The Limitations of Free SSL Certificates

You’re probably aware of the importance of installing an SSL Certificate on your website, but shopping for one is a daunting task. If a business resists utilizing an SSL Certificate, their site will be flagged as “not secure” by Google. This causes your business to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

SSL Certificates come in a variety of flavors, but the most important characteristic to consider is whether you want to invest in a full-fledged, paid SSL Certificate or go for the free alternative. As long as you utilize a reputable provider when acquiring your SSL Certificate, your site should meet the requisite benchmarks for security. However, there are still numerous, considerable differences between paid and free certificates.

Whether you opt for a free SSL Certificate or a paid one, the level of SSL encryption will remain largely the same. Free, cheap, and premium SSL Certificates are generally issued with 256-bit certificate encryption and 2048-bit key encryption. Plus, free SSL Certificates, such as those provided by Let’s Encrypt, are trusted by major internet browsers. Unfortunately, that is basically where the similarities end. Free and premium certificates will give your website the “lock” of assurance that reminds users that browsing your site is safe, but if you want your current and future customers to be fully protected when interacting with your site, you should consider the limitations of free SSL Certificates.

Domain Validation Only

Validating your domain gives users peace of mind when browsing your site. It also prevents malicious sites from replicating your domain and deceiving users. Due in part to their limitations, free certificates can be issued almost instantaneously, but faster isn’t always better.

On the Let’s Encrypt FAQ it states: “Let’s Encrypt offers Domain Validation (DV) certificates. We do not offer Organization Validation (OV) or Extended Validation (EV) primarily because we cannot automate issuance for those types of certificates.”

If you plan to collect personal information from your customers, relying exclusively on domain validation could put your website’s visitors at risk.  Additionally, paid certificates more readily support One-Domain, Wildcard, Multi-Domain, and Code Signing SSL Certificates.

Inapt for E-Commerce

Does your business utilize its website for e-commerce? Collecting credit card and personal information to process transactions requires a higher level of validation than free certificates typically offer. Paid SSL Certificates allow your business to authenticate itself through Business Validation or Extended Validation. Domain validation alone ensures that the website is encrypted, but it doesn’t guarantee that your users are browsing the correct site. For example, someone can own the URL “amazonbusinesspro.com” without having any ties to Amazon.

Limited Lifetime

Free certificates are typically offered in 90-day increments. In other words, your business will be responsible for updating its SSL Certificate every three months. If you forget to update your certificate in a timely manner, your site will be flagged as “not secure.” Customers who notice that your site is no longer secure may not visit it again out of fear of falling victim to cyber crime. Paid SSL Certificates last significantly longer, generally one or two years, which means your business can focus on generating leads and retaining customers without worrying if your certificate is going to expire.

Lackluster Customer Support

Free certificates don’t have the same level of financial backing as paid alternatives. As a result, when your business is having an issue with its SSL Certificate, the level of customer service will be limited, often lackluster, and entirely deficient of the needs of most businesses. Remember, if your site relies on a website to acquire leads or process payments, a compromised SSL Certificate can lead to stifled revenues and a shrinking customer base.

No Liability Protection

Possibly the greatest strength of paid SSL Certificates is liability protection to guard your company against any damages that occur as a result of a hack or data breach. This warranty can be valued up to $1,500,000, which alone justifies the average cost of a paid SSL Certificate. You never know when your site could be attacked, so it’s important to have your bases covered with a paid SSL Certificate that gives your business strong liability protection.

Free vs. Paid

Like the popular idiom states, when it comes to SSL Certificates, you “get what you pay for.” If you still aren’t sure whether or not your business should be utilizing a free or paid SSL Certificate, consider contacting a digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital. Our customers are automatically equipped with free SSL Certificates while we help them determine which type of paid certificate is best for their business. Although you can save money by opting for a free certificate, you can’t go wrong with a paid one.

At Leverage Digital, we take the guesswork out of growing your business, but we can’t accomplish this goal without securing your website against malicious online attackers, data breaches, and hacks. That is why we recommend that all our clients—current, future, or otherwise—are equipped with paid SSL Certificates. Not only do these certificates protect your customers from more threats, they ensure that your customers trust you and continue to utilize your products or services in the future.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

 

Micro-Moments and Search

Micro-moments, a concept first introduced by Google, are high-intent, short bursts of activity characterized by consumers who turn to their mobile devices to quickly access information (i.e., watch a “how-to” video) or take action (i.e., find the nearest Starbucks). Marketers must learn how to reach consumers during these high-intent micro-moments by providing their customers with the information they want, when they want it, and in the format most likely to engage them.

How Search Influences The New Customer Journey

The customer journey has become a nonlinear path of micro-moments that ultimately lead to a purchase. Oftentimes, search is at the beginning of this journey, but for higher-consideration purchases, search can also play a significant role in assisting the customer through the middle and even to the end of the sales path.

