• Q&A With Jordania Nelson of Divining Point

    We sat down with Jordania Nelson, Divining Points’ Digital Marketing Specialist and master of all things related to PR, social media and content. She shared a few tips for business owners and let us know what she loves most about working in Austin.

    You’ve been in marketing for awhile now. Tell us what led you down this career path.

    Originally, I went to school to be a reporter and ultimately wanted to be a news anchor. I was working in the newsroom, and honestly I hated it. I was hired on as a reporter and was also on the assignment desk at the same time. I was getting a lot of press releases, so I had the chance to see both sides of it. I decided to focus on public relations and graduated with a Public Relations and Advertising degree.

    So this was a better fit for you?

    I feel like going into PR and digital marketing was a better direction for me, and they were very much the same in many ways.

    How has your experience prepared you for what you’re doing at Divining Point today?

    We manage public relations and write press releases for our clients, so having that background helped me with copywriting and content. Essentially, selling an idea.

    So you understand what is newsworthy, and from the perspective of a marketer you’re able to translate that into what you’re doing for clients today?

    Exactly.

    What do you see happening in digital marketing these days that excites you the most?

    The only constant in Marketing is change. Anticipating those changes at all times, diving into new trends in marketing, and researching new things every day. That’s exciting to me.

    Do you see anything happening that is important for business owners to know today?

    Organic is diminishing, and it’s mostly all paid reach today. When I first started marketing you could still get quite a bit of reach with organic. Now there’s so much clutter, it’s not as powerful as it used to be.

    How is that helpful for businesses in today’s market?

    I think it’s important for clients to know that social media is branding, and yes, you’re going to get organic traffic from it, but ultimately you need to pay to see real results. It’s just not the same these days without a budget behind it.

    What’s one of the biggest mistakes you see businesses making with regard to their marketing?

    Assuming that they’re going to get results right away. Sometimes businesses make the mistake of putting money in, not seeing immediate results, then cutting budget right away. It’s not a week’s process. It’s not even a month’s process. It takes six months to a year to see growth. My advice is to manage your expectations and be patient.

    Let’s pivot to over to something more personal… You’re a bit of a travel nut, and you’ve had the chance to roam around the US a bit. Having lived in other cities, what do you enjoy most about working in Austin?

    The first thing that comes to mind is the food! We have amazing food here, and if I could have my dream job it would be to write about food all day!

    Other than that, I think it’s the variety of people here in Austin. Whenever I go out the conversation usually starts with “Where are you from?”. If someone answers “Austin”, they’re a unicorn. I love the cultural mix here and learning about where everyone is from.

    What advice would you give to someone who wanted to move here and maybe start a career in marketing?

    Since it is such a large tech hub, I would say get as much experience as you can before coming here. It’s pretty competitive. Do your research and learn as much as possible. If employers see that you are up to date, that will go a long way to getting hired quickly.

    Okay, and for any business owner who might be reading this, what are a couple tips you would give them to step up their marketing?

    Definitely hire experts! Don’t think you can do it alone… and maybe you can, but you shouldn’t, because it’s so time consuming to do it right and stay focused on your business. That’s a really big one.

    ***

    Need to a marketing team so you can stay focused on what matters most? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Stop Shooting From the Hip: In Praise Of the Marketing Process

    Successful businesses understand the value of a solid marketing process. They’re living proof. Without sound planning and a steady routine, businesses crash and burn. You can’t wing it forever without making irreparable mistakes.

    Years of hard work and brand value are quickly erased when a company decides to eschew the fundamentals of sound marketing. What follows is a steady decline in website traffic, stagnating sales, and the abyss of negative cash flow.

    An army would never rush into battle without a strategy. So why do so many businesses skip proper planning?

    It’s Not So Simple

    Companies are doomed to repeat mistakes when they’ve benefitted from a lucky streak. Enamored with their success, they fail to objectively analyze the true reasons for their achievement. They repeat the same steps over and over in the fruitless pursuit of the fleeting victory they once enjoyed. Lightning never strikes twice.

    In other cases, business owners use “busy-ness” as an excuse to skip the hard work of marketing. It’s understandable. Everyone is busy. Especially business owners. But if you’re too busy to plan for success, you will eventually be too busy shutting down your company. There’s no justification for doing things wrong.

    Businesses without a process engage in “reactive” management practices. Every decision is a last minute fire drill responding to crisis. It demoralizes your employees. It exhausts your partners. And believe it or not, your customers know.

    The strongest brands are proactive. They create a strategy. They stick to a plan.

    Successful Marketing Starts With A Plan

    You are far more likely to succeed when you have a plan for success. This is made possible by using a marketing process. Failure to use a process equals failure to plan. Failure to plan means shooting from the hip.

    The steps to the Marketing Process are:

    1. Define Your Mission
    2. Analysis & Research
    3. Define Your Strategy
    4. Set Your Marketing Mix
    5. Execute Your Campaigns
    6. Analyze & Optimize

    Define Your Mission

    Simply put, this step answers the questions of “What is your company’s purpose?” and “What do you need to do?”. While these seem like straightforward and enduring objectives, your mission will always be determined by a variety of factors:

    • What is our brand?
    • What are our values?
    • What is our culture?
    • What value do we offer?
    • What is happening in the market?
    • How stable is our company?

    Analysis & Research

    This tends to be the phase that companies rush or ignore.

    Many business owners think they have a solid handle on their place in the market, but the fact of the matter is there is constant pressure being applied to your operation from internal and external forces. If you do not routinely assess your position and your weaknesses, you will overlook opportunities and threats that could change your standing.

    There are a variety of analytical exercises to help with this phase:

    SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

    5C Analysis

    PEST Analysis

    There are many others, including some that are specific to your industry. Whether you frequently perform these tasks or not, an extensive amount of research should be conducted during each marketing cycle.

    The market is moving. Consumer interests change. Sales volume is fluid. If you’re not looking at historical data and reviewing the world around you, you won’t be able to make smart decisions on how to proceed.

    Define Your Strategy

    Imaging a scene from an old war movie. Generals and admirals are standing around a map. They know their mission. They’ve assessed their ranks and their competition. Looking intently at the enemy’s position on the table, they run through hypothetical strategies and discuss each scenario objectively.

