Your Platform Matters: What Email Service Provider Are You Using?

It’s no secret email is one of the top digital marketing strategies across sectors. U.S. office workers spend roughly 5 hours per day on email, between work and personal accounts, and receive an average of almost 100 emails per day. Because of that, it’s no small feat to get an email into your clients’ main inbox, catch their attention, and motivate them to engage with your brand. Choosing the right email distribution software and marketing tools can help.

Email service providers (ESPs) send targeted, personalized emails in bulk and make it easy to track and measure client engagement. Today, many ESPs are packaged as part of broader customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, outfitted with myriad features beyond sending a simple email.

Lenders evaluating ESPs should consider the following features:

  1. Marketing automation, or automatically generated emails like after a client signs up for your mailing list
  2. Analytics and tracking capabilities
  3. Deliverability rates, which indicate how likely an email will end up in inboxes versus spam folders
  4. Software integration
  5. Contact list management
  6. The email editor itself.

So, which ESP is right for you?

HubSpot

HubSpot is an “all-in-one” marketing tool, used for inbound marketing, sales, and customer service. Its focus is CRM, and it offers email marketing software as part of that package. The sprawling platform includes landing page creation, marketing automation, lead management, analytics, social media management, SEO content planning, and more. HubSpot is rated one of the top ESPs by PCMag for its marketing automation capabilities and simple email creation tool that offers users thousands of templates.

In addition, HubSpot offers its product for free for users with up to 1,000 email contacts. Pricing is tiered after that, based on features and number of contacts. The “Starter” edition begins at $50/month for 1,000 contacts. HubSpot’s pricing model makes the platform ideal for small businesses interested in testing CRM features and email marketing software without a major investment.

MailChimp

MailChimp was founded as an email marketing service in 2001, and today is one of the most well-known ESPs in the space.  Because MailChimp is an email distribution software first, it offers an intuitive platform, especially for first-time email marketers, with dozens of templates and the ability to code your own design. Last year, it broadened its offerings to include a full marketing platform geared toward small businesses.

MailChimp includes advanced audience segmentation, marketing automation, social media management, and landing page creation. Like HubSpot, it has a tiered pricing system with a free option for up to 2,000 contacts. Paid tiers start at $9.99/month, $14.99/month and $299/month. The platform was hailed as the best ESP for growing businesses by TechRadar and a great choice for small businesses who want to use automation by PCMag.   

Infusionsoft by Keap

Infusionsoft by Keap is a CRM tool with integrated marketing and sales automation. The company rebranded as Keap in 2019 as part of an effort to appeal to smaller businesses. The original Infusionsoft product starts at $200/month for 500 contacts, making it a more expensive option. However, PCMagrecommends Infusionsoft for small businesses with highly integrated sales and marketing functions, and notes it is among the best for managing contact lists. The platform offers an HTML email builder and fewer templates than most other ESPs, so it is best for companies already comfortable in the email marketing space who want more design flexibility.

Salesforce/Pardot

Pardot is a marketing automation tool created by Salesforce. Pardot comes with a steep price tag compared to other platforms — its lowest tier starts at $1,250/month — but it includes detailed analytics features, list-building, audience segmentation, and automation. Its email builder includes dozens of templates and an HTML option. Pardot fully integrates with other Salesforce products, making it ideal for businesses that already use Salesforce or larger organizations seeking detailed insights on customer behavior, according to a PCMag review.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact’s email marketing software is known for its ease of use, making it an ideal option for lenders who are new to email marketing or simply want to send emails. PCMag recommends it to businesses with small contact lists. Features include automation, an SEO tool, landing page creation, social media management, and integration with a variety of other software systems, including Salesforce and Shopify. Constant Contact offers a 60-day free trial for up to 100 contacts, and pricing tiers start at $20/month or $45/month based on features and contact list size.

If you’re not sure which email service provider is right for you, reach out to Geraci Media to discuss your options.

The Value of Social Media Ads

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has emerged as a critical marketing strategy for private lenders and brokers. Even before the pandemic hit, 70 percent of Americans were on social media, engaging for an average of 2 hours per day, according to the Digital 2020 report from We Are Social and HootSuite. Now with more people at home, inside and online, brands have an even greater opportunity to make an impression.

Many businesses anticipated this shift. Social media budgets have jumped 74 percent since February, according to a May 2020 survey of more than 2,600 marketing professionals across industries. Companies are now spending nearly a quarter (23.2 percent) of their marketing dollars on social media, up from about 13 percent prior to the pandemic.  

