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Why Your Holiday Marketing Should Start NOW

Are we in the midst of the holiday season yet? If you were to ask someone in the general population, they’d likely tell you “No, the holidays are still 6 weeks away”. But if you were to poll some marketers, the answer you’re likely to get is “Yes, the holiday season started several weeks ago. Where have you been?!” Like the eager neighbors who drag their Halloween decorations out in early September to ensure the longest possible period of lawn awesomeness, marketers are starting their holiday campaigns earlier and earlier to take advantage of the mind-boggling amount of shopping that happens every year for the holidays. And, unbelievably, the amount of holiday shopping just keeps growing. The 2016 holiday season is projected to generate $90 billion in revenue, compared to $69 billion in 2015. Yes, as in, 30% higher. Think about what you can do with 30% more revenue for your business next quarter. Holiday spending doesn’t just affect large department stores either. The Internet, that universal equalizer, has made it just as easy to purchase a gift from your local small business as it is to purchase from Macy’s. Sure, you might not come up with one of the greatest holiday commercials of all time. But having a marketing campaign for the holidays is absolutely crucial for your company’s bottom line. Consider these holiday marketing statistics: 37.2% of annual online sales happened in the 4th quarter of 2015. 59% of retailers started their holiday promotions in September. This should give you a hint as to how much retailers value the return on their holiday campaigns. Plus, your competitors may already be beating you to the punch! 76 percent of people used online means to do at least some of their holiday shopping in 2015 30 percent of shoppers researched and made a majority of purchases online Cyber Monday was the biggest day in U.S. online shopping in history last… […]

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3 Website Design Trends You Should Actually Avoid Like the Plague

Trends come and go so often in website design that, much like a contestant on Project Runway, one day they’re in and the next day they’re out. It can be tempting to jump on every trend, or try to keep up. However, sometimes in all the effort to look just like that website you love you could end up stumbling into some elements that harm your website performance. Some design elements are obvious ones to avoid (i.e. Generic Clip Art or a Dancing Baby GIF) while others sneak in as the next “big thing.” Below we review some design trends you may be better off skipping on your next site build. The Trend: Hamburger Menu The Hamburger Menu as it’s called, is a form of navigation that started on the mobile platform, presented as three stacked lines like a burger in a bun. It’s so inundated on mobile and tablet apps now that even if you didn’t know by name, you’re familiar with it. The icon is used as a way to truncate menu navigation items. You click it to get to more pages. The Allure: So Elegant, so Slick This design element caught on fast and extended beyond mobile and tablet to desktop as well. It preserves precious space on smaller screens, and just keeps things clean and focused. It became the trend. Even large brands like CNN and NBC News tried (that’s a key word) to adapt it. If you’ve ever gone searching for a WordPress site template, you’ll see em’ there too. So…what’s the problem? The Problem: No “Information Scent” What this basically means, is that when you hide all your navigation you are giving your user no direction on where to find things, or what may be of most interest to them. The result? The user doesn’t stick around to explore what’s there and navigation clicks go down. This being a problem is starting to catch… […]

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Why Video Will Dominate Marketing in 2017

If you’ve paid attention to marketing trends over the last few years, you’ve likely already heard many singing the praises of video. In the coming year video won’t just continue to dominate the market, but grow into its own form of marketing strategy altogether. So why hasn’t video plateaued and instead continued to flourish? The Web is Adapting For It Video is no longer the added bonus to a piece of online content—it is the content. Users show they want it and engage with it, and across all types of media content providers are committed to giving audiences what they want. Embedding videos, or sharing them on mobile, tablet and other platforms has become increasingly easy. But perhaps the greatest advancement set to propel video further is the Auto-play feature on social media and many content sites, which removes the need for a user to take the extra step to watch. Some even employ captioning before the click to really reel users in. Have you ever gotten caught up in a food recipe video or news video before even clicking for the audio? That’s the point. With the click barrier removed, the likelihood that a user will watch increases. Which means putting a video out there is now less of a risk. Production is No Longer a Luxury Just a few years ago, getting a professional-looking video made was out of budget for many businesses. So while marketers were pushing for it, the cost prevented many from taking part. However, two huge factors that are now making video extremely accessible on a budget: Users are more receptive to amateur quality. While your videos still have to look good, when it comes to sharing video on the fly, users aren’t expecting slick, professional quality. This means that video on a small scale, for example on Instagram, gives companies with a tight budget a new way to utilize this medium. Affordable technology… […]

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How Much Does a Website Cost - The 2016 Edition

