pages were reaching a fairly large audience. Then, in a single day, Facebook changed its algorithm and devalued unpaid business posts in users’ news feed, dropping organic reach by 50-75%. Within a single day, business pages had to adopt a new strategy if they wanted their audience to see their posts.

Marketing changes fast, and it is your marketing agency’s job to keep up with those changes. By no means should they suggest implementing every new technology, theory, or strategy that they come by, but they should be familiar enough with the changing landscape to make an educated and thoughtful recommendation.

When You’re Ready to Hire an Ad Agency

Now that you’re ready to hire an advertising agency for your company, document the desired results you want to accomplish with your new partner. This will help set expectations up front and will help you find an agency who can support your business goals.

Source: WebSurge | 8 Types of Advertising Agencies and How To Choose One

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13 Tips And Things To Consider When Picking An Ad Agency Partner

Here are 13 tips and things to consider when picking an ad agency partner for your financial institution. 

1. Results

To see how business focused an ad agency is, ask them about their results. What did it do? How much did it accomplish? You’ll learn a lot about what an ad agency thinks is important by what they measure.

2. “Funny” Does Not Always Mean “Money”

Don’t fall in love with an ad agency just because they show you a bunch of funny spots. Just because a campaign is funny doesn’t mean it got any results. It’s always easier to make funny ads than ads that really work. An ad agency’s portfolio could be full of humor without ever having one piece that was on-strategy and achieved the intended results.

3. The Portfolio Isn’t Everything

Beware of ad agencies who believe blindly in the “power of creativity,” especially their power of creativity. There are many ad agencies who expect to be hired on the strength of their portfolio alone. But you need to remember that their creative output is only one component in creating a healthy, productive partnership.

4. Meet the Head Honcho

Ask to meet the owner, president or chief principal of the ad agency. If they won’t meet you, then you’ll know you won’t be an important client.Challenger Banks Continue to Out-Innovate Traditional Banks

5. No Financial Experience

You don’t want to hire an ad agency that will be cutting their teeth in the financial industry with your account. Yes, you’ll likely get a lot of fresh creative energy, and perhaps some smart moves from another industry they’ve worked with. But you’ll also spend a lot of time teaching them the financial marketing basics (think: disclosures, compliance, FDIC, HELOC vs. home equity, etc.).

Ad Agencies with little financial experience may come up with a lot of the same ideas every other agency has already thought of when starting work on their first financial account (think: piggy banks). Often, these agencies think the bank’s mission or core values or tagline sounds pretty good, so they run with it. They just haven’t executed those ideas 100 times already for other clients, so they aren’t bored of the same-old yet. That leads to a lot of familiar-sounding, me-too campaigns that many other financial institutions have run before (or are running now).

It’s the same thing with credit unions. An ad agency that hasn’t ever done any work with credit unions before will fall in love with the spirit of the “credit union movement” — not-for-profit, member-owned, lower fees, better rates, etc. Unfortunately, these are common elements shared by every credit union and do very little to help differentiate one from another.

6. Prior Financial Experience

You will probably benefit most by working with an ad agency that has at least some prior experience with financial institutions. More than one prior financial client is better. Ask if you can talk to these (and other) clients. If the ad agency has too much financial experience — or spends too much time in any single, vertical market — there is a very real risk of burnout. Make sure the ad agency has a real creative passion for financial marketing, because it can be a pretty dull, dry subject at times.

7. Local vs. Long Distance Relationships

The right combination of things you’re looking for in an ad agency partner might not always be available in your back yard. In fact, to find a well-balanced, integrated marketing agency with any significant experience in the financial industry, you’ll probably have to open your search up and look nationwide. But if you’d rather keep your business local and/or prefer more interpersonal, face-to-face interaction with your ad agency, you’ll most likely have to make some compromises.

8. The Creative Brief

If you really want to know how an ad agency approaches their work, ask to see their “Creative Brief” (or similar). This document typically outlines the specifics and parameters of a project — the objectives, due dates, budget, metrics, message, tone, style, disclosures, etc. Assuming they have a creative brief, look carefully at the questions they ask. It will give you a good sense of their strategic acumen. If they don’t have one, you’ll have to find out about their process and approach some other way.

