Posts Tagged ‘marketing strategy’

Cork board with 6 post-it notes. The 1st is orange and says “Set smart Goals”. The remaining are blank and colored red, pink, neon green, neon yellow and blue.

Building SMART Marketing Goals

Any marketing campaign must begin with setting goals. Here’s how to make them SMART.

Any successful marketing effort begins by setting goals. You should never put the cart before the horse, and neither should you begin a campaign without knowing what you want to accomplish. But simply discussing your goals ahead of time is not sufficient. You need to also make them SMART. What does that mean exactly? Let’s find out.

The SMART Goal Model

The SMART acronym is a model for creating effective goals. The different letters stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-sensitive. In the next sections, we will break these down in greater detail.

Specific (S)

The “S” in SMART stands for Specific, perhaps the most important tenant of any marketing campaign. To communicate well, you need to avoid creating goals that are too broad or vague.

One way to avoid doing this is to understand that there are generally three types of goals for marketing campaigns: awareness, acceptance, and action; then determine the appropriate category for your goal. After that, though, you should still add additional detail.

For example, let’s say you decide that you want to raise awareness for your agency. This is a decent starting point, but a more effective approach would be to say that you want to raise awareness amongst real estate agents between the ages of 35 and 60 and who live in Texas or Oklahoma. Not only does this provide more direction for creating strategies and tactics, but it can also help create other parts of the SMART model.

Measurable (M)

All goals must have a measurement metric attached to them. There is no other way to determine if your campaign has been successful. And you will have little data to review or use in improving future campaigns.

For instance, if you have a goal to drive traffic to your website, you need to know first what your current traffic is and then by how much you want to increase it. Otherwise, when you look at your analytics at the end of your campaign, the numbers you see will be meaningless. They will remain decontextualized, and you will not have insight as to whether the traffic funnels you created to drive people to your website (including emails, social media, digital ads, etc.) were successful in helping you meet or exceed your goal.

Achievable (A)

There is no point in setting goals that you will never meet, which is why the “A” within SMART is so important, as it stands for “achievable.” Creating achievable goals requires you to take an honest assessment of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, resources, and roadblocks.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are trying to build your agency’s presence on social media. Unless you have a seasoned social media expert on staff or a massive advertising budget, you should not create a goal of building a follower base of 10,000 Facebook users. Instead, a much more realistic goal would be to grow your followers by something like 10 percent – a far more modest and achievable endeavor.

Relevant (R)

It might seem like common sense, but any goal needs to be relevant to the purview of your organization. To put it another way: Your marketing goals should always be connected to specific business goals. And be sure you can see the connections. Otherwise, reconsider your approach and adjust as needed.

Time-Sensitive (T)

Finally, your goals need to be placed on a clearly defined timetable. A pre-established timeline is enormously beneficial in structuring a campaign and allocating resources and staff time. Of course, it’s important to set a timetable that is achievable. Establishing reasonable timelines can limit frustration down the road.  

SMART Equals Success

Building out a marketing plan can be challenging but establishing SMART goals can help you avoid frustration by orienting your plan to create tangible results you can see and measure. SMART goals can take some getting used to, but by creating great goals, you will be positioned to build out a fantastic marketing plan and knock its execution out of the park.

Graphic of multi-colored arrows mergeing into 1 blue arrow pointed toward multi-colored stick figures while aiming at the blue figure.

Building Buyer Personas

To market effectively, understand your customers

When preparing any marketing campaign, sometimes there is the desire to put the cart before the horse. Such impulses are understandable. Creating marketing collateral often provides the greatest opportunity for marketers to exercise their creativity. However, jumping directly to a campaign’s deliverables misses a critical step of the process. Before you can think about how you’re going to unroll your marketing efforts, first you must think about who you are trying to reach.

One effective strategy to accomplish this is the use of buyer personas, a fictional representation of your ideal audience. Generating these representations can be enormously helpful for the entirety of your campaign, guiding the channels you select and the marketing material you create. The following tips can help you start creating these personas and have a better chance of ensuring your campaign’s success.

Use Real-World Data

When creating buyer personas, it’s best to trust real-world data over gut instincts. Start by conducting a top-level audit of your current customers. You can gather this information from a wide variety of sources. From social media analytics to your customer database, we live in a data-rich world where important insights can be easily gleaned. Even a cursory look at this data can yield demographical information such as gender, age, geographical location, language, education level, career level, interests and more. Gathering this information can help build the foundation of your buyer personas, serving as a strong starting point for compiling additional insights.

Dig Deeper

Once you have sketched a rough demographical outline of your various customers, you will want to dig deeper into their psychology – identifying goals, needs and pain points in the process. To obtain this information, you can carry out customer interviews or surveys, gain insights from your sales team or look at analytic platforms like Google Analytics or Google Trends. Use these sources to build out a psychological profile for your various customer segments and go so far as to write down your customers’ potential motivations, goals and frustrations.