    Much like the military, every business is subject to a wide range of benefits and consequences for every step they take. Defining your strategy allows you to identify your position, set marketing goals, determine your target audience and establish KPIs.

    You may have used the same strategy since your company’s formation. If it still works, then so be it. However, we recommend running through the scenarios every time you reach this stage in the process. It’s quite likely the landscape will change one day, and you’ll be too far along to change course when it happens.

    Set Your Marketing Mix

    For business owners who are merely winging it, this is the step where they normally start their “process”. When there is no plan and no proper process, this step usually takes the form of a last minute email blast or hastily structured social media campaign with jumbled messaging and a poorly executed strategy.

    The marketing mix consists of the 4 P’s:

    Product – the product or service to be sold.

    Price – how much the product or service costs

    Place – the means with which to deliver the product or service

    Promotion – the effort to promote the sale of the product or service

    It’s during this stage that decisions are made on what tactics will be used to convey the value of the product or service. Is it an ad campaign? Is it a social media strategy? Is it supported with email? Does traditional media factor into the equation?

    Many business owners understand this part of the process. They’ve probably even executed campaigns on their own. But as the fourth step in the marketing process, if they haven’t thoroughly performed the first three steps, their odds for success are limited.

    Execute Your Campaigns

    This phase takes up a significant amount of the time defined as “marketing”. Assets are created. Designs are produced. Messaging is written. Campaigns are structured. All of the busy work of marketing happens here.

    Controlling and managing your marketing plan occurs during this phase, and it consists of multiple sub-processes that involve back and forth communication between the business owner, the marketing team, and vendors and contractors.

    At Divining Point we frequently see companies who launch seemingly effective campaigns. Peaking into analytics, however, we discover there are no methods of tracking conversions. In some cases, the term “conversion” is a poorly defined conclusion. We caution companies to ensure that ROI can be tracked all the way from the bottom of the funnel up to the source that feeds it at the top.

    Analyze & Optimize

    For some agencies, this phase of the marketing process is a subset of the Execution phase. Divining Point breaks this out into its own step. Monitoring performance during and after a campaign is a crucial and time-consuming step that impacts the short-term success of a campaign and the overall long-term success of a company.

    As stated above, if conversions and tracking are set up appropriately, a company can let the data be their guide towards optimization. Much like the scientific method, testing and analyzing is an iterative cycle that pushes a campaign towards greater success. You can efficiently change course if you know where to direct your attention.

    The logical conclusion of this phase ends with reporting and further analysis. End of the Month (or End of the Quarter) meetings typically revolve around the metrics collected at the end of promotional efforts. The marketing process now starts over.

    NEWS FLASH: The Plan Is Always Evolving

    Using a disciplined routine to the marketing process allows your business to stay focused and ahead of the competition. At the end of each cycle, a new plan is developed based on the findings from the steps above.

    Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be.

    Once you’ve developed the marketing process and documented your work, a company can deftly roll from campaign to campaign while staying fully aware of market conditions and threats to their business. This is especially true for companies with a firm understanding of their brand, their buyers, and their value in the world.

    Need to a team to build your marketing process? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • In Defense of Power Naps: How A Pause In Activity Can Boost Marketing Performance

    Every day Americans attempt to cram more productivity into fewer hours. It usually occurs at the expense of efficiency. What appears to be “business” on the surface is usually nothing more than “busy-ness” at its core. Neither are alike in any way.

    Rather than taking a break for a much needed rest, or even getting up to stretch, most people keep pushing themselves and everyone around them to do more, more, more. We recommend taking a nap rather than overextending yourself. And while it may seem like a stretch to apply the benefits of napping to marketing performance, much can be gained from a short pause in activity.

    Wait. What?

    That’s right. Napping.

    Marketing performance is a difficult pursuit where the ground rules change and the goal posts move every day. To coin a phrase from Mr. Dooley, marketing ain’t bean-bag. It requires creativity, analysis, technical skills, constant maintenance, and even a fair bit of damage control.

    In the end, the credit for success usually lands in someone else’s lap – for example: the party animals in the Sales Department. However, blame for failure almost always comes back to marketing.

    In that regard, the fresh ideas you need to get ahead only come from fresh minds, which brings us back to napping.

    It’s no secret that Divining Point employs a unique model that gives us an edge. While we’re not a certified Results Only Work Environment (ROWE), we embrace many of its standards. To us, and for your benefit, we only focus on what matters most: marketing performance. What matters least is where we are, when we do it, how we do it, or why we do it the way we do. Ultimately, your goals are met. You succeed. We succeed.

    At Divining Point, we take naps. You should, too.

    The Benefits of Rest

    Much has been written about the relationship between sleep and achievement. It’s directly analogous to marketing performance in more ways than one.

    The National Sleep Foundation offers this key benefit of napping:

    “Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents. A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.”

    You’re probably thinking: “Isn’t that just sleeping on the job?”

    No. It’s being ready for the job.

    If you consider that tiredness is a response to over activity and burnout is a complete crash, as an organism your business requires periods of quiet where you can refocus your efforts and avoid the negative effects of oversaturation.

    Putting this in marketing terms:

    Your marketing efforts not only deplete your company’s resources, they also strain your customers. Constantly shouting about your brand eventually turns people away. Pushing, pushing, PUSHING your buyers with the same message and the same methods forces them to run away and land in some other company’s arms.

    Think of It Like Flighting

    Flighting is a cyclical technique to advertise your brand. It involves running your ads, then turning them off, and then turning them back on with new value propositions.

    Recent theory suggests that flighting is bad for business, but we beg to differ. For seasonal businesses (like travel or apparel brands), flighting makes complete sense. It shifts the focus to those times when sales are more likely to occur. But for other industries, flighting – or a hiatus – can be just as beneficial.

    Take into consideration the negative effects of oversaturation, which is no doubt the result of continuous promotions and advertising. If you spread your marketing efforts too thinly over a longer period of time, you lose the ability to make an impact on the buyers you desire most.

    If you continue to bang the drum everywhere all the time your audience will tune you out and opt out of your ads. This is the equivalent of strapping a muzzle to your face.

