The Engenius Blog

Ideas & tips on business, marketing, and using the Internet effectively.

The Evolution of Marketing — Part 1

Marketing is an enormous part of the business world, and with the proliferation of digital technology it is becoming harder and harder to cut through the noise and make an impression. It hasn’t always been that way though – marketing has evolved as we have, and is very different today than it was a hundred or even twenty years ago. Join us as we explore the changes marketing has experienced over the years.

Marketing Evolution Version 2

Marketing continues to evolve, and much has changed in the last twenty-five years. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll examine the profound effect the Internet and digital technology has had on marketing. Stay tuned!

How to Set Your Traditional and Digital Marketing Budget [8 Steps] – Part I

lego heels

Traditional and digital marketing go together like vintage and modern.

I’ve never felt the need to put myself in a box. My home decor and clothing styles both reflect an amalgamation of influences from vintage trends (which apparently now include the 80’s—what?), minimalist Scandinavian modernism (also known as “Pinterest”), and whatever I see that I happen to like in the moment. Only one thing remains consistent: I love to squeeze every bit of value from the almighty dollar that I can.

I also love “getting a lot of bang for my buck” on behalf of Engenius clients. As a manager of various social media and search engine advertising campaigns, I set clients up to get immense value from each dollar they spend on ads—in no small part because of the tracking data offered by almost all digital platforms. How much my clients spend can be correlated directly to what they sell, or at the very least, how many leads come across their mats.

silberman_fitness_billboard

A simple, clever, humorous—and expensive—billboard ad.

While digital marketing is what I do for our clients, I can understand and appreciate the power of traditional forms of marketing, even when they present my clients with some difficulty when it comes to calculating ROI (Return on Investment). I believe that our clients should maintain whichever marketing channels work best at the lowest cost. Do you know what those channels are for your company, in your unique situation?

In Part I of this two part series, we’ll discuss 4 steps to help you initiate a wiser strategy for divvying up your marketing budget between traditional and digital. (Or, you can skip this process entirely and talk to us about your goals!)

1. Keep your current marketing budget in mind, but don’t cling to it.

Sure, you know that not all marketing channels are created equal in cost and effectiveness. But if you’re like me, picking a monthly budget and finding a way to stay within it is comforting. Unfortunately, a simple reallocation of funds from traditional to digital marketing within your current budget may mean missed opportunities.

So keep an open mind as you go through the following steps. It’ll help you choose an overall marketing budget that makes sense for your wallet while also accomplishing your goals. (Plus, don’t tell our marketing team I said this, but your overall budget has just as good a chance of decreasing as increasing.)

2. Audit your monthly marketing practices.

What marketing practices does your business currently implement each month? Be sure to investigate and document each avenue you’re currently using to get the word out about your business. For each, investigate and document (an excel spreadsheet should do fine) the cost, the characteristics and number of people you intend to reach, and the amount of time spent managing (if you’re managing it in-house). Here are some additional methods and tools used to perform a marketing audit.

If you feel some things are missing after you’ve made a cursory list, ask everyone else in your company about marketing activities. How many hours per week does your admin assistant really spend promoting your business on Facebook? How many networking events are your staff members attending each month?

Once you’ve mapped out your State of Marketing, try to determine how many leads each channel has produced for your company. Leads do not necessarily mean sales, of course. (We’ll get to that in the next step.) Leads are people who have intentionally (inbound leads) or unintentionally (outbound leads) been exposed to your marketing materials.

A note about websites: while a website is definitely a marketing tool, for our purposes, think of your website as a second lobby; i.e. a place your leads go once you’ve piqued their interest! If you’ve set up Google Analytics for your website, you can use it to help you determine the amount of leads you’re getting through your marketing efforts. (If you’re an Engenius Client, this info is included on your monthly report!)

mallow–kitten

Here is a kitten in a bed of marshmallows, in case you need a breather between Steps 3 & 4

3. Calculate your lead to conversion rate (as much as you can).

For this step, take note of how many conversions (sales) your company has had each month and compare that to the number of leads you believe you generated with your marketing activities. This will give you a rough idea of your lead to conversion rate.

The tough thing about traditional marketing has historically been determining ROI. How many people really read that ad in the free magazine? Of that number, how many people heavily considered choosing your services but never made a purchase?

Even if your traditional marketing efforts are giving you a return on your investment, the ROI of digital advertising (paid) and organic digital marketing (free) is much easier to assess (thus their exploding popularity). Because of this, you can rest assured that however much you wind up investing in digital marketing, subsequent audits should give you enough information to refine your digital efforts even further.

Be sure to check out average conversion rates for your industry, so that you can compare and keep it in mind moving forward:

4. Think about leads.

As I mentioned above, in today’s marketing world there are generally two kinds of leads: Those that are seeking you out (inbound) and those you accost—okay, okay, politely interrupt—as they listen to the radio or watch TV (outbound). Learn more about inbound vs. outbound here.

Outbound vs Inbound

Leads you attract are worth more than leads you “talk at”.