For example, someone looking to buy a new mid-size SUV may begin their journey by searching “top 10 mid-size SUVs,” followed by a search for customer reviews of the specific mid-size SUVs they’re interested in. This helps them narrow the number of vehicles they are  considering down to a few, specific models. With this information, they will begin their search for the nearest dealerships that sell those particular SUVs so they can test drive each vehicle and make a decision.

In this scenario, the consumer performs three distinct searches to move along the purchase path. This may take place over a few days, weeks, or even months. While there are other influences that may affect the buyer’s decision in this scenario, such as brand reputation or the opinions of friends and family, the buyer’s ultimate decision will be largely based on the information they derive from each micro-moment.

Taking Advantage of Micro-Moments with Search

In order to take advantage of micro-moments, brands must leverage search. Consumers have become accustomed to reaching for their smartphones and searching for answers when they have questions. Brands need to make sure they’re visible in these searches and have the necessary content to answer consumers’ questions.

In order to do this, brands must develop a thorough understanding of the key moments in which their customers make decisions that push them further along the path to purchase. For example, home builders must understand that home buyers want to see virtual tours before visiting a model. Similarly, a hair care product line should know that their customers like to see how-to videos for different hairstyles before buying their hair product. On the same ticket, a car manufacturer knows customers want to see 360-degree views of a car’s interior before taking a trip to the dealership. Regardless of your industry, consider the fact that 69 percent of online consumers’ perception of a brand is influenced by the quality, timing, or relevance of the brand’s message.

Conclusion

Brands that learn how to provide their customers with the information they want in these micro-moments will gain a significant competitive advantage. As consumer behavior becomes increasingly reliant on mobile devices, expectations become greater, and attention spans become shorter, the value of effective micro-moments could be the factor that results in your company clinching the title of industry leader from your competition.

How do your customers experience your brand? Every moment, no matter how big or how small, can leave an indelible imprint on your clientele. There’s only one way to ensure that your business is primed to direct users into your marketing funnel, and that’s through effective and powerful micro-moments. Your brand is constantly vying for business with its competitors, and micro-moments can spell the difference between more conversions or an increased bounce rate. At Leverage Digital, our personable team understands that many agencies lose sight of these important moments, so no matter how large your digital marketing campaign grows, every facet of it will be carefully monitored and analyzed to provide you with measurable results.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

The Collapse of a Corporation: Lessons from Companies with Irreparable Brands

It feels good to be on top of your industry, but you didn’t get there because you’re lucky. All of your success is derived from a determination to dominate your competition and grow your business. The road to success is filled with perils, but you’ve subsisted through the trials and tribulations to reach the top of your industry. And guess what? It’s only just the beginning.

Once you attain success, your next goal is to maintain it at all costs. As we’ve seen over the last few years, unexpected occurrences can derail a business virtually overnight. Without an effective marketing strategy, a business can come and go as quickly as the seasons. But there’s good news: by examining the collapse of other famous companies with irreparable brands, you can avoid those mistakes and keep your brand on the right track toward future success.

United Airlines

What Happened: A male passenger was literally dragged from his seat by two airport security officers on an overbooked plane departing from Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Unfortunately for United, cameras were rolling when the incident took place, and the dispute quickly went viral. The video, which showed a distressed man with blood on his face and mouth screaming for help as he was forced from the plane, disturbed viewers nationwide and quickly lead to protests and backlash against the almost one-hundred year-old company.

The Result: United’s stock dipped 4 percent in the days following the highly publicized incident and nearly $1 billion vanished from the company’s market value. CEO Oscar Munoz announced new preventative strategies to quell future conflicts including increased monetary incentives to leave an overbooked flight, reduced overbooking, additional employee training, and limited paperwork for lost luggage reimbursement. However, these reparations were unable to lift United from its low ranking in customer service satisfaction among airlines. United Airlines earned a 70 out of 100 on the 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index, which is five points below the average score of 75.

The Lesson: Your company is always being watched, so there’s very little space for lapses in judgment. All of your employees should be familiar with your company’s brand, mission statement, and code of conduct. One bad apple, even in a minor role in your company, can cause irreparable damage to your brand. This catastrophe resulted in a major public relations crisis that was only compounded by what many viewed as a disingenuous apology on behalf of CEO Oscar Munoz. The United Airlines fiasco also serves as a cautionary tale for the power of viral video and social media content. Bad news tends to spread even faster than good news, so your company should always remain cognizant of how it is being portrayed internally and externally online, and especially on social media.

