5 Steps to Help Your Business Thrive in a Time of Economic Uncertainty

With the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), you are not only responsible for your personal health and the health of your loved ones, but also for the health of your business. With the U.S. economy potentially headed for a recession, the country is in a severe state of economic uncertainty, and that is not good for business. However, it can be good for your business if you take certain steps to adapt. 

Consumers will continue spending, and someone has to be there to meet that demand. Just because there’s economic uncertainty, doesn’t mean that you still don’t have payroll and other financial obligations to meet, or sales goals to achieve. You must adapt in order to keep the train on the tracks, and potentially come out of this economic turmoil with an even stronger business.

Here are five ways you can take advantage of the current state of uncertainty.

Step 1: Ramp up marketing while your competitors sit on the sidelines

Henry Ford once said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.” With many of your competitors pulling back, this is the perfect opportunity to ramp up your sales and marketing activities, potentially at a lower cost. Advertising costs in general will decline, which means your marketing budget will go further than it did before. This presents a prime opportunity to gain market share from your competitors, and position your company to be even stronger and more dominant than it was before.

Step 2: Evaluate expenses, and trim the fat

Times like this present a great opportunity to evaluate your expenses and determine if there is any fat you can trim. Do you have any unnecessary expenditures that can be reduced? For example, we recently replaced K cups in our office with a 30oz can of Folgers. With this change, we went from spending roughly $80 per month on coffee to just $7 per month. This resulted in a savings of almost $900 over the course of a year. We also reduced the janitorial services for our office from twice a week to once a week. The office is just as clean as it was before, but for half the cost. We’re now saving over $1000 per month from those changes, and have since reallocated those funds to our own marketing efforts, where we typically see a 3x to 5x return. So, we’re not only saving $1000 per month, we’re actually earning an average of $4000 per month from those reductions in our office expenditures.

Step 3: Strengthen your team and encourage professional development

Use this opportunity to strengthen your team. Economic uncertainty impacts your employees just as much as it impacts you. It’s important to keep employee morale up during this time. Take a few minutes to check in with each of your employees and see how they’re doing. This also gives you an opportunity to provide your employees with feedback and encourage them to take advantage of professional development opportunities if business slows. If you have any employees who are underperforming, this is also a good time to address those issues. You can’t afford to have employees who aren’t significant contributors to the company’s bottom line during uncertain economic times.

Step 4: Reevaluate your business plan and be prepared to pivot

In the event business slows, use that time to reevaluate your business plan. There may be opportunities for growth that you haven’t thought of, or weren’t present before. For instance, you may be able to pivot to a different offering or serve a different audience. There may also be opportunities to improve your operations. For example, if and when things slow for your business, use this time to focus on building better systems and improving efficiencies. This can result in increased productivity and ultimately a more profitable business once things pick back up.

Step 5: Place more emphasis on digital marketing

Companies that typically rely on in-person networking, conferences, and tradeshows to drive new business will have to find alternative means of generating business. Sales quotas must still be met, but the traditional planes, trains, and automobiles method isn’t going to work as long as COVID-19 is an issue. There is a tremendous opportunity here for those that have historically relied on networking to create a digital marketing strategy to replace this lost revenue. Develop a digital marketing plan with a heavy emphasis on search engine optimization, social media marketing, and retargeting. Keep in mind that if people are stuck in their homes for long periods of time, they will be spending a lot of time on Google and Facebook.

Regardless of what the future holds, take this opportunity to evaluate your business and make the changes that are necessary to not only survive, but to continue to grow and thrive.

READY TO PARTNER WITH AN AWARD-WINNING AGENCY THAT DELIVERS RESULTS? LET’S GET STARTED.

How to Win on Google in 2020


The end of the year is fast approaching. Hopefully, you have already started planning your marketing strategy for 2020 and Google is a significant component. If you haven’t, I suggest getting started so that you can begin the year strong. There are three key elements to winning on Google in 2020. 

  1. Convince Google that you’re the authority in your market by consistently publishing high quality content on the niche(s) you want to dominate.
  2. Make acquiring positive Google reviews a priority. This increases your credibility and the likelihood that a prospect will ultimately convert.
  3. Don’t rely solely on Google Ads. Diversify your strategy by incorporating SEO. Many of your competitors rely on paid search, which leaves the window wide open for you to dominate organic search.