9. Proof of Process

Ask the ad agency to show you a completed creative brief they feel was useful/helpful. Ask to see concepts they came up with for another client. How many do they typically come up with? Have them explain which concept was picked and why. See how they feel about revisions. You want to get a sense of their process, and how adept they are at translating strategies into ideas with results.

10. Evaluate Your Account Exec

Who will be your primary point of contact at the ad agency? Are they a detail-oriented person? How do they manage budgets? Schedules? How will they keep you updated? And the personalities have to mesh. If you don’t like your account exec (or vice versa), the relationship is doomed from the start. And do what you can to sniff out whether the account exec will really be handing your projects off to a junior account coordinator fresh out of school. Sometimes, account execs only have time for the really important clients and act merely as a figurehead while subordinates actually manage the relationship.

11. Integrated Marketing Capabilities

If you have a dynamite in-house team, you may not need a full-service agency for everything — creative, online/interactive, point-of-purchase, media planning/buying and public relations. But you definitely want an ad agency that — at the very least — thinks about all this stuff. Offline media is not dead. In fact, it is very much still a central part of most successful campaigns.

12. Balance

Make sure the ad agency doesn’t favor one approach or communications channel too heavily. If you deal with a vendor who is strong at online marketing, you may, for instance, find that all their solutions include a microsite. But what about traditional media? Will they know how to promote their microsite through offline channels?

13. Green

If being (or going) green is one of your strategic priorities, then you’ll want to know how green your ad agency is.

Source: The Financial Brand | How to Choose the Right Ad Agency

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Three Helpful Tips for Purchasing Construction Equipment

There’s not much margin for error when building a fleet of construction equipment. In fact, the construction equipment market is expected to skyrocket from $146 billion in 2018 to nearly $200 billion in 2025—making it a critical time to understand the value of such an investment.

Fleet managers hoping to get the best bang for their buck should consider a wide range of factors, including how much a piece of equipment typically sells for along with what type of weather equipment will operate in. Paying attention to these factors, along with exploring the cost savings from used or rented equipment, can position managers to reap the rewards of telematics when purchasing equipment.

CONSIDER JOBSITE CONDITIONS

It’s tough to gauge the value of equipment without considering what it has been sold for in the past. Purchasers should look online to ensure they’re not over- or under-spending on equipment. While it’s important to secure a good deal, a piece of equipment that’s priced well below the rest of the market may be cause for concern. Always check to see that equipment offers all of the features needed before making a purchase.

If, for example, heavy rains are common across a job site, rust-resistant paint might be necessary. This extra precaution is also poised to come in handy throughout the winter when plummeting temperatures and snow can reduce equipment speed and strength.

In the same way, the weather can influence which piece of equipment may work best, terrain plays an equally important role in purchase decisions. Keep an eye on how easy or difficult it is to navigate a job site. Although wheeled machinery works well on dry dirt or pavement, tracked equipment is better suited for muddy surfaces. Fleet managers who take these types of variables into account stand to secure equipment that fully meets their needs.

BE OPEN TO BUYING USED

A piece of equipment doesn’t have to be brand new to get the job done. Cut costs by picking up used equipment at an auction or online marketplace. From going out of business to making room for new machinery, there are plenty of reasons why people are willing to part with well-kept equipment. If there doesn’t seem to be much equipment available, tap into your network for additional purchasing opportunities. Sellers who need to get rid of equipment sooner rather than later may turn toward their peers before trying the secondary market.

One of the most important factors to consider regarding used equipment is durability. Ask to take a test drive well before pulling out the checkbook. The more time that’s spent evaluating the piece of equipment, the easier it will be to identify potential issues. For example, if a part appears to be on its last legs, then it’s best to take a few minutes to check for a replacement. Brands that manufactured parts may no longer be in business, making it difficult to complete necessary repairs moving forward.

INVEST IN TELEMATICS

While putting together a fleet is a good start, there’s more work to be done beyond choosing the right features for your job site or picking up a used piece of equipment. Ensure the fleet is firing on all cylinders by investing in telematics. The telematics market for heavy equipment is set to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5 percent until 2025. Given the benefits telematics brings to the table, such growth isn’t all that surprising.

