Ad
Ad
Ad
Author

Dhawal Shah

Browsing

SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is something whose outcome you’ve interacted with a billion times.

Maybe not a billion times, but you’ve probably read enough about the topic to know the basics of what SEO is all about.

You see the term “SEO” getting thrown around the Internet, you know what it is, and you’re aware of the immense benefits that SEO can bring to your business’ growth.

Over time you start to think, “Hey maybe I should adopt an SEO strategy for my company too!”

So now you dive into the process of engaging an SEO agency. You want to hire one for your company’s marketing needs to take your business further and get ahead of the competition.

Picking the right SEO agency is crucial.

Most importantly, you need to find the best SEO agency for your company and not just an agency ranking 1st on Google for most articles.

A partnership with an SEO agency is long-term. Not all SEO agencies you come across can deliver on promises of more traffic, better rankings and more leads. 

How to choose an SEO agency

To help you get started, here is a checklist of 5 questions to help you find the best SEO agency for your company.

1. Is SEO a marketing priority for my company now?

SEO is essential for any business looking to boost their online visibility. However, SEO may not be a company’s priority when it comes to marketing. Some companies work with a limited budget, and they have to be smart with how they allocate their resources.

Before engaging SEO services, you need to be aware of your company’s marketing goals. Ask yourself, do you know what you’re looking to achieve in this financial year?

If your answer is no, you need to define your marketing goals first.

Gather your insights, pull out past monthly data and identify areas your business wants to improve upon. For example, if your aim is to grow your organic traffic, SEO would the right strategy for you.

However, if you need to boost sales or scale conversions over a short period (during seasonal and holiday periods for instance), then perhaps creating landing pages coupled with dynamic social media ads would be a more viable solution.

2. Can we do SEO in-house or should we hire an SEO agency?

There are certainly basic on-site SEO tasks that marketers are capable of handling if they have the time and knowledge for it.

Here are some examples of on-site search engine optimization tasks:

  • Keyword optimization
  • Title tags
  • Building internal links

However, these are just some factors that impact SEO.

Good SEO is a complex and time-consuming process that requires one to have a deep knowledge of various analytical tools. There are over 200 google ranking factors to optimise for, both on-site and off-site, in order to rank higher in search results, and the list is continually evolving.

Your SEO Specialist must keep up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes on major search engines and adapt his or her SEO strategies to successfully improve your site’s performance.  

If you don’t have the budget for an SEO specialist in your company, it is recommended to hire an agency to manage your SEO tasks and provide you with monthly updates. You can have peace of mind knowing your SEO is in good hands while you focus on other marketing tasks.

Recently, we sat down with one of our SEO specialists to learn more about “a day in the work-life of an SEO expert”. You can read his insights before deciding on hiring an agency for your business.

3. How credible are the SEO agencies that I am considering?

Make an effort to understand the company that you’ll be hiring.

Don’t rely only on listicles like “top 10 best agencies of 2020” or “the best SEO agencies in X country”. The best way to check the credibility of an SEO company is for you to reach out to the company and having a conversation about your SEO needs.

An easier way to find a credible SEO agency would be asking for referrals from your business partners in the industry. They may already have an established relationship with an SEO agency that they are happy to refer due to their good work. These trusted sources of yours can also recommend tips on how to search for your ideal SEO agency.

Additionally, you should conduct your own research to find an agency that will deliver the best results while providing you with a great working partnership. One effective way to check the reliability of an SEO agency is to download and read their case studies to understand:

  • The agency’s SEO approach (understand the agency’s work process)
  • Their SEO campaign objectives (what matters when it comes to SEO campaigns)
  • Their campaign results (understand the key metrics used to measure “success”)

Other things you should read about include client testimonials and the list of awards that the agency has won over the years. Awards are not just badges of honour, they are a testament to an agency’s capability to drive results for clients.

It’s also important to keep in mind what your needs are and your preferred style of communication. If you’re someone who likes to be involved in the work process, you need to keep a lookout for an agency focused on transparent communication with their clients. Hence, read up on the company’s mission and values to know the team that you’ll be hiring and working with.

SEO agency vs full-service digital agency

You may also wonder about hiring an agency specialised in SEO versus working with a full-service digital agency that could help you with other digital needs as well.

This decision is highly dependent on your marketing goals and available budget. If you’re working with a smaller budget allocated only towards an SEO project, an agency specialised in SEO may be the better option.

A full-service digital agency offers various marketing services, including search engine marketing, programmatic advertising and creative services.

The biggest advantage of a full-service digital marketing agency is that they approach your digital needs from a macro-perspective based on your marketing objectives and recommend services most likely to benefit your company by reaching your goals. They would be able to recommend SEO strategies that are aligned with your overall marketing plans.

Another big plus point of having a full-service agency managing both your SEM and SEO is that they can use the insights from the SEM campaigns to further refine your SEO strategy. Additionally, they can identify other areas of improvement on top of SEO services for your business. 

4. Local SEO agency vs overseas SEO agency – which is the better option?

More often than not, companies are attracted to agencies based overseas on the premise that they can provide cost-competitive SEO packages. However, that is a common pitfall that companies should avoid when considering which SEO agency they should hire.

That’s not to say overseas agencies do not provide quality service, because local agencies sometimes fail to deliver on their promises as well.

When you consider hiring an agency, you must weigh the quality of their work against the price that you’re paying. Are you obtaining greater value than the price you’re paying? Does the company have a proven track record of producing stellar results that justify the price they’re asking for?

It’s dangerous to assume:

  • Competitive rates = Lower quality of work/service
  • Expensive rates = Greater quality of work/service

Price Is an important factor, but it shouldn’t be the only factor.

Other areas of consideration such as credibility and types of services offered should also be critical to your hiring decision. Pay attention to the agency’s proposal and note their SEO approach. Is the agency hearing your concerns and proposing strategies that serve your needs while advising you on the key metrics that matter? 

Look through all the factors and consider carefully. Picking the right agency can make or break your success with SEO, so choose wisely and consider beyond the price and location of an agency.

5. When should I talk to an SEO consultant from an agency?

You should ask for an SEO consultation from an agency only when you have done enough research and after you’re sure of hiring an SEO agency.

While most agencies offer free SEO consultations, it is best that you come having done your homework.

Prepare a list of questions, define your SEO targets and SEO budget. This would facilitate an efficient meeting that wouldn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed with excessive information likely to be shared during the consultation session.

Of course, you should also expect the agency to come prepared. A sloppy presentation with unclear strategies is a warning sign that you should look for an alternative agency!

Be smart with your hiring decision and budget spend. Otherwise, you can risk spending more than needed or regret hiring an agency that’s not the best fit for your company.

Wrapping Up

This is the year of digital acceleration, with ever more companies joining the space of e-commerce and digital marketing. Many businesses are keeping a lookout for SEO agencies to fix their sites for optimal performance. While hopping onto the bandwagon of searching for an SEO agency, keep in mind that you’re looking for the ideal agency for your company. When you hire the agency that’s the best fit your company, it can pave the way to a long-lasting partnership. You might even be able to pick up important SEO tips along the way!

Kick your search off with the 5 questions we’ve provided and you’ll be well on your way to picking the best agency for your SEO needs!

We are a full-service digital marketing agency based in Singapore. From strategy to execution, we provide personalised SEO solutions for over 300+ clients ranging from government institutions to SMEs. Find out how you may grow your business with us. Contact us today!

“The Customer is Always Right” is a statement that holds firm for businesses even in this digital age. “Right” doesn’t mean the customer’s demands are always correct, but by focusing on customer relationships and doing right by your customers would certainly improve their loyalty and dedication to your brand.

Whether it’s providing a service or fixing a complaint, delivering a positive experience for your customer is the best way to build a relationship with them. And better customer relationships lead to better sales.

The live chat is a modern example that proves being there when someone needs you builds instant rapport with them that leads to greater sales. This quick and open communication platform allows businesses to overcome objections and provide speedy responses. Research shows that you are 10X more likely to lose a potential customer just by being 5 minutes slower in your response.

This speaks to the importance of not just establishing good relations, but doing so quickly. Whether it’s over live chat or phone, better customer relationships equate to higher conversions.

The challenge in today’s digital world is the sheer volume of customer enquiries. It can prove difficult to keep afloat while responding to them all. Fortunately, there are tools that help you to not just keep afloat, but also push your business even further!

Loyalty and Advocacy

When customers have a problem, they expect businesses to respond to their complaints effectively and efficiently. If a service fails to respond quickly, at the very least, the customer will move to another business capable of providing the support they expect. At worst, you may have to do some reputation management online from irate customer rants.

Businesses with an effective support pipeline that takes care of its customers will create loyal customers that may even become advocates for your brand.

