When Was the Last Time You Did Any Brandstorming?

digital marketing Portland

When did you last take a step back and see how your brand was doing? Not the analytics for your website. Not the number of impressions or clickthroughs from your PPC. And not even if you like the new redesign of your collateral pieces. Your brand.

How is your brand/company perceived in the world? If people are aware of you, what is their perception? Or do they even have one? Branding is what happens every time someone interacts with your company at any level. Here are some of the major elements that go into it, and each one has several smaller pieces.

Customer Experience

How easy is it for a customer to navigate their journey with you? Is it all automated and impersonal? Do some potential buyers get frustrated and hang up or abandon their shopping carts? People value their time and they’re not willing to take a lot of it trying to give you some of their money. And if a purchase is made, what is the follow-up? Is it a thank you or simply an automated review form? What are they reviewing – how well your software worked? That should be a given. You want them to feel something – like their business is appreciated. Go through your entire sales process with a customer’s eyes. You may be surprised at what you find. Be careful sacrificing personal touches where they make sense for the sake of productivity and/or efficiency. What you gain in time you may lose in positive perception and the opportunity to have enthusiastic brand ambassadors. If it’s a product that’s delivered, what comes with it? Is there a note of appreciation? Some special packaging with tissue paper or just an item in a plastic bag in a box? If you’re a service business, what’s a small touch you can add that will make a lasting impression? How often do you communicate with customers after a sale? It’s hard to ask for a referral or expect a good review if you make the sale and they never hear from you again – and not just to try to sell them something new.

Outward Appearance

If you’re a service business, how do your employees look when they show up? Are uniforms clean and crisp? Are all the pieces branded or are they adding their own baseball hat, etc? What about company vehicles? Are they clean and well-branded? Your company vehicles are driving billboards – what do they say about your company? That we are meticulous and detail-oriented or sloppy and don’t care. And related to that, how are they driven? Are your team members polite drivers or do they go too fast and cut people off? That all goes into branding and the perception people have of your company. If you’re a retailer, what is the appearance of your store when people walk in? Are they sincerely greeted or is it a perfunctory “hello” without looking up because the employee has to share a greeting? If you’re online – does your website load fast, is it easy to navigate, does it work well on mobile, and does it give enough information for customers to make an informed decision? Again – it’s hard to do but you have to look at these things objectively – through a potential customer’s eyes and be honest with yourself. You can also ask for critiques from people who will be honest with you, not people who work for you and may be tempted to tell you what you want to hear.

Internal Audience

You’re also missing out if you don’t treat all your employees like customers. You need to continue to “sell” them on the company and its mission. You have no greater source of ambassadors than those who are working for you – not just the people in sales and marketing, but at every level. They need to stay informed, excited, and engaged. Great customer service will naturally flow from team members who feel appreciated and who understand why things are being done. This can be overlooked or left behind as companies grow, but it’s imperative, especially if you want to keep your key people and those who support them. It’s expensive and time-consuming to have a big turnover and if that’s happening within your company you need to find out why. But just because people are staying it doesn’t mean they’re happy and giving their best either. Periodically take their pulse – see what you can do better. Sometimes it’s just small things that can make a big impact.

It can be hard to stop and focus on items that don’t feel like they are directly related to sales – but good branding and creating positive perceptions of your company out in the world pave the way for sales and speed up the process. It also leads to more referrals and better word-of-mouth in person and online through the use of reviews on sites such as Yelp. And since people are still more likely to share bad experiences online, it’s imperative that you strive to create the best impression you can at every opportunity, so if/when a bad review hits you’ll be insulated with a lot of good ones and it won’t make a dent in your score.

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Top Digital Agency

digital marketing Porland

We recently sat down (virtually) with Spot Color Marketing founder and CEO Nicole Weber to get her thoughts about the current situation in regard to digital marketing. Here’s what she had to share.

Q. Spot has really established itself as a top digital marketing agency in the Portland and Palm Springs area and beyond. Can you tell us how long Spot has been operating and what prompted you to start it?

A. I wanted to create a digital marketing agency to help businesses take advantage of what was really a strong, emerging advertising and marketing option 20 years ago. So I started Spot and surrounded myself with other really talented professionals. We were also pioneers in working remotely, as it has been a way to team up with team members who have the most relevant experience without needing to be tied to a physical location. It also means that client fees don’t go to help pay for overhead – they go right into services. And it’s also an advantage for clients because we’re well equipped to work with your team no matter where they’re located. Others are doing it out of necessity now, but we’re very experienced with it and have all the right tools in place.