    Similarly, if you don’t focus your efforts to target your specific buyers, and if you don’t tailor your message specifically for them, you waste money and resources on activities that will never yield an ROI.

    Do You Seriously Take Naps?

    Yes, we do. Our team works long hours when it makes sense. We also take naps when it makes sense. It all contributes to marketing performance.

    When looking at your marketing strategy, you can’t effectively be “ON” all the time without incurring some cost – literal or otherwise.

    New platforms, new techniques, new campaigns, new products, new seasons, new trends, new staff… these are the ever-shifting sands in the terrain. Staying engaged in the push is paramount. But strategic pauses are a restorative force that moves you faster and further than your worn out competition.

    Don’t deceive yourself into thinking this is a wholesale termination of marketing. That’s not good. Instead this is the agile refocusing, redirecting, and restructuring of your marketing campaigns in a way that provides relief for you and for your customer.

    The end result is a higher level of marketing performance.

    Need a full-service team to chart your marketing strategy? Contact us today. We’re here to help.

  • 6 Effective Tips for Visual Storytelling with Video

    Capturing the attention of your audience in the midst of today’s digital clutter is a challenging feat to beat. While video marketing is a strong medium to help increase exposure, there’s no better way to stand out than with visual storytelling.

    So what’s the difference?

    Visual storytelling is more than leveraging video and sound. Storytelling involves the bigger picture of what you’re trying to achieve by captivating emotion and bringing your product to life. It is more than just selling with video. It involves delivering an impactful emotional experience that resonates with the viewer long after the video has been watched.

    Here are 6 tips to help your visual storytelling make your business irresistible:

    Create a Structured Timeline

    As an elementary refresher, every story has a beginning, middle, and end. This same rule should apply to the structure of your video. Without an organized timeline, videos will feel incomplete, fruitless, and even confusing.

    The beginning of your story should introduce characters and set the scene by establishing scenarios and hint at the main idea. The middle of the video should include the action being taken to solve a certain problem, while events simultaneously build off one another. Revealing the outcome and unmasking a solution is the best way to conclude your video storytelling.

    While that sounds like a task for a motion picture screen writer, it’s not. Approach every storytelling project the same way you’d write a paper. Start by documenting the goal of the video, who it should speak to, and what the action should be. Continue with an outline that defines the individual steps (or scenes) in the video and define how the video should perform during each part of the composition. From there you can build out the entire piece.

    Lighting and Backdrops Matter

    There’s nothing worse than watching a low-quality video with distracting backgrounds. All too often, people attempt to use their mobile devices to create a video without controlling the lighting or surrounding scene. The result is an inferior video piece that fails to capture the full attention of the viewer.

    If your story takes place outdoors, be sure the weather conditions are ideal; if there are high winds, dark clouds, or rain, it’s best to reschedule. If you’re shooting indoors, consider investing in lighting equipment and use the three point lighting technique. Good lighting can take your video from looking amateurish to looking clean and professional.

    Also think about your backdrop before diving in. Backdrops can make or break a video, so be sure they’re not distracting or too busy. For example, if you’re interviewing someone, it’s safest to stick to a solid background with muted colors such as gray or dark blue. Don’t attempt to conduct an interview on a busy street unless you have the right sound and lighting to keep the focus on your subject.

    Strategically picking your background can save you a ton of time and make all the difference in the quality of your video.

    Simplicity is Best

    While shooting elaborate scenes with intricate dialogue may sound ideal, communicating a singular idea with a straightforward approach can often be more effective.

    Beautiful footage isn’t essential in video storytelling, especially for beginners. Focus on the product and people in your video rather than capturing irrelevant scenes. This can cause too much “noise” and distract viewers from your the problem you’re trying to solve.

    Additionally, don’t fill your entire video with dialogue. Sometimes fewer words have greater power. Try selecting the most meaningful and influential sound bites that efficiently deliver your message. Clean shots, good audio and powerful music can help tell the rest of the story.

    Be Human and Evoke Emotion

    One of the most crucial – and perhaps the most difficult – elements to visual storytelling is inducing emotion to assist in how to portray a powerful message

    Drawing out feelings of empathy will elicit feelings of trust and loyalty to your brand, so before shooting, ask yourself the following questions:

    • How does your message and brand impacts real lives?
    • What emotions are the customers faces with before being introduced to your product?
    • What emotions do you want them to feel when they find the solution?
    • How do you alter your customer’s skepticism and turn it into hopefulness and joy?

    These questions will establish a baseline to your story’s itinerary and keep viewers engaged and invested. Portraying a powerful message through emotion is essential. It makes a lasting impression, as opposed to simply conveying a marketing message.

    Become a Master Editor

    One of the best ways to enhance your video lies in the editing process. Be sure your cuts are clean and distinct. Don’t get too fancy with transitions. Focusing on lavish transitions may detract from the valuable points you are trying to get across. Additionally, try and pick music that matches the tone of the rest of the story to bring your product to vivid life.

    Determining the length of your video is also imperative. Based off over 564,000 video, Wistia determined the ideal length to be 2 minutes. They also found that engagement is steady up to 2 minutes, meaning a 90-second video will hold a someone’s attention as much as a 30-second one. Naturally, you have to consider where this video will be viewed. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook require shorter video lengths.

    Include a Call To Action

    Like other marketing assets, you’ll want to end your video by prompting your viewer to take action. If they’ve watched your video to the end, they’ve already demonstrated a clear interest. Providing a call to action – or CTA – will drive viewers to take an action. Ideally you’d drive the viewer to a designated landing page where they will provide their contact information, thereby turning them into a lead.

    Other CTA ideas can include inviting viewers to your social media pages, entering contests, free trials, webinars, short forms, or another video. Whatever the end goal is, this is your chance to gather further interest and transition them from a viewer to a customer.

    The exception here would be with a branding piece that revolves around a mood, an inspirational message, or personal story. In that case, your visual story is less about selling or promoting your product, but instead focuses on the value of your brand. The call to action is not overt. Instead, you’re hoping the viewer will have a visceral emotional response to your video that will then be positively associated with your brand. It’s less of a “call to action” and more of “call to emotion”.