Australia’s Official Queensland Business Site has some useful tips that I’d like to share again here –

On Good Customer Service:

  • Find out the customers’ standards for good customer service
  • Research customers’ expectations
  • Follow up on both positive and negative feedback you receive
  • Aim to improve the level of customer service you deliver

On Creating Long-Lasting Customer Relationships:

  • Show customers that you understand what their needs are
  • Build relationships with people who want your products and don’t force those who don’t
  • Go beyond the help you provide
  • Continue to keep customers aware of what’s in it for them to do business with you

Manpower is the biggest hurdle businesses face when striving to establish excellent customer relationships.

This is where marketing automation can step in to streamline delivery of informative content, integrate social media updates, and drive customers through the marketing funnel through effective email campaigns. An efficient CRM system can handle repetitive customer support processes, which will ease the burden on your staff, while increasing the all-round feel good factor for your company. You can also check out our list of services to see how we can help you with this.

Ways To Improve Customer Relationships With Marketing Automation

1. Maintain Every Customer’s Concerns & Your Responses

Customers want responses and patience is no longer a virtue in the digital age. Your marketing automation system can automatically address simple concerns and for more complex questions, it can escalate it automatically to the right team to handle.

You can rest assured that no complaint or feedback is falling through the cracks and that for common concerns, your response times amaze your customers. You also build up a database of concerns that you can analyze to enhance your offered services, ensuring that common concerns are addressed with future customers.

Furthermore, the use of marketing automation leaves your manpower free to maintain human-powered live chat, email, or voice support for personal customer relationship management.

2. Improve Sales Funnels With Smart Email Marketing

Introducing automation to your email marketing campaigns helps your brand get “smart”. How you ask? Marketing automation can help segment your CRM into different bands, identifying people highly likely to convert versus those requiring additional information. This then leads to more a more personalized journey for every person towards driving a sale.

Tailoring your emails for each customer introduces a positive experience where the customer identifies with your company values and feels that you understand their needs. Your customers are happy, and this builds greater brand loyalty and maximizes your profits.

For example, if someone adds something to their cart and then abandons it, sending them a small discount will encourage them over the line to a purchase. Or if a customer bought a product that usually lasts 3 months, reminding them close to the end of the quarter is something they’ll appreciate.

Mailgen effectively used segmentation to improve their open rates from 20% to 29% in a short period by using behavioral segmentation. With an initial 20.5% email open rate, Mailgen improved the open rates simply by changing their headlines to better relate to their segment.

Meanwhile, MailChimp is another user-friendly email marketing tool you can use. You can read more about how easy it is to use here.

3. Be There For Your Customers’ Important Moments

CRM systems give a lot of power to businesses to know their customers and collect important information about them. You can learn how your customer interacts with your website and your product/service offerings. You can ensure you know their birthdays and their anniversaries, and surprise them on those days with not just freebies, but with a specific item that they’d been last looking at on your website, making it a much more thoughtful gift. Marketing automation plugged in with a CRM can help automate this entire process.

If you use a CRM system for your offline sales team, you can keep notes from meetings and calls, so that before you meet them, you can refresh yourself. Even if you meet up again a few months down the road, they’d still be impressed by the personal details you remember about them. The best part is that you’re not dependent on your sales rep for information as it is centrally stored and a lead can be reassigned easily without great disruption.

4. Connect Across Multiple Channels

Everyone has an account on social media these days. On average, people spend about two hours surfing social media on a daily basis, so they’re highly likely to see an update you post.

By connecting your marketing automation tool effectively to social media channels where your customers are, you can send targeted messages DIRECTLY to them – whether it’s via advertising or messaging. Reaching them on channels that they’re comfortable on helps them connect and engage with your brand more.

Marketing automation tools can also help you manage multiple social media channels, allowing you to post a consistent update on multiple networks that are optimized for them.

Wrapping Up

Aside from its capacity to increase conversions, marketing automation tools and best practices reduce the need for hiring additional manpower and time organizing, managing, and responding to customer concerns. Therefore, it improves your relationship with customers without straining your operations.

Marketing automation creates well-informed customers. Information urges customers to make more purchases remain loyal as they place more value on your brand’s product, and advocate for you if they experienced excellent complaint resolution. In addition, marketing automation gives businesses like yours an extra set of helping hands, allowing you to improve your services and brand as a whole.

Interested to learn more? 2Stallions provides marketing automation consulting services.

Planning to hire a content marketing agency to manage your company’s content? Whether you need landing pages, blog posts, infographics or other types of content, it’s important to find the right fit.

Do you think all content marketing agencies are the same? We’d like to tell you different—every content agency develops and executes on campaigns differently. Each agency also has a unique team that brings a diverse mix of knowledge, skills, and creativity to the table.

There are two things to consider when searching for the “best fit” agency—the nature of your business and the kind of content an agency can produce. Overlooking these runs the risk of failing to add value to your brand.

Before we share tips for selecting the right content marketing agency, let’s first discuss what the role of content marketing agencies should be.

What Does a Content Marketing Agency Do

The name itself is self-explanatory – “an agency that creates content”. However, its goal isn’t just limited to content creation. It should, through its expertise, help your business to leverage the content to establish your online presence.

Content pieces (i.e. blog articles, videos, landing pages, social media posts, etc.) may help spread a positive brand image across the Internet for your business.

A content marketing agency should also work on marketing initiatives for the created content to help your business achieve the following:

  • Generate traffic
  • Attract new leads
  • Keep customers engaged
  • Increase conversion rates
  • Track and monitor progress
  • Update the content strategy

So now that you’re aware of the role of a content marketing agency, let’s tackle something more interesting. Below are four tips on finding a content marketing firm that best matches your specific needs.

How to Choose a Content Marketing Agency

1. Examine Their Strategy

Content marketing needs to be planned and strategized. With an effective strategic direction in place, your business will gain more clicks, follows, and other profitable customer actions

According to CMI, 72% of B2B marketers said that content marketing strategy is a critical factor in content marketing success. The respondents with a documented strategy report more successful campaigns than those with a verbal strategy only, or no strategy at all.

Source: CMI

When looking for an agency, ensure that they can develop a specific strategy that meets your business’ needs and goals. During a pitch, you can request for a general content strategy for your industry and analyse their response.

Examine the proposed content marketing strategy and check if it addresses the following questions:

Who are your target customers and what content types best suit them?

The strategy should take a stab at defining your target audience, customer touchpoints and the content types needed to reach them.

What goals can you achieve using content marketing?

An agency should identify the goals that your business can attain through their content marketing strategy. Typical goals include increased website traffic, more leads, greater social media engagement, and so on.

How content marketing-related processes are streamlined?

The content marketing pitch should discuss who will be producing and managing your content. It should also present the tools needed and give an overview of the workflow and processes if you were to work together.

See: 3 Ways to Self-Learn Content Marketing  

2. Assess Their Team 

Great things in business are never done by a person; they’re done by a team of people. This popular Steve Jobs quote may come in handy when doing an agency search.

You should spend some time chatting with the agency’s team members to check whether there’s rapport. Doing this will also let you know if they have the needed expertise to achieve your goals.

For example, if you want to increase website traffic via search engines, social media and email marketing, the content marketing agency should have staff who specialise in those platforms with proven past results.

You can’t expect a content writer to develop SEO-optimized content if he or she lacks knowledge about key SEO requirements. That’s like asking a pastry chef to prepare the main course in a restaurant—it’s possible but the results aren’t guaranteed.

Besides focusing on achieving your goals, it’s also nice to work with professionals who can market your content without making a cultural faux pas.

Remember the Pepsi advertisement that featured Kendall Jenner? Pepsi wanted to project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding. Unfortunately, many people were offended by the video and viewed the brand frivolous because of how they painted protests in today’s political climate.

Your content marketing agency should anticipate any sort of misinterpretation during the ideation process.

The Pepsi commercial mishap also proves the need for a content team with different opinions, cultures, and beliefs. The more diverse a team is, the greater the chance to spot probable misconceptions and complete tasks efficiently.

content-marketingSouce: CoSchedule

3. Measure Results 

Without proper tracking, it’s hard to determine whether your content marketing efforts are working. You would not be able to analyse whether your different content supports your overall marketing and business goals.

This is where you should consider the ability of content marketing agencies to measure, interpret and analyse your content performance. A good content marketing agency should have analysts and the right tools on hand to perform such activities.

During your assessment, ask how they would measure your content performance and work towards aligning with and achieving your goals. They should be able to provide you with an effective measurement plan with metrics that help gauge your goals.