But for private lenders who typically rely on face-to-face networking, social media advertising can feel completely foreign. The best place to start is by defining a strategy, starting with goals and a budget. Outlining goals, like awareness, engagement, or lead generation, can help determine spend and narrow focus to a specific message. The best social media ads are consistent in message and identity across platforms. Lenders should also be sure to budget for training, content creation, advertising costs, and analysis.

Armed with goals and a budget, lenders can start to assess which platforms are best suited for the way they want to engage with clients and prospects. Here is a guide to advertising on five social media platforms:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is considered the gold standard for business-to-business marketing. The professional networking site has more than 160 million users in the U.S., and with each of these users providing detailed professional work history, it’s easy for lenders and brokers to ensure they are targeting the right audience. The platform offers a variety of ways to advertise, including sponsored content, text ads, display ads and an option to directly message target clients. LinkedIn is the best platform for longform, thought leadership-style content. It is ideal for lenders and brokers seeking to establish themselves as trusted advisors in the field.

Facebook

Facebook is a powerhouse platform due to its enormous reach — 180 million Americans — and engagement. The typical Facebook user clicks on 18 advertisements a month, according to the Digital 2020 report. The platform is ideal for lead generation. Facebook’s “lead ads” option pre-populates users’ contact information when they click on your ad, making quality lead generation frictionless. Facebook is the perfect platform for promoting other digital marketing efforts like gated content and virtual events. 

Instagram

Instagram has 120 million users in the U.S., and its reach is growing. The photo-sharing platform attracts a younger user base, with 35 percent of users between ages 25-34 and 30 percent of users ages 35 and up. Instagram users often use the platform to discover and research brands, according to Facebook, its parent company. As a visual platform, image-based content like photos, videos, and graphics are essential to advertising on Instagram. It is an ideal network for sharing your company story, building brand awareness, and driving potential customers to your website. The best performing brand content on Instagram functions almost as a short blog, offering personal insights, inspiration, and/or information for users. 

Twitter

Twitter boasts more than 53 million users in the U.S. With its 280-character limit, the platform is built for conversation. It offers businesses a great way to ask and answer questions, engage with potential clients and industry peers, and generally build greater brand awareness. More than half of Twitter users (54 percent) will visit a brand website or Twitter profile after seeing it mentioned in their feed. Short-form text content with attached photos or graphics performs best on the site. It also offers robust advertising options and requires no minimum spend.

TikTok

TikTok is still a new frontier for B2B advertisers. It has 30 million users in the U.S., most of whom are under age 25, according to AdAge. The short-form video platform was popularized by Gen Z, the generation born between 1995 and 2015. While there’s no set B2B marketing playbook for TikTok, authenticity is key. Weird, funny, inspirational, or personality-driven content gains traction here. Ad captions are limited to 100 characters, so more than any other platform, it’s all about the video. TikTok has recently pledged support for more informational content for users, making it an ideal space for lenders or brokers who want to establish themselves as industry resources. A major perk of TikTok is the app is designed for sharing across other social platforms like Instagram and Twitter, broadening the potential reach of your content. 

If you have any questions about which social media platforms may be right for you, reach out to Geraci Media here.

Branding 101: The Importance of Aligning Your Brand

A general search on the internet of private lenders in the state of California brings up over 5 pages of company names that are all vying for your attention in this niche market. What distinguishes one from the rest of the competition? Is it company name? A unique logo? An experience? A customer or client review? A well-designed website? Heavy social media presence? The answer is all of the above, which can be universally labeled as your company’s branding. People want to do business with a company they are familiar with, that they connect with, and that they can relate to – all of which can be achieved through aligning your brand.

Brand Strategy

A strong brand does not become established on its own. Branding requires a marketing strategy that is well thought out, authentic, and consistent across all channels, websites, emails, and so forth. To create a memorable brand, you must provide a positive, emotional experience to your target audience consistently. The more you can establish rapport with your clients through your specific brand strategy, the more people will trust you, return to your business, refer your business to others, and create loyalty within your industry. The perception of your brand’s attributes cultivates the emotional connection that is vital to its survival.

So, where do you start? A brand strategy’s blueprint consists of three key elements: the brand heart, brand voice, and the brand identity. Once you can identify these elements, you can focus on building your brand.

Brand Heart

When examining the heart of your brand, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What purpose does your business serve?
  • What is at the core of what you do and why you do it?
  • What are your future goals? How are you going to achieve them?

When you can answer these questions honestly, you’ll have the brand heart laid out right before you. These are your core beliefs and should be presented in each facet of your business to create brand consistency and trustworthiness amongst your audience.

