Packaging is Key to Retail Success

 

Reggie Colalongo found out the hard way that the last step in manufacturing – packaging – can be the most critical.

She began her cultivation career on farms – growing and extraction, which naturally stemmed from her background in community gardens and agriculture. Then she met Bret Burroughs on a farm in Mendocino County and they saw the market changing. Reggie and Bret opted to enter the California recreational CBD edibles market and created Solstice and Sun, with a desire to create and offer artisanal products that would be vegan and organic, gluten free, as well as customized with different textures and flavors. 

Of course, the packaging needed to reflect the uniqueness as well, and included a special paper compression wrapper from Japan for each piece with everything packed into stately matte black boxes that they felt met compliance guidelines. What they didn’t count on was that in a dispensary, their stately boxes kept being placed near the bottom of display areas, with more colorful options getting front and center placement. In addition, their boxes were smaller than many others and the elements on the outside weren’t really giving potential customers a good sense of the goodness inside.

Realizing the issue, they went back to the drawing board and commissioned much more colorful, larger vertical bags featuring a serene landscape of rolling hills, with the sun high in the sky and bordered with fruits representing each flavor, with an overlay of their logo and information. They also sourced the bags in California, rather than having boxes printed in China. Another upside, the bags were easier to fill than boxes, and lowered their labor costs.

The changes were immediate – their products began to command much more prominent spaces in dispensaries, and an increase in sales followed. 

As Packhelp co-founder Konrad Kwiatkowski wrote in an article for Fleximize as his #1 tip – “Keep packaging eye-catching so that it immediately stands out and is remembered by the customer.” He also shared,Packaging is also an opportunity to tell customers who you are as a brand and what you believe in. Product packaging cannot scream at the customer – ‘buy me!’. It needs to be intriguing, create a mood and prompt a range of emotions.”

“It was a great lesson for us,” explained Regina. “The packaging has to do the selling for you in the store because no one is there to explain the product. And if you can’t get someone to pick up your box and read about what’s inside, you’ve lost before you’ve even begun.

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Emails without a compelling subject line cost you time, money and opportunities

Email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to connect with your customers, engage with potential clients and really educate people about your brand and its unique aspects. But none of that matters if people don’t open it. So after the list itself, it’s the subject line that needs to be the focus, not an afterthought.

According to Invespro, 47% of email recipients open email solely based on the subject line and 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line. 

Here are some best practices we’ve found from deploying hundreds of thousands of emails:

Decide what you want the email to accomplish

Are you looking to generate immediate sales? Bring a prospect further along as part of a nurture campaign? Introduce your product or service to a new audience? Make sure you understand the desired outcome before crafting the email and the subject line.

Make sure the subject line matches the content

No one likes to be misled. If the subject line promises or hints at one thing, and the email focuses on something different, recipients will feel tricked and that does not reflect well on your company.

Double and triple check the spelling, grammar and links

No one wants to issue a follow up email with the subject line – “Oops – open this one instead.” Multiple tests and taking nothing for granted are crucial.

Use emojis sparingly

They can add interest to a subject line, but don’t use them instead of a word. And make sure they are relevant to the subject line in a quickly identifiable way. Also check your emails that incorporate them to make sure your platform will deploy them correctly. They must carry a unicode. You can’t just copy and paste one in place.

Make sure the words fit the audience

If you’re writing a 60+ audience, stay away from trendy words they may not understand, for example. It’s crucial you speak to your recipients in ways they understand and relate to.

Use a subject line that will generate an emotion

Will someone miss out if they don’t take action? Is it a limited opportunity in terms of space or products? Is there a limited timeframe in which to act? Fear of missing out (FOMO), missing a deadline or not getting in on the ground floor of a great opportunity?

Personalize the subject line if you can

Subject lines with a person’s name get opened 22% more often, according to Invespro.

Consider lists and numbers

If you have some impressive numbers to share, incorporate them. “25,684 opens can’t be wrong – sign up for our subject line course”. They also help subject lines stand out in a sea of words.

Use capitalization sparingly

It’s like yelling at someone so you can do it for the first word or to really emphasize something, but you shouldn’t use it for the entire subject line. 

Use powerful action words

Use words that tell the reader what you want them to do, and how they will benefit. “Sign up for Acme’s conference. Afterwards your promotion awaits!

Consider using a relevant question

It’s engaging and makes the reader want to “answer” it and learn more because they’re curious.