This chart from CMI’s Vice President of Marketing, Cathy McPhillips, can serve as your reference:

Source: CMI

Typically, content marketing agencies utilise measurement tools like Google Analytics to track, analyse, and report on performance. Examples of such reports are Site Content reports. This report lets you look at your website’s traffic and further segment it to determine which source the traffic came from.

Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages report

4. Know Who You Are Working With 

It’s important to know who you will be working with before entering into any new business relationship. Evaluate first the agency’s reputation and the work they do to ensure a fruitful partnership.

Ideally, it should be free of ethical or legal problems, have relevant industry experience, and most importantly—have a roster of happy and satisfied clients.

It also helps to look at their website. As a content marketing expert, their website should be filled with timely, helpful and excellent content. They should practice what they preach and use content marketing to market their own agency’s services.

While browsing through their website, check for past clients vouching for their work. Positive client testimonials are proof that the agency and/or their services offer great value. If they don’t have any public testimonials, ask them if they can provide you with a pitch deck consisting of their present and past clients.

Lastly, have a conversation with them. An in-person or virtual video meeting will make it easier for you to gauge their transparency and confidence. Ask them questions such as “Who will handle the campaigns?”, “How often would the status meetings be held?” and so on.

Content marketing experts should be able to respond to your queries and enlighten you on their work procedures. They should brief you about how they research and plan out content, produce the content pieces, and monitor or analyse the performance.

Summing It Up 

Content marketing isn’t just a buzzword—it’s a tried and tested approach that can drive profitable customer actions. So if you want to drive content marketing success, tie-up with a content marketing agency that understands your needs and goals.

Whether it’s to drive more website traffic, capture the audience’s attention, increase brand engagement, or improve brand recall, 2Stallions can help you out. We will run an analysis of your website and develop a plan based on your existing analytics data and your desired outcomes.

Excited to get started? Request a quote today and be sure to tick on content marketing under the services of interest field.

Articles sensationalizing the “death” of SEO are clickbait. Google commands over 90% of worldwide search traffic today. In short, SEO is never going to die. If your company wants to prosper online, you need SEO.

However, Google continuously updates its search algorithm – more than 1 update a day at last count. What this means is that SEO and how it is achieved is in a state of constant evolution.

An example would be the featured snippet algorithm update in Jan 2020. Featured snippets (short texts that answer a search query) now count as one of the ten web page listings on the search results page (SERP).

This means that when you focus on SEO for your company, you need to also try and appear in featured snippets – something that wasn’t part of the SEO scope just a year ago.

Before we dive into the five reasons your company must optimize for search engines or become obsolete online, let’s explore what SEO is.

What Is Search Engine Optimization

Short for search engine optimization, SEO is the process of optimizing a website and its content to be discovered through non-paid (also known as “organic”) search engine results.

The practice involves understanding what people would search for on a search engine to find businesses in your industry —including the words they use, type of content they prefer, and answers they seek.

As a business, it becomes easier to connect with these people by developing content that adds value to your audience by solving their needs, optimizing it so it ranks on Google’s 1st page and driving organic traffic back to your website to convert into more sales for you.

Why Your Business Needs SEO To Prosper

Let’s go through some key reasons your company needs to invest in SEO to do well in the digital space.

1. The Best Place To Hide A Dead Body Is On Page 2 of Google

This section’s title is apt because only 0.78% of Google searchers click on something from the second page. This means 99% of clicks happen on page 1 of Google. Think about that.

Image by: Backlinko

Couple the data above with a 2018 Clutch survey that found that 56% of businesses do not invest in SEO. As a company in this category, you run the real risk of becoming irrelevant online.

SEO may be a less popular digital marketing channel to invest in due to a longer time frame for returns. However, take this “downside” with a pinch of salt by looking at success stories of companies that fully embrace SEO like AQ Services.

The mystery shopping services provider worked with 2Stallions to improve its website traffic for a niche audience on the Internet.

Over a two-year span, our agency worked with them to conduct thorough relevant keyword research, on-site and off-site SEO, and coupled it with strong, fully-optimized content marketing efforts.

These initiatives yielded excellent results. In a niche industry, AQ Services grew their organic clicks to 1,949 from 22,333 impressions and were ranking for 26 keywords on the first page of Google, previously having ranked for none.

Every converted lead from these clicks potentially generates tens of thousands in revenue for them. They can rest easy that due to their SEO efforts, they are the first name that potential leads click on when searching within their niche industry.

Over the long-term, their investment and the investment of the many other companies that invest in SEO pays off with multiple returns on their initial investment.

This reason alone should convince most readers, but if you’re not, carry on reading.

2. Focusing on SEO Will Improve Your Bounce Rate

Are you guilty of clicking the “Refresh” or “Back” buttons when you land on a website from a search result that doesn’t load quickly enough for you or if the content isn’t relevant? Of course, it is your choice whether to stay on or leave any website.

What if the same thing is happening on your website though? What if potential leads are leaving without interacting with your brand because your webpage design took too long to load or your content isn’t compelling enough?

Google Analytics defines bounce rate as the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).

A high bounce rate indicates that your content (i.e. webpage, article, etc.) didn’t match the user’s intent (i.e. what they were looking for) or that your website is loading too slow and they got impatient.

A big part of search engine optimisation is technical and on-site optimization. This is achieved with a laser focus on a fast-loading website and performing keyword research followed by optimizing your website content to be high-quality and relevant so that it would rank on Google.

This, in turn, lowers your bounce rate and helps you to rank higher and generate a lot more leads over the long term.

In short, investing in SEO leads to better user experience on your website and the creation of better quality of content that is optimized to be found on Google.

Image by: Conversion XL 

3. Mobile is the De-Facto Search

Consumers nowadays tend to finalize their transaction on mobile phones. In addition to that, searches made from mobile phones have increased from 65.1% to 80% across Asia.

Since 2015, Google has made it official that over 50% of searches now happen on mobile and in 2019, they started rolling out mobile-first indexing, showing the significance of mobile to digital.

So why does this mean YOUR business needs to invest in SEO?

Think about how people use their smartphones. Whether on Android or iOS, when they need to find ANYTHING, they turn to Google as their de-facto.

Looking for a place? Open Google Maps and type in a search. Looking for information? Open their browser and type in the search term to get results from Google Search or use Siri or Google Assistant to do a voice search.

A major part of SEO these days is Mobile SEO and Local SEO. These strategies help to ensure your website is mobile-friendly and is indexed or found on search via mobile devices and Maps.

Failing to do this means the only traffic your brick-and-mortar business will likely see is opportunistic foot traffic.

4. Have an App? Your Apps Are Discovered Via Search Too

The mobile era has also ushered in a deluge in mobile apps. In fact, more than 90 percent of all smartphone users have various apps installed on their phones including a social app, utility app, entertainment app, search app, and shopping app, among others.

These apps can be found in app stores like Google Play or the Apple App Store. Unlike Apple, Google incorporates its app store in its search engine results.

According to a Google report, about 27% of users find applications through a search engine and growing. While the number using Google Play directly to search and download apps is still higher, the future trends show optimizing an app for search engines still makes great sense.

App search could be an important driver of app installs in the very near future. That’s why businesses with a mobile app should implement an SEO strategy to rank their apps on search engines.

5. Content Marketing and SEO Are Partners In Crime

Oftentimes, companies do not want to invest in SEO because they are already investing in content marketing and fail to see the connection to SEO.

An article from The Guardian states: “It looks like Google has tired of its old friend SEO and is instead cosying-up to the new kid on the block, content marketing.”

This certainly makes it sound like there is no need for SEO if you’re investing in content marketing.

The evolution of the search algorithm has led to success via the original SEO fire dwindling over time. Content marketing is the gasoline that can ignite the wildfire digital success for your business. However, it is just the fuel. Without SEO, there is no fire to begin with.

Content marketing relies on SEO to get audiences to your website. Producing high-quality content if nobody reads it is useless.

SEO, on the other hand, doesn’t rely on content marketing for success – it can also be applied to business websites without a blog or a content marketing strategy. However, success will take much longer.

Content marketing pieces such as blogs, videos, eBooks, or even your website itself needs keyword optimization, quality backlinks and technical SEO requirements to rank on search.

In short, do not discount SEO just because you have invested in content marketing. This, in fact, is more reason to invest in SEO.

Parting Tip – Befriend Search Engines (or Google)

Search is the first stop on the Internet for most people in most cases. If you don’t befriend the search engines, you will miss out on a lot of opportunities and the chance to grow your business even more.

If you’re looking at SEO but unsure where to start, 2stallions can be your SEO partner and help you with your digital success, as it has done with many other clients.

If you’re still unconvinced, drop us a message through the comments and we’ll help you answer your concerns and queries to make the right decision for your company.

