5 Tips for Engaging with Reporters on Twitter

With two thirds of Americans using social media to get their news, it’s no surprise that those who report the news also utilize and participate in social media. With a news feed updating almost non-stop, the design of Twitter uniquely positions itself as source for breaking news and is therefore an ideal platform for journalists. Additionally, the site allows journalists to stay up-to-date on new developments within their beat and creates a space for dialogue and feedback on news. When engaging with reporters on Twitter it is important to remember that while they may be an authority and leader within their subject matter, they are people just like us with interests and opinions, so it is best to keep it real. However, when engaging with journalists with the intent to pitch a product or idea, there are certain best practices that may help you stand out. Here are 5 tips for engaging with reporters on Twitter:

Set-up a professional account

If your goal is to engage with reporters on behalf of your company or client then setting up a new professional account allows you the freedom to cultivate a social presence free from worry of past tweets re-surfacing. You should choose a profile picture that is professional and is easy to see, and have a straightforward bio. It should be immediately clear who you are and what your goal is by hovering over your name. If you would rather not set up a separate account for fear of losing some of your personal flair, that is ok, but when mixing work and personal time it is important to be more mindful. This includes what profile picture you choose and how you describe yourself, as well as what you say and tweets you ‘like’. Expressing interests is good, liking or Tweeting inappropriate statements while also wanting to be taken seriously, is not.

Research the expert

What is your end goal for engaging with journalists on Twitter? What do you want them to cover? With your end goal in mind, mindfully choose who to follow. If you work for an agency and want to engage with reporters from varying beats, then Twitter lists is a helpful tool to utilize as it allows you to categorize reporters and stay up to date on what reporters covering that topic are talking about.

Learn the art of lurking

Before jumping in and engaging with reporters you know nothing about, it is best to start slow. Ease into your engagement. Follow the reporters you want to build a rapport with to first see what their interests are and what they’re writing about. Become familiar with them by learning what they like, both professionally and personally. You might find you have something in common that might not be immediately obvious from their job title or beat.

Engage softly, build a rapport and pay it forward

Once you feel comfortable initiating engagement, begin by taking small steps such as favoriting or retweeting them before progressing into retweeting with comment or responding directly. Once you do begin engaging directly, provide positive feedback, resources, or pay it forward by sharing their article in your other networks. These small engagements will notify them and start to put your name and profile on their radar.

Pitch them

Once you’ve built a rapport with a journalist then start to test the waters by responding with a pitch or asking if you can DM them to talk more in depth.

In summary, when engaging with reporters on Twitter you should keep it real. The first step is to simply engage with what they’re saying, either by liking their tweets, chiming in to add to the conversation or responding with feedback to an article they wrote. The key is to slowly build a relationship. When you Tweet at them your name will pop up. Once you’ve established a rapport when you email them they might be more apt to open your pitch because they recognize your name. Depending on the relationship you’ve built and how often that reporter uses Twitter you might find that you can DM them and send your pitch via Twitter instead of email.

Lindsey is a public relations expert who joined the Circa team in January 2018. She currently manages media relations for professors from multiple universities, in a variety of disciplines, helping connect them with relevant opportunities to increase their thought leadership and program exposure. Graduating with honors from Virginia Tech with both a bachelors and masters in Communication, Lindsey understands how to bridge the gap between academia and the media in order to facilitate and support the spread of credible news. Lindsey has obtained media placements for professors in outlets such as The Washington Post, Forbes and Scientific American. Connect with Lindsey on Twitter: @lindsey_baumann

Future of Digital Marketing: 8 Experts Share Their Predictions

With voice search and machine learning on the rise, we reached out to 8 digital marketing experts to get their insights on these developing technologies and share predictions on the future of digital marketing.

Read on to discover insights from industry leading digital marketing companies like Backlinko, Search Engine Land and many more.

 

We Asked Experts in the Field to Share Their Thoughts on the Future of Digital Marketing

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Brian Dean

Brian Dean

Founder & CEO at Backlinko

@Backlinko

 

1. Voice Search

It’s already HUGE. And it’s only going to get bigger.

Already huge: 40% of US adults use voice search once per day.

Going to get bigger: comScore estimates that 50% of ALL searches will be voice searches within the next 2 years.

And I’ve seen this myself. I’ve found myself talking more to my computer and phone than ever before. And as the technology improves, I’m going to type less and talk more.

2. Video

Like voice search, video is “the next big thing” that’s already here. I mean, YouTube is already the 2nd most popular website online (even more than Facebook).

But in many ways, video is just getting started. More and more people are producing videos for Instagram, Facebook and other platforms like LinkedIn. It’s also much easier to create a decent video on the cheap than in the past.

The data backs this up: Cisco reports that 81% of all traffic will be video by 2021.

3. Quality Over Quantity

Blog posts. Images. Podcasts. There’s WAY too much content online.

And people are tuning out: Email open rates are down. Blogs are losing readers. Facebook posts are getting ignored.

In short, people are focusing more on reading, watching and listening to the best stuff.

So marketers that focus on quality over quantity are going to have a big edge over the competition in 2018.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Robert Lee

Robert Lee

Co-founder & CEO at Circa Interactive

@CircaRob

 

1. Pullback on Persona Based Targeting Opportunities

It’s been a bumpy road for Facebook over the last six months. With the backlash around privacy concerns and the Russian election meddling, the platform has had to take drastic measures to ease the concerns of Facebook users by providing increased insight into how individuals can tighten up their personal information, while also introducing steps to eliminate some of the platform’s most useful targeting options.

Facebook even launched a large scale advertising campaign apologizing for their missteps and promising improvements into the future.

The most interesting aspect of all of this is the ripple affect spread across other digital environments that have mirrored Facebook in regards to their information collection processes.

Most of these platforms followed suit and many users noticed new alerts pop-up within these environments notifying them of new privacy and information collection policies.

While providing this level of insight to consumers is great, advertisers that rely on these platforms to drive targeted traffic will experience challenges. This could be the last nail in the coffin for more traditional job and skill related segmentation, and force Facebook and other platforms to advance their use of seed-list style advertising.

2. New Web Scraping and CAN-SPAM Regulation

While I can’t guarantee that the government is going to get their act together and move on something like this, having your email address and other contact information online has now become a massive nuisance.

The two elements to this equation are first the ability to crawl websites to acquire users information (which are predominantly done by automated crawls based on search parameters) and the outreach to these individuals via large scale outreach campaigns that are disguised as personal messages.

While this tactic can be very effective when it comes to distributing content and building links, many webmasters are starting to get frustrated with the bombardment as the strategy of automated scraping and outreach becomes more routine.

I personally receive at least 10+ cold outreaches a day even though I continue to opt-out of lists, and while I’m guilty of some of these tactics myself, you can tell a tipping-point is near.