Brand Voice

Your brand heart is extremely influential in finding the second key point of building your brand: your brand voice. Your brand voice is the “Just Do It” to Nike’s brand. The voice’s framework includes the following:

  • Unique Tagline
  • #Hashtags (specific to your target audience or specific market)
  • Messaging/content
  • Pillars
  • Tone of voice
  • Sales pitch
  • Goals
  • Values

Your brand voice should be consistent in every piece of content you create. To create a ‘voice’ you must consider your specific angle, your customers’ angle, and your competitors’ angle. This all aids in helping you create a consistent, authentic, recognizable brand for your audience.

Brand Identity

Communicating your voice effectively can affect people’s initial perceptions of your brand and is the basis of your brand identity. Brands are more than their basic identity, and they are most commonly associated with a visual element at first glance, such as a logo, colors, or imagery. How your logo looks and what emotions it immediately evokes in someone is typically your audience’s first impression of your brand. You may not always use your tagline in your content, but your logo, the colors, the typography, imagery, photography, website, social media content, and video content all generate a memorable reference to your brand that continues to shape, grow, and add to the brand identity as a whole. All three of these brand elements are necessary in creating a complete brand image that will lead you to success within your industry.

Now that you have identified the brand elements of heart, voice, and identity, you may ask – How do you create brand awareness and brand loyalty to ensure longevity within your industry? With over 2.1 billion people with social accounts, today’s social media platforms are the frontrunner for building a brand in our modern, technology-influenced society. Therefore, you should use those channels to your advantage when it comes to brand awareness.

Your brand strategy does not stop once you have created these three key elements. Once you have established your brand, how you promote and advertise your brand should align with your vision. This is essential to keep in mind when looking to expand and grow your brand either organically or through a media service.

Tell Your Story

In addition to the key elements of creating a brand comes the act of storytelling. Compelling storytelling in your branding demands attention, calling all who are experiencing your brand to buy in, and take a step further to invest in what you are doing. A strong message, an intense photograph or image, or a bold color and/or design will resonate with your intended audience as long as the messaging and branding is authentic and consistent. The intended message for your brand will have people coming back for more through sharing, liking, commenting, and garnishing the brand awareness.

The Power of Social Media Platforms

You must be specific and intentional when deciding which social media platforms to use in order to tell your story thoughtfully. Knowing your target audience plays an important role in where your brand should be concentrated. As a media firm vested in the private lending industry, we have found  more success on LinkedIn and Instagram, over alternative social platforms like Pinterest or Twitter. We have seen firsthand that when you incorporate your brand heart, voice, and identity genuinely across your brand and platforms, it will entice users to engage and take the conversation a step further, with the hopes of creating a new connection within your specific industry.

Whether you are starting your brand from scratch, or contemplating a rebrand that encompasses these elements, branding starts with a clear vision that can be implemented into every aspect of your business and provides a customer experience worth remembering. From the staff on your team, to the graphic elements found on your website, to your social media presence, it is most important that your brand tells your story.

If you need help achieving your brand goals, establishing a new brand purpose, and/or creating a social media presence that is authentic to your company as a whole, contact us today to see how we can partner together to successfully communicate who you are, and what you have to offer to your audience and industry!

Branding 101: What is Branding and Where Do I Start?

There is a psychology to creating brand awareness that, when executed correctly, will gain your brand loyalty and relatability. But, where do you begin? Establish the heart of your brand first. Determine what it is you stand for, what problems you are solving for consumers, and explain how you accomplish that through creative storytelling across all mediums. Create a plan that allows you to stick to your messaging, and then communicate it through all channels authentically. This authenticity will aid in building trust and creating a relatable brand identity.

Create an Image That Resonates

Creating content and digital assets for your online platforms can seem easy, but if it doesn’t align with your brand’s message, it can cause confusion and distract from the story you’re attempting to tell. Don’t let consumers second-guess what your brand is about. When your brand is consistent, authentic, and reliable, it can positively impact your company’s mission and bottom line.

The Value Appeal

Statistics show consumers buy from brands that share their values. If your brand doesn’t offer value outside of a product, it’s as good as dead in the water.

If you’re familiar with the Toms brand, you know their mission is that for every pair of shoes bought, a pair of shoes is donated to a child in need. Their brand takes on a big-picture approach, and their success shows consumers connect to this positively. If Toms decided they were changing their mission and not donating a pair of shoes because it was too expensive to do so, do you think their brand would have lasted this long? Not likely. It doesn’t matter if the shoes are cute or comfortable; when you buy a pair of Toms, you know the charitable donation comes with your shoes, which makes your purchase feel more meaningful than a typical purchase. Taking that out of the equation would completely change the appeal of the brand.