If it works with your topic, incorporate “we”/“we’re” or “you”/”your 

This can make the reader feel like they’re part of something that you’re sharing together, and that you’re speaking directly to them.

Make your subject line the right length

Shorter is better, but you still need to share enough to compel someone to open it. Aim for a subject line between 6 and 11 words, as these perform the best with an average open rate of 21% on a warmed list, according to Invesp. This can also make sure enough of the subject line appears on mobile devices for readers to understand what you’re trying to communicate.

Incorporate a compelling emotional trigger word

You see them a lot because they work – words like “free”, “professional”, “limited”, “exclusive”, “innovative”, “urgent” and more. Search for words that make your subject line jump off the page without rising to the level of hyperbole.

Test subject lines against each other

Narrow down your choices to the best two that represent different approaches and send them to a good sized sample size. If one performs much better than the other in terms of the open rate, then use that subject line for all the remaining emails. No one says you can’t send emails out in smaller batches, and it may even make more sense in terms of your sales department following up.

Write, write and write

You probably won’t hit on a great subject line on your first try. It may even make sense to write the draft email first to see what direction it’s headed before you start trying to craft subject lines. Think about them from all angles and write at least 10 before you start narrowing them down and see if you can convey the same message in a shorter, more direct, more compelling way.

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What Does EATing Have to Do with SEO?

E-A-T is a way for Google to deliver what users want. And because Google wants it – you should want it. And what is it?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness. And while Google is notoriously tight-lipped about specifics, in response to a leaked version making the rounds on the web, Google released their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines in its entirety in 2015. In addition to E-A-T, it also includes two other golden keys on how Google looks at web pages and how they evaluate, judge and rank high quality vs low quality content. They are Beneficial Purpose and YMYL (Your Money or Your Life).

You can’t just keyword stuff anymore because it diminishes the user experience. And part of focusing on user experience was also making mobile responsiveness a ranking factor when the majority of people started searching with their phones. HTTPS ranks better than HTTP because Google wants to increase security for searching, and they developed Core Web Vitals (speed metrics) to quantify a fast, seamless user experience.

Noticing a pattern?

E-A-T helps determine credibility. It’s a guideline for evaluating a website and its pages – do they create real value for the user? These guidelines serve as reference for their human search evaluators – the ones who determine how well Google’s algorithm is doing. So it’s also a crucial insight into what Google considers a high-quality web page. These guidelines have been updated several times, most recently in October last year. Algorithm updates have also occurred. 

In the first update, the most significant change was the new emphasis on a concept called Beneficial Purpose. Basically it says a page’s rating determines how well a page achieves its purpose, so the evaluator has to understand the purpose of the page and the website. And “websites and pages should be created to help users.” Not make money. Present false or misleading information. Not be intended to scam. But to be user-centered. Inform. Teach. Cause a user to laugh. Share. Express an opinion. Post questions. Allow users to download software. Sell something.

On the other hand, a page created with the intention to make money “with no attempt to help users” is considered the lowest quality page.

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content is the type of information that, if presented inaccurately, untruthfully, or deceptively, could directly impact the user’s happiness, health, safety, or financial stability. Google takes this content very, very seriously. Experts with relevant expertise need to write YMYL content. This kind of content can include news and current events, government, law and civic-related topics, financial advice, medical advice, information on people of a particular ethnicity, race, religion, nationality, sexuality, etc. and shopping information. There are other YMYL topics, but Google says quality evaluators need to use their judgment to determine if a page qualifies as YMYL content.

Once it is determined that a page has a beneficial purpose, its level of E-A-T is carefully considered in terms of whether the content is YMYL. Non-YMYL content doesn’t require the same rigor as YMYL content.

Just remember that Google considers the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of the individual creator of page content, the content itself, and the entire website. In Google’s eyes, a thorough medical article written by an experienced doctor on the Mayo Clinic website is much more valuable than a random blog post dispensing unverified medical advice.

However, in the recently-updated version of the guidelines, Google makes an exception for “everyday expertise.” This means people with relevant life experience in specific topics can be considered experts—no formal training or education required. However, this only holds true for non-YMYL content.

“Authoritativeness” means having generally recognized authority. People know you, know your background, and look to you as a leader in your industry. They accept you as a good source of information.

Trustworthiness: The “Trustworthiness” part of E-A-T also refers to the MC creator, the content, and the website. Being a trustworthy expert and source means people can trust you to provide honest, true information that is accurate.