3. Automation and AI

While the same can be said for most industries, automation and more intelligent human-informed (but machine implemented) decision making will continue to eat into the digital marketing job sector in 2018.

While a lot of the jobs that will get swallowed are more fringe digital marketing, strategies such as chat bots and bid-management will continue to advance and replace some of the less technical human-based skill-sets that currently exist.

Content and more specifically copy creation/writing are other elements that could be replaced by machines as technologies become more advanced at producing comprehendible language.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz

Executive Editor at Search Engine Roundtable & News Editor at Search Engine Land 

@RustyBrick

 

 1.Voice Search

All the data shows that voice search is growing fast now. Between talking to your phone, your Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s Home Pod and even talking to your car over CarPlay or Android Auto – voice search is the future.

Expect voice search to be a huge area in the near future and with that, you need to figure out how to optimize for “position zero” and handle transactional voice search commands.  Is it all very new now, so stay on top of it.

2. Mobile Search

Google launched their mobile-first index, which means Google will crawl the web from a mobile phone perspective.  Make sure your mobile site is equivalent to your desktop site and that nothing important is missing.

3. Speed

While speed seems to be less and less of a ranking factor today, Google keeps pushing AMP on webmasters.  AMP and PWAs might be the future or might not be, it is hard to tell.  But everyone wants faster sites, so expect more of an emphasis on this.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Alexis Sanders

Alexis Sanders

Technical SEO Manager at Merkle Inc., Writer for Moz

@AlexisKSanders

 

1. Mobile Remains Priority

Mobile conversion issues have been at the top of Google’s priorities, heightened by mobile overcoming desktop circa 2014. Google’s highly anticipated mobile-first index is scheduled to launch within 2018.

Accelerated Mobile Pages’ (AMP) have been improving dramatically and I suspect we’ll see more e-commerce case studies emerge in 2018.

Finally, Apple’s Safari will start to feel more pressure to support service workers for Progressive Web Apps (PWA). If Safari beings to support PWAs’ core functionality, it’ll drastically improve their marketability.

2. Web Performance Optimization Becomes Sexy

Websites have been growing in size creating a website obesity crisis (HTTPachive.org shows ~280% growth 2011 v 2017). Sites are going to have determine the right solution mix from their website as multiple remedies emerge (including: HTTP/2, AMP, PWA, CRP, RAILS).

3. We’re Going to Continue Hear About Machine Learning (ML) Victories

Google’s research blog has been publishing a ton about breakthroughs in ML, along with technologies that make ML more accessible to the average human being (think: Kaggle.comTensorFlow, and Facets visualizations). ML offers the potential to better understand multimedia content better.

We’ll likely see more poignant, targeted KG responses and SERPs in these areas. Also, as the training wheel supports for Google’s algorithm, structured data is an important aspect of developing data classification. In 2017, we saw their structured data documentation morph about every quarter.

Google will likely continue to expand structured data documentation. Bing will face more pressure to support JSON-LD, as websites being leveraging the format.

4. Google’s Going to Face More Media Pressure

Google will be at the center of public debates surrounding fake news, data security (against hacking attacks), privacy concerns, and proprietary information. Following this trend, Google will likely ramp up the importance of HTTPS. About 60% of the top 100 sites are on HTTPS already.

5. Conversational Devices and Voice Search

Voice search technology is becoming closer to conversational (within a word accuracy rate that people are willing to deal with). Once the capabilities reach acceptable levels, we’ll likely see a resurgence of chat bots.

I also anticipate seeing a shift in the marketing mindset surrounding fortified content strategies, striking the balance between making content obtainable for voice search and yet not allowing Google to completely “steal your thunder.”

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Daniel Kempe

Daniel Kempe

Co-Founder & CEO at Quuu.co 

@DanielKempe

 

1. Content Diversification

At Quuu, we are excited to see how content marketing is diversifying, extending beyond articles or blog posts to include video, podcasting, infographics and more.

Companies will really need to adapt to this trend to stay in the game. We’ll see larger companies hiring video producers and graphic designers to collaborate with their marketing teams.

But where it gets really exciting is if you work for a startup; let’s say you’re a one or two-person marketing department, then you’re going to have to learn those skills yourselves.

2. Up-Coming Digital Marketing Tools

Luckily, there are tonnes of cool tools out there to help you create different types of content – without having to enroll in film school! Lumen5 was a big hit with content marketers last year (use it to repurpose your blog posts into short videos for social).

In 2018 I’m looking forward to exploring Anchor. Not only does it allow you to quickly and easily record podcasts from your phone, but it’s also a growing social platform in its own right.

What I’m most excited about are our own new tools, the Quuu Scheduler and Content Recycling tools. We are pushing these out shortly and even more exciting for our users, the price will stay the same.

We just want to make our users even more successful on social media by providing a suite of tools to facilitate, alongside our hand-curated content suggestions.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Stephen Panico

 Stephen Panico

Chief Growth Officer at BuzzStream

 

 

1. Google Gets Even More Intelligent

Digital marketing, particularly related to link building, is in an interesting place right now. Despite the penalties that sites have encountered by Google in the past, it seems like there is a lot of information going around right now that suggests that technical SEO and on-page optimization coupled with frankly shady tactics like link-buying are beneficial.

The reality is there is probably a grain of truth to that. Right now anyway.

Unfortunately, while there is some evidence that Google is being a little lax right now when it comes to enforcement of penalties, that can (read: eventually will) change at a moments notice.

The really messed up thing is that the opportunistic SEOs that take advantage of this fact won’t be the ones who are hurt, it will be their clients that get slammed with penalties.

So ultimately, teams that target their promotional efforts toward high authority publications with relevant content are going to outperform their peers, now and particularly as Google continues to get more intelligent (and everyone who has ever bet against that happening has lost big time). 

2. Rise in Uncovering the True Value of a Link

As far as tools, there are some interesting new thoughts on authority metrics that are getting tossed around right now. Effectively, we’re seeing more tools attempt to diagnose the true value of a link, which is certainly one of the most challenging aspects of link building, particularly when dealing with clients.

For example, Ahrefs Backlink Checker attempts to do this by providing a well-rounded dashboard giving full visibility into various aspects of link value, whereas some new metrics such as Verve’s Linkscore offer a proprietary algorithm based on blended on and off site metrics to deduce value. 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Devin Kostrzewski

Devin Kostrzewski

Founder & CEO at Authority Builders 

@Dmak_11

 

1. Back to Basics

I still always come back to the phrase “back to basics.” Despite the ever-changing world of digital marketing, the same basic formula still applies. Create a well-organized website, keep it up to date, and create the best content you can. The results will follow.

There are always new methods, tricks, software and ideologies that build off those principles but without the basic principles, nothing works. Even in my world of off-page SEO and link building, if the domain I am earning links for has improper coding, tags or descriptions then all my effort is for nothing!

