Monthly Archive March 2016

ByDustin Peterson

Understanding Programmatic Advertising

There’s been a lot of buzz around programmatic advertising over the past 3 – 4 years. But what exactly is programmatic advertising? The simple definition is that it is an automated method of buying, selling or fulfilling advertising. Apparently it’s caught on because it already makes up more than half of US digital display advertising spend.

Aside from just simple banner advertising, programmatic has begun to rapidly expand in areas such as video and mobile.

From Digital Ad Networks to Programmatic Advertising Exchanges

A few years ago if a digital media buyer wanted to run a branded display campaign they would go to an ad network that had tags running on a long list of websites. The buyer would usually procure a list of these sites and pay a CPM (Cost Per Mille or Cost Per 1,000 views to be accurate) to run their advertising on these sites.

But nowadays buyers are purchasing by the impression. What this means is that CPM’s have increased but rather than buying bulk page views, advertisers are now able to buy large targeted data-sets through programmatic exchanges.

programmatic-openrtb-ecosystem

programmatic open rtb system

 

It’s quite simple, many ad networks already run tags on thousands of publisher exchanges. These ad networks sell this inventory through programmatic vendors that in turn buy and sell these impressions in a real time auction to the highest bidder. It sounds complicated, but it’s a simple auction just like one you would go to in order to get art or antiques. The difference is that these auctions happen in fractions of a second via programmatic DSP’s or Demand Side Platforms. Just like at a regular auction the winner of these light speed auctions gets their ad shown to the user.

Based on recent data compiled by AdRoll. Last year, the bulk of US marketers, (62%), automated 10% to 50% of their digital advertising budget. Just about one third of those marketers also said they invested 50% or more of their digital ad budgets programmatically, up from 7% in 2013.

Other Benefits of Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic is visibly efficient. All data points to this fact. This method of advertising has an unmatched ability to pair audience data with digital content to target the right users with the right message at the right time. This has made digital media buying more cost effective and improved the amount of spend for web publishers.

While programmatic advertising still has issues related to fraud and viewability (cross-device visibility has been an issue) there is a healthy conversation being had about them. The current benefits of these ad buys also far outweigh the risks if you’re a brand or business looking to really get yourself in front of a highly targeted audience demographic online.

Whatever the case, keep an eye on programmatic to keep evolving and improving in the weeks and months to come.

(source: http://www.emarketer.com/Article/US-Advertisers-Investing-Heavily-Programmatic-Obstacles-Remain)

ByApex Digital Media

Easy SEO for WordPress – The Yoast Plugin

WordPress is probably the most widely used blogging / CMS platform out today for a variety of reasons. Number one is probably the ease of use a close second is that it’s mostly free. If you run a website on WordPress and aren’t being found in search engines, the Yoast plugin provides easy SEO for WordPress. Yoast is really nothing special development wise. That is to say it’s not some revolutionary new algorithm or technology. What it is and what it does well is guide the average person through the process of Search Engine Optimization. Here’s a quickstart intro for you…

Simple SEO For WordPress

SEO has become something of a pariah over the past couple years. This is largely because there was a cottage industry built around backlinking. Several companies developed deep (and mostly shady) back channels for links that helped people’s sites pop. The problem was that these sites weren’t always the best content to answer the users search – so Google killed the part of its algorithm that weighted those types of backlinks heavily… and chaos ensued.

The good news is SEO is simple. Make good content and tell the engines what your pages are about. If you do this and people like your page you will win the organic search game.

What Yoast does for WordPress users is simplify the process of making an SEO’ed content post. Rather than continue to type though, let’s walk you through the process I went through while optimizing this very post here!! (*CUE TWILIGHT ZONE MUSIC*)

Step 1 – Create Your Content

This seems like a no brainer, but write your article first. It’s much easier to SEO a piece of content that’s already been created. You’ll see why in the next step.

