Managing Your Reviews and Reputation While Remaining HIPAA Compliant

Online reviews remain the single most influential way for patients to voice their opinions of your medical practice. Whether true or false, these opinions will be raw, unfiltered, and emotionally driven. They will gravitate towards being high praise or strong disapproval. Your reputation as a healthcare provider hinges on these reviews and your responses to them. 

While many business owners have the freedom to respond to reviews however they see fit, healthcare providers have their hands tied by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Such was the case when a physical therapy office was fined $25,000 in 2016 for posting testimonials on their website without patient consent. We’re here to tell you how you can manage your reputation and craft review responses while remaining HIPAA compliant. 

What Is Protected Under HIPAA?  

Briefly, HIPAA protects “protected health information” (PHI) which relates to “the individual’s past, present, and future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care to the individual” and anything that pertains to payment information. Altogether, there are 18 identifiers that indicate when patient information is considered PHI. 

Bottom line: Avoid responding to reviews with information that can reveal a patient’s medical history or medical payment history. No matter what information they divulge in their review, you cannot respond in kind. Above all else, avoid using their name in conjunction with confirmation that you provided them with health care services. 

“How Can I Possibly Respond to Reviews?” 

Keep it anonymous. Keep it general. If the review is positive, a simple thank you will suffice. If the review is negative, again, thank them for taking the time to post a review and offer a phone number they can call to further discuss the issue. Negative reviews may be extremely biased, but people trust them nonetheless. You won’t have the flexibility to solve problems online, so your goal is to take the conversation offline. Only then can you offer a detailed, comprehensive solution to the patient’s grievance. 

Here’s a great example of a HIPAA-compliant response to a positive review: “Our practice strives to provide each patient with the outstanding service and attention they deserve. We love hearing success stories. Thank you for the recommendation, and we wish you all the best! Sincerely, Dr.                and team.” 

Here’s an appropriate response to a negative review: “Thank you for the feedback. It is our hope that every patient leaves our care having had their medical needs met and exceeded. Please contact our facility at XXX-XXX-XXXX with any questions or concerns.” 

Here’s what to avoid: “Dear Mr. Roberts. It was our pleasure to see you this past Tuesday concerning your intestinal surgery. Thank you for your positive review and recommendation!” 

Not only does the above post include the patient’s name, but it also includes information confirming their medical history, including confirmation of their visit, the date of their visit, and details of the patient’s treatment. 

Whether Positive or Negative, Respond to All Reviews

Now that we’ve discussed HIPAA compliance, it’s time to touch on how your reviews should be managed. We recommend responding to every review you receive, regardless of whether it’s positive or negative. By doing so, you can mend fences and further build a rapport with your patients while showing potential patients that you are serious about providing the best health care experience possible. 

Your goal is to maintain a trustworthy persona that your patients will recommend online as well as to their family and friends. Only then can you build your online presence, manage your reputation, and attract patients that would have otherwise never trusted you with their health and wellbeing. 

Maintaining Compliance and Your Reputation 

When you take into account reviews across Google, Facebook, Vitals, Healthgrades, WebMD, and other review platforms, managing your online reputation has never been more of a challenge — a challenge you must face nonetheless. Patients are oftentimes blindly trusting of online reviews. They may not know the people leaving reviews, but they value them nearly as much as personal recommendations, sometimes even more so.

Don’t allow your reviews and reputation to fall by the wayside. The only way to dominate your local market is by taking all aspects of your online presence into account.

Are you unsure of how to respond to Google reviews? Don’t have the time? Keeping up with reviews and crafting responses can be a time-consuming challenge. Proper review responses can help you maintain relationships, attract new patients, and grow your business. At LEVERAGE, our experienced team can provide the support you need to ensure that patient reviews are responded to in a timely and HIPAA compliant manner that both improves and extends the patient relationship.

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

Why a Mobile-Friendly Website is Essential to a Successful SEO Strategy in 2019

Surprisingly, many organizations still don’t have mobile-friendly websites despite there being over 5 billion unique mobile subscribers worldwide. Usually, they are reluctant to invest because they lack resources or don’t see the value. If your organization falls into this category, and you would like your brand to remain relevant on the most widely used search engines in 2019—which, let’s face it, is quickly approaching—you need to invest in a mobile-friendly website.

Here are three reasons your organization must have a mobile-friendly website as you gear up for 2019.

Reason 1: Increased Mobile Visits

Now that Google labels websites that are optimized for mobile as “mobile-friendly” within its mobile search results, failing to have a mobile-friendly website can have a negative impact on your website’s click-through rate (CTR).

Think about it this way. If a user performs a search with their mobile device, and four of the top five results have a mobile-friendly designation, if all other parameters are equal, the mobile user will give preference to the four results that Google identifies as “mobile-friendly.” This results in a greatly reduced number of click-throughs for websites that haven’t been optimized for mobile while simultaneously stimulating the volume of click-throughs for websites that are.

Fortunately, Google provides a tool that allows website owners to test if their website is mobile-friendly. If a website passes this test, it will receive the mobile-friendly designation.

Reason 2: Higher Mobile Rankings

Google already penalizes websites in mobile search that are not mobile-friendly to ensure that websites that have been optimized for mobile devices rank higher. The world’s most widely used search engine is dedicated to improving the experience of surfing the internet, which is why mobile optimization is so highly coveted. Since 2014, mobile-friendly sites have been steadily increasing in ranking while others have been demoted to search engine results pages (SERPs) that rarely see human eyes.