If you hire some fancy social media agency who is able to push interaction and traffic to your site but your e-commerce store is not set up properly you likely aren’t going to covert much, adding to your wasted costs/efforts.

2. Digital Marketing Tools Continue to Evolve

As far as tools I need software for tracking SEO metrics and evaluating the quality of links for my clients, I always rely on Moz, Majestic and SEMRush. Ahrefs gets an honorable mention. They are always evolving and provide the best insights for my line of work.

 

Circa Linebreak

 

Future of Digital Marketing - Bryan Traficante

Bryan Traficante

Founder & CEO at TrafMarketing

@BTraficante

 

1. Social Media Improving the Impact of Smaller Brands

For social media posting and advertising, I see the biggest opportunities for smaller brands to make an impact if they focus on the user’s mindset and intent of the channel. Social media (especially Facebook and Instagram) is a form of escapism and educational discovery, keep that in mind when developing ads and engaging with your community.

2. Emotional Connections for Increased Customer Engagement

Organic posts (things you share on your wall/feed) should 100% be value first. An example of this would be post videos explaining topics you’re an expert in to educate your followers and documenting the ins and outs of your business and things you’re doing.

Organic posting (and comment responding!) is an opportunity to add human and relate-able elements to your company that people can develop an emotional connection to. Many of whom you’ll come to see as regular consumers of your content and even advocates for your company.

This organic connection then also provides your company leverage for selling in the future because that connection you’ve built produces trust and rapport.

3. Social Media: Advertising

For advertising, there are numerous strategies to deploy especially in the Facebook/Instagram/Audience Network space – which is where I see a lot of awareness and consideration marketing funnel growth for companies. I see good strategy trends moving more toward behavioral targeting.

Here’s a simplistic example: Say you’re a brewery and you have a blog post about stouts. You can target all people who have visited that blog post in the last X amount of days and deliver an ad to them on Facebook/Instagram/Audience Network. These people are obviously more aware of your company and have some form of interest in stouts.

Knowing that, you can custom tailor an ad targeting those people, ensure high relevance by recognizing that interest and then more easily suggest a business action. “Love Stouts? Same here! They’re creamy and delicious! We just tapped our new Coffee Nitro Milk Stout! Swing by our brewery and grab a pint!”

 

Circa Linebreak

 

If you have any insights on the future of digital marketing, feel free to share them in the comment section below. Also, if you’d like to join this list, email tyler@circaedu.com with your submission. 

5 Social Media Stats on Demographic Targeting in 2018

Both social outreach and higher education are now more than ever about ensuring a best-fit match between students and a college or university. What works for one family or one type of student might not work as well for another. That is the overarching theme behind today’s social outreach. In other words, your branding strategy should be about creating an experience that will make prospective students and their families say “this is where I need to go to college”.

To get to that point, you’re going to have to determine what the most effective social media platforms are and which of your channels is going to deliver the highest return on investment.

Create Compelling and Visual Content

The average Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat user is squarely between the ages of 18 and 24. That’s the demographic that you’ll want to be targeting for both under and post-graduate. Instagram is obviously extremely visual, and it allows you to put a lot of influencers on the platform and have those influencers promote your branded content. Nearly a fifth (18%) of prospective college students said they checked their favorite college’s Instagram page multiple times in a single day.

Snapchat is another useful social media platform to target on because it allows you to engage that 18-24 target demographic with day-in-the-life narratives on what it’s like to attend university. Studies also show that up to 65% of visual content is remembered by prospective students after three days. That’s a lot of time for your message to percolate.

Retargeting is Going to Be Vital

The average American uses three of the eight major social media platforms simultaneously. Unlike applying for jobs or internships where LinkedIn and Google+ might be enough, effective outreach to prospective college and university students needs to incorporate a multi-channel branding strategy.

Retargeting is an extremely powerful way to ensure multi-channel branding.

Called remarketing by some, retargeting is a cookie-based digital marketing strategy that lets you market more often to prospective college students who have already shown an interest in your institution.

That obviously makes for higher marketing ROI and it simultaneously lets you broaden your impact across major social media platforms.

Certain Ethnicities Use Certain Sites

Nearly half (49%) of hispanics in the United States used Facebook-owned WhatsApp compared to about 15% for whites and 20% for African-Americans.

The high percentage of hispanics using WhatsApp hints at a broader trend in social media marketing.Prospective college students are resoundingly using social media and digital communication like email, messengers, and text to find out about potential colleges and universities. Seventy six percent of prospective college students said they used email often to find out more about a prospective college or university.

Target Where the Young People Are

88% of 18 to 29-year-old young adults are on social media, and when it comes to higher education marketing Facebook is still the go-to place. Facebook’s advertising options and custom audiences features work well with higher education marketing.

Creating compelling content that is consistently shared and liked while allowing prospective students an insider’s look at what’s happening on campus is a great strategy to put into motion. 

Pinterest: Microtarget on the Right Platforms

Fifth and final surprising stat: In a recent survey over 40% of women said that they used Pinterest regularly. There’s a pretty large gender disparity here since only 16% of men used the platform. The Federal Education Department has been documenting the fact that women have steadily been outpacing men in terms of college aspirations for quite some time. There are now literally millions more women opening acceptance letters and choosing to go to college than there are men doing the same. Projections from the Federal Education Department say that the number of women choosing college will continue to be much higher than men for the foreseeable future.

About 55% of prospective undergraduate students are women, and another very interesting finding when it comes to higher education marketing and Pinterest is that 70% of Pinterest users are female. As it turns out, men and women use Pinterest differently as well. Women use the social media platform as a wish list and men use it more as a shopping cart. Put another way, your social outreach to prospective college students on Pinterest should come from a place of allowing prospective students to warm up to the idea of going to your college or university.

Studies show that women use Pinterest as a way of motivating themselves and finding a source of lasting inspiration.

Letting prospective students know how their future goals align with your college or university through your outreach on Pinterest is therefore a very good idea and is a great way to better your demographic targeting. 

Farzin joined the Circa team in January of 2018 as Director of Paid Media. Prior to his current role, Farzin managed multiple digital marketing teams for a number of nationally recognized Digital Marketing Agencies. In 2005, Farzin cofounded The Patient’s Guide a web publishing company serving healthcare providers. His company was acquired by IAC Publishing, the company behind ask.com – Investopedia.com – About.com – Dictionary.com and The Daily Beast. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology and his master’s degree in Evolutionary Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton. 

7 Tips To Revolutionize Your Cold Email Marketing Strategies

So, you’d like to boost your sales or generate new leads, but your opt-in email marketing strategies just aren’t cutting it. Somehow, you find yourself with a list of leads, or “prospects”, that you’d like to reach out to for the first time but aren’t sure how to build the right process to get them to take an action. The following cold email tips can help drive a response while keeping the reputation of your domain safe. 

What is a Cold Email?