 

yoast-keyword-seo-for-wordpressStep 2 – Choose Your Focus Keyword

Once you install Yoast, you will see it in a panel below the edit screen in your posts. After you have created your article you should think about what a person searching for this type of content would type into Google. In the case of this article I chose “SEO for WordPress” but you can go with something more simple or more specific than that, I could’ve used something like – the best tool when doing SEO for WordPress, or Need quick SEO for WordPress?. SEO would be a good shorter, broader choice as another example. However, the more broadly you target the less chance you have of dominating that search term, so try to be specific and creative.

 

yoast-green-light-ratingStep 3 – Check Your Score

The next step is to take a look at the rating that Yoast gives you right away. In my case it’s green light because I’ve been doing this for years and chose a keyword I know was repeated everywhere in my content and header. Take a look at this… the next step is a bit more involved.

 

Step 4 – Make Adjustments Based on Yoast’s Recommendations

yoast-seo-factors-scoreMy traffic light score in Yoast is now a yellow light. It’s not terrible but it’s not fantastic either. There are a few things I can now do to improve my SEO for WordPress articles and get Yoast to give me the green light again.

Underneath the field where you write your focus keyword is a list of items Yoast relates to the SEO of your page and scores you on. As you can see I scored well on things like the amount of characters in the page title, coming up with a new and original focus keyword for my blog, creating easy to read copy, etc. But I also lost points for having no meta description and not using my focus keyword in the first paragraph of my article. My next step is to go back to my article and make adjustments based on the recommendations that Yoast has given. Let’s do that and see what we get.

Step 5 – Add a Meta Description with Your Keyword

yoast-meta-description-w-keywordFinally you will want to write a quick meta description that repeats your keyword. In my case that keyword was SEO for WordPress, so the sample image shows you how I created a statement that used this keyword but also helps to describe what the post is about. Just stuffing a keyword into text that is out of context will actually hurt your rankings, so don’t do that.

Think of the meta description as kind of a “preview” or byline of your content that a Google (or Bing) user will see in their search results. Google is focused on creating a good user experience so the more you do to help aid this process the better you will rank.

That’s our quick start guide for the Yoast SEO plugin. If you need more advice on effective SEO for WordPress we recommend you read the full Yoast tutorial on their website here.

ByDustin Peterson

Snapchat Dominates SXSW Without a Presence and 6 Other Marketing Stats

According to AdWeek: 
The ephemeral app didn’t throw a South by Southwest Interactive party, hire a popular band or even give away cool gadgets—it didn’t have a branded presence at the Austin, Texas, festival. Instead, it was a topic of conversation on nearly every marketing panel and was constantly used by attendees to document their SXSW experiences. In fact, it garnered more impressions on Twitter than any other brand, coming in with 192 million from March 6 through March 16, per Sysomos. Indeed, all Snapchat had to do to win SXSW 2016 was just be Snapchat.

AdWeek went on to cite Snapchat as the most talked about brand at the whole conference and was actually used by a lot of attendees to document their experience.

AdWeek has this and 6 other interesting marketing stats from the past week here.

 

ByDustin Peterson

The Art of Social Customer Service

In today’s digital ecosystem, social media is a great way to drive awareness about your brand or business. It’s also a great way to engage with existing or prospective customers but a lot of companies are starting to discover that it’s also a great way to handle customer service.

This can be a bad thing for some companies. Take the example of the case of Hassan Syed who’s father lost his luggage on British Airways. He spent $1,000 on sponsored tweets to make sure that as many people as possible saw his distaste for British Airways handling of his problem. Unfortunately for BA the onslaught started afterhours while no one was manning their social media accounts. So for 8 long hours they allowed this problem to fester and grow without any response. By the time they were back at the office Hassan’s tweets had already been seen by over 75,000 people.

Knowing that social media is critical for into the modern age for customer service you need to be thoughtful and creative about how you represent your business online and that includes the customer service aspect. Here are a 5 quick tips to help you ace customer service on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t Leave Complaints Unchecked

If someone’s complaining about your brand or business on social media it’s important to engage them right away. The longer you let them complain and get noticed the more difficult the issue will be to resolve. Responding quickly is key but you also want to do your best to drive the conversation off social media so you can talk person to person. Move the conversation to a forum where the public can’t see every last comment that is made.