Channels and Technology

After you have obtained a clearer picture of who your customers are and what motivates them, you need to flesh out their behavior. Ask yourself how your customers go about finding the information they need for obtaining solutions to the problems that plague them. This question can help you better understand how your customers behave online, what publications or websites they read and even what devices they use to access the internet. This knowledge can assist you in tailoring your campaigns, allocating marketing dollars to the correct channels and ensuring whether you need to create collateral optimized for mobile technology or not.  

Final Thoughts

It is hard to overstate the importance of buyer personas or how they can act as a lynchpin for the overall success of your marketing endeavors. Built correctly, buyer personas can guide other steps in the marketing process, governing how you segment your potential customers, how you select your marketing channels and even how you package your marketing copy. In short, by putting your marketing in front of the right people, with the right message, at the right time, you will have a greater likelihood of meeting your sales goals and taking your business to the next level.

Blue background with white computer monitor displaying the word "SEARCH" in primary colors.

SEO Is for Everyone

You don’t need to be a techie to improve your website’s ranking and increase its traffic.

Your website is your business’s front door. But before you can harness your site to promote your business or connect with potential customers, people need to be able to find you online. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. While this can sound like a subject meant exclusively for a serious techie or marketing professional, the opposite is true. Everyone can implement basic SEO steps and start bringing more people to their website.

What is SEO?

SEO is designed to increase the quantity and quality of organic website traffic. Consisting of tactics employed both on and off your site’s pages, SEO allows you to achieve a better ranking for certain keywords that users type into search engines like Google and Bing. For example, if you are a company that sells birdhouses, SEO techniques can help your ranking for keywords related to birdhouses and similar products. If optimized correctly, your site will rank higher on search engine results pages. The higher rankings you have, the more traffic you’ll enjoy and the more sales you may potentially close.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO starts with keyword research. Think about the terms for which your site needs to rank. Use a paid or free keyword research tool. Pay attention to each keyword’s competition ranking as well as its total monthly search volume. The goal is to find keywords that have a modest amount of competition and a high amount of search volume. That’s the sweet spot.

Now pepper your keywords throughout your site. Include a primary keyword in the title and headline of each page, and ideally in the “alt” descriptions for any imagery. Next, include secondary keywords in the body of each page’s content that complement the page’s primary keyword. Don’t stuff keywords into your site, however! Weave each word naturally into your site’s content. Keyword stuffing can lead to consequences being imposed by the search engines.

SEO also involves improving the site’s technical performance. Start by investigating the load time of each page. A slow site will drag down your rankings. Additionally, a site that is not mobile responsive or one with broken links will harm how a search engine perceives your content. Search engines want to provide the most helpful content to their users. They do not look kindly on websites that cannot deliver content quickly and efficiently.

Lastly, don’t forget about the importance of your actual content itself. Develop clear, concise and most of all helpful content assets that are easy to read and provide robust information. Google can read all your content. Make sure it likes what it sees!

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO largely involves link-building. Links are important to search engines like Google and Bing, which perceive them as seals of approval from other websites. Of course, not all links are created equal. Some convey a greater sense of authority than others. Prioritize quality over quantity. Gaining a few links from popular and credible sites will help your rankings far more than having scores of links from lesser-known domains.

How can you best collect links? You could become a guest blogger for another site and include a link to yours in your blogger bio. You can get active on social media. While social media links do not impact SEO directly, by being active on social, there is a higher chance that more people will be exposed to your content and share it on their respective sites. You could even seek out notable websites that have broken links that overlap with content you own and offer a replacement link to the website administrator.

Take it one step at a time

You may feel overwhelmed at this point – and that’s ok. While the principles of SEO are straightforward, they require time to master. Take it one step at a time. Implement these basic steps to make tweaks to your website and collect some high-quality links. Additionally, never stop learning. There are abundant resources online that explain nearly every aspect of SEO. Keep moving forward, and before you know it, you’ll be looking at your very own optimized site.  

back of man looking at a dozen drawn "thumbs up"

Effective Uses of Testimonials

Testimonials are an often overlooked, yet effective marketing tool. They can be helpful to gain new customers and keep potential return customers.

Think of your own experience making purchasing decisions. Do you go to a restaurant based upon a recommendation from family or friends? Before making major purchases, do you research and read reviews from people who have experience with the product or service?

Testimonials work because they aren’t strong sales pitches and they come across in an unbiased voice and establish trust. You’re using real people to show success in your product or service. In the end, your testimonials will be there to convert more prospects into customers as long as you use them correctly.

If you’re selling a product or service on your website, customer testimonials can be a key content element because they are unbiased comments that prompt visitors to buy. By using testimonials in text, audio or video formats on your site, you introduce content that will promote your product in convincing fashion.

Here are some tips for effectively using testimonials to convert more leads on your website:

1. Be Selective

A key to using testimonials is to choose the ones that work best. Instead of direct recommendations of your product or service (“I think it is great!”) – find testimonials that provide details that explain how it satisfies a consumer need or tackles a pain point. Testimonials that provide specific product benefits will induce sales.

2. Show Face

Make your testimonials eye-catching by adding an image next to your customer’s statement. Research has shown that adding a picture increases your click-through-rate by a significant amount.