Cold emailing, or “email outreach” is here and it can boost your lead generation. It is the process of reaching out to an individual or organization that you haven’t interacted with before and requesting that they take an action. As long as you play by the rules, this can open up the door to a large number of targeted prospects.

An important piece of cold emailing that is often overlooked is how difficult it can be and how many technical aspects must be considered before you get the results you’re hoping for. For anyone interested in cold email outreach, here are six tips to get you started.

Cold Email Authentication and Trust

First and foremost, become familiar with CAN-SPAM laws and best practices. In short, you must always allow your prospects to unsubscribe at any time and must honor their request. But, it’s good to know that an unsubscribe link counts as a link. As we’ll discuss later on, you’ll learn how your recipient’s email servers will look for the amount of links in your emails. So, an alternative is to leave a quick note at the bottom of your email, letting know people know they can unsubscribe. Remember, you need to include your name and an address too.

Second, you need to authenticate your domain, otherwise known as whitelabeling. Your recipient’s email server has filters, like a gatekeeper whose sole purpose is to keep the user safe. So, when a server gets an email from johnnymarketing@university.com, but sees that it was sent through a different server, it will get suspicious and might potentially block you or mark you as spam. You are a stranger, after all.

This is where you need to go to your email provider’s sender authentication settings and begin the process of authenticating your domain. Your email provider will have instructions, with specific codes that you will need to enter into your website manager and go to your DNS settings. Authenticating your DKIM and CNAME is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your emails are actually going through. But just so you know, some individuals have very strict servers, and even then – you might not be able to get through.

Another helpful tip is to authenticate through one of the biggest platforms, Google Postmaster Tools. This is an extra set of steps to help Google trust your emails when you’re reaching out to their users. Once authenticated, you can also see their reporting on your spam rate, domain reputation, and more!

Cold Email List Sizes

Third, understand your needs and the differences between Shared IPs and Dedicated IPs. Shared IPs are what your email provider probably has you in, unless you’re sending over 100K emails a month. These are pools of users who circulate IPs as they send their emails. Sometimes, there might be a user in your pool who acts poorly, and damages the IP pool you’re in, affecting your deliverability. It’s very normal, and happens all the time. If you are sending in high volumes, then you might want to consider getting a dedicated IP; a private IP that only you operate out of. This route also means learning how to warm up your IP.

Building a Quality Cold Email List

Fourth, make sure you have solid lists of prospects you’re reaching out to. If your email marketing strategy is targeting unvalidated, unrelated prospects – you will not get the responses you’re looking for and maybe even fall into some account trouble. How to find relevant prospects can be an entire separate post on its own, so for now let’s assume that you already have a list of prospects that are relevant to whatever your outreach is proposing. But, the key point after you have that list is to validate. The more bounces you get back, the less credible you seem. Basically, picture the ISP as security guards who observe everything on the internet. When they see bounced emails, they connect the dots and assume that you’re sending out mass email to people you don’t know. Tools like NeverBounce and BriteVerify will help you weed out the emails that are going to bounce.

Cold Email Segmentation and Drip Campaigns

Fifth, it’s time to create a campaign. Whatever platform you use, if at all, it’s important to come up with a gameplan to your email marketing strategy. Create a timed schedule of emails; sending out X amount of emails every X minutes, to a limit of X emails per day. You can see how this is starting to sound more and more calculated. If you have a domain gmail set up, then you need to remember that if you send a bulk list of emails at once, or even near sending 2,000 emails a day – you’re going to get on their radar and might end up in Google Jail.

It’s important to make sure that your emails, even if segmented, have intervals between them. Personally, I don’t let my emails go out within 100 seconds of each other. This way, Gmail can see my time stamps and see that my emails are not going out within the same minute. No matter how close in time, the timestamps are different for each email.

It’s helpful to create a campaign that runs through about two to three weeks, with five to six follow up emails being sent until the prospect responds. Your time range might change, but the name of the game here is to intermittently follow up on your prospects to let them know you’re interested to get in touch with them, without harassing them. This might mean adjusting how far apart you sequence your follow up emails. But it’s really all about getting a response first.

Writing a Cold Email That Will Get a Response

An important note here, the ISPs keep an eye out on the volume of emails you send out, but also closely watch how many people respond. It’s a big litmus test of trust. The thinking goes, if person A knows person B, then logically, person B would respond. So, follow up emails are incredibly important. Although you must always give people the option to unsubscribe or be taken off of your mailing list – you should have a high priority on getting a response, even if that response is to no longer be contacted.

Sixth, it’s time to start writing out your email copy. This part can also be an entire separate post in of itself, so I’ll stick to the basics. Keep it short, keep it friendly. If you are going to include links, make sure your links are branded or white labeled.Try to limit your emails to no more than one link. You want to sound like a real person, having a friendly conversation. Do not sound formal, remember that you are in the most basic sense asking a stranger to do a favor.

Cold Email Testing and Tracking

Seven, remember that any kind of tracking is going to show up on your prospect’s radar. For any first touch email, I turn off all forms of tracking. Open/Click tracking often works because your email provider embeds a hidden html image in your email to track. But, images are huge red flags for servers.

Last, it’s important to monitor your emails and data. In addition to honoring your unsubscribe requests, this is a good step to see where your emails are ending up, using tools like GlockApps. Take time each week to send a few tests to analyze and monitor how your emails are performing, if you’re inboxing, and to see if you’ve ended up in any blacklists.

These 7 tips cover a not so brief guide to cold emailing! Remember that each strategy must be adjusted to your goals, what works for me might not work for you at all. But, the basics are always going to be the same: be trustworthy (authenticate everything), be to the point (quick, simple copy with to the point pitches), and be friendly (don’t harass, write conversationally, honor what they say).

Best of luck!

Charlie recently joined the Circa Interactive team and helms our email and outreach strategies. Charlie is a graduate of Biola University and spent prior years as a digital content strategist and copywriter. He is a passionate, strategy-minded marketer that develops our link-building efforts.

Understanding the Value of A/B Testing

What is A/B Testing?

Have you ever wondered if a certain piece of content on your website is performing to its full potential? If the subject line on your email campaign is compelling enough to maximize open rates, or even if a button on your website is the best color to attract a user to click? Many businesses and their marketing teams ask these and similar questions every day. Thankfully these questions can be answered by utilizing A/B testing.

A/B testing, or split testing, as some people like to call it, is a controlled experiment whereby two or more variants are tested against each other to find which performs better. This commonly used approach allows marketers to make the most of existing traffic that has usually taken a lot of time and money to get in the first place.

The Stages of A/B Tests

There are a handful of stages when running a successful A/B test. These stages can vary depending on who you ask but in general, four show up time and time again. These stages can be represented in four questions.

Do I need to conduct an A/B test?