If you are an international business it might be wise to have someone manning your accounts at all hours. As mentioned in the scenario above with British Airways, overseas complaints could be after hours for you and cause you to miss an opportunity to shape the conversation in a way that has the least amount of damage to your brand.

Show Some Empathy

Just because you are working on a computer through a social media channel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like a human being. When a customer comes to you with a problem make sure that you express interest and show that you care about the problem. If customers see that you recognize the problem and are working to fix it they feel that you’re listening to them. Responding to these issues with the motive to understand and assist will definitely help you resolve the issue and gain trust.

Surprise Your Customers

Not everyone who goes on social media to complain about a brand believes that they’re going to get a response. A lot of people will tweet or post something just to vent about a bad experience that they had. If you have a brand manager who is on top of things this can be used to your advantage by quickly responding to customer complaints. If a customer quickly receives a thoughtful response to a complaint that they didn’t think anyone was listening to, it can quickly turn their attitude from combative to friendly.

Respond Quickly

You’re probably seeing a common theme through a lot of these pointers – time is of the essence. If it takes you a couple days or a week to respond to a customer complaint it looks like your company is either lazy and slow or that you don’t care. Slow response time also makes it look like you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on or worse, avoiding conversations about your brand altogether. The longer that complaint lingers without response the worse you look regardless of what you say. So be quick on the draw.

Turn Critics Into Brand Advocates

If you are able to engage your customers and fix these situations quickly you will have a happy customer who can be turned into an advocate for your brand. They’ll respond with gratitude and if you’re lucky, maybe even delete the original complaint messages. People talk and by solving the problem you will have a customer who goes out and tells others that they are satisfied with the actions you took to quickly resolve their complaint. Most people who complain about a brand on social media are just looking for a quick solution to their problem, so if you can offer that to them and you’re going to win.

To sum, be open honest and quick to respond. Understanding these principles will ensure that social customer service helps to drive new customers to your brand.

(source: https://www.upwork.com/hiring/customer-support/social-customer-service/)

ByApex Digital Media

Quote of the Day – Frank Zappa

This is such a profound statement… it had to be shared.

frank_zappa-art_making_selling

 

ByApex Digital Media

Beginners Guide to Creating Content & Blogging For Your Business

Blogging for your business

Be An Industry Thought Leader

The “blogosphere” remember that buzz word? It’s not one you hear a lot anymore, however it is more important than ever that you or someone you pay be creating content or blogging for your business.

Creating content that speaks to what you offer as a business is the best way to gain visibility on social media sites and in search engines. Additionally, it’s a way for you to showcase your expertise and earn the trust and awareness of potential customers.

It can also be profitable. According to Technorati (a popular blog network) blogs with 100,000 or more monthly unique visitors can earn on average around $75,000 annually.

So if you are not already doing it – it’s probably time to get started. At Apex Digital Media we offer basic business website packages that are reasonably priced and will enable you for blogging. You don’t have to go with us of course, we’ve also written a lot about how to pick the best design / marketing firm for your needs.

If you’re wading into the fray inexperienced and alone – we are here to help. Here are a list of important things to consider before you start cranking out content.

Decide What Your Purpose Is

There are several reasons to own a website for your business but to be clear there are about 4 that stand out:

Building a Brand: Unless you are spending heavily on advertising, your website is likely the first impression a prospective customer will have of you. Make sure it looks professional and accurately represents your brand.

Generating Leads: Your business might not exist solely online. You may want to use it to drive consumer traffic to your store, you may want to use it to capture email addresses in the form of a mailing list. If you are looking to generate leads, make sure your site is set up accordingly with a clear call to action (ie. “sign up for our mailing list!” )

Generating Direct Sales: A fairly simple concept. Whether people buy on your website or its used to drive them to your store, direct sales are the goal.

Generating Advertising Revenue: On the other hand maybe what you are blogging for your business is extremely popular and your site gets a ton of traffic. If that’s the case placing ads and making revenue from them never hurts. It can however be difficult to try and run a site focused on direct sales while simultaneously trying to make money from advertising. Ad placements can cause the page load times to decrease and there is a chance a consumer could see an ad from a competitor and click off to somewhere else. Whichever of these items is your focus, be sure to keep everything you create geared towards it.

typical-bloggerWhat Are You Trying to Accomplish?