How Colors Can Help Your Brand

Consumers not only relate to your brand purpose and value proposition, but they also associate colors and imagery with your brand. If you think about any well-known brands that you are loyal to, you can likely picture their logo and brand colors. Lyft, for example, created a memorable color association when they started with a giant, fuzzy pink mustache in their driver’s grill to differentiate from other vehicles. As they grew, they realized that the giant mustache may not be the best ‘look’ when pulling up to a formal event or business meeting. They stuck with the pink in their logo to remain consistent, but now, riders expect to see a bright indicator light in the window of the driver’s car that distinguishes it from a yellow cab, Uber driver, or general traffic. This is an example of how colors and branding make a difference when setting your company apart, but how you may still need to re-evaluate and make changes as your company grows.

Another reason that brand colors are important is for easy recognizability and brand consistency. You want to ensure that your social media pages, email campaigns, and website pages are all aligned with the same colors, fonts, and styles. The color consistency and design will become easily recognizable to your target audience and will convey your brand message to them upon seeing your branding.

Know Your Audience

Online purchasing decisions are regularly made based on the content on your social media platforms. The posts, photos, videos, blogs, articles, Tweets, announcements, advertisements, and information can be easily spread if it’s accumulating engagement from the audience. But if you’re not seeing the likes, shares, comments or clicks, your brand’s message isn’t resonating.

LinkedIn has become the preferred social media site for business enrichment. This platform is ideal for professionals and job seekers and has become an effective marketing tool due to its authenticity and user engagement. Knowing your audience and understanding what their preferred platforms are will help keep your brand consistent.

Numbers indicate it takes 5-7 impressions for someone to remember your brand. Posting quality, relevant content regularly on your preferred social media platforms is important to draw users in. After a while, they will expect to see something new every day, and follow your page. The bonus is, if it appeals to them and causes them to engage with your page, this engagement can be used to help build lookalike and target audiences. This is why it is very important to have brand consistency on your channels, and to make sure you are promoting, posting, and engaging on the correct platform and the appropriate audience. Knowing your audience will allow you to put out the most relevant content and therefore grow your loyal following.

Don’t Sell; Tell Your Story

The final thing to remember when building your brand is to focus on telling your story, rather than just sell to your audience. Consumers are looking for an emotional connection to a brand, whether they get it from the colors, design, images, or content. If your feed is full of self-promotion, users are less likely to connect with your messaging and purpose, and your followers and engagement will drop. Keeping your feed consistent and telling the story that captures your audience will have your audience coming back for more, sharing your content, and referring you to their friends and followers.

Brands that present themselves consistently across the board on average see a 33% growth in revenue, per Lucidpress. Brand consistency is all about trust. People do business with the companies that they know, like, trust, and believe in. To establish a trustworthy brand, consumers have to personally relate to your brand’s heart, voice, and identity in order to know if it is something that they want to invest time in. Your audience needs to recognize and remember your brand through your consistent messaging and authenticity.

If you’re struggling to establish a consistent brand, or would like more information on any of the points we discussed, contact us today to see how we can partner to take your brand to the next level.

Why are Companies Turning to Digital Marketing During COVID-19?

During the COVID-19 crisis, businesses will need to rely on digital strategies more than ever. As all channels related to live events, conferences, and in-person advertising disappear, face-to-face businesses will face immense challenges, and a strong digital presence can make or break a business during these times.

The Cons to COVID-19

Business-to-business (B2B) companies will be hit especially hard, as their success and sales strategies rely heavily on annual trade shows and expeditions. Companies in legacy industries that are not digitally native and smaller companies that are used to word-of-mouth referrals might have less sophisticated digital growth strategies.

Companies with little to no internet presence may find themselves in the business of investing in social media, content marketing, and SEO strategies to help enhance their lead generation during this time. While COVID-19 has been tragic to so many businesses, it’s important to focus on growth and the opportunities ahead.

Adaptability is Key

Adaptability is a key factor in resilience. B2B suppliers in slow-to-digital industries can adapt to digital marketing, taking advantage of opportunities to make noise in an otherwise quiet space. The private lending industry’s standard is face-to-face networking, and while we know this will be a continued great source for referrals and growth in the future, you can adapt by opening new communication channels online and through social media. No one knows how long this will last and if it will lead to lasting change, but we do know that in-person meetings won’t be the norm for quite some time – so prepare accordingly.