The guidelines have some specific notes for certain topics that require high E-A-T. Specifically, pages containing the following YMYL content need to have specialized expertise behind them:

  • Medical advice
  • Journalistic news articles
  • Information pages on scientific topics
  • Financial advice, legal advice, and tax advice
  • Advice pages on high-stakes topics (home remodeling, parenting, etc.)
  • Pages on hobbies that require expertise, e.g., photography, playing guitar

There are also some things that you can do to improve your website’s E-A-T:

  • Tell your visitors who you are

You can do this by simply adding an About Us page highlighting the experience and expertise of people behind your company.

  • Generate content authored by experts (and if you don’t have time, find a quality ghostwriter to create it)

Google still wants and prefers content created by subject-matter experts.

  • Be clear about your content’s purpose

Use title and heading tags to make clear what you’re talking about in your content. Don’t write long-form content just for the sake of it. Sometimes, short is sweeter. So be concise.

  • Keep your content up to date

The amount of content created every day is staggering. Because of that, content becomes outdated really fast. So keep in mind that you update your facts, stats to keep up with the changes.

  • Link to other authoritative and high-quality sources

When including backlinks in your content…make sure that you link to authoritative sites that are high-quality. Quality should be valued over quantity. This will help your website establish authority.

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Need to Develop an Effective Small Business Online Marketing Strategy?

Every small business needs to develop an effective online marketing strategy. There is just too much happening online not to be a part of it, and not to be grabbing your share of the market.

And even if your small business doesn’t sell products or services online, it’s how people learn about you and decide if they want to visit. It’s also the basis for search engine results, so if people are searching for what you carry in your area, your website will show up. You can’t just count on people driving by anymore. Not only do you have to compete with other brick and mortar stores, you have to compete against the businesses online that are selling what you’re selling.

Does the internet seem too big to conquer for a small business as far as online marketing? Your small businesses doesn’’t need to dominate the entire internet market – just your corner of it. Your particular audience that wants your particular product or service. Microniching is what you should be concentrating on. Not trying to sell everybody everything you have, but really narrowing down who you’re selling to and what, so you can really specialize in that area for those people.

Who is your ideal customer? Where do they live? What else do they do? How much money do they make? What are their likely professions? Answering these questions is the start to developing an effective small business online marketing strategy. One that helps you target your ideal customer with messages that resonate.

Your budget will help determine which platforms to use, along with the type of product or service you sell, as some media choices are more suited than others. Selling to other businesses? Email marketing, PPC and LinkedIn might be good choices. Want to reach right to consumers with an effective campaign? Facebook, PPC, Instagram and email marketing could be the right combination. An experienced marketing firm like Spot Digital Marketing can help you navigate through and ensure that your marketing dollars are being spent more effectively.

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Need to Develop an Effective Small Business Online Marketing Strategy?

Every small business needs to develop an effective online marketing strategy. There is just too much happening online not to be a part of it, and not to be grabbing your share of the market.

And even if your small business doesn’t sell products or services online, it’s how people learn about you and decide if they want to visit. It’s also the basis for search engine results, so if people are searching for what you carry in your area, your website will show up. You can’t just count on people driving by anymore. Not only do you have to compete with other brick and mortar stores, you have to compete against the businesses online that are selling what you’re selling.

Does the internet seem too big to conquer for a small business as far as online marketing? Your small businesses doesn’t need to dominate the entire internet market – just your corner of it. Your particular audience that wants your particular product or service. Microniching is what you should be concentrating on. Not trying to sell everybody everything you have, but really narrowing down who you’re selling to and what, so you can really specialize in that area for those people.

Who is your ideal customer? Where do they live? What else do they do? How much money do they make? What are their likely professions? Answering these questions is the start to developing an effective small business online marketing strategy. One that helps you target your ideal customer with messages that resonate.

Your budget will help determine which platforms to use, along with the type of product or service you sell, as some media choices are more suited than others. Selling to other businesses? Email marketing, PPC and LinkedIn might be good choices. Want to reach right to consumers with an effective campaign? Facebook, PPC, Instagram and email marketing could be the right combination. An experienced marketing firm like Spot Digital Marketing can help you navigate through and ensure that your marketing dollars are being spent more effectively.

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Local SEO Marketing Agency

6 questions that help you decide it’s time to find a marketing agency that can help with your local SEO

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, it’s imperative that your agency be constantly working to increase your rankings. It’s not enough to get some keywords to rank well and then take their foot off the gas. It’s a never ending process to increase the ranking of additional keywords, and maintain the ones who have achieved the coveted page one status.