As you might expect, inbound leads are way more likely to buy than outbound leads. Yet traditional methods of marketing are often (though not always) outbound in nature—and very expensive. Which kinds of leads are you spending your marketing budget on?

Digital marketing has opened up a new channel for outbound marketing here and there, but it is especially conducive to inbound marketing! The core to inbound marketing is being where a potential customer might be looking for something related to what your company can offer. In the digital era, those places overwhelmingly include:

  • Internet Searches (1st Page of Results)
  • Social Media
  • Your Website and Blog
  • Email Subscriptions

If the conversion rate you calculated in Step 3 is very low, changing your budget in favor of digital marketing—with an emphasis on attracting those inbound leads—could do your business a world of good.

Learn more by scheduling a free consultation with our marketing director, Rachel Testa, or stay tuned for Part II (Steps 4 – 8) of this series, in which we will discuss calculating the monthly cost of your traditional and digital marketing budgets in greater detail.

SEO Snake-Oil: How to Recognize and Avoid the Scams

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Working in web development and digital marketing, you deal with a lot of acronyms. As a graduate of Furman University, I’m no stranger to them. On campus we had an acronym for just about everything – we called the Dining Hall the DH, the Physical Activities Center the PAC, and the Furman University Police Officers FUPO. Bringing someone else on campus, I would use these terms without thinking about how much they might confuse someone unfamiliar with the school. And so it goes with web development, and one of the most confusing and elusive of all the acronyms – SEO.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of improving a website’s rankings on popular search engine sites like Google and Bing. Unlike Search Engine Marketing (SEM), where you pay for an ad to be displayed at the top of search results, SEO causes your website to appear organically when someone searches for a keyword related to your business.

Some business owners understand the necessity of SEO, realizing that a great website needs a way to drive traffic. Others don’t even know what SEO stands for, let alone understand the impact it has on the growth and success of businesses.

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SEM (Google Ads) vs SEO (organic search results)

Then there are the companies that perform SEO for other businesses. Some of these organizations follow best practices and bring tangible results, while others make empty promises and can actually make a website’s rank even worse. We’re here to help you tell the difference.

If you talk with an SEO company or consultant and they make any of the following claims or practice any of these techniques, they are trying to sell you what author Colleen Jones calls “SEO snake-oil”, and you should keep your distance.

The Unsolicited Email

We were actually inspired to write this blog post because of this tactic. Everyone hates spam email, especially when it manages to masquerade as legitimate offers and services. You may have already received emails from SEO consultants noting how poorly you rank on search engines and how they can solve all your problems with their great and unknowable power. We receive these emails, and we provide SEO services for our clients! Treat such correspondence as you would any other spam – no Nigerian prince is going to give you his riches, no diet pill is going to miraculously cause weight loss, and no legitimate web agency is going to bombard you with emails you didn’t ask for.

Guaranteed Rankings

No one can guarantee a specific ranking on search engines. If a company says “we will get you to the #1 spot on Google” or “we will get you on the first page of results”, stay away. It is impossible to deliver on such a promise. Google even says so. The only rankings that can be guaranteed are for long keyword phrases that you would get without paying.

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SEO can improve search rankings, but nothing is guaranteed

Some companies will take this a step further and guarantee a top rank within 48 hours. This is ludicrous for two reasons. First is the one we explained above, that no ranking can be guaranteed. The second is that it takes time to get results from search engine optimization. Normally months need to pass before you see any sort of change or trend in your rankings.

The Inside Man

Google needs to be wary – they have a mole in their organization. They must, considering how many SEO organizations claim to have a man on the inside. Whoever this mole is, he must be brilliant. He would need to understand the 200+ variables that control the Google algorithm and constantly review them since the algorithm is changed several times a week. How does he manage to maintain his day job without being caught by Google in the process?

The answer is that there is no inside man, and that there is no way to “crack” the Google algorithm. Shocking, I know. Sure, an SEO expert should understand certain aspects of the algorithm. But no one should claim to have a special relationship with Google or have some sort of understanding of the algorithm that is unavailable to everyone else.

Secret SEO Techniques

Remember those SEO wizards I mentioned earlier? The ones that use their great and mysterious power to get you to the top of search results. Well, they’re the same ones claiming to have secret techniques that they cannot and will not disclose. It’s reasonable if a business doesn’t want to share all of the tools they use or exactly how they practice SEO, but they should outline their strategy and give you clear deliverables. Otherwise, how do you know that they’re doing what you paid them for?

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Know where your money is going

These are just a few of the techniques used by untrustworthy SEO companies and consultants. Stay vigilant, for they may accost you at every turn. Hopefully, with this knowledge at your disposal, you’ll be able to tell the good from the bad. SEO is a legitimate practice that can help drive traffic to your website, ultimately increasing leads and conversions. When done right, it can be an incredible boon for your business. If you not only want more leads, but more qualified leads that actually have an interest in what your business does, SEO could be just what you’re looking for. But there are no shortcuts, no cheap tricks, and no easy answers. SEO takes hard work and time to be implemented properly.

If you want to start learning what you can do to improve your SEO, click the image below to check out our free eBook “25 Website ‘Must-Haves’”


25 Website 'Must-Haves'

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