    Need help with your video storytelling or other social media management? Contact us today to get started on all your social media needs.

     

  • Divining Point Recognized as Industry Leader

    The marketing world is constantly changing with new innovations and companies on the move. At Diving Point, we act as a guide for your business to help pinpoint areas of your strategy that need improvement to quickly move your business to the top. We specialize in brand identity, digital marketing, content marketing, visual storytelling and social media. In essence, we are a full service team of problem solvers dedicated to your marketing and strategy.

    Clutch, a platform that publishes verified client reviews, spoke to our past clients to get feedback about our process and deliverables. Along with client interviews, Clutch Analysts conducted market research to see how we stack up against our competitors.  We are so excited to announce that we were featured as one of the Top Digital Marketing Agencies in Austin on Clutch!

    Some of our favorite reviews from our Clutch profile are listed below:

    “They have decades of experience in marketing, so they were incredibly detailed, timely, and concise.”

    We were extremely impressed with the value we received and with the thorough and timely delivery of services. We are looking forward to working on bigger projects with them in 2019.”

    “The content strategy and supporting content development work they provided dramatically improved our market visibility and our bottom line”

    “Above all else, I appreciate their ability to listen. I’ve been around this business for 10 years and have worked with firms that don’t always pay attention to their client’s needs. Divining Point internalizes the challenges we communicate to provide creative solutions.”

    Digital Marketing is something that every company needs to embrace. Forbes published an article, which was titled Why Everyone Needs A Digital Marketing Strategythat drives the point home. Essentially, digital marketing gives you insights into your customers and your business which were completely unavailable with traditional marketing mediums.

    That’s not to suggest that traditional methods are outdated or unnecessary. However, digital marketing is now a necessary plank to build the foundation for your entire marketing strategy.

    We are happy that our Clutch reviews reflect the satisfaction of our clients. At Diving Point, we take immense pride in the personal service we provide for our clients, and we do our very best to give them the results they expect.

    Ready to take your business to next level? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • 5 Marketing Methods to Help You Succeed In 2019

    It’s a given that the world of marketing moves fast. Every year brings new marketing methods to engage your buyers. 2019 is no exception. Adapting to the new ground rules each year can be dizzying.

    If you skim the search results for marketing trends in 2019 you’ll see that AI, virtual reality and chatbots are still all the rage. For three years (or more) we’ve heard about the benefits of these new technologies. We don’t deny the power of these new systems, but for most companies these are still inexplicable buzzwords that really don’t make sense for their business.

    Rather than promote bleeding edge programs that verge on science fiction, we present 5 marketing methods to help you succeed in 2019.

    Search Is Still Critical

    As we all know, every purchase starts with a need or a desire.

    Sometimes the urge to buy comes from an organic place: the buyer experiences a real world situation that compels them to find a solution for their needs.

    Other times, the demand for a product or service is generated through the artful use of advertising, which introduces the buyer to something they never knew existed.

    In both cases, the buyer starts the process with online research. That inevitably means they rely on a search engine to find information.

    There is nothing new about search. What’s new in 2019 is where people go to do it.

    It’s not enough to simply write blogs and optimize your site for search engine success. People now use Facebook and Twitter to explore new products. They browse through dozens of images on Pinterest and Instagram. They watch videos on YouTube. They even use voice search (“Hey Siri!”) or visual search to find more information about something they’re looking at directly in front of them.

    Is your company poised to capitalize when your buyer is in the mood to explore? The answer is probably no unless you’re engaging in a sophisticated SEO campaign and regularly pushing content across a wide array of platforms. Even so, many business fail to rank where it matters most.

    Our advice is to quit discounting the most fundamental behavior of buyer psychology. SEO, SEM, social media, and content marketing matter more now than ever before. Invest heavily in a multidimensional strategy that leads buyers to you.

    Expect Fragmentation

    For the last 5 years we witnessed a massive consolidation online. Facebook essentially demolished most of the early competitors in the social media world. Google not only dominated the search engine industry, they also lead the way with online video (YouTube) and digital advertising (formerly AdWords, now Google Ads). Amazon continues to break records for online shopping and now competes for music, entertainment and just about everything else.

    But something predictable happened in 2018. People changed how they consume online media. Thanks to the bitter presidential election in 2016, and as a result of privacy violations across the internet, more and more consumers are diversifying where they spend their time online.

    2019 will bring about more fragmentation in online behavior. People are doing more research on sites that cater to their niche interests. They’re opting in to email lists from companies they trust – while flagging as spam those companies they don’t. They consume considerable amounts of video online all over the internet. They read forums (remember those?) and participate on discussion sites like Reddit. Blogs, podcasts, alternative news sites, the list goes on and on. More profoundly, they’re spending less time on Facebook and Twitter, instead opting for Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Mastodon, Minds, Gab, MeWe, Vero, Signal and more.

    This isn’t to suggest that the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and Google) are going anywhere soon. But as personal data becomes a bigger issue for consumers, people will move towards platforms where they can engage with more like-minded users and ensure a modicum of privacy.

    What does that mean for you? Know your audience. Research where they spend their time online and develop a strategy for engaging them all along the way.

    Personalize Your Approach

    You should never send a single email to an entire database of customers. Similarly, you can’t expect a single ad to resonate with all of your buyers. If you speak to all of your customers in the same way you should expect to lose them over time. Buyers are unique. You need to treat them like it.

    Market segmentation is nothing new. Even list segmentation is old news. But are you actually using all of the available tools to speak directly to each individual buyer? Are you appealing to them as individuals and offering them messaging based on their behavior online?

    Remarketing methods, email marketing metrics, Facebook pixel, website behavior tracking… these are but a few of the tools that allow you to analyze the interests and preferences of your buyers. With a CRM and marketing automation platform, you can generate workflows to deliver personalized messages that leads your buyer through the funnel.

    Let’s take this even further for 2019. If you are not developing engaging, original content tailored to the personal preferences of your buyers, you will be missing out on the opportunity to turn customers into brand loyalists. Certainly, buyers buy products because they need them, but brand loyalists buy products because they want them… and they won’t even consider buying from another company. That competitive edge makes your life easier and increases sales.