These are unprecedented times, but we are not unprepared. The increase of remote working tools, like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, can help companies stay connected to clients and employees. Companies can use this time to make or update websites and launch  and create digital campaigns, all of which can help them reach new leads.

Lenders and Brokers who usually spend hours on the road, at sales visits, and events have more time to focus on digital strategies. Research where your borrowers and investors spend time online, and what tactics would reach them most effectively. If your organization previously put minimal efforts into digital channels, now is the time to revisit them and examine how you can make digital work for you.

Lenders and Service Providers who are worried about losing the networking opportunities the conference circuit typically offers can look to immersive virtual events to fill that gap. Businesses can also look at advancing their use of live social platforms, like those offered by Facebook or LinkedIn.

While the coming weeks and months will be challenging for any company, businesses that take a strategic approach to digital marketing will see its long-term value, even when the world returns to normal.

If you would like a free consultation on how Geraci Media can help you with your digital strategies, please reach out here.

3 Ways COVID-19 Will Affect Digital Marketing Agencies

If your company partners with a digital marketing agency, then you may be wondering how COVID-19 will impact their business model, as well as your ability to work with them effectively. Let’s take a look at three ways that the global pandemic is likely to affect agencies.

Strategy

Every move a digital marketing agency makes is informed by their strategy.

How will it change?

The far-reaching effects of COVID-19 have impacted supply and demand online in nearly every industry. Agencies will be re-examining their strategy based on the following questions:

  • How have customers’ needs changed?
  • How have customers’ budgets changed?
  • Are we still providing the same value to our customers?

In turn, agencies need to ensure that their offerings still meet customer needs. This will be a major priority through the remainder of 2020.

How to respond:

Start by taking a close look at your customer profile, identifying their new pain points, and modifying your strategy accordingly. For example, as people stay home more, there has been a drop in “near me” searches and an increase in “delivery” searches. We have seen YouTube traffic rise by 15%, while ad revenue has declined.

Action steps:

  • Create a page on your company website sharing your COVID-19 response. It should be accessible from every website page, and should address all relevant changes to the business and what steps you are taking to continue serving your customers.  
  • Update your content marketing, email campaigns, and any other advertising mediums with your new messaging.
  • Create a campaign that clearly shows how you are helping your customers during this time. Track the results so you can run a follow-up campaign later on showing how successful you were in this endeavor.

Operations

It is clear that all organizations, including digital marketing agencies, will be forced to adjust the way they operate during these times.

How will it change?

People are going to continue working from home, even when it is no longer mandatory. Office rents are high, and agency net profitability is relatively low by comparison. In fact, rent is traditionally one of the largest overhead costs for agencies. But if customers stop wanting to meet in the office and staff continue wanting to work from home, agencies can use those savings to invest back into their business.

However, not having an office has drawbacks as well. Without common spaces, company culture, and team collaboration can suffer. Agency owners may face management challenges, and will need processes for accountability, time-tracking, and daily check-ins.

How to respond:

Ultimately, the decision is up to the agency’s owner, and time will tell how office norms change. But for now, video calls can be your team’s saving grace. Schedule calls for non-work related itemsreasons, like happy hours,  team building exercises, andweekly department check-ins.

Client Communication

The way that digital marketing agencies communicate with their clients will change, especially if they are accustomed to in-person meetings.

How will it change?

Traditionally, some clients prefer in-person meetings – especially for lunch, coffee, or happy hour. Unfortunately, that is out of the question for at least a while longer, so agencies will have to do their best to recreate those meetings through video calls.

How to respond:

Dress up a bit for video calls, and make sure your lighting and background are presentable. Consider creating a custom video background for your company’s employees. Fostering a professional environment goes a long way with clients, and video calls are no exception.

Conclusion

The impact of COVID-19 is wide and far-reaching. As we push through this crisis together, we will have to adapt in order to stay competitive. Digital marketing agencies should be focused on their customers’ needs, employee needs, and communication strategies. For businesses that continue to partner with agencies, know that we are grateful – and that your needs are our highest priority.

If you have any questions about how to keep your company’s marketing efforts fresh during this pandemic, reach out to Geraci Media here.

6 Digital Marketing Strategies to Guide You Through COVID-19

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected countless countries, communities, and businesses to a degree that we’ve never seen before. In these unprecedented times, one of the worst things you can do is to drop your digital marketing strategy out of panic. There are options you can explore that will keep your business moving forward and continue generating revenue.