In the aftermath of the recent Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, terms like data privacy, website security, and data protection have become more than just buzzwords. Users are increasingly sensitive about security and demanding more. Pleading ignorance of undetected malware on your website, that can infect their systems and hijack their data, is no longer tolerated.

As a business, protecting your website not only protects your business data but also builds customer trust. Your website is the virtual office of your business and often your first customer touchpoint. Any hint of poor website security hurts your brand perception and could result in loss of business leads.

Prevention is always better than cure. While you may recover with a little effort from a security breach, it would take much, much longer to rebuild trust with your customers.

According to Google’s Transparency report, some of the top sites in the world, like Alibaba.com and BBC.co.uk, still fail to deploy default HTTPS to their website. So what can YOU do to protect your website?

Security Must-Haves

There are some website security must-haves in order to maintain your website and protect your visitors and yourself from security threats.

1. SSL Support

SSL certificates are an absolute requirement for websites today, whether a small blog or a large scale e-commerce site. The Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate encrypts all sensitive information between a customer and the browser, making sure that the connection is secure. That green lock icon and secure text beside your domain name when someone visits instantly put a visitor at ease. These days, a properly deployed SSL cert also improves your Google search rankings.

2. Strong Admin Passwords

The value of a strong password cannot be understated. Weak passwords make hacking your site very easy, especially when using open source CMS like WordPress. Therefore, it is important to ensure administrative passwords are lengthy, do not resemble an actual word or represent information about you that is easily found online – like your pet’s name for instance. Use a strong password generator. In an ideal scenario, your website should only accept strong passwords, and make you change your password every 90 days. While painful to remember and continuously update, you’ll sleep easier at night knowing your site is secure.

3. Bot Blocking

Friendly spider bots from Google crawl your website to collect information to index your site efficiently. However, malicious bots may scrape critical information from your website that can be sold and used with nefarious intent. Distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks, whereby multiple systems target a single network, causing it to overload and crash can also be perpetrated by bots. They also result in a misrepresentation of your traffic analytics by unduly inflating it.

Avoid all these concerns with security tools that can provide protection from malware and bots, automatically blocking known troublemakers.

4. Regular Software Updates

It’s easy to hit the “skip” button whenever a software update reminder pops up. However, updates are important to patch security holes in the system. Owners whose websites are powered by open source platforms such as WordPress, Drupal & Magento need to be vigilant, as hackers can easily take advantage of sites that are not updated.

Now that you’re convinced by the necessity of website security and steps you can take, here is a list of website security services to help you sleep better at night.

Five Recommended Website Security Services

Incapsula

Incapsula is one of the most famous website security services on the web because it has a host of appealing features including:

Spam Blocker: Incapsula has a database of spam profiles that allows it to clean annoying emails even under its free plan. This no-charge plan even includes reputation-based security, which profiles the email’s sender before filtering the messages arriving in an inbox.

IP Blacklisting: This feature is effective if you find a high amount of undesirable traffic originating from specific geographic locations.

Price: $59 for a Pro plan and $299 for Business

Overall Performance: Functioning as a website security and Content Delivery Network (CDN), Incapsula delivers great service for its price, but is still a bit behind top contenders in its particular industry. One factor that most reviewers found lacking was the performance of the CDN metrics. However, its blocking and security capabilities are top-notch. See the video below for more information:

Sucuri

Sucuri is an excellent choice for any website owner because of the following features:

Available as a WordPress Plugin: Almost 30% of websites today are powered by WordPress. Even we use WordPress and offer it to our clients as part of our website protection plans for it. Sucuri’s WordPress plugin includes Security Activity Auditing, File Integrity Monitoring, Remote Malware Scanning, Effective Security Optimization, and more.

Efficient Bot Blocker: Users have raved about Sucuri’s active firewall, which rarely fails in detecting blocked IP addresses, recognizable bot activity based on a rich database of patterns, and possible infiltration (where it automatically hands out a fix).

Limitless Malware Cleanup: Detected malware on your website? No worries – Sucuri security experts can help with that. A security expert may cost you $250 an hour but with Sucuri, it’s more affordable.

Price: $199/year for a single website

Overall Performance: According to WPBeginner, they blocked about 450,000 WordPress attacks in the first three months they used Sucuri and its WP plugin. That speaks volumes about the efficacy of this service.

CloudFlare

The rave is on about Cloudflare’s useful CDN and website security features. Take a look why:

File Optimization: Similar to Incapsula, CloudFlare can compress file sizes and distribute the files in caches across its data centers for faster website loading. If a website is down, CloudFlare will present a backup of its latest interactive “screenshot.”

Free Service with all the Perks: Cloudflare’s free account gives your site excellent CDN service, SSL encryption but without a certificate, website analytics, a website application firewall, access rules (block users, bots, IPs, or email accounts based on profiles you had made), hotlink protection, email address encryption, and more! Talk about a steal!

Price: It offers a great basic plan at $0, which is perfect for personal blogs or websites. However, paying $200/month for their business plan gives you added security features such as web application firewall, custom SSL cert, and more.

Virtually Compatible With Any Website: Majority of blogs and small business websites in existence use Cloudflare. According to W3techs.com, 71.6% of websites in their survey use Cloudflare for their website security and CDN.

AlertSite

Smartbear’s AlertSite website security service makes the list because it has all the features you need at a very affordable price.

Easy to Use Interface: Instead of overwhelming users with data, the platform allows users to indicate customizable summaries that they can progressively expand in detail where needed. The interface also shows in high priority any security vulnerability first before other low-priority activities detected on your website. The ability to group monitors together is truly useful for efficient viewing and navigation.

Blocking: Mail Server Monitoring, Availability Testing, Uptime Reporting, IP filtering, and others allow the website security service to implement sufficient site security to stop DDoS attacks and potential malware from entering.

Price: $99 yearly for pro and $999 a year for a small to medium enterprise.

Overall Performance: The security offered by Smartbear’s Alertsite paid service pales in comparison to Cloudfare’s features that are available for free. However, the ability to monitor multiple website variations, activity, and other metrics, allow your online presence to remain consistent by strengthening its foundations. You can watch the video below to see how AlertSite works:

AppDynamics

AppDynamics is a great choice for SMEs because, in addition to security, their websites monitor performance in all areas for a better and effective website experience for audiences.

Monitoring:  All front and back-end activities are unified in a single monitoring display, measured by AppDynamics’ software products APM, Real User Monitoring (RUM), Mobile RUM, Database, and Server monitoring. These features are useful for finding holes in your security and website performance.

Business Impact Analytics: This feature displays failed instances of transactions and their probable causes. It works well with its Customer Win-Back Analysis report that updates the entire website journey of the particular user. This is a great way to sniff out some possible bugs in your website.

Security Measurement: Real-time monitoring in all areas help identify whether a bot is inflating your metrics. It can also block the origin of these bots’ addresses and blacklist IP addresses.

Multiple Websites: For its price, the support for multiple websites is unbeatable. All blocking and monitoring features are applied immediately on all sites owned by an enterprise upon a single click.

Price: Free or on a per unit purchase. Each unit costs $3,300 for a one-time payment.

Overall Performance: The product may be a little too expensive but proves very useful for integrating security and metric monitoring features for your website. Might not work for all business websites, but its one-time payment per unit use and unlimited support makes AppDynamics a worthwhile investment.

Wrapping Up

Bots, spam emails, and possible downtimes are real security threats to your website. Having a reliable website security and monitoring service is helpful in identifying patterns and tracing the sources of your possible attackers. Data monitoring also helps measure the possible damage caused by an exploitation of vulnerability, which helps you switch to plan B quickly.

2Stallions WordPress Maintenance utilizes multiple services such as Sucuri and Cloudfare to provide a security and maintenance package that lets our clients sleep soundly at night. If you aren’t tech-savvy and don’t want to juggle multiple accounts to manage your website security, we can help! Our Website Maintenance package can offer you peace of mind and technical know-how to easily manage your website security.

The number of global social media users continues to rise. No matter your business’ size, you need a strong social media strategy to build and grow an online presence, boost sales, and improve your bottom line.

Setting up your business accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms is only the first step. You must develop a detailed plan of action so social media activity you invest in achieves its goals.

What Is A Social Media Strategy

A social media strategy is a plan that documents how your business will execute and measure all its social media marketing efforts. It outlines all necessary actions needed to achieve social media objectives.

These can be targets like increasing customer engagement, improving customer satisfaction, generating more leads, or driving traffic to your website.

A documented strategy lets you increase your social media leverage. It helps align your social media activity with business goals, and can also check each social channel, or measure specific social media campaigns.

How To Create A Social Media Strategy From Scratch

Creating a social media strategy can be intimidating, especially if you are a small business owner with stretched resources. By taking it one step at a time, you can create a strategic social media plan that benefits your business.