Prospects like to put a face to a name. It helps them feel more secure and confident in what you’re claiming. It shows that the testimonial is coming from a real person. Adding an image is a simple addition that will increase your trust factor.

3. Show Them Everywhere

Once you get great testimonials for your website, it’s important to show them off.

Make sure to add them across your website wherever appropriate. Add them to your homepage, contact page, case studies page or even create a dedicated testimonials page. Use in ads, on social media and other materials.

You might try a web application that allows you to set up a testimonial page or a plugin that will allow you to post different testimonials on each page of your site. There are a number of possibilities, so determine what works best and incorporate testimonials all over your site.

4. Remember Your Buyer Personas

When gathering your testimonials it’s important to make sure you’re hitting all the pain points of every one of your buyer personas. Many of your prospects are looking to see testimonials that they can relate to; stories that show others like them being successful.

Be sure to feature customers from all the demographics and buyer personas that you’re trying to attract. Focusing on just one in your testimonials will limit your reach and value.

5. Never Fake It

The most important rule in sharing testimonials is to use real testimonials from real customers. It’s not worth the risk to fake anything on your site, especially testimonials.

Testimonials are there to provide credibility and establish trust. If you’re faking them, how are your prospects supposed to build a healthy relationship with your company? Faking testimonials can put your reputation on the line and even if you do win some business, your customers are likely to go in with unrealistic expectations.

6. Get Video

Creating a video testimonial isn’t a must, but it’s something you definitely should consider. Seeing and hearing a customer talk about your product or service resonates more than just reading about it.

Get some of your more personable customers to create a short 30 second to 1 minute video testimonial sharing how your company has helped them. Your prospects will be able to really see the appreciation and emotion from your current customers. 

Reach out to your current customers who you know are happy with your company and ask them to share their success story. By showcasing these powerful feelings and stories about your product or services, you’re creating another tool to get prospects to trust your brand and commit to it.

graphic of business man connecting a heart and a brain with an electric outlets

Be Sensitive, Be Smart: Good marketing in difficult times

Put yourself ahead by remembering some easy tips.

Good marketing doesn’t just remain important as we navigate a global pandemic, it becomes imperative. Sorting out how to represent your brand while constantly adjusting to an ever-shifting landscape can be a tall order, but that doesn’t mean it’s unachievable. We’re all learning on an international scale, but you can put yourself ahead by remembering some easy tips.

Remember Your Voice

Voice matters in branding. No one’s looking for generic ad jargon from social media content when things are normal, and they’re certainly not going to respond to it while in isolation. While everyone’s seeking some sense of normalcy, it’s important to remember that a shift in social strategy doesn’t have to mean shifting your voice. Outside of eliminating some dangerous buzzwords and avoiding jokes that may make light of the current situation, the voice you’ve cultivated up to this point should be the one you maintain as you continue to market.

Check for Insensitive Words

A good rule of thumb here is to avoid the use of anything that might pertain to the pandemic as a whole. It’s not so much avoiding the topic as it is wanting to avoid reminding your audience of their current situation. Avoid phrases like “killer deal”, or any health-related terms while drafting copy. It’s also wise to hold off any phrases that include gathering or events until Stay at Home and Shelter in Place orders are lifted.

To that end, remember to maintain an added level of sensitivity in your content. Use words or phrases that encourage a kind of togetherness without overtly stating or implying physical connection or gathering. You want phrases and keywords that make people feel less alone. Talk about how engaging with your post or taking your offer can help them do things like contribute or connect while avoiding the normal ad phrases like “take advantage of” or the idea of profiting off of or from something.

Copy Editing Still Matters

This might feel like a no-brainer, but we’ve all got a lot on our minds right now. It’s easy for copy editing to fall by the wayside while you’re juggling so many things, but clean copy is always a critical aspect of any social strategy. It’s wise to avoid any embarrassing typos while most of your demographic finds themselves at home with a little bit more time on their hands.

Current Clients Over Lead Conversion

While it can be tricky, the most engaging and effective content is going to be the kind that makes your audience feel comfortable. We’re in constantly uncomfortable times, and folks are just looking for something familiar and easy. We always want new clients and a larger reach, but your primary focus should be on contributing to the conversation with your current reach. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, and people will remember who kept things focused on business as usual rather than forming a sense of community and outreach amid uncertainty.

Sensitivity Is Key

Keeping things light in our interactions is a great way to make people feel at ease, but it’s a difficult line to tow right now. There’s still space to be witty but be sure that you’re maintaining a level of sensitivity while doing so. With emotions at an all-time high, a poorly placed joke can lead to lost engagement now more than ever before. This can easily circle back to remembering your social voice. You don’t have to change your entire strategy, just be extra mindful for the time being.

It’s really that simple! No one’s asking anyone to reinvent the marketing wheel. You can still have exceptional brand strategy amidst a pandemic, it’s just about adding a little extra dash of thoughtfulness into the equation.

Let’s Connect

Discover more stories and conversations on our social media networks,
or drop us a line on our contact page.


The Independent Underwriter for
the Independent AgentSM