Sprint

What Happened: Although Sprint once kept stride with other major telephone companies like AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the company’s inferior customer service infrastructure and inability to adapt to a changing market has caused it to fall behind its competition. There were once two tiers of telephone service providers. The first tier was mainly composed of companies like the aforementioned AT&T and Verizon Wireless that offered monthly contracts on two-year service agreements. The second tier included prepaid or no-contract service providers like MetroPCS (now just Metro) and Cricket. Then something changed: companies like AT&T started offering both, despite already possessing stock in prepaid service providers who were piggybacking off their cell towers. Sprint didn’t know what to do. With lackluster service and an ineffective brand that failed to land with customers, the company’s leading executives found themselves in a poorly defined niche with no clear target audience.

The Result: On a poll conducted by Zogby and 24/7 Wall St., 44 percent of respondents reported a negative customer experience with Sprint. Among the 150 companies listed in the survey, Sprint had the fifth largest share of negative customer feedback. This was a significantly higher share than other mobile telephone companies like AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. In addition, RootMetrics, a wireless network performance insight company, ranked Sprint behind all competitors in speed and data, arguably two of the most important considerations for customers shopping for wireless plans. Sprint didn’t rank well in calling, texting, and overall reliability either. The struggling brand ranked second to last in all three of these important service areas.

The Lesson: Technology is important, and if you aren’t willing to invest in the next wave of innovation, your business will quickly grow stagnant as it finds itself unable to compete. Sprint, a company whose brand is closely entwined with technology, failed to capitalize when new technology changed their market, and their brand suffered as a result. Our agency is vigilant of important changes in digital technology that will affect your online rankings, visibility, and traffic. We prime your business for success in advance so we can continue to implement changes to your digital marketing strategy to future-proof your business.

Equifax

What Happened: Equifax fell victim to one of the largest data breaches in history in 2017. Blackhats infiltrated the Equifax servers between May and July of 2017, amassing an enormous trove of personal data including driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, and birthdays. The information of more than 145 million Americans was vulnerable to the hack. Equifax’s lackluster handling of the incident, including the baffling decision to announce the breach over a month after it occurred, outraged Americans and proved that legislation concerning the protection of users’ personal data was outdated, weak, and in need of revision or replacement.

The Result: The consumer credit reporting agency made it easy for users to find out if they had been affected by the hack or not by simply logging on to their site and filling out a form, but people were not thrilled about the lack of help they were receiving. First, they needed to visit a website and submit information to a company that had just bungled the security of their information. Second, Equifax required consumers to not join a class-action lawsuit if they wanted to see if their information had been hacked. Lawmakers have done very little to prevent another incident like this from happening again.

The Lesson: Security is vital to the success of every business. In order to retain customers and find new ones, you need to have a way of reaching them. Personal data is the key to building strong connections with customers and clients, but if you don’t have the digital infrastructure in place to keep this information safe, your business will be hard-pressed to keep those customers happy. For instance, there’s never been a more vital time to invest in an SSL certificate for your website. This certificate encrypts data on your website to ensure that it can’t be accessed by the wrong users. At Leverage Digital, we’re outfitting all of our clients with free SSL certificates as a stopgap solution for their online security needs, but we’ll also be offering extended coverage using paid SSL certificates that feature significant upgrades like liability protection, multi-domain certification, superior server compatibility, and more.

Growing your brand and dominating your competition is easy when you partner with an award-winning digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital. We understand that success is something you have to earn, and we’re constantly working to ensure that our clients are positioned at the top of their industry. We customize digital marketing strategies to help you connect with more customers, carve out a niche for your business, and achieve your growth objectives with measurable results.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

Putting Together the Perfect Marketing Stack for Your Business

Helping our clients grow their businesses so they can dominate their competition isn’t as simple as designing a professional website and populating it with a handful of search engine optimized  articles. Digital marketing is a complex affair that should be handled by a proven agency who can dedicate the time and skills necessary to help you outclass your rivals on all fronts.

No two digital marketing strategies are identical, because no two businesses are the same. Reused strategies might help your business increase business marginally, but you’ll never  become an industry leader without a customized digital marketing strategy that considers every facet of your business and how to optimize it for a first-class experience.

At Leverage Digital, our agency utilizes an array of techniques and tools to help your business flourish. Within our collaborative environment, we develop marketing stacks for businesses that combine these aforementioned techniques to help boost our clients’ visibility online. When you partner with an agency to grow your business and strengthen your brand, you want to be certain that your digital marketing strategy is fresh, not a rehashed or reused campaign from a past client. That’s the secret separating best-in-class marketers from the rest of the pack—the ability to develop the perfect marketing stack for any business regardless of size or industry.