Get started with our eight-step plan outlined below.

1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Every great plan needs goals and your social media strategy is no exception. Without goals, it would be hard to set action plans and measure success or your return on investment (ROI).

When setting goals, make sure they follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal framework:

Specific. Be specific about what you want to achieve. Provide answers to questions ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘which’, ‘why’, and ‘how’. Identify your target audiences, social media channels you should use, and how to engage them, among others.

Measurable. Make sure there is a way for you to measure your goals. For example, if you are aiming to increase brand awareness, the metrics you could use are followers count, mentions, and shares.

Attainable. Your goals should be achievable with your resources. The more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to meet them. For instance, you want to engage 1000 people per post, this is both measurable and attainable.

Relevant. A goal should also contribute toward your long-term goals. One example of a relevant social media goal is to drive more traffic to your website. This goal benefits your audience engagement, lead generation, and website conversion.

Time-bound. All goals should be time-bound. It should follow a timeframe, whether it is one week, one month, or a year. Allocating a finite time to goals will help you complete them on time.

2. Perform A Social Media Audit

Once you have defined your social media goals, the next step is to perform a social media audit.

Your audit will give you a clear picture of your business’ current social media health. It will also help test how well each social channel is performing for your brand, and enable you to spot the gaps in your existing social media strategy.

While “audit” sounds a bit intimidating, the process itself takes 30 minutes or less. Here is a walkthrough to social media audit:

Identify and list your social media profiles. Include official and unofficial profiles and any accounts outside Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram (the big four).

Create a spreadsheet and input the following elements: URL, profile name, numbers of followers, and date of your last activity.

Examine the details of each profile. After listing your social media profiles, go through each one. Check if branding is consistent, focusing on things like images, avatars, backgrounds, descriptions, etc. Update your spreadsheet with this information.

Evaluate each profile’s performance. Revisit your past goals and compare them against your social media profiles performance. Each social media platform has different metrics that you can measure. You can use Facebook’s page insights and Twitter’s Followerwonk, for example, to see how your audience has grown.

Once you have filled the sheet with these details, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my target audience here?
  • Why are we using this social account?
  • Can this account help my business achieve its goals?
  • What are my business goals for this social media platform?

If any of your accounts fail to provide the needed answers to the above, cross them out in your checklist and focus your effort on other social media profiles that attract profitable actions.

3. Choose The Right Channels

Choosing the right channels is an integral part of any social media strategy. Do not waste time and effort across all platforms, choose only the ones that support the achievement of your strategic goals.

Let us take a look at the BIG FOUR social media channels and the business goals they support.

Facebook. This social media giant works for both B2C and B2B businesses. With nearly 1.7 users worldwide, Facebook is the perfect platform for increasing brand awareness.

It is also a great place to share video content, letting you generate high levels of engagement. Additionally, Facebook can help you monitor your competitors’ social media output using built-in analytics.

Twitter. Twitter is effective in drawing brand engagement. Its recent increase from a 140-character limit to 280 makes it easier for companies to create branded content in a single tweet.

This platform can also generate leads. Brands should take advantage of Twitter Ads campaign types to build their following and conversion.

Instagram. There is no doubt that this platform is most popular among the millennials. It is a “must-have” social channel, especially for brands investing in influencer marketing.

In fact, a survey found that 99.3% of influencers use Instagram, making it the top social network for influencers in 2018.

LinkedIn. Renowned for being a champion in lead generation, this channel can help businesses grow their networks. It has more than 500 million professionals and boasts 2x the buying power of an average web audience.

Furthermore, LinkedIn serves as the social media platform of choice for B2B marketers. Businesses can engage potential customers through sponsored content, sponsored InMail, and text ads.

4. Plan Your Budget

Social media is often used only as a free advertising tool. Paid social media advertising will increase your chances of reaching your target audience.

If you are thinking of fueling your paid social efforts this 2020, consider the following:

  • 72% of B2B marketers who use paid channels online use paid social. – Content Marketing Institute
  • 27% of internet users say they find new products and brands through paid social ads. – Hootsuite
  • The average organic reach for a Facebook post is 5.17% of a Page’s likes, while the average paid reach is 28.1% of total reach. – Hootsuite

Your social media marketing cost depends on your business goals; a common rule of thumb for B2B companies is to allocate 2-5% of revenue and B2C companies should spend between 5-10%.

Before deciding on your social spending, research your customers and check your analytics. Be realistic about your budget so you can tweak your campaign to get the best return on investment (ROI).

5. Create Audience Personas

Social media channels are the best venue for sharing content. Before you plan and create content, know first who your audience is.

This is why you need to create audience customer personas. A customer persona is the profile of your ideal customer. Personas help you craft the most impactful messaging and brand voice for your audience in all forms of online communication.

The questions ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ can guide you in creating customer personas.

Who. Who are your existing customers? Look through your current database to define the background and demographics of your typical customer.

What. Find out what their goals and challenges are. Conduct surveys or interviews to get this information from your customers.

Why. Understand the motivations behind your customer’s goals and challenges, as well as the common issues they face.

How. How can your company and your products or services best address their challenges? Craft your content around it.

6.  Plan and Create Your Content

When creating a social media strategy, it is crucial to remain focused on content creation. Sharing blogs, videos, infographics, and other content is a perfect way to maximize your social media profiles. It increases brand awareness and drives things like website traffic, leads, and sales.

A social media content calendar helps keep track of past and future social media posts and ensure content consistency. Here are the things that your content calendar should contain:

Content categories. Remember your social media audit? You know what worked and what failed, helping you identify the gaps in your current strategy. Align your goals with what your audience wants, and plan and create your content around that.

Some content categories might be blog posts, product promotions, case studies, and upcoming events.

Date and time. Input the day, date, and time to schedule or publish your post.

Visuals. Will this post include a photo or video? List all the assets needed in your calendar to save time and stress.

Links. Add the link to the published post as well as the other resources linked in your post.

Bonus Tip:

Think of the formats that work best on the social channel you are using. Video is a fast-growing trend on all channels, especially Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Entertaining and informative videos between 3-90 seconds drive engagement, so learn to use them to your advantage.

Research the various features unique to each social platform to best leverage it. For example, as a business, Facebook check-ins and reviews are a great way to establish your brand because people trust them.

7. Encourage Social Media Engagement

If you are starting out, it is common to see little or no engagement on your social pages. This is where your employees come in. Chances are, your employees have one or more social media accounts. If they do not have one, encourage them to sign up on LinkedIn at least.

Encourage them to link their social media profiles to your company’s main social media brand accounts. Make it simple for your employees to share social posts. You can even incentivize them if necessary.

The more your employees share, the greater your reach as you tap into their networks of friends and family. The more people that see your content, the more likely they interact with it, and the higher the engagement.

Using your employees as first advocates of your brand is part of trust-building. Their network trusts them so referrals hold more weight, thus helping others form a positive impression of your brand.

Do not overwhelm your employees: getting them to share too many company messages may seem forced. By creating meaningful, quality content people will share it more willingly.

8. Re-evaluate And Adjust Your Strategy

After implementing your social media strategy, data starts coming in. It is important to evaluate your social media campaigns and keep track of what is working for you.

Here are the main metrics to look out for:

Volume. Page likes, page views, and website traffic show how interested people are in your brand.

Reach. Reach helps you measure how far your social content is spreading. It is not only about big numbers! You need to check this metric against others to see if you are reaching the right target audience.

Engagement. Engagement measures how people are interacting with your content. The number of likes, retweets, shares, etc., shows how people engage with your profile. Engagement metrics like “reactions” on Facebook also gives insight into a post sentiment—negative or positive.

After looking at the performance metrics, adjust your strategy as needed. Make sure to inform everyone in your team about the updated strategy to make the most of your accounts.

The Bottom Line

The social web is growing, your business should make the most out of your social media profiles to skyrocket your online presence.

Create a social media strategy to make all your social networking plans and actions work parallel to your business goals.

As a full-service digital marketing agency, 2Stallions can assist you throughout the social media marketing process. We can do social media audits to optimize profiles, help with content strategy, execution, quarterly reviews, and digital maintenance.

As the use of the Internet grows every day, so does the popularity of content marketing as well as content marketing myths. It should be a priority for you because every website, social media campaign, and even Adwords campaign, thrives on content. As a digital marketing agency, we’ve noted how clients have reaped long-term benefits from creating and publishing quality content. They enjoy an expanding reach, grow their new customer base, and have established brand authority through content written years ago.

Content is the heart of any digital marketing campaign. Without it, the beautiful aesthetic of a website or an expertly edited video is ultimately useless in converting a visitor. However, there are some myths that have proliferated over time as well. Some content marketers still espouse and back these statements, which we’d like to dispel. Want to know what they are?

