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Google Knowledge Panel: What You Need to Know

Google Knowledge Panel

Have you done any searches online lately? We’re sure you’ve noticed that just below the top few results, there’s a big square with three suggestions of local businesses that are relevant to your search.  The first few results are always paid ads from pay-per-click campaigns. The three results are organic search results that Google feels are most relevant.  The recommended results from the “Knowledge Panel” drive a lot of traffic and sales for these companies.  

Unlike paid search, you can’t do anything, in particular, to make sure your company is featured in here. The results come from the Google Knowledge Graph, and that’s based on your local search engine optimization.

 

So what you can you do to improve your online presence?

A key part of local search optimization is making sure your free Google My Business account is verified, has accurate information, and has recently updated information about your business, including pictures. The Google My Business information seems to act like an API (Application Programming Interface). An API is a little piece of software that feeds information directly into the knowledge graph, and into the knowledge panel.

 

How critical is it, anyway?

We know you’re thinking – maybe that’s one more thing I just don’t want to worry about right now. How critical is it, anyway? What are people searching for on their phones and tablets? In early 2017, Hitwise did a comprehensive report of consumer insights. For the financial services industry they stated:

“Given the sensitive nature and importance of online banking, this industry is one of the few where the majority of searches still originate on desktop devices. In fact, according to our analysis, only 39% of online searches driving a visit to a banking or finance site originate on a smartphone or tablet. However, there are still plenty of financial topics where mobile is now the go-to device when seeking specific information. For instance, financial searches mentioning “ATM” or “near me” originate on a mobile device 84% and 83% of the time, respectively. And while it’s intuitive that such location-based searches would skew mobile, it may come as a surprise that searches for “15-year” and “30-year mortgage” are also overwhelmingly mobile (73% of such searches are initiated on a mobile device). So are “interest rate” (65% mobile) and “mortgage calculator” (55% mobile) searches, indicating that today’s would-be new home buyers begin their journey to home ownership on a smartphone. “

 

How does this relate to your credit union?

This tells us that for many of the products credit unions (or any business) offer, having a good, local mobile search optimization may be critical to becoming part of a potential customer/new member’s decision set.

Additionally, the Google Knowledge Panel is the eye-catching result in the middle of the page. The panels takes up almost the whole screen on a mobile device, before you scroll down to other organic search results. Most consumers click on the first most relevant thing they see. And most don’t scroll through a couple of pages of Google search results before picking one, they pick the first one that looks good.  If they don’t like that one, or the site takes too long to load, they may choose the second or third result. Rarely do people go past the first page. 

 

Having good search optimization, including a speedy website load time and having up to date, accurate information in Google My Business is simply the starting point to giving your credit union every chance of winning new customers through online search. Feeding the Google Knowledge Panel as much information as possible through Google My Business – and keeping it up to date – is the best way to make sure your credit union shows up when someone is looking for a new loan, an ATM or another service you offer. It’s the best way to get new customers outside of paid advertising, and it helps Google work for you.

 

If you need help setting up your Google My Business account or need more information about local search optimization, contact us at connect@epicmc2.com.  We want to make sure you are found online and earn the local business you deserve.

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What You Need to Know About Google Chrome’s Ad Blocking Update

Google Chrome is used by nearly half of all Internet users, and big changes in regards to how we use the browser are on the horizon. Come tomorrow, February 15th, Google will enforce ad blocking on all websites – desktop & mobile. The goal of this is to make the Internet viewing experience more navigable for all users by preventing ads from loading that are particularly intrusive.

On desktop, Google is planning to block pop-up ads, large sticky ads, auto-play video ads with sounds, and ads that appear on a site with a countdown blocking you before the content loads. On mobile, Google is planning to filter pop-up ads, ads that are displayed before content loads (with or without a countdown), auto-play video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll over ads, and ads that are particularly dense. Here’s what that looks like:

Google is not planning to wipe out all ads from Chrome, just ones that are considered bad using the standards created by the Coalition for Better Ads. The more annoying the ad, the more likely it is to be blocked by this update.