    Original Engaging Content Means More Than Just A Blog

    Research suggests that the average person is exposed to over 10,000 marketing messages EVERY DAY. Is yours breaking through? We bet the answer is no.

    Everyday people scroll through their social media feed in a somewhat absent minded manner until something stands out. They’re busy. They want to be informed or entertained. They want to be amazed.

    How do you stop the scroll? Make your content awesome!

    If you haven’t taken content marketing seriously up to now, in 2019 you must invest in a strategy that captivates and intrigues your customers. We advise you to think beyond the blog.

    The most engaging forms of content are professional quality photography and video. People by nature are visually oriented. They stop and stare when something captures their attention. This is why billboards are still effective to this day, thousands of years after the first sign was hung for a business. It’s why TV still ranks as the most dominant media form. It’s why YouTube garners billions of users each month.

    We’ll take this even further. If you’re producing brand-related video and photos with a mobile phone it’s highly likely that you’re doing it wrong. Today’s consumers are smarter than that, and they have incredibly high standards for what passes as quality. A poorly lit photo or a sloppily produced video tarnishes your brand. If your product looks less than stellar how does that impact your buyer? It turns them off.

    Diversify Your Ad Strategy

    Earlier on we mentioned fragmentation in media consumption. It’s not that people are no longer using Facebook, Twitter, Google, et al. They’re just not spending as much time there. Much ado has been made about the limited organic reach you get these days on these platforms.

    The cost to reach a greater audience has skyrocketed. It’s a sign of bad times when up to a half of a company’s ad budget goes solely to one company. It’s even more frustrating when these vendors put excessive restrictions on not only WHAT you can advertise but HOW your ad must look.

    The rise in niche sites, independent social platforms, and even new search engines (hello Pinterest!) means there are many more places online to advertise your products. It’s time to explore your options. We’re here to tell you there is life outside of Google and Facebook.

    There are multiple private ad networks that reach industry-specific audiences and capture buyers of niche products. There are influencers and affiliates who can drive sales with a single tweet or shout out in a podcast. And let’s not forget the tried and true standards of the analog ad industry: billboards, radio, TV, magazines, direct mail, and special event sponsorships. All of these methods give you a powerful alternative for reaching your customers.

    Your Brand Still Matters

    At the end of the day you still need a brand. It doesn’t even need to be hip or cute – like so many startups that flood the market. With a strong sense of identity and a good understanding of your buyers, you can use the methods in this blog to reach even more buyers than you did in 2018. While it’s easy to get distracted by shiny new objects like AR/VR and AI, the fundamentals of marketing remain the same.

    What’s changed is the critical requirement to build a diverse strategy. You can’t win the game if you don’t show up to play. Buyers in 2019 will no longer give you a pass for a half-hearted attempt to win their attention. Your New Year resolution should be “Excellence in Marketing”. If you pursue it with intention, you’ll crush your sales goals and succeed while others crash and burn.

    Let Divining Point tackle your marketing strategy, implementation and management. For more information, visit our services page today!

     

  • How To Dominate Your Pinterest Strategy in 2019

    Social media marketing is crucial for brand awareness, customer loyalty, and increasing your overall sales– but we already knew this, right? While Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are strong platforms to utilize, having an active Pinterest account with an effective Pinterest Strategy behind it may be the most valuable tool for different reasons.

    Pinterest currently has 250 million active users. As compelling as this statistic is, we also need to consider how Pinterest is a beneficial tool for SEO purposes, making it a unique and invaluable social platform.

    Here’s how to take advantage of Pinterest’s exclusive offerings for a kickass strategy in 2019:

    Pin Often and Consistently

    Like most social media mediums, having a regular posting schedule is imperative. According to PinCoach, you should be Pinning at least 10x a day. Your Pins should be a mix of native and curated content. Native content is content created from scratch by your brand, while curated content is the gathering of existing content such as blogs, photos, eBooks, etc. RePinning other’s Pins to your boards also shows community engagement.

    Additionally, instead of Pinning all at once, you should Pin sporadically so your content is spread out. Part of Pinterest’s algorithm is based off consistency. Once Pinterest sees you are posting high-quality content that is consistent, your impressions will increase, meaning more users will see your content!

    Allure Your Audience With Vivid Images

    Because Pinterest is such a visual platform – much like Instagram – it’s important to have captivating images. Putting a strong effort towards the quality of your images will make a world of difference.

    Be sure your images are well-lit and in focus. The images you choose are a reflection of your brand imagery, so it pays to put forth extra effort in this regard. .

    Research your industry to learn what kind of images perform the best. For example, in the retail industry instead of posting a photo of the product itself, you can produce 30 percent more clickthroughs and 170 percent higher checkout rates if you use a lifestyle photo of a person wearing or using a product.

    Don’t Forget to Write Detailed Descriptions

    While great images are a necessity, it’s not enough to rely on strong visuals. As we mentioned earlier, Pinterest is a substantial SEO tool. In 500 words, your description should pique your audience’s interest while including keywords. These keywords are picked up by Google, and if you have a strong Pinterest marketing strategy in place, this will ultimately increase your search engine results.

    Writing a solid description doesn’t necessarily mean including a brand name. In fact, 97% of Pinterest descriptions don’t. This is because Pinners are searching for specific terms or items, not brands. Think about humanizing your brand and how your audience is using Pinterest.

     

    Don’t Skip Out on Hashtags

    Hashtags are a great search tool on Pinterest. Hashtags are used to search for the most recent content so you should incorporate both timely and timeless hashtags such as #Christmas and #GiftIdeas. Also be sure to use evergreen hashtags and industry-related hashtags.

    Engage With Other Accounts

    Having a Pinterest marketing strategy is great for SEO, but it should also be treated like other social media platforms. This involves engaging with other accounts including repinning, saving, and liking, other user’s Pins. In turn, this will increase your own engagement.

    Another way to increase engagement is to create a group board where you can invite others in your Pinterest network to contribute with their own pins.

    Use Analytics to Skyrocket Performance

    Monitoring your Pin’s performances can help you learn what’s working and what isn’t. You can then tweak your Pins for optimized results. Be sure to avoid vanity metrics, numbers that are easily manipulated and don’t necessarily provide quality to your brand. Instead, audit which Pins are sending traffic to your website, which should be the ultimate goal.