5 Content Marketing Myths and Expectations

Myth 1: Quantity of Content Trumps Quality

This wasn’t a content marketing myth just a few years back. Back in 2011, when you published more content, you would expect a much larger reach via organic search. As a result, marketers sacrificed quality for quantity to rank for more keywords on Google.

The Google Panda update in 2011 started penalizing “thin content” sites and every new update to the algorithm since has further clamped down on poor quality content. Today’s marketers have realized that pushing out a high volume of content doesn’t help them achieve their goals.

Why is quality content attractive? It is information people are searching for and provides well-researched depth on the topic. If you spend the time and effort to research the facts and put it together coherently in a quality article, people will love you for it, and your reach will widen for sure. Remember, a single blog post that reaches thousands of people is more valuable than a thousand blog posts that reach a handful of people.

Myth 2: Great Writers Come Cheap

Have you ever heard or thought – “Anyone can do the job, it’s just writing!”

A major reason behind a company’s failed content marketing attempt is setting unrealistic expectations of high quality content in a short space of time for the lowest cost. Like any project, the Project Management Triangle holds true for content marketing as well.

You may think it is easy to write quality content that goes viral, and are therefore unwilling to pay for the right content writers. If you hire a cheap writer, chances are your results probably won’t be spectacular. Even if you find a needle in the haystack, eventually, they would be demotivated – so invest in a good, quality content writer.

It is not easy to produce quality content. Writers have to invest time and effort to develop a genuine understanding of your brand and your audience in order to create amazing content that resonates. In the long term, it will be worth it. Looking to work with an agency for your content creation? Reach out to us.

Myth 3: It Costs Too Much!

This content marketing myth can be busted quite easily. First, let’s come to terms with the fact that every major marketing platform today will cost you money to reach an audience at scale.

Therefore, on the surface, content marketing can seem expensive. You can spend a lot just developing producing quality content. Then, you have to invest in SEO and/or online advertising to drive traffic to the content.

However, it is very interesting then, that according to CMI, B2B marketers choose to spend 39 percent of their marketing budget on content marketing. Why do they see the value in content marketing? It is because studies show that 68% of consumers spend time reading from a brand they’re interested in, and B2B researchers do 12 searches on average prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site. Companies who actively market their content enjoy 67% more digital leads. All of these statistics point to content marketing being a great lead generation tool.

It is imperative that you focus on the ROI rather than the cost. Over a prolonged period, your content marketing costs will seem minute compared to your gains.

Myth 4: It’s Not For OUR Audience

Whether you’re selling watches for a niche audience or a mass consumer product like cheese, content is for everyone. It’s simply a matter of what FORM the content takes. While advertisements work for some brands, 70 percent of consumers prefer to get to know a brand through an article instead of ads.

People crave personalized content these days. This is why companies who make their audience feel like a part of their community, through conversation and useful information, see promising yields. Based on your customer persona, your audience may enjoy viewing photography, illustrations, infographics, videos or even slideshows instead of reading long-form blog posts. So mix and match these other formats with your written format to appeal to your audience. However, understand that it’s the content that draws them in.

Myth 5: We Don’t Have What it Takes

Content marketing is still quite young in the digital marketing world. As a result, marketers and companies still have a lot of learning to do before they start seeing results.

In a survey of 1,000 marketers, it was found that the biggest challenge with content marketing was creating the content. Despite this, 80-90% of both B2B and B2C marketers still choose to strive towards creating quality content because they understand its ability to create stronger brand authority and retention among customers.

It can get overwhelming trying to learn content marketing from various sources – hence we suggest finding a course or even reading a book. We’ve recently released our own Content Marketing on Steroids ebook on Amazon that you may choose to learn.

Alternatively, if you have the budget, you can work with a digital agency to run content marketing for you.

Content Marketing For The Long-Term

There are plenty of reasons to allocate a portion of your marketing budget towards content marketing. However, you should always consider your business objectives. If you’re looking for immediate payoffs, then content marketing might not be for you. Investing in PPC advertising and email marketing would be better.

It’s always good to have a mix of short-term and long-term goals. Content marketing may take a longer time to yield results but is certainly a good one. With the content marketing myths debunked, we hope you’ll go ahead with your content marketing strategy!

If you’re looking to learn everything you can about content marketing, I’ve got the perfect book for you! Check out my first eBook “Content Marketing on Steroids” to learn from tried and tested methods. Create a content marketing strategy that works and gets you the ROI you’ve been looking for! Get your copy on Amazon now!

Customers like small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in Asia for their consumer-centric approach to products, services, and after-sales support. In fact, SMEs come close to achieving customer satisfaction at the rate of 56.3% compared to 60.9% for larger companies.

Making a great mark on your consumers helps not only your sales, but also your brand identity. As an SME, CRM software and marketing automation is critical to evolving and expanding your reach. You can easily manage the activities, complaints, suggestions, and other concerns of your growing customer base.

CRM software can help your business grow further because of the following benefits:

  • A Birds-Eye-View of Everything: CRM software can collect every bit of information about a client, generate reports, and provide updates on a client’s most recent interaction with your company. This makes it easier to pick up where you left off with a particular customer quickly.
  • Increasing Sales: Comprehensive reports make it easy to identify the personalities and preferences of every customer in a database. This leads to better sales performance and productivity because businesses can identify sales qualified leads more quickly.
  • Real-Time Updates: Get updates on marketing qualified leads and organize, track, and manage them from a single source in real-time. This helps improve the business’ response time by a mile than without the use of CRM software.
  • Social Media Tracking: Many consumers use social media. But tracking each update and every single consumer conversation across the various platforms can be a hassle. CRM products can collate all these information in a single, easy-to-understand report. It even includes valuable information about the common responders in a business’ social media account.

According to Capterra, the biggest impact businesses saw after using CRM is on their customer retention and customer satisfaction rates. To determine what works best for your business, you should choose it based on the following criteria:

  • Value for Money: Growing businesses work on a limited budget. The more useful features and data the CRM delivers for a specific price point, the better.
  • Business Operation Size: As an SME, you are no stranger to receiving and managing hundreds of customer calls every day. Depending on the size of your business, you can select the software that best suits your operational size needs.
  • Features and Capabilities: All CRM software log sales activities automatically. However, different software have different features and capabilities that give some an edge over the others.

If you’re ready to invest for your business’ growth, here’s a list of great CRM products to use.

The Five Best CRM & Marketing Automation Softwares

5. Capsule

Capsule is a browser-based CRM platform that focuses on simplicity while delivering powerful features for users.

Dashboard: Capsule’s dashboard is excellent because it acts like everyone’s personal assistant. It briefs you on new updates or changes in files, tasks, and reports based on consumer interactions in any channel the business has. Capsule’s interface also allows users to filter these data for faster browsing.

Leads List:  The contact list allows you to see every email conversation, tasks, notes you have added, opportunities, cases, and other activity related to the particular person.

Calendars and Tasks: A simple tracking calendar that notifies any user of an upcoming deadline, report, and time it takes to complete a task. It’s also a great tool to measure milestones in marketing campaigns.

Sales Funnel: The best CRM products must have an excellent sales data management that allows them to list down, identify, and associate certain web forms with certain lead goals. Capsule does this, and allows the creation of custom milestones for accurate reports.

Cases: The cases feature is similar to the leads list, except it shows every single file, note, task, and other interaction of users. It offers the ultimate birds-eye-view to everything and can be useful for upscaling SMEs.

4. HubSpot

If you have no budget at all, you would be pleased to know that Hubspot CRM’s basic product comes free! Do note that in the free version, your Contact activity is only stored for the first 7 days, making it a passive CRM at that cost.

Dashboard/Sales Funnel: An intuitive interface similar to Capsule. It gives each user a heads up for every update on new files, consumer activity, cases, and other aspects of a given project or lead. The dashboard appears like a contacts list that shows the closing date of deals and allows users to categorize them based on the progress of each deal from set to completed appointments, buyer journeys, and pending cases for rectification or improvement.

Leads List: Each client has an individual wall that tracks all their activities and the user’s own client actions, such as sending an email, making a call or note or any other interaction on social media. Users can create lists to classify leads, which is helpful in improving actions on certain leads and de-prioritizing others.

Calendars and Tasks: A calendar that tracks all user activities, perfect for integrating actions with other users and managing marketing campaigns.

3. Act-On

Act-On is an affordable CRM product with a host of useful features such as:

Dashboard: More than a CRM tool, Act-On shows all its features in its dashboard. Clicking on a feature shows a report on how things are doing in that aspect. For example, if the business recently had a webinar, the “Webinar” option displays the audience’s response post-airing. It does this for CRM, Web Analytics, and even Social. It makes for easier data digestion while having a birds-eye-view on everything.