Passing, Warning, or Failing

Google is evaluating sample pages on sites based on the Better Ads standards and then giving websites 3 different ratings: passing, warning, or failing. The evaluation status of sites can be accessed via the Ad Experience Report API. Website owners can see more detailed results, such as specific violations, via the Ad Experience Report in Google’s Search Console. From the Report site owners can request their site be re-reviewed after they have addressed the non-compliant ad experiences.

So, what happens if your ad continues to fail and not meet Google & Better Ads’ standards? Site owners will be given 30 days to rectify any bad ads; if the ads are not to standard within the 30-day time period, Chrome will automatically begin blocking those ads. Chrome will show the user a message indicating that ad blocking has occurred as well as an option to disable this setting by selecting “allow ads on this site.” Here’s what that looks like on mobile:

What Early Results Show

 Google and by proxy Chrome’s goal is not to filter any ads at all but to improve the experience of all Internet users. As of February 12th, 42% of sites which were failing the Better Ads Standards had resolved their issues and are now passing. This is exactly the goal Google had hoped for: removing intrusive ad experiences from a user’s desktop or mobile experience.

The Takeaway

While Chrome will likely face criticism from the advertising world, if it achieves its goal of improving web ad standards, that’s a good thing for everybody: Internet users and advertisers alike. Google’s engineering manager Chris Bentzel is quoted, “We’re encouraged by early results showing industry shifts away from intrusive ad experiences, and look forward to continued collaboration with the industry toward a future where Chrome’s ad filtering technology will not be needed.”  

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8 Marketing Trends for 2018

marketing trends

 

How people interact with brands continues to evolve. User experience and personalization will remain a constant and will be a driving force in this year’s marketing trends. We’ve outlined the top marketing trends we predict will be at the helm of marketing strategy for 2018.

 

1. Leveraging Data and In-depth Understanding of Targeting Audiences

It will become increasingly harder to stand out and reach your target audience if you aren’t utilizing your consumer data. Technology and the growth of marketing tools make it easier to connect with your target audience in ways that were impossible or very expensive before. Today, there are many marketing automation and CRM solutions that allow for marketers to use their customer data and connect with audiences in large-scale, strategic, and affordable ways. Leveraging and implementing the use of data should be the foundation of any good marketing strategy. Your consumer data will allow you to engage with consumers where and when they want on a personal level.

 

2. Native Advertising

Digital ads have been the norm for a while now. In 2018, however, there will be more of a shift in paid media where the ad experience follows the form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. This makes sense as there has been increased emphasis on the overall user experience. A better, seamless experience will increase the response rate of your ads and will improve your ROI.

 

3. Content Marketing

By now organizations have realized that personalized and individual communications are the constant theme that is driving a lot of the trends for this year (and, really, for the past few years).  Consumers continue to favor individual, personalized experiences that are tailored to them, their interests and their immediate need. Your content should be well thought out and provide relevant information. Your content marketing should be focused on creating and distributing well thought out, relevant information that is valuable to your audience. Focus more on the quality of your content versus the quantity – make sure you are providing a value. This will help drive interaction with your brand and lead to conversions or desired action along with retention of your target audience. Incorporating a blog is a good platform for content marketing, read more about incorporating a blog in your website

 

4. Consumer Journey or Lifecycle

Emphasis on the consumer journey and how consumers interact with your brand throughout the decision, action and other various stages of their lifecycle. Implementing a strategy that prioritizes and integrates the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences should be on your to-do list for this year if it isn’t already. Personalized messages, retargeting and other techniques can be employed to support your consumers (and potential consumers) along their path to convert.

 

5. Incorporating Video

Ads on YouTube, short videos on social media, and other video components continue to increase in popularity. Standing out and capturing your audience attention is becoming increasingly challenging for marketers and brands. How can you stand out on social and digital channels? Create compelling visual aspects – especially in video form. The visual aspect of your message, and using video will help you engage your audience and capture their attention.