Update Your Google My Business Listing

Update your Google My Business listing, whether your business has closed or remains open. Google Maps will display if a business is temporarily closed, and Google is encouraging businesses to update their listings. This is essential for local businesses, especially when “nearby” or “near me” searches are among the most common. To mark your business as temporarily closed, you must contact Google My Business Support.

Update your listing with your new business hours or closure plan, and add a Google post to explain how your business is responding to COVID-19. Do not set your listing as permanently closed!

Participate in Customer Service and Reputation Management

Companies like Facebook are creating platforms to keep customers informed on their COVID-19 response. As a small- to medium-sized business, you can use a blog to do the same. Create a space where customers can go for information about your business and your industry. Position yourself as a thought leader and give your customers informative, useful content.

Update Frequently Asked Questions

In these uncertain times, people need answers more than ever. Make sure your website fully addresses your customers’ most common questions and concerns.

If you offer answers to these questions, you’ll increase your chances of tracking higher on search engine results pages. This can boost your web traffic, click-through rates, and ultimately, sales.

Pivot your Budget

Buyer behavior will shift over the next few weeks and months, and you will need to adjust your strategy accordingly. This may require adjusting the amount that you spend on pay-per-click campaigns or changing the keywords you are targeting.

Businesses that use mostly traditional marketing methods, like print advertising and events, should pivot to online marketing equivalents at this time. Budget wisely, and focus on actions that have a measurable, short-term impact on your business. If your budget allows, invest in a marketing agency that can help you build a long-term plan.

Run Google Ads Campaigns

Letting customers know that you are open during this time is a top priority. If you are concerned that your customers are not getting the message, you can create a campaign using Google Ads or Facebook Ads that informs customers and reaches prospects that are ready to make a purchase.

As we see lower demand for certain products and services, now is the time to use online advertising to push discounts.

Engage on Social Media

People spend more time on social media than ever, so make sure to use those channels to keep customers up-to-date. Be active and online as often as possible and create a variety of posts to keep customers engaged.

Some social platforms have implemented helpful tools during this time. For example, Instagram launched a “Stay Home” sticker for Instagram Stories to encourage social distancing. Profiles that use the sticker in their stories are grouped into a special “Stay Home” story on the Instagram main page. Tools like this can help ensure that customers see your content.

This is an uncertain time for everyone, but remember: the long-term effects of halting your marketing efforts could be far-reaching, and could have negative consequences for your business that even outlast the pandemic. Remember to stay active online, answer your customer’s questions, and inform them about the steps you are taking to protect them, your employees, and your company.

If you have any questions about how to keep your company’s marketing efforts fresh during this pandemic, reach out to Geraci Media here.

A Guide to Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization – the act of identifying the best keywords to drive your target audience from search engines to your website. This is a crucial component of search engine marketing (SEM). If you are looking to boost your presence on google, organic keyword optimization is a great place to start.

Not only is keyword optimization a critical step in the first stages of search engine marketing for both paid and organic search, ongoing keyword optimization is necessary for expanding your reach into new verticals and staying ahead of your competitors in current.

It is important to note that keyword optimization is not a one-and-done process. By continuously monitoring new words, analyzing and expanding your database of keywords, you will grow your website’s traffic, leads, and sales. The typical process of keyword optimization can take anywhere from 3-7 months to see results.

The Benefits of Keyword Optimization

A recent survey found that search marketers list keyword optimization as one of the most difficult tasks in search engine marketing. Because it can be difficult, marketers don’t spend enough time optimizing keywords, which hurts their search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC). Without the right keywords, your target market will not be able to find you as easily.

Practicing search engine keyword optimization can help you:

  • Drive searchers to your website
  • Measure online market potential
  • Write more effective content
  • Understand your target clients’ behavior

Implementing Keyword Search Optimization

Keyword optimization can be integrated into every aspect of digital marketing, including content, link building, information architecture, and advertising.

SEO Keyword Optimization

Successful SEO depends on the effective use and optimization of search engine keywords for your website.

  • Title tag: This is the most important piece of content on your website, so including your target keywords is a must.
  • Links: All your links (internal, inbound, navigational, breadcrumb, etc.) should include your top keywords.
  • Content: Use target keywords in your content so it will rank well and connect with search engine users. An easy way to do this is by creating a blog page or an FAQ page.
  • Images: Target keywords can be optimized for pictures and should be used in your alt image attributes and file names.
  • Meta description: While it is unknown whether including target keywords in your text snippets helps rankings, having optimized keywords in your meta tags produces more clicks.
  • URL: Include SEO keywords in file name slugs.
  • Site structure: Keyword optimization should play a critical role in how you organize your site content. Select the right keywords, group them hierarchically and order your site’s pages accordingly.