Leads List: Act-On’s CRM function is outstanding. It allows users to automate lead nurturing based on scores set by the users themselves. It also displays the history of all interaction a customer has with the business from email to social networks.

Custom Email and Content: Act-On also allows the automated sending of personalized email responses, creating targeted lists, A/B testing for landing pages, forms, and content and image integration. You can even use WebEx or Adobe connect for customized invitations to webinars or offline events. Everything marketing campaigns need is in one place!

Calendars and Tasks: The calendar shows all activities from marketing to CRM lead follow-ups and deadlines for closing deals.

2. Sharpspring

Sharpspring makes the list because it concentrates effectively on CRM, marketing automation and management all while delivering great bang for your buck.

Dashboard: It might be a little intimidating when you first use it, but the dashboard shows the performance of all marketing channels including website visitors, social media campaigns, CRM, and others in pie charts. It’s so easy to see everything on a single page. Instead of getting overwhelmed by the different features, take it slow or customize it so it doesn’t look confusing.

Custom Email and Content: The software product has its own email editor. It allows users to customize emails for particular lists and leads. The blog-style approach to creating emails, along with A/B testing for marketing maximization, makes Sharpspring one of the best email marketing software in existence. The landing page and blog builder, which also has A/B testing, are the cherries on top.

Lead Lists: Sharpspring displays each lead as if it were a social network profile. All interactions with the customer, along with his or her communications in social networks and other media, are recorded automatically. Users can also create lists of these leads for better project integration. Additionally, the system scores leads based on their demographics and online behaviors.

1. Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft caters for both CRM and marketing automation that SMEs in Asia truly need. Watch Raj Shah, owner of Math Plus Academy, share how Infusionsoft helped his business run more efficiently, reducing time spent on billing from 20 hours a week to less than three. 2Stallions is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner and we’re avid users of the software ourselves, so if you’re looking for guidance, get in touch with us! Infusionsoft also works just as well for B2B businesses.

Dashboard: The dashboard shows all CRM and Marketing progress in simple tables with the ROI and profit amounts being the priority. This is helpful information especially for improving sales for SMEs. Users can add dashboard widgets or even customize this page for optimum usefulness.

Leads List: Everything you need to know is on the contact’s page. Users can see where their lead came from, their activity on your website, emails they read, landing pages they visited, forms they submitted, their sales interest, and any purchasing activities.

Visual Campaign Builder: Multi-step marketing campaigns can be created as flowcharts in Infusionsoft’s campaign builder and automated. Now there’s no need to send emails out manually. You can even integrate landing pages, web forms, and email formats that you need to use.

Here’s a comparison of each product’s general features:

  Price Storage Contacts Limit Users Limit Emails Limit Content Customization Add-ons
Capsule $12/monthly per user 2GB per user 50,000 Dependent Unlimited Yes (Third Party) Yes
Hubspot Free Unlimited 1,000,000 Unlimited Unlimited Yes Yes
Act-On $2,000/monthly Unlimited 2,500 100 sales users, 6 marketing users Unlimited Yes Yes
Sharpspring $800/monthly Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Yes Yes
Infusionsoft $299/monthly Unlimited 10,000 5 50,000 Yes Yes

 

Wrap-Up

CRM software play a huge role in an SME’s success. You can automate and simplify customer interaction, identify loyal customers, improve brand recognition through positive customer care experiences, and expand your market through a single platform. Productivity improvements and the potential to upscale quickly are two benefits of CRM and marketing automation that would prove invaluable to your business. In short, investing in a CRM is a must for every growing business.

What other CRM software do you use besides the five we mentioned and how have they helped your business? Share with us in the comments below!

 

Your marketing team, no matter how good, is only human. From managing marketing campaigns, customer engagement and multiple social media accounts, there are many marketing tasks that require daily attention. The smaller your marketing team, the harder they find it to stay on top of campaigns, which affects your business’ efficiency and ability to generate sales qualified leads.  Fortunately, there is a way to keep up with your company’s marketing tasks all at once – Automated marketing.

Never heard of it before? You’re probably not alone. A whopping 90 percent of marketers don’t know what automated marketing is and how it can reduce workload while increasing productivity. By the end of this article, you’ll be glad to have joined the remaining 10%.

Marketing Automation And Getting Good Results

As a business, personalization is key to connecting with your customers. This helps to build positive relationships and encourage loyalty. However, as your customer base grows, it’s harder to keep up with personalizing every single interaction you have with them.

Such was the issue for Math Plus Academy, a children’s tuition agency aiming to create a fun learning experience for kids.

Founder Raj Shah implemented several marketing strategies to boost his agency’s performance but achieved unsatisfactory results. They overspent on online advertising and several marketing obstacles made the academy’s offers unappealing, making expansion hard. In fact, their marketing objectives took precious time away from developing their primary product: fun-filled courses for the kids.

However, Shah was introduced to Infusionsoft, an integrated automated marketing platform. It efficiently managed his business with its automated customer relationship management (CRM) system, allowing him the time he desired to work on his product. His courses sold better through an integrated and efficient e-commerce module creation, expanding his reach.

Getting to Know Automated Marketing

For Math Plus Academy, marketing automation led to an overall increase in business efficiency and sales. In fact, companies that utilize automated marketing experience an 80 percent increase in leads and a 77 percent increase in conversions, according to VentureBeat. There is a lot to be gained if you’re willing to take the time with the initial set up.

Three Major Channels of Automated Marketing

Marketing automation allows marketers to utilize software to perform repetitive online marketing tasks. When we think of repetitive tasks in terms of digital marketing, we can distribute them into 3 broad online channels.

1. Email Marketing (also SMS Marketing)

If you have a large, well-segmented audience, sending out emails or SMS can be a full-time task, even with a few templates prepared. Fortunately, you can turn to software to automatically send out emails or SMS that are triggered by certain events (a new subscriber, an enquiry, etc.).

2. Social Media Marketing

Managing multiple social accounts for your business can be time-consuming and even disorganized. However, automated marketing software lets you manage multiple accounts on a single platform and even automates your social media engagement. It allows you to connect with your followers and leads with the least amount of effort.

3. Landing Pages

Landing pages are what your customers see when they click through on links in your emails. In the past, it took a lot of time and effort in designing landing pages that appeal to your audience. Marketing automation makes it easy to customize landing pages and content to your segmented audience depending on where they are in the sales funnel.

 

Getting Started with Automated Marketing

1. Organize Your Contact List

The first thing you need to do is establish a centralized list of contacts. This may be the most time-consuming step of the process as you gather these contacts into a single list.

Jog your memory a bit; where do you typically store contact names and email addresses? Search through your desk for business cards, look at email sign up forms, and squeeze your hard drive dry of any spreadsheets with email addresses. Once you have them all, be sure to discard contacts that you’ve not been in touch with for over a year and are unlikely to remember you.

Make sure to create contact groups based on criteria relevant to your business. Organize them according to their interests to make it easier to send personalized emails. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to import them into your marketing automation software.

2. Know Your Audience

Sending the same email to everyone doesn’t work as customers want to feel connected to your business on a personal level. Catering to your customer’s personal interests is one way that helps you create that connection. Use Google Analytics for insights on your site visitors, and develop email content based on the customer personas you have created for your business and their interests.

3. Create Your First Email

There are many types of emails you can try sending. For example, welcome emails, qualification emails, trial emails, newsletters, and DIY Course emails.

Start by repurposing high-quality content from your business’ blog to send as an email. You can experiment with different approaches and find out which are successful and which are flops. Infusionsoft (2Stallions is an Infusionsoft Certified Partner), among other automated marketing software, can help you design your first email, save templates, and organize a profitable contact list. If you’re having trouble designing an eye-catching, quality email, utilize software that can guide you with templates and newsletter creation interface.

4. Create More Content ­

When someone gives you their email, they are inviting you to be part of their digital lives. In return, you have to dish out quality, gated content. You can send them eBooks, whitepapers, online courses, and more. The goal is to build a relationship with your contact list over time and see it prosper.

See to it that you only send relevant content. For instance, if a portion of your contact list consists of fitness enthusiasts, send them workout routines courses that they can do from home.

5. Track and Improve Performance

It is great that you’ve invested time and effort to connect with your audience. However, there is always room for improvement, and you should find out how you can take your automated marketing strategy a step further.