 

6. Transparency and Trust

Give consumers a behind-the-scenes look at your business and your practices. Humanize your brand – you’re more than a logo, product, or service. Credit Unions and Community Banks are in a unique position. When we speak with Credit Unions and develop campaigns or strategies, we ask “what sets you apart from everyone else?” Often products and services aren’t much different from the competition, with only slight variances in price or features. So what will make a consumer choose your brand over another? Trust. Credit Unions’ brand is trust – members trust your organization, the branch manager, the financial representative that has helped them navigating buying a home or car. Trust and transparency will become more important to consumers’ decisions.

 

7. Location-based technology

You should be taking advantage of location-based technology providing experiences, messaging, and information. Geo-targeting can help you take advantage of your brick and mortar locations or other key service areas. Exploring the possibilities of targeting your audience based on location, both in real-time and historical, will allow for you to provide content that is more relevant to their lives.   

 

8. Convenience

All in all, consumers are flooded with information every day. They look for and will stay loyal to brands that provide them with personalize and relevant information that is convenient for them. The more effortless an interaction the better. Who doesn’t love it when things are easy and convenient?

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Mobile Mania – Thinking About Mobile for Your Business

cfdb0440-7619-455e-ae84-2f3759bff40e.jpg

Nearly two-thirds of Americans are smartphone users. This mass adoption of the technology is radically changing how we communicate and how we interact with businesses. …Read More ⟩

Read the full article at: www.bluehost.com

Has your organization conducted a mobile communications audit?

 

If the answer is, “we’re thinking about it,” “maybe in the future,” or “um, what’s that?”, then it’s time to rethink your position.

With over 2/3 of Americans using smartphones, it’s time to get that audit – and the resulting action items – underway.

So what does a mobile communications audit entail?

 

1. Check your website for mobile responsiveness

Pull up your website on your tablet and mobile device to see if it responds to the different screen sizes. Also check it on an alternative mobile device so you see it on several mobile operating systems and screen sizes. Your website shouldn’t just show as a miniature version – it should be readable and navigable on all screen sizes.

Still not convinced that you need to view your website on mobile? Check out your Google Analytics to see exactly how much of your traffic visits from a tablet or mobile. You’l be surprised. (Oh, you don’t have Google Analytics installed? Contact us for some help with that and get valuable intel on your site and its performance.)

 

2. Check search engines

Be close to your organization (but not at it) and search for your business category. Where did you rank? You may need to tinker with some Webmaster Tools to dial it in if you didn’t show up near or at the top of the search.

While you’re in the search results, make sure you’re listed as local and that the map and information are correct. If not, head back to Webmaster Tools to fix asap.

 

3. Check your social ads

Does your organization have paid ads or promoted posts on a social channel? Check them out on your mobile to make sure they appear as you intend. It’s amazing how an image and text can appear unreadable on a smaller screen.

 

4. Check eblasts

Does your organization send out email blasts? Whether they are sent from an in-house server, Constant Contact, MailChimp, or another provider, it’s imperative that you view them on your mobile to see how they appear. Some users only want to receive text emails on their phones, so be sure to look at the eblast in both HTML and text on your cell.

 

So how did your organization fare?

If you need assistance with any of the above, we can help. We’ve made mobile our mission and strive to help our clients meet the changing demands of a connected society. Contact us today and let’s have a conversation about your audit results.

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PR Pros’ 11 Commandments for Working With Reporters

10 Commandments of Media Relations

As a PR pro, are you doing everything you can to make your dealings with reporters positive and get them to trust and, yes, need you?

Read the full article at: www.prnewsonline.com

There’s been a lot of discussion around our offices and in our online channels about how best to pitch a story to a reporter.

We’ve had reporter friends, other PR pros, and editors weigh in. What’s the common consensus?

Ken Grant, Epic Marketing media specialist says, “Regarding sending the pitch to multiple recipients at the same outlet – I have heard different opinions from reporters and editors who say they would rather have the same release sent to ten people in their organization than risk missing it because the one person it was sent to was out that day. Most importantly, I think the key is to develop a relationship with the media and give them what they want when they want it, like we try to do for all customers and clients.”