If your goal is generating leads you need to have your page & posts optimized to push people to fill out a form or make a phone call. If you are trying to make money from advertising you will need to do everything you can to drive traffic. There are a myriad of reasons to create content around your business but make sure you have complete clarity on why YOU are doing it. Also, set benchmarks for yourself and goals to achieve. If you are doing lead gen ask yourself “How many leads do I want per month?” If you are trying to make revenue from advertising you will need to find ways to push traffic to your site. (Hint: Social Media is a great place to start)

Once you have a goal set and have answered the “why” you can start to think about creating content for your business or the “how.” If you sell cars maybe you want to write about which new models on your lot have the highest consumer favorability ratings. If you are a restaurant you might want to talk about how your ingredients are sourced from organic local farms. Do your best to find your niche and run with it.

Best Practices When Creating Content For Your Business

Frequency – Will you post Daily? Weekly? Monthly? The more frequently you create content and share it on social media channels the better visibility you will have. Google loves “fresh” so your chances of being seen by a large audience is much better if you crank out the content daily or even several times a day. Weekly is adequate too but think of how you feel when you look at a brand’s Facebook page or blog and it hasn’t been updated in a month. It seems like the lights are off.

Creating Content Ahead of Time –  If you are a busy business owner, chances are good you aren’t going to have a couple hours to sit down and compose a new blog each day. You have a couple of options here. Create 5 – 10 posts in advance and then schedule them. If you can stay ahead of this schedule you will be able to continually have fresh content each day. The second option is to hire someone to do the writing for you. If you are bootstrapped there are plenty of college kids and people who will write for you at a reasonable rate or even for free. Never hurts to check your options.

Include a Call to Action – If you are doing this to drive new business, don’t forget to include a call to action! Most people aren’t just going to magically sign up for your mailing list or download your e-book without being asked to. If they are interested in what you’re doing though, the chances are good if you dangle that carrot in front of them they will go after it. Here are a few examples of worthwhile calls to action:

• Join my email list
• Download my ebook
• Buy my product
• Sign up for my service
• Call or email me for a consultation
• Buy advertising on this blog
• Connect with me on various social sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace etc.)
• Visit my store or office
• Come meet me at this live event

These are just samples – depending on the nature of your business you will want to come up with something that fits best with your site or blog.

Professionally Design Your Blog & Pages

As mentioned earlier, Apex Digital Media offers small business website packages at reasonable rates. If you are working with a smaller budget of less than $3 – $5,000, we can help! If you are intrepid and self-motivated you can also save money doing it yourself. Wordpress has free options for blogging as do several other platforms. Of course, if this is for a professional business using http://wordpress.mybusinessname.com might not have the professional sheen you’re looking for. So keep that in mind, your website is your first impression – having a professional design reflects upon your business. Think about it – if you go to a company’s website and it looks like it was designed in 1998 and is not mobile responsive you think less of them. Don’t be that business.

Marketing Content You Create For Your Business

Social Media is hands down the best way to advertise content you create for your business. Here’s why: Relevant audience. Facebook gives you the ability to directly target users by all sorts of data points including “Likes” – so if you’re a website targeting comic book fans, Facebook will allow you to target people who have “liked” Marvel or DC’s fan pages. That’s only the beginning though – you can also add additional layers of targeting in the form of gender, age, zip code and more.

marketing-strategy-blog

marketing strategy

If you don’t have a budget to pay for advertising – social is still the answer. We have found that simply by tweeting out content or sharing it on Linked In & Facebook we have generated a lot of new business. This also goes back to frequency. If you are frequently posting / sharing content on social platforms the relevant audience will find you. Think of platforms like Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram as “Discovery Engines” – a theme we will cover in more detail in a later post. Discovery engines allow users who are interested in a particular theme to easily find you. Take advantage of this!

Analyze & Optimize

There are so many free online tools for analytics it’s ridiculous – the pinnacle of course being Google Analytics. Make sure you install Google Analytics and scour your data regularly. You will see which pieces of content are being read by viewing the “Time Spent” metric. If users on average are spending 5 – 1o minutes on a page, it’s a good sign they are engaged and reading. You can then use this data to create additional content in a similar vein that users will enjoy.