Analysing your email list is one way to find out. How many contacts did you start off with and how many do you have now? Open rates and click-through rates can also give you an idea of what content your customers are interested in and what they are not. Data such as these matters if you want to expand your reach and improve your marketing efforts. Below are some metrics to keep an eye out for once you launch your automated marketing venture:

 

  • Contact List Size: Keep tabs on your contact list size and track its growth. Decide on a goal to reach by the end of the year. How many contacts are you aiming for at the end of the month? Ask yourself these questions and work towards crossing out achieved goals at a steady pace.
  • Email Open and Clickthrough rates: You’ve experimented with a lot of email approaches and techniques. Which ones received the best open rates? Keeping this in mind will allow you to recalibrate your focus and invest more time and energy on the strategy that works and decrease efforts on flop approaches.
  • Engagement: Figure out what kind of content is best received by your audience. Which blog post reeled in more traffic? What sort of CTA got more visitors to take action? Utilize Google Analytics and find out which stuff works and what doesn’t. This will help you understand what type of content your audience wants to see more of for a better bottom line.
  • Unsubscribe Rate: An “unsubscribe” can be a little heartbreaking. However, it is important to pay attention to how many people are unsubscribing from your email list. If the rate increases over time, perhaps it is time to rethink your strategy, sending schedule, and content.

Automated Marketing Is Your Friend

Like anything new, automated marketing can seem intimidating. Despite this first impression, don’t let this great opportunity slip away. Automated marketing will require some effort and research on your part, but believe me when I say that the returns are worth it.

If you encounter any roadblocks to understanding and setting up your automated marketing strategy, leave a comment below or shoot us an email. We’ll be glad to shed some light on your issue and might have solutions to make your venture easier!

The growth of the Internet has provided companies with a wealth of online marketing options, including social media campaigns. Now, businesses can promote their brands on social media to increase visibility, revenue, and customer reach.

According to We Are Social’s Digital 2020 Global Overview Report, there are 3.8 billion social media users worldwide. The report also found that smartphones account for more than half of the time spent online.

This means businesses, big or small, should be taking advantage of social media platforms. It also means that it time to transition from traditional marketing (i.e. TV ads, print ads, etc.) to social media marketing.

Unlike traditional media, social media fosters a conversation between the brand and the consumer. The audience can comment, like, tweet, share posts, and more. Not to mention that social media posts can be edited or deleted when necessary.

Keep on reading to learn more about how you can harness social media’s marketing potential.

More About Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing uses platforms to establish brand awareness. It also increases customer reach, monitors customer feedback, and a variety of other things.

It involves running campaigns and sharing content to drive audience engagement and conversion. The major social networking services today are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Each platform engages audiences in different ways. Here are the metrics used to measure engagement across the three platforms:

  • Facebook: shares, likes and followers
  • Twitter: re-tweets and followers
  • Instagram: likes and followers

What Is A Social Media Campaign

Social media campaigns are a planned marketing effort executed on one or more social media platforms. Campaigns come in different forms such as polls, contests and giveaways, events, or podcasts, to name a few.

These social media marketing initiatives focus on a business goal. The common goals include:

  • driving direct sales
  • generating new leads
  • getting direct customer feedback
  • boosting web traffic and brand recognition
  • building a strong, engaged and loyal community
  • creating an email marketing list of engaged customers

Inspiring Social Media Campaigns You Can Learn From

Starbucks, Dove and IHOP are a few top brands that have launched successful social media marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at why their campaigns worked.

1. Starbucks: Unicorn Frappuccino

As part of its 2017 Frappuccino Happy Hour, Starbucks rolled out its one-week-only, pastel-hued beverage: the “Unicorn Frappuccino”.

starbucks, unicorn, frapuccino,

Image by: Starbucks

With its limited offer period and  ‘Instagrammable’ appearance,  the drink and its hashtag #UnicornFrappuccino generated nearly 155,000 Instagram posts.

2. Dove: #SpeakBeautiful

Dove promises to deliver body confidence and self-esteem through its campaigns. In its #SpeakBeautiful campaign, the brand partnered with Twitter to show the effect of insults on people’s images.

Video by: Dove

Twitter’s technology identified negative tweets about beauty and body image. The Dove account then sent responses about confidence, optimism and self-love.

3. IHOP: IHOb

IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, flipped the last letter of its acronym upside down and temporarily became IHOb. The brand asked its Twitter followers to guess what “B” stood for—and more than 70,000 users reacted and responded to the tweet.

Tweet from: IHOP

While the name change lasted only for a short time, this gimmick increased burger sales.

Key Components Of Successful Social Media Campaigns

1. A Well-Thought Plan

Your campaigns’ successes depend on your social media strategy. Review your social media goals and identify the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how.’

Who. Identify who your target audience is. Determine ideal customer characteristics and demographics that your business can best cater to.

Shaping your audience personas will craft the right message and brand voice for your social media campaigns.

What. Find out what social media channel your business will use. Choose the ones that best support your strategic goals.

Explore the big four social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. You could also look into other platforms such as YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, or Snapchat.

Why. Understand the motivations behind your prospect’s goals, reasons for their challenges, and the issues they face.

Once know the answers to your strategy’s whys, it would be easier for you to proceed with the how.

How. Learn how your brand, products, and services can best address your customer’s pain points.

List your audience’s choices and responses along your customer journey. Then, map out a plan that will entice them to take part in your campaign.

2. Compelling Content

Build social media campaigns around compelling content. A campaign with impressive storytelling and accessible information has a greater audience engagement.

To impress your audience, your content should be:

Optimized for viewing. Social media optimization and search engine optimization are two different things but they support each other. Here are two of the best practices that SMO can borrow from SEO:

  • Keyword Research. This technique identifies phrases and topics your target audience searches for. This way, you can create relevant content for them.

It also helps determine hashtags and phrases to use in your social media posts. Hashtags make it easier to find your content, even for people who are not following you.

  • Profile Optimization. Website optimization is a crucial step to SEO. Optimize your website and its content so search engines know what your website is about.

The same thing applies to social media optimization. Your company’s social media profile contents—profile phone, username, bio, etc.—should be complete and consistent to get the attention they deserve.

Fun and informative. People love sharing useful things on social media. These could be tips, suggestions, fun facts, and quirky stories that tackle difficult topics like science or math for example.

Make your content easily shareable to increase the chances of drawing your audience’s attention. For example, create videos that tell relatable stories or tug at your customer’s heartstrings (like Dove’s #SpeakBeautiful campaign).

Craft memorable content to boost your social media shares. Incorporate the element of surprise into your strategy, like what IHOP did with its IHOb campaign.

Short but sweet. Writing long-form content in today’s time-starved world is not always the best option. Squeeze your content into something that is easily consumed. Focus on a single topic, include a graphic or visual, and feature an enticing headline.

3. Rewarding Promotions

In website marketing, creating an email list is simple if you can offer something in exchange for customer information.

For instance, Netflix and Spotify give a “Welcome Bonus” to new registrants that let them try out the paid service for 30 days. After the promotion period, customers can decide whether to stop or continue.

spotify-rewards

You can use social media to advertise your ‘free’ product. Anything free and compelling has a high chance of going viral. Contests for high-end or high-value products are also great for promotion.

4. Thorough Analysis

Like with SEO, you must measure your social media campaigns performance through their analytics:

  • Are you reaching qualified people?
  • Are you engaging with qualified people?
  • How many of your social media fans inquired about your product or service?
  • How many of them actually become customers?

The things you can measure vary in every social media platform, but tend include:

Engagement. This measures how many people have engaged with your social media posts. It also plays an important role in how far your posts travel (aka social media reach).

Engagement metrics include clicks, likes, shares, comments, brand mentions, profiles visits, and active followers.

Reach. Social media reach is the number of users who viewed or watched a particular content on a social media channel. Unlike engagement, this metric has no definite amount as it is only an estimate.

You can measure reach by tracking the number of followers or fans, impressions, and traffic.

Leads. A lead refers to any information that you can use to follow up with your fans or followers. It could be a name, a phone number, or an email address. This valuable item value could develop into hard leads—qualified prospects or customers.

Customers. The main objective of social media campaigns is to attract new customers. If you have found the right leads and kept them engaged, they will be more likely to buy your product or service.

By tracking customer acquisition and conversion rates, you will know how many fans made it to the finish line. Built-in analytics tools such as Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Company Page Insights, and Pinterest Web Analytics, come in handy when measuring social media performance.

Switch to Social Media

Social media is a gold mine for followers, leads, and customers. It allows businesses to increase exposure, boost traffic, and gain market insights.

If your brand is not making the transition from traditional to social media, now is the time to make the switch. Take advantage of ever-increasing social media users: launch social media campaigns to generate qualified leads and increase your conversion rates.

Need help with your social media marketing efforts? We got you covered! 2Stallions can assist you throughout the entire process. We perform social media audits to optimize profiles and help with content strategy, execution, quarterly review and tweaking.

REQUEST A QUOTE

We seek to create long-term relationships built on results. Tell us about your business
goals and we will contact you