Testing random ideas just for the fun of it will more than likely be a waste of time. For this reason, it is highly advised to create a hypothesis first. This hypothesis must be based on research into where the problem lives. For example, “if I make this change I expect to see this result”. This will help you gain information on not only what needs to change on your site but valuable information on your customers and their behavior.  

What metrics will define the success of this test?

This stage is the most important, and thus should be given the most time and focus. It is important to define what metric which will be used to measure if the experiment group is better than the control group or not. To help you decide this, you need to ask yourself what are you going to use the metrics for. There are two main categories of use that you will be using your metric for; Invariant checking, variants that should not change across your experiment and control, and evaluation of metrics and evaluation. These can be either high level such as increase in revenue or percent of market share. On the other hand, matrices can be more finer and look at user experience.  

It is important to note that some metrics may not be able to be completely measure correctly due to factors such as technology and demographics used. For example, Java may not run on certain web browsers resulting in incorrect CTR. As a result, filters may be needed to ensure data is not skewed and the metrics chosen can actually measure correctly.

How to design an experiment?

Designing the experiment includes deciding on a unit of diversion, deciding on the size and characteristics of the population and how long the experiment will run for.  

  • The unit of diversion is what units you are going to run the test on and comparing. Commonly, these can be event based (e.g. pageview) or anonymous ID (e.g. cookie id) or user ID. It’s important to ensure when you have a user visibility change to assign people instead of events. This is so the user will not get confused if they see a change, refresh the page and then see that the change has disappeared. If measuring latency change, other metrics like event level diversion might be enough.
  • The population of subjects that are eligible for this test is then selected. Everyone who visits your site may not be eligible for this experiment as you might be only looking at US traffic, of wanting only students depending on what and why you are experimenting.
  • Timing in a/b testing can be a deciding factor whether the experiment has been carried out correctly or not. When best suits to run the experiment? During the holidays? At night? Weekdays vs the weekend? This will depend on who the population is and what you’re looking to achieve. Making sure the experiments run long enough to gather a sufficient amount of data but not too long to miss out on the opportunity to use the better performing page with all of your site visitors.
How to analyze data?

Tests can end in three different ways, either the control wins, the experiment wins or there is no change. Reading this much is for the most part easy but it is important not to pat yourself on the back just yet. It is essential to dig deeper into these results and find out more about the behavior of your customers. As Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal explains “Only with A/B testing can you close the gap between customer logic and company logic and, gradually, over time, match the internal thought sequence that is going on in your customers’ heads when they are considering your offer on your landing page or within your app.”

A/B Testing Examples

MVMT

The Retention of customers is an issue for many watch companies as a customer is usually only in the market for a watch every few years. MVMT faced this issue and introduced a selection of interchangeable watch straps to their site. To ensure these straps increased consumer retention the way in which they were presented on the site was tested. The control in this experiment was with no cross selling of the straps with two test variations, one with the straps above the watches and one with the straps below the watches. By doing this test, MVMT were able to increase conversions by 5.5% for mobile shoppers and 2.2% for shoppers on desktop.

ASANA  

Teamwork-trafficking software Asana used a/b testing to successfully redesign and rebrand their website, improving user experience along the way. To ensure consumers were not surprised with a big website design, Asana implemented these changes slowly over time to gradually optimize the site for the best user experience. By breaking their tasks into two categories, Asana’s product team were able to first focus on core functionality features, implementing them once they had performed well in their test segments. After this, their rebranding team implemented the overall new look of the site and new branded look.

A/B testing is just one of the way’s that our PPC team ensures our clients campaigns are optimized and operating to their fullest potential. You can check out or PPC services here.

Aidan graduated with a Master’s in Digital Marketing from the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2016 where he gained a strong understanding of online marketing strategies, and marketing performance and productivity. Prior to his move to the US to work with Circa interactive, Aidan gained his experience in a variety of industries from festivals to medical devices. His current role within the Circa team is as the Jr. Digital marketing specialist, working with both the SEO team and the Marketing Analytics team, ensuring the service we provide is above the high standard expected from our clients.

Generation Z: 5 Tips for Engaging The Next Generation of Consumers

Just when brands feel that they’ve finally mastered the art of advertising to Millennials, up comes the next generation of consumers: Generation Z.

Although sharing some similarities to the elder Millennials, Generation Z is far more savvy to brand intentions, meaning digital marketers will find themselves embarrassed if they try to implement Millennial advertising strategies for this younger generation.

So what is it that makes Generation Z different? And how can digital marketers successfully engage with this next wave of consumers?

Introducing Generation Z

The first thing to understand about Generation Z is that they’ve grown up with the internet. With the oldest of this generation being born in the mid-to-late 1990s, Generation Z have spent their lives heavily relying on smartphones and social media to not only connect with their peers, but also brands, businesses and organizations.

Understanding this generation’s heavy reliance on social media is crucial for marketing, as a few wrong moves on social media can prove detrimental to brands and businesses.

How detrimental? Consider that Kylie Jenner, one of the most popular and powerful Gen Z celebrities, cut $1.3 billion from Snapchat’s stock all from a simple tweet.


What this shows is that with this upcoming generation, brands don’t even necessarily need to make mistakes on social media; all it takes is negative publicity to sway the public opinion of Generation Z.

How Much Should You Care About Generation Z?

Being the next group of consumers, brands, businesses and marketers are clearly interested in advertising to this young generation, yet Generation Z should be more of a priority than it already is.

Why?

For one, individuals that classify as Generation Z already make up a quarter of America’s population. This number is growing, with projections stating that Generation Z will make up 40% of all consumers by 2020. Any target audience that makes up almost half of all consumers is definitely worth taking into further consideration.

Secondly, advertisers have yet to establish a solid understanding of this progressive generation. Lazily, some assume that they are a lot like millennials, except even more addicted to screens and phones.

While this might be true in some cases, the reality is far more professional and sophisticated: Gen Z aren’t screen-prisoners, they are screen-operators. Society at large functions within the digital realm, and Gen Z leverage their skills and networks to become full-time managers of their personal and professional brands.

This generation deeply understands digital branding – they leverage it for their personal benefit all the time – and are exceptional at seeing through poor or even tacky advertising, so businesses looking to connect with Generation Z will need to put forth equal effort in understanding who they are and what they are interested in.

Tips for Engaging Generation Z

If you’re looking to engage with the next wave of consumers, here are 5 tips for engaging Generation Z:

1.Use Easily Consumable Content

If you really want to connect with Generation Z, creating easily consumable content is essential.

Studies have shown that Gen Z have an 8 second attention span – compared to the 12 second attention span of Millennials – meaning that brands need to make sure that their message can be consumed fast.

Videos and GIFs have proven to be very effective in making a quick point. Clever messaging is successful as well. KFC’s recent public apology for running out of chicken is a great example:KFCSource: http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/23/news/kfc-apology-ad-shortage

In a situation that could have resulted in major brand damage, KFC were able to save face and generate acclaim from Generation Z and worldwide media outlets thanks to its quick, eye-catching message

2.Provide Value

Advertisers shouldn’t assume that they can trick Generation Z. Being brand ambassadress themselves, this group is smart and tech savvy. They can quickly identify when they’re being advertised to, so don’t try to fool them or waste their time.