Beyond the convenience of tracking an entire fleet in one location, telematics offers insight into upcoming repairs. Real-time data—including engine temperature and fuel burn rates—provides a more accurate idea of how hard each machine is being pushed. If a heavy workload persists, a little extra maintenance may be needed. Rather than waiting until something goes wrong, leverage telematics data to tackle issues before they become costly.

In addition to lowering maintenance expenses, telematics may also open the door for greater safety and efficiency. In the past, fleet managers weren’t always clued into driver performance. With telematics, however, data points like average speed can shed some light on which drivers abide by the rules of the road—and which don’t.

Construction equipment doesn’t come cheap. And if fleet managers are hoping to stay under budget, they should start by shopping for the right equipment. A quick overview of what each machine will be used for can reduce the need for additional purchases later on. Opting for used equipment is yet another way to keep costs down and ultimately save enough to bring aboard telematics technology. From preventative maintenance to improving driver performance, investing in the right equipment and telematics delivers benefits contractors can’t afford to pass up.

 

Blog Source: Construction Equipment | Three Tips for Buying Construction Equipment

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The Healthy Benefits of Regular Massage To Your Body

It’s 6 a.m., your alarm is screaming at you to rise and shine. It’s time to hit the ground running after a restless night of sleep, make breakfast for the kids, pack bags, jump in the shower and begin the mad rush through traffic to school and work.

The day doesn’t stop there. After an intense nine-hour day in the office, you rush home, get dinner on the table and start your bedtime routine to do it all over again.

Now stop, take a deep breath and daydream yourself to a massage room, where there is true tranquility, stress evaporates and you have a full hour to unwind and relax.

When you see that nearly 60 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are stress-related, it should strike a chord.

In fact, nearly five of the six leading causes of death are linked to stress. The World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Survey estimates that by the year 2020, stress-related mental health conditions including anxiety and depression will be highly prevalent and will be second only to ischemic heart disease as it relates to disabilities experienced by sufferers.

Massage therapy, along with other integrated health approaches like yoga and meditation, is excellent strategies to effectively manage stress. Below we’ve listed some of the benefits of regular massage and how massage can help you alleviate the stress in your life.

Relaxation

As humans, we have two main states of being: fight-or-flight and rest-and-digest.

Many people sit in fight or flight mode for most of the day, and it can actually be weeks on end between work, grocery visits, alarm clocks, rushing through traffic and getting the kids.

When humans are constantly in a fight-or-flight mode, over time, it can negatively impact their immune system, resulting in fatigue and burn out.

Massage brings you out of the fight-or-flight mode and into the rest-and-digest mode for an hour or 90 minutes, twice a month, once a month or however often you get a massage.

During a massage, you get to sit and be still; that, in and of itself, is relaxing.

Just imagine lying down and doing some gentle stretching for an hour. It calms your heart rate and brings everything down a few notches, taking you to the present moment.

The relaxation response is a real thing and it’s induced by resting and relaxing.

Stress Relief

People are always looking for ways to alleviate stress and, at the same time, stress relief is so vast in what it encompasses.

At the end of the day, the stress level is determined by how one relaxes and is able to get into the rest and digest state of being, which in turn dictates the health of the immune system.

Prolonged exposure to cortisol and adrenaline from the fight-or-flight nervous system is extremely detrimental. The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived stressor has passed, hormone levels should return to normal.

As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your body’s systems return to baseline levels, resuming their regular activities.

But, when life stressors are always front of mind and you constantly feel under attack, that fight or flight reaction stays turned on keeping the physiology of your body out of balance.

This long-term activation of the stress-response system—and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones—eventually will disrupt almost all your body’s processes.

This puts you at an increased risk of numerous health problems, including anxiety, depression, heart disease, headaches, and weight gain.

Sadly, in our world, many of us have been in the fight-or-flight state for a long time, without any reprieve.

Without making a personal commitment to your wellness, it’s difficult to eliminate stress. More and more people are becoming aware they need a strategy for managing stress and can’t just leave it to chance.

Proven Clinical Benefits

So how does one get a reprieve from this stress response? One enjoyable way to accomplish this outcome is through the benefits of regular massage.

Massage has proven clinical outcomes.