    Analyzing your successful Pins will also help see how others view your brand and spark ideas for future campaigns. Gaining insight into the demographics and interests of others will assist in providing the right content to the right people.

    With a strong Pinterest Marketing Strategy in place, you can expect to strengthen your brand, drive heavy traffic, and widen product exposure in 2019!

    Need help with your Pinterest Marketing Strategy or other social media management? Contact us today to get started on all your social media needs.

     

  • SEO: The Basics

    Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. Through the practice of SEO, a business is able to place its information at the top of those billions of daily searches, making it much more likely that a potential customer will visit their website for more information. But how do you go about the process of SEO? We breakdown the basics to demystify this critical component of any digital marketing strategy.

    VOCABULARY LESSON

    There are a few terms & acronyms you’ll need to know before you can jump into understanding the processes of SEO. So, let’s begin:

    1. SEO: search engine optimization; tactics used to organically push websites and pages to the first page of Google and other search engines.
    2. Black Hat SEO: unethical tactics to attempt to reach the first page of search engines; can result in your website being banned from search engine results pages
    3. White Hat SEO: ethical tactics to attempt to reach first page of search engines
    4. SERP: search engine results page… the page that pulls up all results related to your search query in Google (or Bing, if that’s your search engine of choice)
    5. Crawlable: a crawlable site allows search engine bots to visit its web pages to index its information
    6. Indexing: a search engine’s process of collecting and categorizing website data
    7. Keyword: a word or short phrase used to identify the focus of the web page
    8. Keyword Density: the ratio at which a keyword is used in the page’s content compared to the total number of words; ideal keyword density is around 2%, but there is no perfect number and trying to force-fit a keyword in will just make your content read poorly
    9. Duplicate Content: reusing content across multiple pages; will often result in negative SEO impact (Google doesn’t like reading the same thing twice any more than you do)
    10. Alt Tag: (also known as alt text) a word or short phrase used to label an image on a web page; allows search engines to “read” an image, since an image itself would not otherwise translate into an optimizable language
    11. Title Tag: represents the page title as read by search engines; is seen in the tabs of a browser and as the title of a web page on SERP
    12. Meta Description: a page description found under the title tag on SERP; does not directly affect rankings, but allows viewers to see what page is about, increasing click-through rates
    13. Links:
      1. Internal: links on your webpage that link to other pages within the same website
      2. Outbound: links on your webpage that link to other pages outside of the same website
      3. Backlinks: links on another webpage that link to a page on your website
      4. Stop Words: filler words commonly found in phrases, that can usually be removed from key phrase (Examples of this would be “the”, “of”, “for”, “an”… you get the picture.)

    TACTICS

    Now that you understand the terminology, let’s jump into implementation! The two methods we’re going to break down are On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.

    On-Page SEO

    Key pieces of quality on-page SEO include site speed, mobile optimization, content and an up-to-date site map.

    Site Speed

    Better site speed allows search engines to crawl your page faster (and is less frustrating for your audience) so improving site speed is an effective way to increase your overall on-page SEO. Here are a few steps to faster site speed:

    1. Utilize tools like Google Page Speed to automatically apply web performance best practices to the pages of your site.
    2. Caching temporarily stores copies of web pages a user has visited, requiring less bandwidth for them to return to it. Install caching on your website to prevent lag from multiple users on your site at one time.
    3. Larger images take longer to load, so reduce the size of your image files for faster site speed; luckily you can shrink images down significantly without losing quality.
    4. Minimize your RTTs (the number of requests made when a user accesses your site). Each piece of your page that needs loading is requested individually, so the fewer that need to run, the better.
      1. A few ways to do this
        1. Combine CSS and JavaScript
        2. Minimize DNS lookups
        3. Minimize redirects
    5. Turn off unused plugins or extensions because each one requires individual loading that bogs down your site speed.

    Mobile Optimization

    In 2017, mobile devices accounted for more than 50% of all online searches. As mobile users increase year over year, the likelihood of your customers looking for you from their smartphone is high and getting higher. A mobile friendly or mobile responsive site isn’t enough anymore, mobile optimization is crucial. But what does that mean? We’ve provided a few key features for mobile optimized sites, does your website check all the boxes?

    1. Simplified navigation that’s touch screen-friendly
      1. Larger buttons to allow easier clicking
      2. Easy scrolling so viewers can browse your website without accidental clicks
      3. Avoid the need for typing
    2. Condensed copy for less scrolling to read
    3. Avoid pop-ups
    4. Resize images & videos to fit smaller screens

    If your customers are more likely to visit your site from their mobile device, you may even consider a mobile-first design: designing your site around mobile (typically in a single-column layout, which can then expand for desktop browsing).

    Sitemap

    Once your website’s been constructed, you’ll need to create a Sitemap. Simply put, a Sitemap is a file containing all of your webpage’s URLs. It should be easy to find so search engines don’t have to work hard to crawl it. The most common place to create your Sitemap will be in Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), but other options are also available.

    Content

    The biggest piece of your on-page SEO is content. Your site should be filled with relevant content, but it’s not just about creating content filled to the brim with keywords, but putting it together in a way that’s easy and enjoyable for your audience to read. Let’s start there…

    1. Readability: The term itself is pretty self-explanatory, but something to keep in mind: Google “reads” at about a fifth-grade level, so in order to improve readability, follow a few very simple steps
      1. Keep your sentences short
      2. Don’t use too many big words—there are exceptions to this rule of course, but if you’re writing for the average reader, ditch the thesaurus and keep it uncomplicated simple (so long as it doesn’t take away from the personality of the content).
    2. Length: 300 words is your minimum, but the longer the better. The more content you provide, the more opportunities search engines have to crawl and index your page based on keywords.
      1. Exclusions to this rule: website home pages, gallery pages, etc. (this is an age-old battle between SEOs and web designers… general rule of thumb: don’t sacrifice design for content because even if it makes Google happy, it will deter people from visiting and that’s the real goal in all of this)
    3. Keywords: You’ll build your page’s SEO around this word or phrase. You’ll incorporate it in copy, title tags, meta descriptions and alt tags.
    4. Heading Tags(don’t just bold!): Heading tags break up your content to make sure it’s easy to digest for readers and search engines alike. Bolding a word or phrase, followed by a paragraph won’t cut it in Google’s eyes. You’ll need to use H2, H3, etc. tags so search engines can read it as an actual heading.
    5. Images (Alt Tags): Use alt tags as an opportunity to incorporate your keyword in another place. Be sure all images on each page include your keyword.
    6. Slugs: This is the piece of your page’s link that follows the main site URL (website.com/page-slug). Keep it short, incorporate your keyword into it if you can, and exclude stop words as much as possible.
    7. Links: Linking your page to other pages either within the same website or to other sites creates associations between your content and other pages’ content, which builds relevance for your page.
      1. Linking to pages on other sites also encourages others to do the same for you, building your backlinks, which looks great in Google’s eyes. The more places pointing to your site, the better.