The keyword, though, would be authentic relationships. We’ve seen too many times when a media relations person believes that sending their “mark” some cheap swag and a white paper is a way to build a relationship. That’s not an authentic relationship.

Ken continues, “the individuals who pointed out things like misspelling their names or saying things like, “glad we talked yesterday” when they didn’t – those actions pretty much destroy any chance at an authentic relationship. I also recommend actually becoming a fan of the work the reporters, editors, and organizations do. When you’re talking with a reporter and can say, “by the way, that story you did last week was really insightful, that must have taken some time,” you demonstrate that you actually respect the work they are doing instead of seeing them as a means to an end.”

Matt Sullivan, former editor at Spark, made a great point. “On the subject of multiple emails – you certainly want to avoid having multiple people working on the same story in a news organization, so the larger the place, the more you want to be conscientious about targeting. But if you’re seeing multiple email addresses on a story pitch, that’s because the PR person didn’t BCC. As an editor, that always struck me as not only bad form, but not very smart.”

At Epic, we have firm guidelines for how, when, and to whom we pitch a story. Our top tips for getting your lead picked up by a reporter:

1. Don’t bury the lead. That frustrates the reader and wastes time.

2. Be aware of what is going on in real time and don’t pitch during a crisis or news event unless the story you are pitching is relevant.

3. Have someone such as the CEO or media liaison ready to talk on the record. If the story gets picked up, the reporter will have follow up questions. There are always follow up questions. It’s bad form to not have anticipated that and have someone ready to be interviewed.

4. Spelling counts – especially of the reporter’s name.

5. Don’t be deceptive. Not being genuine and honest will get you blackballed very quickly.

 

What tips do you have for reaching reporters and getting your pitch picked up?

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Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management

Quadrant for CRM Lead Management

Read the full article at: www.gartner.com

Gartner has released their white paper: Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management.

 

Their findings include, “CRM lead management matures amid strong user interest and a more complex vendor environment. IT application leaders should work with business leaders to define both core and emerging B2B marketing requirements in this technology segment.”

 

We couldn’t agree more. A successful advertising and marketing agency is no longer just a creative organization, we must also be a tech company to compete for ourselves and our clients.

 

Part of our arsenal is choosing the correct SaaS, platforms, and software. Gartner looks at the top lead management applications in this eye-opening report.

 

The full report includes:

  • Market evaluation and analysis of 14 CRM lead management vendors
  • Insights for selecting a vendor based on your organization’s requirements
  • Opportunities and challenges faced when deploying lead management systems

 

So how do you leverage your CRM? Well that’s where we can help. No matter which CRM you employ, Epic Marketing can help you reach your clients and customers with a message that will move them to action. We offer direct mailings, custom eblasts, newsletters, and promotional materials to let your customers know that they are valued and to keep them up to date on your happenings.

 

Take a look at the Gartner report and then let us know how we can help you leverage that valuable data to make a positive difference on your bottom line.

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5 Tips to Make B2B Social Media Content Interesting

B2B Social Media

Tired of people passing over your social media content? In this post you’ll learn how to make your social media post more interesting and get more reads.

Read the full article at: maximizesocialbusiness.com

Promoting content is not always an easy task. Especially with over 86% of B2B marketers joining the content marketing bandwagon. Social media is one of the many platforms used by top marketers. Unlike with B2C, marketing to companies through social media is often seen as dull and unexciting. However, the key to standing out in today’s marketing world is having unique and entertaining content. In this article, Holly Chessman suggests five tips to make B2B social media content interesting. One suggestion? Include visuals.

 

“Want to give those statistics or any other post even more punch? Make each one into a graphic and note the audience response. After all, 40% respond better to visual information than plain text. What’s more, it’s easy to make cool graphics, so what do you have to lose?”

 

Anyone can market in social media, but not everyone can do it right. Get ahead of the competition by checking out the rest of these tips.

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