Here are some questions to ask to determine if it’s time to look for a new agency to help with your local SEO.

  1. How often is your marketing agency writing and submitting blogs for your approval? If you’re just getting a blog once every couple of months that’s not enough. The more content the better, but at the very least, the agency should be writing one article of original content to use as a blog on your website each month to add to your SEO.
  2. Is your agency writing different blogs of original content that are at least 300 – 400 words in length to submit to reputable directories and other locations in order to garner backlinks? Is the keyword density correct? This is a crucial part of the SEO algorithm.
  3. How often are they checking your plug-ins and links for errors? If you’ve linked to an article in a blog and the link is no longer working it’s reflected in your evaluation. Likewise if you have a plug in that’s become outdated or isn’t working correctly. Either can easily happen if it’s a function you don’t use a lot, or if links aren’t reviewed on at least a monthly basis.
  4. How fast is the site loading and how well is it working overall? Functionality is another important factor for local SEO that a good marketing agency should be evaluating on a regular basis. If something has changed on the site like a new video added to a prime position, it could be slowing down the loading time. A.B.C. – always be checking.
  5. Is your website perfectly mobile compatible? Is it easy to navigate in that format when people are viewing it on their phones? Not only can you be penalized in your SEO efforts if not; your local agency is causing you to lose a lot of potential customers because so many are accessing websites on their phone now – upwards of 60% in most cases.
  6. Is your marketing agency charged with local SEO taking advantage of all opportunities? They should constantly be evaluating keywords of competitors and bringing you new ideas for keywords and long-tail keywords. They should also be submitting your information to all available online directories (more than 80) to add to your local SEO, not to mention ensuring you have accurate, consistent information available when people search.

If the answer to any of these is “no”, they may be getting complacent, have someone assigned who’s too busy or not paying attention, or worse, have outsourced it without you knowing. Use these questions as a basis for a hard discussion before you let more money slip through your fingers by not having a website that’s working as hard as possible for you. 

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All you Need to Know About Local Website Development

Local website development is the process of creating a website in a local environment, where developers use a local machine or device to build and maintain a website. Local development has no relation with the physical location of the device, business, or developer.

All beginners first learn to code static sites with CSS and HTML and use text editors such as Atom, Sublime or Visual Basic to create a file and use a browser to open it. This is nothing, but local development.

Developing more complex and dynamic self-hosting sites such as WordPress that use a language like PHP and store content in a database is local website development and is done by replicating those live server stacks on a local machine.

Benefits of local website development

Local development takes away the stress of the process as customizing the setup will not affect the live site and also, the site can be made and tested before uploading.

Another advantage of local development is that you do not have to be connected to the internet while developing. Slow wi-fi or working in places with weak or no internet signal will not hamper your work progress.

The website of a business crashing in today’s digital era is no less than a disaster and since local website developers leverage the offline environment to refine new features and functions, developers have the liberty to evaluate new website iterations without risking the integrity of live web pages.

When it comes to local website development, there is no one like Spot Digital Marketing. Businesses like Industrial Enet, Palm Desert Area Chamber, John Hammer Construction and Rhino Digital use local website development services offered by Spot Digital Marketing for providing uninterrupted access of their websites to their respective customers.

Spot Digital Marketing – The Go-to Local Web Development Agency

Spot Digital Marketing, a California-based local website development firm, specializes in building a responsive and functional website for its clients. The developer company aims for its client’s success by offering dedicated web development specialists, impressive graphics and resonating content, audience targeting, and monitoring, and strategic response planning and execution.

They offer different plans based on the custom needs of the businesses. The minimum offerings of these plans include WordPress platform, responsive design, up to five web pages, content upload and editing along with an on-SEO page. Additionally, e-commerce functionality, website search engine submission, and copywriting services can be availed with their advanced plans. If you are looking for the best local web development agency, go ahead and reach out to Spot Digital Marketing.

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How Do I Choose an Online Marketing Agency for My Small Business?

If you’re a small business choosing an online marketing agency, the best way to start is to find small agencies that specialize in online marketing. Big companies or those associated with media outlets won’t be structured to provide the type of personalized service that you’ll need, especially if you’re somewhat new to online marketing.

A small marketing agency like Spot Digital Marketing will be sensitive to any financial constraints you may have and will work with you to maximize your spending by creatively using content across many platforms, working with your in-house team (if needed) and helping to instruct you on online marketing and analytics.