What’s in your marketing stack? And is it producing measurable results for your business? Top-tier marketers typically integrate at least 7 technologies into an impactful marketing stack. Every component of your digital marketing strategy is important, so let’s focus on breaking down what exactly goes into a marketing stack and how it can affect your business.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

CRM is used to monitor and track customer relationships. Popular tools like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Infusionsoft, and Zoho CRM make it easy for your business to gain better insights about the efficacy of your sales strategies and how they affect your potential customers. Data such as date of last contact, contact preference, and past interactions can help your company serve your clients more efficiently.

Email Marketing

One of the best tools for nurturing leads into full-on conversions is email marketing. When you use tools like MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaigner, Campaign Monitor, GetResponse, SendGrid, and Mandrill you can produce $38 in ROI for every $1 spent with the help of a talented digital marketing agency to monitor these deceptively complex software programs. Email marketing is still an immensely successful marketing strategy because many of these programs allow your team to partition leads and customers to quickly issue relevant messages that have the highest probability of conversion.

Analytics and Data Visualization

Without powerful analytics tools to ensure that your digital marketing campaign is meeting its objectives and growing your business, your business will be left guessing whether or not your marketing endeavors are paying off. At Leverage Digital, we take the guesswork out of growing your business by utilizing tools such as Google Analytics to ensure that our clients have access to real-time statistics tracking every step of the way. Are you experiencing a positive ROI? Who’s visiting your website? How are users interacting with your website? What are your most popular pieces of content? With measurable results delivered on a consistent basis, your business will always have access to these answers so you can stay one step ahead of the competition. Today, the ability to produce and comprehend analytics represents the most significant disparity between award-winning agencies like Leverage Digital and others claiming to be your solution.

Content Management System (CMS)

CMS software has streamlined the process of building a website for the everyman. In the past, you would need considerable computer literacy skills like coding and programming to publish and edit content on the internet, but this is no longer the case thanks to website hosting services with built-in site building tools like WordPress, and to a lesser degree, Wix and Squarespace. With minimal coding knowledge, you can start posting content on your own website as soon as today; but be warned, these tools are still best utilized in the hands of a web developer who can maximize their potential on the backend.

Visual Editing and Design Tools

The role of visuals in conveying your brand’s message and capturing the attention of more potential customers has never been more important than it is today. Captivating imagery, interesting infographics, and tasteful display ads are three examples of branded content that will help sell your company’s image as an industry leader. However, creating visual content requires a skilled creative who understands how to create visually compelling marketing collateral. Advanced tools like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and InDesign allow artists to create virtually anything you can imagine.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO lies at the core of most digital marketing strategies. Roughly half of all businesses invest $1,000 to $5,000 in a monthly SEO campaign (and bigger businesses may invest hundreds of thousands monthly) because SEO is a proven strategy that helps businesses procure page one real estate on search engine results pages (SERPs). Popular tools like Moz, DeepCrawl, and SEMrush can help your business keep an eye on competitor strategies and discover superior link-building opportunities while simultaneously optimizing your content for search engines.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) and Paid Search

Not all campaigns can subsist exclusively on organic growth. PPC campaigns that utilize banner and display ads are proven methods of driving traffic to your site that, when combined with an effective SEO strategy, can greatly improve the number of users visiting your site. You can actually get listed more multiple times on high ranking SERPs by investing in PPC and SEO. You can even integrate your PPC campaign with retargeting tools to increase your ad’s relevance and click-through rate (CTR).

Retargeting

The overarching goal of any digital marketing campaign is to put relevant content in front of your target audience to maximize your chance of conversion. Advertisements can be tailored to a specific type of user through retargeting. Retargeting technologies give businesses all the tools necessary to distribute ads to users by utilizing information pulled from activities like visiting a web page, viewing a product, or deserting a shopping cart. Ideally, you can redirect prospective clients back into your marketing funnel with retargeting ads. AdRoll, Google Ads, and Bing Ads are all effective retargeting tools.

Is your digital marketing strategy helping you achieve your growth objectives? An SEO campaign can’t help you dominate your competition without a little help from complementary tools and techniques like PPC and landing page optimization. At Leverage Digital, we’ve been helping our clients drive more traffic to their websites and increase conversions for a decade. And we’re only just getting start. Are you ready to take control of your industry?

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

Did You Know There’s a Digital Marketing Skills Shortage?

Whether you’re a small business owner, franchiser, or marketer, you’re probably all too familiar with the unprecedented volume of digital marketing “gurus” targeting you on search and social. Although it may seem like everyone and their grandmother is trying their hand at digital marketing, there’s a strikingly low level of competency in the industry. Consequently, selecting the right agency to partner with is vital if you don’t want to find yourself neck deep in invoices from supposed digital marketing experts who fail to drive traffic to your website or increase your brand’s visibility on search and social.