Convince Google That You’re the Authority in Your Market

By this, I mean convince Google that you are the authority within your niche or market. How do you accomplish this? By producing high quality content that your clientele will engage with on your website. By producing that high quality content, not only are you feeding the Google monster with content to index (Google loves fresh, quality content), but you’re also providing your clientele with content that they engage with, which increases your website’s engagement metrics and, in return, increases your rankings. Google likes to see those engagement metrics go up as they crawl and re-crawl your site throughout the year. And because we’re focusing on a specific niche or theme, we are telling Google that we are the authority in that niche or particular topic. When it comes to that particular content, you are the subject matter expert. 

Make Acquiring Positive Google Reviews a Priority

Generating positive reviews helps tell the world that you are credible and trustworthy. Think about how many times you’ve researched a business that you might want to work with only to come across their Google My Business page and see that they have a few reviews here and there and are averaging a 2 or 3 star rating. This might cause you to think, “You know what, I’ll pass. I don’t want to take a chance on doing business with these people and not have a good experience. I don’t have time for that, and I don’t want to waste money.” So you move on to the company that has five star reviews, and lots of them. Well, your customers are doing the same exact thing. So, make sure you’re soliciting reviews from your happy customers and accumulating those super valuable 5-star ratings on your Google My Business page. 

Don’t Rely Solely on Google Ads

I still see tons of companies rely primarily on Google Ads, and they don’t really put any emphasis on organic search. This blows my mind because there’s so much opportunity there, but this is to your benefit. If your competitors are focused primarily on pay-per-click advertising then that’s good for you because that opens up the window for you to jump in and dominate organic search. You don’t have to compete with them because they aren’t even thinking about organic search. Take advantage of this opportunity to become the authority in your market and box out your competitors on organic search. 

If you want to win on Google in 2020, embracing organic search and reviews is vital.

How to Improve Your Google Reviews

Are you struggling to improve your business’s online rating despite providing exceptional service? Unsure of how to acquire Google reviews, or how to increase your Google rating? Maybe you need consumers to leave positive reviews? In our inaugural vlog, we will discuss: 

  1. Why it is important to pay attention to Google reviews 
  2. How to implement a positive review process 
  3. How to address negative reviews 

Pay Attention to Google Reviews

When it comes to online reviews, Google Reviews can have a drastic impact on your business. It’s the online review platform that everyone is paying attention to. There are other review platforms out there, such as Yelp, Health Grades for healthcare, or Avvo for legal, but at the end of the day, Google trumps them all. 

Consumers are making decisions every day regarding who to do business with based on the reviews of the providers that they are considering. If your business has less than four stars, you’re losing business. If you’re neglecting to respond to negative reviews, you are losing business. Even if you have satisfied customers — guess what — you’re losing business by not soliciting them to leave positive reviews. 

Implementing a Positive Review Process

Generating positive reviews doesn’t always have to require a complicated strategy. It can be as simple as asking a customer in person or by phone if they are satisfied with the service that you are providing. If they say “yes,” ask if they could take a minute to leave a review for your business on Google; it’s as simple as that. Ideally, you want to have a strategy or process in place to consistently solicit positive reviews from your clientele. But just getting started by asking for reviews is the best thing you can do right now so that you can begin accumulating those all-important four and five star reviews.

Address Negative Reviews

Your business should never have unaddressed negative Google reviews – this gives off the perception that your business does not care about satisfying its customers. If you have a negative review that has not been responded to, go ahead and address their concerns. Do not engage them in a negative manner. Just address the review and let them know that you hear their concerns and want to resolve the issue offline. This is ultimately the goal: take the conversation offline. 

In my past experience, I’ve seen instances where we respond to negative reviews on behalf of a client which in turn helps with public perception and lets people know that they care about what customers think. In the interim, our client is communicating with that unhappy customer offline, which ultimately leads to that once poor review being changed from a one star review into a five star review. This is done by simply asking the customer what they were unhappy with and helping them resolve the issue. Often, upon seeing that the client cared, the customer will change their negative review all on their own. 

In summary, if you’re not already managing Google reviews or even paying attention to them, start doing so because it is affecting your business. If you do not have a procedure in place to attain positive reviews, start one by simply asking satisfied customers to do so and build from that. Respond to any negative reviews you may have in a neutral fashion and take the conversation offline in the hope that they remove the review on their own or even change it to a higher rating.

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.