If you’re looking to engage with this generation, make sure that your advertisement provides some kind of value, such as offering free items or discounts for taking surveys.

Brands that are able to create a mutually beneficial situation will prove most successful with Generation Z.

3. Pass The Eye Test

As mentioned, Generation Z have short attention spans, so before even considering your message Gen Z will judge your advertisement based on its appearance. If your advertisement doesn’t pass the eye test, expect this generation to swipe right past.

What can you do to help make your messages pass the eye test? Much of it depends on the message you’re trying to send.

That said, don’t be afraid to take chances and create edgy content (see KFC advertisement above) or advertisements that feature a bit of bright color here or there.

If you’re worried and unsure, it maybe a good idea to get some direct feedback from Generation Z. Asking for feedback right from your target audience can help sharpen your content creation skills.

4. How Can You Help Them?

For far too long, advertisers have viewed consumers from the selfish perspective of “How can we get our audience to purchase and need our products or services?”

While taking this approach may have worked in the past, Generation Z is too sharp. Any brand that attempts this approach can expect to be embarrassed and humiliated across multiple social networks.

You don’t want that kind of shame.

Great news: there are alternative perspectives.

If you’re really looking to build trust with Generation Z, you’re entire message should be developed with the approach of “How can we help them?”

Again, Generation Z are savvy. Don’t go through the motions with this. They’ll see right through it.

Instead, take a moment to seriously consider your product, service and message to better understand how your company and its resources can help make your consumers’ lives better.

Thinking with this perspective might be difficult for traditional marketers, but it’ll have a significant impact in the long-term.

5. Expand Your Efforts

On average, Generation Z tend to operate 5 screens at a time. For marketers, this means that your brand and message have to be at multiple places at once.

Brands with big budgets will be able to dominate more traditional advertising mediums, yet that shouldn’t discourage small brands from expanding their efforts to the best of their ability.

Generation Z are all about grassroots resources. Many brands have found success with a very limited budget simply by expanding and enhancing their social efforts.

In fact, sometime  traditional advertising can do more harm than good due to the appearance of trying too hard.

At the end of the day, the more that this generation comes positively interpret your brand and message, the more trustworthy that you’ll seem. And there is no better way to appear trustworthy than to authentically approach Generation Z on their terms from the beginning. So don’t wait until Generation Z grow a bit older. Start making adjustments to your marketing strategies today so your brand and message can better engage with Generation Z and hopefully establish a long-term mutually beneficial relationship.

Interested in learning more insights that could help with effectively engaging the next wave of college students? Check out these articles to get started:

 

Tyler is a retired division two college basketball player and a recent graduate from the University of Iowa. His creativity, as well as passion for entrepreneurship and the expansion of technology and communication, helps Circa to continue to stay on the cusp of new technologies and trends influencing future generations of students.

 

 

How to Successfully Utilize Brand Elements Within Creative Assets

Creative assets that successfully include the brand elements of a client can lead to improved overall success. Within higher education, a simple logo can be used on everything from print collateral to football jerseys. A graphic is much more impressionable than plain text and can be used in various sizes and transparencies. Brand elements from the general logo can help market a school without having to repeat the name and serve as a key component in the story. 

How to Retrieve Brand Elements

Most schools have what is called either a “style guide” or “brand guidelines.” Usually a guide can be found under the keywords “marketing materials,” but if that is not easily found then searching “[School Name]’s style guide” on a search engine can also help. Some guides are more refined and thorough than others, but they should include the same basic materials in order to keep their marketing consistent whether the creative is coming from someone working for the university or an outside company.

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 3.58.51 PM

The creative guide should include:

  • Logo variations (color, stacked, text-only, etc)
  • Font choices (main text, subtext, and/or paragraph text)
  • Color choices (color codes, primary colors, secondary colors)
  • Photography style
  • Example of print collateral

If these are not available, there is usually an email address that you can contact. Make sure to state why you need the graphics and what you intend to use them for.

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 4.00.09 PM

Follow the Brand Guidelines

This style guide offers a broken up version of their shield logo for use in marketing. They also include restrictions that they have on the graphic element so that they can keep control of the appearance.

Screen Shot 2018-01-31 at 4.03.03 PM

I created a landing page for this client and included the broken up shield in white with a low transparency. This added interest into the page without distracting too much from the image, and because it was on brand, there was no need to receive approval for the styling.

tulane_extraheaders_14Some schools can be very strict with their logo use and how they like their graphic elements to look. Always discuss with your contact at the school if it’s okay to alter the element’s color, size, or shape.

Don’t Overdo it

If you overuse the brand element, it may distract from the logo and overload the viewer with the school’s branding. It’s best to keep the graphic simple and something the viewer might only see subconsciously. It can also be useful to experiment with abstraction. You don’t need to show the entire brand element to communicate the brand especially if the logo is also being used.

SoPA concept_v1-2

An image I created for a program here uses just the outline of the shield graphic. For someone who has seen the graphics many times before, this does not come off as overpowering but serves as a reminder. For someone who has never seen the graphics or does not know of the university, this is something they will remember for its unique shape. When this viewer comes across the logo or other marketing ads, they will feel a sense of familiarity.

Try to keep a contrast in size between the logo and the brand element. They should not compete for attention. In my skyscraper ads for the client I included the complete shield icon in large scale while keeping the logo (which included the icon) in a small scale. This works best for ads of this shape since the bold, loud graphic should catch people’s attention.

skyscraper ads_newest-08

Conclusion

In order to keep your design concise you should make sure the brand element is not distracting and doesn’t move your eye to an area of the design that is least important to the hierarchy. In other words, try out transparencies and cutting the graphic off from the edge so that it gives only a hint of the branding. Play around with the different graphics at your disposal instead of simply just placing it in a corner (which might not look bad either). It’s better to play around with the different ways to use it than to place it in one spot for every ad or landing page. Consistency is good, but spontaneity with the graphic can keep things interesting.

 

meGabrielle Brambila is a graphic designer for Circa Interactive. She is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with experience working as a designer for an on-campus entrepreneurship organization. Her passion for illustration and photography inspire her to create something new and unique every day.

6 Tips to Start and Master Your College’s Blog in 2018

At Circa Interactive we’re fortunate to work with a few outstanding partners. Below, our friends over at Finalsite put together six useful tips for your college’s blog to become successful. Enjoy!

While you already know that your school needs a blog, the usual roadblocks–time and staffing–are probably standing in your way. Whatever you do, don’t allow these to become constraints. Blogging has the potential to grow your school’s brand, engage your community, and recruit right-fit students to your schools, so it’s definitely worth the effort. If you’re ready to dive in to starting your college’s blog in the new year, here are a few steps to guide your success.