We get it. Those poorly written Facebook Ads that you can’t like or comment, only share, give digital marketers a bad name. They have a tendency to denounce the same strategies they plan to sell you, and the vast majority of these services are scams offering you “superior services for less.” Though these unfounded claims hurt the marketing industry as a whole, they do have one benefit. They establish legitimate agencies like Leverage Digital as the cream of the crop. Our agency is full of real people working to give you measurable results using a customized digital marketing strategy.

If you believe all digital marketing agencies are the same, you’ll be shocked to discover that less than half of all digital marketing professionals are considered “competent” (but more on that later). There is a severe digital marketing skills shortage worldwide, and finding the right agency to partner with is more challenging than ever with countless imitators doing their best to get in your pocket.

The Skills Gap in Digital Marketing is Worldwide Phenomena

If you think the overabundance of fake digital marketing experts is a strictly American problem, you will be surprised to discover that a similar trend is occurring across the globe. The Digital Marketing Institute’s ‘Skills Gap Study’ states that only 38 percent of respondents working in digital marketing in the United States reached a competent skill level when gauged using a test. The United Kingdom had similar results, with only 37 percent of respondents meeting the minimum competency level for a digital marketing professional. Countries like South Korea and Bangladesh also received subpar scores.

The United Kingdom is partnering with the Europe Commission to address the considerable skills gap that exists in the broader digital marketing industry. If these organizations plan to fix this problem, they will have to be proactive in eliminating fake digital marketing companies or certifying companies that qualify as bonafide digital marketing experts. As a rule of thumb, never work with digital marketers who won’t put a face to their name or pick up the phone to call you. If all communication is handled via email, an agency can never truly develop an accurate picture of your brand. This is a recipe for disaster in the world of branding.

Exploring the Source of the Digital Marketing Skills Shortage

The skills gap in digital marketing is an institutional problem that needs to be examined closely in order to discover the real reason this situation is materializing at such a vital crux in the growth of online businesses worldwide. As it stands, educators and professionals are simply not doing enough to build competent digital marketers.

At universities around the world, marketing professors need to commit themselves to educating students on the nuances of digital marketing, which is quickly becoming the standard for marketing as a whole. New course materials designed in collaboration with technology providers and media outlets can help teach updated practices including strategies for SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, and more. In addition, professors need to bridge the gap for non-marketing majors who have skills that can be utilized in digital marketing. For example:

Statistics majors can make sense of the large quantities of data produced by marketing analytics.

Art majors can help build beautiful websites that keep users engaged and create advertising materials primed to go viral.

Journalism majors possess valuable writing skills that can be utilized to generate compelling content for your SEO campaign.

Accounting majors have the perfect toolset for performing audits and running paid media accounts.

Other majors can enter the digital marketing industry as consultants for specialized clients that need a particular set of skills to fortify their brand.

Industry associations and employers can help combat the skills gap by working together to set agreeable salary benchmarks. Many digital marketers who possess a strong skill set are underpaid, so their talent becomes transient as they move from industry to industry seeking out the most lucrative opportunities on the market. These associations need to invest in continuing education, too. In order to provide clients with best-in-class service, employees need to grow within their industry and master cutting-edge techniques to stay ahead of the curve. Lastly, industry associations need to partner with universities to inform students about careers in digital marketing.

The reluctance being exhibited by digital marketing agencies to keep their operations in-house is another contributor to the skills gap. Employers are hiring remote workers who may produce satisfactory work, but fail to add to the industry as a whole. Some agencies even have the audacity to hire foreign workers to produce content for domestic audiences as a cost-cutting strategy. Our agency finds this practice despicable. If agencies invest in training and maintaining employees in-house, they can greatly increase the value of their services which means more jobs for competent digital marketers.

Ultimately, the skills shortage means that selecting the right partner to spearhead your digital marketing campaign is more vital than ever before. Perform your due diligence when choosing a strategic partnership and don’t make the mistake of buying into an agency that boasts style but lacks substance. The future success of your business will be largely dictated by your brand’s ability to dominate your competition online. Without an award-winning digital marketing agency on your side, you’ll never experience the growth you desire and deserve.

Where did all the good marketers go? Every day, you’re bombarded with advertisements from self-proclaimed marketing “gurus” trying to exploit your business for a quick buck. At Leverage Digital, we provide our clients with a full suite of marketing and advertising services. Whether you’re an established franchisor or a small business owner looking to optimize your online presence, we’ll work with you to customize a digital marketing strategy that helps you grow your business so you can dominate the competition.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

Why SEO Can’t Reside in a SILO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an incredibly effective marketing tactic that can provide great returns if executed correctly. However, SEO is often perceived as a silver bullet for business owners looking to drive traffic to their website and increase sales.

While SEO will do both of these things, it is much more effective when combined with a complete online marketing strategy, because the purpose of SEO is to drive quality traffic to a website.