Q. As far as digital marketing agency services, what do you offer your clients?

A. We can add to a client’s existing efforts or create a comprehensive program for them with components including creating/enhancing/updating their website, search engine optimization, listings management, content creation, social media content and strategies as well as the strategy, design, and placement of ads for Pay Per Click and banner ad campaigns. We also have a lot of experience with some of the newer options like geofencing, retargeting, and precise mobile polygoning, where an online banner ad continues to follow a customer even after they have left a specific geographic area and you can receive detailed information about them.

Q. We have to ask the question – what has changed for clients with the current situation?

A. In the digital world, there’s actually a silver lining with people spending so much more time on their digital devices. Now is a great time to create and refine programs to stay in touch with current customers and find new ones. As details like delivery, hours, and services stay in flux, it’s also crucial for businesses to stay up-to-date with information so they make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from them.

Q. There are a lot of digital marketing agencies now, what makes Spot different?

A. We are very customer-centric and transparent. For example, we don’t hide our PPC management in a client’s total cost and just promise a certain number of impressions. We are also a full-service agency so, in addition to digital marketing, we can assist with branding, logos, traditional media advertising, public relations, graphic design for collateral and packaging, in addition to digital marketing agency services. It’s so much easier to have an integrated, consistent business development strategy when all the pieces are being coordinated and handled by a single entity with a real depth of experience in all of them.

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What’s Your Online Reputation?

Online Reputation

We all worry about our reputations (or we should) and that’s never been more important for businesses than today. That’s because people’s opinions of your business are not limited to their friends and neighbors, but can travel across the internet via their social media, online review sites, and more.

That being said, what can be done about it?

  • Make sure all your directory listings are “claimed”. There are about 80 different internet directories where your business can be found. All of them need to have accurate information including your phone number, address, hours, etc.
  • The most important ones include YELP and Google+. In Yelp, you also need to make sure you have messaging enabled so people can reach you through Yelp. You get scored on how quickly you respond so you need to make sure the email address you put in here goes to someone on your team who can act quickly.
  • Check your scores – consumers are using review sites more than ever. It’s internet word-of-mouth and it’s powerful. A score of less than four practically guarantees you will lose potential customers. A program should be put in place to increase your positive reviews and raise your score.
  • When someone does leave a review, it needs to have a response posted quickly. In just a few words, you can thank someone for the nice comment and reinforce what they are saying. For example, “I really appreciated that Acme didn’t do a hard sell with me – they just presented the information and let me decide.” Your response? “Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and I’m glad you appreciated our “inform and educate approach.”
  • When someone does a search for your business, what do they find? Does an old negative article come up? Something else that’s not good? While these can’t always be eliminated, it is possible to create positive articles and work to have them “trend” up so eventually they will be the first thing that potential customers see, and the negative responses will move farther down the list, and thus be more likely not to be seen.
  • Are you considered an “expert” in your field? Well regarded articles on LinkedIn, on your website blog and more, can be boosted out and help raise your profile with peers and potential customers.

All a bit overwhelming? Spot Color Marketing has reputation management packages at several different levels to help you create a customized program that will help tell the true story of your business to enhance your online reputation and increase your sales.

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Accurate and consistent online directory listings are crucial for website optimization and SEO

website optimization

People don’t talk about it as much as PPC of website optimization, but your online listings in the various directories are a crucial component for your digital footprint. What do people see about your business when they go to Yelp? What if they ask Alexa for a nearby business that offers what you do? Driving and want to see businesses through MapQuest? If you’re not listed or your listing is not accurate, you’re missing out.

Not only do all your listings need to be claimed, but you also need to make sure they are all consistent and that important information like hours are kept up-to-date. Not only does this provide accurate information for current and potential customers, it adds to your local Search Engine Optimization.

A company like Spot Color Marketing that can create comprehensive listings for you with your business information, logo, photos, etc. where applicable, will help ensure you’re not missing any piece of the online puzzle. And with more than 80 different directories in the United States, it’s a huge undertaking to find them all yourself and try to keep them accurate.

Spot can even make your business voice search ready, with automatic distribution of the information to Amazon Alexa, Apple, Bing, Google, and more. This gives you a huge and immediate boost in local ranking, search, and reach!