In website design (as with all design), there are 3 main needs every client has that the design company needs to address: Quality, Timeliness, and Price. Naturally, everyone is always in search of the holy grail of having a high quality product, as fast as possible, at the lowest price possible. In reality, some balance between these three aspects needs to be reached, and the client’s priorities will determine which aspect is given the most importance. Fortunately, website design is a big industry and is showing no signs of slowing down, which has left companies in need of a new website with a multitude of options. Whether you need a virtual brochure or a fully integrated marketing campaign portal, there’s an option for you. Website design options range from do-it-yourself solutions, to one-man design shops, to agencies with an entire team of experts. Here’s an overview of these options: Do-it-yourself Price Range: $500 to $4,000 (estimated cost based on your time) This is the most affordable option, and it can work well for those who have a very low budget but have time they can dedicate to the setup of their site. The crucial thing to remember about these do-it-yourself sites is: free isn’t actually free. First, you have your actual website expenses such as domain name, hosting, and any premium features you want to add. For most DIY options you’ll want a custom domain for your website. Not only is this a premium feature that you pay for, but most domain name registrars require you to have website hosting to set up your domain name records. Then, you have to ask yourself, how much is your time worth? $20 per hour? $50 per hour? $100 per hour? By the time you map out your website to identify the pages you need to build (also known as your sitemap), write out your call to actions, gather all your imagery and… […]

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The Power of the Email Newsletter

Newsletters are one of the oldest forms of marketing. In this day and age, the email newsletter has been overshadowed by more glamorous marketing strategies such as social media and Search Engine Optimization. But newsletters comprise an essential part of a content marketing strategy, for these reasons: They’re a form out outbound content marketing, and therefore complement inbound content strategies like blogging and social media. If your company can’t afford to actively advertise, a newsletter may very well be the only type of outbound marketing it has at its disposal. They offer maximum impact with the minimum amount of effort—you write the newsletter once, but every person on your list will see the message you’ve created. This makes the newsletter one of the most efficient marketing efforts in terms of time and resources vs. return on your investment. They help you build a running list of people who are actively interested in your company (they’d unsubscribe if they weren’t). They allow you to send promotional campaigns to highly targeted users. Be careful, however, as to not make your subscribers feel like they’re only used for advertising purposes. If you’re thinking about starting up a newsletter, here are three tips on getting started: Start building a list quickly, and keep building it. If you haven’t had a newsletter up to this point, you may find that you don’t have a list to send it to. To start building your list, reach out on your other media channels, such as your blog and social media platforms, and ask your followers to sign up for the mailing list. You should also consider giving your customers the option to join your mailing list at the time of purchase, which will build your list naturally over time. Don’t oversell your subscribers. Unless your business and your newsletter lends itself to always advertising the latest deals, your subscribers won’t want to feel like every email they… […]

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3 Signs Your Website Needs a Redesign

Some companies think that once they have a website, they’re set. However, that’s never truly the case. If you take our advice and consider your website “your digital storefront,” it becomes clearer that your website will need regular updates, and eventually, like any brick-and-mortar storefront, a complete overhaul. How can you tell that the time has come for a website redesign? Here are three signs that could mean your site needs an overhaul: Your site has a layout or look that is dated. At the time you were building it, your website was probably right on trend, maybe even ahead of its time. But trends change, and it’s easy for a distinct design to begin to look dated after a few years. If you notice this is happening, or you notice a significant number of your competitors switching over to a different look, this could be a sign that you may want to look into a redesign. You’re getting increased calls or emails with obvious questions. If you think that information about your company and services is clearly stated on your site, but you are getting an increased inflow of questions about these obvious things, that should be a clear sign that your site may benefit from a redesign that lays out this information in a clearer way. Your analytics indicate trouble. There are several metrics that could indicate customers are not getting what they need from your site. Look out for the following: High bounce rate — the bounce rate indicates the percent of visitors who end up leaving your site from a particular page (vs. those that continue on to another page on your site). A high bounce rate, especially from an important page such as your Services page or your Contact Us page, shows a potentially lost business opportunity. Drop-off in goal completions — you should have goals set up on your site that indicate when a… […]

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4 Things to Know About How Social Media Affects Your Website’s SEO

Quick: an ultra-prominent social media personality (think: Oprah-popular) links to your website. Does that improve your website’s search rankings on Google? It has to, right? The answer may surprise you. Various marketing groups have done studies concluding that links which appeared more frequently on social media, or links which were used by prominent users on social media also ranked higher in search engines. But their findings may not be what they seem. Here are 4 things you need to know about how social media relates to your website’s search rankings: Google has confirmed that their algorithm does not give preference to links from social media sites, and that the prominence of a particular social media profile doesn’t get weighed more heavily than any other link from social media.Google’s Matt Cutts insists that any link that can be made between social media prominence and search engine rankings is not causation, but correlation. Meaning, high quality content is likely to be linked to both from social media and from other websites (and the latter does affect SEO). But Google hasn’t ruled out the possibility of using social media in its algorithm in the future. In the same video above, Cutts hints that as online identities become more unified, social may indeed become important for search rankings. While links from social media links may not positively affect your website SEO, it’s important to remember that Google ranks most social media sites very highly, and for that reason, if you create social media profiles for yourself or your company, these pages will be among the top search results when someone searches for you. In a way, that does give you control over your SEO, by letting you round out your first search results page with other valuable information about yourself via your social media profiles. Other online marketers have asserted that the lack of connection between social media and SEO shouldn’t stop you from focusing on social… […]