Evaluating Keywords

There are several factors you should consider when choosing optimized keywords.

Keyword popularity

More popular keywords will drive more people to your website (if you rank highly). There are two ways of thinking when choosing keywords based on popularity:

  1. Target the most popular keywords. This seems like a simple approach, but the more popular a keyword is, the more difficult it will be to rank for it.
  2. Target less popular keywords. This is often the best approach for a new website. It is hard to compete with websites that hold a share of voice for the most popular keywords in competitive verticals. Newer sites are more successful optimizing for keywords that are less popular, integrating keywords with modifiers and creating mid-to-long tail keywords.

Keyword relevance

It is best practice to choose keywords based on how relevant they are to your businesses. If your keywords are not relevant, the visitors to your site will not be relevant, and they won’t convert to customers.

If you are looking for ways to scale your business, search engine marketing is essential. Specifically, focusing on your keywords in the content you create is a great starting point. This can be done organically, and if you educate yourself, does not require any cost other than your time.

If you are looking to learn more about SEO and keywords, Geraci Media would love to be a resource for you. We offer standalone SEO packages, which focus on growing our clients’ ranking on google through keyword optimization. Reach out to us for a free consultation here.

Email Marketing Considerations During COVID-19

We are all being bombarded by COVID-19 emails from supermarkets, pet stores, doctors, restaurants, gyms, and every other business with an email list. For some, this email is an official letter signed by the CEO of your company. For others, it’s a quick update with the latest changes.

As a business owner, you might be wondering if you should send an email of your own. If your email isn’t met with importance, consideration, and an additional value add at best, your message will be ignored. At worst, you’ll get backlash from clients who find your messaging old news.

To help you navigate this tricky landscape, we’ve combed through coronavirus-related emails and comments from clients on social media to pull the top takeaways. You can use these insights to consider how you should – or shouldn’t – be communicating.

When should I send an email about COVID-19?

If your products or services are impacted by COVID-19, you should send an email update. Reasons you might need to send an email include:

  • You have useful, important information to share.
  • Your clients are more sensitive to this crisis; for example, current status of deals with borrowers or supporting clients.
  • Your business has brick-and-mortar locations, or you see customers in person; for example, construction or real estate agents.
  • The Coronavirus impacts or changes your services in some way.
  • You’re offering to help your clients during this time, like providing supplies, offering virtual services, or waiving fees.

When should I not send a COVID-19 email?

For every email with a purpose, there are a dozen that didn’t need to be sent. Ask yourself why you’re sending the COVID-19 email and who really needs to receive the information. Someone who purchased from you or did business with your company five years ago probably doesn’t need to know the same information that current clients and prospects are looking for.

Here are COVID-19 emails that could upset your subscribers:

  • Your messaging is empty. You want to look like you’re doing something, but there’s no substance, and nothing is planned.
  • You want to tell people that COVID-19 isn’t going to impact your business.
  • You’re telling your email subscribers that your staff is working from home.
  • You’re just restating information from other sources.

All of these will only prompt your subscribers to hit that “unsubscribe” button, which is something you want to be extra cautious with during this time. People are taking advantage of their time, which means learning and cleaning. The last thing you want to do is prompt someone to unsubscribe from your emails as they’re cleaning up their inbox.

5 ways to make your COVID-19 emails more effective

Since most people don’t have time to go through all the COVID-19 emails they’ve been receiving, go through the considerations above and make every message one that your subscribers will engage with. If you’ve decided to send something, it should be purposeful. Here are some tips for effective messaging.

Only include useful content.

Don’t send an email just because everyone else is. Send it because you have something to say. Think about your clients first. What information are they looking for? This can be a reminder of virtual services or an update on one of your policies.

Make emails easy to read.

A lot of COVID-19 emails contain large blocks of text, making it hard to skim and find the important key points. This example from Lyft, with large titles and bullets, is very easy to digest. Also note that Lyft’s entire business is based on person-to-person interaction, so their customers will have big questions about service changes.

Keep it short.

Your COVID-19 email shouldn’t feature an excess amount of information and jargon. Your subscribers are busy and overwhelmed, and they’d prefer a concise, easy-to-read message.

Include a note about the virus in your newsletter.

You don’t necessarily need to send a dedicated COVID-19 email. Oftentimes just a note at the top of your regular newsletter is more than enough.

Ask subscribers for their input.