Then as things change for your business such as hours, or new products/services, all the directories can be updated on a regular basis. A monthly report will show you what’s being done and the search analytics around your directories. Messaging through them will also be enabled so members of the public can reach out to you through the ones that offer that service such as Yelp.

Here’s a partial listing of the directories we work with: Banks.com, LocalPages, Instagram, Facebook, Superpages, D&B Database, ShowMeLocal, GoLocal247, ChamberofCommerce.com, TripAdvisor, Postmates, Top Rated Local, Amazon Alexa, Foursquare, Yelp, Citysearch, Apple, Yahoo!, Waze, Google My Business, Nextdoor, Snapchat, White & Yellow Pages, Uber, TomTom, Bing, eLocal, MapQuest and many more.

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Grow Customers with a Google Shopping Feed

Google Shopping Feed

If you are opening a small business with a physical location, obviously you want to get the word out through advertising and marketing to draw customers into your store. The same concept holds true for an online store, although the execution of that strategy is very different.

If you are selling goods of any type online, then a Google shopping feed should be part of your marketing plan.

What is a shopping feed? In summary, it is a file that is generated from your website, providing details on products you have for sale. These details include product descriptions, photos and pricing—as well as any special promotions or coupon codes.

By utilizing this type of product feed, your business can reach a broader audience of potential consumers, with some of your products appearing on comparison shopping sites and search engines such as Google. Using a Google shopping feed generates direct traffic, and more sales, to your online business. It also gives your business a wider online footprint, presenting it and its goods to a larger potential audience of customers.

You can purchase a shopping feed, or the code to install one, from a variety of third-party companies. However, the best way to create a Google shopping feed is through XML. Many ecommerce sites already use XML coding. Most Google shopping feeds already are constructed to support data in text spreadsheets or XML. When installing and managing your Google shopping feed, it is also important to construct a feed by paying particular attention to keywords. Also, you will want to manage and regularly update the feed to ensure you always are reaching your target audience.

At Spot Color Marketing, we have the skills and knowledge to both install and manage your Google shopping feed for you, freeing you up for all the other tasks that come up for a successful entrepreneur. We also know how to reach any target audience through keywords and search engine optimization; after all, we’ve been doing it since 2001!

If you operate an ecommerce business and want us to manage or install a Google shopping feed on your site, contact us by calling (503) 477-4355 or email us at spot@spotcolormarketing.com. We also can give you an entirely new site that will be sleek, simple, and establish a professional and impressive online presence.

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Marketing and Website Evaluation in Your Spring Cleaning

Website Evaluation

As a business owner, staying current is of utmost importance. You want to stay on top of the latest marketing trends. You want to make sure your inventory is up to date. You want to make sure your employees continue to provide the highest level of service and courtesy.

So when evaluating the state of your business, don’t neglect your website and digital marketing plan.

You should perform one of these evaluations, at the minimum, at least once per year. Spring is the season of rebirth and new growth, making it an excellent time to evaluate your marketing strategy. When doing so, here are some key factors to consider during the “spring clean-up” of your business’s online presence and the performance of your website.

Traffic report: Compare your traffic to that from one month ago, or one year ago at this time. Determine if there is an increase or decrease and, if so, what led to the change. What pages or content are producing the most traffic? What are the top external sources driving traffic to your site? Are they coming from search engines? And if so, which ones? This can help you tweak your marketing strategy.

Location, location, location: What is the geographic location of the visitors to your site? Are the majority of them close to your home base?

Be brutally honest: Take a look at what aspects of your plan are working and which are not. Is the original content on your site generating traffic? If so, why or why not? Do you have a social media presence? If so, how is it performing? Is the message of your branding consistent? Answering these questions honestly by looking at the hard data will give you the best course of action for the future.

All of the data regarding a website and its traffic can be overwhelming. However, we can perform an audit report on your website and search engine optimization at Spot Color Marketing. This report evaluates the rank and health of your website and, best of all, it’s absolutely free.

Spot Marketing is a Google Certified Partner and based in Portland, OR. We’re considered a premier digital marketing agency with clients Nationwide. If you are a business owner, entrepreneur and would like a free website audit for your site, contact us today by calling (503) 477-4355 or sending an email to spot@spotcolormarketing.com.

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