Quantcast is another fantastic benchmarking tool that will allow you to see how you rank with other similar content creators. It also has in-depth statistics on the types of audience that likes your content and frequently visits your pages.

(source: http://www.inc.com/guides/10-step-guide-to-blogging.html)

ByApex Digital Media

Using Social Media to Drive New Business

Social Media has grown into a force to be reckoned with. To give you an idea as to how fast things are moving – in 1997 the Internet reached 50 million users. Facebook on its own gained over 100 million users from January 2009 – January 2010. So with numbers like that, there is obviously a large audience there to go after.

Social Media profiles are not only another place to showcase your business and interact with your customers, they also work as directory listings that help to get your business more visibility in organic search.

Facebook is the top of the food chain for social networks but as technology evolves a lot of other notable platforms are popping up with a wealth of potential for business opportunities. Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChat are all places that are currently offering advertising of some sort but are relatively newer platforms than the mainstays such as Facebook & Twitter (to be clear, Facebook now owns Instagram)

Developing a Social Media Strategy

First and foremost you want to figure out what platforms are most likely to have your prospects. A platform like Instagram is absolutely perfect for photographers, but Twitter might be a more appropriate place for finding new customers if you run a Software business. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t have profiles on both – just that depending on the type of business you run you will want to spend more of your time on particular platforms.

The best way to figure this out is by asking yourself a few simple questions about your business and the nature of it.

  1. Why are you doing this? Decide what the primary goal of your social networking strategy is. Are you trying to network better? Showcase new products? Drive sign-ups for a mailing list? Having clear goals is important when formulating a strategy.
  2. Who is your target audience? If you’re a mechanic trying to generate business on Pinterest might not be the best option. That’s not to say it won’t develop anything for you but a platform like Facebook is much more effective for an automotive business as you can target people in your local area who may have an interest in automotive.
  3. Which platforms are the most important for my business? If you have a staff that can man your profiles or you can afford to hire an agency like Apex Digital Media to manage social media strategy for you, you’re in luck. If not, you should probably pick a couple of platforms that best suit you, or you could spread yourself thin. Going days without any visible activity is bad for growth and reflects poorly among followers.
  4. Security. What type of trust level do you have established at your company? Will all of your employees have access to your social media accounts? Remember that a small mistake on social can be extremely detrimental to business. If one of your employees posts something offensive it could end up snowballing into a PR nightmare. Make sure you take security of your accounts seriously.
  5. Finally, the tone and voice of your social media presence is important. Does your company already have a public representative that usually handles speeches, press, etc.? It’s important to have a voice that represents your business well and does not seem robotic or contrived. Remember, “People buy from other people, not from other companies”

Don’t Be Too “Salesy” on Social Media

Social Media Marketing isn’t as much about directly selling your product as it is about engaging prospective customers and winning their trust. The goal of a community-based social media platforms is to provide a platform for an open, honest conversation about whatever the subject at hand is.

apex-rand-fishkin-inspirational

Rand Fishkin Gets It…

 

If you look closely at the brands with the most successful profiles and communities you will see that they are the ones who interact with users most often and post content directly related to their brand. Facebook’s Fan Page is a great example of how you should market your company through social media platforms. It acts as an upgraded user profile for brands, companies, and organizations to be as involved as the users, and has plenty of tools to enable informed decisions. As users become ‘fans’ of your page, all of your activity appears in their News Feed each time they log on. There’s also a feature called the “Insights tool”, which allows you to analyze page views, the demographics of your fans, and the number of people who view (or stop viewing) your News Feed posts. Facebook has continued to add new and improved features for businesses to make better use of their user data.

If you simply open up a profile and begin spamming your users with coupons and deals for your product or service you won’t go very far. Providing real value to your users in the form of expertise and news about your industry and brand is how you win.

This is a brief primer on social media strategy but if you need additional assistance or expertise don’t hesitate to reach out to us directly!