For example, we know massage is proven to decrease pain and stress levels, resulting in an overarching sense of well-being. The problem is, sometimes as practitioners, we start to talk about internal (mechanistic) outcomes, which are a little more difficult to prove through research.

Internal outcomes could be “massage increases circulation” or “massage decreases cortisol in the blood,” and we just don’t have a lot of hard, scientific proof to make those claims. What we do know is there is research to support a lot of massage’s clinical outcomes, which are very important.

As a massage client, it’s likely you won’t ever come in and say, “I want to decrease the cortisol level in my blood” or “I want to increase endorphins.”

Instead, what you are more likely to say is, “I want to play nine-rounds of golf” or “I want to be able to pick up my grandchildren.”

These larger clinical outcomes of stress relief, pain relief, improved sleep patterns, and general well-being are what most of us are looking for.

The Takeaway

Perhaps this article gave you a better understanding of the benefits of regular massage therapy and how massage can play in your overall healthcare and stress management plan.

How might you use massage in your self-care plan? It’s a question worth contemplating.

Massage, at least once a month, is a feel-good, relaxing way to manage pain and stress, and promote improved well-being. Unlike some other medicinal approaches, the side effects of massage are positive and prompt stress relief and relaxation.

 

Blog Source: Massage Magazine | THE BENEFITS OF REGULAR MASSAGE

 

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What To Consider When Selecting An Advertising Partner

The Mad Men days are over. Today, it’s not just New York Madison Avenue agencies dominating the advertising world anymore—there are thousands out there. From two-person boutique agencies to mega-agencies with offices scattered around the globe with a gamut of core strengths, the options can be overwhelming. With so much saturation, how do you pick the best advertising agency fit for you?

Many businesses rely on in-house abilities for marketing and advertising. But as they grow, partnering with an advertising agency often becomes a necessary move in the process. Outsourced marketing definitely has its advantages. Agency professionals live and breathe advertising, and applying their expertise to marketing initiatives can bolster authority for a brand. Additionally, agency partners see a business from all perspectives, and is a valuable trait for crafting fresh brand messages.

Here are the things to consider when selecting an agency:

1. What is my advertising objective?

It is crucial for you to have an idea of what you want to accomplish with your advertising efforts. Are you launching something new? Do you need to reach a quantifiable goal? The world of marketing is vast, and hiring a broadcast production service or a publication may not be the best choice if you are hoping for seamless brand intent. Know the best ROI will stem from those who excel at brand strategy and execution, and not selling ad space.

2. Choose an advertising agency with focus.

Agencies who spend a bulk of their day targeting specific audience types will already be acclimated with the needs and concerns associated with them, whether it’s B2B or B2C. Simply put, daily know-how reaches marketing goals faster. Also, keep an eye out for those specializing within industries. They can assist with a USP and distinguish you from the competitive landscape because of their familiarity.

3. Find a committed ad agency.

Communication is two-way street. No agency understands your business like you do. In order for a healthy relationship to exist and prosper, a valuable agency will listen, practice inclusion, and not mind educating “behind the curtain.” Transparency goes a long way … as does a genuine interest in your industry. Outcomes are that much sweeter when they are. Regardless of the fact, you are not their only client but they should always make you feel that way.

4. Large Agency vs Small Agency

Your agency selection could also be influenced by a few other variables. This includes your budget, and their scale of resources, among any other personal preferences you desire. Large ad agency offerings are impressive with layers of process for good reason, while a small ad agency is more likely to provide a boutique experience with responsive nimbleness. However, nothing is really the rule, and like all things, there’s an array of full-service agencies out there ready to solve your unique challenge.

5. What is an integrated agency?

The term advertising agency has become somewhat archaic. Today, the integrated marketing agency acts as the preferred extension of a business. Their approach is holistic and they are equipped to promote a brand across all marketing channels without solution bias; a perk for you knowing recommendations won’t be avoided due to a weakness in a particular area. Of course, forming a relationship with an agency that is already aware of your brand makes conversations that much easier, but keep your opportunities open.

If you have found yourself at a point where adding an advertising agency for support seems like the next logical step for growth, we hope we’ve made the hunt a little easier. You will find that deeper research will ultimately reward you with a partner who will elevate your brand to the next level.

Source: Choosing the Right Agency | Jajo

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