     

    Off-Page SEO

    Alongside content, links are the leading ranking factor in all of SEO. Link building is the process of accumulating links from outside sources that point back to your website. There are a number of ways to approach link building, but let’s cover the most common:

    1. Manually created links are links that you generate through outreach. You can reach out to bloggers, journalists and influencers to request they create or share content that links back to your website. This is a pretty time-consuming task, but can be effective once you’ve developed strong relationships.
    2. Self-created links are link you put out on your own through various platforms.
    3. Directories: the most common directories include Google My Business, Bing Places and Yelp. There are oftentimes industry-specific directories you can utilize as well.
    4. Blog comments & forums: Joining the conversation on relevant blogs and forums allows you the chance to weigh in on what your customers are talking about, while incorporating an additional link back to your website.
    5. Guests posts (other blogs): Acting as a guest blogger on an already established site leverages that blogger’s audience for you to get in front of.
    6. Advertorials: A long-form advertisement, often written in the form of an article or editorial and promotes a product or service.
    7. Profiles: Much like directories, creating user profiles across various online networks gives you the opportunity to create a “personality” behind your brand, and link back to your website.

     

    Let Divining Point tackle your on-page and off-page SEO strategy, implementation and management. For more information, visit our services page today!

     

  • Print Marketing’s Not Dead

    Postcards, brochures, and any other kind of materials you hand out or leave behind are considered printed collateral. With the boom of digital marketing and social media, one might assume that printed marketing is dead, but we disagree and the statistics support our belief. According to data compiled by Vistaprint: consumers trust print ads 34% more than they trust search engine ads. Postcards have an average 4.25% response rate in comparison the 0.1% rate of cold emailing. And finally, the response to direct-mail marketing was 37% higher than email.

    If digital marketing was supposed to kill print, then what gives?

    Digital marketing is powered by fast, attention-grabbing, tactics to get as many eyeballs on your website as possible. With pop-up ads, overflowing email inboxes and 24/7 social media feeds, connecting with your audience requires that you cut through the noise. Printed collateral provides an opportunity to share your brand’s message, minus the potential interruption or distraction from other internet marketers.

    There’s no longer a need to carry heavy binders of sales sheets or product catalogs, but items like business cards and capability brochures are still just as important as ever. Think of print marketing not as a replacement for your digital marketing efforts, but as a complementary strategy to reach your audience via as many channels as possible. In one of our previous blogs, we mentioned that traditional advertising – billboards, TV ads, radio ads – were still thriving in a digital world, and the same holds true for print marketing. This is because your customers live in reality away from a digital screen. They still read printed magazines. They still check their mailbox and sort through direct mail. They still stop and look at eye-catching posters.

    Marketing Tech News wrote the following about print marketing:

    Print continues to have a place in the marketing mix – because it works. Four-fifths (79%) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with email straightaway.

    Targeted directed mail boasts a 4.4% response rate, compared to email’s rate of 0.12%.

    That is why online brands like Airbnb launch print magazines to reach important stakeholders, print catalogs are on the rise, 10bn business cards are printed in the US each year and advertising print totaled $45.2bn globally in 2013. Growth averaging 4.5% per year is predicted to continue to 2024.

    The following items are popular printed collateral that we frequently recommend our clients utilize to connect with their buyers:

    Project cut sheets/portfolios

    Compilations of project cut sheets are an opportunity to share your company’s best work and to provide a snapshot of your expertise. Use one sheet per project and include details such as client name, industry type, applicable numbers (square feet, budget, etc) and any professional skills that set you apart from your competitors.

    Business cards

    Even in a digital age, business cards are shared and used as a tool for networking. Business cards can now be digitally printed and ordered online, which keeps their costs low and encourages generous sharing. The design of your business card will likely guide the recipient’s first impression of your company and brand, so keep that in mind when deciding what you print. Additionally, the paper stock and coating can also add a dynamic to the design; thicker, smoother, cards will be more pleasant to hold.

    Postcards

    Postcards are great for reaching a specific audience by geography or demographics. You can live miles away and still share your company’s capabilities. Keep in mind that a postcard doesn’t deliver a personal connection, thus the messaging should be equivalent to a cold lead. Postcards are best for grabbing attention and encouraging recipients to visit your website and learn more. When budgeting for postcards, you’ll also need to consider the need for UV coating (to stand up to weather) and postage stamps.

    Brochures

    If you’d like to share more information than can fit on a postcard, a brochure is a good option for providing a more complete picture of your business. Brochures are typically folded, either in half or into thirds, and include multiple panels of text or images. Since brochures are typically more expensive than postcards, they’re a better option for professional conferences or exhibit booths, where you’ll have a chance to establish a connection before handing over the collateral.

    Digital marketing isn’t going anywhere and deserves focus and budget within any company’s marketing plan. However, smart companies know that employing a comprehensive marketing strategy, with both digital and traditional, is the best way to reach your target audience across all channels and in their daily lives. Our toolbox of services includes both digital marketing and traditional marketing. We leverage decades of experience in design and advertising to help you decide on which types of printed collateral could best fit your needs. Give us a call and let’s see how we can fully capture your ideal buyer.

  • 5 Digital Marketing Methods to Help Upstream Oil & Gas Companies

    The energy industry has seen some tough times. Now that a recovery appears to be upon us, many upstream oil and gas companies are trying to redefine themselves in a new marketing era. Although it’s only been a couple of years since many companies reserved respectable portions of budget for marketing, the marketing landscape has changed – and keeps changing.