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Why a Content Audit? The Benefits of Analyzing Your Content

Accounting regularly ranks among the least favorite activities of small business owners. At the same time, without accounting, a business has no way of knowing exactly how well it’s doing. As such, financial accounting is an occasionally time-consuming task that is nonetheless incredibly valuable. All of these things also apply to the auditing of your online marketing content. (An “audit” is, after all, an accounting term.) A content audit is an analysis of how the content you produce is faring with your audience and ultimately affecting your company’s bottom line. Analyzing your content in this way has a range of benefits, including: Telling you what’s working and what isn’t. Simply put, analyzing your content will tell you which posts led to conversions and which ones fell flat. Revealing what content your followers want to see more of, and what content flew over their heads. A variety of other metrics, such as “average time spent on page” and “bounce rate” will give you a sense of how engaging your content is for your followers. Helping you discover your target audience. Frequently, a content audit helps a company discover who its target audience is, and this audience ends up being different from what the company assumed all along. Facilitating the creation of best practices for content creation. You will now have content creation Do’s and Don’ts, based on the real-life performance data of your content. Helping you identify new topics to cover. Often, a content audit can help spur your creative juices and get you thinking about what new topics you want to address with your content in the future. Giving you ideas for new promotions. By letting you know what campaigns worked in the past, the content audit can give you a better sense of the kinds of online promotions you should be executing. Allowing you to reimagine your content for other channels. Finding out what your best-performing pieces of content… […]

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How Little Jack Marketing Got Hacked: The Value of Hosting and SEO Monitoring Services

Things got mighty interesting at the Little Jack Marketing office this week, as we realized that a virus somehow broke through the defenses on our website and started making unauthorized changes. The weird thing is that, because of how the virus behaved, if we weren’t very on-the-ball about our web presence we may not have noticed at all. And since the same thing can happen to any small business website, we decided to write about it to spread awareness. Here’s what happened: We were looking at our weekly analytics report, and saw that there was a lot of traffic coming in for keywords that we don’t use, such as “easy essay writing” and “scientific writer resume” and “ghostwriting services UK”. We then checked our Google Analytics, and realized that our website had sprung over 20,000 new dummy pages in the search rankings, all stuffed with keywords to try to fool Google, and all linking to a dubious third-party website. The irony of us, a marketing company that advocates against keyword stuffing having our site used for exactly that purpose is not lost to us. Could we have prevented this from happening? The real answer is, probably not. We already have a high level of security, but as a website that gets quite a bit of organic traffic, we’re a prime target for all kinds of bots and hackers. In fact, we’re alerted every time someone tries a brute-force attack on our site, and we get pinged about once an hour, 24/7. Hackers don’t sleep, apparently. In any case, due to the security precautions we take, we were able to restore our website immediately and get on with our business. So, what can you learn from this? As a small or mid-sized business, you should assume that your website is under attack basically all the time. You need to take the standard preventive measures to make your website secure, but it’s… […]

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Why You Should Care about the Internet of Things, and What it Means for Your Future Marketing Strategy

The end of 2015 is drawing near, and we still haven’t seen the flying cars, hoverboards, and self-tying sneakers we were promised in Back to the Future II. However, there are definitely some very cool “future” things underway, not the least of which is a concept known as the Internet of Things. This concept promises an amazing range of possibilities for consumers over the next few years, and equally powerful opportunities for marketers who know how to take advantage of these new technologies. First, let’s get some terms out the way. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical objects that are connected electronically via the World Wide Web and that can exchange data with each other. What that means in practical terms is that an ever-increasing number of devices we use are connected to the Internet in order to provide consumers with increased conveniences. How big is this trend going to be? One group estimates that by 2020, there will be 50 billion portable devices connected to the Internet (if your first thought was “Wow, that’s 7 devices for every person on the planet”, we share your amazement). Devices that fall under the Internet of Things come in many shapes and sizes: Mobile devices—the most traditional type of portable device. Wearable tech—be it Google glass, Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other tech devices humans can wear. Health tech—pill bottles that remind their owners to take their medicine, and continuous blood glucose monitors that alert a doctor when they detect something is amiss. Home tech—programmable thermostats (like Nest), home lighting (Philips Hue), security technologies, and smart outlets that can all be controlled via a mobile device. City tech—smart garbage bins that alert City Services when they have to be emptied, and traffic controls that adjust based on the weather conditions. What does all this mean for the field of marketing? The short version is that an unprecedented amount of data about… […]

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