Consider this quote from the Google blog post that announced the new “mobile-friendly” labels:

“We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.” This announcement was made in 2014. Four years later, Google’s dedication to mobile-friendly websites has been unwavering, and mobile optimization has become the foundation of a successful online presence.

Reason 3: Increased Revenue From Mobile

If increasing rankings and click-throughs to your website don’t provide enough incentive to invest in a  mobile-friendly website, hopefully, lost revenue is. Lacking a mobile-friendly website at a time when so many users are turning to mobile devices to find the products and services they need is essentially forfeiting customers over to your competition.

The bottom line is this: without a mobile-friendly website, your organization is already losing revenue. Consumers are becoming less and less willing to put up with poor user-experiences on their mobile devices. If your organization fails to adapt to changing expectations, you will fall by the wayside as your prospective customers seek out the path of least resistance to an improved user experience. Typically, this path will lead them straight to your competitors who have invested in a mobile-friendly website. If you want to continue growing your business in 2019, a mobile-friendly website is crucial to your ongoing success.

Conclusion

Ensure that your organization has a successful SEO strategy in 2019 with a mobile-friendly website. Your organization will benefit from more click-throughs, higher rankings, and most importantly, increased revenue.

Mobile phones possess nearly all of the functionalities of a desktop computer, so it comes as little surprise that more and more interactions are taking place on mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you risk missing out the important micro-moments that drive potential customers into your marketing funnel. At Leverage Digital, our creatives work side-by-side with our web development team to craft award-winning websites that feature superior performance on displays of all sizes.

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

 

Optimizing Your Online Presence for a Seamless User Experience on All Devices

Brands often create content strategies that cater to specific devices and their expected user behavior. Does smartphone and tablet user behavior differ so much that unique content strategies have to be crafted around each device, or should brands provide content that caters to the user regardless of their device?

Seamless experiences are extremely important to users. When users can access your content from any device, you boost engagement and increase the probability of conversion. If your brand wants to stay competitive, you have to decide if you’re willing to invest in a cohesive user experience that encourages sales and prevents customers from leaving your site to interact with one of your competitors.

Mobile Users

Mobile users are typically on the go. They want information quickly so they can take immediate action. They’re generally interacting with their devices to find phone numbers, get directions, schedule appointments, find hours of operation, place orders, and so on.

Because on-the-go users expect quick information, we’re seeing a sharp rise in the number of dedicated mobile websites that present only essential information for smartphone users with high purchase intent. However, many users feel like these mobile-optimized sites don’t have enough information.

Is providing a stripped down version of your brand’s website really the best strategy? In reality, not all smartphone users are in a hurry, and many of them have the desire to digest more content if it’s readily available.

Therefore, brands must find a way to strike a balance that provides smartphone users with a positive user-experience without sacrificing content. In other words, brands should continue to prioritize pertinent, task-oriented content for on-the-go users with high purchase intent, while also making additional content available for the smartphone users that want it.

Tablet Users

Due to their larger screen size, tablets are preferred over smartphones for performing research and other activities like reading and watching videos. Despite only a few inches separating mobile displays and tablet displays, there is a sharp contrast between user behavior for tablets and mobile phones.

As a result, brands often serve the same content to tablets and desktops. A lack of content isn’t the issue, but issues do arise when brands rely on their desktop user-interface to capably serve users who are interacting with your brand via tablet.

Navigating a website designed for desktop on a tablet can be cumbersome. The optimal solution is for brands to provide the same content available to desktop users, but in a user-interface designed for tablets.

The purchase intent of tablet users also differs from mobile users since tablet users are more likely to utilize their device for researching products and services that may potentially result in a sale sometime in the future. So, although purchase intent may typically be lower for tablet users, tablets still play a fundamental role in facilitating the purchase process, particularly for products or services that require a high level of involvement from the user.

Example

Take for example someone looking to buy a new 60-inch television. Before making the purchase, the user probably researches different models, product specifications, and customer reviews. This research is most likely performed on a tablet or desktop in a home environment.

After the user narrows down their options, and goes to the store to physically see the models they’re interested in, they will most likely rely on their mobile device to recall that same information. This is a critical moment because the user-experience is disrupted when the mobile version of that store’s website is stripped down to the point where it is missing the information the user is attempting to find.

This can lead to the user referring to a competing website to find the information they’re looking for. If that competitor just so happens to also have better prices, the disruption in user-experience may ultimately result in a lost sale.

This is a perfect real-world example of why brands should provide their customers with a consistent experience across all devices. Failing to do so not only frustrates the customer and negatively impacts brand perception, but also disengages the customer, and gives them a reason to refer to your competitors.

Conclusion

Consumers expect to have access to the same content regardless of device. Meeting this expectation can result in better brand perception and increased sales, while failing to meet this expectation can result in stifled user engagement, limited sales, and diluted SERP rankings.

Our award-winning agency understands that providing a seamless user experience for your customers is integral to capitalizing on every visit to your website. Driving traffic to your website is important, but your ultimate goal is to convert those users into customers. We provide our clients with the online infrastructure to dominate the competition and the support to ensure that their customers’ experiences are unparalleled.

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

 

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.