Here are some good questions to get you started when you’re choosing an online marketing agency for your small business:

How many small business clients do you have?

What’s the smallest and largest budget you work with?

How much do you work on projects as opposed to serving as a full service agency?

Are there any opportunities to bundle services to save money?

How long are your contracts? What if I need to cancel?

How much online marketing work have you done in my particular industry with other small businesses?

What are some realistic ROI measurements for my online marketing?

What’s a good timeline to see leads and sales conversions from online marketing?

Is there some of the online marketing work I can do myself to save money?

Who will be handling my account? How much experience do they have with small businesses and online marketing?

Will there be regular reports and phone calls to track the progress of the online marketing efforts?

Will the online marketing results be examined on a regular basis so changes can be made to maximize the results?

These questions, and more, are a good way to start to drill down into exactly how the relationship will work and be valued by the online marketing agency you select for your small business.

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Is a Full-service Digital Marketing Agency Right for You?

Is a full-service digital marketing agency right for you? Let’s look at some considerations:

Is your marketing currently being handled by yourself, perhaps with an employee assisting and then with some of it outsourced? What kind of efficiencies are you losing and what kind of in-house time that could be more profitably allocated to focusing on operational/expansion efforts?

Are the people handling the different aspects of your digital marketing all experts in their part of it? Digital advertising? Content creation? SEO? Website development? Email marketing? No one person can keep up with all of this and keep abreast of all the changes happening in the industry at the same time.

Is there coordination between all the different aspects? For example, are there regular blogs being written for SEO and utilized to solicit backlinks (valuable for SEO) that are also linked to for social media and potentially referenced in emails as well? 

Is there time to really dive into analytics to understand the customer journey, how well each marketing avenue is working, and what tweaks need to be made at each juncture to increase sales even more? A full-service digital marketing agency understands they will be judged on the metrics that are reported from each aspect of the marketing they are doing on behalf of your business.

With a full-service digital marketing firm the primary focus will be on getting the best results for clients so their efforts do not come after they work on other responsibilities first. That way you can rest assured that your marketing is a top priority and not an afterthought. 

A full-service digital marketing agency can save you money. Not only will they understand how to maximize your messaging and money, with the right level of Search Engine Optimization and an understanding of long tail keywords, bid amounts on Pay Per Click advertising will drop significantly. Strategic long tail keywords will also allow you to target more effectively, increasing your conversions vs. just initial impressions.

 

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Spot Shares the Secrets of Flywheel Marketing

Unfortunately there’s rarely a singular thing that transforms a business from good to great. Rather, as with most things it’s a process that resembles an ever-evolving wheel, or as businessman Jim Collins described it – a flywheel.

First – what is a flywheel? It’s a revolving wheel that increases a machine’s momentum by storing and releasing energy in its perpetual loop. It’s a spinning wheel that ideally never stops. It’s a much different concept than a sales funnel – which is designed as a vertical tunnel that ends at the sale, when a customer reaches the bottom. 

But wouldn’t it be better if you kept your customers engaged, making referrals and buying again? That’s why a flywheel is designed in three sections: attract, engage and delight.

Attract: Awareness with advertising, SEO, video campaigns, collaborations, etc.

Engage: Build meaningful relationships with customers through communities, different outreach channels, etc.

Delight: This is crucial – you can’t just sell and deliver quickly. You need to create a customer experience they will want to share. Satisfaction surveys, good email follow up, unexpected value added perks, quick response to customer inquiries (should you add chatbots for 24/7 response), affiliation with causes they support, etc.

The flywheel also serves as a guide for you to take a closer look at your business and the customer experience. It also gives you a goal for everyone associated with the business – keep customers happy enough to recommend your brand to others.

How fast do potential customers move though the sales process, how successful is the sales process in closing, how delighted are customers once they purchase from you? This involves marketing, sales and product and customer service teams. A whopping 81% of buyers trust their friends and family more than what they see from companies – so the “delight” stage is critical.

You’ll also be examining your flywheel for friction points. Does it take too long to respond to customer questions? Is the return policy confusing? Are the product listings always up to date? Potential customers will exit the flywheel if they hit friction.

What do potential customers want from your content and how easy is it for them to get it? Eliminate obstacles and keep it spinning freely.

Let Spot help you design your own flywheel, identify potential friction points, make suggestions about how to eliminate friction, and watch sales grow.

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