SEO isn’t responsible for converting traffic into customers, and it isn’t responsible for encouraging repeat purchases. Yet, with complementary strategies in place to achieve these goals, the value of a new lead generated through SEO can be increased significantly.

Let’s explore this further.

The Foundation of a Conversion

SEO success is ultimately determined by conversions, and the foundation of a conversion is a great website that is professionally designed to engage visitors and convert them into a lead or sale, depending on the objective. If you execute your SEO strategy perfectly, but send traffic to a website that fails to convert the traffic it receives, much of that effort will go to waste.

Many businesses invest heavily in SEO but fail to invest in their website because they don’t understand the difference between traffic and conversions. Increased traffic is worthless without conversions. New customer acquisition relies on a combination of SEO and an industry-leading website.

The Value of Your Customer

If you’ve invested in both a great SEO campaign and a professional website that is highly effective in converting visitors into customers, you’re two-thirds of the way there. Now it’s time to retain those customers and incentivize them to make additional purchases or invest in your ongoing services.

Many businesses value a customer based on their initial purchase, but a customer should really be valued based on their potential for future purchases, or their lifetime value. There are a few different ways to determine a customer’s lifetime value. So, let’s keep it simple for the purpose of this example.

If a business makes an average profit on a widget of $100, and on average, a customer purchases one widget per month for twelve months, then the true value of that customer is $1,200. So, in this example, every new customer the SEO campaign delivers is potentially worth $1,200, or 12 times more than their initial purchase. So how will this business encourage the customer to make those 11 additional purchases with them, rather than with a competitor?

Encourage Repeat Purchases

Social media and email marketing are excellent tools for encouraging repeat purchases. Having a strategy in place for acquiring your customers’ email addresses and incentivizing them to find you on social media is key and will amplify the overall effectiveness of your SEO campaign.

The customer in the previous example isn’t planning to buy another widget for a few weeks, but it just so happens that the business in this example is having a sale that’s too good for them to pass up and is leveraging email marketing to promote the sale. During their initial purchase, this business was savvy enough to incentivize the customer to subscribe to their email list in return for receiving 10 percent off their next purchase.

The result? This business verifies that their email marketing strategy is increasing customer participation and encouraging customers to make a repeat purchase. As a result, the business doubles the value of any customer who engages with the sale being promoted through the email marketing campaign.

Lead Nurturing

In addition to encouraging repeat purchases, social and email marketing are also very effective at nurturing leads that an SEO campaign delivers, but may not have converted on the first visit. When prospective customers are still in the research phase, it’s important to stay in touch with them, so that your business is top of mind when they finally do decide to move forward.

Again, this increases the overall effectiveness of SEO by converting a lead in the future that may otherwise have been lost.

Conclusion

By combining SEO with a great website and effective social and email marketing, your business will benefit from a complete online marketing strategy that drives traffic and leads to increased conversions. By embracing this holistic approach to online marketing, you can significantly improve the value of both new leads and new customers, thus resulting in a better overall return on your investment.

SEO is a powerful tool for improving your brand’s visibility online, but you can’t rely solely on SEO if you want to dominate your competition. At Leverage Digital, our team considers your specific needs and objectives to develop a digital marketing campaign that helps your brand grow and flourish. Every brand is unique, and your marketing efforts should reflect that.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

Why Google Algorithm Updates Shouldn’t Matter

Whenever the digital marketing industry catches wind of a Google algorithm update, it becomes a major topic of discussion. Articles are inevitably published on the specifics of the latest update and how to recover lost rankings if your site is penalized. With the exception of historic changes to Google’s algorithm, such as the Panda and Penguin updates that fundamentally changed the way website publishers approached their optimization strategies, algorithm updates should not receive nearly as much attention as they currently do.

Google Algorithm Updates Are Constant

Google updates its algorithm constantly. According to Moz, Google changes its algorithm 500 to 600 times per year. However, we only know about the updates that Google wants us to know about. Why? So, we can help Google serve superior search results to their users. Essentially, Google’s algorithm updates remind us to constantly improve our websites. In return, we are rewarded with better rankings and increased traffic. By improving your website, you’re making Google Search better, which is good for both Google’s bottom line and yours.

Google’s Objectives Are Not Rocket Science

Google’s primary objective is to make money. Google’s core business is advertising, and Google wants people to use its search engine in order to sell advertising via pay-per-click (PPC) ads. In order to sell PPC ads, Google must generate traffic, and a lot of it. Google knows people are more inclined to use a search engine that provides them with higher quality search results. Thus, providing high-quality search results ensures Google generates enough traffic to sell PPC ads.

Why Is This Important?

Understanding Google’s objectives makes having a successful long-term SEO strategy much easier to obtain. You can spend a lot of time analyzing Google’s algorithm updates and attempt to outsmart them, which will inevitably fail, or you can implement a strategy that helps Google achieve its primary objective — providing users with high-quality search results that help it sell PPC ads.