1. Determine a Focus for Your College’s Blog

Many colleges and universities don’t blog at all, and those that do often limit themselves to ones written by the college president, department heads and admissions directors–a pretty narrow focus.  Since your blog will be a traffic-driver and will help to fill your recruitment funnel among other things, put the focus on where you shine: your culture. Showcasing what makes you unique, like the programs you specialize in, your awesome students, and incredible careers of graduates allows you to broaden your focus and bring in students, faculty, coaches, current parents, alumni and others to contribute content.

2. Gather a Group of Dedicated Writers

In order to make an impact with your blog, you need to be consistent about posting. And while it seems simple to assign the task to one person to keep the blog’s tone and voice the same, gathering more content contributors makes it easier to produce content on a consistent basis.

To choose this group, start by polling your community. Ask faculty, students, staff, alumni and parents to share their ideas on posts they’d like to write, or topics they think would be beneficial to prospective and current students and their families, or alumni. Current student bloggers are a great source of content (especially English majors!) as it’s a great resume booster for them to see their work published online, so they’ll love to blog frequently. And, prospective students love to hear firsthand from current students.

Vanguard University does a great job of sharing content from students in a variety of stages and programs to give real-life insight into the student experience (and it looks pretty cool, too!).

An example of how to use student contributors for your college's blog.

A Student’s Guest Post on Vanguard University’s Blog

And while you may want to have different blogs for special programs, like study abroad or athletics, these should be maintained in addition to your college’s main blog. Use a tool that lets you categorize your posts so that they can be dynamically published to all related categories, letting you maximize the impact of your content with less effort.

Remember-it only takes two blog posts per week to improve your website traffic!

3. Create a Content Calendar

Once your group of writers is formed, work with them to create a content calendar that works.

Determine which days you want blog posts to be published, which topics are timely, and which topics are evergreen (can be posted any time.) If you’re only going to blog twice a week, take into consideration that Monday mornings rank highest for visits and Thursdays rank highest for social shares, so focus on those days to get the most traction.

4. Determine an Editing Process

At Finalsite, we use the “press call” concept. Each day at the same time, the marketing team receives an email with all the content that’s scheduled for the next day, including blog posts, and shares their edits with our content marketing manager, who inputs them, and prepares content for publishing.  This system works for us, and now our team expects and prepares for press call each day. Your editing team might be made up of content contributors, marketing or admissions staffers, or others with a critical eye.  

5. Write Simply and with Intent

If your intent is to inform, blogs are meant to be easy-to-read, conversational pieces, but your content contributors might be self-conscious about writing. If your blog is simple and written with intent, it will always be well-received.

Here are few tips for making this happen:

  • Write in lists. It makes content easy to digest and gives readers key takeaways.
  • Write your blog post title first (you can always go back and fine-tune it later!) A title gives your post focus.
  • Write in chunks or sections. Blogs shouldn’t be written like an essay, but should be segmented by different thoughts or ideas.
  • Use a textual hierarchy to break up your post and make it easy to read.
  • Numbered posts are really effective: “The Top Five Reasons to Major in Business,” “Three Reasons Greek Life isn’t What Think it is?”
  • Always incorporate photos in your posts. We recommend one image near the top, and several images throughout the post.
  • End all blogs with a call-to-action.
  • Encourage content contributors to be themselves and use an authentic voice.

6. Share Your Post via Social Media and Subscriptions

“Is anyone out there?” It’s a common fear that you and your content contributors could spend hours on posts that no one sees. But when you follow a few simple steps, your blogs will be seen, appreciated, and shared.

First: Create a way for readers to subscribe to your posts via email. This way, they’ll get the blog posts delivered right to their inbox.

Second: Each time you post a blog on your website, share it on your social feeds. This is a pivotal piece for your inbound marketing strategy! You can also share older blog posts that are still relevant on social media, too! Be sure to always include a photo in your tweets and Facebook posts, as posts with images are more likely to get clicked.

Third: Add links to your blog in the online newsletters that you’re already sending. If you have a monthly newsletter that goes out, include this month’s best posts as a way to drive readership and subscriptions.

Fourth: Use blog posts as inbound marketing content. When sending communications to students in the admission funnel, consider which blog posts you have, and use them as your inbound content. For example, if a student wrote a post on their experience as a student athlete, it would be great to share that with all applicants interested in your athletic programs.

 

Pulling it All Together

Your blog won’t appear overnight, and neither will differences in website traffic — so don’t get discouraged. A blog takes weeks to really get up and running and months to really make a difference. However, with the right people and plans in place, it will quickly become a central piece of your inbound strategy and school culture.

For more tips and strategies for a high-converting website, download Finalsite’s eBook “The Ultimate Website Guide for Colleges and Universities.”

 Hadley RosenAfter more than a decade working in schools in roles in the classroom, communications and advancement, Hadley joined Finalsite in 2013 as Marketing and Communications Manager. She loves meeting Finalsite’s amazing family members around the world and learning about trends impacting schools. She’s a big fan of travel to places near and far with her growing family, cooking cuisines of all kinds, and working on her French fluency.

SEO Top Trends of 2018

With 2017 coming to a close, we look to the Holiday Season and New Year for resolutions, ambitious goals and change, but what changes more than the world of SEO? Now is the time to look to 2018 for trends and techniques that may take us in new directions or simply reinforce best practices. That said, let’s take a peek into what the New Year and Google hold for SEO.

Voice Search and Digital Assistants

Welcome Siri, Alexa and Cortana. The market for AI-driven personal assistants and bots will almost double in 2018, reaching more than $12 billion by 2020. The rise of voice search calls for a whole new keyword research routine: the difference being that voice search keywords take the form of natural, conversational sentences instead of the odd-sounding query lingo that often comes with a learning curve.

Visual Search

Visual search is another growing area of SEO that combines technological innovation and UX. As the internet becoming more visually focused, so does the development of powerful correlating search engines. This new trend is driving companies like Google, Bing, and Pinterest to invest in new ways to better understand the way we visually consume content which means your 2018 SEO strategy should act likewise and optimize your visual content.

Why is Video Content Important?

I find video content to be the most exciting trend because not only is it where our future is heading, but it also provides a whole other approach to creating content. In fact, 82 percent of all consumer IP traffic will be video by the year 2021. Video is no longer limited to social platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and commonly shows up in page one search results. In addition to making your content stand out from your competitors, why not take advantage of having multiple players in the search world fight over you.  

Mobile and User Experience

Google has set to make 2018 a focus on user experience. Now more than ever, it will be important for a site to deliver a seamless experience for its visitors and shouldn’t simply be confined to one’s experience on the home page. Instead, it should adapt the UX process to consider multiple website entry points. Doing so helps make a site better suited to organic search success. As we know, a good UX generally increases the chances of an individual interacting with the site and visiting various different pages. This, in turn, helps search engines discover which pages are favored and most useful.