Some brands are sending their COVID-19 email and then conducting business as usual. Instead, ask clients what they want from your brand in these uncertain times. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Other considerations considering COVID-19

Don’t forget about your automated emails. Spirit Airlines learned this lesson the hard way when a scheduled email blast saying “Never A Better Time To Fly” was sent as COVID-19 was upgraded to pandemic status.

COVID-19 isn’t something to take lightly. People around the world are worried about their health and their livelihood. Make sure you’re giving it the right amount of concern and that your messages are appropriate. Think about how your brand can be helpful and supportive.

As always, we are here for you and the private lending industry at Geraci. We would love to learn about the current marketing initiatives you are facing and advise you on the best next steps to take. Reach out to us here.

5 Considerations for Marketing During COVID-19

In times of crisis, brands can either help or hurt our collective experience. When something impacts the world as drastically as COVID-19 has, brands should address the issue with tact, empathy, value-add, and mindful marketing strategies.

Context is key for marketing during a crisis. Marketing teams should re-evaluate current and planned campaigns and adjust communication approaches. Every brand is different, but there are some basic guidelines that can help marketers make the right and appropriate choices during a crisis.

Here are five considerations for marketing during challenging times:

Adjust marketing campaigns and planned content timelines

Some brands take a risk by quickly producing new content for a specific moment – for example, Ford recently swapped its vehicle ads for a Coronavirus-response campaign. But this method isn’t realistic for most brands.

Instead, you should audit what content you have running and what is in your pipeline. Decide what should be paused immediately and push back campaigns if you’re not sure the content will be appropriate or relevant as people’s mindsets and current initiatives have changed. You don’t have to scrap the campaigns altogether, just reserve them for when things are back to normal. Consider how you can adjust your existing content. Maybe you can move some items up, adjust your messaging, or add a CTA as simple as lending a helping hand to those who might be in need.

This content break can give you an advantage once the crisis subsides. Take this time to prepare fresh content for the next cultural moment. Stay on top of the quarantine advisements in the private lending area, so you can be proactive in communicating with your clients as things change.

Evaluate imagery and language

Think about the message your brand is sending through visuals and word choice. For example, avoid visuals of crowds, people touching, and people working in offices. If you have current or future campaigns with visuals that might not be appropriate, revise now or push the campaign back to later in the year. In the same vein, re-frame marketing language that describes close interaction, like “work hand-in-hand” or “get closer to your borrowers.”

This doesn’t mean redoing your whole website. We’re speaking about “push” content, which means the content you’re actively putting out – e.g. emails, advertisements, and social media posts. Visitors will be more forgiving about pre-existing content and brand elements like your logo and homepage.

Don’t capitalize on the crisis

This rule is especially important in times of tragedy and fear. Your goal is to keep people informed. Clients and Partners expect to hear from brands about measures like policy updates and closures related to COVID-19. However, don’t be an alarmist. Be aware of dramatic language and be careful about additional information you’re sharing (e.g. make sure news sources are credible and up-to-date).

Be mindful of your tone. Do not promote “COVID-19 sales.” Remember that many people are out of work and are uncertain about their futures. Any communication during this time should have a tone of humility and empathy. Even if communication isn’t offensive, if the tone is off, it can be perceived as clueless.

Be positive, but not ignorant

You don’t need to meet a grim cultural moment with a grim brand tone. Look to your purpose, mission, vision, and values to remind yourself what your brand stands for, and what that means in a crisis. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerable side.

Lean into human stories and offer well wishes. Imagery of people smiling and living normal lives doesn’t have to be offensive. In fact, it can inspire hope for the end of quarantine. During the last recession in 2008, many brands released campaigns promoting optimism, hope, and empathy, like Coke’s “Open Happiness” campaign.

Create employee-generated content to spotlight your people and your culture. What are your team members watching on Netflix? How are they staying healthy? What are they doing to keep things light? What has helped them to be effective while working remotely? Use this quarantine to show your brand’s human side.

Highlight how your brand can help

Think about how your brand’s products and services can help during this stressful time. What can you do to enhance people’s lives while in quarantine? Communicate your benefits and create helpful content. Even if your brand doesn’t directly help people during a crisis, how can you inspire them? If you keep your focus on your clients, your marketing doesn’t have to stop.

Remember: this won’t last forever. Although no one knows exactly when the quarantine will end, we’re expecting it to be over sometime this year. In times like these, we remember that marketing isn’t a life-or-death practice. But being proactive and thoughtful, and feeling like we add value to the world, is meaningful.

If you’d like to learn more about how Geraci can be a resource for your marketing during this time, we’d love to schedule a free consultation to discuss these tips. Reach out to Geraci Media here.