Focus On The User And All Else Will Follow

Google has a list of “10 things we know to be true” within the Company Overview section of its website. The first item on this list says, “Focus on the user, and all else will follow.” Google’s search engine certainly incorporates this philosophy, and when it comes to your website, the same is true. Focus on providing your target audience with the content and experience they expect from your website, and all else (i.e., rankings, traffic, and conversions) will follow.

Conclusion

This is not to say you should completely ignore Google algorithm updates when they’re announced. It simply means as long as your SEO strategy is in line with Google’s objectives, and focuses on providing users with great content and a positive user-experience, algorithm changes should not be a concern.

It’s impossible to control everything that happens online. Fortunately, when you partner with a talented digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital, your business will be future-proofed for an increasingly digital world. We’ll drive traffic to your website, improve your online rankings, and help your brand reach more customers so you can focus on what matters most — supplying your customers with a first-class experience that outshines your competitors.

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

5 Critical Questions About SSL Certificates

Google is done playing games when it comes to online security. The internet is often compared to the Wild West because it seems like there are no rules or limitations keeping it under control, but that is quickly changing.

The good: improved security means more trust. When people don’t have to worry about their passwords being compromised or their personal information falling into the hands of fake collections agencies, they’re more likely to utilize the internet as a customer.

The bad: if your website isn’t currently utilizing an SSL certificate, your rankings have already dropped and you run the risk of being labeled an untrusted website.

The ugly: purchasing an SSL certificate is more confusing than it should be, and if you try to fix the problem yourself, you could find yourself falling into a false sense of security with an SSL certificate that doesn’t meet your website’s standards.

How familiar are you with SSL certificates? If your answer is not very, don’t worry; you’re not alone. We’ve compiled the five most important questions about SSL certificates for the uninitiated.

What Is An SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is a small piece of code that can be installed on your web server to improve the security of your website and protect online communications. When a web browser connects a user with your secured website, the SSL certificate encrypts the connection to ensure that personal information is safe. You can tell if a website has an SSL certificate by determining whether or not it has “https://” before the URL. If it does, the site is safe for browsing. On the contrary, “http://” websites are not secured with an SSL certificate which means users’ information is not necessarily protected.

An SSL certificate ensures that malicious users can’t gain access to your information or usage data. It’s like sealing a letter in an envelope before mailing it; you’re submitting information into an external system, but it’s protected from other entities in that system.

Why Are SSL Certificates Important?

SSL certificates are important because the information you send on the Internet travels from computer to computer until it reaches the destination server. Without the encryption provided by an SSL certificate, any computer between you and the server can access your credit card numbers, usernames and passwords, and other types of sensitive information. When your business welcomes customers to your site without an SSL certificate, your customers can be exploited for valuable information. With a new wave of data protection policies on the horizon, ensuring that your website protects your customers is imperative. An SSL certificate will ensure that you serve customers effectively while minimizing the possibility of litigation.

When Did SSL Certificates Become Important?

SSL Certificates have always played an important role in providing users with a secure connection, especially for e-commerce; however, they have recently started to play a larger role in SEO rankings and paid advertisements in Google. Websites that do not possess a valid SSL certificate are being flagged as “not secure” by the search engine giant. This warning can derail your business by effectively  terminating web traffic. The average user isn’t going to trust a website that is labeled a security threat by Google, which means all of the progress your business has made from SEO and other online marketing strategies will be rendered inconsequential. Therefore, if your website does not currently possess an SSL certificate, it’s integral that you contact a digital marketing agency to help you sift through the SSL marketplace to find the certificate that is right for your business.

How Do SSL Certificates Affect My Website?

Having an SSL certificate can have an effect on search engine results page (SERP) rankings, visibility, and perception among customers. In 2014, Google announced that having a secure site would be an important factor when ranking websites. While studies vary in terms of how significantly this factors into ranking, our agency’s internal studies have noted a positive increase in rankings among sites that have been converted to https://.

Previously, Google has stated that in instances where there are two sites of identical value, they will give preference to the site with an SSL certificate. This is evident in a recent report from Moz that states that 40% of Google’s first page organic search results are from https:// sites.In terms of customer perception, a report from GlobalSign states that 84 percent of consumers would end a purchase if the site was not secured.

The lack of an SSL certificate will now be more visible than ever. In addition to Google’s “not secure” warning , their browser, Chrome, has started using an exclamation mark in the address bar to alert users that they are on a site that isn’t secure.

How Much Do SSL Certificates Cost?

The value of SSL certificates is undeniable, but figuring out the most cost-effective and secure option can put your business at odds with itself. SSL certificates range in value from free to hundreds of dollars. However, not all SSL certificates are built the same, and depending on the size and type of business you oversee, your SSL needs will vary.