    Although conferences and trade shows still dominate oil and gas marketing budgets (somewhere around 30%-40%), many enterprising operators are redirecting sizable chunks of budget that was previously dedicated to print, brochures, collateral, and traditional media. Consumer media consumption has changed significantly over the last 10 years, which is especially true for B2B buyers. Your buyers don’t take off their business hats when they switch to their own personal consumption, and now that they’ve adapted to digital media guess where they spend all of their time doing professional research?

    Digital marketing for upstream oil & gas doesn’t have to be complicated. Think of it like raising awareness about your company, establishing your brand, and driving buyers to your door. By using your website and social media to connect with B2B buyers, you can share your story and deliver technical information to the people who want it most. Below are 5 digital marketing methods that upstream oil and gas companies can develop an online marketing strategy.

    1. Improve Your Website

    By now you know how important your website is to the sales process. Your website is the first comprehensive experience potential buyers will have with your company. Over 80% of people look up a company online before contacting the business or deciding to buy. This applies to the energy industry, too. No matter if you’re selling miles of rebar or barrels of crude, your business must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your site.

    If you’ve had the same website for a couple of years, it’s time for an update, especially to implement a mobile responsive design. People in the oil and gas industry understand that mobile is crucial to growth and they’re investing in it heavily: $8 billion was projected to be spent on mobile oil and gas apps in 2015, and according to Oil & Gas IQ, 71% of workers use mobile devices for work purposes, especially those in field operations, technical roles, and senior decision makers. As you can see, the emphasis on mobile technology is strong and will continue to grow as more industry professionals start using their smartphones and tablets in the field. If you want your site to be accessed by your ideal clients, make sure that it’s designed to adapt to their usage and provides the info they’re seeking. It should be designed to tell your company’s story and provide meaningful ungated content (aka: freely available reading material) so that your visitor doesn’t immediately bounce from the page. If you make it easy for buyers to view your site no matter the device, and find helpful information, they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone and contact you with questions.

    1. Invest In SEO

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, it’s the act of making your website perform better to bring higher quality traffic to your site from search engines. It is pretty well established that engineers and C-level executives read tons of research and market news. Regardless if they read online periodicals or search for information using Google or Bing, your company must claim top ranking at every stop along the way.

    As an owner of an oil and gas company, you’re trying to position yourself as a leader in your field. In the spirit of leadership, you can reach your clients when they seek to answer questions online. To optimize your site’s SEO, your goal is to identify the most likely keywords and long-tail search terms your buyers use to seek out products and services like yours. Using these keywords, your marketing partners can create blog posts, white papers, or articles that bring these engineers and executives to your site. It’s not enough to just optimize on your website, your off-site SEO activities must inspire your buyers to explore your site further.

    1. Bid For PPC

    Pay-per-click (PPC) represents an effective shift in the way B2B companies handle advertising. Instead of pumping tons of money into print advertising, you can now compete for who sees your ads once they’ve searched for terms that are relevant to your industry. This represents a more efficient model to conserve your budget, potentially, since you only pay for the interest you’ve generated from your ads, i.e., the number of people who click your ad.

    For example, if someone searches for “remote monitoring for oil and gas”, you can present an ad that highlights your company’s SCADA solutions for integrating dispersed assets across the oilfield. Once clicked, you can direct the visitor directly to the landing page on your website to lead them further into the funnel. Because PPC allows you to specify which keywords will prompt your ad to show, it won’t show up when someone searches for something like, “remote baby monitor.”

    1. Capture More Leads With Gated Content

    Gated content is highly-valuable data or information for which a visitor to your website is willing to trade their contact information. Putting it simply, in order for the visitor to gain access to this materials they have to pass through a “gate,” such as a contact form, where they provide their name, email, number, and company information. This allows you to capture information about who is visiting your site and generates leads for your sales team to field. Additionally, the gated content sets you up as a thought leader in your industry. The better your gated content, the more likely your ideal client will put their trust and faith in you.

    Gated content, like whitepapers and survey results, is an ideal way to collect info on potential leads. But, before you start requiring all site visitors to fill out a form, grow their trust and appreciation. You can do this by giving away high-quality content that is NOT gated, such as industry-oriented blogs, useful market news, or even special announcements about your company. If your followers see that you offer quality free content they will be more willing to provide their personal details in order to get your gated content.

    1. Social Media

    Nothing confuses oil and gas companies quite like social media. Social media is the place where relationships happen. A research paper by International Data Corporation stated that 84% of B2B C-level and VP-level buyers use social media for purchasing. And, overall, 75% of B2B buyers consult social media when making purchasing decisions. The key to using social media for upstream oil and gas is to choose the right platform. If you’re the CEO, you might use LinkedIn to post a job opening for a rig engineer or share news about your newest drilling rigs. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other professionals in the industry to share your knowledge. By joining LinkedIn’s Groups, you can answer questions about the upstream market and establish yourself, and your company, as a thought leader.

    Facebook, on the other hand, is a good platform for providing insight into how your company operates, sharing news about your company culture, job openings, announcing recent hires or photos/videos of your product. Beyond updates about your company, Facebook also makes it easy to share interesting articles about the upstream industry or to re-share posts from your clients, partners, and vendors. Finally, Facebook’s advertising platform is as robust as Google’s pay-per-click Adwords. The vast amount of user data and advanced ads manager make it easy to directly target your potential buyers and decision makers using well-crafted ads and messaging.

    Putting It All Together

    The Upstream Oil & Gas industry is competitive and fast-moving. To grow your business and gain new buyers, your marketing strategy has got to put you at the forefront of the industry. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy will not only grow your brand online, it will also help you target the right people at a time when they’re looking to be informed, educated and entertained.

    We speak “Engineer” here and would welcome the opportunity to launch your digital marketing strategy. Our client roster includes numerous B2B companies, from engineer to tech, and we’ve helped each one develop a unique plan for implementing and optimizing their marketing efforts. Next time you’re making a long drive out to a drilling rig, we invite you to take a few minutes and give us a call.