(source: http://www.inc.com/guides/using-social-networking-sites.html)

ByApex Digital Media

Understanding Social Media Marketing in 2016

For the past several years Social Media has been the buzz of the marketing world. But even as social channels grow engagement seems to be dropping.

The amount of social content is increasing exponentially but the level of engagement is way down. There will be many thought pieces written about why that is and how to fix it, but from where we are sitting the answer is simple. Saturation – there is a lot more content proliferating which means that you have to up your game. You have to be better than the rest and stand out more than ever before.

A lot of the companies who have spent big will look at this as a problem – we see it as an opportunity. Here are some key things to understand about social media & social media marketing for 2016 and beyond.

An Increase in Followers Does Not Equal Engagement

In 2015, according to Forrester research, top brands posted:

  • 18.3x per week on Twitter.
  • 6.5x per week on Facebook.
  • 4.9x per week on Instagram.

This represents a minor increase in the number of posts for Twitter and Facebook and more than a 50-percent increase in posts on Instagram over the prior year.

While the change does look like it helped increase the amount of followers a brand might have, it has definitely not helped with overall engagement. With social media the goal is to not just get a massive audience but to get the RIGHT audience. People who have a known interest in what you do or sell.

Content marketing doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot better. TrackMaven research showed that content marketing output in 2015 rose by 35 percent and engagement dropped by 17 percent. Those are findings from an analysis of 50 million content marketing pieces posted on blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Proliferation & Saturation of Social Media Content

Some believe that a lot of the decreased engagement on social media is due to the fact that most platforms now expect people to pay for advertising there. This could be the case, however we have found that it’s easy to develop audience organically on platforms like Twitter if you put in the time and effort to curate good content and go after the correct audience.

Saturation is also a big problem though. A recent piece in Harvard Business Review described the content marketing problem of the last several years. Due to ad blockers, DVR, and other sophisticated methods users now have several methods of avoiding advertising. As a result, companies have to do more to get their brand in front of an engaged audience. This has resulted in the branded content boom – however the results have been mediocre at best. Brands have spent billions trying to create communities on social platforms but still largely lose out to a typical YouTuber in the way of overall subscribed and engaged users.

Social Media Measurement Paradigm Shift

One of the big problems right now is that companies still try to measure the effectiveness of social campaigns by metrics such as “Likes” and “followers.” While this is important to keep track of, there are a large amount of artificial social accounts and activities. So relying solely on the amount of new followers a campaign brought could be a useless metric if a week later Twitter scrubs fraudulent accounts and your following drops substantially.

There needs to be a paradigm shift in how social metrics are accounted for. As one example, a tweet that got a large amount of shares or drove a large amount of clicks to a piece of content is probably a much more important metric to look at than how many aggregated followers you gained in a month.

Additionally, driving traffic to a site might not be your goal anymore. A lot of users never visit the homepage of a site and for a lot of media markets the action IS on their facebook page. In those cases how many views a video generates on Facebook or how many people shared it there is a much more important metric. So now that social has become an important part of the media mix marketers need to pay more attention to these types of specific metrics than aggregates of “likes” and “followers.

Social Commerce in 2016

There are no longer just direct paths to customers through your website or ebay store – there are now hundreds . Expect this number to increase exponentially in the next 5 – 10 years the same way it has previously. New devices will enable new targeting and marketing opportunities.

Smart brands will make themselves available in every last channel available to them. The beauty of digital is that maybe some of these channels only refer a small amount of business, maybe some none. However, by proliferating you will be able to find that one or two channels that really does bring the type of customers that are loyal to you for years to come.

The Big Picture on Social Media Marketing

Marketers are so busy being excited about the latest toys like paid Pins on Pinterest or Snapchats platform they forget that this shouldn’t be about the platform but about building relationships and communities.

Here at Apex, we advise our clients with something along these lines:

“Think of your social media channels as a farm. If you do your chores every day (posting & sharing relevant content, favoriting things you like, replying to users) like a farm you will reap a bountiful harvest. The key is doing the work every single day and never letting up. As soon as you start to slack or let up, your harvest will be affected so keep doing your chores every day and reap the rewards.”