You might be inclined to perform a quick Google search to weigh your options, but shopping for SSL certificates isn’t like shopping for televisions. Investing in the wrong SSL certificate could have extensive legal and financial ramifications later on. Free SSL certificates, like those offered by Let’s Encrypt, are an effective stopgap solution while considering your options. However, if you want to eliminate worry and ensure that your website maintains its current rankings, you should invest in a paid certificate that offers liability protection, multi-domain certification, superior server compatibility, and more.

Are you working with an award-winning digital marketing agency like Leverage Digital to ensure that your site is secure for your business and your customers? SSL certificates are here to stay, and without one, your business risks losing out against your competitors. Online security is critical to the success of your business, so don’t let your website get flagged for lacking adequate security measures. Contact our agency today to find out how you can get the right SSL certificate for your business today!

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.

Dominating Your Niche on Google

Typically, dominating your niche on Google yields extremely profitable results. This is not only because ranking well for keywords related to a specific niche helps drive higher quality traffic to your site, but also because it differentiates your brand.

Follow these five steps to dominate your niche on Google.

Determine Your Niche

If you haven’t already, the first step to dominating your niche on Google is determining what it is. The more specific your niche is, the better.

Your business may offer many different products or services, but what is the one product or service your business is known for, or you would like to be known for? That is the niche you should choose to dominate on Google.

Depending on your competition and resources, it can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to dominate multiple niches on Google. So, it usually makes sense to focus on one niche.

Let’s take for example, a law firm that specializes in personal injury law, but also practices criminal and family law. Ideally, this law firm would love to dominate Google for all three areas of practice. However, unless they’re willing to invest the necessary resources into developing three separate websites and managing three separate SEO campaigns, this would be very difficult to achieve. Because the firm in this example has limited resources (as any business does), they would have a much greater chance of achieving success by focusing optimization efforts on personal injury law, since that is their specialty.

Why is this? Well, for starters, Google wants to provide users with information that is highly relevant to their needs. When someone is searching for a personal injury lawyer, that is exactly what they want to find. A user will not respond favorably if their search for personal injury lawyers provides results for criminal and family lawyers who also practice personal injury law, because those results are not as relevant to the user’s immediate needs.

Optimize with Niche Specific Keywords

Once you’ve decided on the niche you want to dominate, you must choose the right keywords.

Determining the right keywords to optimize for is crucial. It requires a thorough understanding of your target audience, as well as the keywords they use when searching for your product or service. It also requires specificity. You can’t dominate a niche by going after generic keywords.

Optimizing for keywords specific to your niche has multiple benefits. These keywords will be less competitive, and therefore rank more easily. They will also deliver traffic to your site that is more likely to convert.

Going back to the previous example, the person who searches the keyword phrase, “lawyer + location” is far less likely to convert than the person who searches the keyword phrase, “personal injury lawyer motorcycle accident + location.” The latter search query is indicative of someone who knows exactly what they’re looking for. When that person finds a personal injury lawyer who specializes in motorcycle accident cases in their area, that lawyer will have a great chance of converting them into a new client.

Implement Google Authorship

Implementing Google Authorship will enable your face and name to appear next to your website in the search results. This not only allows users to associate a face with your organization, but also promotes your personal brand by allowing you to appear as an authority within your niche. This is especially powerful for medical professionals, legal professionals, and consultants, where your personal brand is strongly tied to your organization’s brand.

In addition to helping establish trust and credibility with your target audience, Google Authorship may influence rankings now and in the future. Though the specifics have been debated, we do know that Google Authorship can have a positive impact on click-through rates (CTR), because Authorship increases a site’s visibility in the search results. Just make sure to use a professional photo that will be well received by your target audience.

Write Great, Authoritative Content Often

The next step is to write great, authoritative content often, on topics that are relevant to your niche. Writing great, authoritative content serves three purposes.

1. It shows that you’re an expert and a thought leader in your niche.

2. Acts as a resource for potential customers, and gives them a reason to come back to your site.

3. Provides Google with more quality content to index, which can have a positive impact on rankings.

However, when writing this content, be sure to write it for your target audience, and not for Google. You can still incorporate keywords into the content, but just make sure it sounds natural, and reads well.

Conclusion

It requires a lot of time and effort to dominate your niche on Google, but if you do, you will find that your business outshines your competition online and in-person.

With a superior website, comprehensive digital marketing strategy, and a dedicated team like Leverage Digital backing your every move, you can finally achieve the success you have been waiting for. Once you have the power to dominate your niche on Google, your business will be equipped with an extremely effective tool for taking usurping your industry’s throne. Are you ready to become an industry leader?

Ready to partner with an award-winning agency that delivers results? Let’s get started.