If you weren’t on the mobile-friendly train a year ago, it’s time you start playing catch up. With over 6.1 billion smartphone users globally by 2020, it would be an understatement to say mobile-friendly sites are important. This will play a huge role in UX as phones and tablets are largely starting to replace computers and are projected to drive even more traffic to sites than they already do.

Be on the lookout for the new mobile-first index. This will play a new and vital role in ranking websites. While Google has not announced the date it rolls out, we know it is lurking on the horizon. Mobile user experience will play a key role in the way sites are ranked, so not having a mobile-friendly version could greatly hinder your SEO efforts.

How Fast is Your Site?

Three Seconds…That is the time frame in which Google is expecting pages to load. A high loading speed is fantastic all around, and not just for mobile-friendly sites. For example, if your site is fast, users are less likely to “bounce” and more eager to stick around and lurk deeper instead. In fact, a study by the Aberdeen Group found that “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions.”

Rise of SERP Features

SERP features are increasingly stealing searchers attention and, with that, clicks from organic listings. We all know that the struggle to gain a #1 organic ranking is real, so much so that it’s often smart to consider additional initiatives. This in mind, there’s no better time than 2018 to analyze opportunities that SERP features pose. If you’re looking to take advantage and boost traffic, consider utilizing these popular SERP features:

  • Knowledge Panels
  • Featured Snippets
  • Related Questions
  • Local Packs

Making necessary adjustments with these features may even increase your click-through rate by 30 percent. As search results continue to get more diverse, it’s important to take advantage of SERP features as an opportunity to stand out. In fact, you’d better get at it right now, before a competitor does.

Guest Blogging and Link Building

Inbound links have been and will continue to be the most powerful ranking factors as we move into 2018. However, greater caution should be taken in the way they are obtained. Earlier in the year, Google warned publishers who solely rely on guest posting as a method of building links. This is Google’s attempt to decrease the amount of spammy and questionable links and it would be wise to anticipate they will keep a watchful eye on guest contributions that provide little to no value moving forward.

No need to panic. This doesn’t mean guest blogging is coming to an end. As is best practice, you’ll just have to keep it within the limits of what’s allowed taking caution to not hurt your brand’s reputation. There is no need to obtain links if they don’t align or prove to be relevant within your target niche. Google appreciates the varied strategy of link building as opposed to picking a single method of gaining links and milking it.

2018 seems to hold a lot in store for the world of digital marketing. With change consistently on the SEO horizon, it’s important to consider these best practices and what we can do to not only evolve but stay at the forefront of the industry. While traditional SEO techniques aren’t going away anytime soon, it will be important to diversify your strategy for an optimized search.

 

Keilah headshot Keilah is a graduate of the University of Idaho. Working as a Jr. Digital Marketing Specialist with Circa Interactive, she has gained experience in SEO and higher education content marketing while cultivating her creative skills. Keilah strives to become a future influencer in the digital marketing world.

5 Tips for Effective Client Communication

In the marketing industry, understanding how to deliver desired results for your clients is crucial to a successful business relationship, but a study shows that 46 percent of employees regularly leave meetings not understanding the next steps. Below are a few helpful communication tips that will ensure that both parties always leave a conversation knowing how to proceed, making discussions with clients more productive and effective.

Ask the right questions

In any communication setting, the person asking the questions is the one that steers the direction of the conversation and ultimately has control. The trick here is making sure that you are asking the questions that give you a better understanding of what your clients are feeling and what they want. Questions that prompt yes or no answers will not further a conversation, but rather put the client in a corner where they cannot fully explain what they are feeling. Deploy ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions that require a more elaborate response than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. For example, “how can we improve the illustration?” will get you much further than “do you like the illustration?”, because it requires a more detailed explanation of why the client satisfied or unsatisfied. Knowing how to frame your questions will also help resolve any problems or conflicts between you and your client. You can gain a better understanding of how your client feels about the work and how you can improve and grow in the future. Here are some other great ways to stage questions that will help you get to the root of a problem: https://wavelength.asana.com/develop-effective-communication/

Set the tone from the start

Make sure your style of communication is professional, yet personable. You want to show your client that accomplishing their goals is paramount, while simultaneously establishing an air of trust among both parties. Additionally, don’t be afraid to use informal conversation as a way to build the relationship. Make it known that the relationship is conducive to constructive criticism and feedback and that both parties are free to openly share their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Setting this tone will make collaboration easy and will keep the clients happy.

Be empathetic

 Show your client that you understand their concerns and recognize that they are human. If a client is upset about something, or seems like they are having a bad day and are taking it out on your work, refer to tip number one and start asking questions tailored to their concerns. Make it known that you are here to listen to their concerns and that you want to help them solve problems. You can also use “it seems” phrases to show the client what you’re understanding from their communication. By doing this, you are relaying your understanding of their problem, while also allowing the client to hear the tone that they are emitting. For example, if a client gets upset and says, “I cannot quite work out this illustration” and provides no other feedback, you can say “it seems like you want changes to be made to the illustration. How can we change the design to better suit your goals?”.

Do your homework

Preliminary research is not only useful for current clients, but also potential clients that you may be trying to court. Go into a weekly client meeting with new, potentially useful resources and a knowledge base of what your client has wanted in the past. Following the same idea, step into a potential client presentation with solid knowledge of their business and a strong idea of what their past work looks like. Be as prepared as possible. This shows the client that you truly care about their goals and are ready to help accomplish these. As a higher education marketing company, our public relations team leverages professors within our client’s degree programs in order to land media opportunities. We interview the professors before doing outreach on their behalf in order to get a better understanding of their passions and expertise, but before the interviews, we research the professor and tailor our interview questions to their individual work and interests. This establishes a rapport with them from the start, and they appreciate that we do not waste their time by going into the interview blind. Doing your homework upfront is a time-saver for everyone involved and shows the client that they are important to you.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone

In the digital age, much of the communication that occurs in a business setting happens via email or through some other digital medium. While this is convenient and generally effective, studies show that face-to-face communication is much more productive in terms of accomplishing one’s goals. While face-to-face communication with clients is not always possible in a digital company like ours, a phone call is the next best thing. Having a spoken conversation can solve problems and demonstrate a sense of urgency on your part to resolve an issue. Additionally, It is much faster and a more direct way to get to the root of a problem or miscommunication, leaving less room for things to get misinterpreted in the midst of a client crisis. Good old-fashioned speaking often gets the job done better than an instant message ever could.

 

Shannon black and white 2 Shannon has been contributing to the growth of the Circa team for nearly two years and recently graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in Communication Studies. Shannon’s creativity and passion for public relations and content marketing has contributed to Circa Interactive’s digital marketing value.