We sincerely hope this was useful to you and thank the kind folks at Marketing Land for providing the inspiration and the reference for this post.

(source: http://marketingland.com/engagement-crisis-content-marketing-social-media-happening-fix-166257)

 

ByApex Digital Media

5 Reasons You Need a Professional Website For Your Business

Ok ok, this may be preaching to the choir…  By now most people are aware of the importance of having their own website that represents their business and gives them the ability to showcase their brand. However, a lot of small business owners are willing to sacrifice their overall brand in the name of saving a little bit of money up front. At the end of the day though, it’s worth seeking out the right firm or designer and spending within reason to create an online presence that clearly and professionally represents your business.

1. Analytics & Google Search Console

With Google Analytics & Search Console you have access to incredible analytics and data that you can use to make informed decisions. Google gives these services away for free and part of “best practices” is having them installed on your site and taking advantge of them.

Google Analytics

Google analytics tags on your site allow you track a myriad of important metrics on your site? What are metrics you ask? Metrics are data points about your users. For example, one metric on your site is the “Time on site” metric. How long are users on your site? How sticky is it? Google analytics not only shows you how long people stay on your site on average, you can break it down page by page and even see user flow through your site. This is incredibly powerful, for it allows you to find points of interest or points of user drop off and optimize your site. If you see that a particular page that a customer should be spending a lot of time on has a low time on site, you can begin to make adjustments to the page to improve this metric. This is just one example of the many different ways Analytics can help you improve your online presence and overall business.

Google Search Console

Formerly known as “Webmaster Tools” Google Search Console shows you what keyword terms are producing impressions and clicks in organic search. For those who are foreign to this world, impressions are “views” or how many times a user searching a particular keyword sees your website. Clicks are pretty self explanatory. Search Console is powerful because it shows you where users are finding you and knowing this can help you to better present yourself and take full advantage of organic and free traffic.

2. Having a Simplified Funnel

This is something that marketers understand well “KISS” – Keep It Stupid Simple – is the marketers mantra. The easier it is for a customer to get into your site, find what they want and buy it, the more success you will have. Maybe you’re not selling products – if that’s the case you should still consider what your “conversion event” is. Maybe it’s a mailing list subscriber, maybe it’s a Twitter follower, maybe it’s a play on your video. Whatever the case, you want the path to this action to be as simple and uncluttered as possible.

3. Having Detailed Contact Information Readily Available

If you’re a modern business you need to have a phone number, address and email address visible on your site. If you don’t, you look shady. Plain and simple – the people who win the most business are the ones who have a degree of transparency. If you look like you are trying to hide yourself it does not bode well for business. Additionally, Google uses “maps” signals to help rank pages in their search. If you are a listed business seeking walk in customers – it is absolutely mandatory you have a visible address and a map listing. It will help with your overall SEO and make you visible in business directories as well.

4. Mobile Users – Responsive Design

By the most recent estimates I’ve seen – 60% of your website visitors are going to be on mobile devices. That’s just the direction things are going. Everyone is connected and has a sweet pocket computer. If you do not have a website that looks clean and professional on these devices you are losing MORE THAN HALF of your potential customers. Let that sink in – at Apex we actually begin with a mobile design before we even consider desktop. That’s just the way things are heading.

5. Showing a Clear Picture of What You Want to Accomplish.

This might be the most important factor of all… and also it ties back to #2. What are you trying to accomplish here? If your goal is to get people to come to your restaurant and buy taco’s make sure everything about your website points to how amazing your taco’s are and how to get to your location! Embed videos of customers describing the deep sense of fulfillment they have after consuming your taco’s. Flash your address and map listing in the sidebar of every page. Link to sites that contain favorable reviews of your taco’s. You get the idea. If you just throw a page up with your logo and address you’re going to reap what you sow. It’s basically like listing your company in a phonebook at that point. But if you build a site that speaks to why what you’re doing is better than your competitors and engage with your prospective customers through social media you will see growth in your customer base.

These are only 5 small things you can do easily through your website but there are a ton of other reasons that small businesses should invest into having a professional, well thought out website that truly speaks to their business goals.